Arlington County has received a $1.2 million federal grant to move people experiencing homelessness into permanent or temporary apartment housing.
Approximately 55% of the grant will be for housing — mostly one- and two-bedroom affordable rental units — and the remainder “is for supportive services and staffing,” says Dept. of Human Services spokesman Kurt Larrick.
This project provides permanent housing in existing, but unoccupied, committed affordable units in Arlington to people either living outside or in one of the county’s four emergency shelters, operated by Bridges to Independence, Doorways, New Hope and PathForward.
In federal government speak, this is known as “rapid rehousing,” says Larrick.
It is part of Arlington County’s “housing first” approach — one in which people are housed without stipulations, says Adele McClure, a candidate for the second district of the House of Delegates, who has worked for many years in Arlington tackling homelessness after experiencing it herself in Fairfax County.
“It’s breaking down the barrier to housing,” she said. “I am a product of those stipulations growing up. When I was in transitional housing, we didn’t have ‘housing first’ model, it was really, really tough for our family. I am thankful Arlington and all of Virginia engages in that.”
The funds will also pay for master-lease agreements with nonprofits to move people into apartments temporarily before moving to permanent housing, Larrick said.
This grant has a three-year term. It is a new funding source and a new U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) project type for Arlington.
“But the work is not new to Arlington and will be a mix of non-congregate shelter and Rapid Rehousing services for people experiencing homelessness,” Larrick said. “Arlington has a long history of winning competitive HUD funding opportunities across a range of programming areas though.”
McClure says Arlington is well-positioned to address homelessness because of its “continuum of care” model that brings together nonprofits, affordable housing providers and public and private service providers to oversee everything from subsidy programs to street outreach.
The funding will help replace early Covid relief federal funding through the CARES Act, which is coming to an end, she noted.
The grant comes as the county is working on its next strategic plan to help households at risk of homelessness keep their housing and help homeless families quickly regain stable housing.
Arlington County adopted a 10-year plan in 2006. Data over the last decade show that during the out-years of the plan, the population of people living in shelters and outdoors dropped sharply. That rate of decline has since slowed and possibly plateaued.
“We started off really strong and we had that sharp decline, but once you get down to the lower numbers we have, we’re going to get down to the folks who are hardest to serve: those are the folks who don’t necessarily stay sheltered,” McClure said. “I know, here in Arlington, we are concerned about losing that momentum and progress.”
A three-year plan was adopted in 2018. The plan was extended due to Covid, but now, the county is reprising its planning. This round is focused on addressing inequities for people of color, immigrants and seniors.
“Arlington struggles with the availability of resources, funding and stock of affordable housing,” McClure said. “There are large and systemic root causes that perpetuate homelessness… Arlington is trying to address those systemic root causes.”
Interested community members can attend any of the following informational sessions.
- Understanding the Role of Racial Equity in Arlington’s Continuum of Care — Friday, Feb. 17 from 12:30-2:30 p.m. at the Arlingotn Central Library Auditorium (1015 N. Quincy Street)
- Domestic Violence & Homelessness — Saturday, Feb. 18 from 10 a.m. to noon at the DHS Lower Level Auditorium, Sequoia Plaza 1 (2100 Washington Blvd)
- Family Homelessness — Wednesday, Feb. 22 from 5-7 p.m. at the Central Library Auditorium
- Single Adults Experiencing Homelessness — Thursday, Feb. 23 from 12:30-2:30 p.m. at the Central Library Auditorium
- Youth and Young Adult Homelessness — Monday, March 6 from 5-7 p.m. at the DHS Lower Level Auditorium
- Virtual Open Listening Session — Friday, March 10 from noon-2 p.m.
Amazon announced yesterday (Wednesday) that it is shutting down its charitable e-commerce platform AmazonSmile, which lets customers support their favorite nonprofits while shopping.
Instead, the tech company says it will focus on areas of more “meaningful change,” chiefly, investments in affordable housing. One of the first examples it highlighted was its contributions in Arlington County, the home of its forthcoming second headquarters.
