How a Penske truck rental lot along Columbia Pike could figure into the Barcroft redevelopment

The Penske truck rental location on Columbia Pike — which once had an ART bus crash into it and stay there for a month — has closed.

And the replacement for the storefront and expansive parking lot, at the Pike’s intersection with S. George Mason Drive, may be something completely different.

The site is expected to figure into plans from Jair Lynch Real Estate Partners to revamp the neighboring Barcroft Apartments over the next decade. It sits at one edge of the sprawling garden apartment complex, next to a 7-Eleven store, and was purchased by the developer around the time of the buzzy housing acquisition.

Jair Lynch also purchased the small strip mall with the South and Central American eatery Cafe Sazón and a Goodwill location at 4704 and 4714 Columbia Pike, respectively.

“The Penske Truck Rental Mart location at 4110 Columbia Pike in Arlington has permanently closed as of Sept. 30,” Alen Beljin, a Penske Truck Leasing spokesperson, told ARLnow. “Our company had leased the building, so we did not have the opportunity to renew when the property was sold.”

While Penske packed up, the local nonprofit Arlington Community Foundation (ACF) wrote a report that shows how Jair Lynch could set aside some units for residents making less than 30% of the Area Median Income (AMI), using the commercial site and county development tools. Jair Lynch has pledged to set side 1,344 apartments for people making 60% or less of AMI for the next 99 years, supported by loans from Amazon and Arlington County.

“Our vision is that in perpetuity, 30% AMI households can live there,” said Michael Spotts, an Arlington resident who runs the consulting firm Neighborhood Fundamentals, and a co-author of the ACF report. “Barcroft has been a place where people at those income levels can call home. As this neighborhood redevelops, we want to ensure people can continue to call that neighborhood home.”

ACF published the analysis ahead of the Master Financing and Development Plan Jair Lynch is expected to file with Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz at the end of October. This plan will spell out how the developer plans to renovate existing apartments, build new housing and keep down rent for lower-income residents.

“The plan is part of the financing agreement with Amazon and Arlington County,” David Hilde, Vice-President of development for Jair Lynch, told Arlington’s Tenant-Landlord Commission last month. “It goes through how to maximize the investments Arlington and Amazon made, whether that’s baseline preserving affordability, or exploring options to deepen affordability.”

The developer did not respond to multiple requests for comment for this story.

What ACF recommends

Jair Lynch could build a standard market-rate, mixed-use apartment building on the Penske lot, per the ACF report, as developers who follow the Columbia Pike Commercial Centers Form-Based Code are not required to provide affordable units.

But, using the commercial sites, the tools ACF laid out and another $20-30 million, the developer could set aside 255 units for low-income households earning 30% AMI or less for the next 30 years, ACF says.

“We think this is going to be challenging to accomplish and it’s going to require a lot of commitment from stakeholders,” Spotts said. “We’re optimistic, based on conversations we’ve had, that this can be pulled off.”

Jair Lynch could use county tools that incentivize developers to provide affordable housing, such as density bonuses and lower parking ratios. It could also use a “transfer of development rights,” which rewards developers who commit to preserving affordable housing, open spaces, historic sites and community facilities on Columbia Pike.

A housing complex on the Penske site could even serve as temporary lodging for displaced residents during construction, Spotts said.

“Every phase that doesn’t include tools to encourage affordability will make it harder to achieve the goal moving forward,” Spotts said. “If we don’t get started right away, you just fall further behind as time goes on.'”

Without a financing plan officially filed, these ideas are conjecture, as some community members have other ideas for what could go there.

For instance, some have suggested amenities like a municipal swimming pool, playgrounds, a daycare or a school, John Snyder, immediate past chair of the Columbia Pike Partnership previously told ARLnow.

Rent woes

Meanwhile, Jair Lynch is preparing to end a rent freeze and raise rent upwards of 3% per year for some current residents, according to a video of the Arlington Tenant-Landlord Commission’s September meeting.

Starting January, about 80 residents every month would see a hike, a Jair Lynch investment associate told the commission. This phased approach would give the developer time to negotiate a solution with residents who say they cannot afford the increase.

Nupur Chowdhury, a resident and member of tenant advocacy group ACE Collective, said his organization requested a longer rent freeze but was denied because the company “believes the one-on-one negotiation process will be enough to prevent hundreds of tenants from being displaced.”

One resident reported that the aging buildings have maintenance issues, from improperly sealed windows to rodents infestations due to inconsistent trash pick-up.

“I think that those things need to be taken care of,” Delora Pelosi, a Barcroft resident for more than 40 years, told the Commission.

Jair Lynch will be returning to the Tenant Landlord Commission on Wednesday night to respond to the items raised in September, Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development spokeswoman Erika Moore tells ARLnow.

Once the financing plan is filed, the developer will seek feedback on it this fall and winter, the Jair Lynch investment associate said during the meeting. Next spring, the Arlington County Board is expected to vote on some aspects of the plan.

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