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Proposed Building Purchase Would Allow Year-Round Homeless Shelter

by ARLnow.com November 22, 2011 at 11:29 am 10,375 116 Comments

(Updated at 11:50 a.m.) Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan will recommend that the County Board approve the purchase of 2020 14th Street N., a seven-story office building in Courthouse, according to a county news release.

The purchase of the $25.5 million, 70,000 square foot building will allow the county to achieve several significant goals.

Two stories of the building would likely be devoted to a new, year-round shelter for homeless adults. The “comprehensive homeless services center” will replace the current Emergency Winter Shelter on 15th Street N. in Courthouse, which is only open during cold weather months.

The acquisition would also allow the county to consolidate offices space from its Court Square West building at 1400 N. Uhle Street. After the offices are moved and the Court Square West building is torn down, the county would then be able to proceed with a planned redevelopment at Courthouse Plaza. That redevelopment would see the county’s large surface parking lot converted into a mixed-use development with ground floor retail, office and residential space, underground parking and a public plaza.

Existing private tenants at 2020 14th Street N. will eventually be moved out after a county acquisition, with some possible exceptions including street level retail tenants like Ragtime restaurant. Donnellan’s recommendation is expected to be considered at the Board’s Dec. 13, 2011 meeting. The county says it would consider using its eminent domain powers if a “voluntary purchase” is not successful.

  • Rob

    The only thing I care about is what’s going to happen to Ragtime?

    • TryTheTacos

      Yes… don’t mess with Ragtime please!

    • Daniel

      Trying to imagine watching a line of homeless people right outside of Ragtime….they might want to move to the Kitty O’Shea’s location.

    • Bob

      Maybe they could buy a building in Richmond to house the
      homeless. Maybe ART bus the people there? Maybe they
      could build affordable housing there? The new Super 8
      Motel buildings are swanky looking for maybe what they
      cost to build? It;s just being practical not dumping the
      homeless there. Maybe they could build 4 buildings there
      what it would cost in Arlington? Maybe the taxes from the
      building in Arlington could pay the subsidy on one of the
      buildings? Might bring jobs to Richmond there is so
      much money in Arlington, people mansioning there
      50’s ramblers. I wonder…g

      • Bob

        Maybe they could take a couple of the parks in Arlington for
        affordable housing? Maybe a public square as part of the
        development? The new park in Crystal City would be a
        good location? Maybe tracts along four mile run? People
        would have a choice of a cot in the old supermarket in
        Arlington or a swanky Ikea furnished apartment in Richmond or
        Norfolk. There standard of living would be better when they get
        a job, the old market rate apartment on Columbia Pike for $1200
        a month or maybe a new development for $650 a month in
        Richmond? g

  • ODCASteve

    Why do the ground floor tenants need to move out? I thought ArlCo was in favor of mixed-use; the restaurants and shoe-repair provide street level activity.

    • Novanglus

      The press release is specific that some _office_ tenants may need to move out before their leases expire, and that they want to keep the street-level retail. Ragtime and Gene’s are popular lunch places for County management, and the dry cleaner does a lot of uniform business.

      But I don’t know where they’d put the shelter if it’s not in the Ragtime space. Maybe they’ll enclose the covered parking area that faces Troy Street?

  • John Fontain

    Is the property for sale?

    • Lou

      If the government says your property is for sale, you better sell it to them.

  • willy

    If I am reading the press release correctly, the County is planning on evicting commercial tenants even when they have ongoing leases. I assume that some of these tenants are small businesses that will be severely challenged by this action–even if its legal.

    This sounds like the worst behavior that we see from landlords and developers who have evicted residential tenants (who have long term leases) in Arlington because they are purchasing and renovating older apartment buildings.

    This creates severe dislocation for non-empowered tenants–commercial or residential. The least that Arlington can do is to allow any tenants at this building to complete their leases, or to offer them generous terms to leave.

    • Josh S

      I think eminent domain usually involves financial incentives, doesn’t it?

      • Lou

        The owner gets fair market value for the property and land, but I am not aware of anything beyond that in consideration to tenants.

        • Burger

          That is exactly true especially for commercial tenants. Residential tenants usually are limited in what they can ask for though the county board, no irony here, can become a hinderance so that the developer gives some money to the tenants.

        • Swag

          The offer will usually be a cut above market value–they don’t want court battles sidelining the project for years.

