Crystal City and Pentagon City Development History

The Crystal City – Pentagon City corridor has evolved from an industrial area into a thriving urban area and one of Arlington’s key business districts. It’s a prime spot for commercial and residential growth because of its convenient location just across the Potomac River from downtown Washington, D.C. and within close proximity of the Pentagon and Reagan National Airport.

Crystal City Development

Crystal City was once home to brickyards, warehouses, storage yards, iron-fabricating factories, junk yards, numerous vacant lots, a drive-in theater and several motels. During the 1960s, a growing demand for office space outside helped drive development and transform Crystal City into a more attractive urban center. The first generation of planned development included office, apartment, and hotel buildings, with a retail spine located east of U.S. 1. Crystal City derived its name from one of these early apartment buildings, the Crystal House (located at 1900 S. Eads St.) and the large crystal chandelier that graced its lobby.

The U.S. Patent Office and the Institute of Defense Analysis established offices in Crystal City in the late 1960s. The Crystal City Metro Station opened in July 1977 and the Virginia Railway Express (VRE) station opened a few years later. Millions of square feet of mixed-use development have been built to date, making this region a primary activity center.

Pentagon City Development

Pentagon City was just a sprawl of vacant lots and industrial sites when the Cafritz and Tompkins families acquired 190 acres in 1946.

During the early 1970s, Arlington planners began to focus on high-density development centered around what would become the two Metrorail Corridors, with the Pentagon City and Crystal City stations along the U.S. 1 corridor. Comprehensive studies were conducted and plans were created to allow for development while preserving the character of Arlington’s residential neighborhoods.

After comprehensive study and extensive community input, the County Board approved the Pentagon City Phased Development Site Plan (PDSP) in February 1976 to provide for mixed-use development focused around the Pentagon City Metro Station. The plan included: more than 1.5 million square feet of office/commercial space; 1,600 hotel rooms; 5,450 dwelling units including a nursing and retirement home; open space and regional shopping facilities.

In July 2008, the County Board adopted a PDSP for the Pentagon Centre block, providing for mixed-use development to include: an additional 776,982 square of feet office space; 327,070 square feet of retail; 600 dwelling units, and 250 hotel rooms immediately above the Pentagon City Metro Station.