Arlington County Moves Forward on Vision for Western Rosslyn
The Arlington County Board took several actions in a coordinated effort to enact the vision outlined in the Western Rosslyn Area Plan (WRAP), which was adopted by the Board in 2015.
The approval of several use permits and site plans will deliver a new school, new fire station, transportation network improvements, parks and open space, affordable housing, retail and new residential space to the Western Rosslyn community by 2021.
The approval of the complex redevelopment plans in a relatively short timeframe were made possible through the joint efforts of property owners – Arlington Public Schools, Arlington County, Penzance and Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing – in conjunction with significant input from community members and stakeholders.
Feb. 3, 2017
Western Rosslyn Area Implementation Update
Arlington County staff, Arlington Public Schools, property owners and community members are collaborating to implement the vision outlined in the WRAPS Area Plan. Board hearings are anticipated for February. The following pages have implementation-related information about the Western Rosslyn Area:
- 1555 Wilson Blvd.
- Queen’s Court Apartments
- Wilson School
- Temporary Fire Station FAQ
- Rosslyn Highlands Park
Sept. 24, 2016
Arlington to Put Temporary Fire Station 10 on Wilson School Site
The Arlington County Board today accepted the County Manager’s recommendation to put a temporary fire station on the Wilson School site, after extensive public engagement and examination of two dozen potential sites.
“This was a very tough decision for the Board,” Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey said. “And we know that there will be members of the community who are disappointed. I think everyone will agree, however, that we listened to the community’s concerns and launched a thorough search for an alternative that would meet the criteria of providing fire protection and emergency medical services to Rosslyn, at a reasonable cost to taxpayers. We acknowledge that this solution will need to be accompanied by serious efforts to mitigate the impact of the fire station on the Wilson School site and the students who will be learning there. We have always said the redevelopment of Western Rosslyn is complex and difficult, but in the end, it will result in benefits for our entire community. We will have a wonderful new urban school, new, integrated open space, including a park that the developer has agreed to pay for, a fire station that the developer will build, affordable housing and a commercial building.”
July 21, 2015
County Board Adopts Western Rosslyn Area Plan
The Arlington County Board today adopted the Western Rosslyn Area Plan, a plan outlining a new vision and strategies to redevelop a key area of Rosslyn with a new fire station, a new school, a new Rosslyn Highlands Park and another small park space, mixed-use development and up to 250 units of affordable housing.
“This has been a challenging process with significant involvement from multiple sectors of the Rosslyn community. Our desires for new facilities to meet County goals were varied and, in some cases, competing,” said Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes. “Through the ensuing process, we have arrived at a plan that addresses some of the County’s highest priorities — adding school capacity to ease overcrowding, providing more affordable housing near transit, creating high-quality open space and achieving an expanded Fire Station #10. We look forward to working with APS and APAH to plan the open space and outdoor recreational facilities in the next few months, and to the development of a MOU with APS that will govern community access to recreation and other spaces in the new school.”
The Board voted unanimously to adopt the Western Rosslyn Area Plan.
Read the complete news release.
June 16, 2015
Public Hearings Set for Western Rosslyn Area Plan
The Arlington County Board today voted to advertise public hearings in July on the Western Rosslyn Area Planning Study (WRAPS), a County-led community planning process that has crafted a new vision for Western Rosslyn.
“The proposed plan seeks to balance the need for open space in Western Rosslyn with the need for a new school with associated gym and playing field accessible to residents, a new fire station and more affordable housing in collaboration with commercial redevelopment,” County Board Chair Mary Hynes said. “This multi-dimensional multi-owner planning isn’t easy. There are many well-articulated needs and limited space. We look forward to hearing from the public in July on another important piece of the County’s ambitious effort to transform the Rosslyn area into a more vibrant, walkable, livable neighborhood.”
Read the complete news release.
June 11, 2015
Draft Western Rosslyn Area Plan Released
Updated July 9, 2015: the feedback period has now closed. The County Board will consider adoption of the Western Rosslyn Area Plan at their Tuesday, July 21 meeting.
The Western Rosslyn Area Plan Study (WRAPS) process is a collaborative effort led by a County Board-appointed Working Group that included Arlington residents, business leaders, property owners and advocates who worked closely with County planning staff. Together, they developed a vision for the 6.5 acre-site in Rosslyn. The County, Arlington Public Schools, the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing and a private developer, Penzance, all own parcels of the land.
The County’s goal for this study has been to collaborate with the community, the Working Group, and land owners to come up with a comprehensive and creative solution that results in the greatest amount of contiguous, usable open space. Meeting this and other important study goals is a challenge, given the site’s limited space and the School Board’s decision to replace the Wilson School with a brand-new school to house the H-B Woodlawn program. The process has required collaboration and compromise to balance community needs.
