- Shaping Pike residential development for next 30 years
- Expected to add 9,500 new homes
- Helping reach goal of preserving affordability
- Culmination of years-long planning effort
ARLINGTON, Va. – The Arlington County Board today adopted several new Planning and Zoning tools that could add 9,500 new homes along Columbia Pike over the next 30 years, and will help the County reach the Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Area Plan goal of preserving the affordability of approximately 6,200 market rate affordable homes.
The tools are meant to make good on the County’s commitment to preserve the Pike’s diversity as it transforms the area into a more pedestrian-friendly, transit-supported “Main Street,” by preserving all existing market rate affordable homes along the corridor.
A core implementation strategy for implementing the Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Area Plan is a new Form Based Code for the Pike’s residential areas, particularly areas where apartments and multi-family complexes are concentrated, that includes affordable housing requirements. The new Code is meant to complement the Form Based Code enacted in 2003 for the Pike’s commercial centers.
“We’ve made a commitment as a community to ensure that the residents who currently live on Columbia Pike will not be displaced as the area gets redeveloped,” said J. Walter Tejada, chairman of the Arlington County Board. “These tools offer developers and property owners real incentives to retain existing affordable homes and to build new ones.”
The County Board voted 5-0 to adopt amendments to the General Land Use Plan, Master Transportation Plan and Transfer of Development Rights policies, and to adopt the new Form Based Code. The Board also voted to hold public hearings on other new financial tools, and to make final decisions on the specific implementation details for the Transfer of Development Rights tool for Columbia Pike at its December, 2013 meeting.
Neighborhoods Form Based Code
The new Neighborhoods Form Based Code (FBC) is a zoning tool that will be available to property owners within the proposed Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Special Revitalization District. The primarily focus of the Neighborhoods FBC is on the multi-family residential areas along the Pike where apartments and multi-family complexes are concentrated.
Developers and property owners who choose to use the FBC will be able to add more density than allowed under by right zoning, and to expedite construction. The Neighborhoods FBC will be a key tool to help the County achieve its affordable housing goals. The FBC will guide redevelopment over 30 or more years, and is expected to add 9,500 homes along the Pike.
The code provides straight-forward prescriptive standards for building form, use and architecture. Less complex projects may be approved without formal County Board hearings; more complex projects, and those that are within or abut Conservation Areas or involve Transfer of Development Rights (TDR), will require County Board approval of a use permit. Projects will be reviewed by County staff and the Neighborhoods FBC Working Group, which includes members from civic associations, the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization (CPRO), several advisory commissions and developers.
Highlights of the Neighborhoods FBC include:
- Affordable Housing Requirements – All development projects under the Neighborhoods FBC are required to set aside between 20 percent and 35 percent of the net new units for affordable housing. The affordable housing units must remain affordable for at least 30 years for households earning 60 percent of the Area Median Income; 50 percent of the units must be two or more bedrooms to accommodate families with children.
- Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) – Density for one site can be transferred to another part of the project site or another site within the Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Special Revitalization District; or to areas in the County to create new public open spaces, or to preserve affordable housing units. The County Board has deferred this item for consideration in December.
- Green Building Standards – All buildings approved under Neighborhoods FBC will be energy efficient and will meet green building standards, based on the type of construction proposed. Large apartment buildings will meet LEED Silver Certification.
- Conservation Area Standards – The Neighborhoods Plan outlined incentives for two properties – Fillmore Gardens and Barcroft Apartments – in order to maintain the historic buildings and the affordable housing within them, including the TDR and partial redevelopment areas. Conservation Area standards will guide renovations or additions in these areas, to ensure that changes are undertaken in a manner compatible with the existing building design. The Historical Affairs and Landmarks Review Board (HALRB) will be involved in the review of these projects.
More discussion of implementation tools will occur next month in December. The Neighborhoods FBC is one of several implementation tools recommended to implement the Neighborhoods Area Plan. The County Board also authorized public hearings in December on financial tools including Tax Increment Financing (TIF), and a Transit Oriented Affordable Housing Fund (TOAH). The TOAH fund will help affordable housing developers applying for Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) pay for County fees and infrastructure-related costs. These tools were reviewed by the Financial Implementation Tools (FIT) Review Committee, a working group consisting of property owners, developers, members from the Housing Commission and Planning Commission, housing advocates, and other financial experts.
The Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Area Plan provides a framework for future public and private investment decisions to match community goals of creating a diverse community with a mix of housing options for current and future residents, while transforming the neighborhood to a “green” neighborhood with sustainable buildings, public spaces, shopping, sidewalks, new streets, landscape and access to various modes of transportation.
The ambitious plan seeks to find the right balance among goals of maintaining a mixed-income community with the preservation of affordable housing, improving the urban form of buildings and public space, and preserving historically significant buildings. Since the late 1990s, Arlington County has partnered with residents, community leaders, and owners of businesses and property along the Pike to plan the corridor’s revitalization. Initial planning focused on improving the commercial centers.
In 2003, the County adopted the innovative Form Based Code (FBC) for Columbia Pike’s commercial areas to activate the main street with mixed-use and transit-oriented development. Developers and property owners who chose to develop under the commercial FBC went through a streamlined review process.
Since the adoption of the FBC, the tool has been used for 10 development projects, including more than 1,500 homes, more than 280,000 square feet of commercial retail and office, a new community center, and a new public plaza.
Learn more about revitalization efforts on Columbia Pike.