The Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor Neighborhood Guide
The Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor, which includes neighborhood namesake Rosslyn and Ballston plus Courthouse, Clarendon and Virginia Square, is evolving and leaning into its established place as a millennial brand.
Once a predominantly commercial district dominated by office, it has been redefined by attractive mixed-use catering to a large and rapidly growing young residential population.
Due to the various neighborhoods’ Metro accessibility, proximity to D.C. and freedom from its height restrictions, developers are building some impressive towers to accommodate the growing number of people seeking a live-work-play environment.
The corridor rose to prominence after the 1960s, when Arlington planners famously made the decision to put the Orange Line Metro underground and build a mix of uses around each station, rather than running it like a commuter line along Interstate 66. Since that pivotal decision, the R-B Corridor has become the planning envy of much of the country, and its appeal to millennials today is largely a result of decades of foresight.
The near-tripling of the permitted floor area ratio from 3.8 to 10 in 1995 empowered developers to construct or extensively renovate unexciting, obsolete stock. They refreshed low-rent offices that appealed primarily to government agencies and revitalized the area with new retail and residential.
Because Rosslyn and Ballston are established as locuses of large corporations with strong transit infrastructure, their business improvement districts are partnering with developers to focus their efforts on community-oriented placemaking. Arlington County and Virginia are encouraging large-scale development and tech companies to move to burgeoning innovation districts with careful allocation of funds and incentives.
While the nodes on the ends of the corridor get most of the development and media hype — and as the biggest neighborhoods, rightfully so — the three neighborhoods in the middle possess the majority of the corridor's housing.
Virginia Square may be small, but its high-rise condo buildings and one of the system's quietest Metro stops have made it a sought-after location for empty-nesters.
Clarendon is most known for its preponderance of bars, cookie-cutter national retail chains and one of the highest rates of millennial population in the country. The neighborhood rose to prominence as a settlement for Vietnamese refugees, and has been nicknamed "Little Saigon."
Courthouse, named for the county court complex and detention center in the heart of the neighborhood, has more rental housing stock than the other places in the corridor, along with the seat of the county government and beignets from a Food Network star.