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Oct 04

‘Vibrant Streets’ of Vienna?

Posted on October 4, 2013 at 11:32 AM by Kirstyn Barr

Heather Arnold of the design firm streetsense recently presented the “Vibrant Streets” concept to a rapt audience interested in learning how it could be applied along Richmond Highway, and I was fortunate enough to be there. As she listed the eight factors that need to be in place, I mentally checked off each one as it applied to Vienna. They are, in order of priority: 

  1. Is it an organized environment? (Check: We have the Vienna Business Association and the Town Business Liaison Commission.)
  2. Is retail appropriate? (Check: Vienna already has a robust retail community.)
  3. Is the mix of retail tenants good? (Check: There is a variety of merchants in Vienna.)
  4. Is it perceived as safe? (Does this one really need to be answered?)
  5. Is it championed with public and/or private infrastructure investment? (Check: The Town has installed a special streetscape, and has long-term plans to complete Maple Avenue.)
  6. Is it anchored by civic and cultural uses? (Check: There is a library, Town Green, Freeman Store and Jammin’ Java is a private performing arts facility.)
  7. Is it walkable and connected to neighborhoods? (Check: Adjacent residential neighborhoods, sidewalks and a trail exist, and our proposed new zoning district has the potential to create more dwellings in walking distance.)
  8. Do people have reason to go there for more than one retailer? (Check: People routinely stop at the grocery store, drug store, dry cleaners, etc. in the same trip.)

Looking at new development in Fairfax County, no one is rezoning to commercial use anymore. Mixed-use is happening everywhere, segregation of land uses is dying nationwide. People no longer want to be isolated in suburban enclaves; they want the convenience of nearby transportation and services.

Vienna is well-situated to provide the best of all worlds, with single family homes and the potential for mixed-use developments. The work of the Maple Avenue Steering Committee and citizen feedback seem to be taking us in that direction. I eagerly await the final recommendations.

Edythe Frankel Kelleher
Town Councilmember