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Posts in Urban Planning.
Arlington County Board Unanimously Approves Clarendon West

On October 20, 2015, the County Board of Arlington County unanimously approved The Shooshan Company’s 4.1 Site Plan Special Exception application for Clarendon West, a mixed-use residential and retail project. Represented by Jonathan C. Kinney and Matthew G. Roberts, the project introduces over 580,000 square feet of new development at the current site of the Red Top Cab company in Arlington County’s Clarendon neighborhood. With this approval, The Shooshan Company will build up to 580 multi-family residential units and approximately 3,500 square feet of retail space in three separate buildings. The multi-phase project includes substantial public benefits, including multiple transportation and traffic improvements along 13th Street North and Washington Boulevard, the delivery of land for a public park envisioned by the Clarendon Sector Plan and on-site affordable housing, among others.

Further details about the approval can be found on Arlington County’s website.

D.C.’s Historic Preservation Laws – Not the Zoning Regulations – Remain the Biggest Impediment for Pop-Up Development

Much has been written about “pop-ups” in the District of Columbia, including a summary of the pop-up dispute and proposed changes to the D.C. zoning regulations on this blog last fall. The lengthy and contentious public debate culminated in new zoning regulations, effective on June 26, 2015, that ostensibly limit pop-up development in some areas of the city. However, despite the new regulations, the rise of pop-ups will continue to be seen given the appetite for new housing stock in D.C. The fight now appears to be shifting to design review and local neighborhoods’ use of the city’s historic designation laws to slow down or stop pop-up development.

Fairfax County's Plans for the Route 1 Corridor

On May 12, 2015, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to endorse a phased, multimodal approach to the future expansion and development of the Route 1 Corridor between Huntington and Fort Belvoir. This will take place in the context of eventual expansions and improvement extending further to Woodbridge.

Unanimous Approval for 2025 Clarendon Boulevard

On March 14, 2015, the County Board of Arlington County unanimously approved a 4.1 Site Plan Special Exception, Rezoning and General Land Use Plan Amendment to allow Carr Properties to build over 195,000 square feet of office and ground floor retail space in Arlington’s Courthouse neighborhood. To accomplish the project, the application also included a successful Transfer of Development Rights from the nearby Wakefield and Courthouse Manor sites to preserve those historic properties. Carr Properties’ project, represented by Jonathan C. Kinney and Matthew G. Roberts, was also unanimously approved by the Planning Commission and Transportation Commission.

With these approvals, Carr will redevelop the existing Wendy’s restaurant and Wells Fargo bank sites, enlivening Wilson and Clarendon Boulevards with ground floor retail options and a generous public plaza area along North Courthouse Road. The building’s iconic architecture and glass fin will stand out in Courthouse and were designed to meet planning goals in Arlington’s “Rosslyn to Courthouse Urban Design Study.” And while office vacancies in Arlington remain high, the building’s floor plates effectively use the site’s challenging shape to meet market trends for smaller, more personal floor plates desired by tenants like the area’s burgeoning technology industry.

BlueprintRecently, the Arlington County subcommittee for NAIOP met with Bob Duffy and members of the County staff to discuss the County’s February 9, 2015 Memo regarding policies related to GFA calculation for site plan projects in Arlington County.

The Arlington Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development recently issued a memo outlining how GFA is to be calculated in development site plan projects and what exclusions may apply. Mr. Duffy, Director of Planning, explained the purpose of the Memo was to offer the development community greater certainty and clarity regarding the County policies with respect to calculation of GFA.

BlueprintA new memorandum issued by Arlington County’s Director of the Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development, Bob Brosnan, is proposing to change which areas in a building developers can expect to exclude from density calculations in a 4.1 Site Plan application.

Pop-up condo in the U Street Neighborhood

Sustained population growth in the District of Columbia in recent years has spurred a   rapid wave of construction throughout the city as upscale condominium projects   appear to spring up almost overnight to meet growing demand for housing. But while residential development has been a welcome sign of revitalization in areas from U Street to NoMa, a particular type of residential project, the “pop-up,” has been the subject of intense debate in some of Washington, D.C.’s established row house neighborhoods. In mid-July, D.C.’s Office of Planning seemed to take the side of the anti-pop-up camp when it proposed a zoning text amendment that would limit the development of pop-ups in the city. However, alternative ideas discussed at the Zoning Commission’s initial hearing on the proposal may lead to a middle-ground approach that would slow down, but not ban the rise of pop-ups in D.C.

I don't know how many people out there tracked the events at the sustainability forum out in Portland a few weeks ago, but one of the notable take-aways from the event was that HUD Secretary Donovan used the event as an opportunity to announce that HUD was launching it's new Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities (OSHC) under Deputy Secretary Ron Sims.  OSHC is funded in HUD's 2010 budget.  This follows on the heels of the announcement to create the Inter-agency Partnership for Sustainable Communities between DOT, HUD and EPA last June.

A recently completed study by Arlington's Retail Task Force outlined some interesting conclusions for ground floor retail, suggesting something contrary to the status quo of conventional urban planning thought .  Traditionally, in Arlington County, as well as other urban jurisdictions, it has been a moot argument that good urban planning require ground floor space to be used almost solely for retail, or other similar uses that are thought to improve the pedestrian experience and serve the immediate vicinity's every-day needs.  Quite frankly, ground floor retail is simply expected by jurisdictions for almost all urban projects.