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by Chris Teale May 12, 2017 at 1:45 pm 0

The county’s ordinance on accessory dwelling units, also known as “granny flats” or “mother-in-law suites,” is set for some changes after staff and a citizen group put together some initial ideas.

Only 20 ADUs — defined as a second place to live on a property, with a kitchen, a bathroom and a separate entrance — have been approved in Arlington since the ordinance first came into effect in 2009.

In a bid to encourage more accessory dwellings, the county convened a working group, which has come up with several proposals, including:

  • ADUs would be allowed in townhomes. (Currently they are only allowed on the inside of a single-family home.)
  • ADUs would be allowed to exist as detached dwellings.
  • The maximum allowed size would be increased from 750 to 1,000 square feet
  • The maximum occupancy would be increased from two people to three to allow for couples with a child or similar circumstances.
  • The requirement that accessory dwellings can also only be added after a year of ownership would be removed, meaning home builders could begin to add them in new homes.

In March, local economist Eric Brescia, a member of the County Housing Commission and the Arlington County Republican Committee’s policy director, said there are too many “poison pills” preventing further approvals of accessory dwellings. He argued that relaxing regulations could help ease the county’s lack of affordable housing.

Staff will share these preliminary ideas and more at a community meeting Saturday, from 10 a.m. to noon at Francis Scott Key Elementary School (2300 Key Blvd).

by Chris Teale May 3, 2017 at 2:30 pm 0

The Woodbury Park apartment complex in Courthouse will celebrate the end of its revamp with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 4:30 p.m. today.

The community, which includes 204 affordable and 160 market-rate apartments at 2306 11th Street N, underwent a two-year renovation. It has been owned by regional affordable housing agency AHC since 1987.

Construction crews restored and updated the property’s mix of red and blonde brick masonry, gabled and flat roofing and porticoes at its entrances.

The seven brick buildings also received repairs and new paint, along with new roofs, windows and plantings. The courtyard also was re-bricked. Inside, the apartments received new kitchens, bathrooms, flooring and electrical systems.

And what was once under-utilized space has been turned into a leasing office and a community center, which includes an exercise room and gathering area with a large TV, game table and seating.

The renovation came from various funding sources including Historic Tax Credits, and did not require use of Arlington County’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund.

Woodbury Park was built in the 1940s, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.

Photo via AHC, Inc.

by Chris Teale April 26, 2017 at 4:30 pm 0

The American Red Cross building along Route 50 and two single-family homes are set to be torn down and replaced by a five-story affordable housing building and 19 townhouses.

According to a preliminary site plan filed with the county late last month, the new building will have up to 124 units on the southeastern corner of the property on N. Thomas Street, with the townhouses in the northwest along N. Trenton Street.

Apartments would vary in size from studios to three-bedroom units, while the townhomes would all be three stories in height and be a stone’s throw from the new apartment building.

Cars would access the site from two locations on N. Trenton Street and another on N. Thomas Street. There would be no access from the Arlington Blvd service road.

The nearby 63-unit Whitefield Commons apartment complex would be kept and could have six more units added by the developer, the Wesley Housing Corporation, depending on the number of apartments in the new building.

In a letter to county staff dated March 20, an attorney representing Wesley said the project will bring numerous community benefits, including more affordable housing, improvements to sidewalks, curbs, gutters and streetscape, and public art.

A memo from county staff indicated that in prior meetings, staff members have suggested façade embellishments or using the fence of a to-be-built playground for art. Plans for public art are still in the initial planning stages.

Wesley commissioned Bonstra Haresign Architects to design the property. A transportation management plan found traffic impact to be minimal from the site, as it is well served by ART and Metrobus.

by Chris Teale April 3, 2017 at 4:30 pm 0

A local nonprofit is looking for qualified buyers for two affordable housing units, and will hold a lottery this Friday to find new owners.

