Editor: Despite community feedback and concerns about the proposed development of Langston Boulevard, we remain extremely disappointed at the county government’s preliminary concept plan for Area 5, which incorporates the North Highlands and Lyon Village areas.
We are proud residents of Arlington – we purchased our first home on North Cleveland Street in 2006 and have invested in home-improvement projects to accommodate our growing family. Unlike our affluent neighbors in Lyon Village located just across Langston Boulevard, our stretch of the neighborhood consists of single-family homes, townhouses and already-present affordable high-density housing options like the Larkspur.
We love the diversity of our street, as it is representative of a community with mixed ethnic backgrounds and income levels. To us, our street and our homes epitomize the Missing Middle that the county government is actively pushing for.
During the Sept. 22 Area 5 community meeting, an Arlington resident asked the planning team “why the North Highlands area – an area based on demographics that includes the area’s most vulnerable and where it is disproportionately elderly, disproportionately low-income, disproportionately free or reduced lunch, disproportionately disabled, disproportionately non-English-speaking compared to other areas – is being targeted for such dense development.”
The planning team responded that demographics were not the reason for targeting the area for highest density, but rather factors such as the proximity to Langston Boulevard and to two Metro stations. Further, they pointed to the existence of significant landholders and developments of significant scale that could be redeveloped (such as Potomac Towers).
While the latter sounds reasonable given existing apartment complexes throughout Area 5, we question the intent to redevelop lots with existing single-family homes. In North Cleveland Street alone, more than 23 single-family homes are envisioned to be replaced by commercial, moderate- to high-scale multi-family or mixed-use development.
The significant changes envisioned area, in stark contrast to the revised plans for Lyon Village in terms of height and redevelopment of single-family-home parcels. From a diversity, equity and inclusion perspective, it is abundantly clear that the county is targeting vulnerable residents for the sake of redevelopment.
If the county government’s intention is to increase access to affordable housing, we request that officials present detailed solutions that will provide low- to middle-income families access to housing. We would also like to see the detailed plans to facilitate the relocation of existing residents that allow us to remain in the immediate area where we are already raising families and pursuing our careers.
We ask that the county government also present an analysis as to how the planned development eases growing income inequality and displacement of some of Arlington’s most diverse populations, including those in our part of Area 5, specifically addressing the estimated cost of future redeveloped housing options as compared to the already existing high-density housing options available in our neighborhood.
We do not have the kind of tightly-knit, highly affluent community organizational response that Lyon Village does, and it is clear that that has had a direct, negative impact on our future outlook. But please do not ignore us simply because our voices are not loud enough.
Abie and Walker Grossell, Arlington