Big changes are on the horizon for Arlington’s Lee Highway corridor, but not before an extensive public planning process.
After at least two years of public outreach and planning, which led to a final “visioning study” report earlier this year, Arlington County is planning to kick off another year of discussion with a pair of open houses tomorrow (Tuesday, Nov. 29).
The daytime open house is scheduled from 12:30-2:30 p.m. at the Lyon Village Community House (1920 N. Highland Street) while the evening open house is set from 6-8:30 p.m. at the Lee Community and Senior Center (5722 Lee Highway).
“The County is preparing to kick-off a community planning process for Lee Highway in 2017,” says a county-produced flyer. “Drop in at one of the upcoming Open House events to learn more about the project scope and share your thoughts on expectations, participation opportunities, boundaries and more. The same information will be shared at both events.”
The 2017 planning process will be “building on recent visioning work by the Lee Highway community” and will take “a closer look at the long-term goals for this important corridor and its surrounding areas.”
From the county’s Lee Highway Planning website:
The vision, a culmination of a seven-month study, illustrates the best of the community’s ideas and proposes key ingredients for the future of this important east-west corridor. This vision calls for Lee Highway to become a walkable, urban main street with a string of neighborhood activity centers between Rosslyn and East Falls Church, along with new transportation options, better public spaces and more.
The visioning document is not an adopted plan, but rather a compilation of ideas that provide a framework for the formal County planning process that will kick off in 2017.
As reported by ARLnow earlier this year:
[The visioning document] outlines a sweeping vision for the corridor, which currently is a primarily car-oriented mish-mash of strip malls, aging apartment buildings and other assorted low-density businesses and infrastructure.
The plan envisions a tree-lined Lee Highway that’s more pedestrian- and bike-friendly, with mid-rise development concentrated in “mixed-use activity nodes.”
New apartment buildings, townhouses and retail hubs would be encouraged to spring up. New parks and bus service would be added. Building heights up to 12 stories are discussed, though 3-6 stories would be more common; the taller buildings would be along Lee Highway itself and “sensitive transitions to single family neighborhoods” would be emphasized.
In an online poll, 57 percent of nearly 1,200 respondents said they “like the plan” and would like to see “more businesses, parks, housing and amenities” along Lee Highway.
The Lee-Lex Service Center, a well-reviewed, long-time automotive business at the corner of Lee Highway and N. Lexington Street, has closed.
Lee-Lex’s website, which has remained largely unchanged for the past 12 years, says that the service center has “been a good neighbor in our Arlington community since 1978 and consistently receive[d] excellent ratings by consumer magazines.”
The service center was open for part of last week but closed just before Thanksgiving. This morning the shop’s technicians were clearing out their belongings and preparing to move to nearby service centers; signs were being posted on the windows, to let customers know who moved where.
Sources tell ARLnow.com that the property is being purchased by Southland Corporation, the parent company of 7-Eleven. It could not be immediately confirmed that a 7-Eleven store would be replacing the service center.
Photo (top) via Google Maps
On Thursday, from 10 a.m. to noon, cops will “ticket motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians who violate traffic laws” on Lee Highway near N. Edison Street, in the Hall’s Hill/High View Park area.
A second enforcement detail is planned along Columbia Pike next week, on Tuesday, Nov. 22, according to an ACPD press release, below.
During the month of November, the Arlington County Police Department’s Special Operations Section will be out promoting the 2016 Fall Pedestrian & Bicycle Safety Awareness Program. The safety campaign will be held in Hall’s Hill and Barcroft areas of Arlington County. This campaign is part of the 2016 Fall Street Smart Pedestrian, Motorist, and Bicyclist Safety Campaign which will run from October 31st through November 27th.
The goals of the campaign are to change motorist and pedestrian behavior, and reduce pedestrian and bicyclist injuries through education and enforcement. Officers will ticket motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians who violate traffic laws at the following locations:
- November 17th from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. – Lee Highway and Edison Street
- November 22nd from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. – Columbia Pike and Frederick Street
The Street Smart programs are designed to carry out education and enforcement campaigns throughout the year in the Metropolitan area in order to ensure everyone shares the roads safely. Pedestrians and bicyclists account for a quarter of the traffic fatalities in the region, nearly 90 deaths per year.
Motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians are reminded to pay attention to one another and always proceed with caution and care for each other’s safety.
A pair of long-time local stores are either closing or have already closed at the Lee Heights Shops on Lee Highway.
