The soon-to-be-revamped Crystal City Water Park is set to become Arlington’s third “sip and stroll” destination.
The privately-owned, 1.5 acre park at 1601 Crystal Drive has long hosted a small food and drink vendor. Thanks to a pending “Commercial Lifestyle Center” permit from Virginia ABC, that vendor — Peruvian Brothers — will soon be able to offer park-goers alcoholic beverages that can be consumed anywhere in the park.
“The overall goal is to cultivate an inviting setting where local residents, office workers and visitors are encouraged to hang out, relax and interact,” said JBG Smith Vice President Taylor Lawch, in a statement. The company owns the park and numerous nearby buildings, including those housing Amazon’s growing HQ2 workforce.
The Arlington County Board recently approved a plan to add five new vendor kiosks, a performance stage, and a bar to the park, in addition to planned upgrades to its water features.
“There will be places for parents to sip on a glass of wine while their kids go for ice cream nearby; a couple to meet for a date where they can hear live music and grab a beer at intermission; or coworkers to gather for an informal outdoor happy hour right outside their office,” Lawch said.
The initial sipping and strolling will take place this spring and summer, before the park is temporarily closed during the cooler months for construction. It is expected to reopen in the spring of 2022.
The park will join a pair of Arlington retail centers — the Village at Shirlington and Westpost (formerly Pentagon Row) — in allowing legal, on-the-go outdoor alcohol consumption on privately-owned property.
“The creation of a Commercial Lifestyle Center is in keeping with JBG SMITH’s vision for National Landing as a vibrant 18-hour environment where people want to live, work and visit,” a company PR rep said. “This licensure enables JBG SMITH to take great existing and planned areas of the National Landing neighborhood and make them even better.”
Additional JBG-owned property in National Landing — the collective term for Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard — may eventually be added to the permit.
“JBG SMITH is looking on a case-by-case basis to identify other areas within National Landing for future activations,” the rep tells ARLnow. “As of right now, they are focusing on this initial designation at Water Park.”
Making the Water Park into a more active destination for hanging out is part of the neighborhood’s evolution away from being known as a sleepy, concrete-filled office corridor.
“National Landing continues to evolve into an exciting destination complete with diverse dining options and growing entertainment venues,” National Landing Business Improvement District President Tracy Sayegh Gabriel said in a statement. “Enhancing and activating our outdoor public spaces for community use is more important than ever, and we are thrilled that National Landing has been approved as a Commercial Lifestyle Center. JBG SMITH’s initial activation at Water Park will create a desirable new way for area residents, workers and visitors to gather and support our local businesses in a safe environment.”
The Water Park will continue to host BID-organized events, she added. The BID obtained temporary Virginia ABC permits to allow alcohol consumption at the park for previous events.
Construction has started on two residential towers at 1900 Crystal Drive in Crystal City, according to developer JBG Smith.
The announcement came nearly one year to the day after the County Board approved the project, which involved tearing down an aging office building.
The new development at 1900 Crystal Drive will have 808 multifamily rental units and about 40,000 square feet of street-level retail across the two towers, each to be LEED Silver certified and approximately 300 feet tall, according to the developer.
A 27-story southern tower will feature 471 apartments, while a 26-story northern tower will incorporate 337 apartments.
Through a spokesperson, JBG Smith declined to comment on when the towers are expected to be completed. Last year, however, when the County Board met and approved the project, a company rep said construction could take 2-3 years.
“The start of construction on 1900 Crystal Drive marks yet another major milestone in National Landing’s ongoing transformation,” said Anthony Greenberg, Executive Vice President of Development at JBG Smith. “The introduction of new residences, restaurants and shops at 1900 Crystal Drive, combined with our recently delivered retail and entertainment district just about a block away will more than double the concentration of street-facing retail amenities on Crystal Drive.”
