Big Changes in the Works for Tiny Foxcroft Heights

by ARLnow.com March 24, 2011 at 3:28 pm 5,887 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).

  • that’s great news. Hope they get to enjoy the renovation of the area. Have driven past it for over 20 yrs and thought it needed a make-over. Great news!!

    • So Over Bush

      More ugly Arlington construction on the way! Any one heard of conservation? 1930’s construction vs. new construction? Hmmm…which do you think will stand the test of time? Renovation….yish!

  • Andrew

    I used to walk past this neighborhood for years on the way home from work during the 90s. Glad to see that changes are coming. (It will be weird without the Annex, though. It’s almost a landmark in and of itself.)

  • South Arlington

    Between the streetcar, the potential views of the city and monuments and the fairly short distance to Pentagon City and the new stuff on Columbia Pike, this area is prime for redevelopment.

    On an aside, I was shown one of these Foxcroft Heights/Southgate townhomes when we were house shopping and it was the most awkward 10 minutes of my life. The average sized townhome had 8 tiny bedrooms in it counting the basement, the house was inhabited by at least 10 people at the time, and they hid under sheets while we walked through. It also smelled of burned pupusas. It made it very difficult to notice the crown molding and new carpet. I did not purchase the house.

    • Savvy

      Did this really happen?

      • Overgrown Bush

        There were also empty cans of Modelo strewn about between a bunch of chicken bones.

      • South Arlington

        100% true. The worst experience we had looking at homes when we were house shopping. Very awkward.

  • UYD Fan

    I just hope they don’t replace Dama with a brgr|pizza|shack|joint.

  • Burger

    Just make sure you are a catholic school wanting to build lights for its student-athletes and turn over for use by the county and you should be all good.

  • Arlwhenever

    Lot of families in that neighborhoods with young children who are pretty happy with their lot, knowing they can’t afford to live in standard yupscale Arlington housing. A quick perusal of the assessment records I found not a one, single-family home that is corporately owned and many homes that sold to individuals in the last 5 to 10 years. You can paint me dubious about the county and developer claims that these people are anxious to sell out and move along.

  • pollosmoky

    Fabulous! Just what Arlington needs more of, ugly, mostly-empty highrises for the yuppy-lemmings looking for “luxury” living. Say goodbye to diversity, families, and the elderly of the neighborhood. Wonder if the Arlington County Board members have already cashed the check from the developers.

    • KalashniKEV

      Is this post in any way facetious?
      1) Tear down the slum.
      2) Build something decent.
      3) Kill the streetcar to prevent reinfestation.

      • mehoo

        1. Tear down your house.
        2. Problem solved.

    • oh brother. What’s this with diversity??? Give that one a rest people!

      • Diversity Rocks


    • yikes

      If you tear down affordable housing and “put it somewhere else”, buy out people on fixed in-comes and promise owners who are in bed with investors a “something more useful” you are hiding behind re-development.Jim Crowe laws promoted segregation and so does “redevelopment”. Does anyone want to speak to the irony that this area was once part of Freedman’s Village? If you do not learn from history you are condemned to repeat it. Ironic that today is the 4th of April.

  • ian l

    what is the half-way house for? Is for addiction? Who operates it?

  • NOVApologist

    The halfway house is both a detox facility and a homeless shelter. It is run by Volunteers of America.

  • MB

    That realignment is going to happen (it’s what will take the Columbia Pike streetcar into Crystal City). Just a question of when.

  • SoCo Resident

    Mention of terms like “change is coming” and “investors have been quietly buying up property” should make them nervous. However, I just can’t imagine living there with that Air Force Memorial looming over me, especially at night. I thought the deal was that the Navy Annex land was to be incorporated into the Air Force site. No matter what, it will all be bounded by expressways!

    • Toucan Sam

      What an utterly clueless comment. Take your imagining the horrors of living near the Air Force Memorial and stuff it in your ear, to block the sounds coming from Ft. Myer across the street from your own house, o.k.? Take your erroneous random thought about the Navy Annex closing being somehow related to said Air Force Memorial and stick it in your nose, so no more slick golden emittances emerge from that orifice. And take your misguided theories of being ‘bounded by expressways’ and stick it in your mouth, to silence your ramblings. You show no knowledge of current affairs and a propensity for bluster.

      • mehoo

        Dude. Relax.

  • BigSpender

    While I’m all a proponent of affordable housing, they need to move those houses somewhere else, the location is pretty awkward and should be either acquired by uncle sam or redeveloped into retail or something. But the historical buildings can stay. It is surrounded by government buildings cell towers and parking lots. The retail shops there now are so run down too, I’m afraid to visit them

    • NorthernArl

      So can anyone tell me if the FCH association voted for the Form Based Code? I heard that they hadn’t. If this is true, why are the “urban planning consultants” even having those “charettes” anyway? Just wondering…

  • Aaron

    “a 2009 planning document that has almost as many pages as Foxcroft Heights has buildings”

    I love it when poetry bursts through on this site.

  • bob

    what a sh**hole. Burn it down and put something useful there.

  • Irony?

    Irony abounds: Today we talk about tearing down affordable housing and “putting them elsewhere” and errecting “something useful”. Today people on fixed-incomes are promised a cut of the financial pie. Today, some owners are in bed with investors. Today this whole thing smells like segration. Ironically, FCH was part of Freedman’s Village where recently emanicipated slaves lived as they fled deplorable conditions in the District. The land was eventually sold to the military and the slaves were displaced. Today we remember MLK and have learned nothing.

    • Overgrown Bush

      Today we read more blather on the net.

  • Foxcroft Resident

    Foxcroft Heights is a beautiful neighborhood for families; we can safely walk to a small park to play, get a snack or a hair cut on the corner and catch the bus up Columbia Pike to visit the library, or down to catch the metro. It breaks my heart to think of this place turning into another rinkydink condofest. And it blows my mind to read some of the virulent racists in these comments. “Burnt pupusas”? O my stars and garters, get my smelling salts! I’m sad that the sight of people of color invokes such terror in some Arlingtonians. I thought this was the “blue” Virginia? I guess this is Confederate Territory to this day. 🙁

  • Just another voice

    The community is a pearl where it sits. It does need a face lift but should remain mostly intact. For those small minded folks that have issue with the diversity of the neighborhood it’s too bad you never matured enough to appreciate the benefits maybe on day when you lovely children grow up and marry out of your race then you will reach some enlightenment. Yeah I don’t think this neighborhood is going to be replaced anytime soon. Upgraded yes but not redeveloped. The biggest change coming is the realization that the investors will not have their way there.

  • Pelham

    I grown up on what was once called Johnson Hill, which is on the other side of the highway underpath before you get to the Sheraton on Columbia Pike, which is now sitting on a graveyard site, don’t know what happened to the bodies??? Not the oldest church in Arlington. I worked at the Navy Annex during my school/job program. But the Navy Annex is like a historical building, it is ashame to see being torn down


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