Columbia Pike comes to life as new plan proposed
A decade into the plan, street life emerges on the suburban corridor in Arlington, VA — and an expanded code and streetcar are in the works.
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Ten years after a charrette was held for Columbia Pike in Arlington, Virginia, people are beginning to walk, jog, and push baby strollers along the 3.5-mile suburban strip corridor. The nascent street life will get another boost as a new plaza is completed.
The Columbia Pike plan and form-based code (FBC), adopted in 2003, were unusual in that they applied to a corridor with many landowners. Most FBCs up to that time applied to single developments. Also, Columbia Pike was an early attempt at large-scale sprawl repair.
Arlington now is moving to expand the code and adopt ambitious affordable housing policies. Affordability is fast disappearing all over Arlington because the 208,000-person county is close to downtown District of Columbia and high-paying jobs. The plan calls for 10,000 to 11,000 additional housing units along the Pike in the coming three decades—while maintaining the current supply of affordable housing.
Another key issue is whether to install a streetcar line connected to Metro. This would be much more expensive than upgraded bus service, but many believe it would instigate investment much more quickly.
The new plan is a vote of confidence for the FBC, planners Dover, Kohl & Partners, which ran the 2002 charrette, and the