Shirlington is an urban area, officially called an "urban village", in the southern part of Arlington County, Virginia, adjacent to the Fairlington area. The word "Shirlington" is a combination of "Shirley" (from the Shirley Highway or Interstate 395) and "Arlington".
Shirlington is billed as "Arlington’s Arts and Entertainment District" and is largely mixed-use development based on New Urbanist principles. It is mostly middle-class residential, but like most of Arlington County has been experiencing an economic renaissance and is now home to many upscale dwellings and retail and service establishments that also serve the nearby Fairlington, Parkfairfax, Nauck and Long Branch Creek areas.
Shirlington began when Joseph Cherner, automobile dealer and banker, established the Shirlington Corporation to build a shopping center for nearby Fairlington and Parkfairfax. He began with a 23 1⁄2-acre site on which the first store opened in June 1944. In 1959, the Lansburgh's department store opened a 150,000-square-foot, $2.5 million store, its second suburban branch. However, by the 1970s, Shirlington was an aging traditional shopping center facing competition from shopping malls.
In the 1980s, Shirlington was partially renovated to create a "traditional main street" along South 28th Street (now Campbell Avenue) with two office buildings at one end and a big box store and a cinema at the other. However, Shirlington remained small.
By 2000, Arlington County authorities, who had previously concentrated on development of areas adjacent to Washington Metro rail lines, began giving more attention to areas not served by Metro, such as the Columbia Pikecorridor and Shirlington. The property's owner and the county spurred the creation of a Shirlington Phased Development Site Plan (PDSP) and the associated Shirlington Design Guidelines. A conceptual design for the area was established and almost 1,000,000 square feet of new mixed-use development was envisioned. Emphasis was placed on making the area pedestrian friendly with automobile parking located behind the commercial buildings. This plan was approved by the Arlington County Board in 2001.
The development, a public-private partnership between developer Federal Realty Investment Trust of Rockville, Maryland (the operator of several other regional town-center-like developments such as Bethesda Row, Pentagon Row, and Rockville Town Center) and the county, began in the mid-2000s. As the plan was implemented, South 28th Street was extended westward and a building to house both the Signature Theatre and the Shirlington Library was constructed. Several new residential and parking structures were added as well.
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Data last updated: Oct 26, 2021 12:15:am.