Background on Installation
In response to the Department of Defense vacating leased space in Arlington County, Virginia, the Arlington County Economic Development Commission recommended to the Arlington County Board the formation of a Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Transition Task Force. In January 2006, the Arlington County Board appointed and directed the Task Force to develop strategic recommendations to address the anticipated impacts and opportunities from the BRAC action. The Task Force included workforce, education, business, defense, economic development, and commercial development experts from the community with support from workforce and economic development county staff.
The Task Force targeted four topic areas believed of greatest concern for Arlington: workforce, small business/hospitality, physical redevelopment, and re-tenanting. A six-month research and analysis process ensured. In June 2006, the Task Force presented 34 recommendations to the Arlington County Board with a “Top 10 First Steps” provided to help guide the Board’s response. The top priorities included initiation of a formal planning process to create a new vision to revitalize Crystal City and establishment of a workforce transition center.
In Arlington County, 13,000 of the 17,000 jobs—and 3 million of the 4.2 million square feet of BRAC-affected leased office space—are located in Crystal City. The BRAC-affected leased office space represents a third of the commercial market in Crystal City. With the departure of Defense personnel, Crystal City stands to lose its primary economic anchor—one that has dominated the landscape for more than 30 years.
Crystal City Revitalization
The Crystal City Planning Task Force, established to respond to the specific impacts in Crystal City, began work in April 2006. Public meetings were held to solicit feedback from the affected community, which guided the adopted policy framework and concept plan for the Crystal City revitalization. The Arlington County Board adopted the Crystal City Redevelopment Plan in Fall 2010 and proceeded to establish a tax increment financing district to raise revenue to fund the proposed infrastructure improvements supporting redevelopment. The plan is guiding changes in land use and zoning patterns, establishes urban design guidelines, includes a multimodal transportation plan with projected costs, and identifies various incentives to spur private sector redevelopment and re-tenanting.
Addressing Workforce Concerns
Arlington County, together with the City of Alexandria, opened the Crystal City BRAC Transition Center in November 2007. A BRAC workforce and small business transition team is established to support and promote business and employment opportunities in the Northern Virginia region. By working closely with business partners and other stakeholders in the workforce arena, the team is dedicated to ensuring a smooth transition for affected workers, businesses, and the community at large. In coordination with Arlington’s BizLaunch program and its Small Business Network, the BRAC Small Business Transition Team oversees the development and implementation of business support programs.
In support of BRAC Transition Center activities, Arlington County received grant awards from the Virginia National Defense Industrial Authority to secure space for the Center and to cover its operating costs. The U.S. Department of Labor has provided grant funds to hire workforce staff and provide career enhancement programming and training support to the affected workforce.
For more information on the challenges the Arlington County faced, click here.