          • Lou

            That is one way to look at it. On the other hand, the county has little incentive to overpay for a 40+ year old building, when they know they can eventually take it a market price. I am not aware of any cash flow that the county is banking on once they have this building. To the contrary, they will be looking at renovation costs and the loss of the property tax revenue from the previous property owner.

    • rp

      If the building owner agrees to sell the building, and eminent domain is not used, I would think it’s just the reality of the market.

      Without knowing any specifics of the leases for current tenants, aren’t many commercial leases written with language that stipulates that the lease becomes void if the building is sold? In which case, it doesn’t much matter that it’s the county that is the buyer, if a private corporation came along and offered a fair price to buy the space, would the current tenants not be in the same situation?

      • JohnB

        Actually, it’s the exact opposite. If you had a decent real estate broker/attorney they would have advised you to include a non-disturbance clause in your lease so that it remains in effect even if the current owner sells the building.

        • Burger

          That would require the tenant to hire an attorney and the landlord to agree to that provision which most large commerical property management companies will not do.

    • Willy,

      Thank your comments are right on the mark.

      For 16 years I used to live in Woodbury Heights which is the condo building to the right of this new proposed site. It was a great place to live until the county approved a tall hotel right in front of the west side of Woodbury Heights bordering 14th Street. The hotel totally blocked the majority of the west side view of our building and significantly decreased our property values. The county was supposed to have street level stores on the ground level of the hotel, but some how the hotel got an exception and the new street level stores never happened. Makes you wonder.

      We lived on the west side of the Woodbury Heights and decided we had to sell our place because what was once a nice place to live had become awful – all due to the County and the hotel they approved right in front of our place. We could not see 14th Street anymore, now our unit looked into the windows of a couple hotel rooms. It was devastating, especially considering the cost we paid to get our unit.

      Now the County is going to move the homeless facilities right next door to Woodbury Heights and use eminent domain to get rid of other street level stores that have been there for a very long time, some for almost 30 years. Not to mention that the police department and prison is right across the street on the other side of this new proposed facility. Ever try to find a legal parking place when so many cop cars, as well as their personal vehicles have taken them all? In addition, the police don’t pay the meter, they place their police business card in the car window so the aggressive parking attendants don’t give them a ticket? They think they are immune, they are arrogant, and this is wrong. Police and prisoners are rarely your best neighbors, especially in this neighborhood. Woodbury Heights has suffered significantly from the callous actions of the Arlington County Board and the police department who did not provide adequate parking space to its employees when their offices were designed.

      Residents of Woodbury Heights have also seen their views of the east side of the building destroyed by the County permitting new high rise apartment which essentially blocked 90% of the unit owners view of the monuments in DC. These owners paid dearly for the views and their investments suffered dearly.

      This is awful.

      • Plunkitt of Clarendon Blvd

        Remember this when you vote….

      • OMG OMG OMG

        Did you really think everything would stay the same around you when you bought in a condo in an urban area? The hotel development on the west of the Woodbury happened, like, 10 years ago. The development to the east happened, what, 2-3 years ago? This is what happens to real estate in a dynamic market. This is life. Your blaming the County seems misplaced.

        • Zoning Victim

          I don’t think his blaming the county is misplaced. We elect these people to protect us from injustices like this, but as with most governments, the guy with the most money wins. So the developer gets to hijack their view and devalue their property without paying them anything for it? That’s simply not fair, but I can tell you first hand that the county doesn’t care at all about fairness in the way it treats the citizens of Arlington County; after all, I’m the zoning victim.

          • Josh S

            I’m not sure that “we elect these people to protect us from injustices like this.” In no particular order –

            What injustice? You are absolutely right that the county government should be endeavoring to protect residents from injustice. But where is the injustice? Does BR have a right to a certain view? Does BR have a right to not have the property next to his developed? Were any laws broken in the approval or construction of this building?

            We elect them to manage county government. In general, one of the goals of county government is to manage and promote economic activity in the county. Now, you don’t want growth happening willy nilly, that’s why there are zoning regulations, etc. But once the regulations and processes are in place, unless they can be shown to be fundamentally unfair or unconstitutional, that’s that. Absent an actual injustice, you can’t let individuals hold up the process. That would be a tyranny of the minority, which is just as pernitious as a tyranny of the majority.

