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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Supervisors approve Annandale pilot projects

Columbia Pike, Annandale.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Dec. 5 authorized $125,000 from the Economic Development Support Fund to begin planning for the implementation of two “Annandale pilot projects.”

These projects consist of a pop-up civic plaza and an “open streets event” to be implemented in spring 2018. These are two of the recommendations by an Urban Land Institute Technical Assistance Panel, which was convened in July 2016 to develop short-term and medium-term strategies for revitalizing Annandale.

Since then, staff from the Office of Community Revitalization (OCR), in coordination with staff from the Department of Transportation, determined that an open streets event and a pop-up plaza would be most effective.

The open street event calls for a portion of Columbia Pike to be closed to traffic for a day – while pedestrians and bicyclists would be invited to experience the community in a new way.

The event would occur along a half-mile stretch of the road between Little River Turnpike and Evergreen Lane with several “programmed activity nodes” along the route, states the OCR proposal. Police would control traffic at the intersections and direct drivers to alternate roads.

The pilot pop-up plaza would serve as a civic gathering space in the county-owned property between the ACCA Child Development Center at 7200 Columbia Pike and the Annandale Volunteer Fire Department. It would have temporary, movable outdoor furnishings and activities, such as live entertainment and food trucks.

OCR estimates an open streets event in Annandale could attract 5,000 people. Surveys conducted at open street events in other communities have reported that more than 80 percent of survey respondents spent money at the event.

The county would survey participants to gauge the success of the open streets initiative in achieving certain place-making, transportation, health, and economic vitality goals. The surveys would capture metrics on the number, age, and diversity of participants, which street activities or programming people engaged in, feedback on the project and on the overall experience, and insights on sales activity from nearby businesses.

The establishment of a low-cost pop-up plaza could generate new revenue for the Park Authority through expanded programming offerings, the OCR states. Qualitative surveys would be conducted to gauge the success of the initiative in achieving place-making and economic vitality goals.

The lessons learned from these projects would provide a framework for replicating these strategies in other parts of the county.


  1. You've got to be kidding. This is what Annandale needs? This? This, is what happens when The Annandale Central Business District Planning Committee invites out-of-towners to tell us what Annandale needs in Annandale and bars the Mason District Council of Community Associations from participation in their "closed session" i.e. community-not welcome-meetings. There is no crying need for pop-up civic plazas and an “open streets events". There is a crying need to clean it the hell up as if someone actually cared about Annandale.

    1. I agree with the clean up part. As for the pop up plazas, its worth a try. Gentrifying it with the the standard non-interesting cookie cutter gentrification that is not gaining any traction has just not worked. Taste of Annandale has been a success, this could be more of that, hopefully with as much community participation. Too bad the MDC was closed out of the meeting. Not a very good first step for inclusion and community engagement.

    2. Who comprises the Annandale Central Business District Planning committee, and with what authority do they close their meetings to community associations whose members have the most stake in Annandale development? And, how do we change that?

  2. Annandale already has a foundation of cultural riches, korean, peruvian,ethiopian,south american,asian but,it is only remains infant due to its isolationism and exclusion ie:non english signage.All of these riches should be inviting, shared and enjoyed by all residents and allowed to mesh with a native,progressive contribution to growth and community.

    1. I really like the idea about putting the signage in English, and while we're on the topic, requiring signs to have some sort of aesthetic standard--for example, no digital scrolling, no jumbled storefront "collages," some sort of consistency that creates a more orderly image, etc. I am absolutely no expert in the field, but I've heard that a pleasant "street-scape" is better for attracting and keeping good businesses.

  3. This is a great idea! Annandale has an issue with too many cars and a lack of walkability in the core. Kudos to the people planning and approving this. Actually, we need permanent open streets. It's proven that when you make a place walkable and bikeable, people want to be there and will spend money. The area right where Maple meets Columbia Pike and Backlick Rd. could be a charming pedestrian area but is now plagued by car pollution. Why should Mosaic and Springfield get town centers and not us?

    Annandale has huge potential if we could develop some of the sprawling parking lots into livable, walkable places with good transit and condos.

  4. Love the freedom my car provides and am especially looking forward to autonomous ones!

  5. What a waste of Tax Payer money!!!