Have you ever wanted to speak your mind about how your neighborhood has changed? Take a peek into a Northern Virginia Neighbor’s mind as he explores the changes he’s seen in his neighborhood. The good, the bad and the ugly.
Back in April, an Arlington Resident, Todd P. had some really passionate things to say about what it meant to him to live in a neighborhood where public transit was still apparent, but not dominant and where the feeling of neighborly love and entrepreneurship was still alive and well. What he said really rang out, and I asked him if it was alright if I used his words in a little article and he was all about sharing; it’s taken a while to dig through the old emails, but I’ve found it and here it is.Thanks so much to Todd for letting us get a glimpse of what he felt Arlington used to be like when he first came to the area, and what it has sense become with the influx of development, which may or may not have been smart-growth. Here is a peek into a Northern Virginia neighbor’s thoughts. Keep in mind this was in response to a heated debate about the introduction of the trolley cars in the Columbia Pike Corridor…
“…But building apartment buildings with smaller footprints and larger outdoor parking areas would mean housing costs would rise dramatically and neighborhoods would be even more dominated by large expanses of ugly paved space than they are already. I guess it’s a matter of your point of view. Personally, I think large obnoxious high rise buildings are ugly.
It doesn’t offer enough population density to support any neighborhood stores – especially not the kind of interesting diversity that we’d like to see on the Pike. It doesn’t create the density to support any kind of public transit.
When I moved to Arlington, there was this little hardware store on the corner of Walter Reed and Columbia Pike with a little parking lot behind it. I used to go there to avoid the big box chains for my home supplies…oh wait, there’s a high rise building there now. I also used to enjoy half priced burgers at Cowboy Cafe South, where I could go do my grocery shopping and grab a juicy burger afterwards, with the convenience of parking outside of both in a lot. Hmmm…there’s a high rise building going in there now too.
Some how neighborhoods like Del Ray and Westover support “interesting diversity” without having high rises, a trolley and four 7-Elevens. I go to Del Ray all the time to frequent Cheesetique, Dairy Godmother and Let’s Meat on the Avenue. Westover offers Ayer’s Hardware, Westover Market, Lebanese Taverna and Lost Dog. Both have little post offices and a single 7-Eleven and make due with bus lines that seem to work well.
IMHO that housing pattern is an utter disaster. Density and walkability are excellent characteristics of a city. A car is a glorious luxury for getting out of town and occasionally having to transport a lot of stuff, but using it routinely in your everyday life is a dreadful idea for every reason I can think of.
Walkability yes, but density is not a “plus” in my opinion. Last time I checked, Arlington is a county, not a city. When I moved here, if you wanted city living you moved to Rosslyn or Crystal City, but this urban sprawl creeping into what had previously been more residential neighborhoods is a negative. Arlington doesn’t HAVE to bulk up with development. It could choose to keep its small neighborhoods small and retain their personality.
The town I grew up in was 15 miles from New York City yet strictly zoned itself to maintain its small town charm. There was no industrial zoning and commercial zoning was intentionally managed. For instance, they denied permits to fast food restaurants on the main street, so you can tell where the town line is because all of the Burger Kings and Roy Rogers were built the next town over. It has a very walkable main street with diverse buildings, all without high rises or trolleys.
Arlington is choosing density and expensive transit…it’s not a requirement for things you espouse such as walkability and diversity.”
Let us know what you think and feel free to share your experiences, too! What do you think about the way that your Northern community has changed to manage density? Do you think smart growth has been maintained and sustainability has been factored in? We want to know; share your comments here or find us on facebook.
Tags: Ayer's Hardware, big box chains, Density, high rise buildings, housing costs, interesting diversity, Lebanese Taverna and Lost Dog, neighborhood stores, Northern virginia real estate, population density, smaller footprints, sustainable buildilng, trolley car on Columbia Pike, walkability, Westover Market