          • Zoning Victim

            I agree with most of what you have said, and this is definitely a difficult case because it’s a case where two land owners’ rights are bumping up against each other. The developers of the new building made a lot of money and a lot of that money was made on certain units because they took value from the property before it by taking its view. Like it or not, a view of the city is a huge value driver for a piece of property. I’m not saying that the adjacent property should not be developed because it’s blocking someone else’s view, but I think the developer should have had to compensate the owners of the devalued units in the older building in some way since a lot of the value of the new units is going to be the view that they’re taking from the units that were already there.

          • OMG OMG OMG

            Good luck with that slippery slope.

          • Zoning Victim

            There are a lot of places in the world that had the foresight to write laws to govern such things. They are most common where there are beach front and beach view properties. Nobody wants to buy a piece of property for the view and then have it blocked by new development. However, some places have laws that expressly state that you have no right to the collect damages like that. Like I said, it’s a tough thing because it’s one of the few situations where two landowners’ rights are coming into conflict. If you think about it a really smart developer could buy both pieces of property and make a premium on the city facing condos of the first building knowing the whole time that they eventually planned to block the view with a new building, where they’ll again be getting the premium on the new city facing units.

      • Swag

        That sucks, but things change.

    • Suburban Not Urban

      Read this laundry list of abuses of eminent domain – http://www.virginiainstitute.org/pdf/V002-0017EminentDomain.pdf

  • brendan

    Take this for what you will, but there’s something to be said for not having the homeless shelter so close to dc. What about the abandoned buildings off 4mr?

    • Zoning Victim

      Then who would they panhandle for drug money?

      • Hope you did in hell.

        • Zoning Victim

          I hope you learn to proofread so you can properly condemn people. If you meant “I hope you die in hell,” in the fairytale, you actually have to die first and then go there to be tortured by the red guy with the tail and a pitchfork.

          • Zoning Victim,

            Ballston Resident did not post this message. Someone else did and used my name. I’ll change my name in future postings.

          • Zoning Victim

            I hate it when people do that. Thanks for letting me know.

        • Southeast Jerome

          that comment on 11/22 at 5:02 PM should be removed…

          • Zoning Victim

            Not in my opinion; I fully support that person’s right to tell me “Hope you did in hell” or any variation of that which actually makes sense.

  • A-SPAN volunteer

    This is great news – we have been advocating for a larger, year-round emergency shelter for years. Looks like the County is finally making good on their commitment.

    • Zoning Victim

      Yes, it’s fantastic that we’ll be spending $25 million dollars to house homeless people in some of the most expensive real estate on earth.

      • More Nuance Please

        I’ll assume you’re being direct and agree that it is indeed fantastic. ALso, I think you need to check out pricied in about 50+ other cities around the world for “most expensive” category.

        • Patrick

          How about “some of the most expensive real estate in the county”. Even that is a still a ridiculous waste of money. I’m sure all this will accomplish is to increase the number of homeless people in around courthouse and rosslyn will achieving a equal decrease in homeless people in DC.

        • Zoning Victim

          Seeing as how the earth has a little less than 5-1/2 quadrillion square feet of land on it and is mostly made up of land that is not in cities, I stand by my statement that Arlington County has “some of the most expensive real estate on earth.” Then, as pointed out, the county picks some of the most expensive land in Arlington County to purchase to house homeless people in; it’s a huge waste of money and property.

          • Josh S

            I wonder how long it took you to find the 5 1/2 quadrillion square feet stat?

            I’ll stand with you that Arlington County has some of the most expensive real estate on Earth. As you point out, it’s not too hard to see that this is true.

            All that being said, you are back to your old tricks of being willfully ignorant. As the story (and others here in the discussion) clearly states, only a small portion of the building would be used for a homeless shelter.

            Also, can you explain why a homeless shelter is a waste?

            Lastly, if the county has determined a need for a homeless shelter, it’s not as if there is any cheap land within county borders. So arguing that the land is too expensive is sort of pointless, isn’t it?

          • Zoning Victim

            I’m happy to see we’re both up to our old tricks since you’re rearranging what I said to change its meaning. I never said homeless shelters are a waste. My post pretty clearly states that I think putting a homeless shelter on some of the most expensive property in the county is a waste. I don’t think we can just say it doesn’t matter how much the property costs because all property around here is expensive. I realize there is no good place for a homeless shelter, but frankly, I’m tired of subsidizing housing for people to live in communities that I don’t live in because I find them too expensive.

