Columbia Pike Advocates Focus on the Positive


(Monday, November 26, 2007 4:35 PM EST)

It's taking its sweet time, but the renaissance of Columbia Pike may finally fully underway.

By next summer, “there will be more projects in Columbia Pike than any other area in Arlington,” said Arlington Economic Development's director Terry Holzheimer, who spoke at the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization's “Pike Progress Luncheon” on Nov. 26 at the Sheraton National Hotel.

“Columbia Pike is going to be the new wave of development happening right now,” Holzheimer said.

Nearly 10 years after the Arlington County Board launched the Columbia Pike Initiative to revamp the South Arlington corridor, it seems that redevelopment efforts are paying off.

“Today, there are a great many tangible signs of revitalization in this important corridor,” said Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization executive director Jim Whittaker.

With construction on The Halstead mixed-use space underway, the recent ground-breaking of Siena Park and plans to start construction on Penrose Square (formerly Adams Square) in the near future, those involved with the revitalization are optimistic about continued progress on the Pike.

“Our task now is to move forward,” County Board member Chris Zimmerman said at the luncheon.

Zimmerman discussed the need to take care of existing businesses in the area, ensure a housing stock for residents of all income levels and maintain the character of the area.

Zimmerman also talked about the importance of enhancing the existing transportation on the Pike, as well as finalizing plans for a streetcar system that would connect Pentagon City to Baileys Crossroads and Skyline.

Although he was reluctant to give a solid timeline for the streetcar's construction, Zimmerman said he was “more confident than ever” that it would be up and running in the next few years.

“It's not out of the question that in four or five years, we'll have street cars on the street,” he said.

Funding remains the sticking point. Zimmerman said he wants to move forward, regardless of whether the federal government agrees to fund part of the project.

“We need to move ahead and get it rolling with what funds we have available to us,” Zimmerman said.

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