Arlington Eyes the Rosslyn of Tomorrow
by Michael Neibauer
Rosslyn, VA - March 16, 2012 - Arlington County is embarking on an update to its 20-year plan for Rosslyn, an ongoing effort to guide the transformation of a key central business district from an auto-dependent, 1970s-era office market into a more balanced, urban village.
Despite its closeness to D.C., its location at the convergence of Metro’s Blue and Orange lines and its connection to numerous major highways, Rosslyn still has the feel of a barely walkable, auto-oriented office zone — because that’s what it was built to be.
Once a neighborhood of low-rise warehouses and service stations, Rosslyn was transformed into an office hub during the late 1960s in response to a leasing spree by the federal government.
Rosslyn is home to about 8.3 million square feet of office space (including space occupied by the Washington Business Journal and 7,260 residential units. By 2030, Arlington planners expect to see an additional 4.5 million square feet of office space, 2,700 more residential units, 750 more hotels rooms and 200,000 square feet of new retail space.
The sector plan update will establish urban design guidelines, recommend building heights, identify changes to the transportation network and parking availability, and develop a framework for parks and open space. The county is in the market for a consultant to lead that project. Responses to the request for proposals are due by March 26.
Arlington planners envision Rosslyn as an 18-hour-a-day neighborhood, with office still a heavy focus but more residential at its heart. That vision has not changed since 1992, but the climb to reach it has been slow. The RFP acknowledges the area’s shortcomings.
Over time, Arlington has tried to replan Rosslyn, but has had only a smattering of success. The process started in 1977 with the Rosslyn Transit Station Area Study, continued in 1992 with the Rosslyn Station Area Plan Addendum and got another push in 1996 with the creation of “C-O Rosslyn” — a zoning district designed to permit enough density to realize major redevelopments and renovation projects.
“I think we’ve seen some of that evolve over the past 15 years, but it really is a question of critical mass,” said Anthony Fusarelli, an urban planner in the county’s planning division. “I think we’ve made incremental progress since the 1992 plan was updated.”
No two developers will have more impact on Rosslyn’s future than Monday Properties and The JBG Cos.
Monday’s 35-story 1812 N. Moore St. and JBG’s two-tower Central Place will add more than 1 million square feet of office space, hundreds of residential units and a public plaza. JBG’s Sedona and Slate, at 1500 Clarendon Blvd., will bring 400-plus apartments and 25 townhouses.
Brian Coulter, JBG’s chief development officer, said Central Place and 1812 N. Moore will usher in a new “work, play, live” era for Rosslyn, “which will provide the long needed deeper amenity base and new urban residences.”