When asked to envision the “Rosslyn of the Future,” Lucia deCordré, director of urban design for the Rosslyn Business Improvement District (BID), smiles. “I see lots of sidewalk cafés, people strolling and shopping, and others just sitting outside watching passers-by,” she says. “I see a proper city center — very urban in nature and very dense — with little plazas and places where people can meet up.”
According to deCordré, this vision of Rosslyn will be realized by 2017, when construction of Rosslyn’s Central Place will be complete. Central Place will occupy a full city block, bordered by Wilson Blvd., N. Lynn St., N. Moore St. and 19th St. N. Comprising a business tower that will be anchored by Rosslyn-based CEB and a companion residential tower of luxury condos, the complex will include significant ground-floor retail and a large public plaza that will function as Rosslyn’s town square.
deCordré is quick to point out, though, that Central Place will not be the sole harbinger of Rosslyn’s rebirth. Redevelopment and new construction have been going on for years, and will continue for the next decade. All are contributing to a renewed look and feel throughout the neighborhood. “We have continuous demand for redevelopment and several approved projects that are just waiting to break ground,” she adds. “We’ll constantly be seeing new buildings and great architecture.”
Rosslyn’s redevelopment is the result of a partnership between Arlington County, property owners and developers, and the Rosslyn BID. Arlington County’s recently approved Rosslyn Sector Plan (aka Realize Rosslyn) will result in major improvements to roads, such as bike lanes, bump-outs and crosswalks, which will make the streets even more pedestrian friendly. Meanwhile, property owners and developers are investing more than $3 billion in new construction or redevelopment. The Rosslyn BID, which is 100 percent funded by neighborhood property owners, is playing a role in making pedestrian spaces more welcoming and inviting.
“We really want to make sure that the sidewalks and the pedestrian environment come up to the same level as the reinvestment,” says deCordré. For the past several years, the Rosslyn BID’s Urban Design Department has been making the streets more livable and pedestrian friendly through short-term solutions, such as the creation of temporary public spaces and the addition of street furniture along the sidewalks.
In early 2016, the team will introduce a prototype block at N. Oak St. and Wilson Blvd. It will include contemporary, custom-designed streetscape furnishings such as benches, bike racks, newsbox corrals and an information tableaux that recounts Rosslyn’s history and public art. These streetscape elements, designed for the BID by New York industrial designer Ignacio Ciocchini, will help create a more distinctive and pedestrian-friendly district.
“A successful streetscape would be far-reaching for business owners and pedestrians, making the district more economically viable through creation of a more enticing place to work and live,” says deCordré. “It’s exciting that all of these changes will be realized in just a matter of months.”