Ashton Heights Takes Stance Against Gun Store — More than 100 members of the Ashton Heights Civic Association voted last night on whether or not to take a position against the planned gun store in nearby Lyon Park. Fully 93 percent of those voting said they supported the civic association expressing opposition to the store, according to the group Act4LyonPark.
Retiring School Board Chair Recognized — At last night’s Arlington School Board meeting, Del. Alfonso Lopez read the joint resolution passed in the state legislature commending Dr. Emma Violand-Sanchez, who’s retiring as School Board Chair at the end of her term this year. [Katch, Twitter]
Raccoon Checks Out Home’s Toilet, Leaves — A woman in the Columbia Forest neighborhood called police after finding animal footprints on a toilet seat. The responding animal control officer determined that a raccoon had come down the chimney, apparently traipsed around the toilet and left. [Twitter]
GOP Convention Delegate Selection Gets Interesting — The prospect of a contested convention has made the selection of three delegates to represent Virginia’s Eighth Congressional District more interesting. At a recent Arlington County Republican Committee meeting, would-be delegates were asked who they would support for president. A reporter present didn’t hear anyone say Donald Trump. [InsideNova, InsideNova]
Condo for Sale Has a Unique Map of D.C. — A one-bedroom condo for sale in Rosslyn has a custom-designed map of D.C. painted across one of the walls. The mural was created by one of the current owners, who happens to be a former cartographer. [Washington Post]
Ouli Gets Attention from Local Tech Scene — “First Look: Could ‘Ouli’ Be the Concierge App for DC?” asks a new headline from a D.C. tech publication. The app’s creator, a software development firm on Lee Highway that has up until now served just corporate clients, says for now the app is focused solely on serving the Arlington market. [DC Inno]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Rosslyn resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!
Question: Will new FHA owner occupancy ratios change the way condo associations view rental caps?
Owner Occupancy Ratio Requirement Likely to Decrease from 50% to 35%
Last month I wrote about rental caps in condo buildings, noting that oftentimes condo boards decide to implement a rental cap in order to meet the FHA loan requirement that the percentage of owners living in the building vs renting their unit must be 51% or more.
This month we got news that this burdensome ratio is likely to be reduced to 35%, making affordable condo ownership more accessible for buyers and giving owners more control over their investments. In a 427-0 vote, the House passed the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act to reduce FHA restrictions, which includes a clause to reduce the owner occupancy ratio from 51% to 35%. Although the bill still has to pass the Senate and be signed by the President, the landslide vote bodes well for this change.
Condo Boards Should Reconsider How They Determine Rental Cap Rates
Most people agree that quality of life and building conditions deteriorate as the percentage of renters increase and many condo boards will choose to maintain current cap rates for this reason. However, cap rates are often set around 45-50%, using FHA requirements as a guideline.
If the bill passes and 35% becomes the new FHA requirement, condo boards should reconsider the reasons behind their rental cap rates. Without data available that shows when rental caps have a positive effect, it’s guesswork. What if the biggest dip in quality of life/building condition occurs when 30% of the building is rented and there’s not much change after that? In that case, Boards using a standard 45-50% cap rate are restricting owners without the well-intentioned benefits. What if the decrease in quality of life/building condition is linear? In that case, one could make the same argument for a 1% rental cap as a 70% rental cap.
My point isn’t that rental caps are a bad idea (in theory) or that Boards are complicit in implementing them, but that the FHA owner occupancy ratio is really the only empirical reference point being used. If the bill does pass and the ratio decreases to 35%, Boards should strongly consider adjusting their caps accordingly.
On a related note, if your condo is not approved for FHA loans (check here), many property management companies charge $500 to $1,000 to file and process an application, but some local lenders offer it as a free service. I know that Jake Ryon of First Home Mortgage ([email protected]) offers it. There’s little required by the Board and it can be completed in just a couple of months.
Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland with Real Living At Home, 2420 Wilson Blvd #101 Arlington, VA 22201, (202) 518-8781.
The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.
An aging low-rise apartment complex in Rosslyn will be replaced with a new condominium development.
The Arlington County Board on Thursday approved the condo project from Reston-based developer NVR, Inc., the parent company of homebuilder Ryan Homes. The Board approved NVR’s plan for a six-story building with a total of 63 units, which will replace a four-story, 33-unit apartment complex built in 1955, along with a two story house.
The new building, at the corner of Key Blvd and N. Nash Street, is across from a planned — but stalled — redevelopment that was to include a 28-story residential building and ground floor grocery store.
“Washington Vista,” as the condo development is referred to in public documents, will include four affordable two-bedroom units that will be offered to qualified moderate-income buyers. Other community benefits include a contribution of more than $100,000 to Arlington’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund and $75,000 worth of public art.
