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Arlington County police are conducting a death investigation along Langston Blvd, near Rosslyn.

A body was found in a wooded area late Sunday afternoon. Officers remain on scene today, collecting and documenting evidence. There’s no word yet on whether police consider the death to be suspicious.

“At approximately 4:18 p.m. on February 25, police were directed to the 2100 block of Langston Boulevard where human remains were located in a wooded area,” Arlington County police spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow. “The Arlington County Police Department is conducting a death investigation with assistance by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner who will work to positively identify the deceased and determine cause and manner of death.”

“The preliminary investigation has not revealed an ongoing threat to the community,” Savage added. She noted that the investigation is “in the early stages.”

The standalone building that used to house a bank and a barber shop in the Lyon Village Shopping Center in Spout Run (via Google Maps)

A Cold Stone Creamery location is moving into a vacant standalone building at the Lyon Village Shopping Center, permit records show.

It will take over the half of 3141 Langston Blvd — near Spout Run Parkway — that used to be home to a bank. The other half of the building was once home to a barber shop. This building is a few paces from the main strip, which is home to the Italian Store, Big Wheel Bikes and BGR Burgers Grilled Right, as well as a CVS, a Giant and a Starbucks.

Mohammed Haque, the owner of the forthcoming ice cream shop location, says he is looking to open sometime after May, taking into account six to eight weeks for getting permits squared away and three months to ready the space.

Haque, who used to live in Arlington, said he knows the area very well. After exhausting his options closer to Ballston, where he could not find sufficient space at an affordable rent, he settled on the old bank location in the shopping center.

While he awaits permits, the building already is seeing some signs of interior demolition. This will include taking down partitions, doors and finishes — including the columns outside — as well as some minor mechanical and electrical work, according to permit records.

Hat tip Chris Slatt 

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Tuna Restaurant in Cherrydale (photo courtesy of Sak Vong)

The owner of Tuna Restaurant in Cherrydale says she plans to rename the Thai and Japanese eatery “Siam Shinzo.”

The new signage, however, won’t be displayed until early next year. And the menu will stay the same.

“It is official on papers, but the signage is still in the process,” the owner, May Ditnoy, told ARLnow. “I probably won’t have it ready to be installed until early February.”

Located at 3813 Langston Blvd, the restaurant has undergone several changes over the years. Originally a spot for Thai cuisine, it became a sushi restaurant in 2015 following a change in ownership. In 2022, it transitioned to Laotian and Japanese cuisine under new management.

Ditnoy acquired the restaurant this past spring, marking its fourth ownership change in eight years. Despite retaining its name, the menu shifted to Thai and Japanese cuisine.

Ditnoy, a Leesburg resident who also runs a catering business with her mother, said she always intended to rename the restaurant. She chose not to delay the restaurant opening to wait for the name change paperwork.

Nearly eight months later, Ditnoy says she believes a name change will more accurately represent the restaurant’s menu offerings.

“Siam is the shortened original name for the capital of Thailand that is now Bangkok. ‘Shinzo’ means heart in Japanese,” she said.

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Janet Saedi and Essy Carriage House owner Essy Saedi (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

The long-time former owner of Essy’s Carriage House has died.

Essy Saedi died on Thanksgiving, November 23, at the age of 76. He owned the beloved family-owned Cherrydale restaurant before its closing earlier this year. As he told ARLnow, Saedi was looking forward to traveling in his retirement.

“I’m excited… I get to go to Las Vegas more,” he said.

Saedi immigrated to the United States from Iran in the 1960s and helped open the restaurant Langston Blvd near the corner of N. Quincy Street and Cherry Hill Road in 1975. He took over as full owner a year later, renaming the eatery after himself — Essy’s Carriage House.

In nearly five decades, Saedi’s restaurant became a local staple, serving up steak, liver and comfort food to a loyal customer base. It had the “best crab cakes we’ve ever had. Anywhere,” according to one customer.

Even as he closed in on retirement, Saedi still did much of the prep work at the restaurant, including the sauce-making and meat-braising.

Essy’s Carriage House was known for its white-clothed tables and fresh-cut flowers on each table. Throughout its run, the restaurant served judges, military brass, lawmakers, lawyers, and, even “four-star generals,” according to Saedi. He primarily ran the restaurant with his wife, Janet Saedi, whom he married in the 1980s.

