Plan Langston Boulevard

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The purpose of the planning study is to develop a comprehensive vision and policy framework for the future of the Langston Boulevard Study Area through County Board adoption of a County Plan.

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Key Planning Elements

Land Use

Goal: transform Langston Boulevard into a main street corridor
Benefits of Land Use Changes

A top priority in the community is to transform Langston Boulevard into a Green Main Street. To become a Green Main Street, a more mixed-use land use pattern with higher density development and more residents in walkable destinations is needed. New density makes the transformation economically viable for the private sector and has several co-benefits that improve quality of life along Langston Boulevard and adjoining neighborhoods.  

Land use changes will provide more housing choice and affordability, walk-in customers, open space, streetscape and safety improvements, increased bicycle and transit ridership, an enhanced built environment, awareness of history and culture through public art, reduced energy usage and emissions, and reduced flooding and improved water quality. These changes will likely take decades, but the plan for Langston Boulevard will provide guidance when property owners are ready to take action. 

2016 Visioning Study Report + Land Use

Building on the initial grassroots community engagement, the County conducted a community visioning process in 2015. This process helped determine the long-term vision for Langston Boulevard that calls for it to become a walkable main street with neighborhood activity centers between Rosslyn and East Falls Church. The 2016 visioning report served as a starting point for aspirational goals and more focused community discussions around the key planning elements.

The land use recommendations in the report include:

  • Establishing the location and boundary of multiple mixed-use centers or hubs of activity;
  • Identifying where mixed-use is desired or required;
  • Defining centers, edges, and sensitive transition areas in each node;
  • Establishing great destinations to enhance walkability;
  • Creating opportunities for increased residential, office, and commercial uses; and
  • Identifying potential redevelopment sites.
Existing Conditions Analysis Report + Land Use

The Existing Conditions Analysis Report built on community conversations, open house events, focus groups, and a walking tour. The report examines the existing land uses in the study area and identifies potential opportunities and constraints for supporting the goal of transforming the corridor into a Green Main Street. This report determined potential areas for change, potential types of change, and where transitions in use will be most important.

The report showed that the core study area is:

  • primarily auto-dominated and characterized by low-rise commercial uses with pockets of residential
  • missing mixed-use development that supports a walkable, “main street” environment
  • limited by the current land use vision and zoning framework

The report also shared that the planning process would be testing the potential for different types of development, appropriate levels of density/building height, and the locations of uses, while also identifying any land use and zoning changes that will be needed.

Neighborhood Inspiration Report + Land Use

The Neighborhood Inspiration Report highlights what we have and appreciate in our neighborhoods today and community aspirations for what they can become. This analysis established a strong foundation for the land use scenarios that were shared with the community in April 2021. The community identified the following priority actions:

Area 1: Arlington East Falls Church

  • Revise zoning to:
    • allow for greater variety of housing types and
    • promote sustainability while retaining green spaces and adding full canopy trees.
  • Increase density in the East Falls Church (EFC) Area Plan
  • Redevelop the Metro parking lot according to EFC Area Plan with west entrance to station

Area 2: John M. Langston, Yorktown, Tara Leeway Heights, Leeway Overlee

  • Reexamine lot coverage
  • Prioritize mixed-use development instead of townhouses to preserve strong commercial core
  • Develop the four corners of the Langston Boulevard and Harrison Street intersection
  • Reduce gas stations and banks
  • Focus on walkability and transit
  • Revise zoning to increase density and allow for greater diversity of housing
  • Preserve green space and parks and find new park space

Area 3: Waverly Hills, Donaldson Run, Old Dominion, Glebewood, Waycroft Woodlawn

  • Increase flexibility in design and zoning regulations (including parking) and streamline review process to make it easier to build
  • Integrate stormwater management into all future plans and designs
  • Consolidate parcels for walkability

Area 4: Cherrydale + Maywood

  • Identify and preserve locations for schools to accommodate the potential for increased population

Area 5: North Highlands + Lyon Village

  • Conduct analysis for potential zoning changes
  • Consider rezoning
  • Review public facility needs and co-location of uses
Land Use Scenario Analysis

In April 2021, the Land Use Scenario Analysis, which included preliminary ideas for land use mixes and intensities, was shared with the community. Through several public feedback engagements, the community expressed support for the following ideas:

  • More residential development if committed affordable units are required as part of redevelopment (except in Area 2, where there is concern with adding density)
  • Mixed-use development
  • Flexibility in ground floor uses

The community also reported several concerns, including commercial or mixed-use development that encroaches on existing low-density residential areas; consolidating Langston Blvd frontage properties with adjacent residential properties to achieve mixed-use development; planning for missing middle housing forms with greater density than one-family at the edges of the corridor; loss of existing Market-Rate Affordable Units due to redevelopment; addition of affordable housing in certain neighborhoods; changes in property values; changes in character; and loss of small businesses.

Based on community feedback, the planning team will:

  • Focus proposed redevelopment at key nodes and intersections
  • Revisit proposed building heights to strike a balance between feasible development & community input
  • Re-consider which residential edges immediately adjacent to commercial areas may be needed to facilitate mixed-use, affordable housing and/or other improvements along Langston Blvd frontage
  • Analyze missing middle types and forms through the Missing Middle Housing Study
    • This is no longer a specific component of PLB.
  • Refine the land use scenarios to develop a Preliminary Concept Plan for further review and community discussion

Economic Vitality

Goal: Strengthen the diverse commercial base

Economic vitality means healthy businesses, vibrant retail, more services, jobs, and a larger tax base to benefit the County budget and all taxpayers.

There has been a dramatic shift in the way people shop as the face of retail changes from brick-and-mortar stores to online shopping. National and local trends point to the need for integrated experiences where food, culture, shopping, education, and wellness are blended and housed in flexible spaces that can adapt to a variety of commercial uses over time. With significant regional competition, future businesses along the corridor must offer a unique experience and distinguished goods and services. Integrating businesses into walkable mixed-used areas is key to creating destinations that align with many customers’ desired experiences.

A Plan for Langston Boulevard Strengthens Local Economy

Today, sit-down restaurant, clothing and apparel, fitness, health care, and entertainment uses are less prevalent along Langston Boulevard and a significant share of current retail is small spaces with little room to add new concepts, such as maker spaces for brewing, 3D printing, fashion, food preparation, and tech, that can support and enhance the desired green main street. There is also insufficient residential density to support new businesses.

Changing the zoning and land use along Langston Boulevard to allow mixed-use development, increased housing density, and additional types of commercial uses will support new businesses. For small businesses, removing zoning barriers to enter the corridor and achieving a variety of spaces (both in size and location) to help deliver options for rent and scale is vital.

Diverse new development will enhance the already economically healthy corridor. Businesses will be better positioned for the future and an increase in the tax base will benefit the County budget—bringing in more resources to realize important community amenities and improvements, such as better transit service and protection against flooding.

How a Plan for Langston Boulevard will Benefit Businesses

  • Establishing mixed-use activity nodes with open spaces and community facilities to create “social hubs” of different services and activities that attract a broad spectrum of people, promote social activity, and strengthen neighborhood businesses.
  • Giving special attention to providing flexible ground floor space that can readily adapt over time to a variety of new businesses, providing new jobs and opportunities near housing. These include start-ups, incubators, and co-working spaces, small-to-midscale hospitality, childcare services, and businesses in the fitness, gym, and lifestyle market.
  • Adding new housing and residents within walking distance will strengthen local businesses. Growing work from home trends can strengthen corridor businesses as well.
  • Creating an environment through new biophilic conditions, enhanced tree canopy, and open space where residents can comfortably gather, connect, and recreate.
  • Creating ample protected space for pedestrians and cyclists along with enhanced transit service to improve access to businesses along the corridor.
  • Establishing convenient, consolidated, shared parking will support businesses while decreasing the need for vehicle use between commercial properties.
2016 Visioning Study Report + Economic Vitality

According to the 2016 Visioning Study Report, the Langston Boulevard corridor will maintain economic vitality by encouraging a diverse mix of services and destinations, and by using innovative economic development strategies.