“In one year alone, our investments have been able to increase the affordable housing stock in communities like Bellevue, Washington and Arlington, Virginia by at least 20%,” it said.
That’s a fair statement, according to Arlington County.
Per a 2022 annual report on affordable housing, Arlington County had 8,650 total committed affordable units (CAFs) in the 2020 fiscal year.
“With Amazon’s support, we added 619 CAFs via Crystal House in FY21 and 1,334 CAFs via [Barcroft Apartments] in FY22, which is 1,953 total CAFs added between those two projects and a more than 20% increase over the FY20 CAF total,” says Erika Moore, a spokeswoman for the Dept. of Community Planning, Housing and Development.
In December 2021, Amazon loaned $160 million — on top of a $150 million from Arlington County — to real estate developer Jair Lynch to facilitate the purchase of the Barcroft Apartments on the condition that Jair Lynch preserve 1,334 units for affordable housing.
In January 2021, Amazon issued another loan to help the Washington Housing Conservancy purchase the Crystal House apartment complex (1900 S. Eads St) and stabilize rent at the complex, one block from Amazon’s future HQ2.
Arlington County has selected a developer to oversee the construction of 655 CAFs of infill development within the site, which would further increase the number of affordable units with ties to Amazon donations.
“We’re investing $2 billion to build and preserve affordable housing in our hometown communities,” the company said. “In just two years, we’ve provided funding to create more than 14,000 affordable homes — and we expect to build at least 6,000 more in the coming months. These units will host more than 18,000 moderate- to low-income families, many of them with children.”
The end of AmazonSmile, which the company says has not created “the impact we had originally hoped,” comes just a few days after the tech company announced it will lay off 18,000 employees. The company maintains it will still bring 25,000 jobs to its second headquarters, despite slowing growth.
Should it hit that mark, the tech and retail giant will be able to claim $550 million in state grants through 2042, and another $200 million should it hire 37,850 full-time HQ2 employees by 2035. Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin has proposed setting aside $78 million in the new two-year state budget to help fund the grants, the Washington Business Journal reports.
The full AmazonSmile announcement is below.
Arlington County has selected two developers — Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing and D.C.-area developer EYA — to oversee the construction of affordable housing within an apartment complex in Crystal City.
They’re committing to provide 844 units, of which 655 will be committed affordable units and the remaining will be market-rate, in the Crystal House Apartments at 1900 S. Eads Street, near Amazon’s second headquarters.
After a site plan for the project was approved in 2019, Amazon put up $381.9 million so that the nonprofit Washington Housing Conservancy could purchase the 16-acre site in late 2020, stabilize rent for the 828 existing units and build more than 500 new units. The purchase was part of its commitment to create and preserve affordable housing as rents rise amid its growing HQ2 presence. Amazon later donated the land and development rights to the county.
APAH and EYA are committing to provide 100-plus more committed affordable units than for which the county planned.
“While this is a large development for APAH, the scope and phasing are consistent with our capacity and the need for more affordable housing in the region,” APAH Director of Resource Development and Communications Garrett Jackson tells ARLnow. “EYA has successfully completed several similarly-scaled public-private projects with municipalities and housing authorities including the Brownstones at Chevy Chase Lake and the Lindley with the Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission, Capital Quarter with the District Housing Authority, and the 45-acre Westside Shady Grove with Montgomery County.”
Jackson said both APAH and EYA have experience developing housing in partnership with localities in the D.C. area.
“Specifically, APAH co-located the Arlington Mill Residences, 122 homes, adjacent to the Arlington Mill Community Center over one shared garage. Presently, APAH is building 150 units of senior housing in Fairfax County on what was previously a Fairfax County stormwater detention facility,” he said. “EYA and APAH are currently working together on a public-private partnership in the Fort Totten neighborhood in the District that shares many of the same characteristics as the Crystal House project.”
“The Crystal Houses development will create a mixed-income community, ranging from people making 30% of the area median income and up. It will be multigenerational, with one 80-unit development set aside for senior housing. There will be 371 units with two bedrooms or more, of which at least 102 will be three bedrooms and “rare 4-bedroom affordable units,” Jackson said.
