The rivalry between the District and Northern Virginia?
It flares up now and then, and it got ugly when both sides wanted the Expos franchise, but it’s mostly overrated.
Rivalries are often stoked to sell newspapers and grab eyeballs. This past March, however, Susan Anspach took the high road in a piece in Northern Virginia magazine. Basic message – “It’s time we call a truce in our sibling rivalry with D.C.”
Besides, in many ways, the region has come together as one. "DMV" promotes togetherness. Kojo's “DC Politics Hour” is now "The Politics Hour." Station wagons and SUV’s with Virginia license plates park on U Street and pile into Ben’s Chili Bowl. And when Loudoun County gets half a foot of snow, viewers across the country get the impression the same amount fell on the Capitol.
So, why am I writing this?
Well, I have a brother and two sisters. Love them, mean it, but it’s in our nature to feel some level of envy when the other one gets big attention.
Or in this case, tall attention.
Enter Arlington and Alexandria where two tall buildings will literally change the landscape of the region.
We’ll start in Rosslyn, where praise for this oncoming neighborhood is still met with rolling eyes that see only its soul-sapping canyons. That is certainly a fair observation, at least on the weekends, but this one-time industrial afterthought does have a great location on the shore of the Potomac and near the District’s edge, and is slowly building up its resume as an appealing, dare we say it, gateway? (Ah ha, rivalry is inherent in our language!)
For example, have you been to Artisphere yet? I know, it’s located across that silly, mind-numbing news ticker paid for by ABC7 News (because we like charming reminders of the days when a few gatekeepers -- there's that word again -- controlled the news).
But Artisphere is not only a cool looking building, it’s the kind of space communities need. The better half and I recently attended an Indian-influenced dance performance there of top-notch quality. Afterwards the dancers greeted the audience and held a dancing class.
Northern Virginia will never match the quantity of the District’s diverse culture, history and lifestyle options, but then again this isn’t a zero sum game.
Still the rivalry’s pot could simmer once again. While the biggest hole in the region right now is for the District’s fabulous “City Center,” there’s also a deep dig in the heart of Rosslyn. Real estate peepers have been following its progress at both DC Mud and DC Metrocentric. Just the other day, the latter posted:
We sure do love us some construction cams, and the folks at Monday Properties just put one up with a birds eye view of the work at 1812 North Moore in Rosslyn! The planned 35-story, 390 foot office building that broke ground in October, will be the regions tallest.
David Klion, a local blogger wrote a piece on the subject. He notes that the tallest building in DC:
…will, of course, not be in DC. It’s the newly approved tower in Rosslyn, the riverfront high-rise neighborhood of Arlington, Virginia, scheduled to be completed in 2013.
He makes two good points:
It will seem taller than the Washington Monument, though, because Rosslyn is up on a hill overlooking the Potomac, whereas the National Mall is practically at sea level.
Advocates of height limit reform in DC, such as my friend Lydia DePillis, believe that DC will lose out on competition for jobs with the suburbs if it doesn’t let the market decide how tall its downtown should be. And with this building looming in the background of every westbound tourist photo from the Mall, it’s worth asking why the District should bother restricting vertical development.
While all eyes will soon be on this shimmering tower with killer views, there’s another giant in the making. In a spot you might not think it would happen, a neck bender is on the drawing boards for the Hoffman Town Center, just steps from the Eisenhower Avenue Metro stop.
One of the “Hoffman Towers” is on the specs to rise to 390 feet, which would make it the tallest in the region (although one wonders if 1812 Wilson will go higher). Its location six miles away from downtown DC puts it away from the center of Washington’s radar screen, but it will get a lot of attention from motorists passing by on the Beltway and Route 1. And since the only structure in its vicinity that will compete for eyeballs is the Washington Masonic Monument, it will stand out easily.
As I noted earlier, this story does not have to be couched in terms of a zero game and a rivalry, and not everyone here sees the Potomac as a dividing line.
Still, envy is part of our nature.