Arlington Retail Plan Changes Focus

by Dan Lesniak

Arlington_County_-_VirginiaIf you live along the Orange Line, you live in one of the top urban villages in the nation. Arlington has long been a promoter of the urban lifestyle, with the county continually working to provide ongoing opportunities to live, work, and play. Our communities are vibrant centers full of art, dining, and entertainment. We have extraordinary parks and natural spaces, and events year round that make this area a wonderful place to live. But sometimes plans need to be reviewed, and changes made, to follow the current times and anticipated trends. Arlington County is set to vote on a plan that will make a new change for the way retail businesses will be encouraged to function in our area.

Currently there is a Retail Everywhere policy, which has required most new commercial buildings to include retail space. The idea behind this policy was to help provide an active street life, expanding the vibrancy of the area with more options, which would attract foot traffic all throughout Arlington. There has been concern however that this has not been a practical policy for many. There are still areas in Arlington that simply have less foot traffic, and finding retailers to take on the spaces in these buildings has been a challenge, as without foot traffic already in existence, many shops have struggled.

The new retail plan for the county focuses on the idea of concentrating retail in the highest foot traffic areas within commercial corridors of the county. It also encourages retail friendly building design for new construction. The vision is to have sections of the county that are active with retail and food establishments, and continue building on the urban village atmosphere, such as Orange Line living offers. The new Arlington Retail Plan includes color coded sections of the count, which correspond to specific retail approaches the county wants to encourage.

Areas that have high traffic are coded red and will be encouraged to have shopping, food, and entertainment as the primary focus of retail, as well as new standards for the exterior and interior of commercial buildings, aiming for less lobbies and more retail space on the ground level. Gold sections would have the same focus but also include service shops. While Blue neighborhoods would include the same retail mix as Gold ones, there would not be as much focus on interior ground floor retail space, allowing for more lobbies. Green areas will not have a specific approach, but continue to allow for all types of retail and building design. A look at the new plan shows the Orange Line Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor will consist of a mixture of the color coded streets for retail businesses. This is in line with the continued growth and future plans of this vibrant part of Arlington County.

The goal of these areas is not to put into law or regulation how buildings are designed, or where exactly retail businesses can operate, but rather the plan is to be used as a guideline. While not everyone agrees with the final plan, Arlington County has updated their vision to try to reach a good balance for retail, living, and work space. This is an ever evolving area, and we need to be ready to change with the flow of our urban village. The new retail plan is an attempt to do just this. If you are ready for a new home, or to sell yours, as a realtor I am here to support you through the process all the way. Myself, and the Orange Line Living team, are here to provide you with our unique and specialized services so you can turn your dreams into reality. To learn more about how we can help you, contact us directly at 571-969-7653 or at [email protected]

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