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County could up loan for Park Shirlington renovations to $32 million

Sunset over Park Shirlington (Staff Photo by Jay Westcott)

A proposed apartment renovation project in Shirlington could receive an additional $2.6 million in loans from the county.

Tomorrow (Saturday), the Arlington County Board is set to review a proposal increasing the size of an existing loan from the county’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF) for renovations to the Park Shirlington Apartments, a 1950s-era, garden-style complex with 293 units along 31st Street S., on the edge of the Fairlington neighborhood.

The loan under consideration would bring the total amount Arlington is lending to the property owner, Standard Communities, to $31.9 million. This number includes a $22.8 million loan approved last summer, an existing $6 million loan used to assist Standard Communities with the purchase of the property in 2017, and a more than half-million dollar deposit.

The owner intends to set the renovated units aside as committed affordable units to people making 60% of the area median income (AMI) for 75 years.

Pending County Board approval, renovations could begin this fall and be completed in 2024.

The “extensive” planned work includes new kitchens and bathrooms, new boilers and chillers, rooftop solar panels, a new community building with a fitness center, hallway upgrades and exterior work, according to a draft report outlining the project.

The current leasing office will be converted into a two-bedroom apartment, and the leasing and management office will move to the new community building.

Renovations will take approximately three weeks per unit, and approximately 10 units will be under renovation at a time.

Park Shirlington Apartments is nearly at-capacity, with only two vacant apartments as of March, according to a report outlining the renovation and relocation process.

Standard Communities says it’s taking several steps to minimize disruptions for tenants who stay and to assist tenants who earn too much to remain.

“Residents will be allowed to remain at the property during renovations,” said Erika Moore, a spokeswoman for the Dept. of Community Planning, Housing and Development. “Residents would temporarily relocate from their current unit, with all of their furniture and belongings, into a vacant ‘hospitality’ unit, which would be comparable to their current apartment.”

Standard Communities will provide residents with boxes and packing materials and a renovation coordinator will “schedule, coordinate, and supervise the moving of their packed belongings and furniture from their home to the hospitality unit and then back again using a licensed, bonded and insured professional moving company,” Moore said.

The owner will also arrange for packing and unpacking assistance for elderly residents and residents with disabilities, as well as “any other reasonable accommodation requests,” she added.

But an estimated 40 households will have to relocate, as they earn over 60% of the AMI. For an individual, that’s $59,820 a year.

A family of four living on 60% AMI ($85,380) and living in a 3-bedroom apartment would still meet the federal government’s definition of “rent burdened,” paying slightly more than 30% of their income on rent.

They will receive four-month notices and moving cost assistance, according to the relocation report.

Under the new threshold, rents would be $1,602 for a 1-bedroom, $1,921 for a 2-bedroom and $2,220 for a 3-bedroom apartment.

Arlington County was initially planning to buy and build up part of the property with a partner developer, Washington Business Journal previously reported, but that plan was eventually scrapped.

The county assisted Standard Communities with the acquisition in 2017 to prevent market-rate developers from taking it over, according to the draft county report. The owner then converted the complex to committed affordable housing for people making up to 80% AMI.

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