Big Changes in the Works for Tiny Foxcroft Heights

by ARLnow.com March 24, 2011 at 3:28 pm 6,119 32 Comments

The residential portion of Foxcroft Heights only encompasses three one-block streets, but some big changes may be coming to the tiny South Arlington community.

On Saturday afternoon, county staff and urban planning consultants will meet with residents to discuss some of those possible changes. The meeting is being billed as a “mini-charrette” — a hands-on brainstorming session, of sorts.

“Participants will work in small groups with members of the planning team to draw ideas for the future of the neighborhood,” says a flyer distributed to Foxcroft’s 400+ residents. “Ideas could include desired enhancements to transportation networks or open spaces, and potential for building revitalization or redevelopment.”

Foxcroft Heights is perhaps best known for being the home of the Air Force Memorial. Its residential community is surrounded by Columbia Pike to the south, the Henderson Hall to the North, the Sheraton National Hotel to the west and the Navy Annex to the east. Within its confines are 95 homes, two 16-unit apartment buildings and a small park. Along Columbia Pike are a couple of small businesses including Dama Diner, Ruth’s Beauty Shop and an auto repair store, as well as a Virginia Department of Transportation facility and a half-way home.

The neighborhood feels quaint and largely removed from the mega-development and gentrification elsewhere in the county. But inevitably, change is coming.

According to a 2009 planning document that has almost as many pages as Foxcroft Heights has buildings, homeowners have been approached by commercial developers about “various options for the neighborhood.”

Meanwhile investors have been quietly buying properties in hopes of a future payday, there’s talk of Columbia Pike being “realigned,” and streetcars will soon run through the neighborhood.

Another big change that’s underway is the closure of the Navy Annex. The building is set to be shuttered and torn down, perhaps by the end of next year. The military is planning on using most of the freed-up land to expand Arlington National Cemetery. About four acres will be given to the county for construction of a Freedman’s Village heritage museum.

Through all the planned and possible changes, the county says it wants to preserve many of the residential features of the neighborhood.

“Planning currently is focusing on the residential areas — how to strengthen what exists now, how to preserve affordable and mixed income housing and how to expand housing opportunities,” the county’s flyer said.

Saturday’s meeting will be held from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. at the Sheraton National Hotel (900 S. Orme Street).

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