Arlington, VA

A stalled affordable housing project near the Ballston Metro station is poised to get a three-year extension.

The Ballston Station project, set to be built on the site of the Ballston Central United Methodist Church at 4201 Fairfax Drive, was previously approved by the County Board in 2017 and again in 2019. The latter approval upsized the project from 119 units, including 48 designated as affordable, to 144 units of 100% committed affordable housing.

The Board previously also allocated $3.1 million in affordable housing loan funds to the project.

The church and its development partner, the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing, are now going back before the Board this weekend, seeking to extend the now-closed window for beginning construction through October 2023.

The developers are also seeking a minor change to the affordability mix, switching six units from being affordable to those making up to 30% of the Area Median Income to 60% AMI, to make the project more fiscally sustainable.

The planned eight-story building will still include a daycare facility for up to 100 kids and a church space with up to 200 seats, as well as eight visitor parking space and 0.25 parking spaces per apartment.

County staff is recommending approval of the proposed site plan amendment, but there is some opposition from neighbors in the adjacent Summerwalk condo complex at 1020 N. Stafford Street.

The condo association is concerned about parking, noting that their own building has insufficient parking and condo residents — who are barred from participating in the county’s under-review Residential Permit Parking Program — find parking on the street difficult as it is. The association is also concerned about their future neighbors making the area “less desirable.”

More from the county staff report:

In addition to the previously submitted concerns from the Summerwalk Condo Association, a new comment has been submitted regarding the project having changed in 2019 to a commitment of 100% affordable units on site. The Association notes that the previous proposal of a mixed income housing development would better serve the needs of the entire community and instill a greater sense of equality within the neighborhood. The Association also notes concerns that the project being 100% affordable will make the surrounding area less desirable.

In response, county staff assert that the parking ratio is in line with existing parking policies, while the project “meets multiple affordable housing goals, including units in close proximity to transit.” It also “provides an opportunity for a mixed-income neighborhood as most nearby developments are predominately market-rate,” staff wrote.

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