Columbia Pike Initiative Wins Award for “Best Corridor Plan”

  • Planning efforts praised for garnering widespread community support
  • “Diversity has remained key”
  • Streetcar line identified as key element of success

ARLINGTON, Va. – The Congress for New Urbanism has awarded Arlington County's Columbia Pike Initiative, designed to transform the Columbia Pike area to a walkable mixed-used main street, its 2014 “Best Corridor Plan.”

“The jury was very impressed with the design elements of this high profile and important urban corridor,” said Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) jury member Brent Toderian. “The Plan addressed a broad variety of important urban issues, from affordability to creating and enlivening public space, in their linear corridor thinking.”

County staff received the Charter award at the 2014 CNU conference in Buffalo, NY. The CNU is a leading organization promoting walkable, mixed-use neighborhood development, sustainable communities and healthier living conditions.

“This award acknowledges our community's hard work – and years of planning – to transform Columbia Pike into a more transit-oriented, walkable ‘Main Street' and an even better place for people of all incomes to live,” said Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette. “We're already seeing the investment resulting from good planning and anticipation of the streetcar. This is further validation of Arlington's approach of linking land use and transportation planning.”

Carrying out the community's vision

Arlington County was recognized for more than 15 years of planning efforts. Since the late 1990s, the County has partnered with residents, community leaders, and owners of businesses and properties along the Pike to plan the corridor's revitalization. The Columbia Pike Initiative Plan, adopted in 2002 and updated in 2005, established the original Main Street vision and focused on mixed-use development, improving the urban form of buildings and public space, and preserving historically significant buildings in the commercial centers. In 2003, the County adopted the innovative Form Based Code for the Pike's commercial centers to implement this vision.

For the surrounding residential areas, the County Board adopted the Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Area Plan in 2012, which represented the culmination of the second phase of the Initiative. The Neighborhoods Area Plan provides direction for future public and private investment decisions to match community goals of creating a walkable and bicycle-friendly corridor, and sustaining the current 6,200 units of affordable housing even as significant redevelopment occurs, allowing the corridor and its neighborhoods to continue serving a diverse population with a broad mix of incomes. Following the success of the FBC for the commercial areas, the County also adopted a second Form Based Code to implement the Neighborhoods Area Plan.

Since 2003, the Pike has been transforming, with many more opportunities for improvements in the future. More than 1,500 residential units and 220,000 square feet of commercial space were added, including 200 committed affordable units and 40,000 square feet of community uses.

The FBC is one of many planning tools used to revitalize the Pike.

Streetcars encourage smart development

The County also is moving forward with a new streetcar line for Columbia Pike, which will add high quality, high capacity transit to the corridor and provide further incentive for landowners to choose to develop there. The streetcar alignment will link the Bailey's Crossroads/Skyline area of Fairfax County, through Columbia Pike, with the Pentagon City Metro station area. The integration of the streetcar will help to mitigate the potential traffic congestion along the corridor by cutting back on automobile congestion. The current effort to integrate a streetcar into the corridor's revitalization plans was also noted as a key element of the award selection by CNU. View “Why Streetcar?” info.

Learn more about revitalization efforts on Columbia Pike.

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.