Residents will have access to private rooftops and green spaces. At the street-level, JBG Smith is planning a pedestrian-friendly street that will connect 18th and 20th Streets S. as well as open park space. JBG Smith will provide a number of community benefits, including enhanced streetscapes, a grand staircase connecting to public open space and bicycle facilities.
JBG Smith, the developer, leasing agent and property manager for the Amazon HQ2 project, anticipates that with Amazon’s arrival, National Landing’s daytime population will increase from 50,000 people to 90,000 in the near future.
The housing and amenities at 1900 Crystal Drive and neighboring developments will be a “thriving, mixed-use environment [that] will allow people to easily walk from their home or office to their favorite restaurants and amenities — cementing National Landing as a destination both day and night,” Greenberg said.
Neighbors and visitors can expect sidewalk closures during construction.
“This exciting project may create changes for our everyday pedestrian routines,” according to an announcement on the National Landing Business Improvement District website. The changes include:
- The southern sidewalk along 18th Street will be closed; pedestrians should use the north side of 18th Street S. to access Crystal Drive and S. Clark Street.
- The western sidewalk along Crystal Drive will be closed; pedestrians should use the jersey barrier, protected lane to travel north and south along Crystal Drive.
- The northern sidewalk along 20th Street S. will be closed; pedestrians should use the jersey barrier, protected lane to access Crystal Drive and S. Clark Street.
The County Board has unanimously approved plans to improve walking and cycling connections and add amenities to the Crystal City Water Park.
Water features and a food stand currently activate the privately-owned Crystal City Water Park at 1601 Crystal Drive. It also provides connections to the Mount Vernon Trail and Reagan National Airport, as well as the proposed Virginia Railway Express north entrance.
Park owner JBG Smith initially came to the board in January with plans to modify the Crystal City Connector path — which cuts through the site — and renovate the park. Members deferred the proposal over predictions that the developer’s plans for the pathway would lead to unsafe pedestrian and cyclist interactions.
On Saturday, County Board members signed off on revision to the project. The Crystal City Connector path will be turned into two paths accessing the Mount Vernon Trail and the new VRE entrance: one for pedestrians and the other focused on bicyclists.
JBG Smith will be “adding retail shops, cafes, and restaurants along the edges of the park, upgrading the existing water wall… adding a new water feature, [and] adding public art and an outdoor bar,” the county announced on Monday.
The additions include “nine (9) 300 square-foot retail structures positioned along Crystal Drive, a 1,415 square-foot retail structure along the northern edge, a 760 square-foot bar with a 2,069 square-foot terrace atop the water wall, a 409 square-foot performance platform to be used for the event lawn, and a 747 square-foot trailhead restroom facility,” per a county staff report.
“We’re proud to say that this project has evolved in response to the comments and we think gotten to a place that is better than we were a couple of months ago,” said Kedrick Whitmore, an attorney representing JBG Smith.
The staff report said the plan has been redesigned to minimize conflicts and support increasing number of pedestrians and bicyclists accessing the trail and the VRE station. Potential users testified in January that the initial proposed design, below, would lead to conflicts at the exit from the Mount Vernon Trail access tunnel, where visibility is low.
JBG Smith’s new plan removes the stairway that linked the pathways to the water park, located near a series of tunnels. It does not, however, remove an adjacent path between the Crystal City Connector path and the connection to the proposed VRE station, although some community members predicted it too would be unsafe.
“We think this is a really important area to maintain a connection,” Whitmore said. “Despite keeping the connection in place, we did hear loud and clear that there were safety concerns, and the use of paint, mirrors, signage and paving will help.”
The developer will also widen the sidewalk along Crystal Drive from eight to 10 feet and use landscaping, signage, striping and paving treatments near the tunnels and the connection to Crystal Drive to increase visibility and heighten awareness for all users, the report said.
Board members told County Manager Mark Schwartz that the county needs to increase the level of public engagement for similar projects going forward. Board members agreed with some speakers that more scrutiny from county commissions could have uncovered the safety concerns sooner and prevented the project’s deferral from earlier this year.