The two homes are in the new Carver Place community, at 1316 S. Rolfe Street in the Arlington View neighborhood. The affordable condo units were built as part of an agreement between developer Craftmark and Arlington County.

Arlington Home Ownership Made Easier, Inc., is sponsoring the lottery. AHOME helps first-time buyers with education and counseling in Arlington and the surrounding communities.

The lottery is only open to a family of four or five that earns no more than 60 percent of area median income. For four people, that would be a total household income of $65,520; it’s $70,800 for five people.

The homes both have a purchase price of $282,800, and each have three bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms.

Eligible applicants must also have a minimum credit score of 660; have a minimum cash down payment of $9,900, which is 3.5 percent of the homes’ purchase price; afford the monthly Homeowner Association fee of $272; fill out the homebuyer assessment form; and complete a Virginia Housing Development Authority homebuyer education class.

AHOME executive director Karen Serfis noted in an email that this is the first time in more than five years that the organization has had three-bedroom condos available for purchase.

by Chris Teale March 23, 2017 at 11:25 am 0

Eric Brescia at Arlington GOP housing talkThe County Board’s work group exploring changes to rules around accessory dwelling units could help Arlington add more affordable housing units, according to a local economist.

Rules around the units, sometimes called a “mother-in-law suite” — a second home with a kitchen, bathroom and separate entrance on a single-family lot — were approved less than a decade ago after much local debate. But in the interim, few new units have been approved.

Eric Brescia, a member of the County Housing Commission and the Arlington County Republican Committee’s policy director, said there are too many “poison pills” preventing further approvals.

If regulations are relaxed and more units come online, however, affordability could improve, he said. Brescia discussed his views on affordable housing at the monthly meeting of the Arlington GOP on Wednesday night.

"Backyard cottage" accessory dwellingHe noted that the local GOP was previously opposed to accessory dwellings, but things change over time. The plan to relax rules on accessory dwellings has also received support on the left of the political spectrum.

“I’m of the view that finding places we allow units to be built is a free market solution,” he said.

Brescia added that county staff is “playing around” with a different kind of zoning on Columbia Pike. Under the new zoning, a building would be required to occupy a certain amount of space, but the number of units contained within is not regulated.

That could allow more units to be built, as could the oft-discussed plans to turn vacant offices in Crystal City and other neighborhoods into micro-unit apartments. Brescia said discussions are continuing on that proposal.

And despite the strain on schools, roads and other infrastructure caused by more people moving into Arlington, Brescia said a balance must be struck.

“There most definitely is a trade-off and there is a stress on facilities,” he said. “But then you go to the other extreme in somewhere like San Francisco where they’re not building anything and it’s so expensive to live there.”

by ARLnow.com March 14, 2017 at 9:35 am 0

Frozen daffodil buds in the snow (Flickr pool photo by Lisa Novak)

Arlington Sports Hall of Fame Seeks Permanent Venue — There is an Arlington Sports Hall of Fame, but it does not have a permanent home. Boosters are seeking to change that, discussing a possible display in Arlington Central Library. [InsideNova]

Local Man Graduates Parris Island With Honors — Arlington native Allen M. Gibbs has graduated from Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island with honors. [Beaufort Gazette]

Police, Fire Departments Hold Book Drive — Starting Wednesday and running through April 30, Arlington police and firefighters will be holding a “For the Love of Reading” book drive, collecting specific books for elementary school students at Arlington Public Schools. Donation boxes are located at police headquarters in Courthouse and at local fire stations. [Arlington County]

Avalon Bay Donates to APAH — Arlington-based apartment, publicly traded building owner AvalonBay has made a $35,000 donation to the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing. The company has raised $85,000 for APAH since 2015. [Yahoo Finance]

Flickr pool photo by Lisa Novak

by ARLnow.com February 28, 2017 at 9:30 am 0

Metro train (Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley)

