County Board Adopts Long Range Vision, Actions for Remaking Crystal City’s Public Realm

  • Preserving the best of Crystal City
  • Preparing for BRAC impact
  • Committing to construction of a streetcar line
  • Transforming streets, public open spaces
  • Public open space within three-minute walk of every building
  • Citizen Review Council established to monitor progress on plan goals
ARLINGTON, Va. – The Arlington County Board today approved the Crystal City Sector Plan, a blueprint for revitalizing Crystal City in the post-BRAC era. The vote followed extensive work with the community and other stakeholders in the area. The plan will transition the area to a more lively, complete, urban community with a thorough mix of uses, richer transit options, better streets, more functional public open spaces, and community and neighborhood-oriented services.
“Adoption of this plan reflects the extraordinary capacity and spirit of Arlington,” said Board Chairman Jay Fisette. “BRAC could have devastated this neighborhood. Instead, we are using it as an opportunity to re-imagine a thriving community. This plan came together after extensive staff outreach and direct engagement between the Board and the local residents and businesses.  This is a landmark achievement that provides the vision and the roadmap to ensure an exciting future for Crystal City.  ”
The 40-year long-range plan is based on the recommendations developed with the Board-appointed Crystal City Planning Task Force. The County initiated the planning effort in response to the anticipated impact of the Base Realignment and Closure process, which will hit Crystal City harder than any place in the nation -- producing 3.2 million square feet of office vacancies, and costing 13,000 jobs.
The proposal envisions Crystal City as a world-class place for people to live, work and play in a neighborhood bustling with activity 18 hours a day. The plan calls for a better balance of residents and workers in Crystal City – with 26,000 residents and 56,000 jobs by 2050. Residents will have  access to more and better open space linked by a more pedestrian-friendly, complete urban street network.

Work with the Community:

Board members worked with community leadership in Crystal City and the nearby neighborhoods of Aurora Highlands and Arlington Ridge to craft adjustments before adopting the plan late on September 28.  A new Crystal City Citizen Review Council was created to monitor the implementation of the plan, including potential traffic impacts.
Along with the plan, the Board adopted a separate “guidance” document, which establishes the Citizen Review Council and clarifies key priorities, including:
  • Boosting the goals for open space within Crystal City
  • Enhancing the commitment to affordable housing, calling for 2000 units within the sector (800 units beyond the proposed plan
  • Committing to an aggressive timetable for the transportation infrastructure program and construction of the streetcar line 

Highlights of the Crystal City Sector Plan include:

  • Affirmation of a Route 1 Corridor Streetcar line, initially approved by the Board in 2008, to provide frequent, high-capacity transit service. The line will run from the Pentagon City Metrorail station through Crystal City to Potomac Yards - connecting to the planned Columbia Pike line at Pentagon City, and potentially extending into Alexandria - with a target for operation in 2017. 
  • Adding density by constructing taller buildings in strategic areas, particularly east of Jefferson Davis Highway; the tallest buildings could top out around 300 feet. Nearly 65 new or redeveloped buildings are envisioned by 2050. 
  • Building up to 7,500 new homes, including significantly more affordable housing than exists today, to ensure a better balance of commercial and residential development and economic diversity.
  • Transforming Jefferson Davis Highway into an urban boulevard that links Crystal City’s east and west neighborhoods
  • Creating ground level retail stores that support vibrant streetscape environments, while maintaining the underground network of pedestrian corridors to extend the reach of transit.
  • Improving the design and quality of open space, distributing parks and plazas throughout the neighborhood and making them more accessible and functional.
  • Creating a center park to help define Crystal City’s civic identity.
  • Realigning segments of Clark/Bell Street and establishing two-way travel on nearly all Crystal City streets.
  • Encouraging sustainable design and high-quality architecture.
  • Creating a more pedestrian-friendly and complete urban street network.
  • Improving public transportation.
  • Leaving options open to incorporate future recommendations from the developing Community Energy Plan specific to Crystal City
Today, Crystal City has about 25 million square feet of mixed use development, much of which was designed for automobiles, not people. The Sector Plan envisions continuing some of the more recent improvements to cater to the needs and interests of people, with attractive streetscape environments, attractive and inviting ground floor retail, and accessible public open spaces that are programmed to accommodate a variety of activities.
For more information, read the Board report, Item # 58 on the agenda for the September 28 Board meeting. (Scroll to the item and click on the report.)


The proposed plan envisions about $207 million in public infrastructure improvements in streets, transit and public open spaces over the next 20 years. These improvements will benefit the Crystal City, Potomac Yard and Pentagon City areas. The County’s recently adopted FY 2011 – 2016 Capital Improvement Program (CIP) includes approximately $91 million toward these investments, using a combination of existing and new funding sources.
At its September 2010 meeting, the County Board approved advertising the establishment of a tax increment financing (TIF) fund to provide funding for infrastructure. TIF is a mechanism frequently used to support development / redevelopment projects by capturing the projected increase in property tax revenues to be created by the development or development area and investing those funds in improvements associated with the project. The County Board will consider adoption of the TIF at their October 2010 meeting. Click here and scroll down to Item #58 D to read the Board report.
The Board vote on the plan was unanimous.
Arlington, Va., is a world-class residential, business and tourist location that was originally part of the "10 miles square" parcel of land surveyed in 1791 to be the Nation's Capital. It is the geographically smallest self-governing county in the United States, occupying slightly less than 26 square miles. Arlington maintains a rich variety of stable neighborhoods, quality schools and enlightened land use, and received the Environmental Protection Agency's highest award for "Smart Growth" in 2002. Home to some of the most influential organizations in the world - including the Pentagon - Arlington stands out as one of America's preeminent places to live, visit and do business.

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