The economic vitality recommendations in the report include:

  • Defining the economic role of the corridor within the County and the region
  • Pursuing infrastructure investments, such as parking and public open space, to support mixed-use development in walkable nodes
  • Encouraging entrepreneurship and more jobs along the corridor
  • Streamlining the development approval process to address the needs of small property owners
  • Exploring the need for direct business assistance for façade improvements
  • Evaluating alternative financing and other incentives
  • Exploring the creation of a public-private partnership (i.e., Business Improvement District) to implement the vision
  • Participating in County-wide initiatives to diversify the local economy and reduce barriers to redevelopment
Existing Conditions Analysis Report + Economic Vitality

Promoting and strengthening a diverse commercial base requires understanding the existing market and exploring ways to encourage more businesses that are well suited to the area. The planning process is identifying macro-economic trends, evaluating how much and what type of development is needed, and identifying additional opportunities for diversification.

The Existing Conditions Analysis Report shared that:

  • The Langston Boulevard economy is diverse, with a wide range of neighborhood-serving business types.
  • Roughly 25% of ground floor businesses offer a dining or food and beverage experience.
  • Langston Boulevard has low vacancy and low turnover thanks to:
    • high traffic that exposes businesses to thousands of customers daily,
    • a mix of local-serving businesses and services, and
    • moderate rents.
  • Because of high occupancy and lack of available space, there is little room to add new retail concepts in the short term. There is a need to create more space (through parcel assemblage, owner cooperation, etc.), particularly for destination centers.
  • Residents along the corridor have a higher household median income, a higher share of owner-occupied housing, and a larger household size (compared to broader Arlington County).
  • National and local trends that could influence the business mix and new opportunities along the corridor include:
    • advances in computers, automation, and artificial intelligence;
    • an increase in freelance workers;
    • the need for flexible spaces that can adapt to a variety of commercial needs;
    • a decline in retail jobs; and
    • a need for integrating shopping with other consumer experiences where food, culture, education and wellness are blended.
  • Establishing creditworthiness for new businesses and proving new business models in a changing marketplace can create risk for building owners.
  • Redevelopment along the corridor may create difficult conditions for existing smaller businesses. 
Neighborhood Inspiration Report + Economic Vitality

The community identified the following economic vitality-related priority actions in the Neighborhood Inspiration Report: (also see the NIR Appendix)

Area 1: Arlington East Falls Church

  • Support local businesses through incentives to keep the area affordable
  • Increase the number of places to eat
  • Encourage new forms of commercial uses, such as WeWork

Area 2: John M. Langston, Yorktown, Tara Leeway Heights, Leeway Overlee

  • Façade improvements and general beautification along the corridor
  • Easier access to businesses and more parking
  • Fewer chain stores
  • More quality businesses
  • Identifying a program to assist small businesses
  • Maintaining affordability so local businesses stay

Area 3: Waverly Hills, Donaldson Run, Old Dominion, Glebewood, Waycroft Woodlawn

  • Provide support to existing local businesses
  • Invest in infrastructure and schools
  • Allow ground floors to be versatile and adaptable to a variety of uses
  • Adopt flexible parking requirements and strategies that encourage shared parking solutions
  • Promote outdoor dining options
  • Promote uses that support community and healthy living

Area 4: Cherrydale + Maywood

  • Reconsider height and density restrictions along Langston Boulevard to allow mid-rise mixed-use development

Area 5: North Highlands + Lyon Village

  • Allow for commercial flexibility so that current uses may be adapted to future uses
  • Change zoning to accommodate new businesses (e.g., light manufacturing that is consumer facing, doggie day cares, kids facilities) and expand areas where medical offices are allowed
  • Explore tools available for small business owners 
Land Use Scenario Analysis + Economic Vitality

Through several public feedback engagements on the Land Use Scenario Analysis, the community shared concerns about the potential for loss of small businesses and expressed support for the following:

  • More businesses and mixed-use:
    • at the EFC Metro station site
    • along the four corners of Langston Boulevard and N. Harrison Street
    • in the Garden City shops and N. George Mason Drive
    • along both sides of Langston Boulevard between N. Glebe Road and N. Woodstock Street/Lorcom Lane
    • in the northwest and southwest corners of Spout Run Parkway and Langston Boulevard
    • at the Airforce Association site in North Highlands east
  • Implementation of the Cherrydale Revitalization Plan and some support for additional mixed-use development in areas outside Cherrydale Revitalization District
  • A grocery store in EFC
  • Flexible ground floor spaces to encourage food production/maker space uses
  • Job creation through appropriate land uses
  • Urban agriculture on rooftops and within buildings (e.g., community gardens, hydroponics, floriculture)
  • Improving aesthetics and function of the strip commercial highway frontage
  • More public parking off-street, and on-street, to support existing and new businesses
  • Increasing residential density and expanding commercial zoning areas to support new local businesses in some locations

Housing

Goal: Welcome residents who want to age in place, families, young professionals, middle‐income households, and households at 60% of the Area Median Income (AMI)

Housing is an integral pillar of equity and economic development.

Arlington County, like many neighboring jurisdictions, has a shortage of housing—apartments, condos, detached homes, townhouses, and duplexes—for low- and middle-income community members due to high land values and construction costs. Under the current zoning, there is a limit on the housing types permitted along Langston Boulevard. In addition, did you know that rowhouses, such as those found in historic Glebewood and several other locations beyond Langston Boulevard, were banned for 30 years after the County amended the Zoning Ordinance in 1938 and found that rowhouses “detracted” from the single-family character of the County? That is one reason why this housing is less prevalent in the County today.

Expanding housing options enables equitable access for people of all races, ages, and income levels, including housing for residents who want to age in place, young families, and people with disabilities. New housing will provide better access to services for all populations, helping to reduce disparities and enhancing individual opportunity and wellbeing.  

Separate from Plan Langston Boulevard, Arlington County is conducting the Missing Middle Housing Study to explore how new housing types could help address the County’s shortfall in housing supply and gaps in housing choices. 

Embracing land use changes and new development increases housing supply, creates more housing choices, and improves affordability. More homes along the corridor will also provide the ridership needed to support investments in more frequent transit service, enhanced amenities, pedestrian improvements, and dedicated bicycle infrastructure. 

Aging in Place 

Many seniors indicate that they would prefer to age in place. The physical environment within the study area—including existing conditions that separate residential and commercial areas, the absence of adequate transportation services, and limited accessible housing—presents barriers to elder health and wellbeing. Paratransit service is key for older adults to stay autonomous and engaged in their community.  

Market-rate Affordable Housing Units (MARKs) and Committed Affordable Units (CAFs) 

The Affordable Housing Master Plan’s (AHMP) goal for Langston Boulevard is to achieve 2,500 affordable units (MARKs and CAFs with rents at or below 60% AMI) by 2040. MARKs are market-rate affordable housing units that have “naturally occurring” rents that are affordable to low- and moderate-income households by virtue of the age, location, condition, or amenities of the properties. There is no guarantee that these homes will remain affordable to lower-income households. As of FY 2021, there were 538 MARKs (at or below 60% AMI) along the corridor. COVID-19 caused an increase in MARKs due to rent rates decreasing. Rents are rebounding quickly, though, so it is likely that the number of MARKs will fall again this year. Some neighborhoods in the study area feature smaller homes, however, many have been torn down, renovated, and re-built with expensive large houses. In addition, some garden apartments have been torn down and replaced with new apartments—using existing by-right zoning standards—without community review or the inclusion of County- and community-desired features that could have been achieved had the projects gone through public review like we envision in the future, according to the Plan for Langston Boulevard. 

