Arlington County, Virginia - National Award for Smart Growth Achievement - 2002 Winners Presentation
Category: Overall Excellence in Smart Growth
Arlington's planning approach places dense, mixed-use, infill development at five Metro stations and tapers it down to residential neighborhoods. The result? Over 21 million square feet of office/retail/commercial space, 3,000+ hotel rooms, and 22,500 residential units creating vibrant "urban villages" where people live, shop,work and play using transit, pedestrian walkways, bicycles or cars.
Arlington County uses smart growth principles to generate residential, retail and recreational development around the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor of Metro stations. The corridor includes five stations: Rosslyn, Court House, Clarendon, Virginia Square, and Ballston. Arlington adopted a General Land Use Plan (GLUP) to concentrate dense, mixed-use development at the stations and developed sector plans to ensure that each station maintained a distinct sense of community. Incentive zoning is used to attract private sector transit-oriented development.
The sector plans set goals for type of use, open space, infrastructure and design. Each plan focuses growth within a walkable radius of the stations, and preserves established neighborhoods and natural areas. Arlington's urban villages emphasize pedestrian access and safety, and incorporate public art, "pocket" parks, wide sidewalks with restaurant seating, bike lanes, street trees, traffic calming, and street-level retail. A site plan review links goals in the GLUP with details of each proposed project.
Metro station locations and the GLUP continue to guide development. Between 1999 and 2002, the corridor gained 2,500 apartments and condos, 1.5 million square feet of office space, 379,000 square feet of retail space, and five miles of bike lanes. The corridor is so popular that preserving affordable housing is a challenge. In 2001, Arlington adopted an expanded bonus density provision for development of affordable housing, allowing up to 25 percent more density.
The transit successes and corresponding environmental performance are impressive. Metro ridership doubled in the corridor between 1991 and 2002. Nearly 50 percent of corridor residents use transit to commute. As of the end of 2001, the corridor has over 18.3 million square feet of office space, 3.4 million square feet of retail/commercial space, over 3,000 hotel rooms, and 22,500 residential units - with much more under construction. Creating this development at typical suburban densities could consume over 14 square miles of open space compared to the roughly two square mile Rosslyn-Ballston corridor.
The Corridor as a Model
Many of Arlington's policies and procedures could be implemented in other communities. Planning density around Metro stops is a model for directing growth to new or existing transit corridors while protecting older neighborhoods and natural areas. When residents are involved in developing plans, they are more likely to support density at the stations and the amenities it can provide for the neighborhood.
Community partnerships such as the Ballston Partnership, Clarendon Alliance, and Rosslyn Renaissance ensure full and active participation by citizens and businesses in nearly all public and private development and policy decisions. The County solicits citizen input through over 40 Board-appointed County Commissions and nearly 60 neighborhood civic associations. Arlington uses a comprehensive site plan review process including public meetings with staff, citizens, County Commissions, and developers.
"Arlington County has
maintained its political
and economic commitment
redevelopment for three
decades. Residents support
the smart growth program
because they participate
in developing plans and
reviewing projects, pay low
taxes thanks to the strong
commercial tax base, and
enjoy the convenient shops,
services and transit."
- Carrie Johnson, Member of Arlington County Planning Commission and long-time resident
For More Information
Robert Brosman (Rbrosman@co.arlington.va.us)
Department of Community Planning, Housing, and Development