ARLINGTON COUNTY, VIRGINIA

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1 ARLINGTON COUNTY, VIRGINIA County Board Agenda Item Meeting October 15, 2005 DATE: September 28, 2005 SUBJECT: Request to Advertise the adoption of the 2005 Clarendon Sector Plan C. M. RECOMMENDATION: Authorize advertising the adoption of the 2005 Clarendon Sector Plan for public hearings at the December 10, 2005 County Board meeting and its associated Planning Commission meeting. ISSUES: None SUMMARY: The purpose of the 2005 Clarendon Sector Plan is to refine the overall vision for the Clarendon station area and to provide a comprehensive and detailed framework related to land use, public spaces, urban form and character, transportation, and parking that will guide public and private investment in the physical redevelopment of the area. The Plan focuses on dynamic strategies to: preserve Clarendon s historic buildings and facades, resulting in a varied architectural composition; define new limits on building heights and densities to provide more sensitive transitions to surrounding neighborhoods and generate variation in Clarendon s skyline; prescribe land uses for areas especially where new office uses are desired; provide opportunities for small, infill projects; reduce crosswalk distances, improving pedestrian mobility; increase on-street parking for short-term retail needs; and create new and/or improve existing public open spaces. It is important to note that the Request to Advertise is the first step toward County Board consideration of the 2005 Plan and that authorizing the advertisement does not imply that the County Board supports the Plan. County Manager: County Attorney: Staff: Colleen Connor and Jennifer Smith, DCPHD, Planning Division PLA- 4140

2 BACKGROUND: Since 1984, Clarendon s preservation and development has been guided by a series of interrelated County plans and policies. The General Land Use Plan (GLUP) and 1984 Sector Plan provided general guidance; the 1990 Clarendon Sector Plan Addendum and 1994 East Clarendon Special Coordinated Mixed Use District Plan provided more detailed urban design, streetscape, and preservation recommendations for the Clarendon area. As part of the County s continuing effort to update the General Land Use Plan a component of the Comprehensive Plan the County Board directed staff to undertake a comprehensive review of the Clarendon Metro station area. In 2002, the County initiated a public review of the existing Clarendon sector plans and other Clarendon-related policies and recommendations including transportation proposals. The County Board established a community Task Force to guide the work of staff and the consultant team. The Task Force was comprised of representatives from nearby civic associations (Clarendon-Courthouse, Lyon Park, Lyon Village, Ashton Heights, and Ballston-Virginia Square); local businesses; commercial property owners and developers; the Planning, Transportation, Housing and Park & Recreation Commissions; Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board; Pedestrian Advisory Committee; and the Clarendon Alliance. The County Board designated two co-chairs representing the Planning and Transportation Commissions to lead the group. The planning process included several phases including: a review of existing conditions and issues; visioning sessions; development of plan alternatives and impact assessments; production of draft plans with community reviews; and final plan review and adoption by the County Board. DISCUSSION: The 2005 Clarendon Sector Plan provides a refined vision for the Clarendon area as an Urban Village. Building on its historical commercial focus, the urban village concept is accomplished through a high-quality public environment with accessible and connected spaces and a rich mix of uses that give a sense of place and uniqueness to Clarendon. The policies and strategies set forth in the 2005 Clarendon Sector Plan build on concepts presented in previous County plans of concentrating a mix of uses around each Metro station with active ground-floor uses; quality open spaces; a balance of upper-story uses; and lower levels of density and height closer to surrounding neighborhoods. Key features in the 2005 Clarendon Sector Plan include: Centralized area of medium-density mixed-use development; Network of open spaces in the center and edges of Clarendon connected by improved streetscapes; Redesigned Central Park lined by revitalized retail, preserved buildings, and sensitive infill development; Mix of old and new buildings with incentives for building preservation; Building height limits and building frontage requirements; Tapering down of density and height adjacent to low-density residential areas

