Members of the Coalition of Arlingtonians for Responsible Development, a group that wants affordable housing throughout the county, protested before a County Board work session on the Affordable Housing Master Plan last night.
The Affordable Housing Master Plan calls for 17.7 percent of all housing in Arlington to be affordable by 2040 for those making up to 60 percent of the average median income. Under the plan, the county would add roughly 15,800 new affordable units.
“It’s housing for our low wage workforce, or our lower wage workforce,” said County Board member Jay Fisette after the work session. “It’s the people we all rely on and come across every day in our lives in Arlington.”
The County Board will vote on the plan in September, and CARD members said they do not think the plan does enough to spread affordable housing throughout the county. Instead, the group said that new affordable housing units will be clustered around Columbia Pike.
“I think the county can make a stronger commitment to placing CAFs [Committed Affordable Units] in school districts that don’t have a high concentration of poverty,” said CARD member Katherine Novello, who lives in Barcroft.
The plan includes a map that forecasts the distribution of affordable housing units throughout the county. By 2040:
- Rosslyn-Ballston corridor will have 22 percent of the affordable housing units
- The Route 1 corridor (Crystal City and Pentagon City) will have 10 percent
- Columbia Pike will have 22 percent
- The area around the Arlington and Washington Blvds will have 6 percent
- Buckingham will have 7 percent
- The Westover Garden Apartments will have 3 percent
- Apartments along I-395 will have 13 percent
- The neighborhoods along Lee Highway to East Falls Church will have 11 percent
Under the plan, no affordable housing units would be added to areas in the northern most part of Arlington, including the Bellevue Forest, Arlingwood, Old Glebe and Rivercrest neighborhoods.
Many of the CARD members are concerned that the lack of distribution throughout the county will hurt school achievement by clumping high levels of poverty in some schools, while others have very few students who need free or reduced meals.
“If you create pockets of poverty, you’re not creating opportunities for people to succeed in life,” said CARD member Sue Campbell, who lives in Glencarlyn.
The lack of diversity in some schools also goes against the county’s slogan of diversity and inclusion, Campbell said.
The County Board received many comments from the public asking for geographic distribution and urging the county to do more to ensure it, said County Board member John Vihstadt during the work session.
“I’m just looking at pages and pages of the comments looking at the survey [on affordable housing],” Vihstadt said. “We’re moving in the right direction. The question is what more can we do.”
Vihstadt said after the meeting that he thinks the plan is better than before and is hopeful that the final plan presented in September will be something he can support.
“I think this plan now has goals as well as some teeth,” he said.
CARD founding member Joye Murphy said this morning that while the County Board members, “especially John Vihstadt,” were listening to the group, the plan still does not do enough to enforce geographic distribution.
“The county continues to harp on ‘preserving’ affordable housing,” she said in an email. “The only place housing is ‘market-rate affordable,’ (this means ‘low rent apartments’) is basically along Columbia Pike. This thinly-veiled ‘goal’ of ‘preserving affordable housing’ means dumping more committed affordable units on the Pike. We are not drinking that Kool-Aid.”
The Coalition of Arlingtonians for Responsible Development says it “organizing a peaceful demonstration opposing the plan” at 6:30 p.m., at the intersection of Clarendon Blvd and N. Wayne Street. The group will also hold signs and “observe the markup process” at the meeting.
CARD says the county has been concentrating affordable housing along Columbia Pike, hurting student achievement. The group says county officials have not been responsive to its concerns.
From a CARD press release:
Over the past decade, Arlington has become socio economically segregated, with pockets of poverty along the west end of Columbia Pike. This area continues to be targeted for even more affordable housing. The second-order effects on schools like Randolph and Barcroft are 80% free-and-reduced-meal rates and an achievement gap. The coalition is dismayed that county leadership is not responding to its concerns and wishes to see affordable housing as an avenue for upward economic mobility for tenants. We want children living in affordable housing to have access to the highest-achieving schools.
Arlington County and a local nonprofit are raising awareness of housing and hunger in September.
September is Affordable Housing Month in Arlington. Throughout the month, Arlington County will be holding events that celebrate “the County’s long-term commitment to preserving and creating housing opportunities that benefit the whole community.”
There will be bus and bike tours of affordable housing complexes, a speech from national affordable housing advocate Chris Estes and a public forum about the benefits and challenges of offering affordable housing in the county.