A few nonprofit affordable housing providers own properties along Langston Boulevard and have worked with the County to provide committed affordable units, or CAFs. CAFs are guaranteed to remain affordable for an extended period of time subject to both rent restrictions and income restrictions for tenants. CAFs can also be incorporated into market-rate developments creating a mixed-income living environment. As of FY 2021, there were 266 CAFs along the corridor. Senior housing at Hunter’s Part Apartments in Cherrydale accounts for 74 of these CAFs. Most of the other 188 CAFs are in garden apartment buildings that could be redeveloped, following new PLB guidance, to create even more affordable units in the corridor. 

In total, as of FY 2021, there were approximately 800 affordable units, including both MARKs and CAFs, along the corridor—nearly 30 percent of the County’s AHMP goal. Bridging the gap of approximately 1,700 affordable units to meet the goal is a big endeavor. 

The plan for Langston Boulevard will guide public and private investments, including the development of new residential, mixed-use, and infill residential development with the aim of addressing housing demand and diversifying housing opportunities for all ages and incomes. Specifically, the plan will: 

  • Identify planning and zoning changes needed to create opportunities for a range of housing types and affordability 
  • Establish a minimum percentage of required CAFs for all site plan developments  
  • Designate areas at key nodes and in areas near transit for more density and building height to attain more committed affordable units and other community improvements 
  • Guide increases in density and building height on existing CAF sites 
  • Provide incentives to owners to help preserve existing MARKs and/or convert MARKs to CAFs  
2016 Visioning Study Report + Housing

According to the 2016 Visioning Study Report, the plan for Langston Boulevard will encourage a range of housing choices to meet the needs of families, students, and older adults who wish to stay in place, as well as support living closer to transit, jobs, shopping, services, and universities. 

The housing recommendations in the report include:  

  • Increasing residential variety to include multi-family apartment homes and other housing types, including duplexes, townhouses, and accessory units. 
  • Enabling development of housing for the elderly. 
  • Promoting development of housing types that allow people to stay in their neighborhood or “age in place.” 
  • Evaluating the potential for increased density to enhance development feasibility. 
  • Evaluating the potential affordability requirement on all new developments.  
Existing Conditions Analysis Report + Housing

The Existing Conditions Analysis Report shared that in the Langston Boulevard planning area: 

  • 43% of housing units are single-family detached, 46% are multifamily, and 11% are other (townhomes and two-family). Single-family detached zoning districts comprise approximately 70% of the total land area, whereas, multi-family zoning districts comprise only approximately 11% of the total land area. 
  • Only 15% of housing units are considered affordable housing (CAFs and MARKs up to 80% AMI). 
  • The current housing mix provides limited opportunities for housing affordability and additional housing types beyond single-family homes.  
  • Existing development standards in the Zoning Ordinance, including minimum parking requirements and minimum lot size requirements, impede development of diverse housing types.  
  • External factors, including high land acquisition and construction costs, also constrain design and construction of diverse and affordable housing.  
  • The work to date on the Housing Conservation District (HCD) areas on Langston Boulevard will be brought into the land use scenarios.  
  • The work to develop draft Zoning Ordinance amendments to implement the HCD will occur concurrently with the planning process, and HCD recommendations will be coordinated with ideas and materials emerging from PLB.  
  • No amendments for HCD would be adopted for the PLB areas until further reconciliation occurs, with input from the County Board.  
Neighborhood Inspiration Report + Housing

The community identified the following housing-related priority actions in the Neighborhood Inspiration Report: (see also the NIR Appendix)

Area 1: Arlington East Falls Church 

  • Increase density along transportation corridors with good design and beautification  
  • Add garden-style apartments just outside of EFC Plan along Langston Boulevard, Sycamore Street, and Washington Boulevard 
  • Add townhouses, duplexes, triplexes, quadplexes, and accessory dwellings in single-family areas 

Area 2: John M. Langston, Yorktown, Tara Leeway Heights, Leeway Overlee 

  • Explore potential for historic district designation (State not local) of neighborhoods to obtain financial incentives for preservation  
  • Consider zoning of single-family areas to include a range of housing types 
  • Plan for multi-family as part of activity node development 

Area 3: Waverly Hills, Donaldson Run, Old Dominion, Glebewood, Waycroft Woodlawn 

  • Encourage and promote diverse housing types 
  • Encourage innovative building techniques 
  • Promote workforce housing 
  • Protect affordable housing goals 
  • Address racial and economic segregation by encouraging diversity and integrating affordable housing 
  • Connect housing with transit - plan for density in line with MWCOG housing goals for region and higher provision of transit services 

Area 4: Cherrydale + Maywood 

  • Financial assistance to County employees  
  • Tools to increase affordable units, as part of development process, such as allowing for greater density 

Area 5: North Highlands + Lyon Village 

  • Remove regulatory barriers that prohibit density and new forms  
  • Allow non-conforming missing middle to conform and continue to be built  
Land Use Scenario Analysis + Housing

Through several public feedback engagements with the Land Use Scenario Analysis, the community shared concern about the loss of existing MARKs and the consolidation of single-family residential edges with commercial development. Participants expressed support for the following aspirations.  

  • Incorporating more diverse housing options, including affordable housing in some areas 
  • Preserving and enhancing existing affordability 
  • Integrating housing types that transition well to lower density residential areas 
  • Providing housing for essential workers near EFC Metro 
  • Creating opportunities for independent senior living 
  • Incentivizing production of affordable units in exchange for density in some areas 

Building Form

Goal: Transform Langston Boulevard and its neighborhoods into a walkable environment with context‐sensitive buildings 

“We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.” Winston Churchill 

In the past 100 years, building form has been influenced by the need to accommodate cars. Less emphasis has been placed on defining spaces for pedestrians and bicyclists, resulting in buildings and spaces that could be almost anywhere. The buildings we live and work in have an impact on our health and wellbeing. We should construct and manage them responsibly—using natural resources when possible, meeting energy goals, and contributing to effective stormwater management. 

The placement of buildings—their scale, orientation, and aesthetics; how vehicles move and park around them; and their relationship to each other—becomes an integral part of land use discussions. Establishing guidance for building form can help development fit into context, ensuring it engages with streets and creates a transition in scale, height, and character appropriate for the corridor and surrounding neighborhoods. There is a wide array of building forms in the Plan Langston Boulevard study area, often defined by their parking configurations and requirements, which makes planning more difficult. Only certain parcels along Langston Boulevard are large enough to accommodate new development with appropriate building scale to meet mixed-use formats and contemporary building design for residential development, as well as building mass transitions, parking, and landscape buffers.  

The Plan envisions transforming Langston Boulevard into a main street—bringing buildings closer to the street and moving parking to the rear of the site or underground to create welcoming spaces for people to walk and bike. The plan for Langston Boulevard will

  • Encourage diverse building types and sizes 
  • Develop guidelines for building form and design character that fit into neighborhood context 
  • Focus areas for new building height levels: 
    • at key nodes and intersections,  
    • in areas accessible to bus routes or near Metro, 
    • on parcels with sufficient depth for appropriate transitions to the lower residential edges, and  
    • in places where other infrastructure, topography, or natural environment allow  
  • Define maximum building heights, minimum building setbacks, pervious area requirements, and areas where step downs in height or other transitions are needed  
  • Encourage ground floor uses that support the community with welcoming streets, pedestrian pathways, and trails 
  • Designate desired locations for parking access and loading/service bays 

Incentivizing Community Improvements, High Performance Buildings, and Quality Architecture 

Community benefits and improvements cannot be provided by the public sector alone. It will take collaboration between landowners and the County to share responsibilities and establish a mutually beneficial outcome. 