3 Storefront retail revitalization, and retention and attraction of existing local and independent businesses; Washington-Wilson-Clarendon intersection redesign with narrowed crosswalks and lane widths; New mid-block streets to provide additional vehicular and pedestrian circulation; and Western gateway mixed-use development with a public market pavilion and new green. The 2005 Clarendon Sector Plan serves as a policy guide for both short- and long-term revitalization and development in the Clarendon area. The Plan offers sector-specific strategies for land use including retail revitalization, building preservation, public spaces, urban form and architectural character, and transportation and parking. The Plan suggests mechanisms to implement the vision and purposefully create a preeminent mixed-use environment including urban design guidelines and a detailed implementation matrix. If the County Board endorses the 2005 Clarendon Sector Plan, including its recommendations for land use, public spaces, urban form and character, and transportation and parking, subsequent amendments to the General Land Use Plan, Master Transportation Plan, and Zoning Ordinance would be necessary to fulfill those recommendations. These are the subjects of other staff reports. The Proposed Plan The Vision: The vision statement developed by the Clarendon Sector Task Force serves as the primary guide for the sector Plan s goals, objectives, and recommendations. The vision defines Clarendon s urban village as a place where walking is the travel mode of choice; diversity of use is nurtured; public spaces are beautiful, safe, and accessible; surrounding neighborhoods are conserved; and new and old building comfortably coexist and reinforce Clarendon s position as one of the region s best places for living, working, and visiting. The vision complements the County Board s adopted vision for the County: Arlington will be a diverse and inclusive world-class urban community with secure, attractive residential and commercial neighborhoods where people unite to form a caring, learning, participating, sustainable community in which each person is important. The Plan Framework: The Plan outlines six geographic sub-areas, each with a unique set of challenges and opportunities: Central Park; Western Gateway; Washington Boulevard; Market Common and Wilson Shops; 13 th Street; and10 th Street. Recommended land uses are described for each of these sub-areas including specific thresholds on residential and commercial uses in some areas. The Plan also shows major pedestrian and vehicular connections, open spaces, activity nodes, gateway locations, building heights, build-to lines, frontage types and other major features critical to the continued development of the Clarendon Metro station area

4 Specific Elements of the Plan: The following information provides a brief summary of the major planning elements included in this document. 1. Centralized Area of Medium-Density Mixed-Use Development: The Clarendon Sector Plan builds on recommendations in previous plans which recommend clustering medium-density mixed-use development in close proximity to the Clarendon Metro station and lower density development closer to surrounding neighborhoods. In addition, the Plan recommends specific land uses for certain areas within the Clarendon area. The intent of this policy is to provide a balance of residential, shopping, and employment uses to achieve continuous activity in the area both during the day and evening. 2. Improving Housing Diversity: To fulfill the urban village concept, new affordable residential units are encouraged in Clarendon through private and public redevelopment projects. 3. Mix Of Old and New Buildings with Incentives for Building Preservation: In recognition of Clarendon s special qualities including the concentration of commercial buildings contributing to the historic character, the Clarendon Sector Plan recommends a renewed commitment to the preservation of older and historic building, frontages and facades. These recommendations will also inform the forthcoming Historic Preservation Master Plan. 4. Building Height Limits and Building Frontage Requirements: The Clarendon Sector Plan continues to recommend the station area s tallest buildings to be clustered around Metro and along the east-west Wilson and Clarendon corridors, with sensitive transitions to surrounding neighborhoods. However, new limits on building heights are introduced in three locations to promote a better fit between new and old buildings. In addition, provisions are made for flexible floor-to-floor heights in the central Clarendon area to vary the skyline and maintain viable office and residential uses, whereas more restrictive height limits are placed on the edges of Clarendon where sensitivity to close-in, low-scale building is important. The Plan recommends specific frontage types in the building form and character chapter primarily to generate appropriate ground-floor designs dependent on the ground-floor uses. 5. Storefront Retail Revitalization and Retention and Attraction of Existing Local and Independent Businesses: The Clarendon Metro station area offers a unique niche in Arlington County providing a substantial and varied mix of retail and restaurant establishments. The Clarendon Sector Plan encourages the preservation and revitalization of neighborhood retail areas that serve every-day shopping and service needs a key ingredient to distinguish Clarendon. 6. Network of Open Spaces Connected by Improved Streetscapes: The Clarendon Sector Plan seeks to improve the quality of the public realm by creating and - 4 -

