The Plans to Preserve and Add Housing at Amazon’s National Landing

by Nena Perry-Brown

The DC region's ability to absorb the impacts of Amazon's planned 25,000-plus employee campus in National Landing has been a hot topic of conversation, particularly in light of already-high demand for housing and the company's recent decision to abandon plans to construct a campus in Queens, NY.

Last night, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments hosted A Regional Conversation with Amazon, featuring Northern Virginia economic development personnel and representatives from Amazon, JBG Smith and the Stephen Fuller Institute. At the invitation-only event, the panelists caught the public up to speed on Amazon's plans for National Landing and the region's plans to accommodate the new headquarters. Here is what we learned that we can expect on the housing front:

Where Amazon is expected to occupy office space, with timelines. Click to enlarge.
  • Metropolitan Park and Pen Place, two sites JBG Smith previously had slated for at least 900 housing units with retail, seem to be destined for Amazon office space. Amazon has already committed to purchasing the sites, and the company's construction team is currently sketching out those plans with the developer. Andy VanHorn of JBG Smith gave rough timelines for those sites to come online; Met Park is expected to begin the planning process in late 2019 to break ground in 2021 and deliver in 2025, while Pen Place is anticipated to break ground in 2023 for completion in 2027.
Rendering of future Amazon sites Pen Place and Metropolitan Park. Click to enlarge.

The 500,000 square feet of office space Amazon is expected to occupy over the next four years could transfer over to the new buildings. "We looked at Pentagon City and Crystal City," VanHorn explained. "Crystal City skewed basically about 70 percent office, 30 percent residential. So for Amazon to land its office in Pentagon City, where it's about 70 percent residential and 30 percent office, starts to say we can balance that neighborhood closer to a 50-50 mix, and then we can add housing on the Crystal City side, create a mixed-use environment there." 

  • Meanwhile, JBG Smith is pitching Route 1 as a corridor where new housing can be concentrated. "We have a reimagination of Route 1 with additional housing opportunities unlocked by exit ramps and other uses that we really wouldn't want to see in an urban environment," VanHorn pointed out as part of the development concepts planned for the National Landing area. A slew of improvements are also planned along the corridor to bring the road to-grade and make it more pedestrian- and bicyclist-friendly.
Map of JBG's investment opportunities. Click to enlarge.
  • JBG Smith noted that the "7 or 8 projects in red" in the above map are opportunities to bring new housing and other office on-line. 
  • VanHorn also teased the possibility that multi-family or missing middle housing could be added to RiverHouse, a 1,670-unit development at 1400 South Joyce Street (map). While no details were mentioned, previous owner Vornado had submitted plans to Arlington County, prior to the company's absorption into JBG Smith, calling for 933 new units across three buildings on the surface parking lot on the site.
  • Announced last spring, JBG Smith and the Federal City Council's Workforce Housing Initiative plans to preserve 2,000-3,000 units of affordable housing with an initial fund of $150 million.
  • Arlington Economic Development director Victor Hoskins also touted local government partnerships to invest public monies into housing production. "The county [of Arlington] and the city [of Alexandria] together have decided to invest about $150 million over ten years," Hoskins stated. "That's going to be paired with $75 million from the state, so that's $225 million, and this is the kind of funding that helps with low-income housing as well as workforce housing."
  • Arlington's housing director David Cristeal reiterated that the county, in its Affordable Housing Master Plan, set a goal 3.5 years ago of creating or preserving 600 rental units and 100 for-sale units per year and remains committed to that. He also mentioned more specific ambitions the county holds to preserve 1,500 affordable units in Crystal City and 6,000 affordable market-rate and income-restricted units along Columbia Pike. On the other hand, a recent report noted that the county has been falling increasingly short of its affordable housing production goals over the past few years.

It is also noteworthy that MWCOG released a report earlier this month touting the region's efforts toward housing production and preservation. However, it remains to be seen whether those efforts will succeed in preventing the type of displacement many fear could be headed toward northern Virginia's more affordable areas.

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/the-plans-to-preserve-housing-in-and-add-housing-to-national-landing/15043

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