Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Crystal City 2.0 in the Works


Since the first site plan for Crystal City was completed way back in 1964, Arlington County's initial vision of a futuristic, Virginian metropolis to rival the District has turned out to be as elusive as Mid-east peace. But after two years of working side by side with the Crystal City Planning Task Force and architects Torti Gallas and Partners, the Arlington County Board has finally adopted a "long-range planning framework" that aims to revamp, with grandiosity and orderliness even Le Corbusier would envy, every aspect of Crystal City's 260 acres from the ground up, literally, and realize their initial vision. Ultimately, they hope to have 13.1 million new square feet of development in place by the end of the next decade.

New residential would make up more than half of the proposed development area for a total of 7.6 million square feet - roughly 7500 new mixed-income apartments and condos - with a large affordable housing component.

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.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

YET ANOTHER GREAT STEP FOR MANKIND

Brandon on Dec 17, 2008, 1:18:00 PM said...

An area of DC desperately in need of an overhaul, but a column?

Anonymous said...

If Le Corbusier would like the revamp, then Crystal City is destined, once again, for austere buildings; stark, empty spaces; and a complete lack of walkability-- i.e. what it has been for the past three or four decades. The point is that Crystal City is finally moving away from ideas his mid-century modernist ideas that have proven not to work.

poo poo said...

virginia sucks.

Chris L on Dec 19, 2008, 1:48:00 PM said...

Crystal City definitely has potential. I'm a bit worried about what the FAA will have to say about the redevelopment though...didn't they almost derail the planned towers in Ballston? And Crystal City is literally adjacent to the airport.

Also, they should totally do something interesting with all those creepy underground tunnels that run under Crystal City.

Paul Horan on Dec 24, 2008, 1:18:00 PM said...

@Chris L:

Ballston and Roslyn lie in the approaching flight path for Reagan. Crystal City is not, although I could see how taller buildings might affect wind patterns on the runways themselves...

 

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