As announced in August, the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) plans to replace the existing 3-story Carlyn Springs apartment complex with a new 5-story complex dubbed “The Springs” at 4318 N. Carlin Springs Road. Part of the building’s first floor would house offices for APAH’s headquarters. The offices would have an entrance on N. Carlin Springs Road, separate from the residential lobby and community room entrance on N. Thomas Street.
The proposed building would be 5-stories tall, offering a transition from other high-rises in Ballston to nearby low-rise residences. It would consist of 104 units.
The development would have two levels of underground parking, accessible from N. Thomas Street. The developer is requesting 104 spaces for residential use and seven for office use. Although 10 office spaces are required, special permission for a reduced number has been requested. The developer contends that the spaces will be shared between residents and office workers, so office workers will be able to use open spaces during the day while residents are at work.
Currently, sidewalks surrounding the property measure four to five feet wide, with a two to three foot treeless green strip. The development plan recommends expanding the sidewalks to 11-13 feet wide, with adjacent tree pits.
One issue the SPRC hopes to work through is the 26 foot setback area at the south side of the building, which is proposed to be a recreation area and play space for residents. The developer wishes to locate an above ground transformer at this location. County staff suggests moving the transformer vault inside the building or underground in the parking garage.
Although it may come up at future SPRC meetings instead of at tonight’s, county staff is expected to further discuss construction of a pedestrian/bike path to break up the “superblock” at this site. The path would also provide access to a park proposed for the area.
The developer has proposed building ground level apartment units, and county staff has encouraged the developer to consider stoops and street entrances for these units. That would give residents direct access to the proposed pedestrian/bike path, should the path be built.
Tonight will be the second time The Springs has been addressed at an SPRC meeting. There’s no word so far on exactly when the $35 million redevelopment proposal will be ready to go before the County Board.
Favola: Streamline Development Approval — State Senator and former County Board member Barbara Favola (D) is urging Arlington County to streamline its development approval process in order to make it easier for affordable housing projects to be built. At a fundraiser for the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing this week, Favola and others said red tape and community resistance is making it more expensive to build affordable housing in Arlington. [Sun Gazette]
Arlington E-CARE Event This Weekend — Arlington will hold is biannual Environmental Collection and Recycling Event from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Saturday. The event allows Arlington residents to safely dispose of household hazardous materials and to recycle items like bikes, small metal items, shoes, clothing, bed frames, etc. [Arlington County]
NSF Buyers Remorse in Alexandria? — Alexandria officials are thrilled to be taking the National Science Foundation and its more than 4,000 associated jobs from Arlington. But some are now voicing displeasure with a part of the incentive package for NSF that relieved the developer of the agency’s new headquarters from paying what would have been more than $1 million to the city’s affordable housing fund. [Patch]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
The Right Note is a weekly opinion column published on Thursdays. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.
If you are like me, your attention has been focused on the ongoing drama surrounding the government slowdown and not as much on local news over the past two weeks. In addition to the statewide, General Assembly and local races on the ballot in November is the referendum to create an Arlington public housing authority. The issue had not received a good deal of coverage before the slowdown drama, and I am not sure the yard signs its supporters have now deployed will do much to break through the noise.
The proponents of the referendum say Arlington’s current approach to affordable housing has proven ineffective in keeping up with the market forces that are driving up housing prices. They argue we should try the approach used by Fairfax County and the City of Alexandria and bring Arlington’s efforts directly under the county’s umbrella rather than using existing public-private partnerships. They say that it would leverage local dollars to obtain additional federal assistance and reduce duplication of efforts.
The opponents of a public housing authority say Arlington already spends a higher percentage of its budget than neighboring jurisdictions without adding to government bureaucracy. This argument actually united the local Democrat and Republican Parties in opposition in 2008.
It has done so again this year. At their September meeting, Republicans debated the merits of getting more bang for our taxpayer dollars, but ultimately decided they could not be assured Arlingtonians would get more value by creating a new local government agency.
