Archives December 2020

Friends of White Flint alum Jay Corbalis gets some press

Meet Jay Corbalis, JBG Smith’s man with a transportation plan – Washington Business Journal

Jay Corbalis, who used to work at Federal Realty and was instrumental in the founding and work of Friends of White Flint, was interviewed in the Washington Business Journal. The intro is below; click the link to read his interview.

When Jay Corbalis was interviewing for a job at JBG Smith Properties in March 2018, he said there was no mention of what would soon become the developer’s most high-profile partner: Amazon.com Inc.

Sure, there were plenty of rumors that the tech giant would pick Arlington for its massive second headquarters. But Corbalis said he accepted a job as JBG Smith’s new point man for transportation infrastructure in the Crystal City area without knowing for sure whether Jeff Bezos’s megafirm would be coming to town.

It turns out that Corbalis, the Bethesda developer’s vice president of public affairs, made the right choice. Amazon picked the newly dubbed “National Landing” area for HQ2, and brought with it an infusion of state funding into the very projects Corbalis was working on.

While things like a second Crystal City Metro station entrance, the transformation of Route 1 and a pedestrian connection to Reagan National Airport were all part of Arlington County’s long-range plans before Amazon was in the picture, the company’s arrival added a huge amount of urgency. And that thrust Corbalis into one of the most important roles in the entire company: making sure that Amazon’s new neighborhood meets the tech giant’s high expectations.

Read his interview at the Washington Business Journal.

The December 2, 2020 Pre-Submission Community Meeting for Phase I Site Plan for NORTHPARK AT MONTROSE

Northpark at Montrose (formerly known as the Wilgus Tract project) shared its plan during an online presentation last week. We’re excited to show you their slides (most of them, at least) because it’s going to be a wonderful addition to the White Flint/Pike District area!

To refresh your memory, this is a 16 acre property between Montrose Road and Montrose Parkway catty-corner from Pike & Rose. As of right now, they are planning to build both townhouses and multi-family housing as well as a park and tree buffers.

The 15-Minute City—No Cars Required—Is Urban Planning’s New Utopia

From Bloomberg News

This article explores the concept of the 15-minute city, which pretty much means most everything you need in life — friends, work, stores, recreation, restaurants, etc. — is just 15 minutes away, preferably by walking, biking, or public transit. It’s quite an interesting article. I encourage you to give it a quick peruse, but if you’re short of time, here are a few highlights.

From Paris to Portland, cities are attempting to give residents
everything they need within a few minutes of their front doors.

Taken together, the new trees and cycleways, community
facilities and social housing, homes and workplaces all reflect a
potentially transformative vision for urban planners: the 15-minute
city. “The 15-minute city represents the possibility of a
decentralized city,” says Carlos Moreno, a scientific director and
professor specializing in complex systems and innovation at

At its heart is the concept of mixing urban social functions to create a vibrant vicinity”—replicated, like fractals, across an entire urban expanse.

As workplaces, stores, and homes are brought into closer proximity, street space previously dedicated to cars is freed up, eliminating pollution and making way for gardens, bike lanes, and sports and leisure facilities. All of this allows residents to bring their daily activities out of their homes (which in Paris tend to be small) and into welcoming, safe streets and squares.

Adie Tomer, a fellow at Brookings’ Metropolitan Policy Program and co-author of the report, says the 15-minute concept falls flat in America because “people in the U.S. already live in a 15-minute city, it’s just that they’re covering vast distances in a car.” Planners concerned with urban livability and rising carbon emissions might do well to focus on distance rather than time, he says. He suggests that the “3-mile city” might resonate better.

A Covid-19 Update

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a COVID-19 update, but with the recent surge, it seemed appropriate. Here are the latest White Flint/Pike District area numbers courtesy of Delegate Marc Korman (who posts them daily on his social media.)

The Montgomery County testing portal is a useful list of places where you can get tested. (I was tested a couple of weeks ago at one of the county sites and got results back (thankfully negative!) in just 3 days.)

Don’t forget about Montgomery County’s new directive: a face covering must be worn when you are likely to come into contact with another person, such as being within six feet of another person for more than a fleeting time and must be worn unless a person is actively engaged in eating or drinking. And no gatherings of more than ten people.

Stay safe out there!

Major Metro Budget Problems

Just in case you’re off the news until the world is a little less chaotic and news, less grim, I want to share with you Metro’s calamitous budget difficulties.

The combined ridership on Metrorail and Metrobus in September 2020 is down nearly 80% from pre-pandemic levels. The impact on Metro’s budget is significant. Safety precautions put in place to protect the health of employees and customers have added new expenses, while revenue from fare collection has dried up. No Metrobus fares have been collected since March 2020, and Metrorail fares, which typically account for two-thirds of Metro’s total revenue, are extremely low.

The service provided today is only possible thanks to emergency federal funding in the CARES Act, but that money will soon run out. Without additional federal help and facing a nearly $500 million deficit, Metro is proposing severe service cuts, including:

  • 19 stations would close — including Grosvenor-Strathmore
  • Metro would be closed on weekends
  • trains would come every 30 minutes on the weekdays except in busier parts of the District when they would come every 15 minutes
  • bus route service would be slashed by more than half 
  • Metro will close two hours earlier, at 9 p.m

Stay tuned to see what we can do to save this vital transit because cuts this deep could irrevocably harm our area.

WMATA Discussed White Flint Metro Station Development at County Council

Yesterday at the County Council Planning, Housing, and Economic Development (PHED) Committee meeting, Metro Real Estate and Station Planning Director Nina Albert presented three concepts for the White Flint station property: urban neighborhood, corporate campus, and entertainment/innovation district. White Flint metro station development is considered to be a #1 priority for WMATA.

Nina Albert said the agency wants to be prepared to move quickly if another “Amazon-style” opportunity comes to Montgomery County. In 2018, White Flint was considered for a second Amazon headquarters site, but the company decided to divide the new location between Arlington, Virginia and New York City.

Albert also noted that the county executive’s office wants White Flint to be a life sciences campus; Maryland is the fourth most-active life sciences area in the country. She said the county will take the lead in establishing the vision for the site and Metro will work on the development side.

Metro property development discussion follows up on the bill passed in October that exempts private developers from property taxes for 15 years if they build high-rise buildings on Metro property. (Friends of White Flint supported this bill.)