Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Interesting rapid transit videos: London; Chicago; Glasgow

Nigel, our e-correspondent from New Zealand, has found some interesting videos that most of us probably haven't seen.

London Underground.  There was a Channel Five series on the London Underground--multiple parts--which isn't available in the US per se, but is up on Youtube ("Inside the Tube: Going Underground series on Channel 5," WIRED UK).

Chicago Transit Authority.  He also found videos that CTA has produced, showing their various lines.  Like this one for the Orange Line.

-- CTA "Ride the Rails" videos

It reminded me of a presentation I saw a couple years ago by the then president of Amtrak, illustrating the various problems and bottlenecks in the system through "train ride" videos.

That wasn't done here--using the videos as a supporting argument for making and financing improvements--but it would be a good model for NYC Subways and WMATA/DC area Metrorail.

Glasgow Subway.  This well produced video by a fan is interesting and looking at some of the images of the above ground entrances, the use of architectural lighting on escalators, and the way the "S" subway sign is lit at night made me think of my points about "transportation infrastructure as elements of civic architecture."

-- "Transit, stations, and placemaking: stations as entrypoints into neighborhoods," 2013
-- "Transit stations as an element of civic architecture/commerce as an engine of urbanism," 2016
-- "Transportation infrastructure as a key element of civic architecture/economic revitalization #1: the NoMA Metrorail Station," 2016
-- "
Transportation Infrastructure and Civic Architecture #3: Rhode Island Avenue Pedestrian Bridge to the Metrorail station," 2016

It also made me think that maybe transit doesn't have to be "fun" a la Darrin Nordahl in his Island Press published book My Kind of Transit: Rethinking Public Transportation, but certainly through architecture and design it can be made a lot more interesting and yes "fun."

Buchanan Street Subway

Buchanan Street Glasgow

Glasgow's Clockwork Orange

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An update to Richard's Rules for Restaurant-Based Revitalization on the failure of wine bar restaurants in DC and Baltimore

The original "Richard's Rules" post dates to 2005, and was a response to an article about "destination restaurants" as key to neighborhood revitalization in Philadelphia.  I countered that restaurants to be successful needed to focus on developing neighborhood residents as frequent customers eating out at their establishment multiple times per week.

-- "Richard's Rules for Restaurant-Driven Revitalization (updated)," 2005, is the basic piece, with five rules (below) and a list of elements denoting quality restaurants
-- "Revisiting Richard's Rules for Restaurant-Based Revitalization," 2010, discusses a couple restaurants which repositioned away from upscale to more "comfort" food, to better meet the desires of neighborhood consumers
-- "Updating Richard's Rules for Restaurant-Driven Revitalization," 2013, continues to discuss this in the context of commercial retail district development
-- "DC restaurants: location and equilibrium," 2014, ditto.
-- "A note on food halls," 2017
-- "Successful retail today often includes food, experiences, social elements, and isn't rote," 2016

Last year's piece "Destination restaurants as a call for revisiting "Richard's Rules for Restaurant-Based Revitalization"," updated this discussion some in line with the city pushing 700,000 residents making it possible to support the outward spread of restaurant creativity beyond regionally-serving restaurant clusters like Downtown and Georgetown.

Ruta del Vino.

But the failure of a wine bar, Ruta del Vino, a Latin American wine and food concept, on Upshur Street NW ("Ruta del Vino Wine Bar Closes After 2-Year Run in Petworth, Eater DC) and Baltimore's Wine Market Bistro/Ludlow Market ("Ludlow Market Closes in Locust Point" and "Ludlow Market opens as more casual replacement of Wine Market Bistro," provides an opportunity to further refine the discussion.

Categorizing restaurant districts.  While neighborhoods are supporting expensive destination restaurants, recognizing that the customer base for these restaurants is mostly derived from non-residents, the demand isn't unlimited, and some concepts probably work better in restaurant districts that are more central and have a larger customer base with positioning that isn't reliant on an individual restaurant "having to do all the advertising and marketing themselves."

There are at least five primary categories of urban restaurant districts:

(1) regional and touristy-serving, like Downtown and Georgetown, but also Alexandria and now The Wharf district in SW DC, probably the Ballpark District/Navy Yard

(2) center city/metropolitan serving, like 14th Street NW, Adams-Morgan, U Street NW, and H Street NE in DC, or Bethesda and Silver Spring in Montgomery County, Maryland

(3) day-time office district serving (which can be a "daypart" distinction for regional and center city districts that serve different market segments at night)

(4) larger neighborhood serving districts like Dupont Circle, Capitol Hill, Columbia Heights

(5) smaller neighborhood serving districts like Old Takoma in Takoma Park Maryland, abutting DC.

The "Rules" call for food and by extension, drinking, concepts that aren't super specialized, a more common denominator, like "Mexican" food, not Indian, with the suggestion that Thai food is now a more universal cuisine, etc.

Granted places like Bad Saint (Filipino) in Columbia Heights, Himitsu (Japanese) in Petworth, Rose's Luxury in Capitol Hill are super specialized and/or expensive and they do fine in "neighborhood" locations.

But maybe there is a limit to how much specialization can work in neighborhood restaurant districts.

Are "neighborhood" wine bars too specialized for today's food and beverage preferences?  I wonder about "wine bars."  I'm thinking that these business failures mean that at a minimum wine bars as a sub-category of restaurants need to be more carefully located, probably in "metropolitan-serving" districts that have much larger customer bases and are more convenient to get to than neighborhoods that may be more out of the way and harder to reach by transit

Both establishments were reasonably well-regarded.  Wine Market Bistro had been in business for almost 14 years, but Ruta del Vino only 2 years.  Both found that the customer base for "heavy" wine consumption was declining.

I can't speak of Wine Market Bistro because I never went there but I did go to Ruta del Vino.

First, Suzanne's the wine drinker not me, I prefer craft beer (and porters at that).  But second, the food while good was overpriced vis a vis the quality and the value (the ceviche was great, the parillada needed more meat, but was cool as a dish served for two).

Third, others complained that the service wasn't that great, although in comments, the owner "complained" that it was difficult to find good help, but also that business was spotty.

Inside the space was a knock out, although outside there were issues (the way a garbage dumpster for an adjoining building is out front, a bus shelter right next to the patio, unkempt treeboxes, etc.).  They didn't invest much in maintaining the public space outside the restaurant.

But to go there a lot you have to want to drink a lot of wine.  Most people aren't doing that when they go out to eat.  A special occasion restaurant needs to draw on a larger "retail trade area" beyond that of a neighborhood to keep seats filled.

And they have to be able to execute the quality-value-price-service equation.

