Economic Development Trends that Shaped A Decade: Planning and Placemaking

The 2010s brought significant change to Arlington’s economy. Arlington began the decade bracing for the impact of a mass relocation of federal offices and workers from the County. Arlington’s commercial vacancy rate peaked at 20.4% in 2015, as we felt the full effects of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC), which called for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to relocate 17,000 jobs from Arlington County. We ended the decade on a high note with Amazon building a new headquarters in Pentagon and Crystal City, bringing at least 25,000 new jobs over the next 10 years. Between these two capstone events, years of careful planninga strong economic development strategy and lots of hard work set the stage for creating an innovation economy that appealed to a Fortune 5 tech giant.   

As Arlington Economic Development (AED) embarks on a new decade, it is timely to look back at six trends that contributed to the transformation of Arlington’s economy and positioned us for success in the future. We will share these trends across multiple blog posts and will cross-link them as they are posted. 

Strong Planning and Placemaking Efforts  

Arlington’s commitment to planning and placemaking has been the key to counteracting federal job losses and breathing new life into neighborhoods across the County.  Arlington is well known in the country as a leader in transit-oriented development, and throughout the decade, the County continued to adopt policies and make long-term infrastructure investments to ensure that Arlington remains a livable and walkable community.  

  • The Crystal City Sector Plan, approved in 2010, envisioned a lively, walkable mixed-used Crystal City. With the plan and key investments in place, the County was well-positioned for Amazon in 2018. 

  • In Rosslyn, which had a new sector plan approved in 2015, skywalks came down, new buildings went up, and some of the nation’s top companies moved into developments like 1812 N Moore Street and Central Place. 

  • The aging Ballston Mall was given a 21st-century update, reopening as Ballston Quarter in 2019. The innovative public-private partnership creates a new mixed-use entertainment anchor for the neighborhood. 

  • Following the planning initiatives of the mid-2000s, the Columbia Pike corridor began its transformation into a more walkable series of commercial nodes this decade. In total, the corridor welcomed nearly 1,800 housing units and 220,000 square feet of retail between 2011-2019.  

Throughout the decade, our Business Improvement Districts and partnerships were busy creating a sense of place through beautification projects, events and activating public spaces in each of our major commercial corridors. All of these efforts enhanced the walkability, mixed-use retail and vibrancy of Arlington’s neighborhoods. 

Topic: BIG Update
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