History of Neighborhood Projects and Activities

Arlington Mill Community Center (AMCC). In 1996 Arlington County purchased the Safeway property at S. Dinwiddie St./Columbia Pike for a high school continuation program. Through community and County efforts, agreement was reached on a joint use facility to include both the high school continuation program and community center.

The AMCC has been a vibrant, important and highly used hub in the CHW and Columbia Pike community. The center has provided social services, ESL (English as a Second Language) and civic classes, library programs, programs for teens, seniors and children, meeting places for various groups, etc..

In 2000 a community process was begun to develop a proposal for a new AMCC facility. Joint usage was confirmed. A work group was formed and a final report recommending an enlarged and improved facility was submitted to the County Manager in March 2003.

In January 2005 an Arlington Mill Steering Committee, composed of area community civic associations, county staff and schools, was formed to reinvigorate efforts to build a new joint use facility at the current site. Design funds were approved in the November 2004 Bond and the architectural firm, EYP, was hired to work with the Steering Committee. In September 2005, it was announced that the County would be seeking a public-private partnership to build the new facility.

A new process was begun to seek a private developer to work with the County. Funds in the amount of $26 million to build the community center portion of the project were approved in the November 2006 Bond. The County Board approved the public-private project at its June 24, 2008 meeting. The project is a form-based code compliant project and will include a 6-story building at the corner of Columbia Pike/S. Dinwiddie St.--the first 3 stories will be the new community center with a small amount of retail on the lower level and the second 3 stories above the center will include 33 apartments. The project also includes a high school-size gymnasium; a 14,000 sq. ft. plaza; underground parking; and a separate building at the north end of the property with 159 apartments (of which 61 are affordable units). Many of the programs provided in the old community center will continue plus new programs and activities.

Neighborhood Conservation Program (NCP). CHW’s participation in the NCP program has brought $1,049,000 worth of upgrades into our community. The NCP funded the master planning and improvements to Tyrol Hill Park ($639,000); a missing sidewalk, curb and gutter along S. 7th Road/S. Dinwiddie St. ($147,000); Carlyle-style lights on S. 7th Rd/S. Dinwiddie St. ($250,000); and CHW neighborhood signs ($13,000).

Tyrol Hill Park is the only park in CHW. The redeveloped park is a wonderful community asset. In addition to providing a basketball and volleyball court, it also has a playground for children, picnic tables and grills, walking path, benches and gazebo. It is used by residents for picnics and family celebrations and is also the site for our neighborhood festival. Arlington County provides summer program activities for the neighborhood children.


CHW Town Walking Meeting. CHW was selected by the County Board for a town walking meeting which was held on October 5, 2002. The event was well attended by the County Board, county department heads and staff, CHW residents, journalists and others. It was a successful walk which raised several neighborhood issues and resulted in county resources being applied to resolving them.

West End Arts and Crafts Market. Through the combined efforts of county staff, Virginia Cooperative Extension, and the CHW, Barcroft and Columbia Forest civic associations, a market was established in May 2002 which offered great products and marketing opportunities for neighborhood vendors. The market has been discontinued but may possibly be reestablished when the new community center facility is built.

Home Improvement/Landscaping Demonstration Project. In spring 2002, the County Office of Neighborhood Services, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Master Gardeners, CHWCA, CHW residents and AHC, Inc., collaborated on this project in the duplex home area of CHW to show how exterior improvements, such as landscaping, which could be done at a modest cost, would enhance neighborhood appearance.

Gardening Classes. An outcome of the demonstration project, working with the Office of Neighborhood Services-NSA Program, CHWCA, Virginia Cooperative Extension and the Master Gardeners, was free gardening classes for CHW residents offered in April 2003. Classes provided basic gardening information on flower gardening, seed planting, landscaping and lawn care.