“It’s really been fundamentally the two of us running this place,” Janet told ARLnow in February. “But it’s been beautiful.”

But it was Essy who was the face of the restaurant and a big reason why customers kept coming back for close to five decades.

“I guess I’m just cute,” Essy said earlier this year.

He was known for “his warmth, his story telling, his mixed metaphors and his sometimes inappropriate sense of humor,” his obituary reads. Saedi could be seen on most nights at his restaurant running between tables, chatting with customers, and telling everyone what to order.

Essy had a “quirky sense of humor that some people adore… and there are people who don’t quite get it,” Janet said.

He embraced his quirkiness and was once named “the most colorful character in Arlington” by a local newspaper, notes his obituary. Saedi often called himself the “Luckiest Persian Alive.”

In the weeks before the restaurant was set to close, Essy was still busy at the restaurant and doing what he did best: sharing laughs with customers.

“They’ve become family and friends. We’ve done this for 50 years and we see [many] like once a week,” Essy said in February, taking a long pause. “Maybe I’ll pass them at the grocery store someday.”

Essy Saedi is survived by his wife Janet, daughters Lorena and Tonya, and sister Mehry. The family is planning a private burial and, in lieu of flowers, is asking for donations to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

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Police car at night (file photo courtesy Kevin Wolf)

(Updated at 11:45 a.m.) A man was shot Monday night while riding in a car, according to Arlington County police.

Police were dispatched shortly before 7:45 p.m. to the intersection of Langston Blvd and N. Kirkwood Road for an apparent shooting. Initial reports suggest the man was riding in the passenger seat of a car when he was shot in the face, near the eye, and started bleeding.

He was not sure when and where the shooting happened, according to scanner traffic.

The victim was rushed to a local hospital in what was initially described as critical condition, but ACPD said just before 10 p.m. that he was in stable condition.

In a press release late Tuesday morning, ACPD said the man was shot along Route 110 near Memorial Bridge, in was is suggested to be a road rage incident.

The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit is investigating a shooting which occurred on the evening of November 20, 2023.

At approximately 7:42 p.m., police were dispatched to the 3100 block of Langston Boulevard for the report of an assault with a weapon. Upon arrival, officers located the adult male victim in the passenger seat of a parked vehicle suffering from gunshot wounds. Officers immediately began rendering aid before the victim was transported to an area hospital with serious injuries. He is in stable condition.

The preliminary investigation indicates the victim and a witness were driving on Richmond Highway when the suspect vehicle, which had two occupants, pulled alongside them and a verbal dispute over driving ensued. In the area of Richmond Highway and Memorial Avenue, an occupant of the suspect vehicle brandished a firearm and discharged rounds, striking the victim. Following the shooting, the driver of the victim vehicle traveled to the 3100 block of Langston Boulevard and sought help.

The suspect vehicle is described as a black sedan. The driver is described as a Black female with shoulder length hair. The passenger is described as a Black male wearing a face mask.

This remains an active criminal investigation and anyone with information related to this incident is asked to contact the Arlington County Police Department’s Tip Line at 703-228-4180 or [email protected] or anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477). For additional community resources and contact information, visit our website.

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Arlington County Board on Nov. 11, 2023 during their discussion of the Plan Langston Blvd document (via Arlington County)

(Updated at 4:55 p.m.) A plan guiding the future of Langston Blvd was approved on Saturday.

After hearing from some three dozen speakers, the Arlington County Board passed the plan — with some broad wording changes and neighborhood-specific tweaks that respond to months of public comments, including those made in the days leading up to the vote.

The county said in a press release that the newly adopted plan will help turn the 4.5-mile-long, car-oriented commercial and residential corridor into a “green, mixed-use main street that provides safe and multimodal access and is rooted in environmental resiliency, economic sustainability, and equity.”

“I am proud of the new vision for a resilient and equitable Langston Boulevard that was developed through years of work with the community,” Board Chair Christian Dorsey said in a statement after the vote.

“The plan’s land use framework and design guidelines will shape the new development in this corridor by helping expand the housing supply and its commercial base, improving its transit network and the connectivity of its public spaces, and strengthening the overall climate resiliency of the corridor by managing stormwater effectively, adding quality green spaces, and improving energy efficiency,” he continued.

