The Arlington County Board today adopted a park master plan and design guidelines for the expansion and transformation of Pentagon City’s Metropolitan Park.
The 2.47-acre public park will create an urban oasis on the site of Amazon’s east coast headquarters. Amazon agreed as part of its community benefits package for its headquarters site plan to provide the $14 million needed for the renovation, and to maintain the park in perpetuity. The headquarters and park are expected to open in 2023.
“This innovative design will create a park with amenities for residents, office workers, and visitors, of all ages and abilities, to enjoy for generations to come,” County Board Chair Libby Garvey said. “The public engagement process produced a plan that we can all be proud of, a plan that will transform Met Park into the green heart of Pentagon and Crystal cities.”
The Board voted unanimously to adopt the park master plan and design guidelines. To read the staff report and view the staff presentation, including details of the plan and guidelines, visit the County website. Scroll to Item No.44 on the agenda for the Saturday, September 12, 2020, Regular Meeting.
The County’s Department of Parks and Recreation, developer JBG Smith, and Amazon through its contracted landscape design team, James Corner Field Operations, developed the plan through a six-month public engagement process. The engagement process included broad in-person and virtual community engagement opportunities as well as County advisory commission and committee review as required under the Met Park site plan condition. The plan applies biophilic principles by expanding natural elements within the built environment.
- Large social tables at the northwestern corner of the site, within an edible garden, envisioned as a hub of community gathering for meals and celebrations.
- A Central Green for picnics, movie nights and festivals that can accommodate several hundred people.
- An Overlook situated with views of the Central Green, with a large bench shaded by a signature trellis along its western edge.
- A large playground on the southwest corner of the park, with forts, swings, climbing nets, and surrounding shade trees will have an area for children ages 2-5 and another for children ages 5-12.
- A private Children’s Garden operated by a ground floor daycare facility on the eastern portion of the site.
- A café terrace and two 2,000 sq. foot dog runs – one for small dogs and the other for large dogs, is planned across from 14th Street South in front of Met Park 7/8.
- Paths meandering through the park, including a Forest Walk in the western portion of the site between 13th and 14th streets south.
- Four clearings along the Forest Walk holding hammocks, lounge chairs, an overlook with swings in informal places to relax and linger. Widespread use of native plants.
- Public art will be incorporated into the project and will move through a separate process that will define the specific forms of public art.
Highlights of Other Board Actions at the Saturday, Sept. 12 Regular Meeting
By-right non-conforming duplex expansions in multi-family Zoning districts — The Board approved a change to the Zoning Ordinance that will allow by-right expansions and additions to nonconforming duplexes in multi-family districts. There are some 432 such duplexes, located in 14 civic associations across Arlington. Non-conforming buildings do not meet current zoning requirements.
Currently, owners of nonconforming duplexes in multi-family districts must seek a variance from the Board of Zoning Appeals to make such changes. They must demonstrate that the nonconformity is unreasonably restricting the utilization of the property and that the variance would alleviate a hardship. The amendment furthers the goals of the Affordable Housing Master Plan, which called for reinvestment in existing housing stock that contributes to the overall diversity of housing countywide and preserves and supports existing affordable housing.
The Board voted unanimously to adopt the amendment. To read the staff report, scroll to Item No. 45 on the agenda for the Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020, Regular County Board Meeting.
Supporting VDOT plan to improve Arlington Boulevard between Glebe Road and Fillmore Road — The Board voted 4 to 1, with Board Member Takis Karantonis voting no, to support Arlington’s request that the Commonwealth provide $25.1 million in funding to improve a .6-mile stretch of Arlington Boulevard. The project would be funded through the Commonwealth’s SMART SCALE transportation funding program.
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), owns and maintains Route 50, known as Arlington Boulevard within Arlington’s boundaries. The six-lane, undivided road’s crash rate in the study area is nearly double the crash rate for Northern Virginia primary roads. VDOT evaluated operations and safety conditions along Arlington Boulevard from Glebe Road to Fillmore Road, with community input, and developed a preferred alternative for changes meant to decrease the high rate of crashes and improve safety.
VDOT conducted public outreach on proposed alternatives, including two surveys with a total of more than 2,000 participants.
If funded by the Commonwealth, the project would divide the roadway with three lanes in each direction; a raised median; shared-use paths on both sides of the roadway; new dedicated left turn lanes and traffic signal heads at Irving Street; an extended left turn lane westbound at Fillmore Street, and other improvements. VDOT would carry out the project. The funding would be available in Fiscal Years 2026 and 2027. To read the staff report, scroll to Item No. 46 on the agenda. Visit the VDOT study website to read the VDOT study and recommendations.
COVID-19 relief — The Board voted unanimously to accept $320,287 in funding from the Virginia Department of Health to increase COVID-19 community testing for the novel coronavirus. The funding can be used both for existing and new testing sites, to pay staff and logistics costs. To read the staff report, scroll to Item No. 34 on the Consent Agenda for the Regular County Board Meeting.
The Board also accepted a $140,000 Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services Emergency COVID-19 grant for two full-time peer recovery specialists. These specialists will enable the County to expand its Peer Recovery Support services for Fiscal Year 2021.
The two contractors will provide crisis support and outreach and engagement in the County’s emergency services and outpatient programs, to expand services to persons with serious mental illness and substance use disorders who have been impacted by COVID-19. To read the staff report, scroll to Item No. 35 on the Consent Agenda for the Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020, Regular County Board Meeting.