Gutshall Running for County Board — As predicted, business owner Erik Gutshall is running for County Board this year, seeking the seat being vacated by Jay Fisette. Gutshall says on his website that his candidacy will be announced at the Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting on Wednesday. Gutshall unsuccessfully challenged County Board member Libby Garvey in last year’s Democratic primary. [Erik Gutshall for County Board]

Oscars Flub Involved W-L Grad — Warren Beatty is back atop the national consciousness, after an envelope mix-up led to perhaps the worst mistake in Oscars history, with Beatty and Best Picture co-presenter Faye Dunaway at the center of the fiasco. As many long-time Arlingtonians remember, Beatty spent his teenage years in Arlington, reportedly living on N. Huntington Street. He graduated from Washington-Lee High School and, as noted in a yearbook photo, was a star football player and the senior class president. [InsideNova]

Arlington Elementary Schools Top Rankings — In new rankings of D.C. area public elementary schools, Arlington elementary schools tallied a sweep of all the top 10 spots. [NicheWashington Business Journal]

ACPD Trying Out Uber Lane — This past weekend in Clarendon, the Arlington County Police Department set up a designated rideshare pickup lane to improve safety for those using Uber and Lyft to get a ride home from the bars. The police department described the action as a “pilot program” that was the result of “creative problem solving.” [Twitter]

Arlington’s ‘Segregation Wall’ — A new historic marker notes the significance of a 1930s-era wall in north Arlington. The wall was built by white residents of the Waycroft-Woodlawn neighborhood to provide a physical barrier between them and the historically black Hall’s Hill (High View Park) neighborhood. [InsideNova]

Loan for Affordable Apartments Approved — The Arlington County Board on Saturday approved a $7.4 million loan to help build 125 new affordable apartments at the Berkeley on S. Glebe Road. Nonprofit developer AHC is expected to seek another loan for the redevelopment, from the county’s affordable housing fund, next fiscal year. [Arlington County]

Per-Student Spending to Rise — Under a new budget proposed by Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy, per-student spending would rise 2.9 percent to $19,521. APS has been straining to keep up with rising enrollment, issuing bonds to build new schools and renovate others. [InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

by ARLnow.com February 14, 2017 at 9:15 am 0

Fairlington at night

Highest Monday Wind Gusts — According to the National Weather Service, the highest wind gusts recorded in Arlington Monday, after the initial squall line came through Sunday night, were between 47 mph in Barcroft and 53 mph in Cherrydale. [National Weather Service]

Arlington Man Arrested for Bank Robbery — A 41-year-old Arlington man was arrested in D.C. Monday and accused of robbing the HSBC Bank at the corner of 14th and I streets NW. Police say the man passed the teller a note claiming to have a bomb, fled on foot with cash but was then detained by a pair of witnesses and held until police arrived. [Washington Post]

County Defends Property Purchase — Arlington County says it did not overpay by spending $800,000 to buy a house, assessed for $519,200, which was needed for the Fire Station No. 8 expansion project. The county says the owner of the home was not anxious to sell and, essentially, making them an offer they couldn’t refuse helped save time and effort compared to trying to use eminent-domain to try to acquire the property at a fair-market value. [InsideNova]

Kudos for Arlington’s Affordable Housing Plan — “Arlington has set ambitious goals to tackle housing affordability, in part by making it easier for developers to build affordable housing in the first place. According to a recent report, Arlington made plans for new affordable units and brought its number of homeless residents down last year even as rents and housing costs went up.” [Greater Greater Washington]

Registration Open for Girls Fire Camp — The Arlington County Fire Department is now taking applications for its 2017 Girls Fire Camp, which “gives teenage girls, ages 15-18, a chance to experience firsthand what it takes to be an Arlington County Firefighter/Emergency Medical Technician.” The camp will take place from July 6-9. [Arlington County]

Nearby: No New Taco Bell in Alexandria — A proposed new Taco Bell restaurant on Duke Street in Alexandria, which neighbors worried could bring “late night riff raff” and cause traffic problems, will not be opening after all. The company has withdrawn its plans for the new location. [Washington Business Journal]

by ARLnow.com January 31, 2017 at 11:10 am 0

Four Mile Run Valley arts area concept sketch (via Arlington County)Arlington County is scheduled to hold a series of focus groups on the housing needs of artists next week.