Residents of the Metro Rosslyn apartment building, which is being torn down to make way for the condos, initially complained that the developer had not offered relocation assistance after notices to vacate were posted on the property. A relocation plan was subsequently approved by Arlington’s Tenant-Landlord Commission on Dec. 16.
After the jump: the county press release about the development’s approval.
S. Walter Reed Drive is now home to 14 condominiums and eight townhouses.
Construction has finished on a five-story building at the corner of S. Walter Reed Drive and 11th Street S. The new development, Columbia Place, has 14 two-bed, two-bathroom condominiums and eight townhouses.
“Just a few miles to D.C. and just steps from fabulous dining and shopping locations, Columbia Place offers everything a downtown buyer wants without the downtown pricing. With condos starting in the $500s, Columbia is well-suited for a variety of lifestyles,” developer Evergreene Homes said in a press release.
The 14 condos sit on 3,000 square feet of retail space, which will house two “shopping opportunities,” Evergreene said on its website.
The developer will hold an open house this weekend from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, which will include a guided walkthrough of the new building. Refreshments will be provided.
“When you live at the corner of Columbia Pike and S. Walter Reed [Drive], you live in the center of Arlington. And that means saying goodbye to long commutes and embracing a life where work, shopping, dining and entertainment are all just moments away,” Evergreene said. “For those looking to own in Arlington there is no better-located community than Columbia Place.”
Disclosure: Evergreene Homes is an ARLnow.com advertiser.
Dozens of residents were evacuated from The Carlton condominium at 4600 S. Four Mile Run Drive Friday night.
The fire started in a 12th floor condo around 10:30 p.m. The blaze was extinguished before the flames could spread to another unit. At least one person was reportedly treated on scene for smoke inhalation.
Four Mile Run Drive was closed while firefighters battled the blaze. The county fire marshal is investigating the cause of the fire.
W-L Student Dies — The Washington-Lee High School community is mourning the death of Juliana Clarkson, 14, who died on Friday after a battle with leukemia. Fellow W-L students and crew teammates have filled the N. Stafford Street bridge with chalk tributes to Clarkson. [Legacy, Vimeo, Team in Training]
Man Wins Lottery, Decks Out Rosslyn Condo — Brian McCarthy, 29, won $68.4 million in the Virginia Mega Millions lottery four years ago, and has spent part of his winnings turning his Rosslyn condo into the ultimate bachelor pad. Among the accoutrements are a custom LED chandelier in his 20-foot-tall living room, a 300 gallon fish tank that simulates ocean waves, a TV in his bathroom mirror and a private roof deck with a grill and a glare-free outdoor TV. [Washingtonian]
What’s Next for Arlington’s Millennials — As the oldest of the millennial generation start having kids and raising families, many may end up moving out of Arlington to locales with lower housing costs. Arlington, however, is studying the reasons why people move out and is contemplating new housing options to help others to stay. [Washington Post]
Finalists for Elementary School Site — A working group has narrowed down the list of potential sites to build a new elementary school in South Arlington to 11 options. Those options include existing school campuses, parks, community centers and two privately-owned sites. [InsideNova]
Bar Owner Makes Brief ‘Bachelor’ Appearance — Chris Bukowski, co-owner of the Bracket Room sports bar in Clarendon, made a brief and ignominious appearance on ABC’s “Bachelor in Paradise” last night. Bukowski, who has appeared on four other seasons of The Bachelor and its spin-off shows, proceeded to get drunk after arriving in paradise, failed to find a suitable date, and then walked off the set, dejected. [People]
Flickr pool photo by Joseph Gruber
More on Texas Jack’s BBQ — Texas Jack’s Barbecue, which is replacing the former Tallula and EatBar in Lyon Park, will be helmed by a pair of Hill Country BBQ vets. The 145-seat restaurant will also have a 26-seat patio. It will serve meats that are smoked on site and plans to remain open until 2 a.m. seven days a week. [Washingtonian]
CEO’s $3.7 Million Rosslyn Condo — Gracia Martore, the former CEO of Gannett and current CEO of the newspaper company’s broadcast and digital spinoff, Tegna, has purchased a condo in Rosslyn for $3.65 million. The 4,447 square foot condo in Turnberry Tower (1881 N. Nash Street) features a 900 square foot outdoor balcony with sweeping views of D.C. [Washington Business Journal]
Police Chief Prioritizes Community Engagement — New Arlington Police Chief Jay Farr says he will make community engagement one of his top priorities. Farr plans to “realign how we do business a little bit,” adding more interaction with residents, he told the local Kiwanis Club. [InsideNova]
Arlington Arts Center Director Departs — Stefanie Fedor, executive director of the Arlington Arts Center, is leaving her position next month to head the Visual Arts Center of Richmond. AAC’s Director of Exhibitions will take over as Acting Executive Director while the organization’s board searches for Fedor’s permanent replacement. [Patch]