Wine bars/in-city wineries as destinations/experiences.  Note that District Winery in the Navy Yard and City Winery in Ivy City ("City Winery Is Opening in Ivy City DC for Music and Wine Fans Alike," Washingtonian Magazine) are destinations, hold events, and are owned by well-funded restaurant groups with multiple interests. 

These establishments operate on a much different scale than Ruta del Vino or Ludlow Market and they are located in "metropolitan" serving districts.

I think Ruta del Vino, had it been able to execute, would have done much better on 14th Street NW in Logan Circle/P Street, or Wine Market Bistro/Ludlow Market on Charles Street or in Federal Hill, or possibly in the private Belvedere Square Market, which functions like a public market.

Grand Cata wine shop.

Selling bottles for off-premise consumption + food and drink on-premise as a way to make the restaurant work?  Possibly, Ruta del Vino could have been more successful had it been paired with a sales shop, like Grand Cata on 7th Street NW in Shaw, but that didn't work for Ludlow Market.

On the other hand, a Ruta del Vino type restaurant next to Grand Cata, if well executed, would probably do just fine.

So how much of this comes down to operators?  Although again, with Ludlow Market, that was a concept run by a highly experienced operator and it had worked for a long time, until it didn't.

Cideries.  Another drink concept that seems to me to be over-expanding a bit is cider ("Two Consultants Quit Their Jobs to Open a Cidery in DC Later This Fall," Washingtonian).

The Anxo cidery has installed custom bicycle racksDC has Anxo, on Florida Avenue NW (left) and with an outpost on Kennedy Street NW, and the new Capitol Cider House on Georgia Avenue in Petworth.

These are destinations.  I think over the long term, firms need to carefully consider where they locate their concepts.

Anxo on Florida Avenue and Capitol Cider House on Georgia Avenue ("Capitol Cider House Opens in Petworth with a Local-Only Bar," Washingtonian) are very visible and likely have staying power.

Locations in neighborhood-serving districts, like Ruta del Vino, Ludlow Market, and Anxo on Kennedy Street NW may have more difficulty being sustainable.

... people are likely to be less inclined to drink cider than wine.

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Sunday, November 11, 2018

Train station platform "safety"

A Newsday article, "Crowded Penn Station platforms have LIRR riders on edge - literally," discusses problems at Penn Station on Long Island Railroad platforms, because the platforms are too narrow for the number of passengers.

The article references Katherine Hunter-Zaworski, a professor at Oregon State University and a co-author of a forthcoming TCRP report on the subject, TCRP A-40 Manual to Improve Safety at the Platform-Train Interface (PTI). (Presentation by Professor Hunter-Zaworski on the outline for the report.)

I am not well traveled, but I have been in train stations in Germany and the UK. The main station in Hamburg is as busy or busier than the busiest train stations in the US.

The big difference is that the platforms are much wider. Hamburg train station.
Hamburg Hauptbahnhof

Liverpool Lime Street Station
Liverpool Lime Street's magnificent roof

Penn Station

Granted LIRR/MTA/Amtrak/USDOT don't want to reconfigure the trackage system under Penn Station because it would be an engineering and cost nightmare, but width of the platforms is the biggest issue. Without changing platform width, everything else is just dealing with the constraints.

It occurs to me in passenger train service there should be a manual like the Shared-Use Path Level of Service Calculator, to determine ideal widths of multi-use trails, based on regular usage numbers.

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Saturday, November 10, 2018

Unshared parking

One of the problems of financialization of real estate as well as outsourcing is the disconnect that can occur between different functions of a property. 

This happens a lot with the parking function, which tends to be outsourced to an independent firm specializing in parking. 

Such firms only operate according to the dictates of the contract and are more concerned about maximizing profits, not about managing parking as a resource that supports the economic activity of the firms located in and around the building.

This is the case with a matter I am dealing with on Capitol Hill, related to Eastern Market, the city's public market.  In a meeting, one of the people was going on about how "they should care because the customers of the building's tenants also use the parking" and I countered that in all likelihood, the parking function is "jobbed out" to a different firm--she scoffed but of course it turned out I was right.

Some customers were confused by the signs in the Stansted retail park near Stansted. Photograph: Martin Godwin for the Guardian.

The Guardian has a story ("Is this Britain’s most ridiculous parking fine?") about this in London, where properties adjacent to Stansted Airport seemingly have a shared parking lot, but don't, and the parking contractor has put in an array of CCTV cameras so that they can "fine" transgressors to the tune of £60, because they park in the lot of one firm but go instead to an adjacent tenant.

This angers the customers of the businesses, but the businesses in turn are renters also, and don't have any input into the master agreement between the property owner and the parking manager. The parking manager is not incentivized to manage the parking in a way that benefits customers.  (Another example is the City of Chicago's long term lease of parking structures and street meters to private investors, who again, are interested in maximizing economic return, not contributing to the public good.)

There are many similar examples. Every few years this comes up in Bethesda in Montgomery County, where people park in a place like a bank or a business that is closed, and then get towed/ticketed by managers of the lot ("Predatory Towing Continues In Downtown Bethesda," Bethesda Magazine).

And the Wharf district in DC should have created an underground parking structure unified across all the properties, but because some buildings have different ownership that isn't possible. But had it been done that way, all the motor vehicle traffic could have been captured on the perimeter of the property, and the interior could have been exclusively pedestrian.  See "Multiblock Underground Shared Parking" from Urban Land Magazine.

When I first learned about the concept of "shared parking" about 12 years ago, it was revelatory   ("Onsite Parking: The Scourge of America's Commercial Districts," Planetizen).

-- "What is shared parking?," International Transportation and Development Institute

Now it just upsets me that virtually zero progress has been made.

-- "Parking districts vs. transportation/urban management districts: Part one, Bethesda" (2015)
-- "Parking districts vs. transportation/urban management districts: Part two, Takoma DC/Takoma Park Maryland" (2015)
-- "Reston Town Center parking issue as a "planning failure" by the private sector" (2017)
-- "Testimony on parking policy in DC" (2012)
-- "Municipal taxes and fees #2: parking" (2010)
-- "The High Cost of Free Parking" (2005)

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Friday, November 09, 2018

Could "fast freight rail" service be a way to make High Speed Rail more viable?

High Speed Rail is uniformly discussed in terms of passenger service, and is usually promoted for operation in high density corridors between major cities, pairs such as New York-Boston, or San Diego-Los Angeles-San Francisco, or Dallas-Houston.

It happens that the freeways connecting these cities typically are engorged with delivery truck traffic too.

Passenger rail service in the modern era isn't hugely profitable, at least in the US, while freight delivery remains reasonably profitable.

Plus, demand ("More surcharges, rejected freight sting US truck firms," Journal of Commerce) is making it hard to find drivers ("'What Does a Trucker Look Like?' It's Changing, Amid a Big Shortage," New York Times)) and simultaneously, demand for long distance truck delivery services is increasing, in part because of the rise of online commerce.