Existing by-right development has not always been embraced by the community and has done little to meet Plan Langston Boulevard’s goals. Many parcels along the corridor are small, constrained, and frequently under individual ownership, making consolidation a challenge in the absence of development incentives. The County’s special exception process could achieve some improvements and benefits but has additional costs and an extensive public review process that can make it infeasible. In addition, smaller parcels mean some amenities and infrastructure improvements remain out of reach, which could result in less cohesive improvements from block to block.  

We are working to guide and achieve predictable development along Langston Boulevard. Changes will allow additional building height if landowners provide greater community benefits and improvements than would be provided through by-right development. Height and density above by-right zoning levels can incentivize property owners to assemble parcels where needed and invest in high-performance development that benefits the community and meets Plan Langston Boulevard’s goals. Consolidation of properties fronting the corridor can, for example, establish a cohesive streetscape with underground utilities, separated pedestrian and bicycle facilities, and additional open space. It can also deliver committed affordable units (CAFs), enhanced stormwater management, higher architectural quality, and energy efficient buildings.  

Results of By‐Right Development along Langston Boulevard 
PLB - EFC

In East FallsChurch

  • No street trees
  • Narrow sidewalks
  • Buildings don’t relate to Langston Blvd. (i.e., parking is in front)
  • Ground floor uses don’t encourage pedestrian activity
  • Heavily auto oriented and many curb cuts along Langston Boulevard
  • High percentage of impervious surfaces

PLB - Waverly Hills at Glebe

Waverly Hills 20thRd. & Glebe Rd.

  • Above ground parking
  • No accessible public open space
  • Limited tree canopy along street
  • Buildings front commercial service areas (trash and loading)
  • Buildings along streets ‐ partially below grade to fit within the 40-foot height limit
  • Buildings along single family areas are 5 stories and set back approximately 40 feet
  • Very large block with limited walkability, connectivity, and vehicular circulation
2016 Visioning Study Report + Building Form

According to the 2016 Visioning Study Report, the plan for Langston Boulevard will strengthen neighborhoods by emphasizing unique architectural character, public space activities, and sensitive transitions.

The building form recommendations in the report include:

  • Encouraging high level activity and visual appeal at the ground level
  • Defining levels of intensity and specific building height parameters along corridor
  • Smoothing height transitions between commercial and residential uses
  • Promoting distinct neighborhood character through architectural design
  • Maintaining existing residential character in residential sections along corridor, as well as areas adjacent to residential neighborhoods
  • Creating ample sidewalks, high-quality landscaping, and intuitive wayfinding
  • Considering alternative parking solutions (e.g., on-street, rear, shared, public, structured) 
Existing Conditions Analysis Report + Building Form

The Existing Conditions Analysis Report  evaluated building frontages along Langston Boulevard and other commercial corridors to understand how buildings interface with the street to create active use on the ground floor. It also analyzed the typical building types and design to understand the character and identity they create, as well as building heights and issues of transition created by height and mass, and activity or use.

The ECA showed that in the Langston Boulevard planning area:

  • Cherrydale and East Falls Church buildings have more ground floor uses and windows that activate the street with parking behind or under buildings.
  • Most commercial buildings along Langston Boulevard have fewer windows, less inviting doorways, large blank walls and parking lots in the front.
  • Service and loading areas along the rear of commercial buildings are often adjacent to single-family homes.
  • The Lee Harrison shopping center uses topography to reduce impacts of service areas to the adjoining neighborhood.
  • There are many types of residential development in the planning area that range in size (1/4 to 7+ acres) and height (2 to 9+ stories).
  • Single-family and townhouses are the most prominent residential typologies in the edge areas.
  • High-rise buildings are only in a few locations, including Waverly Hills and North Highlands, and there are abrupt transitions between buildings of different scales (9 stories vs. 2 stories).
  • In East Falls Church, recent mixed-use infill development relates well to adjacent neighborhoods by placing buildings of greater mass and height away from existing single-family homes. Townhomes are also used as a transitional building type.
  • Nearly all buildings fronting Langston Boulevard are 4 stories or less.
  • Most taller buildings are set back significantly from the street.
  • Roughly half of the parcels along Langston Boulevard are less than 90-feet deep, which complicates redevelopment and makes achieving transitions in height more challenging. 
Neighborhood Inspiration Report + Building Form

As reported in the Neighborhood Inspiration Report (see also the NIR Appendix), designing ground floor uses to make the street a welcoming environment was the most important design issue to address, while appropriate building height and mass transitions was the second most important across all neighborhoods. In 2050, the building forms in our neighborhoods will: 

Area 1: Arlington East Falls Church 

  • Embrace and demonstrate diversity, from people to building types, and experiences
  • Be more urban and vibrant

Area 2: John M. Langston, Yorktown, Tara Leeway Heights, Leeway Overlee 

  • Have buildings along Langston Boulevard that front the street with parking under, or at rear, with wider sidewalks and street trees
  • Feel like a neighborhood, human scale and not like any other part of Arlington under redevelopment with tall mixed-use buildings that have no character
  • Allow for some missing middle housing types, outside of Lee-Harrison intersection and Langston Boulevard, integrated into existing fabric that have a similar appearance, size, and height as existing 1930s homes with trees and green spaces
  • Be inviting and feel charming
  • Retain the look and feel of a small-scale community neighborhood—changes should blend in with surrounding single-family homes rather than stand out and should not replicate the Metro corridor
  • Have a mix of height, scales, and architectural styles, like in Cleveland Park in DC (along Connecticut Avenue)
  • Have buildings along Langston Boulevard that are built to the edge of the sidewalk and parking will be secondary
  • Have buildings with front yards and setbacks
  • Have strong connections to nature and integration of greenery and open space to create a feeling of openness between buildings and in the public realm
  • Retain historic features, such as the architecture, built form, Sears Houses
  • Incorporate new buildings designed to be compatible with historic homes and buildings in the neighborhood, with biophilic designs, and adhering to highest standards for energy efficiency and sustainability (solar panels and storage for resiliency)

Area 5: North Highlands + Lyon Village 

  • Have diversity of people and housing types
  • Easily be able to walk or bike to commercial areas and neighborhood retail
  • Be sustainable, dense, and have mixed-use
  • Retain the quiet, low-density neighborhood in Lyon Village that is a convenient and enjoyable living space 
Land Use Scenario Analysis + Building Form

Through several public feedback engagements with the Land Use Scenario Analysis, the community shared that they would only support additional height in some areas if it provided a combination of:

  • Committed affordable units
  • Decreased building footprint/paved surface
  • Increased pervious areas and tree canopy

The key areas of concern regarding increased height are:

  • Impact on schools and traffic
  • Additional height not resulting in affordable housing and instead offering luxury units
  • Confirming maximum height (i.e., that max heights in the Langston Boulevard plan will prevail over the Zoning Ordinance bonus height regulations)

The height preferences by area are:

  • Area 1: specific heights not discussed
  • Area 2: no greater than 2 or 3 stories
  • Area 3: no greater than 7 stories (up to 8 in limited areas)
  • Area 4: no greater than 7 stories
  • Area 5: up to 4 to more than 15 stories

Transportation Connectivity & Urban Design

 Goal: Transform Langston Boulevard into a ‘Complete Street’, improve streetscape design, and connect the surrounding neighborhoods 
 Since 2000, the population along the corridor has increased, while average daily traffic volumes have gone down, thanks primarily to increased public transportation options.