The public discussion will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 8 and will be led by Minneapolis-based Artspace, a nonprofit that “uses the tools of real estate development to create affordable, appropriate places where artists can live and work.”

“The conversation with arts, community, and business leaders will focus on the potential for artist housing in a variety of neighborhoods in Arlington,” according to a web page for the event. “The visit will assess the viability of arts-related programming for selected sites.”

There are four areas being considered for arts-related development: Virginia Square, Columbia Pike, the Four Mile Run Valley/Shirlington area, and the 23rd Street S. commercial district in Crystal City.

The $20,000 cost of the feasibility study is being paid for by the nonprofit Arlington Foundation for Arts and Innovation, according to the county, but at this point no final decision has been made as to whether to move forward with artist housing facilities in Arlington.

“By convening a broad-based conversation among community leaders, Artspace hopes to stimulate serious, forward looking dialog on the needs of Arlington’s creative community, including affordable housing for art teachers, music instructors and working artists,” said the county. “This is simply a conversation to explore the range and feasibility of arts-related uses broadly in and within a handful of specific neighborhoods.”

“If the results of the initial feasibility study are positive, Artspace may be engaged to conduct a Phase II study which offers a deeper dive into the needs of the community,” the county explained. “AFAI has indicated that it will fund the Phase II study if the results of the original feasibility study warrant it.”

The event is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Feb. 8, at the Arlington Economic Development offices at 1100 N. Glebe Road, 15th floor. Anybody is welcome to attend.

by ARLnow.com January 18, 2017 at 2:35 pm 0

A new mixed-income apartment building that provides the amenities of market-rate residences, even though 40 percent of its units are committed affordable housing, has opened near Rosslyn.

The Union on Queen building is located at 1515 N. Queen Street, in the Radnor-Fort Myer Heights neighborhood, roughly equidistant to the Rosslyn and Courthouse Metro stations. It was partially funded with $6.8 million from Arlington’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund.

Work on the 12-story, 193-unit structure, built as a public-private partnership, began at the end of 2014. It was touted as a way to provide affordable housing for those who need it — those making up to 50-60 percent of area median income are eligible for the committed units — while also providing attractive apartments for market-rate tenants.

“What makes Union on Queen so unique is that it offers ALL residents the same award-winning levels of innovation, convenience, amenities and design synonymous with the Bozzuto name in some of DC’s most premier apartments,” a PR rep said. “While most mixed-income communities often lack the luxuries and appointments of market-rate residences, Union on Queen delivers outstanding levels of service and detail for everyone.”

“There are a lot of places that would say, ‘Dumb it down, cheaper, less efficient. It’s affordable housing in there,'” County Board Chair Jay Fisette said during the groundbreaking ceremony two years ago. “But that’s not the way this community works. We want every building to be indistinguishable from the next.”

More on the project, via a press release from developers Bozzuto and Wesley Housing Development Corporation, after the jump.

(more…)

by ARLnow.com November 10, 2016 at 9:30 am 0

Trump cutout goes out with the recycling after Election Day (photo courtesy Ari P.)

