Housing on Columbia Pike

Preserving 6,200 affordable housing units is one of the top priorities for the Columbia Pike corridor. This diverse region has a wide range of housing options for people with different income levels. Sustaining this mix of housing as the area continues to grow and develop is an important goal of the Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Area Plan.

This award-winning area plan, adopted in 2012, is the culmination of the Land Use and Housing Study, an intensive community planning and visioning process primarily focused on the Pike’s multifamily areas surrounding the commercial centers. The resulting plan builds on the Columbia Pike Initiative Plan to transform the Pike into a walkable community anchored by a lively “Main Street” with outdoor cafes, shops and attractive public spaces. It sets a comprehensive vision and goals to expand housing options, improve the housing supply and surrounding land, and preserve affordability within a mixed-income community. The revitalized Pike will accommodate more people and higher-density development.

Affordable Housing along the Pike

Columbia Pike contains a significant supply of multi-family housing and a large portion of the County’s market-rate affordable housing stock. In 2010, there were approximately 6,200 rental units affordable to those making up to 80 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI), currently about $93,760 for a family of four. Since the Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Area Plan adoption in July 2012, 626 units were added to the committed affordable housing inventory, including Arlington Mill (121 affordable units), Serrano (196 affordable units), Arbor Heights (198 affordable units), Buchanan Gardens (111 affordable units), and The Shell (83 affordable units). Another 229 units at Columbia Hills are scheduled to come online fall of 2018, 105 units are scheduled to be preserved as committed affordable units at the Wellington Apartments spring of 2019, and 173 committed affordable units at Gilliam Place are scheduled to come online fall of 2019.

The area is projected to experience significant increases in population, jobs and housing over the next two decades. County and regional plans show two-thirds of Arlington’s population growth and nearly half of its employment growth over the next 30 years will occur along Columbia Pike from Pentagon City to the neighboring Skyline area of Fairfax County. Without a plan to guide future changes and incentives that encourage affordable housing preservation, the Pike’s unique housing and population characteristics are likely to change substantially. Additional affordable units will help ensure that the Pike continues to be a place where everyone can live and where new residents will help support existing businesses.

Land Use, Zoning & Financial Incentive Tools

Arlington offers various incentive programs to encourage the preservation and creation of affordable housing. Developers considering projects on Columbia Pike may take advantage of the County’s land use and zoning incentives and financial tools.

The hallmark tools for achieving and implementing the “Main Street” vision for Columbia Pike are the neighborhoods and commercial centers Form Based Codes. These cutting-edge, optional zoning tools offer a streamlined review process for developers and property owners. They can achieve greater density than what is allowable under existing zoning in exchange for a diversity of uses and an improved design on the Pike. The codes offer standards to promote development that supports walkable, mixed-used places and preserves neighborhood character and housing variety.

The following financial and land use tools were adopted for Columbia Pike:

  • Transit Oriented Affordable Housing Fund (TOAH)
  • Columbia Pike Tax Increment Financing (TIF)
  • Transfer of Development Rights (TDR)