Land use transformation and mobility are interdependent and mutually reinforcing. The new mixed-use and residential development needed to transform the Langston Boulevard corridor into a main street will increase the number of residents, employees, and visitors over time. To serve this growing population in a sustainable manner, new investments in transit service and a well-connected bicycle and pedestrian network will be needed. Residents along the corridor have called for improved transit in the area, but investment in additional transit services and amenities require additional population and increased ridership to support them. Together, land use and transportation changes create new possibilities.

Currently, Langston Boulevard varies dramatically in character, function, and width. In many places, large parking lots in front of buildings give the visual impression that Langston Boulevard is a wide, high-speed road. Crossing Langston Boulevard is very difficult, particularly, where it is widest. That, along with narrow sidewalks, numerous driveways, above ground utility poles, and a lack of crosswalks and shade create an uncomfortable and unsafe environment for pedestrians and bicyclists. Langston Boulevard needs significant improvements to support multimodal transportation goals.

In close coordination with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), Langston Boulevard will be redesigned into a Complete Street that better serves all modes of travel, while recognizing its continued role as a commuter corridor as designated by VDOT. Improved bus services, protected bicycle lanes, and wider, buffered sidewalks with shade trees will create a safer and more conducive environment for walking and biking. Reducing speed limits and driveways along the corridor will support the Vision Zero goal to eliminate fatalities and serious injuries caused by collisions. Additional bus service between Metro stops and Langston Boulevard will be considered to better connect areas that are beyond convenient walking distance to transit. The street space currently occupied by medians of varying sizes may be re-allocated to meet multimodal transportation needs. Transformation of Langston Boulevard into a Complete Street will require collaboration and shared responsibility between landowners and the County, particularly where the roadway is narrow and there is insufficient space to adequately accommodate all modes of travel.

There are many instances in the planning study area where the street grid is disconnected, creating a pattern of large blocks. In some locations, lack of connectivity is due to topographic challenges between or within neighborhoods. In other locations, it is due to the development pattern over time. Lack of connectivity prioritizes vehicle use over other transportation modes, like walking and biking. North Highlands has the least number of east-west streets that run parallel to Langston Boulevard, making the neighborhoods in this area the least connected and most dependent on Langston Boulevard for accessibility. Achieving new streets, where possible, and creating new walkways or trails, where space is more limited, will help improve accessibility for all travelers, support local circulation, reduce traffic burden on Langston Boulevard, and encourage development in smaller blocks which can help create appropriately scaled buildings.

The plan for Langston Boulevard will propose a a multimodal approach to the corridor that:

  • Reduces travel speed and minimizes collisions
  • Recommends further analysis of critical intersections during the implementation phase to improve safety and operations
  • Adds new streetlights and crosswalks to improve safety and encourage walking
  • Adds protected bicycle lanes and low-stress parallel bicycle routes, where possible, and wider, buffered sidewalks with shade trees
  • Has the potential to increase bus service between Metro stops and Langston Boulevard as the population and transit demand increases
  • Improves bus service reliability
  • Creates space along streetscapes for safe, comfortable transit stops with amenities
  • Increases opportunities for on-demand micro-transit services (i.e., shuttle buses that travel between a group of properties and a transit hub)
  • Provides opportunities for e-vehicles with charging or service stations for buses, cars, and bikes
  • Increases access to Langston Boulevard for neighborhoods north and south of the corridor
  • Enhances street connectivity by constructing new streets and/or alleys with redevelopment of large blocks
  • Improves access to the trail network with key linkages that connect neighborhoods with the corridor, parallel bicycle routes through adjoining neighborhoods, and, where space allows, a separated bike lane along Langston Boulevard
  • Accommodates parking with shared parking resources to support automobile travel and parking needs without cars dominating the transformation of Langston Boulevard
 
complete streets

Complete Streets are streets designed and operated to enable safe use and support mobility for all users. Those include people of all ages and abilities, regardless of whether they are travelling as drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists, or public transportation riders. The concept of Complete Streets encompasses many approaches to planning, designing, and operating roadways and rights of way with all users in mind to make the transportation network safer and more efficient.

-U.S. Department of Transportation

 
2016 Visioning Study Report + Building Form

According to the 2016 Visioning Study Report, participants strongly supported the concept of Complete Streets to enhance safety for all modes of travel, including walking, biking, busing, and driving.

The transportation and connectivity recommendations in the report include:

  • Establishing a working relationship with VDOT
  • Balancing the need of all modes of travel
  • Enhancing walkability through continuous connections
  • Improving traffic flow
  • Reducing reliance on single occupancy vehicles
  • Reducing travel speed and calming traffic
  • Enhancing cycling routes – either on or parallel to Langston Boulevard
  • Enhancing transit service, improving bus stops, increasing frequency, adding routes
Existing Conditions Analysis Report + Building Form

The Existing Conditions Analysis Report  for the corridor evaluated the traffic and other existing conditions; committed and planned transportation improvements; roadway standards that need additional flexibility and strategies to achieve a multimodal corridor; ways to improve overall pedestrian and bicycle connectivity, including safer routes to schools; existing parking; and access to transit and public spaces throughout the study area.

The ECA shared that in the Langston Boulevard planning area:

  • Character and function changes dramatically along the corridor
  • Conditions aren’t desirable for biking along or across it
  • The eastern part of the study area lacks alternate parallel routes for biking
  • Parts of the corridor have limited right-of-way and shallow lots, making it difficult to accommodate bicycles
  • Multiple modes of mobility are not adequately accommodated
  • All of the planning study area is within a 10-minute walk from a park. While the population directly along the corridor is generally within a 2-minute walk to a transit stop, the population along the edges of the study area are within a 10-minute walk (although the walk may not be particularly pleasant).
  • The east and west ends of the corridor currently have the greatest multimodal access due to proximity to Metro and Capital Bikeshare.
  • The segment of Langston Boulevard in Cherrydale is the only portion currently classified as “highly oriented to pedestrian, bicycle, and transit access”
  • Certain areas are already notable destinations for bicyclists, however, little to no facilities exist to easily access those destinations. 
Neighborhood Inspiration Report + Building Form

As reported in the Neighborhood Inspiration Report (see also the NIR Appendix), community desires include improved conditions for walking and biking, and improved and increased transit services. The community identified the following transportation- and connectivity-related priorities:

Area 1: Arlington East Falls Church

  • Create wider sidewalks and safer crossings
  • Add pedestrian cut-throughs that make east-west connections easier and the street network walkable
  • Purposefully slow traffic to make the bridge over I-66 pedestrian and bike friendly
  • Complete sidewalks in neighborhoods
  • Add protected bike lanes, safer crossings, and reduce travel lanes
  • Educate drivers about sharing the road with cyclists
  • Add Capital Bikeshare stations
  • Improve connections to W&OD trail for bicyclists
  • Extend transit hours, increase frequency, and keep it reasonably priced
  • Improve bus stop amenities and access
  • Plan for both current and emerging modes of travel

Area 2: John M. Langston, Yorktown, Tara Leeway Heights, Leeway Overlee

  • Make sidewalks accessible and consistent
  • Improve safety and experience using lights, trees, benches, signage, lower speed limits, and four-way stops
  • Use median strips for pedestrian stop points, beautification, and planting for stormwater
  • Improve crossing safety through signalization, increased road markings, and new crossings
  • Add parallel walking or biking routes to avoid the need to be on Langston Boulevard
  • Request County control of Langston Boulevard
  • Create policy that requires changes to driveways and streetscape
  • Add protected bike lanes, bikeshare stations, and bike parking, and create connections to existing trails
  • Increase ART service, improve bus stops, consider bus rapid transit, and improve access to transit hubs
  • Reduce speed limits