The Draft Area Plan is intended to provide guidance for future development within the study area through a series of Guiding Principles, concept drawings, and concept plan elements. Although there is some specificity in the Plan regarding heights and other important elements, flexibility is incorporated to allow for creative approaches to siting the new secondary school, increasing open space, and coordinating and planning the use of open spaces within the study area.
Recommendations in the Draft Area Plan include:
- New 775-seat secondary school on the Wilson School site
- New Fire Station #10
- Better-designed Rosslyn Highlands Park, and another small public park space
- Mixed-use development
- Increased affordable housing
On Tuesday, July 21, the County Board will hold a public hearing to consider adoption of the Western Rosslyn Area Plan. The County Manager is recommending that the Board adopt the Plan. For more information, read the Staff Report, Draft Plan, and Additional Materials.
March 26, 2015
County Board Provides Direction at Work Session, Next Steps for the Concept Plan
On March 4, the County Board held a work session with staff and the Working Group Chairman to review recommendations, including a concept plan, that were consistent with the goals set forth in the County Board Charge. Two variations of the concept plan are shown which depict flexible school siting options. School siting will be studied further as part of the upcoming Public Facilities Review Committee process that will be initiated in May 2015.
Staff recommendations included in the work session presentation and concept plan:
- Joint development of the County parcel along with the adjacent parcel owned by the Penzance Companies;
- A co-located fire station, built on the ground floor of a private redevelopment building;
- Flexibility with respect building the school either along the Wilson Blvd or 18th Street frontage;
- Incorporating an 11,500 SF County park and an 18,500 SF public plaza within the joint redevelopment block; and
- Facilitating the development of up to 156 affordable housing units on the Queens Court site, where currently there are 39 units.
Discussion at the work session was largely driven by a desire to achieve the greatest amount of contiguous open space. The current condition of open space on the County parcel provides the community access to approximately 25,000 square feet of usable open space; there is an additional 5000 square feet of parking. While not fully contiguous in the staff’s proposal, the concept plan provides approximately 30,000 square feet of open space on a new plaza and park.
The Board expressed general support for the proposed recommendations with direction to further examine the following:
- Removal of the proposed “through street” at Pierce or creation of a cul-de-sac off Wilson Blvd. to provide service to the commercial building.
- Relocation of the “through street” eastward to Ode Street.
- Reorienting the commercial building to front Wilson Blvd. instead of a proposed plaza, thus creating a larger, contiguous open space toward 18th
Additional comments on the work session direction and steps forward were written in a letter from County Board Chair Mary Hynes to constituents regarding the WRAPS process (March 13, 2015).
Staff will incorporate the County Board’s direction into a draft Western Rosslyn Area Plan that will be reviewed by the Working Group and the Long Range Planning Committee (LRPC) of the Planning Commission in late April. Additional opportunities for public comment and engagement will be scheduled as the draft is reviewed by advisory boards and commissions in May and June. A final review at public hearings will be held by the Planning Commission and County Board in June and July 2015.
The final amount of contiguous open space in the concept plan depends on two other actions that are in process.
- On April 10th at 9 a.m. at the School Board offices, the School Board and County Board will hold an initial joint conversation where the County Board, per our Public Facilities Review process, will identify land use issues of concern related to building a new HB-Woodlawn school at the Wilson site. At the March 4 work session, the County Board indicated its willingness to allow APS to explore locating the school on either Wilson Blvd. or 18th Street, noting that whatever scheme ultimately emerges will need to maintain an excellent, safe pedestrian environment on Wilson Blvd. at all times.
- The Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board (HALRB) has recommended that the County Board consider historic designation of the Wilson School. In February, the School Board indicated that it did not wish this designation to be applied to the school building. This month the County Board will advertise a hearing for April on the HALRB’s recommendation. The full public hearing and County Board vote will occur at the April County Board meeting.
February 11, 2015
Concept Plan Feedback from Working Group and the Community
At a Working Group Meeting on November 6 and the Public Workshop on November 8, 2014, attendees were asked what their preferences were on a number of siting and layout parameters that will impact or influence the study area. View the feedback summary that shows the draft concept plans presented, attendee preferences, a summary of comments received and key take-aways on open space, building height and school siting.
November 13, 2014
Great Ideas Shared at WRAPS Public Workshop
On Saturday, November 8th a hands-on public workshop was held to collect community feedback about how a series of staff-developed draft concepts respond to the County Board Charge and the Working Group’s Guiding Principles.
Workshop participants had an opportunity to discuss the ideas in detail, highlight likes and dislikes and propose alternative ideas for future review and analysis. Staff will be working over the next several weeks to refine the information presented at the workshop as well as posting summaries of the community’s input in advance of the next WRAPS Working Group meeting on December 8.
September 5, 2014
Guiding Principles Survey Results
A WRAPS Guiding Principles Survey was distributed to both Working Group members and the Arlington community from August 1 – August 12, 2014. The survey collected input on a number of topic areas, such as land use, building height and form, urban design, open space, circulation and sustainability. The ideas collected will be the basis of the September 9 Working Group Meeting.