David Black Convicted, Sentenced for Wife’s Murder — An Arlington County jury this week found Arlington Ridge resident David Black guilty of murdering his wife. Bonnie Delgado Black was found stabbed to death in her home, which was just blocks from her estranged husband’s house, on April 17, 2015. Yesterday the jury recommended that Black serve two life sentences. [NBC 4, WTOP]

County Board Ditches New Year’s Day Meeting — Eschewing a long-standing tradition of holding its first meeting of the year on New Year’s Day, the Arlington County Board yesterday voted unanimously to hold its 2017 organizational meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 3. “We still will start our year off with the community, but without forcing employees to give up their personal and family time on a holiday,” said County Board Chair Libby Garvey. [Arlington County]

Retail Space for WeWork in Crystal City — The County Board on Saturday voted to convert 440 square feet of the WeWork and WeLive building in Crystal City to ground floor retail space, at the request of WeWork. No word yet on what kind of a retailer may be moving in. [Arlington County]

More on Park Protests — “Our Man in Arlington” columnist Charlie Clark has tackled the dual controversies of the baseball field fence in Bluemont Park (the Board acted on that yesterday, article coming soon) and the proposed Williamsburg Middle School athletic field lights. Clark concluded: “Popular sports for kids, peaceful green parks: competing Arlington virtues.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Evolent Health Stock Soars — As of 10 a.m. the share price for Ballston-based Evolent Health is up more than 12 percent today and nearly 70 percent for the year. The tech firm reported a narrower-than-expected loss and higher-than-expected revenue in the third quarter of 2016. [CNBC, Yahoo]

Board Approves Loan for Apartment Renovations — The Culpepper Garden affordable apartment complex for low-income seniors will receive needed renovations thanks to a $9.9 million loan from Arlington’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund. The County Board unanimously approved the loan yesterday. The renovations are expected to begin in the spring and will require tenants to temporarily move to other units on site while their units are renovated. [Arlington County]

Photo courtesy Ari P.

by ARLnow.com November 7, 2016 at 1:30 pm 0

(Updated at 3:15 p.m.) A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held this past Thursday for The Springs, a new affordable apartment complex in the Buckingham area near Ballston.

The 104-unit building, at the corner of Carlin Springs Road and N. Thomas Street, was developed by the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing.

Among those in attendance for the ceremony were Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey, County Board member Jay Fisette, County Manager Mark Schwartz, APAH Board Chair John Milliken and APAH President and CEO Nina Janopaul.

“The Springs will provide 47 units for low and very low income households earning less than 50% of the Area Median Income (AMI); 51 units for households earning below 60% AMI, and 6 market rate units,” APAH said in a press release. “Sixty-three apartments will be two-bedroom and 22 apartments will be three-bedroom to accommodate families.”

The Springs is located about a half-mile from the Ballston Metro station.

by ARLnow.com September 30, 2016 at 9:05 am 0

Person walking near puddle in Clarendon on rainy day, Sept. 30 2016

Food Star Not Responding to Pleas to Stay — The Food Star grocery store apparently doesn’t have much interest in staying in Arlington after the store, at the corner of Columbia Pike and George Mason Drive, closes to make way for a redevelopment. Despite resident interest in keeping the Food Star, county officials say their efforts to reach out to the company and help them relocate to another location in Arlington have not yet yielded a “substantive” response. [InsideNova]

LEGO Store Grand Opening — The new LEGO Store in the Pentagon City mall is holding its grand opening celebration starting today. The store will be hosting a LEGO Master Builder who will construct a huge LEGO model for display. The first 400 customers Friday, Saturday and Sunday will receive free gifts with qualifying purchases. [LEGO]

Olympic Athletes at Elementary School — A group of Olympic athletes will talk with students at Carlin Springs Elementary this morning. Among the group are shot put gold medalist Michelle Carter, gold medal-winning sprinter Natasha Hastings and long jump gold medalist Jeff Henderson. The athletes will be at the school as part of the Let’s Move! Healthy Schools campaign.