“Let’s not do this again,” said Pedestrian Advisory Committee secretary Pamela Van Hine, suggesting a smaller-scale version of the site plan review process for large projects. “We can help you but you have to ask us to help you.”
While the county classifies this project as a minor site plan amendment, Board member Katie Cristol said such amendments “may have a major impact on how people experience the site.”
Photos via Arlington County
(Updated at 9:35 p.m.) A new CVS Pharmacy is open at the revamped Central District Retail shopping plaza, also known as “Crystal Square,” in Crystal City.
The store opened on Sunday, Feb. 28, a JBG Smith spokesperson confirmed. It is part of a major redevelopment that the property owner has planned for a block of Crystal Drive between 15th and 18th streets.
Signage appears to now be up for two more occupants: Mah-Ze-Dahr, a bakery said to have some of New York City’s best doughnuts, as well as a yet-unnamed specialty grocery store. The first D.C. outpost of the NYC bakery opened in Navy Yard in the fall.
JBG once more declined to comment on which grocer will be filling the space. Permits indicate that the store will offer prepared foods like packaged salads, sandwiches, entrees and soups, as well as various beverages. The permits further specify that the store will have “self app check-out.”
A spokesperson previously confirmed that the specialty grocer will sell produce, meats and poultry, frozen foods and baked goods. Taken as a whole, the concept sounds similar to that of Amazon Fresh stores, a new bricks-and-mortar retail offering of the tech giant, which is currently constructing its HQ2 up the street.
The store will be built in the existing office building at 1550 Crystal Drive, according to the county. The new one-story retail area will replace a 1990s-era strip and will link the grocery store to a planned Alamo Drafthouse movie theater at 1750 Crystal Drive.
The theater chain recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, but a company spokesman tells ARLnow the planned Crystal City location is owned by a franchisee “which has not filed for bankruptcy.”
“There are no changes to its development plans at 1750 Crystal Drive,” the spokesman said.
A spokeswoman for Solidcore confirmed that the gym is slated to open this summer.
“Central District Retail will enhance the street-level experience with new dining, shopping and entertainment options on Crystal Drive,” Amy Rice, senior vice president of Retail Leasing at JBG Smith, previously told ARLnow in a statement. “It will serve as the retail heart of National Landing and a vibrant destination for people throughout the region.”
Photo (2) courtesy Car-Free#HQ2/Twitter
Those cities are attracting some Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and companies in search of a lower cost of living and doing business. Last year, Austin made deals with 39 companies, and Miami saw an influx of venture capital dollars and firms.
But local cheerleaders of Arlington in general — and National Landing in particular — say the area is on par with these hubs because it has an educated workforce, plenty of office space, Amazon’s HQ2, continuous 5G service, and recruiting opportunities from area universities.
“I would love for our government leaders to be talking more aggressively about this,” said Ken Biberaj, a managing director of commercial real estate company Savills, during a recent panel discussion about National Landing, hosted by Arlington Economic Development. “I think they should be on TV every single day talking about why they should be coming here.”
The suggestion is that Arlington needs someone like charismatic Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who is leading a campaign to attract businesses and support tech entrepreneurs. Suarez is noted for regularly speaking with CEOs who have chosen Miami.
So, does Arlington and National Landing compare to those two buzzy, sunny locales? Aside from the weather, some real estate analysts say yes.
“I think definitely the pieces are there and having Amazon as an asset is a really great thing,” said Eric Maribojoc, the Director of the Center for Real Estate Entrepreneurship at the George Mason University School of Business.
Like Austin, Arlington also has the “urban-like” amenities that could attract companies, he added.
With its talent base and focus on regulatory tech and cybersecurity companies, Northern Virginia as a whole has already achieved parity, said Phil Ryan, the Director of Research at commercial real estate company Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL).