During the month, there will also be public hearings on the Affordable Housing Master Plan on Sept. 8 and 19. The plan addresses the decline of affordable housing in the county and includes the creation of 15,800 additional affordable housing units by 2040.
“For decades, we have invested in our affordable housing programs to help us achieve our vision of a diverse and inclusive community,” County Board Chair Mary Hynes said in a statement. “These efforts support our residents at all ages and stages of life, improve our neighborhoods and strengthen our economy. This September, we will come together to celebrate our successes and discuss our challenges.”
Affordable Housing Month kicks off on Wednesday, Sept. 2 with a speech from Estes, the president and CEO of non-profit National Housing Conference. The opening reception is from 4-6 p.m. in the County Board room (2100 Clarendon Blvd, room 307).
The following events are also part of Affordable Housing Month:
- Sept. 12, 9:15-11:30 a.m. — Affordable Housing Bus Tour
- Sept. 16, 7-8:30 p.m. — Public Forum on Mixed Income Housing
- Sept. 21, 6:30-8:30 p.m. — Resident Services and Affordable Housing
- Sept. 26, 9:30-11 a.m. — Affordable Housing Bike Tour
- Sept. 30, 5-8:30 p.m. — Leckey Forum on Affordable Housing
The organization will hold discussions about hunger, a golf tournament, a film screening and multiple food drives to raise awareness of Arlington residents who struggle with feeding their families.
There will also be a month-long exhibit about AFAC and hunger in the lobby of the Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street), with an accompanying presentation on Sept. 23 at 7 p.m.
“Over 2,200 families are coming to AFAC each week to access fresh and healthy supplemental groceries, freeing up tightly stretched funds for child and health care, rent, and other financial demands. The growing need shows no signs of abating and Hunger Action Month creates an opportunity to share AFAC’s story and expand its reach to every Arlington resident suffering from food insecurity,” the organization said in a press release.
The following letter to the editor was submitted by Jim Whittaker, chairman of the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network.
I am writing to express my support for Arlington’s Affordable Housing Master Plan and for its goals of ensuring that middle and lower income workers can continue to call Arlington home. Frankly, I am confused by the controversy that has been stirred up regarding the Plan. This plan is the logical extension of efforts that have been underway here for years to limit the loss of existing affordable housing units and to create some new ones. The plan is not radical, nor will it be sufficient to entirely stop the loss of affordable housing, but it presents a reasonable approach for stemming the tide.
I serve as Chairman of the Board of A-SPAN, and we are working hard to lift hundreds of our most vulnerable neighbors out of homelessness. To accomplish this we depend on the availability of affordable housing. In Arlington the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment is $1,700 per month and rising. When one of our veteran or other homeless clients qualifies for a VA or HUD housing voucher we must find a willing landlord and an apartment that rents for $1,300 per month or less. While these are becoming harder to find, the plan before the County Board gives us hope that enough units will be available for us to achieve our goal of ending chronic homelessness in Arlington.
It’s not good for anyone to leave our homeless neighbors on the streets. It’s also expensive. A recent American Medical Association study found that homeless individuals cost a community about $45,000 per person per year in police, court, and hospital costs. We can provide housing and other services to that person for about $22,000, improve their health, and in many cases get them back into the workforce.
We have learned how to solve the problem of homelessness. But, we need Arlington to adopt the Affordable Housing Master Plan so that when A-SPAN clients are ready for housing there’s an affordable apartment available for them.
Chairman, A-SPAN Board of Directors
ARLnow.com occasionally publishes thoughtful letters to the editor about local issues. To submit a letter to the editor, please email it to [email protected]. Letters to the editor may be edited for content and brevity.
