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Board Approves New Apartment Tower in Fort Myer Heights

by ARLnow.com | March 12, 2013 at 12:45 pm | 13 Comments

Rendering of the newly-approved Pierce Queen apartment towerThe Arlington County Board last night unanimously approved a new 12-story apartment tower as part of an affordable housing development in the Fort Myer Heights neighborhood.

The project will redevelop five existing garden apartment buildings that make up Pierce Queen Apartments, along 16th Street and between N. Pierce and Queen Streets. The buildings currently contain 50 market rate affordable apartments, that rent from $1,057 to $1,390. Three would be torn down to make way for the 181-unit apartment tower, and two would be renovated and reconfigured to contain 12 three-bedroom units.

Of the 193 total units in the complex, 76 would be reserved as committed affordable housing for 60 years. As a condition of approval, the tower will be built to LEED Silver sustainability specifications. Other community benefits include a $75,000 public art contribution designated exclusively for the Fort Myer Heights area, and preservation of the two garden apartment buildings, which are considered historic by the county.

Approval of the project has been delayed due to a number of issues with the developers’ application for Affordable Housing Investment Funds from the county. Those issues were largely resolved since the Board deferred consideration of the project last month, according to a staff report. The Board voted separately last night to approve $6.8 million in AHIF funds for the project.

The developers, Bozzuto and Wesley Housing Development Corporation, will now apply for Low Income Housing Tax Credits from the Virginia Housing Development Authority. If that application is successful — a decision is expected in June — the project is expected to be built by fall 2015.

The county plans to iron out details of a Tenant Assistance Fund after the tax credits are awarded. The fund would help current Pierce Queen residents, who would be forced to relocate for at least two years during construction, from fall 2013 to project completion.

County Board Chair Walter Tejada applauded the developers for working with the county and the community to make changes to the project since it was first proposed. The county’s Site Plan Review Committee previously raised concerns about the project’s design, which led to changes like an increased building height taper, building entrance design modifications, a redesigned courtyard and the elimination of above-grade parking.

“The project is improved enough that i’m glad to support it,” Tejada said.

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    • kalashnikev

      It’s in between my windows and the Capitol Skyline. :(

  • Arlington Chris

    What does “market rate affordable apartments” mean?

    An apartment is either market rate or affordable. Rent from $1,057 to $1,390 seems to be affordable — but not market rate.

    • flux

      Yeah, it means exactly what you think it can’t mean. The rents fall into the category the county considers “affordable”, and the rates are set by the market. The landlord looks at their property and sets the rent, and it happens to be a very low rent because they realize they can not rent them for much higher because the buildings are old and decrepit and do not have a bunch of amenities that other units in the area have. So you have a market-driven rent that falls into the affordable category.

      • Arlington Chris

        Thanks for the replies @0d20e488947122354e4166c5d85fa63b:disqus, @daniel and @rspwflux:disqus.

        Makes sense.

    • daniel

      it could mean the prospective lessee should expect minimal amenities that a luxury rental might have….pool, concierge, parking option, lilac scented hallways, etc.

    • spaghetti

      Market rate affordable just means that the apartment rental rates are dictated by the market, but also just happen to be affordable (or more affordable) than other apartments in the area or county

    • kalashnikev

      Market Rate- Priced at true value, in accordance with the rules of a free market.
      Affordable- Within a person’s financial means.

      How about we start calling this what it really is?

    • JohnB

      “Affordable” depends on a percentage of the area median income and household size. You can find the income limits and what that translates into as being considered “Affordable” here: http://www.arlingtonva.us/Departments/CPHD/housing/hpp/CPHDHousingHousing_infoIncomeRent.aspx.

  • Terry

    Why does the county insist on keeping ugly eye sores on prime real estate designated as “historical”? This along with that awful strip mall that used to house Ray’s are two that come to mind…..

    • ArlingtonHistorian

      Fortunately, Arlington County recognizes the importance of retaining at least a part of the historic record, in the form of architecture.

  • Mc

    “The Board voted separately last night to approve $6.8 million in AHIF funds for the project.” That is money that could close the County budget deficit.

  • JoseR

    As the board considers another tax increase on Arlington County residence, our tax dollars go to subsidies developers and these affordable housing units. All these affordable housing units bring to Arlington are the social ills of DC. Be ready for further increases in vandalism and crime.

    Since the social ills of DC are now in Arlington, 30 somethings are leaving for trendier places in DC or Reston.

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