Seeking Fed Funds for Transportation Projects — Arlington County is seeking $840,000 in federal grant funds for three transportation projects. The projects include: bicycle and pedestrian improvements near McKinley Elementary School, Americans with Disabilities Act improvements along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor, and an expansion of the Capitol Bikeshare system. [InsideNova]
D.C. More Expensive than NYC, SF? — In terms of housing-related costs, it’s more expensive to live in the D.C. area than New York City or San Francisco. That’s according to a new study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. [Washington Post]
Cyclists Facing ‘Bikelash’ — Bicyclists don’t like being called “bullies” and “terrorists,” but the county’s Mobility Lab blog argues that it’s best not to respond with reason and logic to the increasing amount of “bikelash.” Instead, the blog encourages cyclists to act more strategically by organizing, publishing their own media outlets and engaging in the political process. [Mobility Lab]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
(Updated at 12:10 p.m.) Construction has begun at the new Lacey Lane subdivision at the corner of Washington Blvd and N. George Mason Drive, more than a year-and-a-half after crews first excavated the site in the Waycroft-Woodlawn neighborhood.
Work on the first model home first was expected to begin in March 2013, but didn’t actually happen until a few weeks ago. County employees told ARLnow.com last November that the stall had to do with developer The Barrett Companies fulfilling safety obligations in order to receive permits. County staff confirms the developer met all requirements and obtained a building permit this spring.
According to the Evergreene Homes website, the nine properties will be “exquisitely detailed luxury residences.” Renderings of what the finished homes are expected to look like are also available on the website.
The base models originally were said to feature four bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms, at an estimated cost of $1.4 million each. Although preliminary plans are available for the three-level houses, Evergreene Homes Director of Sales and Marketing Rich Rudnicki said the company currently is finalizing the home options and base pricing. He said the company should be ready to put the properties up for sale by September 1.
Rudnicki says details like detached garages, courtyards and sitting areas will make this a unique subdivision.
“It’s a cool location,” he said, “It’s going to be a different kind of community.”
The proposal requests approval of a site plan for two new five-story apartment buildings with 287 units and 264 parking spaces. There would be 171 units designated as affordable to households earning less than 60% of the area median income.
Currently, The Berkeley has 110 affordable units out of 137 total units. The two four-story buildings built in 1961 would be demolished under the proposal.
County staff members are reviewing the site plan application and hope to begin the public review process soon. The first Site Plan Review Committee meeting for this proposal is scheduled for Thursday, November 21.
Deputy Accused of Murder Again Denied Bond — Arlington County Sheriff’s Deputy Craig Patterson, who is accused of murdering Julian Dawkins, has been denied bond for a third time. Patterson’s defense attorney argued that Dawkins may have been using and dealing drugs, and Dawkins’ previous dealings with police caused his confrontational nature the night of the incident. Patterson’s trial starts on December 9. [WUSA]
Home Sales, Prices Rise — The combination of higher sales and increasing average sales prices boosted Arlington’s total sales volume for August by 29.4 percent, to $173 million, compared to last year. The average price of all residential properties rose 8.1 percent to $594,479. Homes sold last month spent an average of 29 days on the market between listing and contract, compared with 50 days a year ago. [Sun Gazette]
Lost Dog/Stray Cat Profile — A Washington Post story profiles two of Arlington’s well known restaurants that help pets find homes — Lost Dog Cafe and Stray Cat Cafe. Co-founders Pam McAlwee and Ross Underwood describe how they started rescuing strays from shelters before the age of cell phones and the internet. Each year the duo, along with their 300 volunteers, helps around 1,800 dogs and 700 cats find homes. [Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by maryva2
The Hoya student newspaper reports that the school is looking at Clarendon, Capitol Hill and a location north of the Georgetown’s main campus as possible areas to house 385 students starting in the fall of 2015.
The off-site housing is necessary in order for the university to comply with an agreement with Georgetown residents and the D.C. government to house 90 percent of students on campus by 2025. Construction of a planned on-campus dormitory has been delayed, The Hoya reports, making a satellite campus — likely apartments rented by the university — a last-resort option for compliance.
The school may have a hard time convincing students to live far outside campus, however.
“University officials have discussed making satellite housing higher quality than current campus housing by including a swimming pool for student use or situating the campus near a Metro stop,” The Hoya wrote. Georgetown would also run a shuttle from the satellite campus to the main campus across the Key Bridge.
Stacy Kerr, Assistant Vice President of Communication for Georgetown, disputed The Hoya article and said it overstates the number of students who would be potentially be housed in Clarendon. She said the university is actually looking to house some 160 students.
Georgetown has a history with Clarendon, operating its Center for Continuing and Professional Education on Wilson Blvd across from the Clarendon Metro station. The program, however, has moved to a new office in D.C.’s Chinatown neighborhood. The school’s lease on the building runs until 2014.
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.
Rush Plus Starts Today — This morning marks the start of Metro’s “Rush Plus” modified rush hour rail service. So far, via Twitter, numerous problems and crowded trains have been reported on the Blue Line. Initial reviews have been mixed on the Orange and Yellow lines.