Area 3: Waverly Hills, Donaldson Run, Old Dominion, Glebewood, Waycroft Woodlawn

  • Improve pedestrian experience and safety by improving streetscapes, adding trees, improving lighting, reducing speed limits, reducing curb cuts and driveways, widening sidewalks, and burying power lines
  • Rebalance space allocated to cars with space for bicyclists and pedestrians
  • Increase separation between pedestrians and cars, particularly on routes to schools
  • Add north/south connections to Custis Trail, bike parking at bus stops, and Capital Bikeshare
  • Add protected bike lanes on, and bike paths parallel to, Langston Boulevard and Old Dominion Drive
  • Provide additional crosswalks and make them safer and accessible for wheelchairs and scooters
  • Improve bus stops, increase frequency of service, and add wayfinding for walkability from each stop
  • Provide circulator services that connect to Metro and other key destinations
  • Add dedicated bus lanes on major arterials

Area 4: Cherrydale + Maywood

  • Improve safety by creating continuous sidewalks in neighborhoods, safe routes, and crossings to Dorothy Hamm Middle School, lowering the speed limit, and using clearer road markings for different road uses
  • Add protected bike lanes, improve bike path lighting, and widen sidewalks on local streets
  • Install e-bike lockers at transit stops
  • Plan for dockless bikes and scooters, including spaces for parking
  • Increase bus frequency, give signal prioritization, and add dedicated lanes at peak travel times
  • Consider flexible and adaptable buses, such as smaller buses that use less resources during off peak times

Area 5: North Highlands + Lyon Village

  • Prioritize sidewalk improvements on routes that connect to schools and parks
  • Underground utilities and improve streetscape with more trees and other greenery
  • Enhance safety by widening sidewalks, reducing speed, adding traffic calming measures, providing pedestrian islands, narrowing and removing lanes, and providing better signage, lighting, signaling, and intersection marking
  • Complete gaps in the bike network, including improving connections to trails and green spaces along Spout Run and GW Parkway, and adding protected bike lanes, particularly from Veitch to Adams streets
  • Consider demand and safety together (cyclists and pedestrians do not mix on commuter routes)
  • Remove the slip lane at Spout Run Pkwy
  • Create useful connections, easier transfers, more frequent bus service, fewer stops, and improve bus stop amenities
  • Increase variety of transit offered, including circulators and mini-buses 
Land Use Scenario Analysis + Building Form

Through several public feedback engagements with the Land Use Scenario Analysis, the community expressed support for:

  • Acknowledging people will still drive cars in the future
  • Improving parking and pedestrian access at all commercial centers
  • Improving access to nearby shops, Metro, W&OD Trail, Fort Bennett Park, Palisades Trail, Custis Trail
  • Improving connectivity to enable circulation, facilitate evacuation during emergencies, and provide access to underdeveloped parcels
  • Increasing transit ridership and experience
  • Accommodating all modes of travel (in all areas except Area 2) along Langston Blvd. by creating wider sidewalks, safe pedestrian crosswalks, and adding street trees and bike facilities
  • Key intersection improvements including improving safety at Five Point intersection
  • Reducing driveways to eliminate vehicle, pedestrian, and bicycle conflicts on Langston Boulevard
  • Flexibility with location/alignment of new streets/connections

The community expressed concern with:

  • Parcel/lot consolidation to achieve improvements to accommodate all modes of travel (Area 2) or new street connections to reduce pressure at key intersections and driveways along Langston Blvd.
  • Removal of the 3rd lane along Langston Blvd (Area 5)
  • Traffic impacts due to increased density
  • Overburdening Metro due to increased density
  • Commercial parking being reduced/eliminated
  • Parking for commercial areas pushed to residential streets
  • 22nd and 26th streets parallel bike routes – removing parking for bicycle lanes

Public Schools, Facilities, and Spaces

Goal: Ensure that the Langston Boulevard community is connected to and well served by a diverse mix of public spaces and adequate schools and public facilities that balance community needs

An integrated network of public schools, facilities, and spaces promotes a community’s wellbeing and strengthens its economic viability.

Public spaces along Langston Boulevard will be created by preserving and maximizing existing spaces while guiding the development of new spaces—resulting in a balanced and efficient network that is both inclusive and sustainable. The Langston Boulevard community has asked for additional indoor and outdoor gathering places with flexible uses and better connectivity to destinations. A successful network of public spaces along the corridor will support recreation and leisure activities, environmental infrastructure, economic development, and social interaction while encouraging walking and biking to promote a healthy lifestyle.

The life of community is supported by social hubs, a walkable cluster of public facilities, parks, plazas, or other public spaces, and neighborhood shops and businesses. With guided development over time, the area surrounding the current Lee Heights Shops, near the intersection of Old Dominion Drive and Langston Boulevard, is one location where such social hubs could exist to provide new amenities to neighbors and businesses.

Planning for public schools, facilities, and spaces along Langston Boulevard, however, cannot be done in isolation. We must consider the entire array of County needs, access to facilities, and available resources. We must monitor growth along the corridor, while examining Countywide needs and opportunities to steward public resources and maintain flexibility over time to adapt to growth cycles and changing demographics in all planning corridors.

Public Space

The first priority of the 2019 Public Spaces Master Plan (PSMP) is adding at least 30 acres of new public space by 2029. The PSMP calls for the expansion of public spaces in corridors with adopted plans, which will eventually include Langston Boulevard, and the integration of biophilic elements to promote health and biodiversity.

To serve the growing population along the corridor, additional open spaces for recreation and social interaction will be needed. While there are already several public parks throughout the study area, a variety of spaces within walking distance are needed for both personal wellbeing and to strengthen the economic vitality of ground-floor commercial uses.

Proposed public spaces will be in strategic locations and achieved through redevelopment that meets planning goals. We envision different-sized spaces that function to support a variety of activities.

Public Schools

Arlington County and Arlington Public Schools (APS) will continue to monitor enrollment needs as redevelopment occurs along Langston Boulevard. APS, along with the County, will carefully study student enrollment from new housing to determine school needs, such as upgrades, new facilities, or other measures. Planning staff reports APS data on the estimated number of students from proposed housing when reviewing site plan applications to inform the decision-making process during Commission and County Board review.

As a standard, APS projects student enrollment for 10 years into the future. Enrollment projections are updated annually, and are based on resident births, enrollment trends, and anticipated student yield from future residential properties in approved development projects and 10-year housing forecasts.

APS uses many strategies to address school-capacity challenges, including the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) and Arlington Facilities and Student Accommodation Plan (AFSAP), to determine the level, timing, and location of future school seat needs. For example, Cardinal Elementary School was a CIP-identified project that was constructed in the 2021-2022 School Year and added 747 permanent school seats.

Public Facilities

As the community grows, so does the need for community centers, libraries, government offices, and the public safety and human services facilities that serve residents, visitors, and businesses. Public facilities for core support services, such as County operations functions and the storage of critical equipment and materials needed to deliver consistent County services, are also needed.

Currently, there are three community centers—LAC (formerly the Lee Arts Center), Langston Brown, and Dawson Terrace--that serve as gathering spaces. Additional public facilities include historic Cherrydale Library, as well as Fire Station 8 in John M. Langston, Fire Station 6 in East Falls Church, and Fire Station 3 in Cherrydale.

There are many community needs to meet with relatively little available land for the renovation, expansion, or construction of public facilities. In the future, public facilities can be located within private development or as standalone buildings. Public facilities with flexible spaces that can be adapted to accommodate multiple programs and services and other future needs, as outlined in the PSMP, will be key.

