Arlingtonians have spent years re-imagining Columbia Pike, and their efforts are paying off. Public and private investment in the Pike is transforming the heavily travelled corridor into a vibrant Main Street that will be well-served by transit and a great place to walk around, live, work, shop and dine.
The remaking of the Pike has taken – and will continue to take – the involvement of hundreds of Arlington residents, working with County staff, consultants and the County Board to craft a vision and see it through.
Public process highlights in Pike planning
July 2012 – The Arlington County Board and Fairfax County Board of Supervisors accepts the Pike Transit Initiative Alternatives Analysis/Environmental Assessment and adopts streetcar as the Locally Preferred Alternative. The Arlington County Board approves moving forward with an application to enter the federal New Starts/Small Starts funding program.
The County Board also adopted the Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Area Plan. Among many of the recommendations, the Plan calls for the preservation of 6,200 affordable units, strengthening neighborhood character, seeking opportunities to add to the supply of parks and open spaces and expanding and improving the street, bike and pedestrian network. The next phase of work will implement the Plan, and will include the creation of a new Form Based Code for the residential areas along the Pike while establishing financing and planning incentives aimed at achieving housing and other goals.
February 2012 – Following several draft versions and hundreds of comments obtained from the community and various advisory Commissions, a Final version of the Policy Framework is released. It will serve as a basis for the Neighborhoods Area Plan, the culmination of the Land Use & Housing Study.
June 2011 –A week-long charette (design and planning workshop) is held for the Land Use and Housing Study, allowing the community an opportunity to work with the planning team to create a draft plan for the future of the greater Pike corridor. This work provides guidance for the Policy Framework, a document that will synthesize the established plan goals, community input and draft planning concepts.
January 2011 – Public Forum on affordable housing takes place with invited guests from around the country sharing experiences with mixed income communities, funding resources, homeownership tools and design choices that could have lessons for Columbia Pike.
2009 – Arlington County and Fairfax County initiate the environmental documentation phase of the Columbia Pike Transit Initiative and conducted the Alternatives Analysis/Environmental Assessment (AA/EA) under the federal process that was necessary to establish the project’s eligibility for funding under the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) New Starts/Small Starts program.
September 2008 – The County Board initiates the Columbia Pike Land Use and Housing Study, that will plan for the primarily multi-family residential areas located between the mixed-use nodes. The purpose of this study, which kicked off in the spring of 2009, is to create a comprehensive future vision and plan to guide public and private investment coming to the Pike over the next 30 years, while sustaining a supply of housing to serve a community with a broad mix of incomes. A Plenary Group is also established to ensure participation and feedback from the community during the planning process and includes representatives from Columbia Pike Civic Associations, County advisory commissions, major property owners, and the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization. A second, and smaller, Working Group is established, comprised of members of County staff and a smaller subset of the Plenary Group, who are tasked with the review and analysis of key issues, and to formulate working recommendations that would be presented to the larger community for feedback at key milestones throughout the study.
2006 – The Arlington County Board and Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approve plans to bring railed streetcars to Columbia Pike. The Modified Streetcar Alternative is a part of the current Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) Constrained Long Range Plan and served as the basis for the Streetcar Alternative in the next phase of the study, the Alternatives Analysis/Environmental Assessment (AA/EA).
2005 – The Columbia Pike Initiative – A Revitalization Plan completes a major update, providing a refined set of goals and implementation strategies by representing a current overall framework for the revitalization of Columbia Pike and by reconciling the vision for the Pike expressed in earlier planning documents. In addition to including specific design recommendations articulated in the Form Based Code, it also calls for a future housing study to study the non-commercial areas of the Pike that were previously excluded from the Revitalization Plan. The Plan identifies this as Phase 2 of the Columbia Pike Initiative.
2004 – 2005 – The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), in coordination with Arlington County, Fairfax County, the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, the Virginia Department of Transportation, and with input from the Federal Transit Administration, conduct the Local Alternatives Analysis of 2005 (Local AA). The final document details the alternatives considered, technical evaluation process, public and stakeholder input, and study recommendations.
The Local AA began with a wide range of alternatives, which were narrowed down to a small set of alternatives through extensive public input and technical analysis. This small set of alternatives included a “No Action (or Baseline) Alternative,” and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), Streetcar, and Modified Streetcar Alternatives. The Modified Streetcar Alternative was recommended as the preferred transit investment for the corridor. It combines elements of the other alternatives – notably a streetcar project with continued extensive bus service – to improve transit service efficiency and make a significant investment in the community.
February 2004 – The County Board accepts the Columbia Pike Street Space Planning Task Force Report and subsequently adopts various Master Transportation Plan amendments recommended in the report, including the Columbia Pike street cross sections. The report was generated following a year long process during which the Columbia Pike Street Space Planning Task Force, comprised of representatives from civic associations , County advisory groups and commissions, worked to resolve questions regarding the width, design and use of street space along Columbia Pike.
The Columbia Pike Implementation Team (CPIT) emerged from the Street Space Planning Task Force and continues to meet regularly to work with County staff on transportation-related issues along the Pike.
February 2003 – Arlington County Board adopts the Form Based Code for Columbia Pike. The Form Based Code serves as a cornerstone of the “Main Street” concept, enhancing the streetscape by creating pedestrian-oriented development that will make Columbia Pike a pleasant walking experience.
December 2002 – After a comprehensive public planning process, the boundaries of the Revitalization District are expanded to further stimulate reinvestment in businesses and buildings within additional planning areas along the Pike.
Fall 2002 – The community participates in an intensive charette (design and planning workshop) that produces specific design recommendations which eventually become the basis for the Form Based Code. The Code will be a zoning tool intended to guide building form within the Columbia Pike Revitalization District.
March 2002 – The Arlington County Board approves the Columbia Pike Initiative – A Revitalization Plan. The plan establishes the vision for what was at the timetaking shape on the Pike: mixed-use developments with retail shops on the ground floor, buildings fronting on sidewalks, with parking placed underground, at the rear of buildings, or in public-controlled parking garages. It also identified four major mixed-use development nodes or activity centers linked by existing apartment and townhouse residential neighborhoods. In addition, three major transit goals resulted from the 2002 Columbia Pike Initiative:
- Improve bus stops along Columbia Pike and provide better information for bus riders
- Implement improvements to the bus services in the Columbia Pike corridor
- Plan for long-term higher-capacity transit options
1986 – The Arlington County Board adopts land use and zoning recommendations for the corridor, including the establishment of a Columbia Pike Special Revitalization District. This establishes the boundaries for revitalization along the Columbia Pike commercial corridor.
1985 – The Columbia Pike Revitalization Plan, a joint effort of residents and County staff, is drafted.