December 22, 2014
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Pike Dreams

Columbia Pike’s road to revitalization will create winners and losers. But it’s still unclear who will fall into which category.

The Arlington Mill Community Center at 9909 South Dinwiddie St.

The Arlington Mill Community Center at 9909 South Dinwiddie St.

Courtesy Photo (Arlington County CPHD)

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When Chris Slatt and his wife, Kendra, bought their home in Penrose in 2009, they weren’t just buying into the neighborhood. They were making an investment in Columbia Pike’s future.“I bought my house here specifically because of the changes that I saw coming,” says Slatt, a software developer who has served as the president of the Penrose Neighborhood Association since October 2012.

He’s not the only one keeping a close watch on the evolution of the 200-year-old roadway—particularly the stretch that extends from the southern end of Arlington National Cemetery to Bailey’s Crossroads.

“The living environment of the Pike itself has changed,” says Adam Henderson, president of the Douglas Park Civic Association. “There are more restaurants and more activity. When I moved here in 1998, there was virtually no activity on the Pike in the evening.”

As Columbia Pike undergoes a steady transformation, county officials and civic leaders remain hopeful that it will rise again as one of Arlington’s preeminent avenues for commerce, entertainment and dining. They’d like to position it as a third transportation corridor that complements those built along Metro’s Orange and Blue Lines.

But much of the Pike’s future hangs in the balance as citizens groups and elected leaders battle over which form of public transit is the best fit for an area whose transit ridership is expected to more than double over the next two decades. Whether Columbia Pike will become the juggernaut the county envisions—adding a projected 1,900 new jobs, 14,000 new housing units and 35,900 more residents by 2040—remains to be seen.

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