The plan for Langston Boulevard will :

  • Propose a network of interconnected new and existing public spaces, within a 5- to 10-minute walk of residential areas, to serve the growing population, create a sense of place, enable gatherings, and plant trees
  • Identify public projects that could be included in the Capital Improvement Plan to manage growth and maintain facilities
  • Identify locations for social hubs
  • Identify areas to create or expand access to public parks, consistent with the policies of the PSMP
  • Achieve different types of public spaces of varying scales and character to serve a range of age groups and activities
  • Designate overland relief areas in new open spaces where runoff can be detained or slowed to reduce downstream flooding
  • Use public spaces, along with historic buildings, public art, and other design elements, to create a sense of place and connect people to nearby significant historic and cultural resources
  • Establish guidelines for achieving new open space at street level or on roof tops
  • Identify future opportunities for public-private partnerships if new public facilities are needed
  • Identify options for providing core County support services along the corridor 
2016 Visioning Study Report + Public Schools, Facilities, and Spaces 

According to the 2016 Visioning Study Report, the plan for Langston Boulevard will include additional public open spaces to support growth in mixed-use nodes and feature new community spaces that are integrated into a pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly environment. Recommendations in the report include:

Public Spaces:

  • Create walkable/bikeable network of new and existing neighborhood open spaces and social gathering places
  • Refresh and connect existing destinations (e.g., recreation facilities, schools, natural areas)
  • Provide art in public spaces
  • Provide spaces for active and passive recreation serving a range of age groups and families
  • Embrace streetscapes as an important element of public space

Public Schools and Facilities:

  • Continue to pursue joint County/Community Studies of potential future use of Fire Station 8. (Note: The Fire Station 8 project has moved to the design phase. Learn more)
  • Monitor growth to assess and adequately plan for future schools and other public facilities, including core support services. 
Existing Conditions Analysis Report + Public Schools, Facilities, and Spaces 

The County’s existing inventory of educational, recreational, and cultural assets (land and buildings) have been evaluated to explore opportunities for acquisition, expansion, renovation, redevelopment, consolidation, and co-location of uses. The Existing Conditions Analysis Report  shared that in the Langston Boulevard planning area:

  • Public schools are close to or exceeding capacity and will continue to experience increases in enrollment as growth occurs both in and outside the study area. (Note: There is now more capacity within the schools in the Planning Study Area than there was when this report was created. Learn more.)
  • Public facilities are interspersed along the corridor providing cultural, recreational, and public safety amenities.
  • Public facilities are in various conditions and there is no flexible space available for other County operational needs, such as storage of equipment and materials.
  • Public spaces are also interspersed throughout the corridor and complemented by privately owned, publicly accessible open spaces to form a network of minimally connected places where people can meet
  • Public schools, facilities, and spaces are interconnected, but there are physical barriers—challenging street crossings, steep grade transitions, lack of sidewalks and bike lanes, poor wayfinding, and dead-end streets―hindering access.
  • Langston Boulevard itself is the most significant barrier, separating neighborhoods from nearby public schools, facilities, and spaces. 
Neighborhood Inspiration Report + Public Schools, Facilities, and Spaces 

In 2050, as reported in the Neighborhood Inspiration Report (see also the NIR Appendix), neighbors hope to gather and interact in a variety of places, including:

Area 1: Arlington East Falls Church

  • Dog parks, libraries, farmers markets, Lee Community Center
  • Open spaces and spaces for community meetings that encourage different types of uses and accommodate a range of ages and needs
  • New public space over I-66 bridging downtown amenities and the west end of the Metro station

Area 2: John M. Langston, Yorktown, Tara Leeway Heights, Leeway Overlee

  • Community uses like the LAC and libraries
  • Westover businesses
  • Benches on Langston Boulevard
  • Fields, playgrounds and parks
  • Semi-public spaces
  • On greenways and neighborhood streets, front porches and during block parties
  • Commercial areas that have cafes, retail, and restaurants

Area 3: Waverly Hills, Donaldson Run, Old Dominion, Glebewood, Waycroft Woodlawn

  • Multi-use spaces in private buildings
  • Community centers and schools
  • Event spaces (small, medium, and large)
  • Outside gathering spaces like sidewalk cafes and seating areas, public plazas, parks, dog parks, and trails (with interactive sculptures or fitness spots)
  • Streets (block parties)
  • Restaurants and cafes
  • Places for different age groups including teens

Area 4: Cherrydale + Maywood

  • Cafes, wine bars, and places with outdoor seating
  • New public and civic facilities, including libraries and community centers
  • New types of open spaces, like pocket parks and plazas
  • New commercial areas along Langston Boulevard, if speeds are lowered and the street has better streetscape
  • The Italian Store retained as part of redevelopment of Lyon Village Shopping Center

Area 5: North Highlands + Lyon Village

  • Activated and inviting neighborhood public spaces that connect people including new pocket parks, plazas with water features, and playgrounds
  • Restaurants and cafes with outdoor seating, breweries 
Land Use Scenario Analysis + Public Schools, Facilities, and Spaces 

Through several public feedback engagements with the Land Use Scenario Analysis, the community expressed support for a variety of community facilities and gathering spaces and improvements to existing facilities, including:

  • A plaza gathering space near East Falls Church Metro site
  • Maintaining park space at the LAC site
  • Larger Langston Brown Community Center and green space
  • New open space on Safeway site (Harrison St.)
  • New open space in Old Dominion
  • Community meeting space and space for an urban market in the Waverly Hills neighborhood
  • County-purchased land for green space and public use
  • Redesigned and improved access to Cherrydale Park
  • A playground and more green space in N. Highlands
  • A green spine along Custis Trail (E-W) and Spout Run Pkwy.
  • Open green space behind Dawson Terrace community building to get more use
  • Improved green areas along I-66, south of 21st St. S.
  • A dog park in the triangular green area near the 21st St. bridge

The key areas of concern among the community are:

  • Lot consolidation
  • Loss of green space through redevelopment
  • Impacts on school capacities
  • Size and usefulness of proposed open spaces
  • The amount of property proposed for open space/stormwater needs may negatively impact developer incentive/ability to redevelop income producing properties

Historic & Cultural Resources

GoalMaintain a unique sense of place and increase awareness of the corridor’s rich history and culture through preservation of sites and interpretation of stories, events, and people of historic significance

History and culture contribute to community identity and should be brought forward and celebrated.

There are several significant sites, events, and stories that have made Langston Boulevard special. When preparing the Cultural Resources Survey in this planning study, we identified several sites that embody the cultural story of Langston Boulevard—either because of what happened on those properties, the people that were there, or the structures themselves. A list of 120 resources (buildings, structures, objects, and sites) were researched, surveyed, and documented, and resulted in theHistoric and Cultural Resources Report. The planning team has used the information about these cultural resources to inform recommendations for preservation methods, including full or partial preservation and on-site or nearby interpretation through markers, displays, or educational materials of the most significant cultural resources along the corridor.

Specific storylines will be integral in defining and bringing forward the identity of Langston Boulevard neighborhoods, including:

  • The history and character-defining features of the African American community and Civil Rights Movement
  • Langston Boulevard’s contribution to Arlington’s modern architectural resources
  • The significant role of the Boulevard as an east-west commercial artery and its influence on the County’s development history
  • Legacy businesses within the study area
  • Civil War Forts: Fort Bennett and Fort Strong

The most significant cultural resources are noteworthy because of the stories they convey and their contributions to Langston Boulevard’s identity and history. These stories may extend beyond the architectural value of buildings and into the broader social, cultural, and historical contexts of the corridor. Each cultural resource was evaluated to determine the appropriate and preferred preservation method.

