Arlington, VA

Arlington’s lack of affordable townhomes, duplexes and other housing types has a ripple effect across the D.C. region, housing experts say.

How Arlington tackles that deficit, they said, could help stem the tide of urban sprawl and its social, economic and environmental impacts — with more options, lower- and middle-income households are better able to stay in their communities, be near their jobs and access established transit areas.

“Leadership [in Arlington] is still needed,” said Michael Spotts, President of Neighborhood Fundamentals, during a recent Arlington Committee of 100 webinar on Missing Middle Housing. “This is an important issue and Arlington can’t solve it on its own, but it’s something that we should do because it’s good for the county and the region.”

With the multi-year “Missing Middle Housing Study,” Arlington County is examining whether the county should allow housing types that have been typically prohibited from many neighborhoods to reverse housing shortages. If approved, rewritten ordinances would not be implemented until 2022 or 2023.

The county recently published the results of six months of community engagement. Priorities include a greater supply and wider array of housing options, at lower costs, while concerns include the impact that would have on property values, school capacity and the environment.

Now, the county is asking people what kinds of housing options should be explored. Through June 8, respondents can choose from 10 options, including multiplexes, cottage clusters, townhouses and small-lot homes currently excluded from some neighborhoods.

Providing those options locally will help address a regionwide problem that panelists say is currently driving urban sprawl, which is harming the environment.

“We’ve seen more development in outlying counties, and significant losses in impervious surface,” Spotts said. “We are downstream from some of these locations and that has an impact on Arlington’s environment. By limiting development [here], we may be able to save trees but at the expense of much larger acreage of forest loss in other jurisdictions.”

It also contributes to higher greenhouse gas emissions in those outlying counties, since many drive to work in Arlington and D.C., he said.

With the average costs of homes in Arlington ranging from $500,000-$1.5 million, depending on type, that prices out many professions like teachers, mechanics, security guards and so on.

Instead, they go where the average price is lower than in Arlington, said Jon Huntley, a senior economist at the Penn Wharton Budget Model who also runs the website Arlington Analytics.

High land costs set a minimum price for any new Missing Middle construction, however, and more stock may not solve the affordability problem anytime soon given Arlington’s housing shortage, according to Huntley.

“The prices of new Missing Middle properties will have to reflect that alternative [to build very expensive single-family detached homes],” he said.

Since 2017, Huntley said Arlington has built 58 brand-new townhomes with an average selling price of $1 million. There were only eight duplexes built — for an average price of $1 million — and 35 stacked condos that went for up to $840,000.

“Townhomes and other missing middle properties will definitely become more affordable, but unless something dramatic happens this effect will happen in a timeframe measured in decades,” he said.

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Anthony Fusarelli, Jr., Arlington County’s new planning director, has watched the county transform over 15 years from within the Department of Community Planning, Housing, and Development.

When he arrived in Arlington, the Department of Defense was preparing to leave a gaping hole in Crystal City and Pentagon City that Arlington would, in effect, fill a decade later with Amazon’s HQ2.

Elsewhere, he watched as housing market forces and county regulations together drove the redevelopment of single-family homes for contemporary tastes at higher price points.

And in some corridors, he saw the county realize a decades-old vision for transit-oriented development, while others retained their suburban, auto-focused flavor.

Fusarelli will assume his role in early June but he is already imagining the next 40 years of development in Arlington County. Future planning will have to accommodate Arlington’s increasing population and flourishing tech industry, fueled by the arrival of Amazon’s HQ2, as well as the changing nature of work.

All of those things are moving targets, and to meet them, the plans that Arlington uses to guide development will need to allow for a variety of uses to meet the changing needs of the community, he said. That is a lesson he learned from the pandemic.

“I’m looking forward to working with our team to think more about what we can do to better absorb future disruptions and shockwaves as a complete community,” he tells ARLnow.

What that looks like, he said, “is the million-dollar question.”

Practically speaking, he said construction projects need to be adaptable by design: Parking garages that can turn into housing, or apartment buildings with co-working spaces for tenants working from home.

“We have to recognize that our planning work and decisions about buildings inform places that are going to be here for decades,” he said. “The more they can be flexible and adapt with changing times, the better off Arlington will be.”

In many ways, he said, “the possibilities are endless,” but they will involve rewriting regulations and updating county plans guiding development.

Present efforts to refresh these planning documents are focused on Clarendon, Pentagon City and along Lee Highway. Later this year, his department is set to deliver an update to the western end of the Clarendon Sector Plan.

