The Ballston Metro Station Area covers roughly 260 acres and includes a diverse mix of commercial, office and residential properties. Located on the Metrorail orange line at the western end of the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor, the area provides direct access to I-66 and Glebe Road, the County’s main north-south artery.
Development in Ballston first began in the early 1800s when residential and commercial buildings were constructed near the intersection of North Glebe Road and Wilson Boulevard. This intersection became known as Ball’s Crossroads after a tavern was built at the crossing. By the mid 1800s, Ball’s Crossroads was one of the more settled areas in the County, with an established identity as a trading center. In the 1920s and 1930s, commercial development was concentrated along Fairfax Drive, and during the 1940s and 1950s, new businesses extended along Wilson Boulevard and North Glebe Road.
When the Parkington Shopping Center was built in 1951, it attracted shoppers from a broad geographic area and made Ballston the County’s second most important retail center. Planning efforts began in the early 1970s for the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor where a new subway line was proposed. The vision for a “new downtown” in central Arlington was first laid out in the Ballston Sector Plan, adopted by the County Board in 1980. The plan sought to create a dynamic downtown area by ensuring that development included a mix of commercial, office and residential uses.
The plan was developed with significant input from the community and contains some of the key planning principles that helped to shape Ballston, including:
- Redevelopment of the Parkington Shopping Center to provide the commercial centerpiece for the station area; and
- Concentration of density around the Metro station that tapers down to single-family residential neighborhoods.
Within Ballston, there are a number of special planning districts focusing on the needs of specific areas. These include a Coordinated Mixed-Use Development District for central Ballston, a Coordinated Mixed-Use District for North Quincy Street and an Affordable Housing District for Liberty Center. These designations require a public planning process when property owners in these areas decide to pursue development.
Urban Design and Guidelines for Future Development
The Ballston Sector Plan incorporated a number of urban design guidelines to coordinate the visual and physical aspects of development on different sites, to create an attractive streetscape in and around the station area and to support quality private development. Urban design guidelines cover four categories: coordinated streetscape, commercial facilities, neighborhood preservation, and urban open space and plazas.
Two main design features from the original sector plan are:
- The Stuart Street Walkway: This wide walkway was constructed along Stuart Street between the Ballston Metro Station and Wilson Boulevard with street trees, paving, attractive street furniture and pedestrian lighting. A second-story enclosed pedestrian bridge above Stuart Street connects Ballston Common, Stafford Place, and Ballston Metro Center.
- The Fairfax Drive Boulevard Concept: The landscaping treatment of Fairfax Drive was designed to provide a transition between the high-density mixed-use development around the Metro station and the primarily residential areas north of Fairfax Drive. Fairfax Drive also provides an opportunity to create a distinctive gateway into the Ballston area from 1-66. Today, Fairfax Drive includes trees along the sidewalks and median areas, thoroughfare lighting, pedestrian lighting, underground utilities and coordinated paving materials.
Future development in Ballston is guided by the goals and policies adopted in the Ballston Sector Plan and by the recommendations made in the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor Mid-Course Review in 1989. These include:
- Providing gateway features at the 1-66 exit at Fairfax Drive to establish an entry point into the R-B corridor;
- Creating design guidelines to assist in the development of better building-to-building relationships, coherent streetscapes, and better building to street relationships; and
- Continuing to use low-density development, decreased building heights, and open space as forms of transitioning to lower densities away from the core area.
- Ballston Demographics (2010)
- Ballston Sector Plan (1980)
- Ballston Sector Plan Summary (1991)
- Ballston Development (2011)
- R-B Corridor – Retail Action Plan (2001)
- R-B Corridor – Streetscape Standards (2007)
- Ballston-Virginia Square Neighborhood Conservation Plan (1984)
- General Land Use Plan (GLUP)
- Street Map
- Zoning Map