There is a lot of valid criticism to be had for how the Arlington County Board “negotiates” with developers. The negotiations often come down to a set of demands a developer must meet. Developers are usually willing to quietly go along with the Board’s demands in exchange for more density than they would otherwise be entitled to. The Green Party, which is backing the referendum, opposes the additional density as well.
Outside of affordable housing, such negotiations have led to empty ground floor retail, an empty art gallery space, and proposed construction of a taxpayer-subsidized black box theater. One could argue strongly that the Board’s planning record leaves a lot to be desired, and that maybe a change to its approach on housing is in order.
While I must admit that part of me would like to strike a blow against the County Board’s business as usual approach, I have to agree with my fellow Republicans on this one. There is no guarantee a public housing authority get additional results on affordable housing, but we would guarantee the expansion of local government. And as regular readers here know, I think we pay too much in taxes for a government that is already big enough.
Mark Kelly is a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.
Affordable Housing Crisis in Arlington? – “Arlington County is in the midst of an affordable housing crisis,” writes reporter Michael Lee Pope. The county has lost more than half of its affordable housing units in the last decade, a time when the average rent increased by 47 percent while the average salary increased only 37 percent. The “crisis” has led the Arlington Green Party to propose a referendum on the creation of a new housing authority, a move that many existing affordable housing organizations in Arlington oppose. [Arlington Connection]
Gravelly Point Still Busy Despite Shutdown – Gravelly Point has remained a popular destination for picnickers, fisherman and airplane watchers, despite the fact that it’s officially closed and its parking lot barricaded. Despite being a potential safety hazard, a number of park-goers have been parking on the grass adjacent to the GW Parkway. [WJLA]
Columbia Forest Tops for Female Divorcees — Arlington’s Columbia Forest neighborhood has the highest concentration of female divorcees among census tracts in the county, with 355. According to census data, Shirlington and Pentagon City are No. 2 and 3, with 339 and 298 respectively. As previously reported, Crystal City has the highest concentration of divorced men, 297. [Patch]
Stink Bug Season in Washington — It’s stink bug season once again. While a few of the insects have been reported around Arlington, the stink bug population seems to increase as you go west, beyond the Beltway. [Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by Runneralan2004.
Safeway Seeks New Developer in Bluemont — Safeway is looking for a new developer to work with for the redevelopment of its Bluemont store at 5101 Wilson Blvd. Developer Mark Silverwood pulled out of a partnership to build a new Safeway store topped by 160 apartments after Bluemont residents rejected it, saying the proposed building was too tall and would generate too much traffic. [Washington Business Journal]
Arlington’s Recycling Rate Reaches New High — The recycling rate in Arlington hit a new all-time high in 2012. The county’s recycling rate was 51.1 percent in 2012, according to the Virginia Dept. of Environmental Quality. [Sun Gazette]
Wakefield Seniors Names Scholarship Semifinalists — Three Wakefield High School seniors have been named National Achievement Scholarship semifinalists. The scholarship program recognizes academic excellence among African American students. [Arlington Public Schools]
Affordable Housing Forum Tonight — Arlington County is holding a public forum on the topic of affordable housing tonight. Arlington residents are encouraged to attend and weigh in on the county’s affordable housing goals. The event is being held at the Navy League Building auditorium (2300 Wilson Blvd) from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
The AHS, an Arlington-based nonprofit “working to increase the supply of affordable housing in Arlington County and Northern Virginia through research, public education, and advocacy,” doesn’t believe that the housing authority the referendum would form would benefit the community.
AHS issued the following statement about the referendum:
The Alliance for Housing Solutions is urging Arlington voters to reject the proposed Redevelopment and Housing Authority referendum that is on the ballot this November. Arlington faces significant challenges to housing affordability. However, AHS believes that an Authority would not solve this problem and would, in fact, have a negative impact.
“Arlington has long used an innovative public, private, & non-profit partnership approach to the creation and management of affordable housing in our community,” said AHS President Mary Margaret Whipple. “This successful approach has allowed Arlington to access financial tools and state and federal funding in order to create mixed-income communities, while avoiding the costs of running a housing authority.”