      • CourthouseChris

        Your laughable hyperbole aside… you do realize that this isn’t a $25M homeless shelter, right? The shelter is one of numerous uses for this building.

      • Ivy

        You seem to enjoy taking things out of context. Only a very small portion of the building will be for homeless people. The purpose is to merge two different buildings into one so they can begin the work on courthouse.

        • Zoning Victim

          Okay, is a $7 million homeless shelter any better? I’m glad I’m not one of the people who has to work in that building.

          • Swag

            Yay, stereotypes are fun!

          • Zoning Victim

            Aren’t you the one who made the jail comment below?

  • John

    Is the county still planning for the “landmark tower” at the new Courthouse plaza? They’ve talked about it since the 80s.

    Here’s the latest design I found for the proposed Courthouse plaza and “landmark tower” on the web:


    Is that project dead? I hope not.

  • crystal city

    There is a fair amount of empty office space in Crystal City. Why not have some government offices in Crystal City?

    $25 million? That is likely a gross underestimation. Wait until a court awards $70+ million. (Check out recent sales of land along the metro route!!!!)

    • u got it

      For reference, 2 buildings along Wilson, in VaSq and Rosslyn, recently went for over $500/sf. If this building is indeed 70,000 sf, it should easily fetch around $35million.

      These were not new buildings either, one was 1400 Wilson, the funny Moorish looking building with the arches and scalloped fake balconies.

  • JD

    That’s…. possibly the worst location for a homeless shelter possible.

    • Thes

      It’s directly across the street from the police station and two blocks from the existing winter shelter. What do you think makes it the worst location “possible”?

      • OX4

        It’s not in the middle of the Potomac.

        • Novanglus

          Roosevelt Island is in the middle of the Potomac, but the Park Service has been very diligent about clearing out the encampments under I-66.

        • drax

          Why don’t you just get it over with and propose sending the homeless to death camps?

          • Smoke_Jaguar4

            Or Fairfax County???

    • Mdp

      I have to agree. It is smack in the middle between three of the most expensive apartment complexes in Courthouse. Getting bothered and yelled at by the bums in front of CVS during the winter is bad enough. I don’t want to deal with that everyday

  • JD

    also the building was sold in 2006 for $16m…. $25m is an accurate estimate.

    • crystal city

      Hilton Gardens Courthouse (1345 n. courthouse)

      2006: $43 million
      2011: $60 million

      Comfort Inn (1211 N. Glebe)

      2010: $25 million

      Goodyear (650 N. Glebe)

      2011: $12 million

      Peck Chevy (800 N. Glebe)

      2006 $20 Million

      Most of these sales were for the land only.

      Spend, spend, spend, borrow, borrow, borrow, tax, tax, tax.

      • South Arlington

        I’m fairly sure the Hilton Gardens and Comfort Inn were sold as businesses to go along with the land, most likely with the sales price taking into account structures and cashflow of the businesses.

      • Josh S

        You left out of your equation what the government actually does with the money. Which is the only part really worth talking / arguing about. Spending, taxing, borrowing – these things are all sop and no more remarkable than the fact that leaves fall off trees in the Fall. You have no problem with the government taxing and spending on garbage collection, installation of sewers, delivering water to your residence, etc. Etc.


        So please don’t try to make it out that you are some sort of no-tax Neanderthal. It’s nothing more than a scare tactic and smoke and mirrors to distract from the actual issues.

        • Suburban Not Urban

          Borrowing/Debt is always about moving a burden out to the future – it is never better than paying for something up front. Individuals do it because they are willing to take on the responsibility – companies do it because they look at the the return on investment – governments do it so they can buy peoples votes now with money from the future.

          • Thes

            it is never better than paying for something up front

            So you are against home mortgages? Corporate bonds? No, the rest of your comment says you are not. You believe only the government should be prohibited from borrowing and investing?

            Borrowing for some things is bad. An individual should not borrow money to buy vacations and restaurant meals, a company should not borrow money to speculate in financial derivatives. A government should not borrow money to pay for ongoing services. But an individual can responsibly borrow money to pay for an education or a home, a corporation to build a factory, and a government to pay for infrastructure such as, for example, a homeless shelter so they don’t have to pay rent somewhere more expensive every year.

          • Carl

            Government should never have to borrow to fund operations and services, which is why I voted against the 2010 transportation bond issue because it had money for simple road paving. Enough!

          • Swag

            Paying for something like this upfront involves getting dozens of politicians not to spend money over the course of many years.