Why not consider trying to shift some freight service to a high speed rail network? Which would also help to reduce truck traffic on major interstates, reduce GHG emissions, etc.  It would also make HSR more economically viable.

Italy is about to launch such a service.  From Railway Gazette International ("Mercitalia launches high speed freight service"):
FS Group freight subsidiary Mercitalia is to launch its first high speed freight service on November 7. FS says the Mercitalia Fast service is designed to meet the needs of express courier companies, logistics operators, producers and distributors.

Operated by a converted ETR500 trainset, the Mercitalia Fast overnight service will convey express parcels and premium freight between the Maddaloni-Marcianise terminal near Caserta and Bologna Interporto, using the country’s north-south high speed line. According to Mercitalia Logistics General Manager Marco Gosso, Mercitalia Fast will be the first express freight service to use the Alta Velocità/Alta Capacità high speed network. With the train running at an average speed of 180 km/h, the end-to-end journey time will be just 3 h 30 min.

The trainset has been adapted to carry 1 m3 roll cages with a 220 kg payload, which will make loading and unloading ‘quick, efficient and safe’. With the 12-car train able to carry the equivalent of 18 articulated lorries or two Boeing 747 freighters, the daily train is expected to relieve the main north-south A1 motorway of around 9 000 lorries a year, reducing CO2 emissions by 80% compared to road haulage.
If it works, they intend to expand the service to other nodes in Italy's high speed rail network.

In Dresden, Volkswagen uses the local light rail system to move vehicles and parts between plants, with a special trainset called the "CarGoTram."  That example has spurred more local transit agencies to look at their light rail systems for other opportunities in freight logistics and delivery ("Light rail network used for freight transport," Rail Freight).

Granted, this is more of what I call intra-district transit rather than long distance freight transportation, but it's still an example of rethinking passenger transit systems as being solely focused on passenger service.

Back in the day, sttreetcar systems and interurban--a mode that mixed shorter distance streetcar transit over long distances today the South Shore Line in Indiana and Illinois with service to Chicago is the only remaining functioning interurban in the US--would be used for overnight freight service.

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Thursday, November 08, 2018

Canada has a "Municipal Benchmarking Network"

-- Municipal Benchmarking Network Canada
-- 2017 MBNCanada Performance Measurement Report

Its most recent report draws attention to the fact that Montreal spends a lot more money on roads than other cities, yet the quality of the roads does not match the spending.

I point out frequently that municipal dashboards in many cities aren't particularly robust, don't provide actionable information, and lack comparison information so that one can figure out whether or not the functioning of a particular agency is better or worse.

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Today (November 8th) is World Urbanism Day/World Town Planning Day


And October was National Community Planning Month.

-- World Town Planning Day, American Planning Association
-- World Town Planning Day, International Society of City and Regional Planners
-- World Town Planning Day, Royal Town Planning Institute

Feedspot has named "Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space" a Top 100 Urban Planning blog.

In honor of the day, below is a reprinted entry from 2011.  Also see "Rethinking community planning around maintaining neighborhood civic assets and anchors."

Thursday, May 26, 2011

One way in which community planning is completely backward

I hate to be put in the position of agreeing with Washington Examiner editorial writer Barbara Hollingsworth, of whom I normally have the tendency to excoriate, but her piece, "Fairfax school officials to review closing Clifton Elementary," on the closure of Clifton Elementary School, a community school serving a rural section of Fairfax County, illustrates a problem that we have in cities also, when decisions to close schools based on enrollment levels or the cost to rehabilitate the school end up having devastating impacts on the quality of neighborhood-community life. (Also see this article about the school from 2010, "Parents, officials 'appalled' at decision to close Clifton school.")

This morning's Washington Post also has a long piece on Clifton School, "Closure shuts many doors," focusing on the community-connectedness, volunteerism, and involvement of the community within the school and outside of the school deriving in part from the way that the school knits the community together.

I joke sometimes that "offices of planning" aren't really planning offices, but "offices of land use" or even "offices of land use development" because so much of the "planning" done by the other government agencies isn't coordinated by the office of planning and/or never comes before the office for substantive comment.

A key example is schools planning, which for the most part, is the domain of the local public school system, with limited input from other agencies, including the office of planning.

As far as delivering educational programs that's fine. (Well, it isn't, but that's another story.)

But the problem is the disconnect between the reality that schools, especially elementary schools, are a basic building block and foundation of quality neighborhoods and local community.

Schools are the fulcrum of community activity in so many places, and provide the means for people to meet and interact within communities outside of strict propinquity--meaning you have a chance to meet and become friends with a wide variety of people, not just the people you live next door to or across the street from.

Just like I believe that transportation planning needs to be done at two levels: (1) at the metropolitan level, setting requirements for network breadth and depth, level of service standards for the network and specific services; and (2) at the level of transit operations; schools planning in terms of providing a base level of "coverage" and neighborhood strengthening qualities and programs should not solely be the domain of the school system.

Instead, the community's land use, neighborhood, and economic development planning initiatives need to take the lead on this so that all neighborhoods are served by at least one quality public school.

But in my neighborhood, which is gaining households with children, I don't know any families that send their children to the local elementary school, which is five blocks away. Mostly, their children go to charter schools or private day care. Although I guess people with children (and the people who live next door to them) end up meeting other families with children throughout the neighborhood because when they are out walking with their children, the kids end up being a "social bridge" that ease the process of meeting and making others' acquaintance.

In Baltimore County, the school system and the parks and recreation department have had for at least 50 years a memorandum of understanding about joint use of public school facilities for recreation programs.

In practice, that means that schools are used for more hours of the day and that the County doesn't need two different buildings to serve different functions. At the same time, certain school facilities such as gyms and auditoriums may be "overbuilt" so that they also can handle larger community functions, but that the money to pay for this comes in part from the Department of Recreation and Parks.

This idea needs to be extended so that a base number of schools are designated as what we might call "neighborhood foundation" schools, and the resources provided to the school would be funded in part for neighborhood stabilization and resident attraction and marketing purposes, meaning that some funds to maintain the schools in such places would come from outside of the budget of the school system.

Fixing the quality of the education program that is delivered is another question, one that I have written about plenty over the years.

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Seats for bollards as a design hack

Photo: Magdalena Wierzbicka & Miarka Webb.