“We will provide permanent supportive housing units onsite, all affordable units will offer free Wi-Fi, we will offer residents services for affordable units, and we will develop two parks for the approved site plan,” Jackson said. “EYA is also exploring homeownership.”
Services will be provided in partnership with Arlington County Department of Human Services, Arlington Food Assistance Center and Our Stomping Ground, which helps adults with disabilities live independently.
Developer Jair Lynch says it is exploring ways to make some units at the Barcroft Apartments even more affordable to families.
This comes as two organizations, Arlington Community Foundation and advocacy group ACE Collaborative, have put pressure on Jair Lynch to deepen affordability at the site over concerns of displacement.
“We have heard the assertions that tenants won’t be displaced, but we are asking for detailed plans for the displacement prevention,” ACE Collaborative Director Mitchell Yangson tells ARLnow, adding that rent for legacy residents should “be rolled back to a level that will prevent their displacement for as long as they live at Barcroft, not just on a temporary basis.”
Around this time last year, Jair Lynch acquired the Barcroft Apartments with the intent to renovate some units and redevelop other parts of the site with $310 million in loans from Arlington County and Amazon. It received these loans after promising to preserve at least 1,334 units for households earning up to 60% of the area median income (AMI).
But deepening affordability remains a live issue for two reasons. First, most residents make less than 60% of the area median income, according to the developer’s Master Financing and Development Plan, submitted to the county in late October — equating to $85,380 for a family of four. Second, the developer says next year it will begin phasing in 3% rent hikes.
A majority of the 1,100 residents living in Barcroft before the sale reported earning 40-50% AMI, or $56,920-$71,150 for a family of four, while some reported earning up to 30% AMI, or $42,690 for a family of four.
“There are some rent-burdened people here,” Jair Lynch Development Senior Vice President Ruth Hoang said in an Arlington Housing Commission meeting in November. “We are also concerned about overcrowding hiding some rent burden as well.”
The federal government defines being rent-burdened as spending more than 30% of one’s income on rent.
Jair Lynch and Arlington County have said that households will not be displaced. Rent in 2022 was frozen at 2021 levels, and increases capped at 3% per year will start in 2023.
The developer also says it will work on a case-by-case basis with residents who feel they cannot afford any rent hikes.
“As we roll out the 3% increases, those residents who are concerned and feel like they can’t pay, we’ll have those meetings with them and look at their incomes to see what they can and cannot support,” Hoang said.
Jair Lynch has committed to trying to find on-site options for those earning more than 60% AMI.
Per the financing report, Jair Lynch says it can still meet its original goals despite “significant economic and financial headwinds.”
These include scarcer affordable housing financing due to the more than 2.5 percentage point increase in interest rates and increases in operating and constructing housing, due to 8-10% inflation and a 15-20% increase in construction costs.
The report listed additional funding sources that could be used to deepen affordability levels, similar to those Arlington Community Foundation identified in a report showing how 255 units could be preserved for extremely low-income households, or those earning 30% AMI.
Plans to redevelop a local YMCA may have too many apartment units and not enough community benefits, county planners say.
The YMCA is proposing to tear down its existing facility on N. Kirkwood Road in Virginia Square and build an 87,850-square-foot facility with indoor swimming pools, pickleball and tennis courts, a fitness space and a conference and lounge area, as well as 203 parking spaces. To finance the project, the nonprofit is building a separate 7-story, 374-unit apartment building.
County planners say the baseline for this project is around 270 units and that the YMCA it needs to provide more community benefits to build beyond that.
The reason for the 104-unit gulf is a disagreement over whether the gross floor area of the recreation facility should be excluded from the overall project area. This number determines, for instance, the size of a developer’s affordable housing contribution, either in cash or in on-site units.
The nonprofit’s attorney, David Tarter, says it is financially necessary to exclude the entire facility from density calculations and cites the “best in class” facility as a community benefit to be included in the benefits package.
“This full exclusion is necessary to provide the YMCA the resources needed to construct the proposed YMCA facility,” Tarter writes in the nonprofit’s site plan application.
