The addition of new high-rise residential buildings would go hand-in- hand with the Board's intent to completely change Crystal City's unremarkable and practically flat skyline. The team has specifically targeted parcels on the eastern side of Jefferson Davis Boulevard for large-scale additions that push heights to upwards of 300 feet, in addition to promoting “sustainable design and high-quality architecture.” Any plans for taller towers should be regarded as tentative, however, given the team has yet to consult with the FAA about possible interference with Ronald Reagan National Airport.
Ground-floor retail would also get a significant push under the plan. The intent is to spread 5.3 million square feet of new retail development “among several defined neighborhood centers.” Such centers would include the “neighborhoods” to the city’s northern edge, the central Metro station district, a southern hotel district and a new entertainment corridor along Crystal Drive. Crystal City’s main drag, Jefferson Davis Boulevard, would also be re-sculpted into a pedestrian-friendly “grand boulevard.”
That move is part of a calculated plan to finally make Crystal City walkable, as the Board plans to install 2.6 acres of new open public space, along with "5.1 acres" of new sidewalks, throughout the city. The so-called Market Square will feature a permanent shopping arcade, while a 54,500-square foot Gateway Park will serve to bridge the gap between Crystal City proper and the neighboring North Tract Park. Newly improved parks and plazas are also planned for 15th Street, 23rd Street and 25th Street. The centerpiece of all these public gathering points is the tentatively titled Center Park – a new space in the city center, one block east of Jefferson Davis Boulevard that will “help define Crystal City’s civic identity.”
The Board will begin to decipher exactly what that identity is come the first quarter of 2009 when it undertakes a review of the first draft of their plan and then passes it off to advisory commission for a second opinion. A Board decision on exactly where and when we’ll begin to see the first improvements to Crystal City is expected in the second quarter.