NotionsCapital calls our attention to a "design hack" for security bollards, plastic seats that can be fitted onto the poles. According to Fast Company ("This ingenious hack turns anti-terror bollards into furniture"), they were created by:
Peruvian designer and architect Beatriz Pero Giannini. The three chairs–called the rocker, the slider, and the wobbler–sit atop bollards and function like seesaws. If one person sits down they’ll probably be uncomfortable, but if two people sit together it brings each design into balance. By encouraging people to sit down together, Giannini hopes to bolster a sense of community among strangers.
FWIW, I do think that DC should install retractable bollards in various places so that streets can be closed to motor vehicle traffic, especially when it is done regularly, such as for farmers markets, without having to use ugly alternatives that are safer.  Or simple street closing methods which lack security.

For years, sitting on the Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee, I've argued for retractable bollards on 7th St. SE, because the measures used to block the street don't meet the safety protocols recommended to ward off attacks, and Eastern Market, given events elsewhere, is a primary soft target (but fortunately the street is perpendicular to major arterials, making it hard to build up speed).

This year, finally, the city is addressing the matter with a "bollard study."
Liverpool's pedestrianized City Centre shopping district and a retractable bollard system

Blocking of the 3800 block of 9th Street NW for the Petworth Farmers Market
Farmers Market in Petworth using a section of 9th Street NW.

I saw automatic retractable bollards in Liverpool, but unfortunately I wasn't able to shoot a video of them in operation. This comic video makes clear that such systems are designed to only let one vehicle in at a time.

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State versus local control of roads (and sometimes parks) sometimes comes down to money

In many states, major roads--primary arterials--are controlled by the state department of transportation while local roads are under control of communities.

This developed historically in part because of the way gas excise tax money is collected and managed, which is mostly done at the state level.

But managing arterials as part of a state-wide network often leads to conflicts when the land use context of particular stretches of roadway are atypical compared to how the road network is conceptualized and managed more generally.

When I first got involved in this stuff almost 20 years ago, I came across a publication from the Oregon Department of Transportation called Main Street: When a Highway Runs Through It, which provides a process and more detailed guidance for communities trying to work somewhat disconnected state highway departments.

Later, the Smart Transportation Guidebook was published by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, the Metropolitan Planning Organization for Greater Philadelphia.  It was intended for use by Pennsylvania and New Jersey, but only NJ adopted it.

Seven land use contexts for transportation planning, Smart Transportation Guidebook

Matrix of Design Values for Regional Arterials, From Smart Transportation Guidebook

It has important discussion on managing roads in terms of land use context and the expectations that land use context set on roads in terms of expected speed of traffic, roadway characteristics, roadside characteristics, and whether or not the road is "community serving" or "a through road" used by motor vehicles to get to and from other places.

And, roads oriented to placemaking have higher urban design requirements and cost more to build and maintain.

Wikipedia photo.

Aspen, Colorado.  This comes up because the City of Aspen is interested in taking control of its Main Street ("Who should own Aspen’s Main Street? The city or CDOT?," Aspen Times), because they wanted to re-time traffic signals in favor of pedestrians but now various elected and appointed officials are stepping back from this because they have reservations about taking on total financial responsibility for paying for a road at the level of quality that they want.

Takoma Park, Maryland.  Similarly, but in reverse, a few years ago when reviewing legal documents concerning road ownership, the Maryland State Highway Administration discovered that part of the 410 arterial (mostly called East-West Highway, but in Takoma Park is called Ethan Allen Avenue and Philadelphia Avenue depending on the section) in Takoma Park had never been properly conveyed to the State, and therefore they wanted to push the financial responsibility of maintaining the road onto Takoma Park.

Wikipedia photo.

Eventually the State Highway Administration agreed to continue maintaining the road (Letter from SHA to the City of Takoma Park).

New Parks.  Many cities, especially DC, aren't interested in taking on financial responsibility for maintaining and managing new park spaces.

DC even gave land away, to the National Park Service, for a waterfront park in Georgetown, rather than create a park that it controlled.

So in situations creating new parks, usually the city will maintain ownership of the land, but have a separate nonprofit manage and program the park and fund on-going operations.

Maryland SHA also has a guidebook on these issues, although it's more about the process, and doesn't provide detailed design guidance.

-- When Main Street is a State Highway

Virginia has a 2016 report:


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Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Crystal City Arlington as Amazon one-half of HQ2 | Part 4: Pie in the Sky transit improvements

This pulls out the really long term, "pie in the sky" elements from the previous entry.

-- "Crystal City Arlington as Amazon one-half of HQ2 | Part 1: General + Housing impact"
-- "Part 2: Leveraging Amazon's entrance for complementary economic development improvements"
-- "Crystal City Arlington as Amazon one-half of HQ2 | Part 3: Leveraging Amazon's entrance for complementary transit network improvements"

Conceptual Future integrated rail transit service network for the Washington DC National Capitol Region. Design by Paul J. Meissner.  Concept by Richard Layman and Paul Meissner.
Washington/National Capital Region Map of Future (Potential) Rapid Transit Services.  Designed by Paul J. Meissner, for the "Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space" blog.

Last year's "Using the Silver Line as the priming event, what would a transit network improvement program look like for NoVA?" specifically lays out a framework for a transportation network improvement plan for Northern Virginia.

These are super duper long term concepts, not currently on anyone's drawing board.  Separating the Silver Line would add capacity and coverage in DC, provide an additional crossing between DC and Virginia, and would significantly improve capacity on the Blue/Orange lines, especially the highly used Orange line, and improve reliability by reducing the amount of "inter-lining" between lines.


1. Separate the Silver Line from the Orange Line by extending the line south to Rte. 50 and then east along Arlington Boulevard to Rosslyn. That would provide six new stations: West Street; Falls Church; Seven Corners; Arlington Forest; Ashton Heights; and Fort Myer. Continuing the Silver Line from its endpoint at Ashburn to Leesburg should be considered also, which isn't depicted on the above map.

Separately the line would add a new connection into DC and pick up "the old" routing of the c. 2002 proposed "Separated Blue Line."  This would significantly increase service reliability for the Blue, Orange, and Silver Lines, along with increasing capacity and redundancy and bringing high frequency rail to new areas..

2. A new Pink Line rapid transit line (subway) is proposed serving Northern Virginia in the Columbia Pike corridor, with service to DC, adding eight stations in Northern Virginia: Lincolnia; Seminary Road; Skyline Center/NOVA Community College; Baileys Crossroads; Barcroft; Pike Town Center; Penrose Square; and Air Force Memorial.
Conceptual map for WMATA expansion, c. 1990
This c. 1990 WMATA proposed extensions map shows a line out Columbia Pike.  Note the stations for Annandale and Baileys Crossroads.  It proposed a terminus in Manassas.

The Pink Line is Paul's concept, and includes some of my input concerning service beyond Silver Spring in Montgomery County.  Note that original system planning for the Metrorail envisioned a line like this out Columbia Pike, but unlike our line which continues past the Silver Spring Metrorail station, the WMATA proposal terminated there.

