2000/2001 S Bell (Crystal Plaza block) Feedback from CCCA

The County asked for public comment by January 11 on JBG Smith’s site plans for 2000/2001 S Bell Street (the Crystal Plaza Block M). Since this was a public comment period, we focused only on open space and the Underground in our CCCA feedback. We reserved the right to comment on other aspects during the upcoming SPRCs. Read the CCCA letter here. Other comments, along with County staff and JBG responses, will be posted soon on the County project page.

https://www.crystalcitycivic.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/CCCA-Online-Feedback-Opportunity-Letter-–-2001-S.-Clark-St.-2001-S.-Bell-St.-Crystal-Plaza-1_F.docx.pdf

Livability22202 Detailed Feedback to VDOT on Feasibility Study (January 11, 2021)

On January 11, 2021, the presidents of the three civic associations in 22202–Arlington Ridge, Aurora Highlands, and Crystal City–forwarded to VDOT the Livability22202 comments on the VDOT feasibility study. These comments provide feedback to the VDOT Public Information Meeting on the Multimodal Improvements Study for Route 1 on 16 December 2020. The covering letter and the four extensive Appendices are linked here.

The Livability22202 community is vitally interested in the outcome of the study and how the principles we have enunciated in our Framework and Action Plan of November 2019 will be addressed in the final VDOT recommendations.  Providing safe, convenient, connected, comfortable east-west Route 1 crossings for people of all ages and abilities and for all modes of transportation is a Livability22202 priority and the most important goal of the Working Group. 

We are pleased that VDOT described that the feasibility study “aims to provide sufficient information to make the best decision on a future project on Route 1 in Crystal City” in the VDOT Public Information Meeting No. 1, December 16, 2020. And we are also pleased that the study will include both an “analysis of existing configuration and analysis of concepts presented in the Crystal City Sector Plan,” along with exploring an at-grade urban boulevard. We are also in agreement that if the study develops an understanding “of potential costs and issues/solutions for constructability and multimodal access,” the Crystal City community and Arlington County will be able to make informed decisions about the future of Route 1.

With these goals in mind, we believe that the formulation of the alternatives for consideration, and the nature of the modeling undertaken to evaluate them will be critical to the outcomes of the study. Issues will include the selection of design concepts for Route 1 as a whole, as well as concepts for individual intersections and cross streets. Assumptions in the study regarding projections for future traffic volumes, peak hour volumes, transit use, and modal splits will also be critical. Because of the importance of the existing conditions data and planning assumptions, it is important that these be shared with the public now, during the early stages of the study formulation, rather than at the end of the study, or worse, not at all. While we are aware that sharing this background information and judgments about the future requires a little more effort from your consultant team up-front, we believe that it will save time overall and build public trust in the results of the study.

The Appendices, which address our concerns and explore some of our ideas, are divided into four broad sections:

  1.  Livability22202 Community Goals and Priorities
  2.  Missing information and Data in the “Existing Conditions” Presentation
  3.  Clarification of VDOT Study Concepts
  4.  Livability22202 Alternative Concepts

Breaking News: Crystal Houses and Housing Affordability

Great News! The Washington Housing Conservancy has bought Crystal Houses on S Eads Street with a major grant from Amazon and JBG Smith will manage it. The conservancy’s mission — and the Crystal House project — aim to create spaces for individuals and families who may make too much money to qualify for government housing assistance but do not earn enough to afford high-demand real estate markets. https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2021/01/06/amazon-arlington-affordable-housing/

With Amazon’s flexible capital, WHC was able to execute the purchase of Crystal House in under two months, an expedited timeline for commercial real estate transactions. WHC’s finance partner, the Washington Housing Initiative, and Impact Pool, created by developer JBG SMITH, provided commercial real estate expertise and an additional loan of $6.7 million.

Amazon announced its Housing Equity Fund, a more than $2 billion initiative to preserve and create more than 20,000 affordable housing units in the Puget Sound region in Washington State, Arlington, Virginia region, and Nashville, Tennessee—three communities Amazon calls home. The first investments include $381.9 million in below-market loans and grants to the Washington Housing Conservancy to preserve and create up to 1,300 affordable homes on the Crystal House property on S. Eads Street. Over the next five years, rent prices for 75 percent of the units at Crystal House will drop to help residents who are making less than 80 percent of the area’s mean income of $126,000. Read the Amazon announcement here: https://www.aboutamazon.com/news/community/amazon-launches-2-billion-housing-equity-fund-to-preserve-and-create-over-20-000-affordable-homes

CCCA January 2021 Newsletter

Looking forward to a better year than 2020! We’re moving to bimonthly virtual meetings live streamed to Facebook, starting January 27.  Let us know if you have suggestions for topics you would like to be covered. Also, we’ve added a timeline of development/construction issues to the Newsletter and each CCCA meeting which explains why we’re all so exhausted.  And lots more inside the Newsletter–download it here.