ITT Tech Protest Only Included One Student — A protest outside ITT Tech’s shareholder meeting in Rosslyn earlier this week reportedly included only one person who had actually been a student at the for-profit school. The rest were from advocacy groups and a labor union. [Inside Higher Ed]
New Food Delivery Service Comes to Arlington — DoorDash, an online food delivery business that promises to get food to your door in 45 minutes or less, has launched in Arlington. DoorDash joins similar food delivery services like Seamless and Eat24 in entering the Arlington market. [WUSA 9]
Arlington Teacher Recognized at the White House — Arlington Career Center teacher Thomas O’Day was one of 10 educators nationwide to be honored as a 2015 Career and Technical Education Innovator. O’Day, who has been teaching television production at the career center for 27 years, received his recognition at an event hosted by the White House. [Arlington Public Schools]
New Affordable Housing Video — The group Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement (VOICE) is producing a series of videos in support of affordable housing efforts in Arlington. The first video profiles Marcos Rubio, a janitor at H-B Woodlawn who currently commutes from the Springfield area. [Vimeo]
House Fire in Alcova Heights — A small house fire broke out on the 3800 block of 6th Street S. in the Alcova Heights neighborhood around 7:00 this morning. The fire was extinguished and no one was hurt. [Twitter]
Fairfax County Approves Seven Corners Plan — The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors this week approved a sweeping redevelopment plan for the Seven Corners area, near Arlington. The plan, which was fought by residents in nearby single family home neighborhoods, calls for several thousand new homes, a revamped street grid and new shops and restaurants. [Washington Post]
Arlington County has released a series of public service announcement videos touting the benefits of affordable housing.
The 30-second “Faces of Affordable Housing” videos were created in advance of hearings scheduled for September on the county’s proposed Affordable Housing Master Plan. The draft plan calls for the creating of 15,800 new affordable housing units by 2040.
The videos, which were published on YouTube and will air on the county-run Arlington TV cable channel, include the tagline, “Affordable housing, a foundation for our future.”
The video above is intended to show how the county’s affordable housing program “creates community and helps people age in place. Other videos show how the program:
A newly-formed citizens group is raising questions about the Affordable Housing Master Plan, the County’s plan to address the need for more affordable housing.
The Coalition of Arlingtonians for Responsible Development (CARD), which currently has around 70 members, is concerned with the geographic distribution of affordable housing units and the effect affordable housing has on Arlington Public Schools.
The County Board has set public hearings on the housing plan before the Board and the Planning Commission in September to allow for more public comment. The plan, as proposed, calls for the creation of 15,800 additional affordable housing units by 2040, bringing the total to 22,800 units or 17.7 percent of the total housing stock in Arlington.
For CARD, the question is not the amount of affordable housing, but where it is placed in Arlington. There are large discrepancies in where affordable housing units are located, leading to socioeconomic segregation, said Joye Murphy, a founding member of CARD.
Murphy points to neighborhoods along Columbia Pike — particularly the western end of the Pike — that feed into Randolph Elementary School. In some neighborhoods along the Pike, the county set of a target of having 15 percent of their housing available as affordable housing. However, the neighborhoods exceeded that target and have about 38 percent of its housing affordable, Murphy said.
At the same time, she said, some North Arlington neighborhoods have failed to reach their targets.
One of CARD’s aims is to have affordable housing across the county, not just in specific sectors. By spreading affordable housing, there will be more diversity in Arlington’s neighborhoods, which will benefit all Arlington residents, said Maura McMahon, another founding member of CARD.
“CARD’s goals are for responsible development in Arlington that fosters socioeconomically diverse neighborhoods and schools so that all Arlingtonians can benefit from what Arlington has to offer: top schools, efficient transportation systems, quality recreational facilities and parks, etc.,” McMahon said. “We believe every individual and every child should be afforded an equal opportunity to achieve his/her potential.”
The current targets for the amount of affordable housing units that should exist in each neighborhood are not referenced in the new plan, Murphy said. It only lists distributing housing units throughout the county as one of its goals.
The targets allowed for accountability, said Dedra Curteman, a CARD founding member.
“The primary fault with the master plan as written is it doesn’t call for targets for geographic distribution,” Curteman said.
Without the targets for each neighborhood, affordable housing developers could theoretically place most of the new affordable housing units in specific areas of the county instead of throughout Arlington.
“I worry that the targets were deleted because they shot past the targets in many areas,” Curteman said.
CARD wants County Board members to include tools and specifics in the housing plan to ensure geographic distribution. The group plans to send a letter with their recommendations to the County in the next week, Murphy said.
The county is replacing the targets with three different ways to address affordable housing, said County Board Chair Mary Hynes.
“The plan really has three buckets that the Board would be using to achieve affordable housing,” Hynes said.
The first is preserving existing units, the second is looking at bringing affordable housing to transit corridors and the third is to look at areas with many single-family homes to see where additional housing units could be added. Hynes said that CARD is right in saying that the county does not yet have the tools needed for the second and third buckets, but after the plan is adopted she hopes the county will work on developing these tools.