On its website, the nonprofit says the new building “will serve an estimated 11,415 children, adults and seniors annually, creating 108 new permanent living wage positions and 175 construction jobs.”
Other benefits include three open spaces totaling about an acre and an east-west pedestrian and bicycle connection through the site.
County planner Michael Cullen says past precedent for site plans and ordinances support including the building’s square-footage in density calculations. He said in a presentation these extra 104 units “must be earned through a comprehensive community benefits package” that goes beyond earning LEED Gold certification in exchange for more units.
He says the nonprofit will also have to do more for affordable housing to obtain approval to build apartments in the first place. In the Washington Boulevard and Kirkwood Road Special GLUP Study governing the site, the land is zoned for commercial use.
The county developed the plan, with community input, to guide the YMCA development and two other projects on the same block.
That includes Terwilliger Place, which Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing completed this September on the American Legion site, and a 270-unit apartment building dubbed Modera Kirkwood, on which Mill Creek Residential broke ground in December 2020. The latter could be completed next year.
Projects in this situation “have generally been expected to achieve greater achievements in accordance with the affordable housing master plan,” Cullen said.
Arlington Dept. of Community Housing, Planning and Development spokeswoman Erika Moore says the county is discussing with the applicant ways to offset the 104 units with more sustainability and affordable housing commitments. Potential approaches will be discussed at a Site Plan Review Committee meeting, a date for which has not yet been set.
The public review process has just kicked off for the project. An online feedback opportunity, which opened on Tuesday, will run through Monday, Dec. 19.
A proposed left-turn lane off of N. Glebe Road in Ballston could be the smallest, yet most scrutinized traffic change in 10 years.
As part of the planned redevelopment of the Ballston Macy’s, Insight Property Group proposes to add a left-turn option at the intersection of 7th Street N. and N. Glebe Road. It will be for drivers going southbound on Glebe who want to turn onto a proposed private drive abutting the planned grocery store, which will be located at the base of Insight’s proposed 16-story, 555-unit apartment building.
“It was the most thoroughly vetted transportation scenario in the time that I’ve been with Arlington County,” transportation planner Dennis Sellin, who has worked with the county for 10 years, told the Planning Commission last night (Monday).
During the meeting, the Planning Commission gave a green light to the redevelopment, which will go before the Arlington County Board for approval later this month.
After the Transportation Commission voted to defer the project solely on the basis of the left turn, Planning Commission members supported a condition for the project that county staff work with Insight and the Virginia Department of Transportation to come up with more pedestrian-oriented options for the intersection.
“I do not think it’s reasonable to hold up the project for this, given that there’s apparently continued good faith work on the intersection to improve its pedestrian-friendliness,” Commissioner Jim Lantelme said. “I want to make clear that the Planning Commission… expects that any option possible to make this intersection more pedestrian-friendly will be pursued.”
Sellin said a half-dozen staffers, including two top transportation officials, have thoroughly vetted the left-turn lane. They published a 64-page memo justifying the turn lane and will study how the grocery store changes traffic before adding any pedestrian mitigation measures.
“There’s a recommendation to not allow any right turns on red at any of the lights in the intersection,” he said. “That’s a movement we’ll take under further consideration. Our primary concern is safety, our secondary concern is operations.”
The left-turn lane is a non-negotiable for the grocer, who has otherwise been “insanely flexible” as the project has changed throughout the public process, according to Insight’s Managing Principal Trent Smith.
“We’ve shrunk their store, changed their ramps, taken away their parking… we changed their loading, we’ve done eight or nine things that took all sorts of reworking and they’ve stuck with us and have been great, reasonable partners throughout,” Smith said.
Insight’s attorney, Andrew Painter, says the unnamed grocer required the left turn based on “decades of experience in urban configurations.” He added that for a decade, the grocer has desired to be in Ballston, which already has a Harris Teeter nearby on N. Glebe Road, a quarter-mile away.
Some Planning Commissioners noted their regret that the project does not do more to provide on-site affordable housing.