Using this highly successful strategy, Arlington has created more affordable housing units per 1,000 people than any other county in Northern Virginia, including those with housing authorities. It also is the only jurisdiction in Virginia to offer County-funded rental assistance through the Housing Grants program.
“As they have twice before, Arlington voters should reject the Redevelopment and Housing Authority referendum,” Whipple added. “A new authority would not increase the availability of affordable housing units, and would actually stall progress by pitting a housing authority against our highly successful non-profits for the same funding.”
AHS urged a broader community dialogue about the critical need for affordable housing. By working together, especially through the Affordable Housing Study process, supporters of affordable housing can work together to find solutions and raise awareness.
“There are no easy solutions,“ said AHS Executive Director Mary Rouleau. “As a community we must be willing to consider, for example, putting affordable units on public land and increased density along transit routes.”
AHS released a Question-and-Answer document, responding to the key positions of the housing authority backers. It can be found on its website: AllianceforHousingSolutions.
Thousands Apply to Live in New Affordable Building — Since it started accepting applications on Aug. 27, the new 122-unit Arlington Mill Residences affordable apartment complex has received applications from more than 3,600 people. Nonprofit developer Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing is expected to hold a lottery later this week to determine which of the qualified applicants will get an apartment. [Washington Post]
New Randolph Elementary Track — A dedication ceremony was held on Friday for a new track at Randolph Elementary School. The track was built with $40,436 raised by the Randolph PTA and Randolph Principal Renee Bostick. As part of Friday’s event, the Wakefield High School marching band led students, school staff and parents on a inaugural lap around the track. [Arlington Public Schools]
Lawmakers Laud Progress on Solitary Confinement — Local Democratic state lawmakers Patrick Hope and Adam Ebbin say Virginia has been making progress in reducing the number of prisoners held in solitary confinement. While the state is “off to a good start,” Hope and Ebbin say more work must be done to provide mental health services to prisoners to ensure they don’t wind up back in solitary. [Washington Post]
Weekend High School Football — Wakefield High School opened its football season with a win against Marshall. The team was winless last year. Meanwhile, Washington-Lee defeated McLean and Bishop O’Connell defeated Bishop Ireton. Yorktown snapped its 28-game regular season winning streak with a loss to Langley. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by J Sonder
The Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing will start accepting applications for its new Arlington Mill Residences affordable housing development starting Tuesday, Aug. 27.
Applications for the four-story, 122-unit rental community at 901 S. Dinwiddie Street submitted between Aug. 27 and Aug. 31 will be entered into a lottery to determine waiting list priority, according to APAH. Applications submitted after Aug. 31 will be placed on the waiting list on a first-come, first-served basis.
Those interested in applying can print out the application form and submit it to the leasing office — temporarily located at 1001 S. Frederick Street, Apt. 1031, Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. – or email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
All Arlington Mill units will be affordable to individuals and families earning at or less than 60 percent of the Area Median Income, or about $64,000 for a family of four, according to APAH. Ten percent of the units will target households earning at or below 40 percent of AMI.
Arlington Mill Residences is scheduled to open this December. The building is adjacent to the new Arlington Mill Community Center.
The Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing is planning to build a 104-unit apartment building to replace its three-story, 27-unit Carlyn Springs apartment complex near Ballston.
The site, at the intersection of N. Carlin Springs Road and Thomas Street, has gone through its first round of site plan approval meetings with the county, planning commissioners and civic associations, APAH President and CEO Nina Janopaul said. The new building is planned to be in an “S” shape, with five stories and underground parking. The building plan was amended to preserve a 100-year-old tree on the site.
“It’s going to be really first-class affordable housing,” Janopaul said. APAH acquired the property in the 1990s and watched the area turn into one of Arlington’s strongest commercial and residential neighborhoods. “It’s turned into a very successful land-banking opportunity.”
(The spelling of the name of the apartment complex, Carlyn Springs, differs from the name of the road it’s on, Carlin Springs.)
