Tuesday, November 30, 2004
Here's the most interesting part:
The gold standard for residential development near transit stations is Arlington
County, Va., across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., urban planners say.
In the 1970s, Arlington decided to concentrate development along its 3-mile
subway route to maintain the character of suburban neighborhoods. That was novel
and controversial at the time.
But the results are impressive: 35,000 residents living in 18,000 houses and
apartments, 75,000 jobs, 1,900 hotel rooms and 17 million square feet of office
and retail space within walking distance of subway stations. The half-mile-wide
corridor contains just 7.6% of Arlington's land but generates a third of its tax
revenue, keeping residents' property tax bills lower than anywhere else in the
Neighboring Fairfax County opted for massive parking facilities around its
subway stations and shunned the housing-office-retail mix. A result was more
sprawl throughout the county. Now plans at two stations for clusters of
residential towers have sparked neighborhood opposition over traffic. Only 30%
of the newcomers would commute by subway, studies show.
“In Arlington, three-fourths of people walk to the train,” Dittmar says.
“In Fairfax, two-thirds drive. The difference is just dramatic.”
Pedestrian-friendly spaces are critical, planners say. Arlington learned from
early mistakes that buildings had to open onto sidewalks and invite walking. If
a goal is to cut car trips — only a fourth of all trips are work trips —
give residents fewer reasons to drive by mixing shopping, housing and
entertainment, planners say. It will lead to fewer cars per household.
Offer housing choices - apartments, condos, townhouses and single-family homes.
Single uses such as office buildings make for dead after-hours downtowns. Mixing
uses creates 24-hour villages and more transit ridership.
Barely a decade ago, Arlington's Clarendon neighborhood was economically
stagnant with aging housing and limited retail stock. Today, it's one of metro
Washington's hippest areas. Bars and restaurants hum late into the night.
Commuters rushing home pack upscale groceries for gourmet dinner dishes.
Man, it just makes me so proud.