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County Board Votes to Move Forward with Reeves Farmhouse Sale

by ARLnow.com March 22, 2017 at 10:35 am 0

Reeves farmhouse (image courtesy Arlington County)

The Arlington County Board voted unanimously yesterday to move forward with the sale of the historic Reeves farmhouse in Bluemont.

Despite a last push from a group that wants the farmhouse converted into a learning center for students, the county says that selling the farmhouse to a private buyer, who will be required to “maintain its historic integrity,” is the only economical way to preserve it for future generations.

“The County’s goal is to preserve the historic character of Reeves farmhouse and to preserve the site’s two acres of open space, the raised gardens, sledding hill and milk shed,” the county said in a press release.

“The County’s efforts to achieve the sort of successful partnership to restore the Reevesland farmhouse that it has achieved with other projects have been hampered by the estimated, and increasing, cost of renovating the farmhouse and bringing it up to code for public use, estimated to be in the range of $2.5 – $3 million, as well as an unspecified amount for ongoing maintenance and operating costs.”

The full press release, after the jump.

The Arlington County Board today authorized the County Manager to move forward with the sale of the historic Reeves farmhouse, as the County has not identified a financial partner in the farmhouse’s restoration and reuse. The Manager had asked the Board at the February 28 Board Meeting to direct him to move forward.

“After exploring numerous alternatives, this Board has decided that the best way to preserve this piece of Arlington’s history is to sell the Reeves farmhouse itself to a private buyer who will be required to maintain its historic integrity,” said Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette.

“We believe that the County Manager has found a solution that will both breathe new life into the farmhouse while preserving the vast majority of the land as parkland and allowing the continuation of the current public uses.”

The Board voted 5 to 0 to authorize the Manager to move forward with the sale of Reeves farmhouse. To read the staff report on this item, visit the County website. Scroll down to Item No. 24 on the agenda for the Tuesday, March 21 Recessed County Board Meeting.

The County’s goal is to preserve the historic character of Reeves farmhouse and to preserve the site’s two acres of open space, the raised gardens, sledding hill and milk shed.

The County’s efforts to achieve the sort of successful partnership to restore the Reevesland farmhouse that it has achieved with other projects have been hampered by the estimated, and increasing, cost of renovating the farmhouse and bringing it up to code for public use, estimated to be in the range of $2.5 – $3 million, as well as an unspecified amount for ongoing maintenance and operating costs.

Several steps must be taken before the farmhouse parcel can be sold:

  • Certificate of Appropriateness (CoA) – the County must apply for and obtain a CoA from the Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board (HALRB) before staff can prepare the farmhouse for sale. Proposed site improvements requiring HALRB approval include:
    • demolishing the non-historic garage
    • repaving the existing driveway from North Manchester Street
    • creating a parking pad as required by the Arlington County Zoning Ordinance
    • removing a tree and a bush
    • constructing a grass paver access driveway to the milk shed for County maintenance vehicles
  • Easements – a County access easement must be finalized, and a perpetual historic preservation easement must be developed to further protect the historic farmhouse
  • Appraisal, broker – the County must obtain an appraisal and engage the services of a qualified real estate broker with experience in marketing and selling historic properties
  • Negotiate – the County must negotiate the sale of the farmhouse lot and present it to County Board for final approval. The sale will require a public hearing per Va. Code §15.2-1800

Once the County Board approves an Agreement of Sale, staff will proceed to settlement with the purchaser and recordation of a Deed of Conveyance, (subject to the prior-recorded perpetual historic preservation easement). Staff estimates that it will take at least one year to accomplish these steps.

Both the farmhouse parcel and the public park parcel will remain under a County local historic district, so all exterior changes are subject to review by the Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board.

The County purchased Reevesland, located at 400 North Manchester St., in 2001 to expand Bluemont Park. The parcel and 19th-century farmhouse, owned by one family for almost 100 years, is the remnant of Arlington’s last operating dairy farm. The entire property was designated as the Reevesland Local Historic District in 2004.

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