The targets also did not work as the county did not have the tools to bring affordable housing to each area according to the targets, Hynes added. A lack of available land and high costs could make building affordable housing in certain parts of the county particularly difficult.
CARD members say the lack of geographic distribution affects the Arlington Public Schools, as research has shown that having a large amount of children that need reduced or free lunches influences test and achievement scores.
“Housing policy is education policy,” Murphy said.
Arlington residents will be able to weigh in on the county’s proposal for more affordable housing before the County Board votes on the ambitious plan.
Arlington County will hold the hearings on Sept. 8 with the Planning Commission and Sept. 19 with the County Board.
“Ensuring that Arlington has housing affordable to folks at all incomes in all stages of life is one of the most important challenges facing our community,” County Board Chair Mary Hynes said. “Whether we are seeking to attract businesses, helping Arlingtonians age in place or ensuring that residents who rent have the opportunity to grow roots, the preservation and creation of affordable housing is a necessary component of our long-term sustainability and vibrancy.”
The county’s plan includes the creation of 15,800 additional affordable housing units by 2040, bringing the total to 22,800 units or 17.7 percent of the total housing stock in Arlington.
The county currently has 7,000 committed affordable units (CAFs), which are bound to keep rents lower thanks in part to federal and/or local government subsidies. Affordable housing programs account for about 5 percent of Arlington County’s overall budget, excluding school funds.
In Arlington, housing is typically considered “affordable” for households that make less than 60 percent of the area’s median income (AMI), or $64,480. According to a press release from the county, only 9 percent of housing in Arlington is currently affordable to that group of residents.
“There is insufficient affordable housing to meet the demand of renters” with incomes below 60 percent of AMI, the county says.
As part of its Affordable Housing Master Plan, the county also plans to incentivize the creation of 2,700 moderately-priced homes that would be affordable to buy for those to those who make between 80 to 120 percent of the area median income.
Moderate income renters will not, however, see an increase in housing opportunities under the plan.
“The County’s current rental stock sufficiently serves both families, and single-person households, who have incomes above 80 percent of AMI,” the plan concludes. It thus envisions trying to preserve existing 60-80 percent AMI committed units while focusing on creating new committed units for sub-60 percent AMI residents.
While the additional housing would help low-income households in Arlington, the county also identified renters over 65 years old, families and racial and ethnic minorities as the target population for these affordable units.
The need for committed units to replace disappearing market-rate affordable units is particularly acute. A county study found that market rate units affordable for those under 60 percent AMI in Arlington may all but disappear by 2020.
Support for affordable housing among county policymakers is strong. Arlington’s housing efforts are generally supported by all five County Board members and each of the four candidates for County Board have expressed support for affordable housing programs to varying degrees at one point or another.
Some critics, however, contend that the county’s new plan is unrealistically expensive and will require considerable additional housing density and school capacity.
FIFA Movie Shown in Arlington — Arlington is home to one of ten theaters nationwide that showed a biopic about Sepp Blatter, the embattled president of FIFA who last week announced that he would be stepping down from the international soccer organization. The AMC Loews Shirlington 7 grossed $161 from “United Passions” as of Friday. Nationwide the film, which cost FIFA at least $25 million to produce, grossed only $607. [Washington Post]
Crystal City Hosts Car ‘Micro-Factory’ — Crystal City is currently home to the Local Motors Mobifactory, a car factory in a shipping container. The “micro-factory” uses 3D printing technology to produce prototype vehicles. The micro-factory plans to remain at 1900 Crystal Drive for the rest of the summer. A grand opening is planned for Thursday. [Tech.co]
GGW on Tomorrow’s Primary — Greater Greater Washington weighs in on which Democratic Arlington County Board candidates would be best for smart growth, transit, walking and bicycling. The Democratic primary will be held tomorrow. [Greater Greater Washington]
CivFed Backs Affordable Housing Plan — The Arlington County Civic Federation has voted 47-29 to support Arlington County’s draft Affordable Housing Master Plan. The plan sets goals for affordable housing in the county and is several years in the making. The County Board is scheduled to vote Saturday on setting a public hearing for the plan. [InsideNova]
A Note on InsideNova Links — Normally, ARLnow.com warns readers of auto-play videos in articles that we link to in the Morning Notes. We have observed that InsideNova often hosts autoplay videos, with sound on, within its ad units. Because this doesn’t happen every time we visit, however, we will not include an auto-play video warning for these links. ARLnow.com believes that advertising should be local and relevant and should not purposefully interrupt or annoy readers. We hope that users who might use AdBlock Plus to block annoying ads from other publishers would whitelist our site so that we can continue to bring you interruption-free local news content and relevant messages from local advertisers.
