Pierce Queen Apartments Too Costly for Tax Credits? — The Virginia Housing Development Authority has flagged the Pierce Queen Apartments project in Ft. Myer Heights as being too expensive for Low Income Housing Tax Credits. The units must remain at $350,000 each to receive credit, but the Pierce Queen units come in at $402,000. The project developers asked for a little more than $2 million in tax credits. VHDA is still examining the request and will make its final decision on June 5. [Arlington Mercury]
DOD Renews Lease in Crystal City – The Department of Defense decided to renew its lease at 2530 Crystal Drive in Crystal City. The agency was expected to stay in the more than 550,000 square foot space due to money being tight within the federal government. [GlobeSt]
High School Tournament Roundup — In high school sports, the Washington-Lee boys tennis team defeated the Robinson Rams in a quarterfinal match, but lost to Langley in the region semifinals. Yorktown boys and girls lacrosse teams lost in their second rounds of tournaments. Yorktown sophomore Luke Maxwell finished his season undefeated and won the National District singles tennis tournament without dropping a set. [Northern Virginia Sports]
Flickr pool photo by ddimick
Bike to Work Day Tomorrow — More than 12,000 bicyclists around the Washington region are expected to participate in Bike to Work Day tomorrow (Friday). Arlington will host four Bike to Work Day pit stops – in Rosslyn (6:30 to 9:00 a.m.), Ballston (6:30 to 9:00 a.m.), Crystal City (7:00 to 9:00 a.m.) and East Falls Church (4:00 to 7:00 p.m.). The annual event is free but attendees are encouraged to register.
Rosslyn Metro Project 85 Percent Complete – The new Rosslyn Metro entrance is over 85 percent complete, Arlington County announced this morning. The $32.6 million project will add a new entrance to the Rosslyn Metro station, featuring three high-speed elevators and an emergency staircase, but no escalators. With the elevator shaft and the emergency stairwell complete, the next step is installing the high-speed elevators.
Tiny Apartments: Solution to Rising Rents? — The average monthly rent for an apartment in Arlington was $1,999 in 2012, a 13 percent jump from one year prior. A recent forum sponsored by the Arlington-based Alliance for Housing Solutions suggested that one solution to rising rents could be smaller apartments. Specifically, the forum focused on sub-400 square foot apartments known as “micro-units.” [Sun Gazette]
Tuckahoe Home & Garden Tour on Saturday — The 13th annual Tuckahoe Home & Garden Tour will be held on Saturday from noon to 5:00 p.m. The line-up this year includes seven new and renovated homes and two gardens. Tickets for the event, which raises money for the Tuckahoe Elementary Discovery Schoolyard, are $20-25. [Tuckahoe Home & Garden Tour]
GU May Rent Rosslyn Apartments for Students — Georgetown University is considering renting units in the brand new Slate apartment building in Rosslyn in order to house graduate students. The Slate building, developed by JBG and located on the 1500 block of Clarendon Blvd, has 203 apartment units. [Washington Business Journal]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
A new apartment complex is coming to the 6800 block of Lee Highway in the East Falls Church neighborhood.
Developer Mark Silverwood is proposing to build a five-story, 180-unit apartment building on the Shreve Oil site, a 74,360 square foot lot consisting of small buildings and oil tanks on the Arlington-Falls Church line, adjacent to the W&OD Trail.
Called the Shreve Apartments, the development originally was proposed as a six-story, 228-unit apartment building with a 12,000 square foot grocery store. Following a Site Plan Review Committee (SPRC) meeting in December, that was downsized to a 180-unit apartment building with a detached 2,000 square foot retail space.
The retail space is envisioned for use as a restaurant, and could contain cafe seating that faces the trail.
In exchange for zoning and density concessions, Silverwood is offering to reserve some of the apartments as on-site affordable housing. Silverwood is also proposing LEED Silver sustainability certification and a Transportation Management Plan for residents. The details were presented at an SPRC meeting Thursday night.
The complex, which would include some 228 underground parking spaces and storage for up to 118 bicycles, is expected to generate peak vehicle traffic demand of 126 trips an hour, according to the developer’s presentation.
“Traffic signal improvements at the intersection of Lee Highway and Westmoreland Street are recommended to facilitate full movement access,” according to a traffic impact analysis.
Ultimately, the development will require Arlington County Board approval.
This is the third Arlington residential development in Silverwood’s pipeline. The Reston-based developer recently purchased and re-branded a new condominium building in Radnor/Fort Myer Heights, and is expected to start the site plan process for its proposed, controversial redevelopment of the Bluemont Safeway site.
Photos via Arlington County, Google Maps
The bad news: you’re right. The Washington, D.C. area has the second-highest rent of any large metropolitan area in the country, according to the 2010 U.S. Census.