Properties and sites are currently being evaluated against historical, cultural, and architectural criteria. They may be further evaluated at the time a development application is submitted for their potential to achieve other major County-wide goals for the corridor alongside the potential for historic preservation methods. These goals—including increased housing, focusing more homes and commercial space near transit, stormwater improvements, and increased green space—could influence the preservation method.

The plan for Langston Boulevard will:

  • Develop recommendations for increasing public understanding and appreciation for the corridor’s architectural and cultural history consistent with the policies of the Historic Preservation Master Plan and the Historic Resources Inventory and the Public Art Master Plan and Public Art Policy
  • Recommend significant resources for full preservation, partial preservation, and/or interpretation
  • Recommend significant resources that should inform the planning and design of destinations and amenities
  • Integrate historic buildings and sites into future development
  • Support the incorporation of stories that convey Langston Boulevard’s identity and history in public spaces through design enhancements, public art, or other interpretive features
  • Support increasing the awareness of African American history through public art, forms of interpretation, or other creative processes

To see the rich history and character of Langston Boulevard unfold through Liz Nugent’s engaging illustrations,view the Langston Boulevard Zine.

 2016 Visioning Study Report + Historic and Cultural Resources 

According to the 2016 Visioning Study Report, the plan for Langston Boulevard will help maintain a unique sense of place through the preservation of significant historic sites. The historic and cultural resources recommendations in the report include:

  • Use cultural resources to inform the planning of destinations and amenities.
  • Preserve and integrate historic buildings and sites into future development as a coordinated part of planning.
  • Incorporate historic buildings or commemorative art into the design of new community open spaces.
  • Preserve and celebrate historic and cultural resources and neighborhoods by organizing events, tours, and activities that educate about heritage.
  • Identify architecture and other elements that comprise the character and make up the Langston Boulevard corridor. 
Existing Conditions Analysis Report + Historic and Cultural Resources 

The Existing Conditions Analysis Report, released in November 2019, provided an initial overview of local, state, and national historic sites along the corridor. It also indicated that a Cultural Resources Survey was being conducted at the same time (Jan. 2019 – Feb. 2020) to identify resources that increase public understanding and appreciation for the corridor’s architectural and cultural history, and to provide preservation recommendations consistent with the Historic Preservation Master Plan and Historic Resources Index.

The ECA shared that:

  • There are 12 historic resources (four individual properties and eight historic districts) listed in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) and Virginia Landmarks Register (VLR) that are wholly or partially in the study area. Among these are the Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department, Highland Park-Overlee Knolls Historic District, Stratford Junior High School, and Waverly Hills Historic District.
  • There are 7 Local Historic Districts (6 individual properties and 1 district) that are wholly or partially in the study area. Among these are Calloway Church, Dawson-Bailey House, and Eastman-Fenwick House.
  • The Cultural Resources Survey of 120 resources would research significant non-traditional resources such as places, people, events, and stories, in addition to buildings.
  • The resources were selected from the sources and/or priorities listed below:
    • Historic Resource Inventory (HRI)
    • Legacy Businesses
    • African American Resources
    • Civil War Forts
    • Parks, Recreation, Public Spaces, and Community Facilities
    • Properties with frontage on Langston Boulevard
    • Modern Architecture 
Neighborhood Inspiration Report + Historic and Cultural Resources 

The community identified the following historic and cultural resources-related aspirations in the Neighborhood Inspiration Report (see also the NIR Appendix).

Area 1: Arlington East Falls Church

  • Restore the finest elements of the old and overcome the mistakes of the past: turning our transportation links into assets instead of liabilities; using modern planning and design techniques to create a warm, inviting, accessible, and friendly community; and knitting together our neighborhood with the rest of Arlington, Falls Church, and the region

Area 2: John M. Langston, Yorktown, Tara Leeway Heights, Leeway Overlee

  • Highlight history (buildings and stories) and culture in neighborhoods through art
  • Ensure roadway is not called “Lee Highway”
  • Experience and expand the arts
  • Feel like a “front porch” community, neighborly and welcoming – the core should have its own distinct character, while the neighborhoods continue to be a place where neighbors see and interact with each other

Area 3: Waverly Hills, Donaldson Run, Old Dominion, Glebewood, Waycroft Woodlawn

  • Highlight history (buildings and stories) and culture in neighborhoods through art and tourism
  • Experience and expand the arts
  • Highlight the mix of height, scales, and architectural forms

Area 4: Cherrydale + Maywood

  • Recognize and highlight the importance of the area’s historic resources
  • Explore how a “streetcar suburb” identity could be adapted for modern urban living

Area 5: North Highlands + Lyon Village

  • Highlight Frank Lyon’s planning and vision, while recognizing restrictive deeds in the area during segregation
  • Highlight the neighborhood story of growth and change throughout the decades
  • Highlight the history of early trolley cars and civil war trails 
Land Use Scenario Analysis + Historic and Cultural Resources 

The Land Use Scenario Analysis did not propose any recommendations for preservation because it was focused on providing ideas for development in the core study area. We therefore did not pose any questions about historic and cultural resources during this engagement period. The Preliminary Concept Plan will include preservation recommendations.

Sustainability & Resilience

Goal: transform Langston Boulevard into a ‘Green’ corridor with street trees, increased landscaping and pervious surfaces, and environmentally sustainable and energy efficient buildings

 

About

Background and Previously Adopted Plans

On July 17, 2021 the County Board voted to officially rename U.S. Route 29 (formerly known as Lee Highway) to Langston Boulevard within the boundaries of Arlington County. The planning study documents published before that date refer to the corridor as Lee Highway.

Given the character of Langston Boulevard and limited planning to date, there is a mounting desire within the community to improve the corridor and consider how future development can transform the character in a positive rather than a reactive manner. Building on visioning work by the community in 2016, the County is leading a community planning process for Langston Boulevard that takes a closer look at the long-term goals for this important corridor and its surrounding areas. The County has designed a multi-layered engagement approach that will include broad participation and many opportunities for input from residents, businesses, community groups and stakeholders.

2016 Visioning Study

A grassroots effort led by community leaders in north Arlington paved the way for a community-wide visioning process and the Langston Boulevard Visioning Study (May 2016). The vision, a culmination of a seven-month study, illustrates the the community’s main ideas and proposes key ingredients for the future of this important east-west corridor. This vision calls for Langston Boulevard to become a walkable, urban main street with a string of neighborhood activity centers between Rosslyn and East Falls Church, along with new transportation and housing options, better public spaces and more.

The process was a unique, joint effort between Arlington County and the Langston Boulevard Alliance (LBA) to achieve a vision that balanced a broad range of perspectives. The LBA is a coalition of 18 civic association leaders who have actively engaged communities along Langston Boulevard since 2012 to develop a community-based vision, and identify actions and strategies to achieve it. Outcomes from a four-day community visioning workshop, along with public reviews, informed the content of the final document which the LBA presented to the County Board on May 17, 2016.

Previously Adopted Plans 

There have been two previous significant planning efforts in the Langston Boulevard Corridor Planning Area, the Cherrydale Revitalization Plan (1994) and the East Falls Church Area Plan (2011).   Each of these plans establish a vision, goals, and specific recommendations for land use, streetscape, transportation, open space, and other planning elements and have been used to guide redevelopment projects.   Specific districts on the General Land Use Plan for Cherrydale and East Falls Church provide high-level planning guidance for those areas.   Cherrydale and East Falls Church will remain in the broader Langston Boulevard Study Area, to develop a cohesive vision and recommendations for network-wide elements, such as transportation and open space.   The study will identify issues that may require a future analysis (including the potential review and refinement) of these adopted plans to align with the new policies presented in the Langston Boulevard Plan.