Board members added and removed language in an attempt to firm up commitments to more aggressive affordable housing goals and county investments in better infrastructure. They added language intended to ensure privately owned public spaces — the bedrock of new green space envisioned on the boulevard — feel as accessible as their government-owned counterparts.

Some changes were tailored to specific neighborhoods and sites, made by individual community members and property owners. For instance, height transitions were lowered from five stories to four along 22nd Road N., a narrow road populated with single-family homes that abut commercial properties along Langston Blvd, including Moore’s Barber Shop.

Board members also lowered maximum heights from five stories to four, and transitional heights from four stories to three near the Calloway United Methodist Church in the historically Black neighborhood of Halls Hill/High View Park. For some supporting Board members, this vote was done with the neighborhood’s history in mind, as it was once segregated from a development for white residents by a wall.

Interim Board member Tannia Talento says lot size and street widths increase on the formerly “white” side of the segregation wall.

“What [the Halls Hill neighborhood is] asking for is not to feel locked in again,” she said. “Based on the history and recognizing and acknowledging mistakes made in the past, it’s important to hear the community, respect our history, respect what the request is, recognize that we have generational families who experienced that segregation.”

Board member Matt De Ferranti said he listened to John M. Langston Civic Association president Wilma Jones explain the rationale for her request in a recent ARLnow podcast. He said these concerns led him to support the amendment.

“Until I have next to me a 7-Eleven, I shouldn’t over-talk about [density],” he said.

Dorsey opposed the vote on the grounds it could create unintended consequences.

“We have made it more likely to develop by-right, providing no community benefits,” he said. “While I know you are all quite sincere to bring an equity lens and support historically Black communities, I don’t think they’re asking us at this point to deny them the opportunity to receive community benefits from redevelopment, which could be a consequence of this action.”

Board members also softened tree canopy requirements around the Lyon Village Shopping Center, which requested relief, saying the 35% canopy requirement would be impossible to meet if the property owners were to redevelop. They struck a recommendation to extend 25th Road N. west to connect with N. Harrison Street, instead adding language to suggest increasing pedestrian and bicycle connectivity between these two streets.

The Board also included a directive to the County Manager ensure that conversations move forward with the Virginia Dept. of Transportation and WMATA about redeveloping land these agencies own near the East Falls Church Metro station. De Ferranti says he would like to see staff directed to assess “re-zonings that lead to more affordable housing as fast as we can reasonably and appropriately do so.”

More about the plan’s passage, below, from a county press release.

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Plan Langston Blvd — a sweeping document outlining the future development of the corridor — is teed up for a vote by the Arlington County Board on Saturday.

The vote would culminate years of grassroots activity, followed by a county planning process that included about a year of public engagement. Despite the long lead time, the plan was recently criticized during County Board campaigns and commission meetings for introducing too many last-minute changes, which the county maintains were largely technical.

Although these tweaks have had time to settle, longstanding concerns continue to arise, pertaining to affordable housing, retail, building heights and park space. The Planning Commission addressed some of these earlier this month when, after voting to recommend the Board adopt the plan, members added in a few recommended changes.

On affordable housing, the Planning Commission, residents and community groups asked the County Board and staff to push for more committed affordable units.

“We don’t ask enough of our developers,” Commissioner Elizabeth Gearin said, per meeting minutes. “I hope we’re looking at how to get more on-site units. We should identify tools to where the County doesn’t need to outlay money. We haven’t fully exhausted this issue.”

Plan Langston Blvd projects to create 2,500 committed affordable units along the corridor by 2075, while the county’s 2015 Affordable Housing Master Plan previously called for the creation of those units by 2040. A sticking point for affordable housing advocates, the breakdown is because the Affordable Housing Master Plan, or AHMP, “was a projection, not necessarily a goal,” county planner Natasha Alfonso-Ahmed said, per meeting minutes.

“We’ve done extensive analysis of development capacity, and at the end of the day, the building envelope is set,” she said. “The result based on the recommended building envelopes is somewhat less than the AHMP projection.”

Planning commissioners approved a motion articulating their support for a countywide effort to “identify new tools and strategies to preserve and achieve more affordable housing related to a review of the Affordable Housing Master Plan,” according to the minutes.