Above all, don’t forget to 
renew your membership here and stay involved.

1.  SAVE THE DATE:  January 27 CCCA Meeting
Our first meeting of the year is scheduled for Wednesday, January 27, from 7-9 pm.  We’ve invited Arlington County health officials to talk about their COVID vaccination plan, what they are doing to help disadvantaged during the crisis (e.g., food/evictions), and the impact COVID has had on the County budget.  We may also ask JBG to give a brief update on the ongoing public engagement about their site plan for 2000/2001 Clark/Bell and upcoming construction at 1900 Crystal Drive. Stay tuned for the details.

2.  Responses Needed :  Note that the next 3 items are calling for public feedback by January 11:

Pubic Engagement:  2000/2001 Clark/Bell Site Plan
This is Block M, AKA Crystal Plaza Square that has been through 2 Long Range Planning Committee sessions. This is your last chance to weigh in publicly on any concerns you might have about the site plan for these 2 buildings on 20th Street:  e.g., Clark/Bell extension, open space, Underground. Be sure to make your voice heard before the SPRCs in February and March. The comment period has been extended to January 11.  See everything on the project page:  https://projects.arlingtonva.us/projects/2001-clark-st/
 
The VDOT Route 1 Multimodal Feasibility Study
VDOT held the first Public Engagement Meeting December 16 for the public to review existing conditions; hear about public survey responses; and ask questions and provide input.  The purpose of this feasibility study is to identify enhanced multimodal connectivity and accommodations along Route 1 (between 12th Street to 23rd Streets) to meet the changing transportation needs of the Crystal City and Pentagon City communities. As this area’s commercial and residential densities continue to increase, transportation plans will need to address the wide-ranging needs of pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders, motorists, and other users while maximizing the safety, convenience, and sustainability of the system for decades to come. At this time, no construction funding has been allocated, so this study will not set design or construction dates. 
The timeline includes a second public meeting in March for more analysis; presentation of a draft report to the public in May and a final report in June. Access the online comment form and view details on providing feedback through January 11 here.
Note:  Participants in the December 16 meeting were surprised that VDOT is missing a lot of essential data and seems to see its charge is to determine if and how Route 1 can be brought down to grade.  The Livability22202 working group on Route 1 is providing input.  See the Study webpage here.
 
Here’s your chance to design the new park at South Eads Street and Army Navy Drive
 Share Your Feedback on Three Draft Design Concepts that resulted from the first public engagement for the area at South Eads Street  With the guidance of the Crystal City Sector Plan and the Public Spaces Master Plan, it was decided that this new park will help meet the county’s goals of increasing public space opportunities.  This past fall, community comments shared information about how people currently use the space and what they envision for the future. Those comments helped shape the three draft concepts that the design team present in the video below—The Meander, The Canal Walk, and The Central Hub. We want to know what you think. What are your favorite elements of each concept? What do you feel is missing? Your feedback by January 11 will help inform the design of the Park Master Plan and Design Guidelines for this new public space.  Share your feedback here.

Your President
Carol Fuller

Livability22202 Open Space Report Released December 14, 2020

A key priority for livable space is to foster environmental sustainability.    To achieve this, we need to strategically increase the amount of natural open space and improve the tree canopy, with a focus on reducing heat island intensity, improving stormwater management, and increasing urban biodiversity.  Emphasize the incorporation of biophilic design elements into site plans, including private and public space, and the application of biophilic approaches to integration of the built and natural environments.  Needs and opportunities abound for open space and connectivity in 22202. 

Throughout the first half of 2020, neighbors gathered through a series of discussions, including a community-run workshop on February 22, 2020, to develop a comprehensive agenda on open space. The workshop brought together some 65 community members and experts to examine open space issues organized around four topics:

  • Connecting residents to the natural world and enhancing biodiversity throughout 22202
  • Re-envisioning Virginia Highlands Park as the backyard for the Pentagon City community
  • Developing a holistic approach to planning Crystal City Parks
  • Exploring the possibility for a nature trail extending from Roaches Run Waterfowl Sanctuary through the wooded parcel along the George Washington Parkway to the southern end of Crystal City

The final report of the workshop examines the principles for holistic planning needed to strengthen connectivity, natural ecosystems, and community-building in open space in the 22202 zip code area. It provides observations and recommendations for initiating a sustained collaboration with other stakeholders invested in the success of our community, including property developers, owners, county staff, and commission members.  As stated in the Livability22202 Action Plan, November 2019:  “A commitment to livability means a focus on factors that promote ecological sustainability and human health and well-being.”  View the final report, the Fact Sheet, and the press release.

