Could a new library be the centerpiece of a revitalizing Columbia Pike corridor? That’s one prospect before Arlington officials, but it’s something that could be a decade down the road.
The current two-story community library in the corridor is tucked away on the Arlington Career Center campus, which is slated for a massive, if currently undefined, redevelopment effort in coming years.
A library space is expected to be part of the redevelopment package, but county officials are looking at other options, including a full-frontal signature space facing Columbia Pike itself.
“That prospect is really exciting to me as a way to revitalize and really give a boost to that stretch of the Pike,” said County Board member John Vihstadt.
Having a library along Columbia Pike is a long-term aspiration, said George May, the county government’s facilities czar. Current plans don’t call for addressing the project until the county government’s fiscal 2026 or 2027.
Because of caps that have been placed on future capital spending, a new library might end up being in space leased by the county government, rather than built and owned by it. But that may work out for the best, if the government can find a developer willing to partner on a project – and then garner community buy-in.
Because any project would be years in the future, “we haven’t gotten into the details,” May said.
County Board member Erik Gutshall was among those who said creative thinking would be a necessity to make any project happen under current fiscal constraints.
“We’re going to have to really expand our minds” to possible options, Gutshall said.