I would do this instead of a streetcar on Columbia Pike, and increase the allowed density over what was planned in association with a streetcar service.

Passenger Railroad Service

3.  Continue the integration of the MARC and VRE railroad passenger services into the RACER concept by providing some "MARC Penn Line" connection service to Manassas, thereby incorporating the Manassas Line into the program.  [NEW ITEM.] 

The RACER concept ("Railroad Authority for the Chesapeake Region") for merging MARC and VRE is discussed in "One big idea: Getting MARC and Metrorail to integrate fares, stations, and marketing systems, using London Overground as an example."

4. Introduce bi-directional railroad service between DC and Manassas in association with the combination of the MARC Penn and VRE Manassas Lines into one integrated service.  [NEW ITEM.]

With a couple exceptions, currently VRE trains are one way, going into DC in the morning and coming back to Virginia in the evening. Having one continuous line would reduce the need for equipment and train storage.

5.  Incorporate the proposed VRE system improvements plan into this program.

-- VRE System Plan 2040

Light Rail

6.  In keeping with the original concept of the Purple Line as a circular line linking the various heavy rail lines, extend the line into Virginia from Bethesda on the north, from New Carrollton to Alexandria on the south, and between Tysons and Alexandria on the west.  The current program is to build the line from Bethesda to New Carrollton.  No planning is underway to extend the line beyond that section, which is under construction with a tentative opening date set for 2022.
;Purple Line Map  DC Metro
The original Purple Line concept connects the various heavy rail lines in Northern Virginia and Maryland, providing better east-west connections on the north and south sides of the transit network.  Sierra Club Metro DC graphic.

New transit connections between DC/Georgetown and Arlington County

DC streetcar service used to have a turnaround loop in Rosslyn.  

Older streetcar service in Northern Virginia used to continue into DC, but when a new Key Bridge was constructed, access to Virginia-based streetcar lines was denied, and these various lines were discontinued.

7.  I would add a heritage streetcar service for the National Mall including service to Arlington Cemetery and Rosslyn, as discussed here, "A National Mall-focused heritage (replica) streetcar service to serve visitors is way bigger idea than a parking garage under the Mall" and "New DC Circulator route serving National Mall reminds us that we are neglecting connections from west to east and fail to adequately connect Georgetown to the National Mall."

This map from Wikimedia and produced by "SDC," shows all once extant electric streetcar and interurban lines serving the DC area, and shows that Rosslyn (and by extension Georgetown) was a major hub of services originating in Virginia.

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Crystal City Arlington as Amazon one-half of HQ2 | Part 3: Leveraging Amazon's entrance for complementary transit network improvements

-- "Crystal City Arlington as Amazon one-half of HQ2 | Part 1: General + Housing impact"
-- "Part 2: Leveraging Amazon's entrance for complementary economic development improvements"
-- "Crystal City Arlington as Amazon one-half of HQ2 | Part 4: Pie in the Sky transit improvements"


REVISED: 11/7/2018

in a comment on this post, charlie made some good points, that a focus on the more realizable improvements is preferred.  So I am taking out the super long term items like a Separated Silver Line and putting them into a fourth, brief, entry.

Note that as part of transportation demand management planning requirements, in Seattle, Amazon has paid for additional streetcars and money for later and more frequent service.

Last year's "Using the Silver Line as the priming event, what would a transit network improvement program look like for NoVA?" specifically lays out a framework for a transportation network improvement plan for Northern Virginia.

Go to that piece for deeper discussion of the rationale, organizing principles, and background. Also see "The answer is: Create a single multi-state/regional multi-modal transit planning, management, and operations authority association."
Conceptual Future integrated rail transit service network for the Washington DC National Capitol Region. Design by Paul J. Meissner.  Concept by Richard Layman and Paul Meissner.
Washington/National Capital Region Map of Future (Potential) Rapid Transit Services.  Designed by Paul J. Meissner, for the "Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space" blog.

That program is the basis of what's here, reorganized, because the impetus for this discussion is Amazon's entry into Crystal City.  A couple elements have been dropped, although I'd say they're still important. 

This type of action plan should be pursued whether or not Amazon comes to Crystal City.  But Amazon is a good excuse to bring up the need for visionary planning.

Most of these items are very much Long Term projects with a couple of short term items.

Washington Area Transit Network 
Complementary Improvements Program 
for Northern Virginia primarily 
and Washington DC and Maryland secondarily
in response to the creation of an Amazon headquarters campus in Crystal City


The DC area Metrorail system is a hybrid of "rapid transit" service in the core, mostly underground, and a form of "commuter rail" with a lot of surface stations, outside of the core.

1. Extend the Yellow Line south on Rte. 1 to Fort Belvoir, adding four stations: Beacon Hill; Hybla Valley; Mount Vernon; and Fort Belvoir.  (This should have been done as part of BRAC planning, something I first suggested in 2005.)

This would add serious heft to the "Embark Richmond Highway" corridor improvement plans, although would shift from their focus on bus rapid transit.  It would also make lower cost areas more attractive and perhaps slake the price appreciation likely to come to many residential housing submarkets as a result of the creation of a new Amaon HQ campus.

2. The map also acknowledges the planned infill Potomac Yard station on the Blue and Yellow Lines, and proposes an infill station, called East Potomac Park, serving the west side of the National Mall near Jefferson Memorial, within DC, to serve visitors to the National Mall.

3.  Alexandria should reverse its decision to restrict convenient access to the Potomac Yard station as a way to reduce costs ("Alexandria scales back design for Potomac Yard Metro, including scrapping South entrance," Washington Post) because this area will experience heightened demand for residential and business activity and transit use as the result of Amazon's entry to the area.

4. Extend the Yellow Line south from Fort Belvoir to Woodbridge. This wasn't in the Meissner-Layman map but perhaps should be. It's 13.5 miles from Fort Belvoir to Potomac Mills/Woodbridge. That's far.

Like the Silver Line, this would be more like "commuter rail" than "rapid transit," but it's a major destination in the area and is worth connecting to, especially because of the traffic effects on I-95, even with toll-based access.

5. Extend the Orange Line west, adding four stations: Fairfax City/GMU; Fair Oaks; Fair Lakes; and Centreville.  This would make a busy line even busier.

6.  Make Yellow Line service full-time north of Mount Vernon Square in DC to Fort Totten.  [NEW ITEM.]

That makes this area have "one seat" access to Crystal City.  Currently, the Yellow Line runs north of Mount Vernon on weekends, and during the week in the mornings after rush, and then after rush in the evenings too.  Depending on how much the University of Maryland College Park wants to get in on the Amazon thing, it may be worth extending this service to the end of the line in Greenbelt.
Extract from WMATA Metrorail map showing Yellow Line service in DC

Passenger Railroad Service

7.  Integrate the MARC Penn Line and VRE Fredericksburg Line into one combined railroad passenger service line ("A new backbone for the regional transit system: merging the MARC Penn and VRE Fredericksburg Lines").  Note that separately, MARC is planning to extend the Penn Line to Delaware (and/or alternatively, extend SEPTA service from Newark, Delaware to Perryville, Maryland).

