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

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.

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.

Winners of Underground Challenge Announced

Livability22202 is announcing the winners of its “Underground Challenge” November 11, 2020. The Underground Challenge was organized to spur creative thinking about the Crystal City Underground and its future with the change and new development now happening in Crystal City and National Landing. With over one-half mile of interconnected buildings, corridors, and plazas, the Crystal City Underground has long been a feature of the area and is much loved by local residents.

With a vision to revitalize and improve the Underground, challenge entrants were asked to submit ideas in three categories: creative writing, video, and a “business plan.”  Entrants celebrated their fondness for the underground, pointed out its quirks and features, and proposed new ideas for its future.

These ideas ranged from suggestions of potential businesses, like a hardware store or library, to more creative suggestions, such as using the space for urban agriculture or STEM-related activities for youth. And participants especially emphasized the valuable role that the Underground serves in transportation and commuting, especially during inclement weather. 

Patricia Heath’s “Underground Energy” won first place in the “Write Underground” category, and Ms. Heath wrote compellingly of all the benefits and uses the Underground provides to residents. Ms. Heath summed it up that “There are myriad issues to be addressed, and I don’t have all the answers (and likely don’t know all the challenges). What I do know is this: the Water Park may be the outdoor personification of our Crystal City urban village, but the Underground is its beating heart and circulatory system, literally and figuratively.”

Runners up in the creative writing category also included Neena Gupta’s enlightening “In Search of a Protagonist” and Matthew Mercado’s clever “Dr. Mercado’s Diagnosis.”

Winner of the video category “Tik Tok Underground” was Kari Klaus, who literally envisioned a transformation of the Underground inspired by Las Vegas, with its many interior spaces and fantastical settings. Emma Benson and Eric Cassel were runners up in this category, with creative videos offering both fond – and satirical – commentary on the existing Underground experience.

Entrants in a third category were invited to submit a “business plan” for how to support the Underground through commercial use of the space. Matt McKinstry offered a creative set of ideas for transforming little used Underground spaces, possibly rebranded as the “Under Grange,” to support urban agriculture and agritech startups, with indoor farming able to supply local restaurants. Indoor hydroponic farms could be created and harness efficient LED technology, circulating nutrient-laden water to grow vegetables, greens, and herbs. Mr. McKinstry also provided expertise on how aquaponics, floriculture, mycoculture, and even cheesemaking and beekeeping could be implemented in the Underground!

Runners up in the business plan category included Michael Hong, who made a compelling case for an entertainment district with larger vacant spaces converted into entertainment centers. Mr. Hong noted that Crystal City needs a live music hall, with the desire to hear music performances growing and unsatisfied. And Mr. Hong suggested that a groundbreaking use for the Underground might include The Museum of Science Fiction, which judges noted as a potentially very apt fit in the Underground complex! Another runner up for in the business plan category was John Chapin, who recognized advantages in the Underground’s “unique physical characteristics compared to other publicly-oriented metro-accessible spaces in the DC area,” and proffered use of the space for security related enterprises, with Secure Compartmented Information Facilities (SCIF) as a potential asset for multiple businesses.

Winners in each category were awarded gift cards to Ted’s Montana Grill, Sweetgreen, and Jaleo, and runners up also received gift certificates. The overall effort (and awards) have been supported by the National Landing Business Improvement District, with additional support from JBG Smith. Judging of the entries was provided by Arlington videographer Eric Courtney, Robert Siegel, former co-host of National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, and noted authors and Arlington residents Rick Hodges and Kim O’Connell.

Judges noted the breadth of creative thinking across all categories and felt that a combination of many of these ideas might make for a compelling overall plan for the Underground that is robust across many business cycles.

Community leaders plan to continue sharing the ideas generated in the Underground Challenge entries, to foster further discussion about the overall future of the Crystal City Underground with interested parties.

About Livability22202

Livability 22202 is the work of the 3 civic associations of 22202 – Arlington Ridge, Aurora Highlands, and Crystal City. The residents of 22202 have committed to tackling the challenges facing our area with holistic strategies based on shared livability themes to create a better, more livable city.

November 2020 Newsletter

Click here to download

Happy Halloween and Good Dia de Muertos!