Rev. Ashley Goff and Pat Findikoglu, representing VOICE — Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement — wrote that the Board has a vested interest in doing this.

“You have consistently shown your support for housing affordability for Arlingtonians across the income spectrum in many other areas of the County,” they said in a letter to the Board. “Now you have a chance to make clear that the North Arlington Langston Boulevard corridor, like all the other areas, also has a significant role to play in ensuring future housing opportunities for a broad range of residents.”

Attachment to the Lee Heights Shops — a one-story retail strip that includes an independent wine store, a salon, restaurants and a toy store with distinct colored awnings — also generated buzz.

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Ocean Shack is gearing up for its grand opening in two weeks.

The new seafood restaurant near the corner of Langston Blvd and N. Glebe Road, formerly home to the local watering hole Thirsty Bernie, is planning to open on Wednesday, Nov. 15.

ARLnow peeked inside and the renovations appeared to be still in progress. Window signs also announced the restaurant is hiring staff.

Thirsty Bernie shuttered its doors in May after a 15-year run in the Glebe Road Shopping Center, in the Waverly Hills neighborhood, citing lackluster sales. ARLnow reported in August that Ocean Shack planned to take over the 1,767-square-foot space, aiming to open sometime between November and early December.

Cody Zhou, the man behind Ocean Shack, also owns a Southern-style seafood place in Chantilly called Ocean Crab.

Much like its Chantilly counterpart, Ocean Shack aims to offer several different seafood dishes, such as lobster rolls, tilapia sandwiches, fried oyster baskets, fried shrimp tacos and snow crab bowls.

The restaurant also plans to keep 16 beers on draft and serve specialty cocktails.

“I think this will be an awesome place for people to hang out drinking and watching sports,” Zhou told ARLnow in an email, adding the restaurant will have nine TVs.

At least eight of them “will for sure consistently play sports for the patrons,” he said.

The restaurant will also have “karaoke equipment” for events like open mic nights.

Zhou says he’s still ironing out the details but expects to offer food and drink promotions.

The establishment will operate from 5 p.m. to midnight Monday through Wednesday, from noon to midnight on Thursdays and Sundays, and from noon to 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

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Police and medics responded to a serious pedestrian crash and a collision with multiple injuries Sunday night.

The crashes happened just a half hour apart, with the pedestrian crash at Columbia Pike and S. Greenbrier Street first reported around 9:45 p.m.

Initial reports suggest that a middle-aged man was struck by the driver of a Toyota. The intersection remains closed and police are still on scene investigating as of publication time, which is usually indicative of a crash involving a very serious injury or fatality.

Around 10:15 p.m., another significant crash was reported, this time in northern Arlington. Initial reports suggest that at least three people, including a juvenile, were hospitalized after two cars collided at the intersection of Langston Blvd and Lorcom Lane.

After a cleanup, the intersection reopened about an hour later.

No further details were immediately available about either crash.

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The Arlington County Board during its Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023 meeting (via Arlington County)

A document envisioning the long-term development of most of Langston Blvd is one step closer to adoption.

On Saturday, the Arlington County Board set public hearings by the Planning Commission on Monday, Oct. 30 and the Board on Saturday, Nov. 11, when members will hear from the community and deliberate the document, dubbed Plan Langston Blvd. The Board will ultimately decide whether to adopt it.

Board members unanimously approved the request to advertise hearings next month after nearly 50 people spoke and the Board asked questions for about an hour and a half.

Renderings of Cherry Hill Road in front of the Lee Heights Shops in the draft Plan Langston Blvd document (via Arlington County)

Board member Matt de Ferranti proposed and received majority support for two revisions before the final document was passed. One is intended to hasten a review of planning for the East Falls Church and Cherrydale neighborhoods and the other removes language calling for the consolidation of community centers.

East Falls Church and Cherrydale were excluded from Plan Langston Blvd because they already have neighborhood plans that have yet to be fully realized. Since this decision was made, however, some community members, Planning Commissioners and County Board members have stressed these communities need a second look — sooner rather than later — as they can help the plan meet its own affordable housing goals.

“This is a burning priority for me and so, this almost rises to level of office vacancy rate for me,” de Ferranti said, acknowledging that in the case of East Falls Church the county will have to keep applying pressure to VDOT and Metro while relying on private developers, too.