Rosslyn Employer Leaving for D.C. — The American Psychiatric Association, currently based at 1000 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn, has signed a lease at The Wharf project on the Southwest D.C. waterfront. The association has about 250 employees. It is expected to move in 2017. [Washington Business Journal]
Flickr pool photo by David Giambarresi
Advocates Decry Proposed Bike Cut — An optional budget cut floated by Arlington County Manger Barbara Donnellan in her proposed FY 2015-2016 budget is attracting some push back from cyclists. Donnellan said the County Board should consider a $800,000 cut in funds for the county’s BikeArlington program if it wants to make additional cuts beyond her base budget. Bike advocates say the cut “would be a huge mistake.” [Greater Greater Washington]
Condo Fence Mowed Down — A car ran through the fence of a condominium complex next to Long Branch Elementary School Sunday evening. No injuries were reported. [Twitter]
Resident Survey to Be Mailed — Arlington County is planning to mail its fourth resident survey to 3,600 randomly selected residents. “This survey will help us find out how we’re doing across many different service areas – and also pinpoint where we need to improve,” County Manager Barbara Donnellan said in a statement. [Arlington County]
Custis Trail Added to Beer Guide — A guide intended to show D.C. area cyclists where they can grab craft brews near local trails has added Arlington’s Custis Trail to its directory. [Bikeable Brews]
A-SPAN To Help Meet Homeless Goals — Arlington County has signed on to a pair of ambitious goals: to house all homeless veterans in the community by the end of 2015 and end chronic homelessness by 2016. The Arlington Street People’s Network, the nonprofit organization that will be running Arlington’s soon-to-open year-round homeless shelter, is preparing to do its part to help achieve those goals. [InsideNova]
Iwo Jima Anniversary — Today marks the 70th anniversary of the famous photo of Marines raising the flag during on Iwo Jima during World War II. Veterans of the battle gathered at the Marine Corps War Memorial near Rosslyn, which depicts the flag raising, to mark its anniversary last week. [Stars and Stripes]
Impromptu Marriage at Fire Station — A Marine and his fiance got married at Arlington’s Fire Station 5 Saturday night. Firefighters got the call at 6:00 p.m. that the Marine, who was deploying the next day, was in desperate need of a hall after their venue was closed due to broken pipes. Firefighters were able to hastily mop the floor and set up chairs in one of the station’s bays before the bride and groom arrived for the short ceremony. [Facebook]
Man Falls on Tracks at Ballston Metro — Around 8:15 this morning, a man somehow fell onto the outbound tracks at the Ballston Metro station. Bystanders were able to hoist the man back onto the platform. According to scanner traffic, he suffered a head injury.
SUV Rollover Near Columbia Pike — An SUV crashed and rolled onto its side at Walter Reed Drive and 13 Street S., near Columbia Pike, on Friday night. The vehicle’s occupants were unhurt and were able to get out on their own, according to a fire department spokesman. Also Friday night, a pedestrian was struck by a vehicle on N. Glebe Road near Pershing Drive. The victim was transported to Inova Fairfax Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. [Twitter]
Benjamin Banneker Park to Expand — At its Saturday meeting, the Arlington County Board approved the purchase of a 8,375 square foot lot and home adjacent to Benjamin Banneker Park in East Fall Church. The $688,710 purchase will allow the park to expand, following the deconstruction of the house. [Arlington County]
James Hunter Park Cost Infographic — What caused the James Hunter dog park in Clarendon to cost so much? Washingtonian has created an interactive graphic that details some of the park’s features and their price tag. [Washingtonian]
Condo Parking Space Kerfuffle — At Saturday’s County Board meeting, the last item of the day, before the Board adjourned early due to the snowstorm, was a site plan amendment for the Virginia Square Condominiums building. The site plan amendment was proposed by the condo association to try to ameliorate a dispute over the size of two parking spaces. ARLnow.com live tweeted the absurdist theater that followed. [Storify]
Flickr pool photo by J. Peterson
(Update at 6:25 p.m.) A new, mixed-use development is in the works for the western end of Columbia Pike.
Pillars Development Group, which built The Berkeley condominium in Ballston, is planning on constructing 78 condominiums and 8,000-square feet of ground floor retail at 4707 Columbia Pike, next to S. Buchanan Street, in the location of the now-closed El Tutumaso Bolivian restaurant.
That restaurant — previously home to a second location of Bob and Edith’s Diner and Sauca, which closed within a year of opening in 2012 — will be bulldozed for the incoming development. Pillars has applied for its first building permit on the site, and Operations Director Marwan Shahin told ARLnow.com today that the company hopes to start digging in May or June.
“We’re hoping we can start having people living in the building 18 to 24 months after that,” Shahin said.
The retail space does not have a prospective occupant yet, but Shahin said the company is looking to sell, not lease, that space to whoever wants to open a business in the first floor. The retail would front onto Columbia Pike and the residential entrance would be off of S. Buchanan Street.
