Tuesday, Mar 12, 2024

Arlington Moves To Expand Use Of Outdoor Screens In Mixed-Use Projects

Interest in large outdoor video screens in mixed-use developments, outdoor shopping malls, and lifestyle centers has increased in recent years as a way to augment retail vitality as well as imbue a sense of place and visual interest in mixed-use common areas.

With rapid technological advancements in technological color and high-definition over the past decade, such screens have been used to display motion pictures, media broadcasts, live events, concerts, art displays, animation, media advertising, and more. Two well-known local examples of large outdoor entertainment displays may be found at Mosaic District and Comstock’s Reston Station development.

On February 24, 2024, the Arlington County Board authorized a request to advertise public hearings (an “RTA”) to begin the process to amend the Arlington County Zoning Ordinance to permit such visual display screens in certain large mixed-use developments. The amendment would replace the current Zoning Ordinance definition of “Large Media Screens,” and add definitions and performance standards regarding brightness, hours of operation.

While the performance standard parameters have yet to be drafted, it can be reasonably assumed the amendments will include requirements related to outdoor speakers/sound amplification, hours of usage, and locational criteria (e.g., limitation on distance from residential uses and lines of sight to public roadways).

Similarly, a determination of qualifying retail developments is not yet known; however, it is anticipated that these screens would be allowed in projects such as Westpost (formerly Pentagon Row), the Village at Shirlington, The Crossing Clarendon (formerly Market Common), Courthouse Plaza, Ballston Quarter, Pentagon Centre, and the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City.

The RTA represents a major step forward in the implementation of the second round of Commercial Market Resiliency Initiatives (“CMRI”), which seek to enable the County to better respond to changing economic conditions and consumer trends in the face of increased office vacancy and decreased commercial property tax revenue.

The request to advertise authorizes Planning Commission and County Board public hearings as early as April 2024.

Walsh Colucci will continue monitoring this initiative. More information may be found here: https://meetings.arlingtonva.us/CountyBoard/Documents/ViewDocument/_1%20-%20Board%20Report%20(Final)%20-%2026504305%20REQUEST%20TO%20ADVERTISE%20A%20PUBLIC%20HEARING.pdf?meetingId=2458&documentType=Agenda&itemId=51932&publishId=31579&isSection=false

This article was written by firm Shareholder Andrew Painter.