County Seeking Proposals for Reeves Farmhouse

by ARLnow.com August 16, 2012 at 3:34 pm 8,792 54 Comments

Arlington County has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the historic Reeves Farmhouse.

The county is seeking an entity that wants to lease or license use of the farmhouse. In exchange, the entity would help restore the farmhouse, which might need more than $1 million worth of work.

The farmhouse (at 400 N. Manchester Street) and its 2.5 acres of land was purchased by the county from the Reeves family in 2001 for $1.8 million. The house itself, which overlooks Bluemont Park, dates back to 1899, according to a historical and architectural survey. The farm was “the last dairy farm to operate in Arlington and the centerpiece of the Reevesland Historic District in Bluemont Park,” according to the County.

Arlington says it’s looking for “adaptive reuse proposals” — in other words, ways to repurpose the farmhouse for use by an individual or organization. The cost of the rehabilitation of the farmhouse and any sort of “programming” in the farmhouse — ideas discussed by residents include a demonstration kitchen or a learning center — would be borne by the entity that submits a successful RFP. The county will retain ownership of the property.

“The local historic designation of the farmhouse by Arlington County has ensured that it will be preserved, but finding an appropriate adaptive reuse is the next step to keeping the structure usable for future generations,” the Arlington Department of Parks and Recreation said in an email.

Proposals are due by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 24.

  • Bender

    Repurposing a residential house to be a demonstration kitchen or a learning center would seem to clearly NOT be preservation of the property.

    • HighViewPunk

      Repurposed to be a haunted house?

    • drax

      Why not?

  • Mary-Austin

    Turn it back into a farm.
    I’ll move in and water the tomatoes.

  • nom de guerre

    I’m guessing the only viable repurpose proposal that would be able to raise over $1 M would include a restaurant that sells burgers, pizza, froyo and allows dogs but does not allow children.

    • Bender

      Perhaps there should be a mixed use requirement, with retail on the ground floor, offices above, and some affordable housing as well.

      • nom de guerre

        I’m guessing it should also include a B&B-Bro and Brah Treatment Center that offers detox and treatment for Wide Screen TV, alcohol & drug, and powdered garlic addiction. The orange line residents can take a staycation to the “country” and receive VIBRANT treatment in a historical farmhouse that is located within walking and biking distance from a rose garden and their residence for a mere $75K for a 28 day stay.


    This screams Frozen Yogurt shop. They can put it off the trolley line.

    • DCBuff

      Historic idea–it was a dairy. Farm-to-table froyo. Urban farmer bros would wear brown flip flops.

  • WhoCares

    Great use of taxpayer $.

    • VA

      It sounds like the leasing entity – not the County – would be responsible for the costs.

      • nom de guerre

        The article indicates that the County purchased the property for $1.8 Million in 2001 and I assume as the current owners they have also been “maintaining” it since then.

        • bemused bystander

          The purchase included the adjacent farm acreage which is being used as parkland.

    • Diane


  • South Awwlington

    Reprogram the Artisphere money for this and preserve something that IS truly historic rather than run down garden apartments.

  • Nag

    move the homeless there

  • VA

    Since local food, farm-to-table restaurants and farmers markets are so hot right now, I could see a mini-farm operation working well here – similar to the Arcadia set-up at Woodlawn Plantation in Alexandria. Connect the mini-farm with the public schools to get kids interested – provide food for local shelters as well as restaurants – host events – etc. It takes a good bit of capital, I’m sure, but I’d gladly support that kind of operation in Arlington.

    • PL25rd

      That is a fantastic idea!

    • South Awwlington

      I like this idea…something like the Organic Farm in Potomac, MD.

      Or check this our from the School District my mom taught in….the kids used to LOVE going to this, myself included


      Now that is GOOD use of tax dollars.

    • Diane

      Great idea.

    • I agree with VA. Good idea!

    • Ren

      Excellent idea…take credit for it! Make it so!

  • Andy

    Why would someone pay the county through a lease or license, AND spend $1M to fix the place up? What kind of business in an old farmhouse (that I’m sure will be subject to the whims and vanities of the county board), in the middle of a residential neighborhood, bring in enough revenue to justify this nightmare scenario?