            You think that’s actually possible?

          • Zoning Victim

            Not with a government full of people who will just say and do anything to stay in power.

          • Josh S

            I see you decided to stop thinking around 9th grade. Figured you had it all figured out?

            So I’m a local government. I need to build a new sewage treatment plant to deal with increased population. I guess I could wait 20-30 years until I can save enough money to pay for it in cash. But what happens in the meantime? You can be fairly certain that the failure to provide this service will not be accepted by the residents. Also, in the meantime perhaps the land where I was going to put the sewage treatment plant is no longer available. What about the costs to build? Haven’t they gone up every year? So if I set out to save $100 million now it’s 25 years later and it costs $300 million to build a sewage treatment plant. Now what do I do?

            You mention that businesses borrow to buy equipment that they then expect a return on. Well, isn’t there a return on building a new road? Doesn’t that encourage / support new economic activity? Which in turn probably results in increased tax revenue? In fact, isn’t that sort of the case with all infrastructure, which is what government borrows to build? Even parks would count since they tend to raise surrounding property values and make for happier residents, which means they’re more likely to stay in the community or want to move to the community.

            Also, arguing against borrowing these days is especially a weak argument since the cost of money is so low. Interest rates are incredibly low. Over the life of a thirty or forty year bond, if they are only paying 3-4 %, isn’t that a deal since inflation is likely to be higher? So paying a dollar in 2030 is cheaper than paying a dollar today?

            If you were fundamentally right about whether or not it is good policy for governments to borrow, do you really think no one else but you would have figured it out by now? Why do government units of all shapes, sizes, and including rulers from all parts of the political spectrum borrow? They’re all idiots or some kind of shyster, according to you.

            Others have pointed out that it might not be good policy to borrow in order to do things like repave roads. That might be true. Maintenance should probably be paid for out of current revenue.

          • Zoning Victim

            The problem is governments don’t stop borrowing. Huge infrastructure projects are one thing; decades of increased borrowing and spending are another. Obviously, you and I will never agree on whether or not the county should have been building millions of dollars’ worth of dog parks, affordable housing for people who make over the national average income and all of the other expenditures that conservatives disagree with, but always framing debt as roads and sewers isn’t being 100% genuine about where our money is going.

            So far as your question about the sewage plant, you could take proposals from private utility companies to build and operate the utility, just like we do with electricity. There are more ways to provide services like that than just having the government issue debt and build something they have no experience building and operating. I’d be willing to bet that they forced people to go on city water and sewer when they first made the switch since that’s what most cities do.

          • Southeast Jerome

            If governments can borrow below inflation,like the US government can, then they are actually making money b/c they are paying it back in the future with money that is then worth less.

            This is pricisely why everyone should be borrowing as much as they can, including governments, to spark demand and boost the economy.

          • Zoning Victim

            Oh yeah, Jerome, how’d that work out for Greece? Economic plans that call for everyone to go deeper into debt amaze me.

          • Josh S

            I think you’re simply not stopping to think. Like most people, I think, I have certainly struggled with debt at some point in my life. And I have come to view it as personally something I want to avoid as much as possible. Also, we see debt at a national level as being a problem.

            But I think this whole discussion got started around Arlington County using debt financing to purchase a building. If we’re looking just at Arlington County debt, I think the picture is generally a whole lot healthier than at the federal level. While the feds borrow just to make regular expenditures that are part of the annual budget, I don’t think Arlington does that. I believe that the borrowing done by the county is just for capital projects. Which is how most local governments operate. And would be similar to the home mortgage. You borrow for very large projects that will have a long lifetime and you get the benefits of those projects while paying for them over time. It’s fairly basic.

            The privatization of various services, like electricity generation or sewage processing, is a viable option, in many cases. Not all cases, however. And especially in a case like Arlington, with a AAA rating (for what it’s worth), a long history of paying debt regularly, having strong and steady income, etc. Would it necessarily be cheaper to pay a corporation to run a sewage plant, for example? Would you get the same level of service? I don’t know. It’s certainly not obvious that the answer to those two questions is yes.

            Lastly, as an aside, I’m not sure why you think we “obviously” would disagree on dog parks. I don’t know that I’ve ever expressed an opinion one way or the other about dog parks. Haven’t really thought about it. Perhaps you’re right in assuming that I wouldn’t automatically knee jerk oppose a dog park. I think I’d want to listen to the arguments pro and con first.