“You need to grow more in the ‘flashier’ tech, for lack of a better word,” he said of the region. “I think National Landing is trying to get [better] at the visibility. People think Austin is techy because they’re louder about it.”
Although Arlington’s key tech sectors — cloud, cybersecurity and artificial intelligence — are not as consumer-facing as a Facebook or a Tesla, those sectors could drive tech growth in the region as JLL predicts they will flourish under President Joe Biden.
Ryan cautioned against seeing the reports of migration to Austin, Miami and elsewhere as proof that Silicon Valley is experiencing a brain drain. Although some tech workers may want a lifestyle change and to avoid higher California income taxes, most are staying in the Bay Area while back-office operations and executive suites are relocated.
Although Northern Virginia checks companies’ boxes for talent, education systems and transit connectivity, it has been “sold short,” Ryan said. Despite being a business-friendly state with relatively moderate taxes , Virginia has to compete with Texas and Florida’s lack of income tax while vying for corporate relocations against — rather than in cooperation with — D.C. and Maryland.
“For years, [it] was considered a big problem that there wasn’t one unified agency to get people into the area,” Ryan said.
Still, Arlington is nabbing and retaining businesses, making 24 deals in 2020, Arlington Economic Development reports.
Programming for the 2021 National Cherry Blossom Festival is crossing the Potomac River into National Landing.
The festival, scheduled to run from March 20 through April 11, is springing back this year after it had to cancel or modify most of its events last year due to the coronavirus.
Dozens of cherry trees will be planted in National Landing this spring and the area will feature two “Art in Bloom” sculptures and pink pop-up installations. Some restaurants in the business district are included in the annual “Cherry Picks” restaurant program while residents and local businesses will participate in the “Porch Parade and Petal Procession” — a new addition to the festival.
The inclusion of Pentagon City, Crystal City and Potomac Yard is made possible through a new partnership among the festival, Amazon, the National Landing Business Improvement District and developer JBG Smith.
In November, Amazon was announced to be the new lead sponsor of the 2021 festival, supplanting Japanese airline ANA, which held the position for four years, Washington Business Journal reported. JBG Smith and the BID will be credited as Sakura Circle supporters.
Bringing parts of the festival to National Landing increases visibility for the growing urban center and positions it to be a signature partner of the festival for years to come, said Tracy Sayegh Gabriel, head of the National Landing BID.
“The National Cherry Blossom Festival is a perfect complement to our work to create a vibrant destination for generations to come that celebrates such rich culture, joy and history,” she said in a statement.
Executive Vice President of JBG Smith Andy Van Horn said he particularly looks forward to the installation of an “Art in Bloom” sculpture at the Crystal City Water Park (1601 Crystal Drive), where it can be enjoyed throughout the festival before planned improvements on the park begin. Working with Amazon and the BID to support the festival in 2021 was a natural fit, he added.
“The partnership highlights the hard work and progress underway to transform National Landing into a vibrant, 18-hour neighborhood brimming with culture, excitement, and unmatched potential,” he said. Another sculpture is planned along the Long Bridge Park Esplanade.
Brooke Oberwetter, Head of External Affairs for Amazon in Arlington, said the company — which is in the midst of building its permanent HQ2 in Pentagon City — looks forward to kicking off its partnership with the festival, JBG Smith and the BID this year, and “building on it in years to come.”
“We could not be more pleased to help bring some of the excitement of the National Cherry Blossom Festival to National Landing,” Oberwetter said in a statement.
This year, the National Parks Service is projecting the blossoms to peak in early April.
Due to the coronavirus, some experiences, including the Opening Ceremony, will be virtual or a hybrid of in-person and online.
Big news! We're projecting cherry blossom peak bloom to fall between April 2 – April 5. Peak bloom is the day when 70% of the Yoshino #cherryblossoms are open, creating gorgeous clouds of white & pink flowers floating around the Tidal Basin: https://t.co/Yd0Z1y1FHD #WashingtonDC pic.twitter.com/Twikj5mOs4
— National Mall NPS (@NationalMallNPS) March 1, 2021
A new co-working and flexible office space has opened in Crystal City.