“This space here, in the heart of Arlington, in Ballston, where there’s access to transit, and now a grocery store, we have nothing,” Commissioner Devanshi Patel said.
An affordable housing complex along Route 50 in the Buckingham neighborhood will officially open tomorrow.
The grand opening of The Cadence (4333 Arlington Blvd) on Tuesday, Dec. 6 caps off just over two years of construction. There will be remarks from project partners and local officials, followed by a ribbon cutting, community tour and reception, per the nonprofit behind the project, Wesley Housing.
Leasing began this fall for the five-story, 97-unit complex replaced the former American Red Cross building. The units are all set aside for households with an income at or below 70% of area median income.
“The community will provide safe, quality, affordable housing for low- to moderate-income working families and individuals just 1.2 miles from the Ballston-MU Metro Station,” Wesley said in a statement. “The community will also have a bus stop on-site.”
In its statement, the housing nonprofit extolled some of the community and architectural features of the project.
“With a striking exterior façade, a multipurpose community room, fitness center, free Wifi, and bold style, The Cadence is sure to complement the rhythm of residents’ lives,” the nonprofit said.
The property management arm of Wesley Housing will manage the community, while the nonprofit’s on-site resident services team will facilitate year-round programs and services.
The grand opening comes just after Wesley announced Kamilah McAfee will replace Wesley’s president and CEO of 15 years, Shelley Murphy. In recent years, the nonprofit has added staff to take on more development projects and provide residential services amid a continuing regional shortage of affordable housing.
Buckingham has a significant number of affordable housing units already, which made the project a source of consternation for some neighbors.
A stone’s throw from the apartments, two single-family homes were torn down and replaced with 19 market-rate townhouses. Wesley sold the land for the townhouses to Tysons-based home builder Madison Homes to help finance the affordable housing project, which also received state and county funding, loans and tax credits.
Two affordable housing complexes in Arlington are teed up for renovations, including units on a site also set for redevelopment.
Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing will upgrade 62 units at the Marbella Apartments (1301 N. Queen Street) and 101 units at the Arna Valley View Apartments (2300 25th Street S.), says Elise Panko, APAH’s Resource Development and Communications Manager. The properties consist of a group of garden-style apartment buildings north near Rosslyn and mid-rise buildings between Pentagon City and Shirlington.
The affordable housing developer is asking the county for a new $995,000 Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF) loan for this project, which the Arlington County Board is slated to review this Saturday. Existing financing for these developments, to the tune of $10.45 million, will roll over for these projects.
This work is in addition to a redevelopment project at the Marbella site, where some buildings will be torn down to build two 12-story apartment towers with all units set aside for people earning less than the area median income. In February, the Board awarded APAH $21.4 million for the project and approved the redevelopment.
The remaining buildings, built in the 1940s and not renovated in at least 15 years, are in need of an upgrade, Panko said. Renovations here will target buildings to the north of the redevelopment area and across N. Queen Street from it.
Likewise, Arna Valley View has not been renovated since its construction 21 years ago and had developed some maintenance issues.
The brick façades of the Marbella buildings will get new mortar while the Arna Valley buildings will get new siding and garage and walkway repairs. Units in both complexes will get updated finishes, fixtures and appliances, new kitchen cabinets, heating and cooling systems, roofs and windows. Renovations will improve energy efficiency by about 30%, Panko says.
“It is important for APAH to reinvest in its existing assets to ensure that the quality of housing we provide remains at a high standard,” she added.
Panko says APAH has been working with residents on a relocation plan that was approved by the Arlington Tenant-Landlord Commission.
“Residents will be moved off site for approximately six to eight weeks while their units are renovated, and will then return to their same unit,” Panko said. “We do not anticipate any displacement of existing residents because of the renovation.”
Per the February report on the redevelopment project, these renovations were set to occur starting mid-2022. APAH spokesman Garrett Jackson says the delays were due to the additional time needed to secure financing sources as well as getting building permits in hand.
APAH had tried to avoid asking the Board for financing for the renovations, according to the report. But then the economy took a turn.
