In the latter part of the 17th Century, the King of England ordered the Virginia colonists living in and around Jamestown to establish 20 towns in the tidewater area. Some of these towns survived and prospered, while some faded away, never to be seen again.
City planning has come a long way since those early days. These days, urban planners design for a sustainable future (books by Christopher Leinberger and Jeff Speck are essential reading). Although not everyone agrees with this approach, “smart-growth” has improved the quality of life in many parts of the Washington, D.C. region.
Re-development using these methods has now arrived along the Route 1 corridor south of the Beltway. A guiding hand in the ongoing effort is the Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation (SFDC), whose offices across from the Beacon Center in Groveton (6677 Richmond Highway) hold commanding views of Route 1 and parts of Alexandria. They held an “Open House” last night to show off completed mixed-use projects such as their crown jewel, the 290-unit Beacon of Groveton, tout approved projects, provide information on those in the pipeline, and present beautification awards to business owners.
Members of the SFDC board, developers, neighborhood association representatives, small business owners, and residents mingled alongside eye-catching renderings for some of those mixed-use projects planned on Richmond Highway between Alexandria and Fort Belvoir. (Visit their website for more information)
The large turnout, some 100 people, reflected the hunger local residents have for something better along the traffic-chocked commuter route. Not everybody agrees what that something better is, but the old suburban model of sprawl and strip malls is not sustainable.
The trick is the balance. Merchants want both walk-up business, and those arriving in automobiles. Residents want both chain and “mom and pop” small businesses. Pedestrians and cyclists want safe ways to cross the busy highway.
Route 1 in Fairfax County is at the dawn of a major transformation. Demand for walkable places and public transportation will drive the re-development. Developers are embracing the smart growth methods. Planners realize alternative to cars are needed.
Like we said, planning for where we work and where we live in Virginia has come a long way.