‘Seamless’: Goals of turning National Landing into ‘great neighborhood’

Landing Amazon’s new headquarters was a big deal in 2018 for the Northern Virginia neighborhoods of Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard — but transforming the area into a thriving, walkable destination dubbed National Landing remains a work in progress.

Having the global technology giant in the D.C. suburbs is posing both economic opportunities and challenges, including new investments in buildings, transportation and public amenities.

Leaders behind National Landing’s development plans laid out details of the project, and offered some insight into what they envision.

“When we think of every great neighborhood, those are at least 18-hour places — they’re not 9-to-5 places, ” said Evan Regan-Levine, executive vice president of real estate developer JBG Smith.

Among the office buildings of Crystal City in Arlington, Regan-Levine said “we thought we need to add housing, we need to add retail.”

Two miles down U.S. Route 1 from Amazon’s future HQ2, in the Alexandria neighborhood of Potomac Yard, the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus will turn out 750 master’s degree-level students per year, said Executive Director and Vice President Lance Collins.

“This notion of building a campus which is laser focused on developing talent that is directed at [tech] industries is a relatively new phenomenon,” Collins said.

“There are still sizable gaps, both in terms of women and underrepresented minorities, in what is a really lucrative field.”

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport runs the length of National Landing.

“We’d like it to be a seamless transition from National Landing to our airport,” said Jack Potter, president and CEO of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.

Potter said growing National Landing in an area with heavy traffic congestion will be a challenge.

“The trick is going to be how do we get from where we are today to where we want to be a decade or two decades from now,” Potter said. “There’s going to be a lot of construction, and it’s going to disrupt traffic.”

Potter cited current heavy traffic on Interstate 95, George Washington Parkway and the 14th Street Bridge as problems: “I think we collectively have to solve them.”

Solving the transportation issues with increased mass transit, including buses, will help.

“Anything that brings people to National Airport is a win for us.”

Potter said the goal is finding ways to interconnect the neighborhood, the airport and the Virginia Tech campus.

“You create a hub, where each benefit from each other’s presence is something we’d really like to work toward,” Potter said.

“Continuing to integrate National Airport with the surrounding area is crucial, I think, to all of us being successful.”

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