Region Forward Blog

Washington Sustainable Growth Alliance commits to helping meet RF Goals; Endorses sustainable developments

Mar 3, 2011


This guest post is authored by Deborah Westbrooke WSGA Executive Director

Implementing Region Forward’s Goals and Targets relies on sound smart growth development proposals. The Washington Sustainable Growth Alliance (formerly the Washington Smart Growth Alliance) endorses development proposals that exemplify smart and sustainable growth characteristics with the aim of informing public officials citizen groups and the public about the advantages these projects bring to a community and region. This unique recognition is only available to projects in the pre-entitlement phase – before a project has obtained final approval. One important benefit of the program to the applicant is the Alliance’s testimony at public hearings. This project endorsement is part of WSGA’s Smart and Sustainable Growth Recognition Program and since 2002 the Alliance has recognized 61 development proposals throughout the region.

This quarterly program appears to be as relevant as ever as development activity in the region – and applications for recognition – have picked up in the last nine months. The winning developments all contribute to meeting Region Forward’s targets and by encouraging affordable transit-oriented mixed-use development will help make metropolitan Washington more accessible sustainable livable and prosperous.

In 2010 the Alliance and the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Terwilliger Center for Workforce Housing granted Joint Recognition for Workforce Housing to four project proposals – two in Maryland and two in Virginia – for making ten percent or more of their residential units affordable to families earning from 60 to 120 percent of the Area Median Income. The projects include The Residences at Government Center (Fairfax County) by the Jefferson Apartment Group; Spring Hill Station/Tysons Metro West (Tysons Corner- a rendering of which is below) by The Georgelas Group; the Chelsea School Redevelopment in Silver Spring (Montgomery County) by EYA; and Mid-Pike Plaza Redevelopment within the White Flint Sector Plan area (Montgomery County) by Federal Realty Investment Trust.

The Alliance jury awarded Preliminary Recognition to one of the largest redevelopment projects of its kind the North Potomac Village Master Plan in Alexandria. The project will redevelop the Potomac Yard shopping center on Route 1 in north Alexandria with over 7.5 million square feet of mixed-use development including office retail hotel as well as about 4500 residential units. The development will incorporate a high-performance transit-way corridor and a new Metrorail Station to serve three new high-density urban neighborhoods connected by an urban street grid. Ground floor retail parks gathering places broad sidewalks and trails will encourage pedestrian and bicycle use. In addition to 10 acres of open space the proposal includes a number of passive storm water management features such as green roofs bio-retention facilities and permeable pavement. Community benefits include a possible school site and a commitment by the developer to provide affordable housing onsite or through monetary contributions.

The most recently recognized project proposal was by Forest City Washington for their first construction project at The Yards a major infill development in the District of Columbia (rendering below) within the Capitol Waterfront District. This project qualifies for the Alliance’s Affordable Housing Distinction by making 20 percent of its residential units affordable for families earning 50 percent or less than the Area Median Income.

You can get more information about the Alliance’s recognition of these projects visit us online. The next deadline for applications to the program is March 15 2011. Future deadlines for this quarterly program fall on June 15 September 15 and December 15. For more information contact the Alliance’s Executive Director Deborah Westbrooke at

The Washington Smart Growth Alliance is a partnership among seven diverse regional organizations including the Chesapeake Bay Foundation the Coalition for Smarter Growth Enterprise Community Partners the Greater Washington Board of Trade the Metropolitan Washington Builders’ Council ULI Washington and the ULI Terwilliger Center for Workforce Housing.

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