APAH hopes to have county approval for the $35 million redevelopment by the end of the year, and while it waits, it will apply for a loan from the Arlington Housing Investment Fund and for a federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit. The result of those applications should be determined in March, setting up the start of construction before the end of 2014, Janopaul said.
Eighty of the building’s 104 units will be two- to three-bedroom units intended for families. A handful of the apartments in the current building are near-market-rate units, and to encourage those residents to come back to the new building, Janopaul said about eight of the apartments will not be low-income units.
As for the residents currently living at Caryln Springs, Janopaul said they will have the chance to move into affordable housing spaces in the surrounding area. Some, however, have said that they will use being displaced as impetus for moving elsewhere. Others, she said, are looking forward to living in a new building after being in a space that hasn’t been renovated since it was built nearly 50 years ago.
Photo (left) courtesy of APAH. Photo (right) via Google Maps.
The drive, launched this week, is targeting at the low- to very low-income elementary school students who live in AHC’s affordable housing units in the county. AHC accepts cash donations starting at $18, which is how much it costs for a backpack filled with school supplies.
“Our goal is to make sure each and every child shows up to elementary school with the tools they need to succeed,” AHC stated in a press release.
The AHC says 100 percent of donations go to the children who receive the backpacks. Donors can donate for one backpack or up to 20 at once, and can set up monthly donations.
Photo via AHC
vPoint Apartments, an affordable housing complex in Clarendon built on top of a church, has repaid part of its Affordable Housing Investment Fund loan.
The repayment was done in dramatic fashion, with representatives of the complex presenting the Arlington County Board with a check for $1.2 million on Tuesday.
The apartments, owned by the Views at Clarendon Corporation, opened more than 18 months ago and are currently at capacity, according to Views at Clarendon Chair Jerry Morris. Of the building’s 116 apartments, 70 are affordable units.
The project received a total of $13.1 million from the AHIF, according to Views at Clarendon spokeswoman Jill Norcross.
“We weren’t expecting to be able to return this much so early on in the project’s operations, but we ended up not needing the full loan and wanted to give it back so the county could recycle it for other projects,” she said in an email. “The county really supported us throughout the whole nine-year development process.”
The funds will go back into the AHIF, which draws funds from developers, loan repayments and allocations in the county’s annual budget. The AHIF has funded a majority of the county’s 6,500 affordable housing units.
“We are fortunate to live and work in a county that prioritizes affordable housing and we thank you for your partnership during the development of the vPoint Apartment community,” Morris said before the Board. “We wish you continued success in recycling AHIF in order to ensure Arlington has housing options for all of our residents.”
Board Ponders Affordable Housing on Pike — County Board members are still deciding how best to pay for the 6,200 units of affordable housing they have pledged to maintain on Columbia Pike. One option is to use Tax Increment Financing, using the growth of real estate values (through redevelopment on the Pike) to fund affordable housing. However, a majority of Board members remain skeptical of that plan. [Sun Gazette]
Silver Line Delayed – The initial opening of the Silver Line has been delayed by eight weeks to allow for additional safety and performance testing. It was previously expected that the first phase of the Metro line, which will run to Reston and Tysons Corner, would open in late December. [MWAA]
Free Milkshakes Today — To help local residents beat the heat, Z-Burger will be offering free milkshakes today from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m. to all who come in to the restaurant and use the password “ZHeatwave.” [Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by J.D. Moore
By statute, the Board must approve the referendum if 2 percent of the county’s qualified voters sign a petition. After a six-month campaign championed by the Arlington Green Party, the petition to create the authority got the necessary 2,845 signatures in June.
Approval is scheduled for the Board’s Tuesday meeting, its last meeting until September. The Board must approve the measure before it goes on its summer recess in order to meet the state-mandated deadline of August 16.
The item is not on the Board’s public agenda, which prompted a concerned email to County Board Chairman Walter Tejada from Arlington Green Party treasurer Audrey Clement earlier this week. Though Tejada assured Clement that the resolution will be brought up, she’s now worried that the county will try to influence voters into voting down the referendum, which was on the ballot but failed to pass in 2008.
