Fairfax County, Va., approved a makeover of the U.S. Route 1 corridor near George Washington’s Mount Vernon home. Known as Embark Richmond Highway, the land-use plan aims to revitalize a congested, economically run-down 7.5-mile stretch in Virginia’s most populous county with 18,000 new housing units and 8.5 million sq ft of commercial, hospitality and retail development.
The planned 10-year build-out is expected to quadruple the area’s current population, to about 40,000 residents, with much of the residential growth concentrated around nine stations of a planned bus rapid transit line that will be incorporated into a $215-million widening of Route 1 set to begin in 2023. A 3.1-mile, two-station extension of the existing Metrorail Yellow Line is also envisioned, as well as a new street grid and improved corridor-wide access for pedestrians and cyclists.
Under the plan, six existing community business centers would be transformed into commercial settings with distinct characteristics and identities. For example, the Pen Daw center, adjacent to the existing Huntington Metro station, would become the corridor’s northern gateway, with a combination of residential and business development in buildings up to 15 stories high.
Embark would integrate streets and buildings with continuous park spaces called “livability spines.” Acting as alternative “main streets,” the routes would create destinations for shopping, recreation and outdoor gatherings.
Another concept, called “ecological spines,” would restore streams that have been diverted or that run through underground tunnels and reincorporate them into the street design. These spines would double as recreation spaces and neighborhood connectors.