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Did Amazon Just Rename Crystal City?

Something called "National Landing" will be home to HQ2
Photograph by Andrew Beaujon

Amazon is bringing its “HQ2” to Crystal City. Er, make that “National Landing.” From the company’s press release:

National Landing is an urban community in Northern Virginia located less than 3 miles from downtown Washington, D.C. The area is served by 3 Metro stations, commuter rail access, and Reagan National Airport – all within walking distance. The community has a variety of hotels, restaurants, high-rise apartment buildings, retail, and commercial offices. National Landing has abundant parks and open space with sports and cultural events for residents of all ages throughout the year.

Those three Metro stations are Crystal City, Pentagon City, and National Airport, which you can walk or bike to from Crystal City. The Potomac Yard station is expected to open by 2021. So…National Landing?

National Landing will be made up of parts of two neighborhoods in addition to Crystal City: Pentagon City and Potomac Yard in Alexandria. The name is symbolic of Arlington and Alexandria working together to pitch Amazon, says Stephanie Landrum, the president and CEO of Alexandria Economic Development. “As we looked at the market, there were these three distinct names,” she says. “We thought it was a little confusing, and it didn’t really represent how integrated and connected these communities were.”

National Landing, she says, conveys that you can walk to Reagan National (which old-timers like me still call National Airport) and the area’s proximity to the nation’s capital. As negotiations with Amazon went on over the past year, the new name “started to grow on us,” Landrum says. “It doesn’t mean that these smaller brands will go away or disappear, but we thought it was an interesting way to erase an invisible line between the jurisdictions.”

National Landing will have “no finite boundaries,” Landrum says. Somewhat overshadowed by the HQ2 announcement Tuesday is that Virginia Tech plans to open an “Innovation Campus” in Alexandria’s Oakville Triangle, which is being branded as part of National Landing as well. Oakville Triangle is near Potomac Yard. (Most people would consider it part of Del Ray but whatever.)

Last year, the now Mayor-Elect of Alexandria, Justin Wilson, told me that “The best thing about Amazon is that we all did it together. It used to be Alexandria off doing its own thing, Arlington off doing its own thing…. Win or lose with Amazon, I’m hoping that’s a model that we use to approach other economic development initiatives in the future.”

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Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute, TBD.com, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.