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Renovation plans for 93 units at Barcroft get thumbs up from County Board

Plans to renovate some of the buildings within the Barcroft Apartments complex on Columbia Pike cleared an important hurdle on Tuesday.

The Arlington County Board approved a use permit enabling renovation plans for 93 homes at the corner of S. George Mason Drive and S. Four Mile Run Drive on Tuesday. These will occur concurrently with long-term planning for how to redevelop select parcels within the sprawling acreage.

Board Chair Christian Dorsey said property owner and developer Jair Lynch is taking “virtually unheard of” steps to meet with residents and inform them of the project, sending monthly reports of these meetings to the county.

“I don’t want you to necessarily give them applause but understand there is a structure in place by which more information is learned, that they can share, and there is a vehicle to share it,” he said. “We’ll be watching. We’ll be monitoring. It’s really been working pretty well this far.”

Jair Lynch acquired the property in December 2021 using a $150 million loan from Arlington County and a $160 million loan from Amazon.

The terms of the agreement preserved the affordability of the 1,334 units for residents earning up to 60% of the area median income for 99 years. Jair Lynch is exploring making some units affordable to residents meeting lower income thresholds.

Since then, Jair Lynch has been meeting with residents to seek input on the changes and assuage them that legacy residents — those who Jair Lynch identified as living at the complex before the property was purchased — will not be displaced.

It is working with county staff to plot out redevelopment and renovation work and how it will pay for these changes, submitting a development and financing plan last October, which is currently under review. This fall, Jair Lynch and the county will discuss the mix of affordability levels on the site.

After the renovations, the number of homes will remain at 93 but, using bump-outs, 14 homes will become 3-bedroom and 4 will become 4-bedroom units. There will be landscape and site improvements, including to garages for tenants, and the buildings will incorporate environmentally friendly amenities and features.

Bump-outs at Barcroft Apartments to increase the size of 17 units (via Arlington County)

The renovations may require residents to be temporarily relocated elsewhere on the site, for which Jair Lynch will pay. After the units change size, legacy residents may seek to live in another unit on-site, Melissa Danowski, the county project coordinator for Barcroft, confirmed for the Board.

A resident meeting explaining next steps was held this April and information will continue to be shared with residents to give them time to prepare for any disruption. Those who will be relocated will get a 120-day notice.

Ahead of the meeting, there was some discussion among Planning Commission members about whether the sloped site can be made more accessible to people with disabilities, as some areas are only accessible by stairs and at least one building does not have an elevator.

Project representatives said that making accessibility upgrades will be difficult. Modifications could be made to the rest of the site to add accessible units, per a summary of the discussion shared with the Board.

Commissioners also discussed what would become of the tree canopy on the site.

Jair Lynch proposes removing trees where they conflict with construction or stormwater facilities or if they are in poor health or are invasive species, a report said. The developer plans to exceed tree replacement numbers.

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