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Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com March 16, 2011 at 6:30 am 1,989 20 Comments

Last American WWI Vet Buried in Arlington — Army Cpl. Frank Buckles, the last surviving U.S. World War I veteran, was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery yesterday. Earlier in the day, President Obama and Vice President Biden stopped by to pay their respects as Buckles lay in repose in a cemetery chapel. [American Forces Press Service]

Underground Explosion Rocks Pike Townhouse Complex — An underground explosion caused a manhole cover to fly across the backyard of a townhouse complex near Columbia Pike yesterday morning. Firefighters are still trying to determine what caused the blast, but a strong gasoline-like odor could be smelled in the area. The gas also apparently caused fires to start near water heaters inside the townhouses. The complex is across the street from an auto repair shop and next to Four Mile Run. [ABC 7]

County Offers Tree Grants to Neighborhood Groups — Arlington is offering grants to local groups that want to plant trees on private property in the county. Grant applications are due in July, but groups must file a notice of intent next month. [Sun Gazette]

Pike Apartment Community May Be Redeveloped — Renovations or an out-and-out redevelopment may be in the works for the Greenbrier Apartments at 4975 Columbia Pike. The garden-style apartments were built in 1949 and are considered market-rate affordable. Arlington recently revised its affordable housing goals. [Pike Wire]

Nottingham PTA 5K This Weekend — The Nottingham Elementary PTA 5K Run/Walk is being held this weekend, with a course that will wind through part of North Arlington. Registration for the race ends tomorrow morning. [Active.com]

  • Overgrown Bush

    I heard on the news about the last American WWI vet. He was something like 110 years old, and had lied about his age to join the military. He went to war at 16, and wanted to. I know the times were different then, and it was a World War. I also know many military members now are just as dedicated, and I thank them for that. God bless this man, and may he rest in peace.

  • CrystalMikey

    R.I.P. Corporal Buckles

  • Arlwhenever

    The Greenbrier Apartment are 100 percent market affordable rental units, across the street from the newly-built 5500 monolith, which is a vacant ghost town. Developers, well aware of the 5500 economic debacle won’t do anything to redevelop the Greenbrier site unless and until the County does something to push them to push out the current residents. Don’t buy this baloney that what the County is doing is preserving affordable housing. Chris Zimmerman and friends are actually doing everything in their power to destroy affordability.

    • Josh S

      Yes, it’s hard to see how the headline here could possibly be “The County Works to Preserve Affordable Housing.” If and when these apartments are ever redeveloped, the rent / cost will surely be waaaay higher than it is now. On the other hand, it’s also a bit of a stretch to accuse the county of “doing everything in their power to destroy affordability.” That’s clearly absurd. What they are trying to do is encourage the redevelopment of aged, tired parts of Columbia Pike. Simple economics will see to it that this means that rents go up. We can hope, however, that the county will figure out a way to extract some units of affordable housing from whatever redevelopment might happen.

      • Arl 2

        Wait until Fillmore Gardens (1/3 of it) gets redeveloped. There is no way that the County will replace all the affordable apartments with new units. Look how they destroyed most of Buckingham. They should have made most of Buckingham condo conversion so teachers and seniors could afford a one or two bedroom unit.

        • cj

          Ahhh, the all-powerful anonymous “they”! Do tell precisely who had the power to convert Buckingham rental apartments into affordable condos when the complexes were still owned by out-of-state partnerships who didn’t want to cooperate with the county.

  • NPGMBR

    With all the new LUXURY apartments coming on-line along the Pike Corridor I can’t see how this can possibly not have a major impact on diversity and affordability in the county. I live in Dominion Plaza and have so since 2000. Its an old building for sure but its well built with solid cement walls. The building just underwent a milti-million dollar renovation and the County wants to destroy it?

    Heres something telling about the newer buildings in the are. They come with smaller living spaces, cheaper materials (i.e. sheetrock walls) that allow every television, radio and human voice to reverberate throught the entire floor all for a much higher price because they throw in solid wood cabinates, stainless steel appliances and granite countertops.

    I just don’t know if I’ll be able to remain in Arlington if they destroy my building. It already hurts just paying 1300 for a one bedroom. My god im gonna be fored to move back into a studio!

    • South Arlington

      Good strawman argument. I have seen nothing that Dominion Plaza would be torn down. In fact, I haven’t seen any talk of any of the apartments in that general area being torn down or redeveloped. The latest Penrose meeting minutes said that it wasn’t even feasible to redevelop the Dorchester Towers building.

      The Greenbrier apartments are a hole. Built in the WWII era, they are infested with bugs, aging, creaky and poorly insulated. They are “market rate affordable” because they are so crappy. I don’t see why Arlington should be forced or pressured into keeping rental slums around just because the dwellings are so crappy that they are cheap.

      • NPGMBR

        You are correct I made an assumpton! However, if you read the entire posting at piketowncenter the following statement is made: “The other nine apartment complexes identified for improvements by the Plenary Group are Magnolia Commons, Holiday Hills, The Fields, Barcroft, Westmont Gardens, Dominion Plaza, Dorchester Towers, and
        The Lancaster.”

        Thats a clear statement that the Plenary Group intends to do something to these buildings. As I stated in my original post; Dominion Plaze just underwent a multi-million dollar renovation that even included the addition of a parking deck to expand parking. Why would the building now be targetted for improvements?