Notable Tree Nominations — It’s that time of the year — if you think you have a truly exceptional tree in your yard that deserves recognition, you can now nominate it for Arlington County’s annual Notable Tree awards. The deadline for nominations is Nov. 15. [Arlington County]

October Is Affordable Housing Month — Tomorrow is Oct. 1 and October is Affordable Housing Month in Arlington, “a month-long celebration of the County’s long-term commitment to preserving and creating housing opportunities that benefit the whole community.” [Arlington County]

by ARLnow.com September 26, 2016 at 9:45 am 0

Youth sports practice at Barcroft Park (Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley)

Board Funds Westover Apartment Purchase — The Arlington County Board on Saturday approved a $10.9 million loan that will allow the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing to purchase 68 affordable but aging apartment units in the Westover neighborhood. Separately, an effort to designate Westover as a protected historic district, with the goal of preserving other affordable apartments, is continuing. Arlington’s Historic Affairs and Landmark Review Board will hold a key meeting on the topic in November. [Arlington County, InsideNova]

Outreach Planned for Bluemont Baseball Project — Following a raft of complaints and letters from nearby residents, county officials will be holding a community meeting Oct. 5 to discuss an approved contract to renovate one of the baseball fields at Bluemont Park. County Board members on Saturday chastised county staff for inadequate neighborhood outreach on the project prior to its July approval by the Board. [InsideNova]

Aurora Hills Community Center Upgrades OKed — As expected, the County Board has approved a $555,800 contract to upgrade the interior of the Aurora Hills Senior Center and Library. Separately, the Board also approved a $2.7 million utility undergrounding project for the intersection of Lee Highway and N. Glebe Road, which is slated for future streetscape improvements. [Arlington County]

Rodney Hunt Fighting Mansion Eviction — Once a wealthy information technology executive, Rodney Hunt was recently released from a jail sentence on drug charges and is now fighting the foreclosure auction sale of his $24 million mansion on Chain Bridge Road in Arlington. Over the past few months the sprawling home has been used to host “mansion parties,” one of which resulted in a drive-by shooting in McLean. [Washington Post]

High School Boundary Changes Coming Soon — Arlington Public Schools will be hosting a series of public outreach events next month as part of a boundary “refinement” process for the county’s high schools. The usually-contentious process of adjusting school boundaries will this time determine which students attend Arlington’s three comprehensive high schools: Wakefield, Washington-Lee and Yorktown. The changes will not affect current high school students. [Arlington Public Schools, InsideNova]

Local CVS Accused of Selling Expired Shakes — A CVS store on Columbia Pike is being accused of selling nutritional shakes that expired a year ago and made an elderly woman sick last month. In response to a TV station’s outreach, CVS promised to work with the store to make sure that it’s removing expired products from shelves. [WJLA]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

by Andrew Ramonas September 22, 2016 at 11:30 am 0

Westover garden apartment building (Photo via Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing)

The Arlington County Board is set to consider a plan to lend about $11 million to a nonprofit organization looking to save affordable garden apartments in Westover.

The Board is scheduled to vote Saturday on the eight-figure loan from the county’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund. The financing would allow the nonprofit Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing to buy eight apartment buildings in the neighborhood, according to the county. The purchase would account for 68 affordable units — all but four are one bedroom units — at an average acquisition cost of about $215,000 per unit.

“The Westover neighborhood in North Arlington has a substantial inventory of market and committed affordable apartments,” APAH says on its website. “But many have been eliminated, or are at threat of elimination.”

The vote comes as Westover comes to grips with the redevelopment of some area properties, including an aging garden apartment building that are being replaced with luxury townhouses.

The Arlington Green Party is lobbying for a local historic designation in an effort to make it harder to tear down Westover buildings or renovate them. Already, much of the neighborhood — which was developed between 1938 and 1948 — is a national historic district.

The Coalition of Arlingtonians for Responsible Development, which advocates for an equitable distribution of affordable housing across the country, is supporting the proposal.

“CARD hopes that this acquisition [by APAH] will enable families the opportunity to live in Westover and enjoy its excellent schools and amenities,” Kay Langenbeck, chair of the group’s housing committee, wrote in a letter to the Board.

The total estimated cost of acquiring and renovating the apartments is $27.2 million, according to the county staff report. The project will be completed in three phases.

Photo via Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing

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