Hana, a subsidiary of the real estate company CBRE Group, announced on Thursday that it has opened a new location at 2451 Crystal Drive — a stone’s throw away from two of Amazon’s temporary office spaces for HQ2 employees.
The opening announcement comes one year after it was first reported that property owner JBG Smith would be partnering with Hana.
With the National Landing spot, Hana makes its debut on the East Coast and establishes its third location in the U.S.
CBRE has established other flexible working spaces in Dallas and Irvine, Calif. Three other locations are expected to open in the first quarter of 2021: New York City, Philadelphia and Berkeley Heights, NJ.
Hana has initially opened one floor totaling more than 39,000 square feet. The floor includes private office suites and conference and events spaces, in addition to a traditional co-working spce.
“JBG Smith has worked with Hana to deliver a flex solution that meets the unique needs of the building and National Landing area by providing plug-and-play workspaces, on-demand meeting rooms and overflow accommodations,” said Hana CEO Andrew Kupiec in a statement.
In a statement, JBG executive David Ritchey said Hana’s approach, and its abundance of amenities, complements the other co-working spots in Crystal City while addressing “the need for flexible, ‘on-demand’ office space solutions in a post-COVID-19 business environment.”
The opening also comes amid the announcement that co-working rival WeWork will be closing its Crystal City location, which is just a block or two away.
Other existing co-working spaces in Crystal City include Accelspace and Eastern Foundry.
Images via Hana
(Updated at 1:30 p.m.) Arlington County has asked JBG Smith to go back to the drawing board after reviewing its plans to upgrade the Crystal City Water Park.
The privately-owned park at 1601 Crystal Drive currently includes water features, trees, and a food stand. It has frequently been used for local events and gatherings.
The project to upgrade it will be deferred two months so that JBG Smith can address pedestrian and cyclist safety concerns raised by Arlington County Board members and community members during the Board’s Tuesday night meeting.
“This is not a fully baked plan yet,” Board member Christian Dorsey said.
The Bethesda-based real estate company is proposing a new performance area, more outdoor seating, preserving and updating the existing water fountain, and incorporating a new water feature in the center of the site. The proposal also includes a number of retail structures: small kiosks, a bar, and a trailhead restroom facility.
Most of the discussion was devoted to two paths — one ADA-accessible — that JBG Smith proposed to build to connect people to the nearby VRE station and the Mount Vernon Trail. A small pathway linked the two connections.
Community members and County Board members said these paths, as proposed, would create conflicts between pedestrians and bicyclists. People would have to cross the Mount Vernon Trail connector to get to the rest of the park and cyclists would be battling a grade change while avoiding pedestrians.
“We thought we were being helpful, but we’re hearing loudly and clearly that this is scaring people, and we should reconsider it,” said Robin Mosle, a consultant on the project.
The Bethesda-based real estate company opted out of a public design process — something that drew the frustration of some Board members, including Takis Karantonis.
“This would be a conversation that we would have had in the Park and Recreation Commission in advance of the meeting,” Karantonis said.
The County Board is now expected to see the project again when it meets in March.
News of a plan to invigorate the park with new retail dates back at least to 2017, when ARLnow reported that the concession stand in the park had closed. A few months later, The Stand opened in its place, hosting many pop-up eateries. In April, D.C. food truck Peruvian Brothers took it over.
Photos via Arlington County
As part of the project, the Bethesda-based developer will be shifting S. Clark Street to the east to create a new S. Clark-Bell Street and “create greater connectivity” in the area, according to a recent JBG Smith presentation.
After a public comment period closed yesterday (Monday), the project is in the home stretch, with only a few meetings to go before an expected review by the County Board later this year.