Hearing Set for Pike Neighborhoods Plan — A public hearing about the new Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Plan will be held on Saturday, July 21. The plan envisions the addition of 6,000 new rental apartments (to the existing stock of 9,000 apartments) along the Columbia Pike corridor over the next 30 years. Arlington County says the goal of the plan is to “Preserve affordable housing… encourage private investment… create a more pedestrian-friendly community… [and] strengthen the Pike corridor’s transit network.” [Washington Post, Arlington County]
Streetcar Agreement Approved — The Arlington County Board and the Alexandria City Council have approved an agreement to move forward on a plan to build a streetcar along the Route 1 corridor. The streetcar line could open in Crystal City as soon as 2019. [NBC Washington]
Second Phase of Crystal City Road Project Approved — The second phase of a major road project in Crystal City has been approved by the Arlington County Board. The project will convert Crystal Drive to a two-way road between 23rd Street and 26th Street. The project includes bicycle lanes, new traffic signals and street lighting, intersection improvements and ADA-compliant curb ramps and sidewalks. [Arlington County]
Fourth Name on 8th District Ballot — Independent Jason Howell has qualified for the 8th District congressional race. Howell joins incumbent Democratic Rep. Jim Moran, Republican Patrick Murray (R) and Independent Green candidate Janet Murphy on the Nov. 6 ballot. [Sun Gazette]
The annual Arlington Home Show and Expo will return to the Walter Reed Community Center (2909 S. 16th Street) next Saturday.
As it has in the past, the show will feature dozens of home builders, contractors, vendors, architects, inspectors, real estate agents, gardeners, lenders and nonprofits, as well as housing, zoning and inspection representatives from Arlington County.
“Whether you are a resident looking to improve your home, an experienced contractor or a landlord managing rentals, the 2012 Arlington Home Show & Expo offers a convenient one-stop shop to ‘Ask an Expert’ and learn of new ways to update your home,” said an Arlington County press release. Arlington’s Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development is jointly sponsoring the event with the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization (CPRO).
“Learn about remodeling kitchens and baths, finishing or waterproofing basements, replacing windows, doors, flooring, roofing and siding, security systems and more from a wide variety of top-rated companies,” touted the press release. “The expo will offer the latest information on green products and technologies, with an emphasis on smart and universal design that produces beautiful, desirable homes compliant with Arlington County zoning and permit rules.”
According to organizers, classes at the home show will include:
- How to choose and work with contractors
- How to finance your remodeling project
- Building codes for remodeling
- Green remodeling and renewable energy
- Universal design, visit-ability and aging in place
- “Landlord Seminar” for owners of fewer than five residential units
There also be door prizes (provided by private sponsors) and a drawing for a new iPad. The home show is free and will be held from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 14.
Disclosure: CPRO is an ARLnow.com advertiser.
Civic Federation Budget Proposal — The Arlington County Civic Federation has unanimously approved its own vision for the county’s budget. The Civic Federation’s budget proposal would hold the current real estate tax rate steady, while providing more money for schools and public safety, funding an inspector general position and eliminating 16 long-vacant county government positions. The Civic Federation also voted 30-12 for a motion calling on the county to close Rosslyn’s Artisphere by the end of the year unless significant progress is made in turning around the struggling cultural center’s finances. [Sun Gazette]
Streetcar Stalemate with Alexandria — Arlington County’s plan to build a streetcar line from Crystal City to Potomac Yard is facing resistance from Alexandria. While Arlington has financing for the streetcar lined up, Alexandria says they don’t have the money for a streetcar line — and would like the planned Crystal City/Potomac Yard transit corridor to remain a bus rapid transit system for the foreseeable future. [WAMU]
Thousands Sign Up for Housing Aid — Arlington County opened up its waiting list for federal Section 8 housing assistance for one day, after keeping the list closed for the past seven years. In that one day the county received 5,300 pre-applications from those seeking rent assistance. [Patch]
Fund Set Up to House the Homeless — The Arlington Community Foundation has announced a $500,000 private gift that will allow it to create a new fund for the 100 Homes campaign against homelessness. With a $500,000 match from Arlington County, the $1 million public/private partnership will be “dedicated to housing Arlington’s most vulnerable citizens.” [Arlington Community Foundation]
Could Arlington’s insistence on preserving the single-family home communities along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor be the reason why it seems every new apartment building in the corridor is a “luxury” apartment building?
Last week Slate columnist Matthew Yglesais, author of The Rent Is Too Damn High, wrote about Arlington and suggested that the prevalence of expensive high-end rentals and condos stems from two factors: restrictions on building height and the width of the corridor itself, which is sometimes just 2-3 blocks wide, thanks to zoning restrictions intended to preserve the single family homes on either side of the corridor.
“What you see is a narrow thread of urbanism between Wilson Boulevard and Clarendon Boulevard, with a bit of a thicker blob of urbanism around the Metro station itself,” Yglesais writes. “I don’t really want to condemn this development paradigm because if you compare it to other suburban jurisdictions around the United States, what Arlington has done really stands out as practically best in class. But still the fact of the matter is that these single-family homes adjacent to the corridor of urbanism are sitting on some extremely expensive land.”