But the Pentagon City and Lee Highway updates will be more comprehensive, he said.

Forty-five years after the Pentagon City Phased Development Site Plan was approved, most of the development it envisioned has been exhausted, he said. The biggest contributor was the 2019 approval of the first phase of Amazon’s HQ2, Met Park.

The second phase — the iconic glassy double helix that’s currently under review — will nearly complete the development called for in the 1970s, he said.

Now, the county is stepping back to imagine a more flexible plan to guide Pentagon City’s future growth, he said. And next door in Crystal City, Amazon plays an equally vital role.

“In many ways, Amazon’s arrival can really serve as a catalyst for a lot of the envisioned development that the county had imagined through the Crystal City Sector Plan,” said Fusarelli, who spearheaded the creation of the 2010 plan.

Meanwhile, future planning for Lee Highway benefits from the work to redevelop Columbia Pike from an auto-oriented shopping center into a more urban, walkable corridor.

“We still have work ahead of us,” he said.

And like Columbia Pike, the county will have to pay attention to how future development “can effectively and harmoniously transition down to low-density residential neighborhoods,” he said.

The county also has a lot of work to do to ensure a diverse range of people can live in Arlington’s more residential neighborhoods. That work will likely require changes to zoning ordinances while keeping racial equity and inclusion top of mind, he said.

“Arlington is challenged by high land values,” he said. “We need to look at other tools, such as zoning regulations, to see if they need adjustments to help us get on track.”

Courtesy photo

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The YMCA has filed some early concept plans with Arlington County sketching its vision for replacing its Virginia Square facility with two structures — a new gym and an apartment building.

This project at 3400 and 3422 13th Street N. represents the last of three developments concentrated within a seven-acre site along Washington Blvd, from N. Lincoln Street to Kirkwood Road.

The first two have been approved: a 270-unit apartment building, “The Kirkwood,” for the southeast corner, where Kirkwood Road and Washington Blvd intersect, and an affordable housing project on the site of American Legion Post 139.

The Y’s proposal is not only the last — at 4.39 acres, it is also the biggest.

According to the planning documents, the YMCA proposes a three-story tall facility with a swimming pool and tennis and pickleball courts, nearly 52,000 square feet of recreation space, and 325 parking spaces across a two-level garage. The apartment building would be seven stories tall and have 374 units, with 330 spots across two levels of parking.

The proposed project is about five blocks from the Virginia Square Metro station — a nine minute walk, according to Google Maps.

Members of the Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association have a number of concerns with the project, according to a letter from President Maurya Meiers to the county.

The YMCA development is “the largest project in the mix, will have the most impact on the surrounding community, [and] it most directly and conspicuously abuts the largest number of community residences,” she said.

In the letter, Meiers said the project is too massive, one story too tall and provides too little public green space. She asserted that the project will significantly increase traffic, which they predict will hurt the character of the community, and exacerbate an existing street parking shortage.

“The plan presents two massive, boring structures that encroach and overshadow the neighborhoods around them,” Meiers said. “This was not at all what was presented in the [General Land Use Plan], not at all what we expected, and not at all what we want.”

(A General Land Use Plan, or GLUP, is Arlington’s primary policy document guiding development in specific parts of the county.)

Meiers added that the planners should have explored the option of placing residences above the YMCA facility. Most importantly, she added, they should have considered placing townhouses next to single-family homes, an option that was “totally ignored, even though it would provide the most respectful and effective transition.”

Neither the Y’s legal representation nor the architect were immediately available for comment.

Meiers also said questions remain about the Ball Family Burial Grounds, the gravesite of the family that is the namesake for Ballston. The gravesite has murky ownership and is in need of research and repair, according to a staff report.

“We will be looking forward to see how this project can be leveraged to improve conditions on the grounds,” Meiers said.

The county’s planning division has asked for community input on changes to the 2006 Clarendon Sector Plan in light of these three projects, on the outskirts of the neighborhood, as well as several others in the Clarendon area.

Photos via Arlington County

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Construction has started in Ballston on the future site of a new Harris Teeter, three apartment buildings and a new green space.

Excavation and sheeting and shoring work started this past week at 600 N. Glebe Road, said Mary Senn, the vice-president of Georgia-based developer Southeastern Real Estate Group, LLC, the developer overseeing the project.

“We are underway,” she said.