“What you see here is an attempt to signal to the community that these two parts of the plan should be considered sooner,” de Ferranti said.

County Manager Mark Schwartz said he will “never say no to the Board” on a request like this but it will require them to reconsider how county staffers prioritize their work.

“I’m working right now on [a budget]… that’s going to have cuts in it. I’m not going to have additional resources available. The team available here, once they finish up with this, they have two to three things to turn their attention to,” he said. “If you want to find additional resources, absolutely, we will move it higher up on the list, but that means something has to move lower on the list.”

The plan’s most recent iteration said community centers should be consolidated to better address the needs of a growing population, a goal espoused in the county’s Public Spaces Master Plan.

De Ferranti, however, argued that the goal is not in the county’s best interest because of the expected population increase. The lone dissenter to de Ferranti’s motion, Board Chair Christian Dorsey, countered that consolidation will not mean a reduction in services.

Much of the Board’s discussion this weekend, like previous discussions by the Board and the Planning Commission, as well as some community advocacy, centered on affordable housing.

The corridor currently has 1,936 market-rate and committed affordable units, said county planner Natasha Alfonso-Ahmed. That includes 1,088 that are affordable to people earning 80% of the area median income (AMI) and 900 are affordable at 60% AMI.

The plan aims to increase the number of affordable units to 3,200-3,800 units by 2075, focusing especially on units affordable up to 60% AMI. Some argue the county does not have the tools to get there nor does this plan consider people who earn 30% AMI or less.

“Many of these low-income residents provide our community with essential services — child and health care, restaurants and retail, maintenance and construction and more,” wrote Anne Vor der Bruegge, the director of grants and initiatives at the nonprofit Arlington Community Foundation, which has also advocated for deeper affordable housing elsewhere in the county.

“If we want to create a truly equitable Langston Boulevard corridor for the future, we need to proactively support creating and preserving homes that serve the lowest income residents,” she said.

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Langston Blvd headed eastbound from N. Veitch Street to N. Lynn Street (via Google Maps)

Arlington County has scrapped plans to make a dedicated high-occupancy vehicle and bus-only lane on Langston Blvd.

Instead, it will take a new tack to improve bus reliability on the corridor, says Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Claudia Pors.

This winter and spring, the county will reprogram select traffic signals to give buses more time to clear an intersection, known as transit signal prioritization.

The county would deploy technology that detects when buses are approaching an intersection. If a bus arrives at a red light, the signal will turn green sooner; if it arrives just before the signal turns yellow, it will stay green longer.

Arlington had long mulled building a dedicated bus and HOV lane on Langston Blvd. It would have run eastbound from N. Veitch Street, near Courthouse, to N. Lynn Street in Rosslyn during peak morning hours and westbound from N. Oak Street to N. Veitch Street during the evening peak period.

When the county dug into the finer details, however, staff found that the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC) grant it received two years ago to fund the work would not be enough.

“The funding awarded from NVTC’s Commuter Choice grant program wasn’t enough to cover both the analysis required to reassign a VDOT lane and the implementation costs,” Pors said. “We have returned the money to NVTC.”

The transit bureau of DES instead pivoted to transit signal prioritization. Public transit advocates point to this type of upgrade as low-cost, yet high-impact, increasing bus speeds up to 15%.

With a few months before work starts, county staff are picking which intersections should have longer or earlier green lights, says Pors. The county could switch between the two, depending on how reprogramming the lights impacts traffic patterns.

Transit signal prioritization is one mechanism the new Plan Langston Blvd initiative says will improve bus speeds, reliability and convenience — encouraging ridership on the car-centric road.

The goal of Plan Langston Blvd, which ramped up in the last two years, is to articulate a long-term vision for how the corridor develops.

The plan describes how the county can achieve affordable housing, sustainability and transportation goals along the corridor through policies, private redevelopment and county-led projects.

This month, the Arlington County Board is teed up to approve a request to advertise hearings on the comprehensive plan for neighborhoods along Langston Blvd, also known as Route 29. If approved, hearings by the Planning Commission and County Board would be held on Monday, Oct. 30 and on Nov. 11, respectively.

If and when the plan is adopted, Pors says the transit bureau will take another look at the corridor and the plan’s recommendations before determining next steps for improving bus reliability.

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