Arlington County's Long-Range Plan to Revitalize Crystal City Wins 2013 National Planning Achievement Award

UPDATED 04-30-2013: To include photo of the Crystal City Plan team receiving the award.

  • Innovative plan designed to meet BRAC challenge
  • Extensive civic engagement process and collaboration
  • First tax increment financing area adopted in Arlington to fund public infrastructure improvements

ARLINGTON, Va. – The Crystal City Sector Plan, a long-range vision crafted jointly by community members and County government, has won the American Planning Association’s 2013 National Planning Achievement Award for Innovation in Economic Planning and Development.

The Sector Plan provides a planning roadmap for transforming Crystal City into a more complete, vibrant, walkable and transit-oriented neighborhood.

Arlington will receive the award on April 16, 2013 at APA’s National Planning Conference in Chicago.

“This award was earned by all those members of the community who brought their ideas and their passion into this process and devoted years to reimagining Crystal City,” said Arlington County Board Chairman J. Walter Tejada. “This ambitious, creative plan is already beginning to make Crystal City an even better place to live, work and play, and to help Arlington meet the serious challenges posed by BRAC.”

BRAC, the Pentagon’s Base Realignment and Closing process, is expected to result in the loss of 17,000 jobs in Arlington and the vacancy of 4.2 million square feet of office space – primarily in Rosslyn and Crystal City.

“The Crystal City Plan demonstrates how planning can address the challenges facing our communities,” said Ann C. Bagley, FAICP, 2013 APA Awards Jury chair. “Combining economic analyses with planning best practices has created an implementable plan with an eye toward the future.”

The 40-year long-range plan is a pioneer in the use of economic analysis for planning purposes. It also is among the first of its kind to closely study the economics of demolishing and replacing major commercial buildings. Its economic findings led to an infrastructure finance plan addressing costs and estimating increasingly substantial tax yields anticipated in the coming decades.

Improvements to include streetcar, more homes, greater density

Among the improvements planned for Crystal City are a streetcar line along the Route 1 corridor that will run from the Pentagon City Metrorail station through Crystal City to Potomac Yard; buildings up to 300 feet tall in strategic areas; 7,500 new homes; the transformation of Jefferson Davis Highway into an urban boulevard linking Crystal City’s east and west neighborhoods; ground floor retail stores and improved design and quality for public open spaces.

The Crystal City Sector Plan is already producing results:

  • The transformation of an obsolete 276,000 square foot office building vacated by BRAC is undergoing a substantial rehabilitation and conversion to a Class A building.
  • Another empty BRAC building is being demolished, and will be replaced by a new 730,000 square feet Class A office building and temporary public plaza entitled in September 2012.
  • A former Post Office site is seeking to gain entitlements in the next few months for construction of a 203-unit residential building.
  • A $3 million contribution, thus far, to a tax increment financing district through increased values resulting from the plan.
  • The award of $25 million in construction contracts for street improvements.

Other recent improvements in Crystal City that dovetail with the many goals of the Sector Plan include:

  • A 453,000 square feet regional/international headquarters building for the Boeing Company is under construction just outside the planning area, for occupancy in 2014.
  • A 204,000 square feet office building vacated by BRAC was converted to residential use in 2009 with the addition of six floors for 266 units.

About APA’s National Planning Awards

The American Planning Association (APA)‘s National Planning Awards recognize outstanding community plans, planning programs and initiatives, public education efforts, and individuals for their leadership on planning issues. These efforts help create communities of lasting value throughout the country — and the world.


The County Board adopted the Crystal City Sector Plan in 2010. The 40-year long-range plan is the result of extensive work with the community, including more than 90 public meetings over a four year period.

The plan embodies the community’s vision to transform the Crystal City area by encouraging new development through density and other incentives, improving the streets, sidewalks and other public infrastructure, upgrading open space and increasing transit options.

Broad partnership produced award-winning plan

In addition to the many citizen and business community participants, the partners with the County in this project included Torti Gallas and Partners (lead planning and urban design consultant), Kimley-Horn and Associates (transportation consultant), DMJM Harris | AECOM (transportation consultant), EDAW (landscape planning consultant), Economics Research Associates (economics and market consultant), NelsonNygaard Consulting Associates (transportation consultant), Robert Charles Lesser & Company (real estate consultant), and Vladislav Yeliseyev (architectural illustrator).

Learn more about the Crystal City Sector Plan.

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.