Work began last year with utility relocation and demolition of the vacant American Service Center building, Southeastern president Mark Senn told ARLnow in October.

The current phase is the first of three for the site, approved in 2019. In phase one, a new 310-unit apartment building with a new Harris Teeter space on the ground floor will replace the former American Service Center building.

In this phase, customers still have access to parking and the current Harris Teeter, which was the company’s first in Virginia.

“Harris Teeter and Southeastern are very excited to be moving forward with the construction, and the community will be excited to have the new store,” Mary Senn said. “[Harris Teeter] will really do this one up as the latest and the greatest, as far as the store goes.”

The grocery store may have a bar, among other new features, and will also have covered parking, she said.

“People in Arlington, given the weather the past couple of weeks, will appreciate the covered parking, which will definitely be an improvement,” said Senn.

The timeline for the construction of the project has not changed, the vice-president said. Phase one is expected to be complete in 2023.

“But we’ll be open before then,” she said.

During the second phase, the old Harris Teeter will be demolished for new temporary surface parking. The second apartment building, with 195 units, and the public open space will be constructed in phase two.

In the third phase, the temporary parking lot will become the third apartment building: a 227-unit residential building with retail on the ground floor and two levels of below-grade parking.

The park will include a pedestrian path, a dog run, a picnic area, as well as natural vegetation to support pollinator insects and birds.

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Morning Notes

Planning Process for Pentagon City Underway — “Amazon.com Inc.’s vision for Pentagon City is decidedly futuristic, anchored by a helix-shaped building that looks straight out of a sci-fi novel. Arlington County’s existing plans that guide the neighborhood’s growth, meanwhile, date back to the days of disco… The open question is how much more development the tech giant will inspire.” [Washington Business Journal]

SUV Overturns on GW Parkway — From WTOP yesterday morning: “NB George Washington Pkwy before the Key Bridge, crash involves one on its side with the left lane only squeezing by.” [Twitter]

GMU to Partner with Local American Legion Post — “Realizing a need existed to help veterans and their families in similar situations, leaders at the law school established the Mason Veterans and Servicemembers Legal Clinic (M-VETS) in 2004…. A new partnership with American Legion Post 139, which will be standing up a new building in Arlington, will allow the clinic to further increase its impact.” [George Mason University]

New Apartment Building Opening — “AHC Inc., a leading developer of affordable housing in the Washington-Baltimore metro region, is pleased to introduce a new apartment community in Arlington, VA, called The Apex. Featuring a total of 256 apartments, the $100 million development has started to welcome its first residents and is currently accepting applications.” [Press Release]

Arlington Housing Remains Pricey — “The city of Falls Church in Virginia remains the most expensive housing market, by official jurisdiction, with a median price of $820,000 last month. But among larger jurisdictions, Virginia’s Arlington County remains the most expensive, at $600,000 last month.” [WTOP]

Instant-Runoff Voting Challenges — “Technical, legal and financial complexities likely will mean any start to ‘instant-runoff’ County Board voting in Arlington will be pushed back to 2022 at the soonest. ‘It’s not practical for this year. The earliest this could possibly be used is next year,’ said Arlington Electoral Board secretary Scott McGeary, summing things up during a Feb. 6 Electoral Board meeting.” [InsideNova]

Reminder: Blue Line Work Starts Tomorrow — “Metro’s entire Blue Line is being shut down for more than three months starting Saturday… platform reconstruction work [is] being performed at the Arlington Cemetery station.” [ARLnow]

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A recent national report has revealed that rents in Arlington have dropped by 14.8% since last March, according to an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data by ApartmentList.com.

Arlington has had the seventh-largest decrease compared to other (much larger) markets, like New York, San Francisco, and Seattle. D.C. had the fifth-largest decrease.

Between December and January, Arlington rents decreased by nearly 2.5%.

The median two-bedroom rent in the county is now $2,032, according to the report. However, Arlington still has the most expensive rents in the D.C. region, topping fellow close-in suburbs like Bethesda and Alexandria.

There’s one huge reason for the drop.

“It’s really tied to the economic carnage [from] the pandemic,” says Terry Clower, director of the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University. “Most of the jobs that we have lost have been in the hospitality services and retail sectors, which are typically disproportionately renters.”

Clower says parsing out data shows the pandemic has also caused behavioral changes in terms of renting. In general, high-rise units have seen a larger drop in demand than lower-rise properties, Clower notes.

