In 1998, Arlington County and the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization (CPRO) embarked on a planning process called the Columbia Pike Initiative to encourage revitalization and build a safer, cleaner, more competitive, and vibrant Columbia Pike community. The community came together to build a vision for the corridor of a true “main street” that kept its home-town feel and supported its diverse population while spurring economic growth. With the help of County planners and partnerships with outside urban planning consultants, the Columbia Pike Initiative was completed and the Form Based Code developed which led to the wave of new development that continues today.

The following is a great summary of the Columbia Pike Initiative from Dover, Kohl, & Partners:

Initial planning efforts focused on the commercial centers, called the Revitalization District Nodes. During an extensive public charrette process led by Dover-Kohl in 2002, over 700 citizens, along with local stakeholders and the design team, studied four specific areas along the corridor. The Revitalization District Form-Based Code is the result of this effort which sets forth the community’s long-range vision to create a competitive and vibrant corridor and urban center. The Plan and Code have unlocked development potential, and public and private reinvestment (including the first mixed-use development projects in over 40 years) is helping to transform the Pike.

In June 2011, Dover-Kohl led a team of consultants in a second phase of planning to create a community-based master plan for the residential areas surrounding the mixed-use nodes, called the Neighborhoods Plan. The purpose of this Plan is to guide future public and private investment decisions to implement community goals such as enhancing the quality of life along the corridor, creating a pedestrian and bicycle-friendly community, supporting the planned streetcar investment coming to the Pike, and, importantly, sustaining a supply of housing to serve a community with a broad mix of incomes. A new Form-Based Code was created specifically to implement these Plan goals, which includes standards for walkable urban form and provisions for the creation of new affordable housing.

Dover, Kohl & Partners led a consultant team which included Ferrell Madden Associates and UrbanAdvantage (phases 1 and 2); VOA Associates (phase 1); Partners for Economic Solutions and AECOM (phase 2).

The Arlington County Board unanimously approved the Columbia Pike Form-Based Code in February 2003. At that time, Arlington County was one of the first jurisdictions in the nation to apply a form-based code to revitalize existing older sectors, and among the largest application of form-based codes in the country. The evolution from suburban strip to street-oriented urbanism with each new infill building was chronicled in the publication Retrofitting Suburbia by Ellen Dunham-Jones.

The Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Area Plan was adopted unanimously by the Arlington County Board on July 23, 2012; the accompanying Form-Based Code was approved in November 2013. The Columbia Pike Initiative was awarded the 2014 CNU Charter Award for Best Corridor Plan.