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The Amazon Effect: Arlington, Alexandria discuss future partnership to handle housing and transportation issues

Arlington County and Alexandria city leaders point out that while the planned collaboration between the communities is unique, it is not unprecedented.

ARLINGTON, Va. — Arlington County and the City of Alexandria are looking to work together to plan for the region's future with Amazon HQ2.

Last November, the online commerce giant announced it would select Crystal City in Arlington as the site of its second headquarter location. Soon after, Virginia Tech detailed its plans to open its "Innovation Campus" in the Potomac Yard section of Alexandria.

While many locals view the additions as beneficial to the region, there are also concerns as to how Amazon and Virginia Tech will impact affordable housing and transportation.

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On Tuesday, members of both the Arlington County Board and the Alexandria City Council gathered at the Gunston Community Center to discuss how the communities could organize a formal partnership to address those issues.

"We recognize that the sum of our parts is worth more and ultimately we were successful because of that," Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson said.

Both he and Arlington County Board Chair Christian Dorsey said while the proposed collaboration between Alexandria and Arlington is unique, it is not unprecedented. Arlington County and Alexandria once worked together to clean-up the Four Mile Run stream.

"Instead of all working separately, we feel like a coordinated effort is the best possible way to make sure we have inclusive growth that comes from all of this anticipated investment and other good things that are coming to our area," Dorsey said.

Arlington County and Alexandria are also looking to tackle concerns regarding workforce development, education and women and minority business development on top of housing and transportation.

The two communities are considering options to collaboratively govern in the future. They include forming a Community Development Corporation, a Redevelopment and Housing Authority and possibly relying on a statutory partnership that would coordinate the work of existing staff with private and public stakeholders.

Carol Brooke, vice-president of the League of Women Voters Arlington, said she was happy to see that Arlington County and Alexandria had an interest in forming a collaborative partnership.

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"I certainly am hopeful that the collaboration will yield some positive results," she said. "The area is very dense and so we need to have some smarter ways of dealing with our housing and transportation and be open to new ideas."

Joan Porte, president of the League of Women Voters Arlington, said Arlington County and Alexandria need to focus on making sure everyone benefits from the regional investment.

"We need to make sure that there's not an inequity when it comes to the haves and have nots," she said.

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