General Land Use Plan Study Sets Stage for Changes for Washington Bou

Published on November 18, 2017

  • Board adopts study that finds broader mix of uses, increased building height and density could be appropriate

  • Concept plan provides guiding parameters for circulation, public space, land use, building height and form

The Arlington County Board today adopted a General Land Use Plan Study and Concept Plan that will serve as a long-range planning guide for potential redevelopment of three sites northwest of the Washington Boulevard and Kirkwood Road intersection as well as the balance of commercial properties in the area fronting on Washington Boulevard. This area had not been included in the study when the Virginia Square Sector Plan was developed in 2002.

The three sites, currently home to the YMCA Arlington campus, an American Legion Building, and an assemblage of properties controlled by Eleventh Street Development, LLC, lie outside the northern edge of Virginia Square. In 2016, the study was spurred by individual requests to change the GLUP designation for all three sites.

The study resulted in a set of planning concepts and recommendations to guide coordinated redevelopment across the entire block, and identifies and outlines guiding principles and other desirable elements that should be incorporated into any future site plan application for redevelopment that may be proposed on the block.

"The key questions this study answered were: are potential increases in development intensity on these sites appropriate to advance our development and growth policies, and would those increases encourage the area's transition into a more pedestrian-oriented, context-sensitive place," Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette said. "After significant analysis and discussion, the answer to both questions is yes."

The Board voted unanimously to adopt the study and concept plan, concurrent with several associated specific GLUP and Master Transportation Plan (MTP) amendments. The Board also authorized advertisement of future public hearings by the Planning Commission and the County Board for the GLUP amendments requested for each of the three sites to date that will be held in conjunction with the review of future site plans associated with each site.

When held, the future public hearings will consider the following GLUP amendments:

  • Re-designate the Eleventh Street Development site from "Service Commercial" to "Medium" Office-Apartment-Hotel;

  • Re-designate the American Legion site from "Service Commercial" and "Semi-Public" to "Medium" Office-Apartment-Hotel; and

  • Re-designate the YMCA site amendment from "Semi-Public" to "Low" Office-Apartment-Hotel."

Although these GLUP designations typically correspond to zoning districts permitting significantly greater building height, the adopted plan's recommendations will set the policy that limits building heights up to six and seven stories closest to Washington Boulevard, stepping down to four stories approaching the neighborhood and three stories approaching the neighborhood west of N. Lynnbrook Drive.

To read the staff report and related documents, scroll down to Item No. 44 on the agenda for the November 18, 2017 Regular County Board Meeting. The draft study is available on the County the staff report and related document

Special GLUP Study

The County's GLUP is the primary policy guide for future development in Arlington. It establishes the overall character, extent and location of various land uses. In 2008, the County Board adopted a policy calling for a community review process where a requested land use change is lacking or inconsistent with guidance set forth in an adopted plan. The policy's goal is to ensure that unanticipated GLUP amendment requests are thoroughly reviewed to evaluate their appropriateness before — and independent of — the review of a specifically defined site plan application.

The three sites requesting changes that led to the Special GLUP study were not specifically addressed by the 2002 Virginia Square Sector Plan, because they lie just outside the Virginia Square Metro Station Area.

Public Process

The County's Long Range Planning Committee (LRPC), which was expanded to include other stakeholders and representatives beyond just the Planning Commission and civic association within which the sites are located, worked with staff to address the study in five meetings between October 2016 and July 2017. Several of the meetings included opportunities for public comment.Staff also hosted a community walking tour and open house on May 1, 2017, which allowed participants to get a better sense of existing conditions and potential spatial relationships of features across the study area and its surroundings, and to provide input that would influence the direction of additional modeling.

Staff held a second open house on November 1, 2017, to inform the community of the study and plan's recommendations, and to address related questions. The County Board also took public testimony at its October 21, 2017, meeting, when it considered a Request to Advertise public hearings on its adoption of the Washington Boulevard and Kirkwood Road Special GLUP Study "Plus" and Concept Plan. Several County advisory commissions also reviewed the study.

To read the GLUP Study, the staff report and related documents, scroll down to Item No. 44 on the agenda for the Saturday, November 18, 2017 Regular County Board Meeting.