At a median rent of $1,391 per month, the region’s rent is more expensive than San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles, and second only to San Jose. Adding to the misery, D.C.’s rent has been rising faster than any other large metro area, according to the Washington Examiner.
The good news: expect rents to start going down, at least in some areas. According to Bloomberg News, D.C. area rent is expected to decrease up to 2 percent this year, and fall even faster next year, due to an oversupply of new apartment buildings. There will “‘no doubt’ be a ‘glut’ of apartments in the next 12 to 18 months,” Bloomberg was told.
Just don’t expect the rent to keep falling. Bloomberg reports that the local apartment market should stabilize by 2016 and rents should start increasing, once again, by about 4 percent annually.
We’re interested to find out if Arlington has seen any impacts from the expected apartment glut. If you rent an apartment and you’ve renewed your lease in the past 12 months, how much did your rent change?
Firefighters are packing up and leaving the scene of a two alarm apartment fire on the 3400 block of Carlyn Hill Drive, along the Arlington/Fairfax border.
The call came in a little before 8:00 p.m. for a fire in an apartment on the third floor of the residential building. Firefighters managed to contain it to that one apartment.
According to Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Capt. Gregg Karl, at least six units from Arlington assisted the Fairfax County Fire Department. Units from Alexandria and Annandale also offered aid.
Part of Columbia Pike just west of Carlin Springs Road was down to one lane as crews responded to the fire in the building, which is offset from the main road.
Medics on scene were spotted tending to people and wrapping a few in blankets, but there are no reports so far of serious injuries. There’s also no word on the cause of the fire.
Minimal Snow Impacts on County Gov’t — This morning’s snowfall had little outward impact on county government operations. Trash and recycling collection is expected to proceed as normal, and scheduled parks and recreation events are also still on, according to the Arlington County government Twitter account. Street sweeping service, however, has been canceled.
Polly Captures Stacking Title Again — Arlington resident William Polly, 12, has captured the title of US Nationals Grand Champion in the sport of speed stacking for the second year in a row. Polly also set a world record for the “cycle” stacking event at the national competition. He will now compete in the sport’s world championship next month. [World Sport Stacking Association, YouTube]
Crystal House Sold — The 828-unit Crystal House apartment complex, at 2000 S. Eads Street in Crystal City, has been sold. Ballston-based AvalonBay sold the complex to New Jersey-based Mack-Cali Realty for between $197 and $262.5 million. [GlobeSt.com]
American Girl Dolls at Library — Arlington Public Library recently started lending out American Girl dolls, and last week the library added four new dolls to its collection. ”Just like the rest of the Library’s growing collection of American Girl Dolls, the new four can be placed on hold and taken home for a week of new adventures,” the library said on its website. [Arlington Public Library, Washington Post]
Park Naming Rights Rumors — There are rumors that the county has been considering selling the naming rights to Arlington parks, or even selling park land outright. Those rumors are untrue, the county says. [Arlington Mercury]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
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.
Approval for a high rise development in the Ft. Myer Heights neighborhood has been put on hold until the County Board receives more information about the plan.
Bozzuto Development Company had submitted a proposal for a large scale project in the 1600 block of N. 16th Street. It would involve redeveloping the five buildings that make up Pierce Queen Apartments; three of the buildings would be razed and replaced with a new 12-story apartment tower, and the other two buildings would be preserved and renovated. In total, the buildings would house more than 190 units.
The county’s Site Plan Review Committee raised several issues with the proposal during a January meeting. Problem areas included the proposed building bulk, lack of open space, above-grade parking, proposed locations of electrical switchboxes and the lack of a public art contribution. Additionally, concerns arose regarding the applicant’s request for Affordable Housing Investment Funds (AHIF) for the 76 affordable units and the anticipated request for competitive Low Income Housing Tax Credits from the Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA).
Earlier this month, the developer submitted a revised proposal that addressed a number of the issues. The developer has agreed to measures such as installing public art, eliminating above-grade parking and re-designing an interior courtyard. However, the AHIF concerns remain a sticking point.
The staff report says the developer didn’t propose a potential Tenant Assistance Fund and no affordability commitment period had been submitted. Staff also reported that no official AHIF application had been received, but the developer is seeking a county investment ranging from $6 million to $9.5 million. The developer had presented a plan indicating each market unit would cost $365,000 to develop and the affordable units would each cost $455,000 to develop. That exceeds the VHDA development cost limit of $350,000 per unit, although sometimes exceptions can be made. Concerns also exist in the way the developer plans to repay the AHIF and the time frame for doing so.
County staff recommended deferring the issue until May but the Board voted unanimously to defer until March 11. That date was chosen in an attempt to approve the plan before the March 15 tax credit application deadline. Board members mentioned the unusual circumstances, but stressed that there’s no guarantee the plan would receive approval in time. The applicant still must prove that all contingencies have been adequately met.
