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LOOKING TO THE FUTURE

[ 0 ] May 22, 2020 |

We need to ask ourselves how our world is going to be changed by the COVID-19 pandemic and how that could potentially affect our community in the years to come. Will Arlington County and area developers continue their inexorable march to urbanize 22202? Will high-rise, high-density elevator residential and office buildings continue to be the wave of the future? What living and working conditions will people want or be willing to accept after their frightening experience with the pandemic? Think crowded public transit versus the automobile. Will many homes become permanent offices? Or will the old normal be reestablished?

At this moment in time, the County is sponsoring a Pentagon City transportation infrastructure analysis to determine its capacity to accommodate additional growth above and beyond what is currently permitted by zoning. And that is the topic of a second study that is about to be launched. It will be sponsored by commercial property owners who are hoping to be able to demolish aging buildings and replace them with significantly larger structures. Of course, the County would welcome the additional tax revenue those larger structures would generate.

Unfortunately, the County has been anything but forthcoming in response to ARCA’s requests for detailed information about these studies. Seemingly, they are narrowly focused on just Pentagon City (including the River House property) rather than holistically focused on the entirety of 22202’s hemmed-in fortress. As a consequence they could be of little value other than, perhaps, to produce a desired result. (ARCA was successful in persuading JBGSmith to put a hold on its proposal to infill 90% of the River House open space with new apartment buildings and row houses until conclusion of these studies anticipated to be around the end of the year.)

For those of you, sequestered in your homes, who may be just a little bored and interested in learning more about our 22202 neighborhood, including fascinating demographic and transportation information, you need only click on the following link and then crawl down into its various rabbit holes: https://projects.arlingtonva.us/22202-data/   Just remember, in a year or so when the 2020 Census results will be known, those numbers will likely climb. And don’t forget to take into account the expected arrival of 25,000 Amazon employees at their new HQ2 campus in Pentagon City along with the inhabitants of the many new buildings JBGSmith will be constructing in Crystal City.   Construction of additional square feet translates into additional people coming and going in 22202 over time.   If you have questions or concerns, please share them with us at arcaneighbor@gmail.com.

Meanwhile, over the past year ARCA and the other two 22202 civic associations (Aurora Highlands and Crystal City) labored intensively to agree upon, and to assemble a “Livability Action Plan” for 22202 over the coming years which we invite you to peruse at: www.livability22202.org Cognizant of the likelihood that our neck of the woods will become far more densely populated in the coming years and thus more challenging to maintain the livability features that we currently enjoy, we set out to identify the various conditions we wish to preserve, as well as others that would enhance our neighborhoods’ livability. We then presented our Action Plan to the County, JBGSmith and other commercial developers who agreed, at least in principle, to assist us to achieve those goals. Moreover, at its April meeting the County Civic Federation adopted a resolution not only supporting our Livability Action Plan, but also the process by which we achieved it as an excellent model other civic associations might wish to adopt. (Exactly how genuine the County’s support may be, at least during the pandemic, is subject to question given that it has seemingly suspended public input processes applicable to approval of new, high-density commercial construction.)      

One unique feature of our Livability Action Plan is that it is a “living” document given that it creates an ongoing process to evaluate in depth specific projects, the result of which may be to modify or refine its objectives or goals over time. This will be accomplished by the conduct of “workshops,” comprised of interested/concerned neighbors and stakeholders focusing on specific Livability features or projects. Three workshops, focusing on 22202’s Open Space, the Crystal City Underground, and Housing/Missing Middle, got underway before the coronavirus hiatus interceded; as a consequence their progress was slowed but draft reports will be forthcoming. A fourth workshop that has yet to get underway will focus on the prospect of Route 1 being lowered to grade north of 20th Street causing 18th, 15th and 12th Streets to become signaled cross streets. Going forward, we hope that many of you will get involved, particularly if you possess relevant expertise.

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