Realize Rosslyn Process


Nearly 20 years after the adoption of the 1992 Rosslyn Station Area Plan Addendum, Arlington initiated the Realize Rosslyn process to develop a new Rosslyn Sector Plan for the area. We have achieved many successes based on the 1992 Plan Addendum already, yet evolving circumstances and persisting challenges necessitated updated guidance for Rosslyn. The idea that Rosslyn has so much (yet unfulfilled) potential to become a great urban place was a common theme across many stakeholder interviews early in the process. As such, it was time to create a new plan to help guide and complete Rosslyn’s transformation from an auto-centric area into a more walkable, inviting, and distinctive urban place.

The new 2015 Rosslyn Sector Plan provides the community vision, planning, and implementation framework to help Rosslyn reach its full potential. The plan is organized around the four key focus areas of this study:

  • Creating a better urban design framework to make Rosslyn a more attractive and enjoyable place for people to be;
  • Providing a more specific and deliberate building heights strategy to help the County prioritize its goals affecting Rosslyn’s skyline;
  • Refining the multimodal transportation system consistent with current Master Transportation Plan policies to support the enhanced accessibility of Rosslyn’s future residents, workers, and visitors; and
  • Fashioning a more cohesive and functional parks and open space network to meet the recreational needs of Rosslyn while enhancing its public realm.

While focusing primarily on the Rosslyn Coordinated Redevelopment District surrounding the Rosslyn Metrorail Station, the plan also looks beyond in its recommendations for transportation and parks and open space.

Read the complete Scope of Work as approved by the County Board in 2011.


Branded as Realize Rosslyn, community engagement for this effort focused on devising a plan that can help Rosslyn achieve its full potential as a distinctively great urban place. The process involved a mix of broad-based civic engagement efforts with close coordination with a Rosslyn Process Panel, a seven-member group representing key Rosslyn stakeholder interests. This approach effectively provided for a spectrum of broader input from Rosslyn residents, workers, and visitors, while the staff and consultant team worked closely with the Process Panel to help analyze and refine emerging ideas in preparing the final plan.


As with any sector planning process, the Realize Rosslyn process involved substantial civic engagement, many public meetings, and numerous iterations of draft plan materials based on technical analysis and refined through community input. The approximately two and a half year process to complete the Rosslyn Sector Plan was a period of intense work, involving more than 80 public meetings.

The Realize Rosslyn planning process was structured to include the following five phases:

  • Planning Analysis (Oct. – Dec. 2012) | Developing and documenting a thorough understanding of opportunities and challenges in planning for Rosslyn.
  • Vision Principles and Initial Ideas (Jan. – May 2013) | Defining and identifying community-based principles and goals to guide the direction of the sector plan.
  • Preliminary Proposals and Plan Alternatives (June – Oct. 2013) | Introducing a draft vision framework for the Rosslyn plan, while identifying and comparing primary alternatives for elements of the draft framework.
  • Development of Rosslyn Plan Framework (Nov. 2013 – April 2014) | Developing and adopting a Rosslyn Plan Framework as a foundation for completing the Rosslyn Sector Plan.
  • Final Rosslyn Sector Plan Review/Adoption (May 2014 – July 2015) | Completing the Rosslyn Sector Plan document and formally inaugurating its use as County policy.

View the sector plan timeline graphic.

Project Team

Realize Rosslyn was led by the Planning Division of the Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development and included staff from the Department of Environmental Services, Department of Parks and Recreation, and Arlington Economic Development. Project consultants included Goody Clancy (lead), CodaMetrics, Kittelson & Associates, Inc., Rhodeside and Harwell, and W-ZHA, Inc.