“If this is going to work it’s going to have to be all hands on deck working really hard,” said Board member Jay Fisette. “I hope we can get there.”
Although there’s a push to get the proposal handled quickly, Board member Mary Hynes highlighted the need to still be thorough. Because the process has been so rushed to meet the deadline, she said everyone from Board members to county staff working on the matter are still fuzzy on how the specifics will work out. Board members aren’t interested in moving forward, regardless of tax credit deadlines, if the plan isn’t solid.
“We don’t have a clear understanding of how all the bits and pieces are going to fit together. It’s important for us on the Board that our staff is confident,” said Hynes. “Doing affordable housing in new construction is expensive. And doing it on the Metro is even more expensive. We have to do a lot of due diligence around this to make sure the taxpayers are getting the best value for their dollars. I think we need to give this enough time to be sure.”
Construction is underway on two residential buildings near the Courthouse Metro station.
“19Nineteen Clarendon” is a new 200-unit luxury apartment building that, despite the latter half of its name, will be located at 1900 Wilson Blvd in the Courthouse area. It replaces what was formerly a Hollywood Video store and a small office building.
The new building’s ground floor in now in place and the remainder of the structure’s five stories will soon follow. According to the 19Nineteen Clarendon web site, the building is expected to open this summer.
Just up the street, on the same “superblock,” a construction pit marks the future location of “2001 Clarendon.” Also known as “Washington View,” the project features 154 residential units — planned as condos — and 32,840 square feet of retail space.
As part of the project, the developer will construct an extension of N. Troy Street between Clarendon and Wilson Boulevards, thus breaking up the superblock between Courthouse Road and Rhodes Street.
The fire was reported around 9:00 a.m. in a top floor apartment of the 12-story building. Heavy smoke was seen coming from the apartment upon emergency responders’ arrival. Described as a natural gas-fed kitchen fire, the blaze was quickly knocked down once Arlington County firefighters reached the apartment.
The fire did not spread to other apartments, but smoke did spread to at least two other units. Firefighters are ventilating the smoke now.
Three aging, affordable garden apartment buildings will be replaced with a new, 12-story residential tower as part of a planned mixed-income development in the Rador-Ft. Myer Heights neighborhood.
Wesley Housing Development Corporation is partnering with Bozzuto to redevelop the five-building, 50-unit Pierce Queen Apartments, built in 1942 and located on the 1600 block of 16th Street N. The developers have proposed to tear down three of the buildings in order to build a new 186-unit apartment tower, while renovating the remaining two garden apartment buildings.
As reported by the Arlington Mercury, however, the county’s Site Plan Review Committee expressed reservations about the project at a meeting on Monday.
SPRC members questioned various aspects of the project’s design and one member said flatly that he was “not comfortable” with the overall design. Members also questioned whether parking fees for market-rate apartments (parking will be free for affordable apartment residents) would send cars onto neighborhood streets seeking free parking.
The project’s McLean-based architect countered that his firm followed the county’s sector plan for the area “almost to the exact T,” the Mercury reported.
The county’s Planning Commission is currently expected to take up the Pierce Queen development in January, with a County Board vote expected in “early 2013.”
The Arlington County Board decided not to make a decision yet on approving a new high-rise apartment building at 1720 S. Eads Street. The developer, Kettler, has asked for more time to work around issues surrounding a part of the building plan.
The site currently houses a post office that was built in 1969 and closed last year when a new post office opened nearby. The Crystal City Sector Plan allows for the site to be rezoned for development into a medium or high density residential building. County staff recommended approving the rezoning, which Board members also favored.
However, county staff was not on board with two other aspects of the redevelopment plan — specialized pavers on the sidewalk near the building entrances and a pool deck on the roof.
The Board would need to approve a special exception for the building height if a rooftop pool were to be added. The plan includes a raised pool deck, a lifeguard room and restrooms. Under the current plan, buildings are allowed a maximum height of 110 feet; the rooftop pool would put the proposed building over the limit by four feet.
“Some say the applicant had a choice to take this into account earlier and they didn’t. They’re getting an awful lot as it is. The flip side is, so who’s bothered by it in the long run?” said Board member Jay Fisette. “It’s a nice amenity on the roof, and all the rest. But the rules are the rules.”
The developer pointed out that the roof area is not rentable space, but merely an amenity. Board member Chris Zimmerman disagreed, saying that technically the developer is asking for an extra floor in the building. He believes that making an exception to the rule would set a precedent, especially considering this would be the first development under the new Crystal City Sector Plan.
“The trouble is that we went through a whole process to develop the plan to establish what the heights would be. And if we make this exception, which it’s clear the ordinance was designed to not allow us to do, then we’d be changing the definition of height throughout the Crystal City plan,” Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman further stated that limiting the amount of space for each building directly controls density, and making changes would have a larger impact on developments and density throughout the county.
