Happy Thanksgiving! The announcement last week that Arlington and Alexandria will be Amazon’s HQ2 location is exciting news for Northern Virginia and the metro region. On the plus side, the prospect of creating 25,000 high paying jobs over the next two decades reinforces our region as a good place to live, work, play, and learn. Most likely, some of those new employees already are living in the metro region, since one of the reasons Amazon chose this area is its skilled and well-educated workforce. Amazon noted that it will advertise for about 500 jobs in 2019, so the growth will be gradual, allowing time for some transportation improvements.
The real buzz, however, seems to center on housing, its affordability, availability, and location, to serve employees and the businesses that will be needed to provide services to the new Amazon employees and their families. The metropolitan region already is tens of thousands of housing units short, and growth in the region, even before the Amazon announcement, means the demand for all types of housing — apartments, condominiums, townhouses, single family detached — will increase. If people want to live near where they work, avoiding long commutes, they need housing choice, with commercial and recreational amenities nearby.
Fortunately, Mason District, especially Bailey’s Crossroads, Seven Corners and the Skyline area, provides a terrific opportunity for housing that is close to work sites. Conversion of a former office building at 5600 Columbia Pike into live/work units is underway. Right now, all the work — interior demolition, new walls and floors, and internal systems — is happening on the inside, with landscaping and outside work to begin in the spring. The first units are expected to be available for rent in the Fall of next year. In Seven Corners, the Comprehensive Plan adopted in 2015 permits significant housing opportunities with mixed use redevelopment. The Amazon announcement provides the impetus for developers to invest in these areas that already are planned for increased housing density, with existing transit and transportation, commercial and recreational amenities, and good schools.
Parks are desirable amenities, and two parks in Mason District got special attention last week. On Friday, the Friends of Green Spring Gardens (FROGS) received the Harold L. Strickland Partnership and Collaboration Award at the annual Elly Doyle Park Service Awards event. The FROGS are celebrating their 25th anniversary of service to the park, and have more than 1,500 dedicated members. At the same event, Nancy Wilson of Lincolnia received the Eakin Philanthropy Award for her financial support of county trails in memory of her late husband, Bill Vesey.
On Saturday, renovations to Backlick Park in Annandale were celebrated with a ribbon-cutting. The 8.9-acre park was constructed in the early 1980s, but sorely needed an update due to heavy use and overgrowth. Neighbors partnered with the Park Authority, to invest nearly one million dollars of 2016 park bond money to install a new shelter and picnic tables, a fabulous playground, a new fitness area, new tennis court lighting, and other upgrades. The trail network provides easy access to nearby neighborhoods, a good way to walk off that Thanksgiving turkey!
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at [email protected]