JBG Smith proposes 786 units across two LEED Silver-certified buildings bisected by a new S. Clark-Bell Street. A pedestrian pathway would form the eastern border of the East tower.
The towers would replace an aging office building at 2001 Richmond Highway, along with a surface parking lot previously used for some public events.
The West tower (2000 S. Bell St.) has the following specifications:
- 250 feet tall
- 365 units
- 18,510 square feet of ground-floor retail
- 180 parking spaces
The East tower (2001 S. Bell St.) has these specifications:
- 200 feet tall
- 421 units
- 11,060 square feet of ground-floor retail
- 167 parking spaces
The new S. Clark-Bell Street would shift S. Clark Street east and, south of the buildings, tie into the existing S. Clark Street, according to a county report. The northern end of the road would line up with S. Bell Street north of 20th Street S.
In response to the proposal, members of the Crystal City Civic Association, as well as a few transportation and pedestrian commission, have pointed out the project fails to meet some basic requirements of the Crystal City Sector Plan.
In a letter provided to ARLnow, the civic association said the planning process “failed to meaningfully address long-range planning issues implicated by the proposed site plan.”
Transportation Commission member and Aurora Highlands resident Darren Buck said efforts to expand cycling options in the area will be hampered by the buildings, which are eight feet closer to their property lines than the Crystal City Sector Plan calls for.
Buck wrote that the project is part of a trend in which “the strict terms of the [Crystal City Sector Plan] are used to justify refusing or ignoring minor deviations from the plan sought by members of the public (particularly in regards to non-motorized transportation), while substantial deviations are advanced when they originate from an applicant.”
Meanwhile, the Crystal City Civic Association said the sector plan calls for “trees, gardens and benches” for the space where JBG Smith proposes a cement pedestrian plaza. The association characterizes the plaza as “an afterthought,” and Pedestrian Advisory Committee member Pamela Van Hine said it should be a pocket or linear park, not a hardscape.
The civic association also expressed concerns about the future of the network of tunnels in Crystal City, known by locals as the “Underground.” JBG Smith proposes an underground garage, which the civic association said would interfere with the tunnels.
The association credited JBG Smith for changing its plan so the new garage and existing tunnels link up and said it supports the developer’s commitment to “a holistic approach to revitalizing the entire Underground.”
Financed by Amazon, a D.C. area housing nonprofit bought and will stabilize rent at a luxury apartment building in Crystal City.
The tech giant announced on Wednesday that it is contributing $381.9 million to Washington Housing Conservancy to create and preserve 1,300 affordable housing units at Crystal House (1900 S. Eads St), as rents rise amid Amazon’s expansion into the area.
“Amazon’s investment in affordable housing in Arlington is transformational — and couldn’t come at a better time,” County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti said in a statement. “We are delighted to further strengthen our partnership with Amazon and to work together to serve our shared commitment to equity and economic opportunity for all of our residents.”
The funding for WHC includes a $339.9 million below-market loan and $42 million in grants. With the money, and a $6.7 million loan from WHC’s financing partner, JBG Smith, the nonprofit purchased Crystal House, a luxury apartment complex one block from Amazon’s future HQ2.
“Washington Housing Conservancy disrupts a market cycle that leads to displacement and offers the kind of stability that lets residents focus on their future, instead of the uncertainty of escalating rents,” WHC Executive Director Kimberly Driggins said in a statement.
The conversion of existing market-rate apartments into dedicated affordable apartments started on Jan. 1 and will continue over the next five years. Rents at the building, to be managed by JBG Smith, will target households earning less than 80% of the area median income. The agreement is for 99 years.
Residents were notified about the changes on Dec. 31 in a letter, obtained by Washington Business Journal.
“With Amazon’s support, we are advancing our vision for inclusive, mixed-income communities of racially diverse middle-income and low-income families and individuals, to live near their employment and access high-performing schools and community amenities,” Driggins said.