    And even if you are successful, since you only have a lease or license, the county can pull it out from under you when they feel like it.

    Run away!

  • TJLinBallston

    We should greatly value what little remains of Arlington’s rural history. As a branch of Arlington Library, the Reeves house could serve as a community center, a mini-museum, a working farm for families to visit any maybe even walk there! If somebody reading this has a million dollars to spare, add your name to Arlington history by funding this unique public amenity.

  • Arlingtonian Reeves Granddaughter

    This is my grandfather’s property (well, was my grandfather’s). He was born in this house and lived there until he was 99 years old. I grew up picking fresh fruits and vegetables right out of his garden. One of my favorite memories was picking grapes off his vines and helping my grandmother make homemade jam. I loved sledding down the huge hill in the winter and hunting for Easter eggs around the property each spring. The inside of the house was the perfect place for a game of hide and go seek – lots of bedrooms and hidden nooks for the perfect hiding spot! I only wish I had been alive to see the entire farm in action – my mom, aunt and uncle however, have some fond memories. I own my own house in Arlington now and I dream of the day that this beautiful, historic farmhouse can be put to good use for other Arlington children and the community to enjoy! If only I could win the lottery…

    • LVGuy

      Thanks for the history!

      A childhood friend used to live behind your grandfather. He and his brother would occasionally help him with household chores. I remember sledding down that hill during snowstorms in 1999 and thinking that it was an awesome hill to sled down.

      I heard stories about how his farm extended over a big piece of land (I think I remember from what is currently Rt. 50 to beyond Wilson Blvd.) hard to imagine that wasn’t too long ago.

      • DarkHeart

        Agreed on the awesome sledding location (now if we could just get snow again).

  • John Fontain

    Given how loose the county is with spending taxpayers’ money, I think this is a proposal the county will find appealing:

    Arlington County deeds the property to me for good and valuable consideration of $100. The County then places a referendum on the ballot to ask voters if the county can “contract a debt” of $1.5 million, the proceeds of which will be used to fund the rehabilitation of the structure and surrounding property (granite countertops, stainless appliances, wine fridge, etc.).

    In exchange, I will open the property up for sledding on any day in which snow cover is 2 inches or greater and I will also fence off an acre for a dog park.

    That’s a total win-win for the County.

    • nom de guerre

      You can sweeten the deal by making the property LEED certified, permit the placement of a CaBi station on the property and guarantee that this deal will result in 75 new jobs.

      • John Fontain

        I’ll do the LEED thing, but only if the county pays for it. Hell, may as well go for LEED triple platinum! In addition to the CaBi station, I’ll have a computer monitor near the station that tells people how many bikes are available on the racks right next to it (like at Java Shack).

        • nom de guerre

          I had another thought-you should remove the seats from the bikes so riders can truly experience what it’s like to be an Arlington County taxpayer.

          • John Fontain


          • Hokie3

            This may be the funniest comment I’ve ever read! (what’s the saying… “it’s funny… cause it’s true?!”) 🙂

          • drax

            We have the lowest tax rates in NoVa.

          • Suburban Not Urban

            Tired and only true if you use the word rate rather than per person or per acre or per household or per income dollar or any other measure(As in tax$/person or tax$/acre or tax$/$income etc)

          • Josh S

            It is definitely tired.

            But I can’t resist pointing out that rate is the only relevant measure for comparison’s sake. All those others may be important to you as an individual, but they’re just not portable.

            (Take a house worth the same dollars in another jurisdiction and you will likely pay even higher property taxes than you are paying here. Granted, your house will likely be larger, but the county has nothing to do with that (well, only indirectly).)

  • Guy LeDouche

    Brothel. Sure beats shady hotels on the Pike for providing those services.

    • Huh ??

      Now that is creative !!!

  • Rick

    Have a person buy the house and then run a business — hum! The county will be like Obama and say “You didn’t build that, I made that happen”!

    • Mary-Austin

      That’s not what anyone said.

