What happens next with Amazon’s plan for helix-shaped tower in Arlington

Amazon’s proposed addition of a spiral-shaped tower in Arlington, Virginia, has many excited about Amazon’s plans for its second headquarters, but a local leader said that it’s rare for anything to “sail” through the county approval process.

“We are going to go through our traditional community process in Arlington, which is well known for being robust and involving lots of dialogue and different iterations to get at really what is the right fit,” Arlington County Board Member Christian Dorsey said.

The plans are “certainly not a fait accompli,” he said.

The community process that led to the approval of Metropolitan Park, which is now under construction, is what Dorsey describes as really successful.

“We look forward to chewing over their proposal for Phase Two,” Dorsey said.

Jack McDougle, president and CEO of the Greater Washington Board of Trade, calls Amazon’s PenPlace proposal “exciting,” as it joins plans that include National Landing, Virginia Tech’s Innovation Campus, the soon-to-be-built Potomac Yard Metro station and either a pedestrian bridge or tunnel connecting Crystal City to Reagan National Airport.

He said he believes The Helix tower joining a landscape of historic national monuments, such as the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials, helps define the region.

“Putting in the middle of all that mix — something that’s kind of otherworldly — I think it really begins to define the direction that our region is going,” McDougle said. “It’s beginning to create a very new vision for what development looks like, what our space is going to look like, what multiuse looks like. That really puts our region, suburban Maryland, Washington D.C. and Northern Virginia out in the forefront of thought leadership, and that’s something we should all be proud of.”

The president and executive director of the National Landing Business Improvement District praised the PenPlace project’s innovation.

“We applaud our partners at Amazon for the iconic design of The Helix with its indoor/outdoor experience and biophilic approach which re-imagines the workplace and will stand as a beacon of innovation in our district,” Tracy Sayegh Gabriel said in a news release.

“We appreciate the deep commitment to sustainability and the engaging, people-centered design of a lush, open, and accessible urban campus,” she said.

Dorsey, who is also the vice president of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Board, thinks energy and environmental sustainability has the potential to be the legacy of Amazon’s type of investment decades from now.

Dorsey said he believes projects that involve renewable energy with a reduced carbon footprint that forward the community’s fight against climate change can stand as examples for future development.

“Not just in Arlington, but to the region — we hope that this can be a leader in effecting great design and great environmental sustainability and great inclusivity with surrounding neighborhoods. We hope that becomes a defining feature throughout the Washington Metropolitan region,” Dorsey said.

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Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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