Many groups, including those listed below, have worked with their members, county staff, residents and other organizations to bring about the many improvements which have taken place in CHW over the past 10 years. The CHWCA President attends monthly meetings with other Columbia Pike civic association leaders as a means of collaborating on issues of common concern.

Columbia Heights West Task Force (CHWTF). This group was organized in the early years to support the development and improvement of the CHW neighborhood and included County staff, CHW residents and other groups and organizations. The original goals of the CHWTF have been achieved. The CHWCA is the main conduit which now addresses neighborhood issues and concerns.

Columbia Heights West Civic Association (CHWCA). In existence for over two decades, the CHWCA represents the views of CHW residents on issues related to Arlington County services, activities and proposals. Community members serve as representatives to several committees in order to bring resources into the neighborhood. All CHW residents are welcome and encouraged to participate.

Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Funds. CHW received funds under the CDBG program starting in 1981 to improve the physical environment, including housing rehabilitation, property maintenance, home ownership, and children and family services. A CHW representative attends the CDBG Citizens Advisory Committee meetings, ensuring that the views and needs of CHW are integrated into the competitive process, and reports on the outcome at the CHWCA meetings. CDBG funded programs that have benefited CHW are: housing, code enforcement, seniors programs, family project, teen internships and community bicycle shop.

Neighborhood Conservation Advisory Committee (NCAC). The CHW representative ensures that the community’s views and requirements are represented at meetings including bringing community-approved projects to the NCAC for consideration and funding. As with CDBG, the NCAC representative reports at the CHWCA meetings.

Neighborhood Festival. The CHW festival marked its 11th anniversary in September 2005. It celebrates CHW’s cultural diversity, provides a variety of information, and fun activities for residents of all ages. We hope to revive the festival with the community’s help. Prior to the festival, County staff arrange for a neighborhood trash pick-up day, which focuses primarily on the duplex home area, and helps improve neighborhood appearance. Residents of the duplexes help distribute trash bags and advertise the event.

The CHW Housing Committee was formed to address housing needs in the neighborhood. The housing committee included various County department staff, CHW residents, and groups such as Urban Alternatives and BRAVO. The committee used its housing vision and goals (which included home ownership) to engage in a collaborative effort in 2003 with Silverwood Associates, which had purchased the 10 building Columbia Heights Apts. complex. Two buildings were knocked down to create the Sierra Condominiums, consisting of 96 units (of which 10 were designated affordable), which were occupied in September 2005. The 8 remaining buildings under -went substantial rehabilitation and were all retained as affordable rentals. “Bump-outs” for a third bedroom for larger families were added to some rental units, grounds were improved, a playground was added, and a computer center was installed in the office for residents’ use. The rental project opened in 2004 and was named the Monterey Apts.. The County Board, which approved this project in February 2003, cited the joint community/county/ developer process as a model for the county.

Housing Update: The former Virginia Veterans Cooperative, located at S. 8th and S. Greenbrier, converted to condominiums in May 2005 and are now called the Arlington Heights Condominiums. The Tyroll Hill Apts., located at S. 7th/S. Florida/S. 8th Rd., were substantially renovated in 2004 by the owner.

Third District Police Team. The police have been an important partner in CHW neighborhood efforts. They are often guest speakers at the CHWCA meetings and update residents on safety concerns. They also participate in the neighborhood festival.

History: In 1996, a Community Based Problem Oriented Police Program (CBPOP) was established and jointly funded with federal and county funds to support County police officers assigned to CHW to address public safety concerns. In 1998, a District Police Program replaced the CBPOP. The new format groups CHW with other neighborhoods in a shared-policing program.


AMCC – Arlington Mill Community Center

CDBG – Community Development Block Grants

CHW – Columbia Heights West

CHWCA – Columbia Heights West Civic Association

CHWTF – Columbia Heights West Task Force

NCP – Neighborhood Conservation Program

NCAC – Neighborhood Conservation Advisory Committee

NSA – Neighborhood Strategy Area

Updated: November 2008