Livability22202 continues to explore how to develop a network of green corridors and parks that will connect residents to nature and natural areas to each other. Subsequent to the workshop, we focused on imagining casual use and event space at Virginia Highlands Park, created a naming map to show the possibilities of community-centric facilities in natural areas, and began a Highlands Urban Agriculture garden (HUG) as a pilot project.  Our recommendations for Crystal City parallel those resulting from the BID and JBG-sponsored Crystal City Parks community engagement.  Overall, our recommendations will feed into the eventual County process for creating and upgrading open space in the 22202 area. 

Breaking News: Housing Workshop Report Released

We are pleased, after a year of work, two well attended workshops and many meetings of a ten person working group, to be able to share the report on housing livability in 22202. This report was previously shared in draft form with participants of Livability workshops as well as presented at meetings for each of the civic associations. This is, of course, part of the greater Livability project and our specific recommendations should be taken into account with the other community needs raised by Livability, such as open space and schools.

The report reviews data and history of the 22202 area, exploring how our unique housing situation came to be. It then makes recommendations for public and private actors in areas around avoiding displacement, diverse housing options (both affordable and market rate) and building community through housing. Please find the full report here and a one page fact sheet here

See the full press report here.

JBG Plans for the Water Park

Crystal City Parks

Did you miss it? JBG Smith held a virtual open house meeting on December 2nd on their plans to upgrade the Water Park. There was lots of feedback and interest (as well as some concerns) for this new project feature. For those who were unable to make it, the presentation from the meeting is posted for reference as well as the answers to the questions JBG received during the presentation; see the new tab titled ‘Water Park’. https://courbanize.com/projects/crystalparks/survey

Full community workshop presentation

Workshop Q & A

Public Community Meeting on the Water Park

JBG Smith has submitted a site plan amendment to make changes to the Crystal City Water Park, as we have posted previously. At our request, they are holding a virtual public community meeting December 2 from 6-7 pm to show their revised plans and get feedback from the community. JBG and Equity Realty own the park, but it is also one of the most well-known symbols of Crystal City. So we will want to be informed and let them know what we do and don’t like in their plan.

The link to register for the meeting is below:
https://jbgsmith.zoom.us/…/regist…/WN_JonbM_GATXi-AJBvZw94IA

December 2020 Newsletter

Click here to read.

1.   Election of Officers: Welcome to our new (and returning) officers.  The following were elected by acclamation poll for a two-year term:

  • Vice President for Policy and Planning:  Christopher Wimbush
  • Treasurer:  Eric Cassel
  • Membership Liaison:  Emily Norton
  • Communications Director:  Idris Clay

2.  Public Community Meeting on the Water Park:  JBG Smith has submitted a site plan amendment to make changes to the Crystal City Water Park, as we have posted previously. At our request, they are holding a virtual public community meeting December 2 from 6-7 pm to show their revised plans and get feedback from the community. JBG and Equity Realty own the park, but it is also one of the most well-known symbols of Crystal City. So we will want to be informed and let them know what we do and don’t like in their plan.  One of the key issues is the proposal to put 8 back-to-back kiosks at the edge of the park with 2 sidewalks on either side–1 between the kiosks and a tree-lined buffer to the street and a larger one open to the park.  If the kiosks go in what do you think they should sell:  e.g., only food and drink? That’s a JBG decision, but if you have strong feelings or good ideas, be prepared to suggest them. The link to register for the meeting is here:  https://jbgsmith.zoom.us/…/WN_JonbM_GATXi-AJBvZw94IA

3.  CCCA Plans for 2021:  As it looks like we will be staying virtual until at least the summer of 2021, the Executive Committee is starting to plan for bimonthly meetings on a series of topics that could include, among others:  updates on the airport Project Journey, the Aquatic Center, and other development issues; Virginia Tech Alexandria project; Arlington County CERT training; police and fire department issues; etc.  Please send us your ideas about topics you would like to be covered:  [email protected].   

4.  The VDOT Route 1 Multimodal Feasibility Study:  The first Public Engagement Meeting will be held Wednesday, December 16 at 6:30 P.M.  See details in Newsletter.

Your President
Carol Fuller

CCCA Annual Meeting Highlights

The November 11, 2020, Annual Meeting was live streamed on our CCCA Facebook page and can be viewed there.

  1. Election of Officers: The following were elected by acclamation poll for a two-year term:
  • Vice President for Policy and Planning:  Christopher Wimbush
  • Treasurer:  Eric Cassel
  • Membership Liaison:  Emily Norton
  • Communications Director:  Idris Clay

2. Amendment to ByLaws: The following proposed amendment was approved by vote and will be added to Section 2.1 Members:

Further, residents of Potomac Yards/Arlington, an area that is outside the CCCA boundaries established in Section 1.3 but currently not covered by any civic association, may be considered as non-voting Associate Members, provided that they are not active members of another civic association. 

3. Updates on Development in Crystal City (from 12th Street to 2525 Crystal Drive): You can see the PowerPoint slides here.

4. Updates on Livability22202 Working Groups and Issues: You can see the PowerPoint slides here.