Arlington County officials are moving forward with plans to reshape Crystal City into a "complete urban community."
About 13,000 workers will leave Crystal City next year when the Army institutes its Base Realignment and Closure program. Arlington officials say the Department of Defense relocation will free up about 3.2 million square feet of local office space.
The Crystal City Sector Plan "will enable the neighborhood to thrive in a post-BRAC era," according to the county's planning department.
"We need to create a better balance of housing and jobs," said Arlington County Board Chairman Jay Fisette, explaining that much of Crystal City's work force historically has lived outside the neighborhood.
County officials, staff and community members since 2005 have worked to develop a "future vision" for Crystal City, which imagines a pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use neighborhood filled with plazas, parks and open spaces.
The sector plan outlines building and design specifications intended to bring the area down to "human scale," meaning fewer shopping and office center monoliths would dominate Crystal City's streets.
The plan also calls for expanded pedestrian walkways and bike lanes on local roads.
The Arlington chairman said Crystal City's transportation infrastructure is excellent, but new development would be centered on the "pedestrian experience."
"There is much to be done to activate the street life in Crystal City," Fisette said.
Northern Virginia's population has exploded during the last four decades as new businesses, residents and government workers have poured into the D.C. suburbs. That demographic and commercial growth has forced local officials to develop more considered plans for urban growth.
Alexandria is working on a plan to revitalize its Potomac Yard neighborhood, and the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors recently approved a comprehensive 20-year plan for Tysons Corner.
"It's a little different for us in that Crystal City is already heavily transit-oriented," Fisette said. "But we're trying to refine the neighborhood and bring in sustainable energy and pedestrian elements that aren't present."
Fisette said the board plans to vote on the plan in September, after a series of public hearings.