Project Looks at Sustainable Future for Dale City Area

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Provided by Prince William County

The American Institute of Architects is coming to Prince William County to take a look at Dale City and assess what the future holds for the community at the major intersections of Dale Boulevard.

In February 2014, Neabsco District Supervisor John Jenkins requested staff to pursue design guidelines for the Dale City area. As a result, the Prince William County Planning Office applied to the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Sustainable Design Assessment Team, or SDAT, for a project called “Dale City, Virginia: Furthering the Vision of a Planned Community.” The application was accepted earlier this year, which means that a team will work with community decision-makers and stakeholders to help them develop a vision and framework for a sustainable future in designated areas.

Dale City was started by real estate developer Cecil D. Hylton after the Prince William Board of County Supervisors approved the first master plan for the area in 1966. Hylton named his development Dale City after the rolling “hills and dales” of the wooded countryside. Today, Dale City is 14.23 square miles with 17 neighborhoods, all with names that all end in “dale.”

As Dale City spread west from Interstate 95, along Dale Boulevard, four main intersections became nodes of activity for neighborhood residents. The four nodes, where Dale Boulevard intersects with Hoadly Road, Mapledale Avenue, Minnieville Road and Gideon Drive, have come to play a major role in the economic and social viability of Dale City.

In advance of the AIA team’s three-day visit and workshop, the Planning Office worked with SDAT leadership to determine that the four nodes would be the best places to focus the effort at creating a sense of place with sustainability features while encouraging mixed-use development, said Steven Hall, Prince William County’s Community Development Manager.

Hall said the AIA will bring together a multi-disciplinary team from across the country that includes architects, urban designers, market experts, planners and citizens, among others. “What the team will do is come in and work with us and the community to identify what features at those intersections should be included for a sustainable future.”

June Williamson, award-winning co-author of Retrofitting Suburbia and Associate Professor in the Spitzer School of Architecture at The City College of New York, has agreed to serve as the Team Leader for the effort.

While the AIA team is in Prince William County for the SDAT Workshop June 8-10, they will hold a series of breakout sessions and two public meetings where residents can provide input on the project. “Over the three days, breakout groups will roll up their sleeves and get to work to identify the recommendations and then we’ll present that to the community Wednesday evening,” said Hall. Public meetings Monday and Wednesday evening are slated for 6 p.m. at the Hylton Chapel, 14640 Potomac Mills Road in Woodbridge. The Monday meeting will be a town hall style meeting offering the public an opportunity to provide input and share with the SDAT team their vision of what the major intersections along Dale Boulevard should look like in the future. The Wednesday meeting will include the SDAT team presenting their findings and recommendations after analyzing input from the town hall meeting and two days of on-site observations and evaluations.

Following the workshop, the AIA team will draw up a report, which it will return with its recommendations within a couple of months, Hall said. “The hope is that the report will show some short-, mid- and long-term action items that folks could get started on immediately.” The report will paint a broad assessment to assist in framing future policy decisions or potential regulatory solutions in the context of sustainability. It will be used as a tool to visualize the future and guide redevelopment in the area immediately surrounding the main intersections of Dale Boulevard. Generally speaking, the SDAT effort strives to build momentum in Dale City amongst the various stakeholders to make a difference in the future of the community.

Hall said recommendations in the report might be of further use in other parts of the county and region. “There’s an opportunity for what comes out of this process to be applied to other planned communities or other aging suburban areas. So, another goal is making sure the outcomes of this project are applicable elsewhere.”

The AIA team will work pro-bono on the project, Hall said. The AIA will contribute up to $15,000 for incidental expenses such as food, lodging and travel. In February 2014, the Prince William Board of County Supervisors approved the required match of $5,000, also for incidental expenses.

More information about the Dale City SDAT project can be found on the County’s website.

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