1.  Annual Meeting November 11:  Be sure to join us for this important Zoom meeting from 7-9 pm.  
Agenda:
1.  Elections of 4 CCCA officers for 2 years (see bios in Newsletter)
2. Vote on approval of minor ByLaws Amendment (full text on CCCA website)
3.  Updates on Development Projects in Crystal City (JBG’s Andy VanHorn will jointly present)
4.  Updates on Livability 22202 Working Groups

Register in advance for this meeting:
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

2.  Elections Nov. 3:  If you plan to vote in person on Election Day, November 3, you will need to vote in your own precinct – either Crystal City 006 (251 S. 18th Street, the red Wells Fargo Bank building) or Crystal Plaza 050 (inside the Crystal Plaza apartment building.  Polls are open 6 am to 7  pm.  See details in Newsletteride.

3.  SPRC Process for 101 S. 12th Street:  Following the September 19 Site Plan Review Committee meeting on JBG’s site plan for 101 S 12th Street, the County Planning Commission will consider the final site plan November 4.  It then goes to the County Board for approval Nov 14 or 17.  You can view the full staff report for the meeting here.   County staff reject community concerns about the extension of Ball Street from 12th to 10th Streets.  If residents wish to object to a full street extension of Ball Street, you can find the information on submitting comments, viewing the meeting, and signing up to speak here

4.  AFAC Food Drive:   We have teamed up again with FLARE and the National Landing BID, and the Arlington Ridge and Aurora Highlands Civic Associations for another food drive to benefit the Arlington Food Assistance Center!  FLARE will be placing donation boxes at 13 locations throughout National Landing from October 31 – November 8. Donations of canned good will be collected and donated on November 9th.

Your President
Carol Fuller

CCCA Annual Meeting November 11

Time for updates!  As you know, there is lots going on in our area and we try to keep you informed by posting regularly on our CCCA Facebook page and as often as possible on our CCCA and Livability22202 websites.  At our Annual Meeting, we will first have Elections for new CCCA Officers (see separate article). We will also vote on a proposed minor amendment to the CCCA ByLaws (see following article).

Next, we will go over Updates  on a) Development (from 101 S 12th Street down to 2525 Crystal Drive) and b) Livability22202 activities and working groups (Route 1 feasibility study; Future of the  Underground; Housing Affordability; Open Space; Schools; Performing Arts).  Each coordinator will give a brief overview and answer your questions.  Andy VanHorn of JBG has agreed to help with the development portion and share JBG’s vision for the future.

Register in advance for this meeting:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Livability22202: Route 1

  1. VDOT Feasibility Study for Route 1: VDOT has been tasked by the State to conduct a feasibility study for Route 1 multimodal connectivity in the vicinity of Crystal City and Pentagon City over the course of the next year, with a report due June 2021. The tasking stems from an MOU between the Commonwealth and Amazon in 2018 to improve safety, accessibility, and the pedestrian experience crossing Route 1.  Two reasons for this study:  1) transportation demand will increase with Amazon and development growth; and 2) the areas to be studied are already heavily developed with limited space for expanding the footprint of the transportation network. The study on Route 1, from approximately 12th Street to 23rd Street South, will explore an at-grade urban boulevard, but also review and compare potential improvements to the current elevated condition, and the elevated urban boulevard described in the Crystal City Sector Plan. Ultimately, the study aims to provide sufficient information to make the best decision on a future project on Route 1 in Crystal City. The first virtual meeting of the project Task Force took place Monday, September 28, and 22202 residents were well represented.  See the website and sign up for updates.

2. Livability Working Group Response: Obviously the VDOT study will have an impact on residents of 22202.  The working group is concerned that the scope of the study is very narrowly limited to the feasibility of bringing Route 1 down to grade, including at 15th and 18th Streets, and is not considering other alternatives. The 2010 Crystal City Sector Plan envisioned “the transformation of the highway into an urban boulevard with wide landscaped usable sidewalks and real building frontages,” but without specifics.   A Livability22202 working group has been studying the issue and conducted a survey of residents (with almost 300 responses) and two community meetings August 26 and September 30.  The results of the survey as well as the presentations from both meetings, including a study done by the National Landing BID, are posted below.  The live recordings of both meetings are posted to the CCCA Facebook page and linked below.  The major community concern is to preserve safety of the pedestrian/bike crossings at 15th and 18th Streets and avoid another bad situation like 23rd Street.  We will be inviting VDOT to a future 22202 community meeting.

September 30 Livability22202 Meeting: You can view the entire 2 hour meeting here. You can see the Working Group presentation here and the BID study presentation here. The results of the Route 1 survey conducted by the Working Group can be seen here. You can also see the referenced links, comments, and questions from the chat room here.

August 26 Livability 22202 Meeting: You can view the meeting here. The presentation is here.