    • Buff Phoon

      I couldn’t believe POTUS would say something so bafflingly dumb. Turns out he didn’t. If you watch the entire video, it’s clear that when he said “that,” his antecedent was “roads and bridges.” He should’ve said “those.” Of course, the GOPtiles seized the opportunity to twist his ambiguity.

      Watch the entire video.

      • Presidential Paving Company

        If you have a successful business, you didn’t build roads and bridges. Unless you’re in the business of building roads and bridges, I guess. And even then it was the other successful businesses that paid the taxes for you to build the roads and bridges that you built. So long as you weren’t successful and didn’t pay taxes. Which means you probably didn’t build the roads and bridges to begin with because you’re not successful.

        Those darn GOPtiles seizing opportunities to twist again.

        GOPtiles should just watch more videos.

        • Buff Phoon

          Oh, come on. You’re being obtuse. Yes, unless you are the owner of one of the few mostly multinational infrastructure corporations that build roads, dams, and bridges, then you yourself didn’t build the tax-funded, government-built infrastructure that gives free entrerprise a chance to flourish. Of course entrepreneurs built the businesses they own and are to be credited for their ingenuity and hard work.

          • Id

            Where do you think the government got the money to build the roads and bridges? From the taxpayers who obtained money through enterprise. It’s the what came first chicken or egg argument. Do you think with the EPA and the environmental groups today, the Hoover Dam or the Erie Canal would have ever been built? I think now. The Keystone Pipeline with 200,000 shovel ready jobs was waiting, but O did not do it. O has got to go.

          • Josh S

            Well, “with the EPA and the environmental groups today” we are currently building:

            HOT lanes in Virginia,
            a new Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge,
            a new floating bridge in Seattle,
            massive expansion at the nation’s ports,
            a rapid expansion in the wind power installations around the country,
            (not to mention blowing off the tops of mountains in West Virginia, injecting carcinogens into the ground to extract natural gas, drilling unsafe oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, etc, etc, etc.)

            Many of these projects are just as complex if not more so than the Hoover Dam or Erie Canal. (Also, the Erie Canal is currently defunct and really was only productive for a few decades.)

            As far as the Keystone pipeline goes, while it would be a major mistake to build it, I have little doubt that it will get built. Obama, like most every politician, has no real commitment to the environment or energy conservation. He’ll get rolled over by the fat cats, for sure.

  • george

    I cannot possibly see a commercial entity being interested in this property under these circumstances. Maybe a relatively small non-profit that is currently leasing space could make an sound argument to its contributors that it makes economic sense to pay to renovate this facility and then use it rent-free as its headquarters. For example, In the old days the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra used a similar house in Lewinsville Park as its headquarters.

  • Buff Phoon

    Put the Artisphere in it. Then rename it the ArtisFarm.

  • Melissa Zimmerman

    Let’s throw a lot of taxpayer money at the unwanted farm house and then claim its historic.

    If I was on the County Board I would vote to spend and spend and spend regardless of any merits because it’s play money. (And, I do not pay any taxes.)

  • John Andre

    Official residence for the County Manager???

  • Lustron Farmhouse

    I thought the taxpayers bought, disassembled, and paid storage on this farmhouse for years already. And then the county manager moved to Ohio.

    Or was that another house? And another county manager?

  • Allen

    $2.5 billion capital improvement plan just approved by the county and they couldn’t scratch out some money to make the basic necessary repairs to this place? Why did they buy it in the first place?

  • Brian

    A “demonstration kitchen” won’t generate enough money to pay back the initial investment. Honestly, what business could generate that kind of return on investment? In that neighborhood?

    • Allen

      I agree. The county should just decide what THEY want to do with it, and THEY should go ahead and do it. Eleven years after they bought it and still sitting around twiddling their thumbs doing next to nothing, meanwhile the building is slowly rotting from the inside.

      Or else just sell it to the highest bidder and be done with it. If the county feels it’s worth saving, then they should be the ones putting the money behind the estimated worth.

  • BMaurer

    Instead of wasting money on that Columbia Pike street car idea of Zimmerman’s, why not use the money to restore this beautiful old, historical farmhouse.


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