If part of your calculation of where you want to live at the moment is based on how dense the development is, how [crowded] it is in the elevator,” says Clower. “Then, you are less likely to live in a high rise.”

Ballston and Rosslyn, in particular, have seen an influx of these dense-living types of properties, mostly due to construction prior to the pandemic, though there are more in the pipeline.

What’s more, there’s lower desire at the moment to live in high-density areas, according to Clower. While rent prices have declined in Arlington, they’ve risen in further D.C. area ‘burbs.

“Areas like Fredericksburg, Virginia… or Charles County, Maryland, rents have increased,” says Clower. “You’re getting… that effect of fleeing the dense inner suburbs to the less dense outer suburbs.”

The need for more space, as well, has shifted some renters to exploring buying single family homes. Between a lack of housing inventory and rising home values in Arlington, says Clower, demand for residences in the outer suburbs have also exploded.

“Most households in our region are two-income earner households, especially families with school-age children,” says Clower. “Kids need a place and both [parents] need some place to work inside the house, preferably not the kitchen table.”

Plus, lower interest rates have also encouraged first-time home buyers.

While rent decreases may be good for renters, it’s not good for property owners, developers, or even the county as a whole.

Clower says smaller landlords, those that only own a few properties, are not getting any break on mortgage payments, meaning decreasing rents impact their ability to pay their mortgage. In terms of the bigger developments, units are generating less revenue.

“They are less valuable in the market, which means that… the property taxes paid to local governments should be reduced as well,” says Clower. “Because they’re less valuable and generating less income.”

Arlington County depends on these property taxes to balance its budget and provide services to residents. But the full impact of all of this may not be seen until further into the future.

“The fiscal and economic down side of this pandemic is going to last well beyond… when we start getting the pandemic under control through the vaccinations,” says Clower.

Right now, it just may be a great moment to rent in Arlington. Clower says we can probably expect a continued slight dip in rents, but the big drop-off probably has already happened with vaccinations starting to happen.

“If you are looking for a good deal and prefer to be a renter,” says Clower, “it’s probably a good time to lock in a relatively long term lease.”

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Financed by Amazon, a D.C. area housing nonprofit bought and will stabilize rent at a luxury apartment building in Crystal City.

The tech giant announced on Wednesday that it is contributing $381.9 million to Washington Housing Conservancy to create and preserve 1,300 affordable housing units at Crystal House (1900 S. Eads St), as rents rise amid Amazon’s expansion into the area.

“Amazon’s investment in affordable housing in Arlington is transformational — and couldn’t come at a better time,” County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti said in a statement. “We are delighted to further strengthen our partnership with Amazon and to work together to serve our shared commitment to equity and economic opportunity for all of our residents.”

The funding for WHC includes a $339.9 million below-market loan and $42 million in grants. With the money, and a $6.7 million loan from WHC’s financing partner, JBG Smith, the nonprofit purchased Crystal House, a luxury apartment complex one block from Amazon’s future HQ2.

“Washington Housing Conservancy disrupts a market cycle that leads to displacement and offers the kind of stability that lets residents focus on their future, instead of the uncertainty of escalating rents,” WHC Executive Director Kimberly Driggins said in a statement.

The conversion of existing market-rate apartments into dedicated affordable apartments started on Jan. 1 and will continue over the next five years. Rents at the building, to be managed by JBG Smith, will target households earning less than 80% of the area median income. The agreement is for 99 years.

Residents were notified about the changes on Dec. 31 in a letter, obtained by Washington Business Journal.

“With Amazon’s support, we are advancing our vision for inclusive, mixed-income communities of racially diverse middle-income and low-income families and individuals, to live near their employment and access high-performing schools and community amenities,” Driggins said.

Although another purchase was in the works last year, the purchase of Crystal House marks Washington Housing Conservancy’s first finalized purchase since the nonprofit was established in 2019.

The contributions are part of Amazon’s new Housing Equity Fund, a more than $2 billion commitment to create and preserve more than 20,000 units in Amazon’s three footholds: Arlington, the Seattle area, and Nashville.

“Amazon has a long-standing commitment to helping people in need,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO. “This new $2 billion Housing Equity Fund will create or preserve 20,000 affordable homes in all three of our headquarters regions — Arlington, Puget Sound, and Nashville. It will also help local families achieve long-term stability while building strong, inclusive communities.”

The contribution comes after nearly a decade of climbing housing costs that have outpaced the growth of household incomes.