5 maintaining a network of walkable streets, safe street crossings, and attractive and accessible public spaces that contribute to an active street environment. In several locations, reclaimed rights-of-way will give way to new open spaces that provide additional transition areas between higher and lower density areas and places for the community to gather and recreate. Additionally, streetscapes are a key ingredient in the public space system for the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor. Improving them with sufficient walking space, shade trees, pedestrian lighting in addition to active, well-lit and signed storefronts, live/work, or residential uses is important to the success of Clarendon and connections to other station areas. 7. Redesigned Central Park: Wilson Boulevard between Washington Boulevard and Highland Street served for the past 50 years as one of Arlington s most popular destinations for retail and entertainment. The Clarendon Sector Plan proposes that the heart of Clarendon be re-centered with revitalized and new buildings, sidewalk cafes, and thriving businesses surrounding Central Park. The Plan proposes that Central Park be redesigned as an active urban park with space for formal and informal gatherings and events to serve as one of the primary open spaces in Clarendon. 8. Western Gateway Mixed Use Development with Market Pavilion and New Green: The Plan recommends a new public space and market pavilion in the western end of Clarendon, the preservation of buildings along Wilson Boulevard, and redevelopment surrounding the existing power substation. The redesign of Fairfax Drive as an active urban green would be complemented by the eventual development of an enclosed structure to serve as a permanent site for farmers or craft market, art gallery or exhibition space, or community meeting space. One of the Plan s goals is to increase street level activities in the western end of Clarendon thereby improving the pedestrian connections between Virginia Square and Clarendon. The proposed market pavilion along Fairfax Drive and new building on the St. Charles Church property would also help define the Washington-Wilson-Clarendon intersection and frame the proposed open space, Clarendon Market Green. 9. Washington-Wilson-Clarendon Intersection Redesigned with Narrowed Crosswalks and Lane Widths: This intersection serves as a hub for the street network of Clarendon and influences the urban form of the surrounding area. Intersection improvements at this core would result in an urban space with a positive sense of experience as one enters or exits the area. The proposed improvements would improve pedestrian safety and reduce the perceived divide of Clarendon through substantially narrowed pavement dimensions resulting in reduced pedestrian crossing distances. 10. New Mid-Block Streets to Provide Additional Vehicular and Pedestrian Circulation: The Clarendon Sector Plan proposes new mid-block streets to improve accessibility, support local travel, and ease the burden on the arterial network. These new streets are preferred locations for service and parking access points, thereby improving building and site design along primary streets with reduced quantities of driveways, - 5 -

6 less conflicts between pedestrians and motorists, and continuous building walls behind sidewalks. Implementation/Recommendations: This 2005 Clarendon Sector Plan summarizes recommended concepts and guidelines, and suggests implementation mechanisms set fort in a detailed matrix. The matrix identifies the County agencies responsible for implementation of each recommendation, the required actions, and the anticipated timing of the actions. The recommendations are grouped in the following categories: Land Use and Zoning; Public Spaces; Urban Form and Character; and Transportation and Parking. CONCLUSION: The purpose of the 2005 Clarendon Sector Plan is to refine the overall vision for the Clarendon station area and to provide a comprehensive and detailed urban design framework that will guide public and private investment in the physical redevelopment of the area. It is important to note that the Request to Advertise is the first step toward County Board consideration of the Sector Plan and that authorizing the advertisement does not imply that the County Board supports the Plan. Therefore, staff recommends that the County Board authorize the adoption of the 2005 Clarendon Sector Plan for public hearing at the December 10, 2005 County Board meeting and its associated Planning Commission meeting

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