Although another purchase was in the works last year, the purchase of Crystal House marks Washington Housing Conservancy’s first finalized purchase since the nonprofit was established in 2019.
The contributions are part of Amazon’s new Housing Equity Fund, a more than $2 billion commitment to create and preserve more than 20,000 units in Amazon’s three footholds: Arlington, the Seattle area, and Nashville.
“Amazon has a long-standing commitment to helping people in need,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO. “This new $2 billion Housing Equity Fund will create or preserve 20,000 affordable homes in all three of our headquarters regions — Arlington, Puget Sound, and Nashville. It will also help local families achieve long-term stability while building strong, inclusive communities.”
The contribution comes after nearly a decade of climbing housing costs that have outpaced the growth of household incomes.
Arlington County has lost approximately 14,400 privately-owned, affordably priced housing units since 2000, according to Amazon’s press release.
Between 2010 and 2018, the median home value climbed approximately 20% (after adjusting for inflation) and median rents climbed 11%, while median household incomes climbed only 7%, the release said.
Some residents in and around Crystal City want to open up the Roaches Run Waterfowl Sanctuary to more walking and hiking — with help from JBG Smith.
The developer owns property around Roaches Run and is interested in converting parts of its private land into a public connection accessible from the surrounding neighborhood.
This partnership is one way that the Arlington Ridge, Aurora Highlands and Crystal City civic associations propose adding open space to their neighborhoods. A second solution is to redesign and upgrade Virginia Highlands Park for more uses than sports.
The two ideas are part of a report published last week from the three associations, which have banded together to form Livability 22202. The report also recommends ways to plan new parks in Crystal City and enhance local biodiversity.
“COVID-19 has changed everyone’s thinking about open spaces,” Livability 22202 President Carol Fuller said. “The traditional parks of the past do not serve the purposes of our new world. We need to have open space, parks and trails for people to go out for casual use outdoors.”
The group is scheduled to present its recommendations to the Parks and Recreation Commission in February, she said.
Compared to other parts of the county, Pentagon City and Crystal City have fewer trails and open parks, Fuller said.
“If we did not have Long Bridge [Park] — which is fairly new — and if we didn’t have Virginia Highlands Park, we would have no trails and very little open space,” she said. (Crystal City is also served by the Mt. Vernon Trail, which connects to the neighborhood near the intersection of Crystal Drive and 18th Street S.)
Livability 22202 is proposing a loop trail and connecting trails into and out of Roaches Run. The County too is interested in turning the area into publicly-accessible natural space as the neighborhood experiences a wave of redevelopment in the wake of Amazon’s HQ2 decision — but officials indicated this spring that it could take 5-10 years to implement.
JBG Smith is willing to make use of its land to advance the broader open space discussion happening in National Landing — the collective term for Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard — Andrew VanHorn, Executive Vice President, JBG Smith said in a statement.
“JBG Smith is supportive of plans that would make Roaches Run more accessible to the community and allow more people to enjoy this important natural asset,” he said.
VanHorn added that JBG Smith welcomes “the opportunity to work with the community, the County Board, and the National Park Service to help make this vision a reality.”
“One of the problems with Virginia Highlands is it’s primarily for recreation,” such as tennis or softball, she said. “It needs an upgrade badly.”
At 18 acres, it is one of Arlington’s largest parks, but suffers from underused and wasted space, at least according to the authors.
The Aurora Highlands Civic Association has long pushed for changes to the park, and this upcoming fiscal year the County was slated to start developing a master plan for it.
But that plan is now on hold, Fuller said. So, in the meantime, Livability 22202 is proposing upgrades that include a gathering space, a sledding site, better lighting, permanent community gardens and a dog run — similar to the dog park proposed by a separate local group.
Money is perhaps the biggest missing ingredient for making changes to Roaches Run and Virginia Highlands Park, Fuller said.
“COVID-19 has not only shown us great need for open space, but it also destroyed the budget to give it to us,” Fuller said.