Arlington County Board Adopts Rosslyn Plan Framework

Updated 06-05-2014, 3:40pm: Updated links, fixed minor typo, and updated next steps.

  • Foundation for Rosslyn Sector Plan Update
  • Vision, recommendations for Rosslyn's future
  • Milestone in community planning process

ARLINGTON, Va. — The Arlington County Board today adopted the Rosslyn Plan Framework, an important foundation for developing the final Rosslyn Sector Plan Update.

The framework lays out the vision and broad recommendations for how the community would like to see the area improve. It focuses on upgrades to parks and open spaces, transportation, improved urban design, and developing a new building heights policy. Its adoption is a key milestone in the long range Realize Rosslyn community planning process.

“This is a bold and exciting framework to ensure Rosslyn becomes a more vibrant and dynamic 'downtown' for Arlington,” said Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette. “We envision Rosslyn to be an economically and environmentally sustainable global destination — an economic engine for the region and the Commonwealth. Its diverse population will enjoy great transportation, tree-lined streets, a network of new public spaces and better connectivity to the river. We look forward to building on this framework to complete the Rosslyn Sector Plan Update this year.”

The Board voted 5-0 to adopt the Rosslyn Plan Framework.

Vision Principles

The Rosslyn Plan Framework lists six vision principles to guide future developments and improvements. Under these principles, Rosslyn will be:

  • A global destination with a dynamic skyline, unique vistas, and exceptional value.
  • Rosslyn will be accessible via exceptional transportation connections and choices.
  • A walkable neighborhood connecting people with community and choices.
  • A good neighbor to adjacent communities, making sensitive transitions of building form and offering complementary housing and service options.
  • An urban district that celebrates its relationship with nature through its diverse network of public parks, open spaces, and tree-lined streets.
  • A dynamic place inspired by its mix of people and activity.


The framework includes major recommendations, grouped under categories of Transportation; Public Parks and Open Space; Building Heights and Form; and Urban Design, Land Use and Sustainability, that emerged through the community planning process. Recommendations include:

  • Continuing to advance Rosslyn's transformation into a high-density, mixed-use district, consistent with the General Land Use Plan (GLUP).
  • Building more housing in central Rosslyn.
  • Encouraging more varied building facades and adding distinction to the Rosslyn skyline.
  • Enhancing connectivity among a diverse network of public open spaces, including the riverfront, an Esplanade, a revitalized Freedom Park, and the extended 18th Street corridor.
  • Making Rosslyn one of the premier transit hubs in the region by working with WMATA on long-term plans for a second Rosslyn Metro Station, enhancing local and regional bus service in Rosslyn and preserving the potential for a future extension of the planned streetcar line from Georgetown to Union Station.
  • Transforming the pedestrian and bicycle networks with wider sidewalks and new walkways as well as additional bike lanes/cycle tracks.

Background and Process

The Rosslyn Sector Plan Update is meant to complete the transformation of Rosslyn from an auto-oriented office district into a walkable and dynamic mixed-use urban center that served as a gateway to Arlington. The process of transformation began with the 1992 Rosslyn Station Area Plan Addendum. The Rosslyn Sector Plan Update will be the first in-depth modernization of the plan in more than 20 years.

The County launched the Realize Rosslyn community planning effort in December 2012. Since then, the County has held more than 30 public meetings, workshops and outreach events to find out what the community believes Rosslyn should look like in the future. Staff responded to hundreds of questions and comments, and fine-tuned the framework based on what it heard from the public.

Next Steps

County staff and consultants will continue to work with the community to craft the full Rosslyn Sector Plan Update. Staff plans to gather input at a number of upcoming meetings and open houses. See the schedule of events online.

Staff expects to present the County Board with the final draft of the Rosslyn Sector Plan Update by spring 2015.

To read the staff report on this item, visit the County website. Choose the April 12 Arlington County Board Regular Meeting, and scroll down to Item #33 on the Agenda.

Arlington Va., is a world-class residential, business and tourist location that was originally part of the “10 miles square” parcel of land surveyed in 1791 to be the Nation's Capital. Slightly smaller than 26 square miles, it is the geographically smallest self-governing county in the United States, and one of only a handful with the prized Aaa/AAA/AAA bond rating. Arlington maintains a rich variety of stable neighborhoods and quality schools, and has received numerous awards for Smart Growth and transit-oriented development. Home to some of the most influential organizations in the world — including the Pentagon — Arlington stands out as one of America's preeminent places to live, visit and do business.