National Landing, the renamed neighborhood of Crystal City-Pentagon City-Potomac Yards in Arlington and Alexandria, will become the countryâ€™s most connected urban center sometime in the next decade, its business boosters say.
Eight major transportation projects are underway in the area, with the aim of turning what is often seen as a busy pass-through into a truly urban neighborhood where residents, office workers and visitors have easy access to local and regional amenities as well as long-distance travel.
The projects will expand heavy rail services such as Amtrak and the Virginia Railway Express; add four new miles of protected bike lanes; turn a busy elevated highway into an urban boulevard that emphasizes safety and walkability; add additional Metro entrances; extend dedicated bus lanes; widen sidewalks and create new trailheads; and construct a pedestrian bridge over the George Washington Memorial Parkway between Crystal City and Reagan National Airport.
â€śThe collective impact of the projects are truly transformative,â€ť said Tracy Sayegh Gabriel, president and executive director of the National Landing Business Improvement District, which published a report touting $4 billion in both public and private investments in National Landing. â€śThis is a story of innovation, equity, sustainability and competitive advantage.â€ť
The projects are in the planning, design or construction stages, even as the coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc on travel patterns and the lives of restaurant, office and hospitality workers. They came together because of the arrival of Amazonâ€™s second headquarters in Arlington, which was announced two years ago. Many of the projects had been in the discussion or planning stages earlier than that, but the Amazon decision accelerated the plans.
â€śAccess to good-quality, multimodal transit options was one of the key drivers in Amazonâ€™s decision to locate in Arlington,â€ť Brian Huseman, the retail behemothâ€™s vice president of public policy, said in a statement. â€śThe additional investments in transportation infrastructure from the County and the Commonwealth will make this one of the most connected and innovative jurisdictions â€” benefitting the community at large.â€ť
JBG Smith, the developer of Amazonâ€™s building projects in the neighborhood and the majority property owner in Crystal City, announced last month that it has finished construction on a Â14-story tower at 1770 Crystal Dr. that is leased to Amazon.
Amazon now leases more than 850,000 square feet of space in National Landing, the Arlington Economic Development agency said.
More than 26,000 people already live in the National Landing area, with more housing in the pipeline. Office space takes up 12 million square feet. There are more than 450 retail stores and restaurants and 5,500 hotel rooms. And itâ€™s likely to get even busier.
Amazon has hired more than 1,000 employees of the 25,000 it expects to eventually work at its new headquarters. Its twin 22-story buildings, the first of two sites underway in Arlington, are rising from what used to be empty warehouses along South Eads Street. JBG Smith announced on Dec. 21 that it bought the former Americana Hotel directly across the street, which it plans to replace with a 500,000-square-foot multifamily development.
The county and neighboring Alexandria, expecting significant economic benefits from Amazonâ€™s arrival, have welcomed the company, even to the extent of sharing what questions elected officials planned to ask at public hearings.
The transportation projects will be financed by $270 million of state and federal money, as well as tax increment financing in which future local development will pay the costs for construction. In selling the Amazon project to the community, local governments have emphasized these long-term capital investments will benefit all users, not just Amazon and related businesses.
Labor organizations and groups that advocate for low-income workers have resisted Amazonâ€™s expansion in Arlington, protesting pay and working conditions in its warehouses elsewhere in the nation and accusing Amazon of tolerating labor abuses, which the company denies.
National Airport lies just one-third of a mile from Crystal Drive, the main retail street of Crystal City. Construction of a pedestrian bridge over the GW Parkway will make this