        • Plunkitt of Clarendon Blvd

          Last I noticed, I had a separate bill for water, trash and sewer on top of taxes………

        • Let the Facts Shine

          The County Board has RAISED taxes each of the last 15 years, and at the same time massively RAISED borrowing. So much debt has been piled in the last 10 years that future boards over the next 20+ years will have little ability to borrow for infrastructure projects.

          What makes this Board so special that they can deplete all borrowing ability for future county boards?

          Thes the county-board-paid apologist “forgets” that the Board is taking on debt for routine park maintenance and routine neighborhood repairs. (If Thes is not embarrassed in being the paid county hack, then please use your real name.)

          • Josh S

            Real name? You mean like Mr. Shine?

          • comment banned

            [comment banned] don’t criticize the county board’s paid apologist.

          • Thes

            Once again, I am not paid by Arlington County, nor do I agree with the County about everything. On the other hand, for the most part (or at least most of the time), I support the approach Arlington County’s government. If you’ve read my posts carefully over time, you will see occasions where I have been critical of what the County government does. I could be any of the roughly 60-70% of Arlington’s voters who, while not paid a salary by the County, nonetheless routinely support its policies, including its bond proposals, which have been overwhelmingly approved by the voters for decades.

            I post on this blog because I care about our community, and I don’t believe that a tiny minority of conservative critics or paid lobbyists (and there are some of those here, by the way) should be allowed to control our public discussion.

            As we have seen on this blog, there is a an unfortunate view that “public figures” are fair game to have their character, appearance, and background attacked. ArlNow happens to draw a line at attacks that implicate personal safety, but not much farther. Even posting without my name, I have been fairly regularly and somewhat personally attacked both by those who have a clue about me, and also those who clearly have no idea who I am. Because this venue is not entirely civil, I choose (like most of the commentators here who oppose Arlington County’s government) not to become a public figure in this setting.

            If you think my facts are wrong, post your own links. If you disagree with my conclusions on those facts, post your own opinion. If the best you can do to refute my perspective is to attack my motives and tell me I don’t belong, you have lost the argument. You receive a DH1 for this comment. May God have mercy on your soul.

          • Josh S

            Love the DH1 link. Should be required reading for all here at ARLnow.
            Wouldn’t necessarily change anything, but at least we’d know what we’re doing when we’re doing it. Since I have certainly made statements that could be labelled all of those things.
            We’d have to come up with a special category just for steve85, though! Even “non sequitor” doesn’t quite capture the glory of his posts…..!

  • Tre

    This is perfect… that way all the rental tenants in The Palatine spending $4,000 a month can have a place of refuge within 20 yards when the government cuts the contracts for all their companies.

  • Arl Michele

    My condo will go from being worth 80% of what I paid for it, to even less. Will the county compensate me for this? No. Do they care that I will have to walk by creepy homeless guys lounging next door every day? No.

    While I’m complaining about how they waste my money, why don’t they pave the roads instead of building a new arts center no one will visit or starting a trolley line no one wants.

    • JH ARL

      I say, let’s put it next door to Barbara Donnellan’s house and see how she likes it. I agreee with Arl Michele, the county does not care about the impact of the existing residents and businesses AKA TAX PAYERS who are footing the bill.

      • Thes

        Barbara Donnellan’s house is not in Arlington, so it’s not a suitable location for our homeless shelter.

        • Zoning Victim

          Which is another huge problem with the way this county is run. The zoning administrator doesn’t (or didn’t, I can’t find who is the ZA and the old curmudgeon was supposed to be leaving) live in Arlington, either. I fail to understand why wen are to be governed by people who are unaffected by their own decisions. They don’t pay taxes here, they don’t have to try to deal with their own horrible bureaucracy (not that they’d hold each other up like they do the general public), they don’t have to live near their nice new homeless shelter or have their property devalued by it; they’re basically just playing SimCity with place we live.

          • ArlingtonCountyTaxpayer


            Well get ready for County Board Candidate Melissa Bondi — she has never paid a dime in taxes to Arlington County.

            She doesn’t own real estate.
            She doesn’t own a car.

        • soarlslacker

          Barbara Donnellan’s does not live in Arlington County.

    • JohnB

      I want the street car. Am I nobody?

      • Swag


  • Allthatglimmersisnotgold

    Dept of Homeland Security and the Federal DOT…have offices in the building…curious to see how the this will work out…Will the fed go willing?