Use the coming of Amazon to Crystal City as another reason to move this concept forward.  The previous entry set a deadline of 2022, with the opening of the Purple Line.

8.  Introduce bi-directional railroad service between DC and Fredericksburg in association with the combination of the MARC Penn and VRE Fredericksburg Lines into one integrated service.

With a couple exceptions, currently VRE trains are one way, going into DC in the morning and coming back to Virginia in the evening. Having one continuous line would reduce the need for equipment and train storage, and provide the opportunity for more service in the heavily trafficked I-95 Corridor.

National Airport bus shuttle serves Economy Parking9.  Integrate the Crystal City railroad station into the ground transportation system of National Airport ("A brief comment on ground transportation at National Airport vis a vis VRE rail service") to better leverage railroad access to the airport, comparable to ground transportation and marketing services for the rail connection from the BWI MARC/Amtrak station to BWI Airport.

Separately, the Crystal City Business Improvement District aims to improve pedestrian connections between the airport (CC2DCA Pedestrian Connection).

While the current connections need to be improved, extending the National Airport ground transportation network to the VRE Station will be easier, cheaper, and more practical, since the average person carrying luggage doesn't want to walk that distance anyway.

10.  Integrate VRE/MARC fares into the SmarTrip/CharmCard fare media system, using the London Overground as a model ("One big idea: Getting MARC and Metrorail to integrate fares, stations, and marketing systems, using London Overground as an example").


WMATA has launched a "Bus Transformation Study" looking at the regional bus network ("With ridership falling, Metro will spend $2.2 million to study bus business model," Washington Post). Alexandria is conducting a similar study for its Dash transit services ("DASH Bus Service: More Routes or Faster Service?," Alexandria Living Magazine).

Besides service provided by WMATA, all of the jurisdictions have their own intra-jurisdictional services.  Some outlying communities, like Prince William County, provide long distance cross-jurisdictional commuter bus service.  Separately, WMATA runs some branded bus services on Richmond Highway (Rex) and Columbia Pike (PikeRide) and a bus rapid transit program between Alexandria and Crystal City (Metroway).  Separately, Fairfax County has bus rapid transit plans for Route 7 and Richmond Highway.

11.  Improve area bus services as needed with Amazon's entry to Crystal City.  Likely more and different services will be needed, and it shouldn't take years as it did to institute bus service from Alexandria to National Harbor.  Examples include better north-south bus connections in Arlington, overnight bus service from National Airport to DC when Metrorail is closed, etc.

The transit services in Raleigh-Durham use the same design scheme, assigning a different color to each transit agency.

12. Consider a redesign and rebranding of the the metropolitan area's bus systems into an integrated family of transit agencies linked by a common graphic design treatment, comparable to that of GoTransit in Raleigh-Durham ("Will buses ever be cool? Boston vs. Raleigh-Durham's GoTransit system").

Considering WMATA's Bus Transformation Study, the GoTransit program is a model for bus service integration and coordination versus the balkanized set up in the DC area.

Oddly enough this is the only single posted map I've ever come across that shows the entire Metrobus service profile for all jurisdictions--DC, Maryland, and Virginia.  It's out-of-date as it's a few years old and is displayed at the Gallery Place Station at the exit for the Capital One Arena.
WMATA metropolitan transit maps at Gallery Place Station

13.  Integrate various Bus Rapid Transit programs into a unified network (shown on the Meissner map as green lines) with a common system of branding, station design, etc.   Albuquerque's ART system is a good model, but there are others such as Viva in Ontario's York Region too.

Today's Washington Post story on the BRT program in Montgomery County says it will be called "Flash" ("Montgomery County begins construction of 14-mile Bus Rapid Transit line") and has a livery and name different from Metroway.

14.  Set the opening of the Purple Line as the deadline for the implementation of a full-fledged integrated Night Owl bus network for the DC metropolitan area.

Use the entry of Amazon as another impetus to create an integrated Night Owl bus network ("Slight revisiting of the issue of overnight transit service: San Francisco").

15. Integrate the long distance commuter bus network into a unified system.  This is somewhat the case wrt Maryland in terms of the route network but not in the branding of buses as service is provided under multiple banners/liveries, and the system fails with bi-directional service (such as from DC to Annapolis).

Northern Virginia has separate long distance commuter bus services for each jurisdiction that provides it: Loudoun County; Prince William County; and Fredericksburg.  The first two are public agencies (Loudoun Transit, OmniRide), the latter service is provided by a for profit contractor.  Each uses a different livery.

Perhaps like with how GO Transit in Ontario has both commuter bus and rail services and one common branding system, in line with my RACER concept for merging MARC and VRE ("One big idea: Getting MARC and Metrorail to integrate fares, stations, and marketing systems, using London Overground as an example"), the commuter bus network in Maryland and Virginia could be similarly rebranded as the RACER commuter bus network, and like with GoTransit in Raleigh-Durham, the rebranding could be launched in part with a common graphic design treatment across the now differentiated fleets of buses.  (RACER stands for Railroad Authority of the Chesapeake Region.)

Bi-directional services should be added to certain routes.

Go Transit Alexander Dennis Enviro500 #8155 and #8143GO Bus also has some double deck buses (see "Making bus service sexy and more equitable") which is something that should be considered also.

In any case, rebranding and repositioning commuter bus service as part of the Washington metropolitan and regional transit network is worth considering as part of an integrated transit network improvement program.

16. Incorporate transit services associated with the I-66 project, Transform 66, into this program.

-- Transform 66 in Northern Virginia - Outside the Beltway: FAQs
-- Transform 66 in Northern Virginia - Inside the Beltway

17. Improve funding for local transit in Prince William County. See "With sustained reduction in gasoline prices, will suburban transit systems lose ridership and revenue?"


18. Incorporate quantum improvements in bicycle infrastructure and facilities across the mobility network in association with the launch of the Purple Line (Item 16 in the PL list).  This item has a number of components, including definition of a regional bikeway network ("DC's (lack of full) commitment to bicycle "superhighways": and the counter example of Four Mile Run Trail in Arlington County"), creating a regional bikeways map, creating an integrated system of secure public bike parking stations across the region, etc.

Note that a regional bikeway network is part of the Visualize 2045 Long Range Regional Transportation Plan.

One area specific project would be WABA's proposal for the development of a cycle track network and concomitant improvements in the Arlington Boulevard corridor.  Another would be widening and repaving the Mount Vernon Trail, which serves Crystal City.

