Arlington Tackles Scarce Public Land Issue

Arlington has completed its Community Facilities Study and presented the final report to a joint committee of the County Board and Arlington Public Schools. The study committee structure was a collaboration among various interest groups – a Study Committee, the County, Arlington Public Schools (APS) and the community, including a Resident Forum.  

Some of the key questions addressed were:

  • What are our facility needs for schools, fire stations, recreation and transportation vehicle and other storage? How do we pay for these needs?
  • What principles and criteria should we use to help us decide where to locate them? In the context of changing demographics and economics, what opportunities and challenges are there in our aging affordable and workforce multi-family housing stock?
  • What do changes in the Federal government presence and the residential and private commercial marketplace mean for County revenues?

The report’s recommendations include:

  • A new system for more open, systematic and coordinated County and School Board decisions setting priorities for future facility budget and location decisions;
  • A solid framework for timely, thoughtful and transparent decisions about siting of facilities and new uses of public space;
  • Keener analysis of local population trends in order to sharpen projections of school enrollment and improve planning for needed housing and services for young families, seniors and other groups;
  • Continued economic development initiatives to revitalize the county’s commercial office sector;
  • Creative ways to get maximum benefits from public space, such as co-locating programs and building over I-66.

Arlington has successfully co-located affordable housing with a community center, and the hope is that this practice will continue. Developing underutilized land or co-locating housing with public facilities is an innovative, cost saving strategy that places housing near services, and reduces the total cost of development which provides greater allowance to house lower income households.

To learn more about using public land for affordable housing, read Leveraging Public Land for Affordable Housing in Northern Virginia: A Primer.