May 8, 2023 | By Cara O'Donnell
In the continued effort to combat office vacancy challenges and encourage innovative entrepreneurship across Arlington County, the Arlington County Board recently approved indoor recreation as a permitted use in commercial corridors. This type of business joins others, including higher education, animal boarding, artisan beverage making, urban agriculture, artisan workshops and microfulfillment centers approved under the County’s Commercial Market Resiliency Initiative (CMRI), designed to lessen zoning red tape and regulatory challenges as the County continues to battle record high office vacancy.
The County began studying the CMRI last fall to create regulatory flexibility and a nimble approach to combat office vacancy. While some office buildings have been turned into residential properties, such conversion is often costly and impractical for property owners because of the layouts of traditional office footprints vs. those of residential. Enter CMRI, designed to allow for emerging types of businesses that are not only desired in the County but also provide placemaking opportunities that encourage employers and employees to return to an office setting. The initiative also targets those businesses that may help to fill older vacant office spaces, many of whom lack some of the newer amenities companies seek.
Overall, the CMRI helps to provide entrepreneurs with greater certainty, speeding up the process to open desired businesses, and allowing business owners to focus more on what they do best, running their business and creating vibrant commercial districts.
Future uses scheduled to go before the Board under the Commercial Market Resiliency Initiative include flexible research and development space, audio-visual production and broadcast studios and ghost kitchens.