Region Forward Blog

Activity Centers: Where Metropolitan Washington is Growing

Jan 8, 2013
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Regional leaders voted today to approve an updated set of Activity Centers for metropolitan Washington.* These 141 Centers include existing urban centers traditional towns transit hubs as well as areas expecting future growth.

Scroll below the text to see an ABC 7 video clip and additional media coverage of the decision.

For example Georgetown is a vibrant walkable place already built-out with a strong mix of housing and businesses. Activity Centers also include locations as diverse as NoMa Clarendon downtown Frederick and Silver Spring where major growth is expected to occur over the next several decades and where investments should be prioritized.

While the Centers vary in scale and type the basic concept behind them is the same: concentrate development in areas that will have the planning and infrastructure in place to support it. By focusing growth in Activity Centers the region will improve connections between housing and jobs reduce environmental impact and make a better use of limited funds.

The Centers will also promote development around area transit such as Silver Line Metro stations in Northern Virginia and Green Line Metro stations in Prince George’s County Maryland. About two-thirds of Centers are or will be served by the region’s existing or future rail transit network.

The goal for this latest update was to make the Centers more broadly useful. To do so more targeted and specific criteria were used to designate than in 2007 the last time the Council of Governments approved a set of Activity Centers. The criteria are primarily based on Region Forward COG’s vision for a more accessible sustainable livable and prosperous metropolitan Washington.

The Council of Governments views Activity Centers as the next generation of metropolitan Washington’s growth and development. The office park model of development based on low-density sprawl is obsolete. That is why leaders in the region are working to focus future growth – which is estimated to bring over a million more people to the region in the next few decades – in mixed-use Activity Centers.

The Activity Centers map update is a necessary step in the development of an upcoming Strategic Investment Plan currently underway by COG’s Region Forward Coalition. By pointing out the specific elements (i.e. sidewalks ground-level retail fresh food parks) that each Center is lacking or could improve upon the Investment Plan will help local governments determine how best to use limited resources.

The Activity Centers Strategic Investment Plan will be released later this year and is a key component of Economy Forward COG’s plan to prepare metropolitan Washington for a future with reduced federal spending and employment.

*Post updated to reflect the Council’s vote to approve the Activity Centers and to include additional information.

ABC 7: ‘NOMA’ Clarendon Silver Spring to see huge growth study says

DCist: Regional Group Outlines Activity Centers Where Growth is Expected in Future

WTOP: Planners ID neighborhoods for targeted development

WAMU: Planners: Regional Job Growth Should Focus on Activity Centers

Washington Business Journal: The Center of it All – Officials Propose Doubling the Number of Activity Centers across the Washington Region

Frederick News Post: Frederick County ‘activity centers’ help channel growth

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