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This blog focuses on real estate, land use and construction-related topics affecting Virginia and the Washington, D.C. metro area. With topics ranging from contract drafting and negotiation to local and regional land use project updates, the attorneys at Bean, Kinney & Korman provide timely insight and commentary on the issues affecting owners, builders, developers, contractors, subcontractors and other players in the industry. If you are interested in having us cover a specific topic, please let us know.

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Posts tagged Urban Planning.

The Residential Parking Working Group was tasked by Arlington’s County Manager with recommending updates to the current parking policy for Site Plan and Mixed Use Development use permit projects in Arlington’s Rosslyn-Ballston and Jefferson Davis Metro corridors (the “Study Area”). As many members of our community can agree, providing the appropriate amount of parking for a new residential building can be a delicate balance. 

Currently, when a project is under review by the Board for site plan or use permit approval, the Board can agree to depart from the parking requirements within the zoning ordinance.  The goal of this working group, which is expected to wrap up its efforts in the coming month, is to deliver a recommended methodology and implementation plan to guide County Development Review staff in evaluating and approving multifamily residential site plan developments within the Study Area – the idea being that developers and community members alike could benefit from more certainty in the approval process.

According to a good source, GSA and WMATA are working on a new policy to allow GSA to modify its rent caps for sites that meet certain transit oriented development criteria (i.e. sites within a certain proximity to Metro stations, etc.).  As many of our readers know, GSA caps its rents as a result of negotiations with OMB per rules created to implement the Budget Enforcement Act of 1990. OMB (through Circular A-11) created a set of rules which are used to determine whether a federal lease is an "Operating" or "Capital" Lease. To make a long story short, GSA and OMB have agreed to rent caps to make it easy to stay within "Operating Lease" guidelines. The current Operating Lease rent caps are $34/SF in Maryland, $38/SF in Virginia, and $49/SF in the District of Columbia.  With vacancies finally falling and rental rates starting to rise, the natural effect of these caps will be to push federal office space development away from mass transit locations, which yield the highest rental rates.  Currently, big chunks of space for federal agencies just aren't normally available below these price caps where there are mass transit services available.

Have you heard the DC Zoning Commission is looking into adopting a new set of GAR requirements?  No, we're not talking about the kind of fish that eats every other kind of fish it can fit in its mouth, we're talking about Green Area Ratio ("GAR") requirements.  According to the report prepared by DC zoning staff, the GAR concept is not a new concept, but is a Low Impact Development best management practices tool used in major cities in Europe such as Berlin and Malmo.

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 Commonwealth Transportation Board is scheduled to finalize the deal and take the necessary actions to convey Columbia Pike to Arlington County tomorrow, being the culmination of many years of urban and transportation planning by Arlington County, the Columbia Pike community, and the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization.  This is in response to the Resolution passed by the Arlington County Board back in July of 2009 to acquire Columbia Pike from the Commonwealth in order to clear the way for construction of the planned street car system along Columbia Pike in Arlington County and to help realize the goals and visions of the Columbia Pike Revitalization Initiative.

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.