Crystal City is also the site of one of the region's only bike races, the Armed Forces Cycling Classic.

19.  Create a bike mobility hub at National Airport.  See "Why not a bicycle hub at National Airport?, focused on capturing worker trips but open to all."

Car sharing  

20.  Make National Airport a hub for car sharing services. Set up a program to accommodate Car2Go one way car sharing, the way that Montreal's Trudeau Airport does ("Car2Go agreement with Montreal's Trudeau Airport could be a model for other jurisdictions") or Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam ("Daimler’s car2go expands its carsharing service to Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport," NewMobility).

National Airport accommodates Uber and other ridehailing services now ("The popularity of Uber, Lyft boosts airport revenue, but there are trade offs," Washington Post), why not car share?

Given that ride hailing services are taking away parking business, likely spaces could be allocated to interested car sharing programs, beyond that of Car2Go, which already serves Arlington and DC. Enterprise wrested the contract to be located on Metrorail station sites from Zipcar, include them, as well as Zipcar ("Zipcar 'Takes Off' at More than 50 Airports," press release) and any other company interested such as Maven (GM) or Free2Move (Peugeot), etc.

21.  Car2Go (one way) car share should expand to Alexandria.

Ferry/Water Taxi Services

Before the development of integrated freeway networks, steamboats provided transportation within the Chesapeake Bay between Baltimore, Norfolk, and DC and within the Mid-Atlantic. I've lived in the DC area since 1987 and I can remember back to at least 1992 proposals for ferries on the Potomac River, paralleling the I-95 corridor.

The studies keep coming ("Fast ferry service in D.C. region possible in near future" and "Regional fast ferry concept moves forward," WTOP radio). And separately, water transportation--I won't call it "transit"--services link National Harbor, Alexandria, The Wharf, and Georgetown.

The problem with the concept is while the river seems so attractive a route, it's not located adjacent to major office districts.  The distances to get from a rider's origin point to a river side pier and then at the destination, from a river side embarkation point to the final destination, are considerable.

While water-based transit is still difficult to make work in the DC area, because the rivers tend to not be located proximate to commercial districts, perhaps Amazon's entry will change things somewhat.

Water taxi at the transit pier at the Wharf District, Southwest DC22.  Could a water taxi stop be made at National Airport and could it facilitate water-based transit services between the Navy Yard, The Wharf, and National Airport/Crystal City? 

The opening of the Wharf District ("District Wharf embraces DC’s waterfront," Charleston Gazette-Mail)  led to an expansion of water taxi services ("The Wharf water taxi service to National Harbor starts," WTOP radio), although I am still doubtful there is much in the way of commuter transportation potential for the service.

London as an example: pricing ferry commuter rides as a premium service.  On my walking tour of London with former TfL official Ivan Bennett, we talked about the ferry services there, called the River Bus.  In planning for river  transit, TfL differentiates between commuter transportation and tourist services.

-- TfL River services
-- London River Services map and guide, Tfl (speaking of branding, it uses the same design style as other London transit services)
-- London River Services map, 2018

Ferry trips on the Thames tend to be slower than rail, but nicer, with coffee service and newspapers.  He argues that they should be marketed and priced as premium services, with the extra revenues used to support other aspects of the transit system.

(By contrast, some of the NYC Ferry routes can be faster than rail, because they provide service in areas underserved by the subway.)

That seems like a sensible approach for pricing ferry/water taxi service.

23.  Consider developing a pier for Rosslyn water taxi service.  [NEW ITEM.]

24. Longer distance ferry services on the Potomac River should be pursued separately.

25.  Add summer water taxi service to Roosevelt Island. See "Why not a summer "water taxi" service to Roosevelt Island in the Potomac River." Although this is more recreational, not transit, why not throw it in?


26.  Note that railroad improvements are dependent on reconstruction and expansion of the Long Bridge, the CSX owned bridge that connects DC and Virginia.

The bridge has two railroad tracks used by freight and passenger trains.  The Metrorail bridge is separate.  It needs two more tracks, which are likely to come as part of a second new bridge span.  This is a priority for DC and Virginia currently.  (For Virginia, it is part of their "Atlantic Gateway" program.)

-- Long Bridge Project

Note that  in the planning for this bridge, I think that there should be a dedicated bus transitway also, providing redundancy and increased capacity for bus transit service between DC and Northern Virginia.

And it will take a lot longer than 6 years, sadly, to build that bridge extension.  But because all of Virginia's plans for railroad expansion are dependent on it, it will happen.

-- Atlantic Gateway Project, State of Virginia

WABA has called for additional bike connections across the Long Bridge.  Currently, there is a path on the 14th Street Bridge.

New transit connections between DC/Georgetown and Arlington County

27.  Georgetown BID's gondola proposal connecting Georgetown DC with Rosslyn in Arlington County, Virginia, which regardless of the creation of a separated Silver Line or a Pink Line, would make Rosslyn's Metrorail Station the equivalent of a DC-serving Metrorail station.

Like the "Emirates Air Line" branding of the aerial tram in London, perhaps Amazon would be interested in being the sponsor of this service?

28.  If the H Street Streetcar line is extended to Georgetown, perhaps it should be extended to Rosslyn as well.  Although ideally Key Bridge would be widened to provide dedicated lanes.

Streetcar service to DC from Virginia ceased as a result of refused access to Key Bridge or other crossings, as new bridges were built and previous bridges accommodating streetcar service were taken out of service.

Previous writings promoted extending the streetcar to Rosslyn and that makes sense especially were there to be a bigger transit hub with the gondola system, but ideally there would be dedicated lanes on Key Bridge.

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Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Crystal City Arlington as Amazon one-half of HQ2 | Part 2: Leveraging Amazon's entrance for complementary economic development improvements

-- "Crystal City Arlington as Amazon one-half of HQ2 | Part 1: General + Housing impact"
-- "Crystal City Arlington as Amazon one-half of HQ2 | Part 3: Leveraging Amazon's entrance for complementary transit network improvements"
-- "Crystal City Arlington as Amazon one-half of HQ2 | Part 4: Pie in the Sky transit improvements"

Last year, in "Setting the stage for the Purple Line light rail line to be an overwhelming success Part 1 | simultaneously introduce improvements to other elements of the transit network" and "Using the Silver Line as the priming event, what would a transit network improvement program look like for NoVA?" I argued that we could do a lot better in leveraging big investments in new transit investment to drive complementary improvements across the transit network as well as other economic development initiatives.

Paul Meissner created a "fantasy map" illustrating some of these ideas.
Conceptual Future integrated rail transit service network for the Washington DC National Capitol Region. Design by Paul J. Meissner.  Concept by Richard Layman and Paul Meissner.
Conceptual Future integrated rail transit service network for the Washington DC National Capitol Region. Design by Paul J. Meissner. Concept by Richard Layman and Paul Meissner.