Arlington County has lost approximately 14,400 privately-owned, affordably priced housing units since 2000, according to Amazon’s press release.

Between 2010 and 2018, the median home value climbed approximately 20% (after adjusting for inflation) and median rents climbed 11%, while median household incomes climbed only 7%, the release said.

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(Updated at 5:15 p.m.) Few office and retail spaces were approved or completed in the first three quarters of 2020, but Arlington officials say it is too early to attribute the drop to the pandemic or consider it a trend at all.

The 2020 third quarter report on retail, office, hotel and residential development appears to show that the rates at which projects are approved, buildings are demolished, and construction starts and ends have dropped off in 2020. Meanwhile, the demolition and redevelopment of single-family detached homes appears to remain consistent.

No hotel rooms have been approved or built so far in 2020 (though a former hotel was demolished in spectacular fashion on Sunday). About 120,000 square feet of retail has been completed this year, and 40,000 square feet approved, but rates exceeded both those sums in 2019. About 17,000 square feet of office space was approved this year, compared to 2 million last year thanks to Amazon’s HQ2.

“It would be easy to think because of COVID-19 that that might explain the tapering off of development, but it’s too early for us to know,” said county planner Emily Garrett, who led the Q3 Development Tracking Report. “It could be normal to have a slower couple of quarters following large projects.”

In the view of Marc McCauley, the director of real estate for the Arlington Economic Development office, the coronavirus has impacted existing properties more than future projects.

“If you’re in development and considering mixed-use, we haven’t heard a lot of projects significantly delayed or dropped because of concerns, but you may be concerned about getting a hotel financed,” he said. “It has not moved the needle one way or another in terms of development.”

Although these reports look back to the third quarter of 2015, that is not long enough in the scheme of big projects to determine if large-scale office, retail and mixed-use developments are actually slowing down, the two officials agreed.

Rather, such projects could be on four- to five-year cycles, which looks inconsistent compared to the 50 to 60 houses that are approved, demolished and rebuilt each quarter, like clockwork, Garrett said. Before Amazon was granted 2 million square feet in December 2019, the last time a comparable project came around was in the first quarter of 2016, she said.

As for retail, the change reflects the broader trend in Arlington’s development extending beyond the last five years. McCauley said. Retail clusters such as the Ballston Quarter explain the occasional retail spikes, but it is more common to have small amounts of ground-floor retail approved as part of a mixed-use project.

“There’s only so much retail clusters you can support,” he said. “Through long-term market cycles, they get repositioned because it’s about refreshing your concept to be able to compete for customers.”

Meanwhile, the housing development rates reflect the trajectory Arlington has been on for decades, Garrett said, with most new development focusing on denser housing near transit hubs.

“I would definitely say overall the way development trends aligns with the overall demographic trends of Arlington County for decades now,” she said.

The average household size shrank in 1970 and has been stable ever since, with more opting to live in smaller housing units, she said. The report shows that the number of apartment units is growing, while the number of single-family homes remain flat, with detached homes being replaced at a nearly one-to-one rate.

The last three quarters of relative inactivity come as the county is focusing on new and ongoing development plans, including along Lee Highway and in the Clarendon area.

“We’re at that point where we’re looking at studies that have been completed and… seeing where there might be additional potential,” Garrett said.

Garrett said it “could be a year, or years” before the County sees the true impact of the pandemic on development. “We’ll just have to see.”

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A new report released by three local civic associations says tenant protections, more housing options and community amenities would make the 22202 zip code livable.

But significant barriers — including a history of exclusionary zoning to a lack of political will from leaders — are holding the area back, the neighborhoods say.

The report was produced by Livability 22202, a coalition of the Arlington Ridge, Aurora Highlands, and Crystal City civic associations.

“We want to ensure our neighborhood reflects the vision of an inclusive community and that residents’ voices are heard in a rapidly changing environment,” the report’s authors wrote. “By learning from the past and planning for a realistic future, we can ensure our shared values and visions as a 22202 community hold a promise that all are welcome to find a home here.”

The report coincides with heavy redevelopment and the construction of Amazon’s permanent HQ2 in Pentagon City. It also comes as Arlington County studies the lack of “middle housing” — duplexes and other smaller-scale multifamily housing — and sponsors discussions on the effects of race-based policies in County’s past.

“We believe that the adoption of our policy solutions, together with other livability objectives, will contribute to making our neighborhood an even better and more inclusive community to live and work in,” said Susan English, of the Arlington Ridge Civic Association, in a statement.