As far as the pavers, most of the Board members didn’t oppose the idea. Hynes was the only member not in favor of approving the specialized pavers.
“I walk a lot and these clear paths are very important to me,” said Hynes. “I certainly can support the alternative treatments around the clear zone, which is what the sector plan calls for, but I must say I’m not intrigued by doing it sort of randomly at entrances of buildings.”
As a whole, the Board agreed that the only remaining issue is the rooftop pool.
“I just want to say, apart from this basically one in particular issue that we focused on, I think this is a really nice project,” said Zimmerman.
The Board ultimately granted the developer’s request for the matter to be deferred until the January meeting to allow for more time to examine the concerns surrounding the rooftop pool deck.
The Arlington County Board rebuffed the county’s Planning Commission Saturday afternoon, approving a new apartment development on Lee Highway after a strong showing of public support for the project.
Last month, the Planning Commission voted against the project, which includes a 10-story apartment building and a retail and residential complex that will include a MOM’s Organic Market grocery store. The development will replace the aging Bergmann’s dry cleaning plant, at the corner of Lee Highway and N. Vietch Street, less than half a mile from the Courthouse Metro station. The Planning Commission voted ‘no’ due to concerns about building height and the precedent the project might set for development on Lee Highway.
The Lyon Village Civic Association, which represents residents across Lee Highway from the proposed development, agreed with the Planning Commission. Civic Association President James Lantelme told the Board that the association supports redevelopment of the Bergmann’s site in theory, but couldn’t support a building higher than 6-8 stories.
Lantelme worried that project approval could inspire other developers to propose higher buildings along Lee Highway. He said existing garden apartment buildings and the National Pawnbrokers building at the corner of Lee Highway and Kirkwood Road could be redeveloped in the near future, making the Bergmann’s development “a real live issue right now.”
Lantelme was in the minority at Saturday’s Board meeting, however. More than a dozen residents spoke in favor of the development, 10 stories and all — a fairly rare showing of support at Board meetings where proposals to construct high buildings are usually greeted with a chorus of disapproval from neighbors.
The North Highlands Citizens Association — which represents some 1,800 households and businesses north of Lee Highway, including the Bergmann’s site — voted 70 percent in favor of the project. Residents told the Board that the proposed development, especially the grocery store, is welcome in the neighborhood. Until the recent addition of the now-busy Burger 7 restaurant, the only retail store in North Highlands was a 7-Eleven.
“As a resident in the actual neighborhood, I think the positives would far outweigh the negatives,” said one resident. “High rises are just a fact of modern life in Arlington.”
“I think this will help us become a more cohesive community,” she said. “I would enjoy shopping there. I would enjoy neighbors living there… I love the building, it’s filled with light. This has an aesthetic appeal and a design that contributes to people getting to know each other.”
Anita Machhar, co-president of the North Highlands Citizens Association, criticized the Planning Commission’s stance that the county should produce a comprehensive development plan for Lee Highway before approving the Bergmann’s project.
“It is unfair to hold our community hostage while it takes years for a master plan to be developed,” she said. “We don’t want a rundown dry cleaner as our community landmark.”
Republican activist Robert Atkins, a frequent critic of the county at Board meetings, also spoke in favor of the development, urging the Planning Commission to “return from their parallel universe, return to planet Earth.”
In the end, the County Board voted 5-0 to approve the development.
The fire broke out around 6:00 p.m. at the Berkeley Apartments, on the 2900 block of S. Glebe Road. The flames and resulting damage were confined to one basement apartment, according to ACFD spokesman Capt. Gregg Karl.
One person was taken to a local hospital for medical reasons unrelated to the fire, Karl said. With the exception of the occupant(s) of the damaged apartment, no residents were displaced by the blaze.
The Berkeley apartment building was the scene of a fire last December.
An elderly man is dead after becoming trapped during a fire in his apartment in the 2900 block of S. Buchanan Street in Fairlington.
According to Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Capt. Gregg Karl, smoke was coming from the top level apartment when crews arrived on the scene. Capt. Karl said because the investigation has just begun, it’s unclear exactly what started the fire and whether the man died from burns or smoke inhalation.
According to a law enforcement source, the fire is not considered suspicious. The victim was reportedly a hoarder and clutter prevented him from escaping from his apartment when the fire broke out. We’re told he was the only person in the apartment at the time and was found dead on the scene when rescue crews arrived. Nobody in any neighboring units was hurt.
About 10 residents have been displaced from their apartments while the investigation is underway, according to Capt. Karl. They are being allowed to seek shelter at the Fairlington Community Center until they receive word about being able to head back to their apartments.
Courtesy photo (top)