Yglesais suggests that opening up additional redevelopment along the R-B corridor would help bring cheaper market-rate housing options. Following up on our inconclusive poll from December — “Should Arlington Increase Density to Keep Housing Prices Down?” — should Arlington consider expanding the width of the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor?
County Expects Fewer Housing Dollars from Feds — Federal spending cuts and a reduction in poverty in Arlington have combined to result in a relatively steep drop in federal housing dollars for Arlington County. The county expects to receive $1.16 million in federal housing dollars in fiscal year 2013 — a nearly $400,000 drop compared to the prior year. [Sun Gazette]
‘Tebow Bill’ Advances in General Assembly — A bill that would allow home-schooled students in Virginia to play for public school sports teams has cleared a key legislative hurdle, reports the Associated Press. The bill’s nickname — the Tebow Bill — references NFL quarterback Tim Tebow, who was home schooled but permitted to play on a public high school football team. [My Fox DC]
Fitch Affirms Arlington’s ‘AAA’ Rating — Bond rating agency Fitch has affirmed Arlington’s AAA debt rating in advance of an upcoming bond offering. Fitch praised Arlington’s “outstanding fiscal performance” and “exceptionally vibrant employment base” in a press release. “Conservative budgeting, timely tax and fee increases, and closely monitored expenditure controls consistently produce surplus operating results leading to solid reserve levels and liquidity,” the firm wrote. [Business Wire]
Prostitute Sexually Assaulted in Ballston — A prostitute was sexually assaulted at the Comfort Inn hotel on N. Glebe Road in Ballston on Wednesday, according to the Arlington County Police Department’s daily crime report. The woman did, however, manage to call her “bodyguard” during the attack. The bodyguard reportedly got in a scuffle with the woman’s attacker before the attacker fled the scene. [Patch]
Arlington will host the second annual Northern Virginia Housing Expo this year.
The event features dozens of exhibits “showcasing both homeownership and rental opportunities and resources throughout Northern Virginia.” There are also free workshops that will help prepare attendees for renting or buying a home.
The housing expo is produced by the Fairfax-based nonprofit AHOME, in cooperation with the Virginia Housing Development Authority and numerous Northern Virginia localities, including Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax, Loudoun and Falls Church.
The expo is being held at Washington-Lee High School (1301 N. Stafford Street) between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 24. The inaugural expo was held at Alexandria’s T.C. Williams High School last June.
(Updated at 9:35 a.m.) During a panel discussion on Wednesday, some local employers expressed concern that Arlington County’s economy might be negatively impacted by the continued rise in rents and housing prices.
“Panelists described a scenario that could leave Arlington with housing options only for those at the top end of the economic spectrum, and those lucky enough to win access to subsidized rental units,” the Sun Gazette reported. That scenario, some say, could make it harder for Arlington employers to fill working class jobs.
One potential solution to spiking housing prices, as proposed by a George Mason University study and reported by the Sun Gazette, is to add “between 9,000 and 34,000 new residential units in coming years.”
Do you support adding housing density in order to improve housing affordability?
Hard Times Cafe Opens in Verizon Center — Local staple Hard Times Cafe has opened a new concession stand in the Verizon Center. Located on the main concourse near section 119, the stand opened in time for the first Capitals preseason game on Monday. In addition to brick-and-mortar locations in Clarendon and around the D.C. suburbs, Hard Times also operates a stand in Nationals Park.
Arlington Sheriff Elected to Association — Arlington Sheriff Beth Arthur has been elected vice president of the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association. [Sun Gazette]
Housing Fair This Weekend — The Arlington County Housing Fair will be held on Saturday, from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The event features “practical advice for managing money, improving credit and avoiding eviction or foreclosure;” home buyer workshops; meetings with county staff, housing specialists, landlords, real estate agents and finance professionals; and “access federal, state and local housing programs and resources.” The fair is being held at the NRECA Conference Center in Ballston (4301 Wilson Blvd). [Arlington County Housing Fair]
The Arlington County Housing Fair is an ARLnow.com advertiser
The effort is part of the county’s 100 Homes Campaign, which will try to cut “chronic homelessness” in Arlington in half by July 2013. The campaign will place some of Arlington’s most medically-vulnerable homeless individuals — described as “those most likely to die if not housed quickly” — in permanent supportive housing.
The county is looking for volunteer surveyors, data entry personnel and headquarters staff to work from Oct. 17-19. Surveyors will be asked to go out in teams and interview homeless individuals from 3:30 to 7:30 a.m., while data entry will be done between 6:30 and 9:00 a.m. More information on volunteering can be found on the 100 Homes Arlington web site.
“We have made great strides in addressing homelessness in Arlington, but our work is far from complete,” County Board Chairman Chris Zimmerman said in a statement. “The 100 Homes Campaign brings important focus to helping some of the most vulnerable members of our community – those living on the streets.”
Arlington’s campaign, co-chaired by County Board member and state Senate candidate Barbara Favola and Shooshan Company president John Shooshan, is based on the national 100,000 Homes campaign.