        • South Arlington

          First off, these buildings aren’t owned by the County. The all-powerful County Board can’t just point at a building and say “Thou shalt be redeveloped.” Corporations and private owners own these buildings. If it doesn’t make sense financially for them, they aren’t going to do anything. They can start going through the redevelopment process anytime they want if it makes sense. Doing otherwise, or forcing it to remain “market rate” affordable by not allowing any redevelopment down the line, is doing nothing but restraining free market commerce. It sounds like they are just doing a study of theoretical situations anyways.

          • Lou

            Theoretical Studies are what will probably get most of the Howard Manor residents kicked out of their units. In fact there were not any studies done that I’m aware of, just the Board saying they knew what was going to happen in the future, so they set the wheels in motion to have the complex converted to committed affordable.

          • NPGMBR

            I know with absolute certainty that the county does not own Dominion Plaza and I assume that the County does not own the others but as a long-time resident of South Arlington (since 1995) it concerns me to see organizations like the Plenary Group (which likely has some pull with the County Board) making plans for redeveloping my hood. I have every right to be concerned because I love my building, my neighborhood and my County.

            If it were not for the residents of the 5 apartment complexes and one condo voicing opposition, a nice little park area in front of my building would now be 16 townhomes. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with redevelopment but it certainly mind it when its unnecessary.

            Dominion Plaza and Dominion Towers just across the street are both quite valuable because both have a direct and unobstructed view of the Army/Navy Country Club’s Golf Course and I’m quite sure a developer would pay quite well to raise the buildings and replace them with luxury Condos/Apts. This is exactly the same reason developers vigorously lobbied the Congress to turn over the land that the Navy Annex now sits on to the County so they could then lobby Arlington to throw up Luxury hotels. Luckily the Congress saw a better use and will now use the land to expand Arlington National Cemetery when the Navy Annex is finally taken down.

            All it takes is for the County to offer the owner a deal in their favor and that would mean the end of any currently affordable unit in the County.

  • CW

    I am just happy to see our first “exploding manhole cover” story in quite some time!!!

    Long live the DC exploding manhole covers!!!

  • BLACK FLAG

    More condos and more pizza places

  • NArl

    I though the county had money issues but it is giving out tree grants, what a bunch of asses over in the county building.

    • Chris

      The tree fund comes from real estate developers who are ripping out the existing mature trees. Apparently they pay into a fund, and trees 2″ in diameter are offered to neighborhoods that apply via a proposal. However the neighborhoods that lost the trees and win the concrete are not necessarily the neighborhood that get the new trees. Sad but true….

  • Dear ARLnow,

    The report you carry from the pike-wire blog about “redevelopment plans” for the Greenbrier Apartments creates the erroneous and ultimately misleading impression that Arlington County and/or the Columbia Pike Housing Study plenary group is considering redevelopment plans for properties along the Columbia Pike corridor.
    This is not the case.
    Indeed, the Columbia Pike Housing Study has asked external experts, urban planners and economists to model theoretical redevelopment scenarios for a selection of properties. The intention is to obtain a good understanding of the kind of pressures our housing market (as a whole and in particular the affordable housing segment) is experiencing now and in coming decades. Since it is almost impossible to model every single block on the corridor the plenary group sampled nine multi-family properties based on characteristics that make them fairly representative in the sense that insights gained by studying the sample will very likely be valid for most other properties along the Pike. Studying and running a theoretical “what-if” planning exercise on a sample property doesn’t imply at all that actual redevelopment of any kind is considered by anybody for this property now or in the future.
    In addition, the fact that the aforementioned representative properties have been selected for more exhaustive study does not imply that the plenary group wants to steer development focus to them, or promote or support any “redevelopment” agenda.
    The Plenary Group is rather interested in understanding current market pressures so that Arlington County can identify what measures could be taken to preserve affordability in our housing stock.
    The very fact that Arlington has an open and, of course, public process on the Columbia Pike Housing Study is proof that we as a community recognize the challenge and are willing to find appropriate policies to deal with it in a way that is consistent with goals over which there is broad consensus.
    I would like to approach everybody who is concerned about housing in Arlington and on Columbia Pike to bookmark the Housing Study webpage, to participate and to closely follow the process.

    My name is Takis Karantonis and I represent the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization on the Housing Study Plenary Group.

  • John Snyder

    The Pike Land Use and Housing Study Plenary Group does not have the means to start re-developing properties even if it wanted to. Re-development will come when the property owners decide to do it. The study is looking at what could be done, if the property owners decide to re-develop, that would preserve both affordable housing and quality of life in the neighborhood. Preserving affordable housing often means increasing the size of the development so the property owner can get more revenue out of “unaffordable” units to preserve affordable units. That can be done, or not, while improving or not damaging quality of life in the neighborhood, depending on the design. Some properties, like the Greenbrier, would have more potential for additional density than others, like Dominion Plaza. The consultants are presenting what the property could look like—literally—in different scenarios and trying to predict whether such a design would make financial sense to preserve affordable housing. We hope that if there is re-development of multi-family residential areas, that developers will choose an option that preserves affordable housing. That is why the options are being prepared now, so the choices are known when the time comes.

    • Bringmetheyuppies

      Don’t know who the “we ” is you are refering to John, but most of the folks I talk to in the neighborhood would be quite happy to eliminate affordable housing that is tax based in any way. Many of us paid alot of money for our houses based on the premise that the pike will upgrade. Let it come and the free market dictate the price of housing.

      • John Snyder

        “We” are the people on the Housing Study Plenary Group. I represent Douglas Park; we overwhelmingly favor preservation of affordable housing (based on a recent neighborhood survey). Worry not, the new developments like Sienna and the Halstead and Penrose Square are upgrading the Pike, without displacing anybody. Both can happen at the same time.

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