Arlington Village Shopping Center
Address: 2500-2516 Columbia Pike
RPC #: 32002001 - View Map
Building Date: 1939
Current Zoning: C-2
Existing Protections: None
Current Development Pressure:
The Arlington Village Shopping Center was constructed in 1939 for the residents of Arlington Village and the surrounding neighborhood of Columbia Heights. The commercial building was an integral part of a major real estate venture known as Arlington Village, which was undertaken by nationally renowned developer Gustave Ring. Designed by Washington, D.C. architect Harvey Warwick, Arlington Village was the second, large rental-housing complex constructed by Ring in Arlington County. The development, begun in October 1939, was financed through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and provided the lowest rental costs in the Washington metropolitan area. Ring and Warwick designed Arlington Village to be a complete community in itself; dwelling units were arranged in court complexes set within intimate green spaces augmented by parking, recreational parks, hidden service areas, and a shopping center with six stores. Warwick also served as architect for the Arlington Village Shopping Center, which reflects the architectural style, design, materials, and siting of its residential neighbors. Benefiting from its location along Columbia Pike, one of the most highly traveled east-west routes in Arlington County, the shopping center provided a balanced mix of everyday services and ample off-street parking that were sufficient inducements to secure a highly profitable trade.
With the accelerated growth of residential neighborhoods along Columbia Pike and the increased use of the automobile, the concept of a commercial village center was not just an amenity for the residents of Arlington Village, but was a business venture in its own right. The Arlington Village Shopping Center, was placed prominently on the south side of Columbia Pike to take advantage of both the peak traffic flow and shopping periods. Columbia Pike, the northern boundary of Arlington Village, is one of the oldest thoroughfares in Arlington County. Following the example set by the Park and Shop on Connecticut Avenue in Washington, D.C. and the Colonial Village Shopping Center, the design of the Arlington Village Shopping Center targeted the homeward-bound automobile traffic along Columbia Pike. The Shopping Center’s design reflected its orientation, with the façade designed to attract passing motorists. It provided convenient entry and egress, off-street parking and one-stop shopping that made it a destination point for residents and those traveling through the community.
The Arlington Village Shopping Center is remarkably intact and contributes to the historical and architectural significance of the larger Arlington Village. The Arlington Village Shopping Center augments the Arlington Village Historic District’s listing in the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places under Criterion C in the area of community planning and development as an economically viable amenity specifically intended to be part of the real estate project undertaken by Gustave Ring.
Fronting Columbia Pike, the building is one story in height on the north elevation. As the site slopes dramatically to the south, the exposed basement level at the rear elevation provides direct access to the parking lot. The Colonial Revival-style design of the residential buildings in Arlington Village is repeated at the shopping center. The layout of the building allows for an open floor plan on the interior of the six stores, set within a combination of roof designs intentionally preventing a symmetrical presentation along Columbia Pike. The main block is covered by flat roof flanked by hipped roof pavilions at the ends. Projecting show windows, Colonial Revival-style entry surrounds framing the single-leaf doors, brick facing laid in six-course American bond with quoins, and denticulated cornices unite the shopping center design with the residential section of Arlington Village. Access to the parking spaces in front of the building is provided by Columbia Pike where a service road is located, while side streets (South Cleveland and Barton Streets) access the parking lot at the rear.