Bradshaw’s Children’s Shoes (4532 Lee Highway) is holding a going-out-of-business sale, offering 20-50 percent off remaining merchandise.
The owners, who are in their 70s, said that they’re closing the store because they’re retiring, but also cited rising rents and competition from online retailers and big box stores like Target.
According to the store’s website, Bradshaw’s is “one of the nation’s oldest shoe stores” and has been “serving Northern Virginia continuously since 1834.”
The store was the source of an unusual police dispatch earlier this year, after a drunk woman reportedly walked into the store holding an open bottle of wine, demanding adult shoes and refusing to leave.
Another Lee Heights store, meanwhile, has already closed.
Lemon Twist (4517 Lee Highway), which sold women’s clothing and accessories from brands like Lilly Pulitzer and Vineyard Vines, has closed but, according to a sign, will be reopening under new ownership.
“Lemon Twist Arlington will be reopening soon with a new name, ownership and look,” says a sign posted on the door. “Stay tuned for more information and an opening date for Lemoncello Boutique, Women & Children’s Apparel and Gifts!”
The store, part of a small retail fashion chain, opened on Lee Highway in the late 1980s, according to Arlington Magazine.
The incident happened Saturday afternoon at a used car lot on Lee Highway, near Lyon Village.
Police say the customer eventually pulled a knife on the employee and “stole the keys to the vehicles on the lot.”
From an Arlington County Police Department crime report:
ROBBERY, 161015016, 2500 block of N. Lee Highway. At approximately 12:19 p.m. on October 15, officers responded to the report of male subject arguing with an employee over the sale of a vehicle. Upon investigation, it was determined that a male subject entered a business and following the verbal altercation, stole the keys to the vehicles on the lot. An employee confronted the subject and the subject pulled out a knife and charged at the employee. The employee was not injured and subject then fled the scene. Warrants were obtained for robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery. The investigation is ongoing.
The rest of the past week’s crime report highlights, including some that we’ve already reported, after the jump.
A car overturned on Lee Highway near Rosslyn during this evening’s rush hour.
The crash was reported just past 4 p.m. in the northbound lanes of Lee Highway, approaching Rosslyn, between N. Quinn and Rhodes streets. Traffic was down to one lane on Lee Highway, we’re told.
It’s unclear what caused the crash. No serious injuries were reported. A tow truck is currently on scene.
Photo (top) courtesy Eric LeKuch
Update at 10:35 p.m. — The westbound lanes of Lee Highway are being reopened, according to scanner traffic.
(Updated at 11 p.m.) Lee Highway was blocked in the area of N. Highland Street in Lyon Village tonight due to a crash following a police chase.
The chase started in Montgomery County and made its way through D.C. before ending with the suspect vehicle crashing into another vehicle on Lee Highway around 9:45 p.m. NBC 4 reported that the chase started following a carjacking in Silver Spring.
An occupant from each vehicle was transported to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, according to Arlington County Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage. Arlington police did not give chase, Savage noted.
A police helicopter circled overhead as the chase ended. Dozens of officers from Arlington County, U.S. Police Park and Montgomery County were on the scene.
Arlington County PD not involved in pursuit. ACPD remains on scene of vehicle crash at Lee Highway. Lee Highway closed in both directions https://t.co/Tv2IyEPLxT
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) October 4, 2016
Photos (top) courtesy Justin Funkhouser
Update at 1:45 p.m. — In a statement, Arlington County Police say the teen was in the crosswalk when she was struck by a car traveling eastbound on Lee Highway.
The driver of the vehicle rendered aid to the victim and remained on scene until the arrival of police units. Sun glare was present for eastbound traffic on Lee Highway at the time of the collision and is being investigated as a contributing factor. No charges have been filed at this time. The investigation is ongoing.
Updated at 12:45 p.m. — All lanes of Lee Highway have reopened.
Earlier: Lee Highway is closed in both directions between George Mason Drive and N. Glebe Road this morning due to an investigation.
Arlington County Police say they’re investigating a collision involving a vehicle and a pedestrian at Lee Highway and N. Edison Street.
A female pedestrian was struck by a driver in a sedan just after 7:30 a.m., said Arlington County Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage. She suffered serious but non-life-threatening injuries and was transported to the trauma center at George Washington University Hospital.
Savage said the victim has been identified as a 15-year-old girl who was walking to school at the time. The striking driver remained on scene, Savage said. The exact circumstances surrounding the crash have not yet been determined.
ACPD’s Critical Accident Team is continuing to investigate the collision and there’s still no word on how long the closure is expected to last.