“Construction costs and interest rates have been very volatile in 2022 (interest rates just in the last few months, but construction costs have been rising since early 2022) — it was the result of both of those things that caused us to need additional funding from the County,” APAH spokesman Garrett Jackson said. “During the Marbella site plan approval, those cost increases had not yet hit the market and we believed that we could accomplish the renovation with no additional AHIF (that had long been our goal).”
So it secured a $700,000 Virginia Housing Trust Fund loan and $2 million in state loans that specifically target energy efficiency upgrades to lower the ask to the board. APAH is also chipping in $11.7 million, and has secured $22.8 million in 4% low-income housing tax credits, and $2.5 million from deferring a developer fee associated with affordable housing development.
“We squeezed contingency and other sources as much as possible throughout 2022… but ultimately between costs and interest rates, we had to go back to the County and request an increase in AHIF funding,” he said.
APAH will also combine the two apartment complexes into a single ownership entity, which will generate more tax credits and reduce the amount of county financing needed, Panko noted.
Arlington’s “Missing Middle” housing proposal has led to impassioned debates, with locals both for and against the potential zoning changes.
As the County Board gets closer to a vote on the proposal, perhaps as early as December, we’ve compiled a dozen opinion pieces on the topic that have been published elsewhere. Many are letters to the editor or op-eds that have appeared in the Sun Gazette and Washington Post, while others have been features published in policy-focused publications like The Hill and Washington Monthly.
The following are numbered (in no particular order) and broken down by “for” or “against” Missing Middle.
1. For: The ‘missing middle’ is a crucial piece of Arlington’s housing puzzle (Washington Post)
We live in the 22202 area of South Arlington, spanning from original Sears houses to the new Amazon headquarters. Our neighborhood has been recognized for its mix of “single dwellings, twin dwellings, duplexes, apartment buildings, religious buildings, educational buildings, and commercial buildings.” Despite being dwarfed by newly built single-family homes, the dozens of aging duplexes and triplexes would be illegal to build today.
2. Against: What’s at stake with Arlington’s missing-middle housing debate (Washington Post)
It was hard for me to pick a side. Some of the NIMBYs think it’s possible to go back to an era in the 1990s when Arlington felt like an undiscovered oasis next to a booming metropolis. But there is no going back. A do-nothing option will slowly destroy Arlington’s beautiful multiclass, multiethnic mosaic. To be fair, most NIMBYs don’t argue this. However, these logical flaws pale in comparison with the misapplication of economics, blatant conflicts of interest, limited demonstrated understanding of history and selective data presentation from the YIMBYs.
3. For: Arlington’s ‘missing middle’ fight and the struggle for affordable housing (The Hill)
Exclusionary zoning disproportionately impacts the minorities and the poor, who are less likely to be able to afford expensive housing than affluent whites. Historically, restrictions like those currently in force in Arlington were often enacted for the specific purpose of keeping out Blacks and other non-whites. That’s one reason why the Arlington NAACP supports Missing Middle. Liberalizing the construction of new housing is an under-appreciated common interest of racial minorities and the white working class.
4. Against: Missing Middle will devastate Arlington communities (Sun Gazette)
Let us fervently hope that the current Arlington County Board will not be remembered as the group that foisted on unsuspecting residents the destruction of our community’s old, leafy, peaceful, beautiful neighborhoods. I don’t happen to live in one myself, but they are precious and must be preserved. Their tranquility and forests benefit all of us. “Missing Middle” is wrong on so many fronts.
5. For: Why I Can’t Afford to Live Where I Grew Up (Washington Monthly)
Everyone deserves to grow up in a place like Arlington–walkable, transit oriented, full of interesting restaurants and stores, diverse, and with great schools and nice parks. A wonderful place to learn to ride a bike, to develop an interest, and to make lifelong friends. But I know that given my current career trajectory, becoming a homeowner in Arlington is unlikely. If the city had been as expensive when my parents were a young couple looking in the late 1990s, I would have been raised in a farther-out suburb like Woodbridge or Lorton instead.
