Arlington will create a pop-up park in Clarendon on land donated by the Korean Embassy, one of several being built in the neighborhood. Now, they want your help deciding what goes in it.


Site plan of the proposed park. Image from Arlington County.



In May, the embassy offered two parcels of vacant land on Clarendon Boulevard between North Adams and North Barton streets to Arlington County rent-free for an initial term of 2 years. The 1/3-acre property is around the corner from the embassy’s annex. Arlington can use the property until whenever the embassy or the county decides to cancel the agreement.

The park is just one of many being built during a boom time for park redevelopment and reconstruction in Clarendon. Arlington County’s Department of Parks and Department of Environmental Services recently refurbished the plaza at the entrance to the Clarendon Metro station, making it more open and providing moveable seating and covered bike parking. Meanwhile, James Hunter Park, also known as the Clarendon Dog Park, is also being redeveloped.

The park will include a network of paths through the site, different kinds of seating options, like movable tables, chairs, umbrellas and benches, a small lawn area, and a landscape buffer along the north side of the park, where a public alley runs. The county will preserve several shade trees as well and provide site drainage improvements. Since any permanent structure would require further approval from the embassy, the county plans on using recycled materials and landscaping to reduce costs and emphasize the park’s temporary nature.

Arlington County also wants your input on what should go in the pop-up park and has set up a website to collect comments. One option is more bocce ball courts, similar to the ones that were installed next to the Ballston Common Mall parking garage. This area is similar to the embassy’s parcel because it is oddly shaped and is along a major commercial street.

These pocket parks can have a big impact in dense areas by providing immediate relief to nearby residents and other individuals when larger, open parks aren’t as accessible. They are also a great way to use small, awkward spaces. Because of their size, they can look busier than a bigger park, making it easier to activate street life.

But pocket parks can often go unused and hurt street life if they aren’t well-designed or well-programmed. Hopefully, community input will help Arlington create a park that draws people and activity.

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Canaan Merchant was born and raised in Powhatan, Virginia and attended George Mason University where he studied English. He became interested in urban design and transportation issues when listening to a presentation by Jeff Speck while attending GMU. He lives in Falls Church.