    • ARLBuff

      You mean the same U.S. Department of Transportation that the County Board sued over 395? That’s a hoot. No, they won’t go willing.

  • MC

    This is expensive real estate to put a homeless shelter — not clear why the county can’t find 20,000 sq feet in a cheaper area. Considering many taxpayers can’t afford to live where they can walk to the Metro, not sure why a Metro-centric location is essential for a homeless shelter. Probably makes sense for the entire County office building to move out of courthouse to someplace cheaper, like the Human Services offices did when they left Clarendon. In addition to spending borrowed cash to buy an expensive building the County is loosing valuable tax revenue by taking it over.

    • Thes

      Many homeless people don’t have cars. So it’s better to have a place they don’t have to drive to.

      • Local1

        They should put the new homeless shelter conveniently near the new street car. Someone to ride the street car AND no creepy guys peeing on my building, brilliant!

      • Smoke_Jaguar4

        And of course there are absolutely no bus lines in Arlington…

      • Swag

        Yeah, we’re building it next to the jail for their convenience.

        • Southeast Jerome

          we shouldnt waste precious space in the county jail on homeless people

  • Truthi

    Great how the County threatens the building owner with eminent domain. Its your property until Zimmie et al want it.

  • Harry

    Arlington will be rewarded for its generosity with an influx of homeless from throughout the DC Metro area. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for helping the homeless. But don’t take from the private sector to make it happen. Make the Artisphere a year round homeless shelter. Give the homeless fingerpaints and whiskey and let them loose inside. Buck nekkid homeless bacchanalia 24/7. People would pay to see that. The Artisphere would finally make money and Arlington would have a year round homeless shelter.

  • Rob

    Well, this way the homeless can shop for fresh organic produce at the farmers’ market every saturday.

  • I against I

    Arlington, a place were people b*tch about helping the homeless. My condo, my condo, my condo. Give your f*cking condo to the homeless, you can buy another one.

    • Southeast Jerome

      sorry we worked hard, saved up and bought a place to live and we arent alcoholic, lazy bums relying on the welfare state. Go occupy something.

  • I against I

    I always hear the samething on here, when people make comments about more condos being built. “if you don’t like it, move” Now, it’s your turn, if you don’t like it, leave. selfish mother f*ckers.

  • Blair

    It says that this will eventually lead to the county being able to redevelop Courthouse Plaza. What does that project involve? Has a developer prepared some planning ideas, or is that all county property where Arlington would be the developer?

  • Pingback: Man jumps from Springfield metro station; Dumfries children may have a small Christmas due to lack of donations; Fairfax police name woman wanted in bank robberies; Purchase of building by Arlington County could mean help for homeless; and Del. Bob Marsha()

  • NotSeparate

    A low-barrier, year-round shelter is much needed in the community and I applaud the County for moving forward on its commitment.  However, I would urge the County to carefully consider the “separate but equal” entrance/access to the shelter.  Setting the entrance in a manner that would indicate that you’re trying to keep these individuals “out of sight” would continue to reinforce the stigma held by many in our community that individuals in need of shelter are not good enough humans to be seen or heard (except for charity photo opps or tax break opportunities).  The County needs to be a role model of the behavior it expects out of its constituents.  A separate, hidden entrance would be in contradiction to the values of the County’s mission statement and would foster exclusivity.

    • Rick

      Can you imagine Chris Zimmerman having to walk next to a poor?

  • Rick

    I agree with the people above suggesting a location on/near Four Mile Run. Isn’t the day laborer site down there? Wouldn’t that be a pretty easy commute with year round work of assorted trades? Perhaps the county could do an internship program at the bus garage down there?

    You give someone with a shred of self pride and responsibility some sheckles for a hard days work, and that gives them plenty of confidence and would be a better springboard into being a productive member of society over walking past 7 dollar burritos and the jailhouse. Just my 0.02

  • IThinkIJustBecameARepublican

    Our company is a long time tenant of 2020. We just completed a year long expansion project within the building. Never received any notice of the possibility of a sale/acquisition until this week. The impact this will have on our thriving small business is incalculable. I’m all for utopian society and I believe homelessness is an important issue. I applaud the county for its efforts in that regard, but at what cost? I hope our legal team makes this as time consuming, painful and costly to the county as possible.

