Home Energy and Environment Video: Arlington County Board Votes Unanimously, Enthusiastically to Approve Amazon HQ2’s PenPlace...

Video: Arlington County Board Votes Unanimously, Enthusiastically to Approve Amazon HQ2’s PenPlace Development

Board members heap praise on project's environmental, energy, economic, educational, affordable housing, etc. attributes.

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See below for video of today’s Arlington County Board meeting and vote on the Amazon HQ2. In the end, the Board unanimously – and HIGHLY enthusiastically – approved the Amazon HQ2’s “PenPlace” development project, an “approximately 11-acre site is located in Pentagon City within the Aurora Highlands neighborhood” which:

  • “Includes approximately 3.3 million square feet divided across four buildings”
  • Has “three 22-story office buildings with ground floor retail”
  • Also contains “one destination- and amenity-focused building called ‘The Helix,’ a unique biophilic double helix structure with plantings native to the Mid-Atlantic region.
  • “Includes a 2.5-acre public open space , detached retail pavilions, and underground vehicular access. Specific details of the open space will be evaluated through a Park Master Plan process.”
  • Says that “buildings will be designed for LEED Platinum certification and tailored towards achieving the County’s Community Energy Plan goals. In addition, the project would contribute to the County’s utility fund, public art, and streetscape improvements.”

Also see here for Arlington County’s staff presentation on the project, which recommended approval of the plan; and here for a slew of detailed information on “expanded biophilic planning and design principles, including but not limited to expanded natural elements within the built environment, as well as conservation and expansion of natural resources,” “equitable access to green spaces, park amenities and other natural elements for County residents, office workers, and other park visitors”; the “green ribbon” network; etc.

As Board member Matt de Ferranti – who made the motion to approve the project – put it, in conclusion, “I can’t say how thrilled I am; this is sustainability in action…will help reach our goals to 2035.” De Ferranti also praised the affordable housing, economic and educational aspects of the plan, adding, “the evidence from the last three years of partnership is that we – the county, Amazon and the community – are  helping get us closer to the world as it should be.” Board member Libby Garvey praised the process and the “Arlington Way,” adding that this is part of an effort to “heal the planet” and “heal people who are trying to live all together in…an urban place,” calling it a “model for here, for the region…for the world.” Board member Takis Karantonis said that Amazon has been very responsive to input from Arlington County and the community, said he “really celebrate[s] the urban form that the…designer team has delivered,” calling this project “a final departure from the gray and beige and uninspiring repository of federal bureaucracy that we were used to in this corner of Arlington for more than half a century,” and saying this will give Arlington a “new identity.” Karantonis particularly praised the new  Arlington Community High School, saying it will have a big “multiplier.”  Board member Christian Dorsey stressed the economic benefits of the project, praised the architecture and other details as “incredibly striking” and “pleasing to so many,” called it “off the charts” in how good the project is regarding sustainability, said he’s thrilled about the Arlington Community High School, labor standards in the project, equity, affordable housing, etc. Finally, Board Chair Katie Cristol said she is “so glad to support this project,” that it “exceeds” the sector plan, that it will create a “strong and beautiful sense of place,” that the educational aspects of the project are “so exciting,” that Amazon will be a “big part of the solution to our affordable housing challenges,” etc.

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