The Arlington County Board approved measures to reduce the late fee for real estate tax payments, replace the turf field at Washington-Lee High School and grant a $6 million loan for affordable housing at its meeting on Saturday.
The County Board approved the proposal by Treasurer Carla de la Pava to reduce the late fee taxpayers are forced to pay from 10 percent to 5 percent, if taxes are paid within 30 days after the due date. Those who are more than 30 days late paying real estate taxes will continue to pay a 10 percent fee. The county estimates more than 1,000 residents will benefit from the fee reduction.
“Sometimes, people accidentally miss a real estate tax due date but make their payment a few days later — of their own accord and without collection action by the Treasurer. In these cases, I believe a 5 percent penalty is much more appropriate,” de la Pava said in a press release.
The County Board also approved a contract to replace the 10-year-old turf at Washington-Lee High School, spending $670,000 of the $1.6 million contract to install a new synthetic surface at high school. The turf had reached them end of its lifespan, according to county staff, after heavy use from students and the community. Construction on the turf — which will have an extra layer of padding to help prevent concussions — will start in June and is expected to wrap up in August, in time for fall sports.
Additionally on Saturday, the County Board approved a loan from its Affordable Housing Investment Fund to McCormack Baron Salazar, which owns and manages the Clarendon Court Apartments (3814 7th Street N.) near Virginia Square. The loan, for $5.7 million, helps pay MBS for renovating the apartment community and keeping rents at 60 percent of Area Median Income or lower until 2075.
“Ensuring that every transit corridor has a range of housing affordability is a key to Arlington’s long-term sustainability. A first step in achieving this goal is preserving our existing stock of affordable homes,” County Board Chair Mary Hynes said in a release. “The investment in Clarendon Court Apartments, located in the busy R-B corridor, will not only secure the affordability of these homes for 60 years, but make them better places for our neighbors to live.”
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Arlington Named Healthiest County in Va. — A new study has named Arlington County as the healthiest county in Virginia. Albemarle, Fairfax and Loudoun ranked second, third and fourth, respectively. [Associated Press]
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Blue Line Issues — A Blue Line train suffering mechanical problems offloaded passengers at the Pentagon station this morning, causing overcrowding on the platform. [Twitter]
In 2000, 19,740 apartments owned by for-profit property owners in the county were affordable for someone making up to 60 percent of the region’s area median income, according to findings from the county’s three-year Affordable Housing Study. In 2013, there were 3,437 “MARKs,” as they’re called.
(“Affordable” is defined as costing less than 30 percent of a household’s income.)
If the trend holds, there will be a “negligible” amount around the county by 2020, according to Russell Danao-Schroeder, senior housing planner in the county’s Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development.
“If you just look at that chart [above], and if you do a trend line analysis projecting that out, it’s easy to see where that goes,” Danao-Schroeder said. “It crosses zero before 2020.”
That is the reality the Arlington County Board will grapple with as it works toward adopting an Affordable Housing Master Plan in July. The affordable housing study has completed its research and staff, along with the Affordable Housing Study Working Group, released findings and recommendations last month in a draft master plan.
While affordable, market-rate housing is drying up, the county could try to kick-start committed affordable housing development to balance the scales. The county currently has 6,731 committed affordable units (CAFs) rented or leasing, with another 220 being developed, less than 10 percent of total apartment stock.
The draft master plan sets a goal of making 17.7 percent of all housing units in the county affordable at 60 percent AMI. If county projections hold true, that would mean asking developers to build 15,800 CAFs in the next 25 years. Even Danao-Schroeder, who helped draft the plan, admitted the goal isn’t pragmatic.
“That 17.7 percent number is what we would need to have sufficient housing for households at all income levels,” he told ARLnow.com on Friday. “That’s an awful lot. It’s going to be hard to hit that, but that’s the mark that we need to aim for.”
