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Donnellan Recommends Rejecting Plan to Redevelop Key Blvd Apartments

by Ethan Rothstein November 12, 2014 at 1:35 pm 2,280 0

Key Boulevard Apartments (photo via Preservation Arlington)A plan to redevelop the Key Boulevard Apartments (1537-1545 Key Blvd) is being given a thumbs down from county staff.

On Saturday, the Arlington County Board is scheduled to consider affordable housing developer AHC Inc.‘s plan to tear down the three 72-year-old buildings to construct a new, 158-unit building with 82 affordable units. The current apartments have a combined 41 units and were identified by Preservation Arlington as one of the “most endangered historic places” in the county.

County Manager Barbara Donnellan has recommended the County Board deny AHC’s proposal.

Donnellan and county staff say  the requested density “does not substantially comply” with the county’s policy to preserve the character of the Colonial Terrace Conservation Area of Rosslyn, where the apartments sit. County policy calls for reinvesting in existing housing or redeveloping housing with no more than 48 units per acre the zoning ordinance allows. The proposed site plan would build 127 units per acre on the site,  according to the county staff report.

AHC needs County Board permission to transfer development rights from two of its Gates of Ballston affordable dwellings to the Key Boulevard apartment site in order to have enough allowable density to build the project. Donnellan is recommending the County Board deny the transfer, which would keep the Gates of Ballston buildings eligible for redevelopment with an additional 106 units of density.

If the County Board decides to approve the redevelopment despite Donnellan’s recommendation, AHC would have the go ahead to build its six-story, square building with an internal courtyard and two levels of underground parking. The 82 affordable units would be rentals, while the remaining 76 apartments would be sold as condominiums.

The project would completely demolish the existing buildings, which the county designated as an “important” site in its Historic Resource Inventory in 2011. AHC wrote on its website that it has been gathering community support for the project for years.

“Now more than 70 years old — with aging building systems, inefficient windows and appliances, and accessibility issues — the complex is ready for an update,” the website says.

In a separate item on the County Board’s weekend agenda, Donnellan is recommending the Board approve a multi-million dollar loan to AHC for the purchase of the Spectrum Apartments at 5055 S. Chesterfield Road, near Wakefield High School.

Photo via Preservation Arlington

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