POLICE ACTIVITY: PD investigating pedestrian collision at Lee Highway at Edison St. Lee Highway is closed from George Mason to Glebe Rd.
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) September 22, 2016
Nook Play Space is slated to open at 5649 Lee Highway in mid-October, providing an alternative to play areas like Chuck E. Cheese, owner Maria Vogelei said.
She said that many of the D.C.-area play places she and her young daughters have visited are overcrowded and in dark, windowless spaces that are “completely outdated.”
At Nook, Vogelei said, children can engage in creative play without overstimulation.
Inside the 3,000-square-foot space, children who are five years old or younger can visit corners dedicated to art, construction, costumes, the senses and the city. For example, kids can build with white Lego blocks, explore a “forest” of bungee cords or play on structures that resemble an art installation of cardboard boxes, Vogelei said.
The design elements are “pleasing to the parent’s eye,” she said. “It’s a place parents would enjoy, too.”
Parents can buy monthly Nook memberships online for $120 for one child, with discounts for multiple kids. Day passes are $20.
Vogelei plans to keep the play space open seven days a week, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Photo via Facebook/Nook
The 4-1 decision was made as part of the Board’s deliberation on the adoption of the county’s proposed Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), which includes the replacement of Fire Station 8.
The sole dissenter in yesterday’s vote was County Board Chair Libby Garvey, who argued that building the station on 26th Street N. and Old Dominion Drive near Marymount University would serve more residents by reducing the amount of time it would take for the fire department to respond to calls north of Lee Highway.
Garvey’s argument mirrored what supporters of the relocation have said in the plan’s defense.
“Far and away the most important criteria about where we site the fire station is getting as many people as possible that can be reached as quickly as possible in an emergency,” Garvey said. “If we move it further north, we can get more people we can reach in time in an emergency. It really may mean life and death.”
Other board members, such as Christian Dorsey argued that the current location, along busy Lee Highway, better serves the needs of the majority of calls to the fire department than a lower density location like 26th Street.
“It’s pretty clear that we should keep the fire station at its current location in order to meet people where they actually are, recognizing that the greatest number of calls required of our fire and EMS crews is to help people with EMS distress,” Dorsey explained. “It’s a crapshoot. There’s no way we can guarantee what’s going to happen in the future but if I’m going to have to make an allocation based on our best judgment and best data, it’s got to be where people are… versus static residences that are only used for a certain portion of the day.”
Board member John Vihstadt pointed to future development in the area as reasons to keep the fire station at its current location.
“We just approved a large new Ballston corridor development, which is serviced by the station closest to it, Fire Station 2 at George Mason and Wilson Blvd,” he said. “Fire stations south of Fire Station 8 are going to be increasingly called upon to deal with the increased density that is looming in our future.”
Vihstadt also said the location of Virginia Hospital Center played into his decision. “Why would we degrade service for so many to marginally improve service for a much fewer number?” he concluded.
Further planning on the new station will begin next year. Construction is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2019, according to a press release from Arlington County. While the construction is underway, the fire department will operate from an interim station for two years at a location that has not yet been determined, officials said.
The Board directed the County Manager to determine possible locations and expected costs for the temporary fire station by the end of 2016. The added costs of keeping the station on Lee Highway are expected to total several million dollars.
The new fire station will be ready for operations in spring 2021, according to county officials.
Last year, after a proposal to move the station from Lee Highway to county-owned land near Marymount University prompted an outcry from both residents who live near the current station and the proposed location, the county established a task force to consider the issue. With input from the task force, Board is expected to make a decision on the station location by the time it approves the CIP next Tuesday.
Residents near the fire station want it to remain where it is largely because of its historic significance to the community. Those near the proposed site are worried about noise and traffic issues, as well as a loss of green space. A majority of the task force agreed, voting in May to recommend keeping it at its current site.
However, supporters of the move — including fire department officials and County Manager Mark Schwartz — still say that it’s necessary to improve fire and EMS response times in northern Arlington and to modernize the fire station.
Additionally, keeping the station where it is will cost more money: because the land it sits on is smaller than the proposed site, a new station there must be built higher. It would also require the construction of a temporary fire station.
Among those supporting the move is long-time local civic figure and former Fire Station 8 task force member Jim Pebley, who says it’s the right thing to do from both a safety and financial perspective.
Pebley recently wrote the following letter to the County Board.
