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Board Approves New Apartment Tower in Fort Myer Heights

Rendering of the newly-approved Pierce Queen apartment towerThe Arlington County Board last night unanimously approved a new 12-story apartment tower as part of an affordable housing development in the Fort Myer Heights neighborhood.

The project will redevelop five existing garden apartment buildings that make up Pierce Queen Apartments, along 16th Street and between N. Pierce and Queen Streets. The buildings currently contain 50 market rate affordable apartments, that rent from $1,057 to $1,390. Three would be torn down to make way for the 181-unit apartment tower, and two would be renovated and reconfigured to contain 12 three-bedroom units.

Of the 193 total units in the complex, 76 would be reserved as committed affordable housing for 60 years. As a condition of approval, the tower will be built to LEED Silver sustainability specifications. Other community benefits include a $75,000 public art contribution designated exclusively for the Fort Myer Heights area, and preservation of the two garden apartment buildings, which are considered historic by the county.

Approval of the project has been delayed due to a number of issues with the developers’ application for Affordable Housing Investment Funds from the county. Those issues were largely resolved since the Board deferred consideration of the project last month, according to a staff report. The Board voted separately last night to approve $6.8 million in AHIF funds for the project.

The developers, Bozzuto and Wesley Housing Development Corporation, will now apply for Low Income Housing Tax Credits from the Virginia Housing Development Authority. If that application is successful — a decision is expected in June — the project is expected to be built by fall 2015.

The county plans to iron out details of a Tenant Assistance Fund after the tax credits are awarded. The fund would help current Pierce Queen residents, who would be forced to relocate for at least two years during construction, from fall 2013 to project completion.

County Board Chair Walter Tejada applauded the developers for working with the county and the community to make changes to the project since it was first proposed. The county’s Site Plan Review Committee previously raised concerns about the project’s design, which led to changes like an increased building height taper, building entrance design modifications, a redesigned courtyard and the elimination of above-grade parking.

“The project is improved enough that i’m glad to support it,” Tejada said.

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