|Little River Turnpike, not the best place for walk.|
Have you ever walked around downtown Annandale? Strolling down Little River Turnpike isn’t all that pleasant. There are a ton of cars whizzing by and a lot of open parking lots in front of and between the buildings—and good luck trying to cross the street.
Jeffrey Levine, an architect/urban planner, has a good idea for making central Annandale a bit nicer and more inviting for pedestrians, which he calls “Annandale Arbors.” He proposes upgrading the streetscape by installing a series of about 40 small, white arbors, like those in the photo below. Most would be placed along the southern side of Little River Turnpike at regularly spaced intervals, with some radiating out along Columbia Pike, Annandale Road, and Backlick Road.
There have been some efforts to make Annandale more attractive, he acknowledges. The TD Bank building has good landscaping, the acorn street lamps are a nice touch, and Helen Winter, the beautification chair of the Annandale Commercial Business District Planning Committee (ACBDPC), has worked tirelessly over the years to get businesses to spruce up their facades. But a unifying design element would give central Annandale more of a sense of place.
He suggests the whole community can come together for an “Annandale Arbor Day” to work on this project and perhaps combine the arbor-building project with the Annandale Fall Festival. Creating a more attractive streetscape and organizing a community event around this would say “Annandale cares,” he says.
This isn’t Levine’s first idea for improving Annandale. Last fall, he led the team that developed the Annandale Demonstration Project, an effort to visualize how a mixed-use project could fit in here.
When Levine presented his proposal for “Annandale Arbors” to the ACBDPC July 10, the property owners and revitalization advocates who comprise the committee didn’t exactly embrace the idea.
Carol Zach, manager of the Annandale Shopping Center, said the arbors will block the view of local businesses and would become magnets for graffiti and trash. “Who will pay for maintenance?,” she said. “I can’t see anything positive about this.”
“We won’t be able to get volunteers to work on this,” Eileen Garnett added. “People don’t want to volunteer and give their time anymore.” She said it might be easier to do something like more landscaping and flowers in front of stores, and Zach suggested hanging banners or flower baskets from the acorn lights.
Committee chair Dan McKinnon, expressed a more positive view, noting, “you won’t attract the kind of mixed use redevelopment we need unless you can make Annandale more attractive.”