    On a side note, the ‘separate entrance’ gesture…very thoughtful of the county. I’m sure all of our female employees will feel safe leaving the building at night with crowds of homeless people 100 feet away from our lobby as opposed to 10 feet away; and nothing says professional to visiting clients like sharing a building with a homeless shelter.

    Looking forward to the assistance the county claims they will offer to help our company relocate. Probably stand a better chance if I was homeless.

    • ArlRes

      You already have a homeless shelter a block away, next to the metro entrance. I assume your women are also scared to walk to the metro every day as it is then, right? I’m also guessing that having a police station literally next door with police presence 24/7 is also a terrible counter to your argument too…

      Wasn’t the 2020 building also sold in 2010 but the buyer fell through? Odds are the new owners would have renovated and displaced tenants as well.

      • MDP


        If you would have no problem living next door to a year-round homeless shelter, then please petition to have the shelter established next your residence.

  • Police presence acknowledged in front of the building but do you really think police are patrolling the inner stairwells, lobbies and isolated areas of the parking garage late at night? According to your logic the 24/7 surveillance would have prevented/deterred the multiple burglaries that have occurred in our building over the past few years.

    As an employer it’s our duty to provide a safe work environment for our employees. My point is that having a sizable presence of homeless people within the confines of our building makes that duty inordinately more challenging.

  • MDP

    Can we stop this from happening please. Does someone want to start a petition against this?

    • I would absolutely be in favor of that. I think I could gather at least 100 signatures from the 20+ businesses about to be displaced.

      • MDP

        I would definitely be interested in a petition. I’m sure there would be no problem getting additional petitions from the at least The Prime, Meridian and Vista residential apartment buildings that surround the proposed shelter.

  • Local1

    If you are still interested in this issue, you can email: [email protected]
    [email protected]

    Follow them on Facebook as well, we will be organizing to determine why the homeless shelter is being moved from next door to the bail bondsman and metro to our residential block.

    Issues to be discussed: What will happen to the little urban park at 14th and Troy? Where will delivery trucks for the homeless shelter park? (at the moment they block 14th Street) Cleaning of the area. Security of the area. Loitering in the area.

  • BK411

    A few things to consider. The new proposed shelter would be much larger than the existing shelter. The existing shelter is already considered better than other shelters in the area. And the new shelter would a significant upgrade for services, capacity and personnel. What this means is that it won’t be like moving the quantity of homeless people several blocks over. It will create a much larger homeless presence in that community.

    Also, while there will be a benefit to homeless services after such a move, the absolute bottom line is that moving the shelter is about money and development. Moving the shelter from 15th street allows that block (Jerry’s to Cosi) to be razed and re-developed. It also allows for the Uhle building to be razed and re-developed. Also connected is the developing of the above ground parking lot into an extension of Courthouse Plaza. It’s all connected to a bigger plan. It all starts with purchasing this building on 14th street. And since they have not been able to purchase the building outright because their offer was too low for the owner, they now threaten eminent domain. With that hanging over the head of the 2020 building, what do you think the other prospective buyers do? They run like hell. And they’ll never return. In one press release, you now have permanently scared off any possible buyers for the building you want. And the kicker? The eminent domain process requires the acquired property be used for “public good”. That would not be the case for an office building such as 2020……unless you decided you absolutely HAD to move a homeless shelter there.

    I’m not happy about this……..but my hope is that people won’t be fooled into thinking that this is a feel good story. The motivations here are very obviou$.

  • Village Genius

    The Board should vote no, or alternatively defer taking action until the County Manager produces a legitimate report that provides sufficient information for a reasoned decision.

    Here’s the Staff’s report: http://arlington.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=2&event_id=469&meta_id=96847

    The thin 5-page report provides no justification for invoking eminent domain, why only the small Courthouse area is being considered, what other options were explored, what other real estate is available, building versus buying, etc. The report is silent as to what the property owner is proposing for a sale — maybe the owner is close to the County’s set price but maybe the owner wants $50 million. Who knows because the Staff report provides so little information.

    The projected cost is really $39 million, including renovation, and approximately $1.5 million in NEW operating cost.

    How to pay? DEBT, DEBT, DEBT projected to cost $2 million a year for 20-25 years. That equals $40-50 million for the purchase alone, without the addition costs (and debt) for renovation.

    No reasonable Board member should accept the County Manager’s ill-prepared report nor should the Board vote yes without knowing about other options/opportunities/etc. and the true costs.


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