Dear Ms. Garvey and County Board Members,
This letter is provided to you as my personal input (not representing any extant group) with regard to your considerations about relocating/replacing the County’s current Fire Station Eight facility. As you will recall, I served as the EPAC representative on the Ad Hoc Task Force (TF) that was asked to provide recommendations about the location and building of a new Fire Station Eight. In that capacity, I attended 8 of 10 TF meetings but had to step down to undergo surgery for lung cancer. Now recovering, I find myself personally very strongly in support of the County Manager’s recent recommendation for relocating the fire station.
The crash happened around 4:30 p.m. at the intersection of Lee Highway and N. Nash Street, near the Key Bridge Marriott hotel. Police say the bus driver was at fault.
“A Metrobus was traveling westbound on Lee Highway when the driver of the Metrobus proceeded through a red light and struck a pedestrian in the crosswalk,” said Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage. “The pedestrian was taken to George Washington University Hospital in critical but stable condition. The driver of the Metrobus was issued a summons for failure to obey a traffic light.”
A Metro spokesman has thus far not responded to a request for comment.
The man grabbed the woman’s underwear, then fled the scene. A police dog attempted to track the suspect down but lost his scent.
From an Arlington County Police crime report:
SEXUAL BATTERY, 160525052, 3800 block of N. Fairfax Drive. At approximately 10:45 p.m., a female victim was walking down the street when an unknown male subject reached his hand underneath her dress and grabbed her underwear. The subject fled the scene on foot and a K9 track in the area was negative. The subject is described at a black male, 20-30 years old, approximately 6ft tall with an average build.
Also Wednesday evening, a 19-year-old Arlington man was charged with being drunk in public, having a fake ID and attempting to bribe the officer who was taking him to jail.
ATTEMPT TO COMMIT BRIBERY OF A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER, 160525042, 4900 block of N. Lee Highway. At approximately 5:27 p.m., officers were dispatched to the report of an intoxicated male subject. When the officers arrived, the subject provided them with a false identification. During transport to booking, the subject became agitated and offered to pay the officer to allow him to leave without charges. Ryan McNulty, 19, of Arlington VA was charged with Attempt to Commit Bribery, Possession of a Fictitious license (x2), Provide False ID to Avoid Arrest, Underage Consumption of Alcohol and Drunk in Public.
To help deal with traffic congestion during the track outages that are planned as part of Metro’s SafeTrack project, Arlington County is considering a plan to implement a bus-only lane on part of Lee Highway.
The bus-only lane would be implemented on the three-lane section of Lee Highway from N. Veitch Street near Courthouse to N. Moore Street in Rosslyn, and only during the morning rush hour. That portion of Lee Highway often experiences heavy traffic congestion in the morning.
The proposal will be discussed on Wednesday, June 1, during a “community check-in” on Lee Highway transit service. That event will be held from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Langston-Brown Community Center (2121 N. Culpeper Street) and will also discuss plans for ART 55 bus service on Lee Highway, which will be getting a new timetable this summer.
Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokesman Eric Balliet says the bus lane proposal is part of a “larger effort to address increased congestion during Metro’s SafeTrack maintenance work.”
“Since Lee Highway parallels Metro’s Orange/Silver Line, we expect it to become a key transit corridor for moving people when sections of the Orange/Silver Line are disrupted,” Balliet said in an email. “Discussions are underway with VDOT about this potential change, since Lee Highway is a state road, and we expect to have more information to share at the community meeting on June 1.”
At the time of this article’s publishing, details about other aspects of the county’s SafeTrack mitigation plan were not available.
Photo via Google Maps
The incident happened Saturday, at a market on the 5100 block of Lee Highway, around 10:15 p.m.
A clerk was clearing out the cash register around closing time when a masked man entered and brandished a gun. A second employee, in defense of her coworker, then started throwing bottles at the armed man, according to Arlington County Police.
The robber fled the store and the area empty-handed.
Police say the crime was not reported until Monday, which is hindering the investigation.
“We always encourage people to report crimes to the Arlington County Police Department as soon as possible,” said ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage. “That always assists in the investigation.”
From an ACPD crime report:
LATE ATTEMPTED ARMED ROBBERY, 160418039, 5100 block of Lee Highway. At approximately 10:15 p.m. on April 16, an unknown male subject entered a store and brandished a firearm. A female employee was able to defend a male clerk by throwing glass bottles at the suspect. The suspect fled the scene on foot without any merchandise. The suspect is described as a male, approximately 5’9″ tall and weighed 150 lbs. He was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, mask, and black or dark green gloves.