At that time, a county-disseminated Q&A flyer stated that a housing authority would not produce more affordable housing, and “would only have access to the same tools and finding that the County currently uses.”
“Not only is this language non-neutral, it is false,” Clement told ARLnow.com. “Unlike the subsidies currently awarded by Arlington County to private housing corporations, a housing authority would get most of its funds not from the taxpayers but from [Department of Housing and Urban Development] guaranteed bonds issued in private capital markets.”
“In light of county government’s longstanding opposition to establishment of a housing authority, I am concerned that it will once again lobby to stop the referendum dead in its tracks by disseminating biased information about the referendum in contravention of state law,” she said.
County spokeswoman Mary Curtius said the county stands by its statements in the Q&A from 2008. The County Attorney is not aware of any legal complaint over the message.
“We reject any allegation in any way we acted improperly or illegally, then and even now,” Curtius said. “We feel that everything we said then was factual and neutral, and if we say anything this time, it will be factual and neutral.”
According to HUD’s website, there are 17 buildings that offer subsidized housing in Arlington, compared to nine in Alexandria and 42 in Fairfax County. Both of those jurisdictions have their own housing authority.
Cristeal has served as the County’s Housing Development Supervisor for nine years. He is lauded for leading his team in enhancing and implementing affordable housing financing and planning tools, working with partners to leverage federal and state funding and making policy recommendations to address the county’s affordable housing challenges.
“The County conducted a nationwide search for this key position and had a strong pool of applicants,” said County Manager Barbara Donnellan in a press release. “We chose David because he has a solid track record of working successfully with Arlington community members and non-profit partners to plan and preserve affordable housing. We know he’s the right person to carry out Arlington’s aggressive affordable housing program.”
Cristeal spent time working with the community to develop affordable housing recommendations for the Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Area Plan. He is also recognized for his efforts in helping the county preserve or build more than 2,300 affordable housing units between 2004 and 2012. His team provided recommendations for the Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF) on 20 developments totaling $120 million.
“David’s experience with the financial tools we use to develop affordable housing really set him apart from the strong pool of applicants,” said Robert Brosnan, director of Arlington’s Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development.
Prior to arriving in Arlington, Cristeal served as Housing Director and as Housing and Community Revitalization Director in Wake County, NC. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Geography and City Planning from the University of Wisconsin – Platteville and a Master’s in Regional Planning from the University of North Carolina.
Arlington Popular With ‘Echo Boomers’ — Those between the ages of 25 and 34, also known as “Echo Boomers,” have increased in population by 10 percent in Arlington over the past two years. Such residents say they’re attracted to Arlington’s mix of urban amenities and suburban comfort. Instead of moving further out into the suburbs upon having kids, many Echo Boomers are opting to stay in Arlington and other areas around D.C.’s urban core. [Washington Post]
Bloomberg BNA Faces Snack Abuse — Crystal City-based Bloomberg BNA sent a memo to employees on Friday threatening to install surveillance cameras to monitor the snack pantry, after some employees were observed taking a copious amount of snacks home. Managers rescinded the threat after pushback from the employees’ union. [Jim Romenesko]
Federal Tax Credits for Housing Projects — Two affordable housing projects in Arlington have qualified for financing through the federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits program. [Arlington County]
Toscana Grill Reopening — Courthouse restaurant Toscana Grill (2300 Clarendon Blvd) is reopening today. The restaurant closed for repairs last month after a water pipe burst and caused some flooding. Before it closed, in an effort to not let the food in the kitchen go to waste, Toscana gave away hundreds of free meals to those willing to wait in line. “We were thrilled by the turnout of our free food event and look forward to serving the community with our full dining, takeout and catering services,” owner Joe Smith tells ARLnow.com.
Great Food Truck Race Stops in Clarendon – The Hawaii-based Aloha Plate food truck stopped by the Arlington Festival of the Arts yesterday. Aloha Plate is a current contestant on the Food Network show The Great Food Truck Race. [Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick