New Tower to Replace Garden Apartments

by ARLnow.com December 21, 2012 at 9:30 am 6,044 54 Comments

Rendering of the future Pierce Queen Apartments 

Three aging, affordable garden apartment buildings will be replaced with a new, 12-story residential tower as part of a planned mixed-income development in the Rador-Ft. Myer Heights neighborhood.

Wesley Housing Development Corporation is partnering with Bozzuto to redevelop the five-building, 50-unit Pierce Queen Apartments, built in 1942 and located on the 1600 block of 16th Street N. The developers have proposed to tear down three of the buildings in order to build a new 186-unit apartment tower, while renovating the remaining two garden apartment buildings.

Each of the five existing buildings have been deemed historically “important” in Arlington County’s Historic Resources Inventory.

All told, the finished project would have 198 apartment units, 40 percent of which will be reserved as committed affordable housing, plus 207 off-street parking spaces.

As reported by the Arlington Mercury, however, the county’s Site Plan Review Committee expressed reservations about the project at a meeting on Monday.

SPRC members questioned various aspects of the project’s design and one member said flatly that he was “not comfortable” with the overall design. Members also questioned whether parking fees for market-rate apartments (parking will be free for affordable apartment residents) would send cars onto neighborhood streets seeking free parking.

The project’s McLean-based architect countered that his firm followed the county’s sector plan for the area “almost to the exact T,” the Mercury reported.

The county’s Planning Commission is currently expected to take up the Pierce Queen development in January, with a County Board vote expected in “early 2013.”

  • novasteve

    Whoa. By affordable was it just cheap because it was an older building, not highly sought after and thus the rents were not that high, or “affordable ” via subsidies? Something tells me the new people will cost more to live in even the “afforable” units and how do you qualify whereas I bet in the past it didn’t matter your income, or whatever, it was cheap because there wasn’t that much demand for it.

    • xard

      another pointless comment

      • novasteve

        How is it pointless? Was it affordable because it wasn’t desirable or was it affordable because of subsidies paid by other tenants or the taxpayer?

        • xard

          Again, another pointless comment. Interesting that no one ever finds these pointless comments useful. Maybe the typist should stick to ranting in his own little head.

          • axrd

            The article refers to the apartments as “affordable.” novasteve is asking for clarification on whether the author was using “affordable” per the general meaning of the adjective or whether the apartments were designated “affordable” in the sense that they’re subsidized by a government housing program.

            xard, why are novasteve’s comments pointless? If yours is more “pointful,” please explain why.

          • xard

            so sad that no-point resorts to changing his handle in a futile effort to defend his original worthless post. good grief, take it to a counselor, although I would feel bad for whomever would have to suffer through the delusions of such a little mind.

    • ARL-VA

      Or was it affordable because liberals supported the initial construction? Or was it affordable because liberals existed in Arlington at the time of construction? Or…

      This comment doesn’t make any sense. Neither does yours.

      • Arlingtonian

        The existing affordable housing is affordable to all. The replacement “affordable” housing will not be affordable to the majority of Arllingtonians, as County guidelines restrict occupancy people with low incomes. Illegal aliens and refugees from other juridisdictions (such as D.C. and Fairfax County) will be able to occupy the new “affordable” housing, but most County residents will not.

        That is the point. Get it?

  • Pierce King

    Yaay – this redevelopment is good news! Old =|= “historic”.

    • ???

      What is ” =|=”?

      Were you going for this? ≠

      • CW


        • CW

          Whoa, apparently if you put two carrots next to each other facing outward, as is syntax for not equals to in some languages, it disappears, as in my above post. I don’t know anything about web forms, do these things accept html to some extent or something?

          • Ed

            You may mean “caret.”

          • Ed

            But you know, even carets would not be facing the right way, I don’t think . . . hmm.

          • xxx

            Caret (pron.: /ˈkærət/) is an inverted V-shaped grapheme .

            — inequality signs, pointy brackets, or brackets. Sometimes referred to as angle brackets, in such cases as HTML markup. Occasionally known as broken brackets or brokets.[1]

      • danielobvt

        I would have gone with “!=”, but that is the programmer in me…

  • Joshua Tucker

    Can’t these developers hire some new architects? This new building looks just like dozens of others built in the last few years.

    • John

      Yeah. The building is pretty bad. The developers in Montgomery, Fairfax, and DC seem to hire the better architects. Developers can get away with mediocrity in Arlington.

  • Homeowner

    Are you freakin’ kidding me?

    “Each of the five existing buildings have been deemed historically “important” in Arlington County’s Historic Resources Inventory.”

    • drax

      So you looked up the details of their history and the logic behind the county’s decision and decided that this is without merit?

      Or you just looked at the buildings and made a wild conclusion based on no facts?

      • xard

        So wildly informative.

  • ArLater

    I live in the apartment building next door to this and its funny because just as I walked by a few days ago I thought they should just get rid of those gross run down apartments. And here we are.

    The fact that they are historically important is the biggest joke ever.

    Also, while they are at it, cant they tare down the Rossyln Motel right at the bottom of the hill too?

    • fedworker

      If the plan includes housing a MOMs and froyo joint, I’ll all for it. And if the ‘historical’ piece MUST be included…then perhaps a historical trolly station is the solution!

    • Josh S

      I don’t see (from the pictures) how they are “gross” and “run-down.” They are very plain, that’s true. But entirely in keeping with the period in which they were built. Really there is nothing wrong with them.
      Historical has more to it than just aesthetics. Or just being old. (ALthough being built in 1942, they’re really not that old.) I don’t know why they are considered to be historically important, but I imagine the decision was more than just walking by while texting on their phone, taking a glance at the building, and making a snap judgment….

    • z

      “tare” is the default?

      • Ed

        “Tare” was a misspelling of “carrot”

    • ArlRes

      I second tearing down the Rosslyn Motel.

  • E

    Thank Jesus, those are eye blisters my goodness. Build UP finally, my goodness, took too long.

  • KalashniKEV

    Ummm… that’s right in between my window and the Capitol/ Monument…

    Seriously not happy about this.

    • Herndon Hag

      Free market, baby.

      • KalashniKEV

        Hey, I’m with you. I’m not fighting this one. Not happy though.

        Kind of sucks that I moved to Arlington and now stand to lose a few hundred thousand dollars with this monstrosity half full of poors on one side of me and the bum mansion on the other.

        • Vicente Fox

          You should’ve realized that when you chose to live in the slum-side of Arlington Blvd.

        • Mary-Austin

          Yep you might want to sell now and leave before prices in Courthouse start dropping through the floor.

  • El Dorko

    20 bucks says that developers will be going for the Washington and Lee Apartments in the near-future. They are farther down Rt. 50, but still in a good location. I can’t see the Days Inn at Pershing and 50 standing much longer either.

    • CrystalMikey

      Yeah, I think its Days are numbered.

  • Buckingham Bandit

    Relative time scales are interesting. There are apartments in Europe twice as old as these, yet there is no rush to tear them down.

    Of course, there are less fatties in Europe too, so perhaps it is easier to fit into those older, “cozier” spaces. Only in America does a 25-year-old single person need a living room big enough to fit a tank. I guess it gives you a room to grow into (aka get fatter)

    • ARL’er

      Europe is catching up to us in terms of obesity rates, unfortunately. Their childhood obesity rates are now similar to what we have in the U.S. I wish it had been the U.S. decreasing its obesity rates to approach that of Europe instead.

    • Deadite

      The difference is, those old buildings in Europe are generally gorgeous and woven nicely into the city / neighborhood. These garden apartments are junky looking and obsolete, and no longer fit into the Arlington “look”, FWIW.

    • AR12


  • Ian

    So, poor people get “free” parking and people who actually earn enough to pay for a condo in Arlington have to pay for parking. How is this benefiting anyone?

    • Sheriff Gonna Getcha

      Most places (apts or condos) you have to pay for parking. I’m not sure why its even a point of contention.

  • bobbytiger

    Am so looking forward to another 12 story building

  • Deadite

    The fact that these buildings are historically “important” speaks volumes to the architectural achievements (failings?) in Arlington. I’m sure these looked just as cheap and crappy in 1942, and if you’d told anyone back then that these would one day be deemed historically important they would have you committed to a mental institute.

    • Live-Aid

      As noted above, “historically important” has little or nothing to do with design.

      • Deadite

        OK so they’re “important” because they were built during WW II … ? I can’t see how they’re any more significant than the other 500 garden apartments scattered throughout the county. I’m going to go out on a limb and assume the Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board is a sham organization and simply deems anything over 50 years old “historically important” because there are very few truly historic buildings in this county and the Board members need to justify their jobs’ existence.

  • Mary-Austin

    Why leave 2 of the 5 behind? It is just going to look out of place.
    Not that the new “tower” will look very much better?

  • Courhouse Diva

    Why free parking for affordable housing residents? Courhouse Metro is nearby, there’s excellent public transportation.

    • Kleio

      In case you have not noticed, public transport is excellent for some, but only takes you to certain places, within a reasonable time and with a good degree of reliability. Those places may not include a person’s job site, or other locations they need to get to on a regular basis. Also, public transport is not so great if you have to carry much with you. I speak from experience, having commuted by public transport, or on foot, for nigh onto 30 years. I finished at my last job with a 50-minute multi-phase commute each way, standing room only, unreliable in bad weather and often with trains so overpacked at the end of a long day that it took me an hour and a half to get home. At times this was truly exhausting, and I especially wouldn’t wish it on anyone with family responsibilities. Residential parking is neccesary. As for “free,” I assume that means it is included in the rent…not billed separately. BFD?

  • jjbug

    Hope this new bldg will not have 2 dogs per apartment! They can overwhelm the neighbors, too.

    • KalashniKEV


      Dogs like canines or dogs like…

  • lavender row 309

    Arlington has now gotten into the new cookie-cutter mode of architecture. I agree w/ Deadite that things here need to change. If Arlington is to remain the hip, cool, cutting-edge neighborhood it portends to be, take a look a some of the innovative residences in Crystal City, San Francisco, New York, and (especially) Chicago. Let freedom RING! Enough of the beige-on-red-on-beige 12-story high rises. This ain’t DC and we should be able to build what we want!

    • bobbytiger

      “Hip, cool, [and] cutting edge”. That’s exactly why I choose to live here.

  • John E. Andre

    The new tower will be LESS affordable than the existing apartments…the County collects more revenue from the development.

  • El Cool

    Does any one know what’s going up near the corner of North Glebe and Lee Hwy?


Subscribe to our mailing list