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The New Face Of Columbia Pike: Here To Stay?

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The new apartment building at 5500 Columbia Pike is emblematic of the new development cropping up on the Arlington thoroughfare.
Jonathan Wilson
The new apartment building at 5500 Columbia Pike is emblematic of the new development cropping up on the Arlington thoroughfare.

By Jonathan Wilson

The pace of urban revitalization has slowed in the D.C. area. One community in Arlington County, Virginia is relying on momentum from the last economic boom to carry it forward.

Signs of change are easy to spot along the Columbia Pike corridor; older gas stations and low-slung apartment buildings are still here, but in the last few years, a handful of newer condo buildings and higher end retail space have cropped up.

Pam Holcomb is the director of the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization. She says the vision for the new buildings developed in the late nineties.

"Of course, we also had a good economy then, there was a lot of development everywhere," says Holcomb.

Stewart Schwartz, with the Coalition for Smarter Growth says leaders in Arlington established strict building codes early on, allowing developers to craft plans for the pedestrian-friendly streets and mixed-use buildings taking shape today.

"So you have multiple projects that have moved forward since then and not many revitalizing corridors can say they've had that in this region," says Schwartz.

Columbia Pike is not immune to the downturn. The apartments at 5500 Columbia Pike, which opened in the fall, are only 15 percent filled. But Schwartz says he expects the neighborhood to continue growing when the economy recovers.

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