Members of the County Board have time and again reaffirmed their commitment to affordable housing, and a county-run survey of Arlington residents indicates the community approves of the Board’s efforts. In 2012, the Board launched the study with a charge of creating “a shared community vision of Arlington’s affordable housing as a key component of our community sustainability.”
Proponents of affordable housing often say it’s necessary for Arlington to have places for people like teachers, policemen and firefighters to live within the county. However, according to a survey of 336 CAF residents — 5 percent of the county’s CAF population, “a fairly large sample size” Danao-Schroeder said — only 1.8 percent work in education. Of those respondents, none were Arlington teachers or classroom aides.
There is no data for public safety employees, CPHD staff said. If any live in CAFs, they would be among the 6.3 percent who responded “other” to the survey.
“Arlington County pays their teachers well and pays their public safety people well,” Danao-Schroeder said. “Other areas in other service sectors that we all depend upon in our daily lives are the primary clients and tenants of affordable units.”
The largest industry represented in CAFs is restaurant and food service at 16.7 percent. Construction workers account for 11 percent of CAF residents, with office workers like receptionists in third place at 9.2 percent, followed by taxi and other drivers at 8.3 percent.
The first two residential developments designed with the Columbia Pike neighborhoods form-based code were approved last night, bringing hundreds of new residences into the Pike’s development pipeline.
The Arlington County Board approved a 229-unit, eight-story affordable housing complex on the western end of Columbia Pike and 50 new townhouses to replace the historic George Washington Carver homes in Arlington View.
The Carver Homes were built in the 1940s for residents displaced by the construction of the Pentagon, and many of the families who lived there when it was built now own residences in the co-operative. While preservationists lament the loss of a piece of the county’s history, the residents urged the County Board to approve the development.
“I know first hand that our co-op has been deteriorating for many years,” Velma Henderson, a Carver Homes owner who has lived in the co-op for 68 of its 70 years in existence, told the Board. “Busted and frozen pipes, leaky roofs and crumbling foundations, to name a few… We have a long and proud history in Arlington, so it was important for Carver Homes to select a developer who had the vision and resources to create a high-quality development. This plan considers Carver Homes’ needs.”
The 44 units will be bulldozed and replaced with 50 townhouses, 23 of which will be duplexes. Six of the duplex units will be committed affordable units, and the developer, Craftmark Homes, also has agreed to build a public park on the property and extend S. Quinn Street through the parcel at the corner of S. Rolfe and 13th Streets.
As part of the redevelopment, the developer will place two historic markers on the property signifying its history. Arlington is also beginning to compile an oral history of the property, which will be available at Arlington Central Library when completed.
“My mother’s dream was that we would benefit from the sale of the property,” said James Dill, a co-op owner whose mother was displaced by the Pentagon construction. “We’ve been banking on it for 50 or 60 years that, at some point in time, Arlington County would grant us our piece of the American dream, and we’ve been holding firm on that.”
The County Board unanimously approved the redevelopment. County Board Chair Mary Hynes thanked the owners — who have been working to sell the property for most of the past decade — and the community for their patience. Board member Libby Garvey remarked that many of the residents were forced out of their homes in the 1940s for the Pentagon to be built, and the Board could, in a very small way, “right that wrong.”
“I think we’re really touching history,” Garvey said. “This was temporary housing 70 years ago. How much temporary housing lasts 70 years? So it’s time.”
The conversation surrounding the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing‘s proposal for its new affordable housing buildings next to its expansive Columbia Grove community on S. Frederick Street was quite different.
Dozens of speakers came out to speak on both sides of the issue, and public comment and Board deliberations lasted after midnight. Opponents, many of whom live close to the site, said there is too much concentration of affordable housing on the western end of Columbia Pike.
“Presently our community is home to about 18 affordable housing communities in the immediate area,” Erin Long, a homeowner in the Frederick Courts Condominiums across the street. “What’s become known as the western gateway node of Columbia Pike cannot sustain the affordable housing development as it’s planned.
“It’s clear that plan is for those units lost at the east end of the pike to be relocated to the west end,” she continued. “It’s absolutely inappropriate for every lost unit to be relocated to us. We deserve to benefit from the redevelopment of Columbia Pike, not serve as the repository for those displaced from other nodes.” (more…)
Two new residential buildings and a rebuilt substance-abuse recovery facility have been given the green light by the Arlington County Board.
