Important Updates for the Lee Highway Replanning Process

4 min

The Lee Highway replanning process in Arlington continues to move forward with two important new reports released this week. The planning effort, titled "Plan Lee Highway," is the largest of its kind currently underway in the Washington, D.C. metro region and presents a significant opportunity for revitalization and development along the Lee Highway corridor. These two reports—Lee Highway Historic and Cultural Resources and Neighborhood Inspiration – A Guide for Developing Future Plans—conclude Plan Lee Highway Phase I: Gathering Information for the Plan Lee Highway Initiative. The next phase, Phase 2: Develop Ideas, will begin now and continue through 2020.

Historic Cultural Resources Report

The Historic Cultural Resources report covers research, documentation, and a survey of historic and cultural resources (i.e. significant buildings, events, places, people, and stores) within the Lee Highway planning area. The purpose of this report is to evaluate the cultural resources survey and identify those historic resources on Lee Highway that should be preserved (wholly or in part) or recognized through interpretation (onsite or nearby). The report contains general recommendations for further identification and public recognition of Lee Highway's cultural resources, as well as general methods for documentation, preservation, and/or interpretation.

Background research included a review of past surveys and studies of Lee Highway, documentation of properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) or as Arlington County Local Historic Districts, county tax and building permit records, historic maps, aerials and photographs, published and unpublished secondary and primary sources, and informant interviews. Based on this research, the report presents written historic contexts for several property types, including shopping centers, commercial buildings, apartment buildings, Civil War fort sites, parks and recreation, and African American resources. Additional research was then conducted to inform planning efforts in the Lee Highway corridor.

The Neighborhood Inspiration Report

The Neighborhood Inspiration report highlights the conditions and attributes of different neighborhoods along Lee Highway. The report separated the Lee Highway corridor into five neighborhood areas to better understand and discuss the specific attributes, physical conditions, and aspirations of each area. The five neighborhood areas will have their own vision for guiding future development. Each neighborhood area will have a primary activity node, anchored around a major intersection, that will define its main center of activity.

The analysis and ideas presented in the Neighborhood Inspiration report are based on the existing conditions analysis, the cultural resources survey, and recent dialogue with community forum members and other stakeholders. This report and the outcomes of recent community meetings focused on identifying the key aspects that will influence the planning of the area, including land use, transportation, urban design, public spaces, facilities and schools, the environment, building form, and historic and cultural assets. The findings and preferences outlined in the Neighborhood Inspiration report will shape the land use recommendations developed as part of Phase 2.

Project Phasing

In Phase 2, which is expected to continue through the fall of 2020, Arlington County staff and their consulting team, led by AECOM, will work to develop land use scenarios that focus on redevelopment nodes along the Lee Highway corridor. Virtual community meetings are expected to be scheduled throughout the fall to discuss the land use recommendations and solicit community and stakeholder feedback. A preliminary concept plan will be developed based on community input on the preferred land use scenarios.

Phase 3 is expected to begin in early 2021. During Phase 3, the formal Lee Highway Plan will be drafted, with review, feedback, and revisions to occur regularly. In Phase 4, the Draft Plan will be presented for final feedback and refinements, with an approval date targeted for mid-2021.

Next Steps

The current replanning effort on Lee Highway is the culmination of many years of hard work on the part of the Lee Highway Alliance, community members, and stakeholders along the corridor. Venable's land use and zoning group has been closely following the Lee Highway replanning effort for several years and has participated in local community meetings and forums leading up to the drafting of the new plan. If you have any questions about the replanning effort or would like to get involved, please contact Zachary Williams or another member of Venable's Zoning and Land Use Practice Group.