6. Against: Arlington should not be guinea pig for Missing Middle (Sun Gazette)
I introduced myself to County Board Chair Katie Cristol at the end of the session, and was shocked when she told me that she wants to pass Missing Middle zoning changes because she wants Arlington to be the first county on the entire East Coast to introduce this ordinance. I couldn’t believe what she said. I don’t want Arlington to be guinea pig for an unproven idea. This is not a contest to see who is first. I am assuming the County Board Members are looking for this to be part of their résumés. Changing the zoning planning needs to be done in a methodical and responsible way.
Before four panelists could jump into discussing Missing Middle housing, moderators of Arlington County Civic Federation‘s forum last night (Tuesday) did something unusual.
They laid out ground rules for civil discourse, as other community discussions of the county’s proposed zoning changes have gotten loud, and even rowdy.
Arlington County is gearing up to make a decision on whether to allow low-rise, multifamily dwellings to be built on lots currently zoned exclusively for single-family homes. Leading up to the decision, the county and local organizations have been holding many discussions about the potential impacts of these changes.
Panelists, who spoke for themselves, couldn’t discuss their “feelings” and would instead have to provide a citation for every fact or projected outcome, co-moderator Nadia Conyers said. Speakers needed to seek common ground and respect areas of disagreement, and could not attribute motives to what other speakers were saying.
The panelists reviewed each other’s presentations to ensure facts were not misrepresented, co-moderator Jackie Snelling said.
“We spent a lot of time planning this discussion, which is a little different from how our normal discussions go,” she said.
Those in favor of Missing Middle said Arlington’s housing shortage requires the county to do something.
Michael Spotts, the founder of Neighborhood Fundamentals, who has researched housing for the last 15 years, said Arlington as it is currently zoned is running out of developable space. Meanwhile, developers are tearing down starter homes to build so-called McMansions, while certain neighborhoods north of Route 50 are essentially off-limits to renters, he said.
“I believe Arlington does need to grow and continue to add new housing,” Spotts said. “Aside from the economics, I don’t believe it’s fair to say certain neighborhoods shouldn’t have to contribute to meeting the growing need for housing.”
While not a panacea for all of the county’s housing concerns, he says the zoning changes would add units, increase ownership opportunities and marginally cut down on sprawl development in Loudoun, Fairfax and Prince William counties, which in turn has environmental impacts in Arlington.
He and Eric Berkey, who chairs Arlington’s Housing Commission, said the changes would help undo the lasting effects of last century’s exclusionary and racist zoning policies. After racially restrictive covenants became illegal, Arlington County used economics to segregate Black people by banning the construction of row houses and creating zones for exclusively single-family detached houses.
“Missing Middle can provide opportunities for more families to live in not just the three or four neighborhoods where we have duplexes, but the entirety of the county in the long term,” Berkey said. “Characters make the neighborhood. It’s important for the county to get rid of these exclusionary housing policies and make sure folks can live in the entirety of our community.”
Opponents Anne Bodine, a member of Arlingtonians for Our Sustainable Future, an advocacy group concerned about rapid growth, and Julie Lee, a member of a coalition of 15 civic association presidents opposed to the framework, said more housing is needed, but Arlington does not need to pick up the slack for a region-wide shortage.
“We cannot solve all of the region’s housing issues, but we should set lofty goals, and we must implement a plan that would achieve our desired objective,” Lee said. “The Missing Middle plan does not do that.”
They argued that the zoning changes won’t make it easier for people of color and low- and middle-income earners to buy here, despite assertions to the contrary by the local chapter of the NAACP and others.
“The county says offering a diversity of housing types is a key Missing Middle goal. Why do we need diverse housing types that don’t promote racial and economic diversity?” Bodine said. “A household needs to earn 118% of the area median income to afford the cheapest Missing Middle unit of $416,000. Looking at current Arlington populations, senior, Hispanic and Black median household incomes fall short. It doesn’t mean none of these groups can afford Missing Middle units, but it shows how slim the chances are.”
(Updated at 4 p.m. on 12/15/22) 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.” Read More