Columbia Pike Planning at a Glance

Improving quality of life and accommodating an influx of new residents guided our community-based planning effort to revitalize Columbia Pike. We brought together residents, property owners, developers and others to re-imagine this established community. The result was a new vision that includes a vibrant main street with affordable housing, improved transit, more urban parks and a safe environment to bike and walk and a revitalization plan that will guide sustainable development and housing for all.

Our strategies for realizing this vision include using innovative Form Based Codes, encouraging higher density development, and making transportation and other public improvements.

Form Based Codes: The County was not only among the first adopters of Form Based Codes (FBC), but also among the first jurisdictions where developers actively use FBC for new projects by encouraging mixed-use development on Columbia Pike. We are creating a walkable, lively “Main Street” atmosphere that includes plazas, retail shops, sidewalk cafes, a canopy of street trees and a variety of housing.

In the first 17 years, developers have added:

  • 3,400 residential units (of which almost 800 were committed affordable to residents earning up to 60 percent of AMI)
  • more than 354,500 square-feet of commercial space
  • a 52,300 square-foot community center, public plaza, mini-parks and new supermarkets

Several recently approved projects are currently under construction.

Affordable Housing: The 2012 Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Area Plan made affordable housing a long-range planning priority. The Neighborhoods Form Based Code and incentive tools, including Tax-Oriented Affordable Housing (TOAH), Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and Transfer of Development Rights (TDR), will help meet our goal of preserving 6,200 affordable housing units.

Street Improvements: Revitalization efforts replaced the 70-year-old Washington Boulevard Bridge and will continue to bury utilities, realign key intersections and install wider sidewalks. The Columbia Pike Multimodal Street Improvements project will improve pedestrian crossings and add bike routes, street trees and landscaped median areas along the entire Pike. Complete Streets projects will also improve safety and access for pedestrians, bikes, public transit riders and vehicles within this corridor.

Public Transit: Columbia Pike is one of the most heavily traveled corridors in the region and is primarily served by buses. New transit stations have been designed to accommodate higher ridership. Transportation improvements will help to accommodate the anticipated population growth and the higher demand that will result from it.

Urban Design and Guidelines for Future Development

The 2005 Columbia Pike Initiative Plan established parameters for guiding future development in the corridor’s four commercial areas. To implement that plan, the commercial centers Form Based Code reinforces these characteristics:

  • Mixed-use development districts (retail, office, residential, cultural)
  • Street frontage at a pedestrian scale with ground-floor retail
  • Buildings oriented to Columbia Pike
  • Buildings built close together forming a continuous “street wall”
  • Parking located underground or to the rear of buildings
  • Appropriate transitions to residential neighborhoods

The 2012 Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Area Plan and Neighborhoods Form Based Code guides multifamily residential development surrounding the commercial centers and will:

  • Improve the existing housing supply and expand new options to achieve a housing mix that serves diverse households, preserves affordability for current and future residents and supports the adopted housing goals and targets and the Columbia Pike Initiative
  • Create a safe, pedestrian-friendly and multimodal corridor that links the residential areas, commercial centers and public spaces
  • Preserve neighborhood character, historic buildings and tree canopy
  • Enhance urban design and architectural features to improve the Pike’s identity
  • Incorporate energy-efficient, “green” neighborhood and building design principles
  • Work in tandem with County financial incentives to spur the preservation of affordable housing units.

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Planning Documents

Land Use & Revitalization

This section includes key planning documents for Columbia Pike including the Columbia Pike Commercial Market Study, Form Based Code, and the Columbia Pike Land Use & Housing Study Preliminary Analysis Report.

Neighborhood Conservation Plans