Shahin said there will be a combination of underground and surface parking. The building will be developed (and has been approved) under the Columbia Pike Form-Based Code for commercial districts, which allows some projects to be approved without a hearing before the Arlington County Board.
The AKA Virginia Square extended stay hotel is undergoing a conversion into a condominium building and plans to open this fall.
The building, at 3409 Wilson Blvd, was purchased by Bethesda-based The Goldstar Group. The company has rebranded the building as Arc 3409, saying it will featuer “luxury condos.” The sale went through this spring, and by May the hotel was no longer taking reservations as it prepared to close.
Goldstar Senior Vice President Eric May said the company plans to open the building in mid-September, and to start sending out information about asking prices and individual units later this summer. May said the prices for the 85 units in the building have yet to be determined.
The renovations, May said, include replacing floors, kitchens and re-fitting the units. No structural work needed to be done, he said, because the building, built in 2008, was originally intended to be condominiums before it was sold to become, essentially, a short-term rental apartment building.
“The building itself is very different from Arlington standard,” May said. “It’s not brick box. It’s got angles, curves, glass and it’s a cool building. The units themselves are cool units, some of them have floor-to-ceiling glass and most of them have balconies. It’s more of cutting-edge D.C. design than you typically see in Arlington.”
The building is two blocks from the Virginia Square Metro station, but the location and the appeal of the unusual building were just part of the equation for Goldstar’s purchase.
“There is a huge lack of supply of new or any condos in Arlington right now,” May said. “There’s very little to no new product, so we saw an opportunity to bring to market effectively new condominiums at prices that are going to be competitive.”
The building was sold recently, according to an AKA employee, and the hotel is no longer taking reservations as it prepares to close.
Attempts to reach AKA representatives who could further discuss the sale were unsuccessful. The hotel was constructed within the last 10 years and, we’re told, it was originally intended to be a condominium building. So far, there’s no word on when the building will re-open or start selling units.
Photo via AKA
(Updated at 4:55 p.m.) A construction worker has suffered serious injuries from a four-story fall off a roof in the Buckingham neighborhood.
The incident happened just before 4:00 p.m. on the 400 block of N. George Mason Drive. According to initial reports, the man fell from the roof of an under-construction, four-story condominium building onto a concrete surface below. The construction is for new townhouses in the Ballston Row development.
The victim was at least initially conscious and talking to those who came to his aid, but was bleeding from the head, according to scanner traffic. His injuries are described as life-threatening. He’s being transported via ambulance to the trauma center at George Washington University Hospital.
State occupational safety inspectors are being requested to investigate the incident.
(Updated at 3:10 p.m.) The leasing center at the new Avery Row (1200 N. Rolfe Street) apartment complex opened for business yesterday (December 9).
Potential residents can now tour the four story, 67-unit building in the Radnor/Ft. Myer Heights neighborhood. The “boutique apartment community” features one and two bedroom apartments, balconies, rooftop terraces and an outdoor dining area.
“We give you a lot of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, a lot of outdoor areas to appreciate nature,” said Shelley Brooks, Regional Portfolio Manager for Bozzuto Management Company. “It’s a very special community. It’s modern, yet elegant. I think they’ll go very quickly.”
The complex had previously been known as “Grayson Flats” and was intended to be marketed as apartment rentals. But Reston-based Silverwood Companies announced its purchase of the property in April and repositioned it as a condominium building, while also changing the name to “The Avery.” The property was recently repositioned again as the Avery Row apartments; it is still owned by Silverwood and Bozzuto Management Company currently oversees the property.
Brooks explained that The Avery opened for condo sales in early June and interest rates increased less than three weeks later, stopping interest in the condos. Silverwood reassessed the market and determined apartments were a better option, especially given what it calls a lack of large, luxury units in the area.
The apartments are ready for immediate move-in. So far, one apartment has been leased and there are 66 others available. Monthly rental prices range from $2,345 for a one bedroom to more than $3,430 for a two bedroom with den.
A high profile property has gone on the market near Rosslyn. Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green has put his condo up for sale.
The loft style condo in the Radnor/Ft. Myer Heights neighborhood is at 1615 Queen Street N. and has a full listing in the ARLnow.com real estate section. The two bedroom, 2.5 bathroom property has 2,041 square feet and lists an asking price of $1,595,000.
There are two master suites, a wine room, a two-story veranda and parking for two cars. The seller recently spent $300,000 in upgrades for the condo.
According to the listing, the buyer will “also get bragging rights.” Interested buyers can contact Casey Margenau with Re/max Distinctive Real Estate, Inc. at 703-821-1840.
Anyone thinking they can stop in to try getting a glimpse of Green should think again. According to the Washington Post, Green has already bought another home and moved out.