Local affordable housing developer AHC Inc. is in the early stages of redeveloping the Fort Henry Gardens apartment complex in Green Valley.
Located on the 2400 block of S. Lowell Street, Fort Henry Gardens currently consists of “82 affordable garden apartments in a tree-lined community minutes from the bustling Shirlington neighborhood.” The complex “was built in the 1960s and is in need of an update,” according to AHC Communications Director Celia Slater.
In its place, AHC wants to build taller, more modern apartment buildings.
“We’re excited about redeveloping Fort Henry Gardens because it’s an aging property and this is an opportunity to provide new, energy efficient homes to hardworking families and individuals who need affordable, quality places to live in Arlington,” Slater said. “There is so much need for affordable living opportunities in Arlington… The redevelopment is also giving us the opportunity to provide homes to a wider variety of individuals, including more one bedroom apartments for seniors, which the community mentioned as a real need.”
“The proposed plan includes 26 three-bedroom apartments and 149 two-bedroom units for families and 120 one-bedroom apartments and 5 studios to serve individuals and couples,” Slater tells ARLnow. “Altogether, the new Fort Henry Gardens could add an additional 218+ new affordable apartments in response to the pressing need for more affordable living options in the county.”
Slater said the new apartment community will have a new fitness center, three open lawn areas surrounded by shade trees, and two preschool-age playgrounds “meant to complement the existing recreational field at Drew Elementary School.”
It will also have some features Slater said were requested by the community, including:
- Designating the proposed 48-unit building on Lincoln St. to be a senior building after we learned from community members of this need and long-time desire.
- Almost doubling the size of our on-site community center in response to the need expressed from our AHC Green Valley residents. We currently have a robust Resident Services program at Fort Henry in a fairly small community center. The new space will give our students more room for indoor learning activities and also provide an opportunity to explore additional ways to build community.
- Committing a healthy portion of our site to outdoor gathering and recreational uses in response to this request from the Civic Association.
- Designing for solar panels in response to the County’s desire for renewable energy.
AHC is hoping to begin construction in the spring of 2022 and welcome residents back in the spring of 2024. The initial site plan for the redevelopment was submitted to Arlington County in May, Slater said, and the County Board is expected to consider the project early next year.
The developer might face some community skepticism, however, due to complaints about its nearby Shelton apartment building on 24th Street S. In 2016, building residents spoke out publicly, demanding better living conditions. This year, an anonymous group of neighboring residents has been writing letters to AHC and Arlington County complaining about “ongoing noise, litter, and criminal issues” associated with the building.
“Both our residents and our staff have found their calls to police to be nonproductive this summer,” the letter said. “Our residents report that the police are not responding to their calls about noise and large gatherings.”
(ACPD confirmed to ARLnow that “the department is diverting some non-emergency incidents to the online reporting system,” while continuing to respond to “in-progress crimes and emergency calls for service where there is an immediate threat to life, health or property.” Overall police call volume to Green Valley for the period from Jan. 1-Aug. 31 was down 16%, according to department spokeswoman Ashley Savage.)
Robin Stombler and Portia Clark, who lead the Green Valley Civic Association, said they are in touch with the anonymous letter writer and are working to address the issues with the apartment building and with the police department. Stombler and Clark said they do not believe County Board involvement is needed to address issues with the Shelton at this time, but suggested that they want to see AHC make some changes.
“Suffice to say, AHC Inc. will need to reexamine how they conduct business in our community in order to garner our support,” they wrote.
Slater, meanwhile, said AHC “will continue to meet with the Green Valley Civic Association and other neighbors throughout” the Fort Henry Gardens redevelopment process.
Photo (1) via AHC Inc., (2) via Google Maps