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It is no secret that the Commonwealth of Virginia is the first choice for business in the Washington-Metro Region (being exceedingly more pro-business than the District of Columbia and Maryland), and for the past several decades, Arlington County and the City of Alexandria, with a few exceptions, have had a virtual monopoly over the Metro in Northern Virginia, access to quite a bit of DOD and other federal bucks (in part because of the access this mass transit provided to federal agencies for businesses and federal employees, etc.)  But let’s be blunt; while good urban planning has played a serious role in the urban expansion across the river from DC in Virginia, good urban planning is basically a symptom of great location, location, location.  Arlington and Alexandria have had the benefit of being immediately adjacent to the federal trough in the most business-friendly state in the region with a monopoly over mass rail transit.  These are the core reasons that they have enjoyed their prosperity and growth.  

As promised, just wanted to circle back with the results of yesterday's Commonwealth Transportation Board hearing.  It is official, the Commonwealth Transportation Board passed the actions necessary to transfer Columbia Pike to Arlington County, with assurances from Arlington County staff that they would preserve the functionality of Columbia Pike and that there were plans to do so in place.  This action is a major step for the Columbia Pike Revitalization Initiative, giving Arlington County the control it has wanted over streetscape, pedestrian, transportation, street and intersection alignment, and its street car planning.

All this comes despite the ongoing lawsuit between Arlington County, VDOT and others.

The Arlington County Board will be deciding whether to approve a series of amendments to Arlington's Comprehensive Plan relating to Crystal City at their hearing at the end of September, after several years of evaluation on how best to react to the loss of approximately 17,000 jobs and over 4 million square feet of occupied office space due to the recommendations of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC).  Specifically, the County Board will decide whether to adopt the new Crystal City Sector Plan 2050, and modify the General Land Use Plan and the Master Transportation Plan.

With Long Bridge Park and the Pentagon to the north, the airport and the river to the east, Aurora Highlands and Pentagon City to the west and Alexandria/Potomac Yards to the South, existing metro and VRE access, Crystal City seems well poised to make a comeback.  Here is an exhibit showing Crystal City's existing conditions.  The plan specifically outlines which sites are expected to be redeveloped, which sites have potential for redevelopment, and which sites are expected to remain for the life of the plan (click here for the comparison). Much like the Tyson's Corner Plan, Crystal City's 260 acres are broken up into proposed "districts" (shown here), including the Northwest Gateway, Northeast Gateway, Central Business, Entertainment, South End and West Side Districts, each with their own respective district-level focus.

I know most people out there who follow land use in the DC metro area are pretty familiar with the Columbia Pike Revitalization Plan and the Columbia Pike Form Based Code.  Then, like many others, you've probably wondered what will happen to the trolley system once Columbia Pike hits the Arlington County line?  Well, instead of continuing to head west down the corridor, it abruptly bangs a left at the county line, and heads south up the hill to Skyline (here is a transit plan showing approximate station locations and here is an aerial transit plan overlay).

For those of you that follow our blog who are familiar with land use planning in Virginia, I'm sure you already know that localities are required by the Code of Virginia to create and adopt a Comprehensive Plan.  Typically, a Comprehensive Plan contains a land use plan component, a transportation plan component, various engineering plans, and open space plans, among other things.  Makes sense right?  It is common sense that localities should plan the build-out of their communities in a logical manner, taking into considerations planned densities and uses, necessary transportation systems, and the infrastructure to support everything.

In what appears to be an effort to allow localities to provide additional incentives to redevelop certain areas or sites, both houses of the General Assembly have voted to modify Section 15.2-2316.2 of the Code of Virginia, better known as the "TDR Statute" (inclusive of Section 15.2-2316.1 as well).  Previously, transferable development rights ("TDRs") severed from a "sending" site or area could only be equal to the TDRs permitted to be attached to the "receiving" site.  The modification now allows TDRs transferred to receiving sites to be greater than those severed from the sending sites. 

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.