The development, called Gables North Rolfe Street, will have 395 residential units and a public, 8,000-square-foot park featuring three mature oak trees. The developer, Gables Residential, will also tear down and construct a new building for Independence House, a transitional living facility for those recovering from substance abuse.
The complex will be located on the 1300 block of N. Rolfe Street, near Courthouse.
Thirty-nine of the units will be committed affordable housing and the developer also has the option to install a $75,000 work of public art on the site or donate to the county’s public art fund as a community benefit. The development was approved unanimously on Saturday.
“This redevelopment addresses some of the important priorities that the Fort Myer community identified in the Fort Myer Heights North Plan,” County Board Chair Mary Hynes said in a press release. “It includes on-site affordable housing, brings a new public park to Fort Myer and preserves some beautiful, mature trees. Importantly, it also rebuilds Independence House, the County’s transitional living facility.”
Before approving the development, County Board members inquired about the option for a small, 1,000-square-foot community retail option in the site plan application, a provision the developer was initially hesitant to put in. Real estate attorney Evan Pritchard, representing Gables at the Board hearing, said they would be open to building a retail space if they can find the right vendor to operate a convenience store, serving the residents and park users.
“It remains to be seen, as we go forward with the project, whether it happens or not,” Pritchard said of the retail.
The construction is expected to take two years, and it would include building four levels of parking; two below-grade and two above-grade.
The Independence House would be rebuilt, but not expanded, because more residents might limit the program’s effectiveness. The new building will have 14 single-occupant units, which provides more flexibility with which users can join the program.
“The existing size is ideal for the group work that happens in the evenings, working on life skills and recovery,” county Department of Human Services substance abuse treatment supervisor Nancie Connolly told the Board. “The larger numbers of individuals would make it more institutional rather than transitional living, which has more independence.”
Only one public speaker — frequent Board critic Jim Hurysz — gave testimony at the Board hearing. The lack of speakers and issues with the proposal, which includes three parcels of county land and a number of community benefits, was “remarkable,” Hynes said.
(Updated at 5:20 p.m.) The Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing is planning on building two, eight-story apartment buildings near the western end of Columbia Pike.
APAH is planning on replacing a surface parking lot at 1010 S. Frederick Street with the two buildings, which will contain 229 units of committed affordable housing. All of the units will be affordable up to 60 percent of area median income, with some units as low as 40 percent AMI.
To replace the surface parking, a three-level underground garage will be built.
The development is on this month’s agendas for the county’s planning and housing commissions, and is expected to go before the Arlington County Board at its meetings later this month. The project would be one of the first of its kind to go before the County Board under the Columbia Pike neighborhoods form-based code, approved in 2013.
Some in the community have expressed concern about a concentration of affordable housing on the western end of Columbia Pike, where this project is situated. County Board member John Vihstadt addressed some of those concerns at the Arlington Civic Federation meeting on Tuesday night.
“Certain people have concerns about an over-concentration [of affordable housing] on the west end of the Pike and not enough on the east end,” Vihstadt said. “It’s something that we’re going to have to come to grips with. I think we all want a mix of income in all neighborhoods as much as possible.”
APAH CEO Nina Janopaul told ARLnow.com that those concerns pale in comparison when compared to the concerns over the lack of affordable housing overall in the county. She said the civic association in which the new project is located, Columbia Forest, has lost 750 units of affordable housing in the last 15 years.
“The Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Plan calls for preserving or replacing the 6,200 affordable units, most of which are market-rate affordable and vulnerable to redevelopment,” she said. “We need to take advantage of the moment now, when the interest rates are low, to build affordable housing that will still be there in 60 years.”
The development, if approved, would add the 229 affordable units right next to APAH’s expansive, 208-unit Columbia Grove apartments. Of those units — on the 8-acre, 14-building campus — 131 are committed affordable housing. Janopaul said the buildings are Columbia Forest’s only affordable housing “at all.”
The project, dubbed “Columbia Hills,” will cost an estimated $85 million, according to APAH’s application to the county. APAH is requesting the county contribute $18.5 million from its Affordable Housing Investment Fund, which, along with the form-based code application, the County Board is expected to debate granting this month.
APAH is also planning to submit a Low Income Housing Tax Credit application next month. If all goes as Janopaul hopes, the federal government would approve the loan in the first quarter of 2016, after which construction can begin.
Image (top) via Arlington County. Photo (bottom) via Google Maps