But to achieve something like that requires purposive and simultaneous planning, as a form of what I am now calling "Transformational Projects Action Planning" ("Why can't the "Bilbao Effect" be reproduced? | Bilbao as an example of Transformational Projects Action Planning."

Given the talk that Amazon will open a new headquarters campus in Crystal City, I'd argue that this should be used to drive other improvements, not just within Arlington specifically, but across the metropolitan area.  Although while the economic development impact will be big, it's not so huge that it can "change everything," especially through trickle down effects.

Think of Amazon's coming as a priming event, more as an excuse to be visionary and do some good things in a complementary way.  Part 2, this piece, briefly outlines economic development opportunities, and Part 3 focuses on transit network improvements.

Economic development opportunities

In the Purple Line series, articles on New Carrollton ("Part 4 |   Making over New Carrollton as a transit-centric urban center and Prince George's County's "New Downtown"") and Silver Spring ("PL #5: Creating a Silver Spring "Sustainable Mobility District | Part 1: Setting the stage") discussed how the Purple Line light rail program could be leveraged to drive neighborhood and commercial district revitalization in those communities.

While Arlington has been doing pretty well for years because of its embrace of transit oriented development, particularly in the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor, it is facing budget issues ("Arlington manager warns of higher taxes, more service cuts," Washington Post) because of high commercial vacancy and competition from nearby submarkets in Alexandria and Fairfax County that have lower cost property.

Crystal City has languished as military installation consolidation shifted agencies elsewhere and Columbia Pike lost its spark when in 2014 Arlington cancelled plans to build a streetcar there  ("Arlington officials halt efforts on streetcars for Columbia Pike, Crystal City," Post).

But it has one of the highest used Metrorail stations outside of the center city, as well as rail service via the Virginia Railway Express and it's about one mile from National Airport, and well connected via the Interstate Highway system.

Building wrapped with colorful treatment in Crystal City and Metrorail/VRE sign
And the way that suburban business districts like Crystal City have been working to activate what would be very drab places without the addition of a big dose of creativity ("'Crystal City is so cool': Maybe, but it's not quite D.C.'s Brooklyn," Washington Post; "JBG Smith wraps Crystal City buildings," Washington Business Journal) proves that innovation is not exclusively a center city phenomenon.  Crystal City is helped by its closer-in location, just across the river from the center city.

The Crystal City Business Improvement District is one of the more innovative BIDs in the region, maybe because they have to work harder because they aren't in DC proper.

And Southern Fairfax County, underserved by Metrorail and shaped by automobile-centric land use paradigms, lags other parts of the county that are better connected to rail transit. Landing Amazon should be used to give a renewed push to ongoing revitalization initiatives.

1.  The Route 1 Corridor in Arlington.  Obviously, the Crystal City/Potomac Yard area will get the bulk of the new business.  This will help absorb vacant space existing in CC and drive demand for new construction on fallow and underutilized land including in Pentagon City and Potomac Yard, which also includes part of Alexandria. 

Like how Signature Theatre has co-located with the Shirlington Library, maybe Arlington could get Amazon to open a cinema where like IFC in New York City, it could be used to show and premiere Amazon television and movie streaming programs.  Fairfax has developed a kind of similar program with Capital One and a theatre facility on their new campus that is being developed there ("Fairfax Board signs off on Capital One's big venue," Washington Business Journal).

2.  Alexandria's Old Town and Waterfront.  There's been a lot of handwringing in Alexandria over competition from new/renewed waterfront districts in DC, the Wharf in Southwest and the Navy Yard in Southeast, along with the ongoing expansion of the National Harbor complex in Prince George's County.
King Street Trolley bus, Alexandria Virginia
Proximity to Crystal City of the city's waterfront district--Arlington doesn't have much in the way of accessible waterfront outside of park space--and the area's most substantive "traditional commercial district" outside of Georgetown in DC provides new economic energy for the city, even though attempts to be more proactive thus far have languished ("Alexandria abandons its Old Town BID quest," Washington Business Journal).

But this energy can be harnessed elsewhere and throughout the city, such as in the Eisenhower district.

3.  Rosslyn/Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor.  Rosslyn will get spillover energy from its proximity to Crystal City.  Like CC, Rosslyn markets itself as an "in DC neighborhood that is in Virginia."  Plans to make the district over in terms of more 21st century urban design friendly techniques will get a boost.

Similarly the R-B Corridor will get renewed life, in the face of the National Science Foundation is decamping for Alexandria ("A follow up example with regard to Metropolitan Revolutions: the National Science Foundation moving to Alexandria," 2013).

4.  Shirlington.  This Arlington neighborhood will get a boost too, despite having lost some restaurants and other businesses more recently. It doesn't have Metrorail service, but Arlington has worked hard to give the district good bus transit connections, built a nice bus station there, etc.

5.  Columbia Pike.  CP took a definite hit when Arlington cancelled plans to build a streetcar line there.  But with an Amazon bump, the area will likely take off because relatively speaking, land there is still cheaper, right now.  Soon enough, not so much.

6. Richmond Highway Corridor, Fairfax County.  Economically, this area lags compared to much of Fairfax County, despite its proximity to Fort Belvoir.  But lower cost of land could help it land new development, especially given ongoing activity in the area within the transit shed of the Huntington Yellow Line Station, which on the Alexandria side, is where the National Science Foundation is relocating.

-- "Fairfax County signs off on Richmond Highway overhaul," Washington Business Journal

7.  DC's L'Enfant Plaza area.  For the most part, DC won't see much in the way of "new development" from Amazon, but desire to live in the city, but being located three stops away from Crystal City via the Metrorail's Yellow Line without having to transfer could drive more demand for housing in the area around the L'Enfant Plaza Metrorail station.
WMATA map with the Silver Line

Dedicated shuttle bus for the Wharf District between the Southwest Waterfront and L'Enfant Plaza Metrorail StationThat could help drive forward changes proposed in the Southwest Ecodistrict land use plan, along with other investments such as the soon to open Children's Museum and the relocation of the International Spy Museum, alongside development of the new "Wharf" district on the Southwest Waterfront, which is a short walk or free bus ride to the L'Enfant Metrorail station..

8.  Navy Yard/Capitol Riverfront.  Demand could extend outward from the L'Enfant area a bit to the new and somewhat adjacent Audi Field soccer district area between The Wharf and the Navy Yard area as well as to the Navy Yard.  But it's a bit further away via Metrorail and requires a transfer at L'Enfant from either the Southwest Waterfront station on the Blue/Orange/Silver Lines or the Navy Yard Station on the Green Line.

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