Planning • Projects • Main Street Progress
Improving quality of life and accommodating an influx of new residents guided our community-based planning effort to revitalize Columbia Pike. We brought together residents, property owners, developers and others to re-imagine this established community. The result was a new vision that includes a vibrant main street with affordable housing, improved transit, more urban parks and a safe environment to bike and walk and a revitalization plan that will guide sustainable development and housing for all.
- Form Based Codes
- Development History
- Timeline of Major Planning Milestones
- Columbia Pike Housing & Form Based Code Maps
Our strategies for realizing this vision include using innovative Form Based Codes, encouraging higher density development, and making transportation and other public improvements.
Form Based Codes: The County was not only among the first adopters of Form Based Codes (FBC), but also among the first jurisdictions where developers actively use FBC for new projects by encouraging mixed-use development on Columbia Pike. We are creating a walkable, lively “Main Street” atmosphere that includes plazas, retail shops, sidewalk cafes, a canopy of street trees and a variety of housing.
In the first 13 years, developers have added:
- 3,084 residential units (of which 717 were committed affordable to residents earning up to 60 percent of AMI)
- more than 337,970 square-feet of commercial space
- a 52,300 square-foot community center, public plaza, mini-parks and new supermarkets
Several recently approved projects are currently under construction.
Affordable Housing: The 2012 Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Area Plan made affordable housing a long-range planning priority. The Neighborhoods Form Based Code and incentive tools, including Tax-Oriented Affordable Housing (TOAH), Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and Transfer of Development Rights (TDR), will help meet our goal of preserving 6,200 affordable housing units.
Street Improvements: Revitalization efforts replaced the 70-year-old Washington Boulevard Bridge and will continue to bury utilities, realign key intersections and install wider sidewalks. The Columbia Pike Multimodal Street Improvements project will improve pedestrian crossings and add bike routes, street trees and landscaped median areas along the entire Pike. Complete Streets projects will also improve safety and access for pedestrians, bikes, public transit riders and vehicles within this corridor.
Public Transit: Columbia Pike is one of the most heavily traveled corridors in the region and is primarily served by buses. New transit stations have been designed to accommodate higher ridership. Transportation improvements will help to accommodate the anticipated population growth and the higher demand that will result from it.
Columbia Pike has been the focus of extensive planning efforts since 1986, when the Columbia Pike Special Revitalization District was established to stimulate reinvestment in businesses and buildings. In 1990, the first revitalization plan was adopted — Columbia Pike 2000: A Revitalization Plan. This was later continued through the creation of the Columbia Pike Initiative by the County Board in 1998 and subsequent revitalization plans in 2002 and 2005. The plan guided future development and commercial revitalization and addressed land use and community needs.
Since then, a number of community-based planning efforts have helped shape the vision for a revitalized Pike. Four key documents guide future development: the commercial centers Form Based Code (2003), The Street Space Planning Task Force Report (2004), The Neighborhoods Area Plan (2012) and the Neighborhoods Form Based Code (2013). Related updates to the Master Transportation Plan and General Land Use Plan are bringing us closer to a safe “Main Street” that is easily accessible to walk, bike, drive and use public transit.
See the full timeline of planning milestones and activities.
Urban Design and Guidelines for Future Development
The 2005 Columbia Pike Initiative Plan established parameters for guiding future development in the corridor’s four commercial areas. To implement that plan, the commercial centers Form Based Code reinforces these characteristics:
- Mixed-use development districts (retail, office, residential, cultural)
- Street frontage at a pedestrian scale with ground-floor retail
- Buildings oriented to Columbia Pike
- Buildings built close together forming a continuous “street wall”
- Parking located underground or to the rear of buildings
- Appropriate transitions to residential neighborhoods
The 2012 Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Area Plan and Neighborhoods Form Based Code guides multifamily residential development surrounding the commercial centers and will:
- Improve the existing housing supply and expand new options to achieve a housing mix that serves diverse households, preserves affordability for current and future residents and supports the adopted housing goals and targets and the Columbia Pike Initiative
- Create a safe, pedestrian-friendly and multimodal corridor that links the residential areas, commercial centers and public spaces
- Preserve neighborhood character, historic buildings and tree canopy
- Enhance urban design and architectural features to improve the Pike’s identity
- Incorporate energy-efficient, “green” neighborhood and building design principles
- Work in tandem with County financial incentives to spur the preservation of affordable housing units.
Land Use & Revitalization
- Street Map
- GLUP Map
- Zoning Map
- Neighborhoods Form Based Code (Article 11.2 Appendix B of the Zoning Ordinance)
- Commercial Centers Form Based Code (Article 11.1 Appendix A of the Zoning Ordinance)
- Columbia Pike Housing & Form Based Code Maps
- Columbia Pike Land Use & Housing Study Preliminary Analysis Report
- Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Area Plan 2012
- Columbia Pike Initiative: A Revitalization Plan 2005 Update
- Street Space Task Force Report
- Columbia Pike Initiative: A Revitalization Plan 2002 — Volume I and Volume II
Neighborhood Conservation Plans
- Alcova Heights Neighborhood Conservation Plan 1999
- Arlington Heights Neighborhood Conservation Plan 2008
- Arlington View Neighborhood Conservation Plan 1965
- Barcroft Neighborhood Conservation Plan 2008
- Columbia Forest Neighborhood Conservation Plan 2000
- Columbia Heights Neighborhood Conservation Plan 2004
- Columbia Heights West Neighborhood Conservation Plan 2000
- Douglas Park Neighborhood Conservation Plan 1998
- Foxcroft Heights Neighborhood Conservation Plan 2009
- Penrose Neighborhood Conservation Plan 2003