September 5, 2014
Back to School: Great Buildings
One of the best civic buildings a community can build is the school house. While it has evolved over the years as a building, it is still a symbol of the importance a community puts on education. Arlington has a long history of being committed to providing a good education and building good schools. As we go back to school, Preservation Arlington looks at some of our great school buildings and the stories behind them. Read the Preservation Arlington article.
Photo source: Preservation Arlington
September 2, 2014
Fairfax County Opens School in Office Building
A new school in Fairfax County opened for the 2014-15 school year and Fairfax leaders are calling it a “vertical school”. Previously an office complex, the five-story brick structure was modified to become Bailey’s Upper Elementary School for the Arts and Sciences – the tallest school in Fairfax.
- Read the Washington Post article: At Bailey’s elementary, Fairfax County students head to class in office building
- Watch an ABC7 News video clip: New Bailey’s Upper Elementary School for the Arts and Sciences
- View a video tour of construction from Fairfax County Public Schools
August 1, 2014
Participate in the WRAPS Guiding Principles Survey
During next steps in the WRAPS process, we will develop a set of guiding principles that will strategically align our process with aspirations for the study area. The principles will establish parameters around key topic areas and will be used to evaluate conceptual development plans that will be developed later in the process. The development of these principles will be a collaborative effort between staff, the Working Group and community members. Through an online survey, we are collecting input on a number of topic areas, such as land use, building height and form, urban design, open space, circulation and sustainability which we will use to develop the draft guiding principles. The two-step survey first asks you to generate ideas based on these topics. In the second step, you will build on those ideas to write more specific suggestions in the form of guiding principle statements. The introduction of the survey reviews study objectives in the County Board Charge, County Policies to consider and examples of guiding principles from previous planning studies.
Deadline extended: the survey will close at 12 noon on August 12.
All comments that are received will be reported to the Working Group and will be the basis of the Working Group’s discussion at the September 9 Working Group Meeting. Survey responses will be evaluated by staff to identify patterns and common themes. A summary of survey results and notes from the meeting discussion will be posted under WRAPS Documents.
June 23, 2014
WRAPS Process Welcomes Widespread Participation
County planning staff Saturday hosted the first WRAPS Working Group meeting and site walking tour at The Wilson School in western Rosslyn. Broad interest in the community was evident through the diverse group of attendees. Representatives from the County Board, area organizations, businesses, schools, agencies, associations, commissions and neighborhoods were introduced to the study, charge and process. Property owners Penzance, Arlington Public Schools, Arlington County Fire Department, Department of Parks & Recreation and Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing presented information about their sites and their objectives. View presentations from the meeting. The exciting potential this site holds for the community will bring opportunities and challenges. WRAPS is an opportunity for everyone to participate and work together. The result will be an Area Plan that the County Manager recommends for adoption by the County Board. The group discussed possible challenges they will face and a shared desire for efficient, creative solutions. A walking tour followed the presentations. View the walking tour map and and meeting documents.
May 13, 2014
Parcels within the WRAPS Study Area have been recommended for further study in the County’s Public Land for Public Good report. Arlington County Manager Barbara M. Donnellan has identified and prioritized County-owned parcels that could be considered for future affordable housing and public school developments within the next several years. Donnellan provided the information to the Arlington County Board today as part of the presentation on her Proposed Capital Improvement Plan for 2015-2024. “Affordable housing and schools are two of our County’s highest priorities, and the County Board has emphasized its commitment to the concept of using Public Land for Public Good,” said Donnellan. “We need to do a lot more analysis, but this is a good start for finding ways to use public land to achieve important community goals… Read more.
April 23, 2014
Arlington Public Schools & Arlington County to Collaborate in Considering New School on Wilson Boulevard Property
Officials from Arlington Public Schools (APS) and Arlington County today announced that APS has decided to retain its Wilson Boulevard property in western Rosslyn for possible redevelopment as a new secondary school. “Retaining the Wilson property will help APS address our critical shortage of seats for students in a timely manner” said School Board Chair Abby Raphael. “As we develop our 2015-24 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), we will explore options to construct a 1,300 seat secondary school on the site.” Raphael added, “This decision demonstrates the continued priority both boards place on using our limited public land to meet the school division’s future capital needs and to provide open space for the community… Read more.
June 19, 2013
Arlington County will begin a planning process for the Western Rosslyn Area Planning Study area. At the Arlington County Board’s Recessed Meeting yesterday, County Manager Barbara Donnellan presented, and the County Board accepted, a proposed planning process and scope for the project. Donnellan asked the County Board to appoint a Working Group of Arlington residents, business leaders, and advocates, who will work with the County’s planning division on a draft plan for the study area. The goal of the study is to develop a Conceptual Plan and related policy recommendations that will guide future development… Read more.