The report affirms the same solutions housing advocates have called for as the Missing Middle Housing Study takes shape.

“As the County embarks on a process to overhaul its policies and practices to fill the housing ‘missing middle,’ our report and its recommendations provide a comprehensive roadmap for change,” said Tarsi Dunlop, of the Crystal City Civic Association, in a statement.

The authors predict Amazon and the other commercial and residential development will displace existing residents, and recommend assistance and policies at the local and state level for renters and owners.

Ben D’Avanzo, of the Aurora Highlands Civic Association, said the report’s findings of “explicit racial restrictions and redlining” will supplement Arlington’s race and equity dialogues.

The Livability 22202 members said the group will now push for their recommendations to be adopted.

In a statement to ARLnow, Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey said she appreciates the hard work and the recommendations, many of which are consistent with the County’s goals.

“The County, too, wants to avoid displacement, increase the housing supply, and diversify housing choices,” she said.

In response to the assertion in the report that the County lacks political will to remove housing barriers, Garvey said county staff and the County Board are working with the community to do so while avoiding political backlash that could set them back.

“We are building political will,” she said. “The Board sees increasing the housing supply and access to housing as critical to Arlington’s long term sustainability and success as a community.”

The report is the result of workshops with renters, homeowners, experts and historians, as well as a study of the history of zoning and land use in the area and current barriers to adequate housing.

In addition to housing-related recommendations, the report also makes recommendations aimed ad strengthening local community cohesion.

Those recommendations include “creating both physical and digital spaces for community building, including a full-scope community center,” and “developing policies and processes to better include renters in the community, particularly addressing barriers to information sharing with residents of high-rises.”

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(Updated at 4 p.m.) When walking from a Metro station, pedestrians often pass large apartment buildings that transition quickly to detached, single-family homes on sizable lots.

That contrast reveals two problems in Arlington County’s housing supply, says Emily Hamilton, a housing expert and advocate, and the Director of the Urbanity Project at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

Arlington needs to allow for more expansive urban villages around Metro stations, as well as additional housing options in between apartment buildings and detached, single-family homes, she said.

Her remarks come one month after Arlington County kicked off its “Missing Middle Housing Study,” which is examining whether the county should introduce housing types that have been typically prohibited from many neighborhoods.

Hamilton commended Arlington as a national model for transit-oriented development, since it allows dense, multi-family apartment buildings within one-quarter mile of the Metro stations on the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor. But the County never changed the zoning ordinances to fully bring the plan to fruition, and she said it needs to.

“Ahead of Metro’s arrival in Arlington, county policymakers adopted the well-known ‘bulls eye approach’ to planning, which calls for dense development surrounding the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor Metro stations,” she wrote on the website Market Urbanism earlier this month. “Unfortunately, this plan has never been realized in the zoning ordinance.”

“The County maintains single-family or townhouse zoning within one-quarter mile of four stations on this corridor and a relatively low-density multifamily zone within one-quarter mile of the Rosslyn station,” she continued. “The County needs more townhouses and low-rise multifamily housing, but it also needs more high-rise multifamily housing as the bulls eye plan recognized. Given the high and rising land values and house prices along this corridor, it’s past time to realize this decades-old planning objective.”

“People are willing to walk a quarter-mile to a half-mile for transit generally, and farther for heavy-rail stations like the Metro,” Hamilton told ARLnow in a subsequent interview. At least an extra block or two could be converted into denser housing around the stations in Ballston, Virginia Square, Clarendon, Courthouse and Rosslyn, she said.

One such opportunity is in the Lyon Village neighborhood near Clarendon.

“North of the Clarendon Metro station is the largest chunk of that quarter-mile circle where there is low-density housing, and of course, that is where the single family homes are extraordinarily expensive,” said Hamilton. “It’s certainly a spot where denser development would make economic sense.”

Another example of low-density development around Metro is at East Falls Church, where there are single-family homes across the street from the station. A development plan for the area approved in 2011 but fizzled out, after facing strong opposition from local residents.

“There is a big opportunity” to build multi-family housing in the East Falls Church area, Hamilton said. New development would encourage more people to take Metro to work, and would have a positive overall environmental impact by cutting down on driving, she said.

While transit-oriented development has many positives, the relative lack of a middle ground between big apartment and condo buildings and single-family homes is “extremely stark,” Hamilton said.

“There is a missing price point in Arlington both because of the county’s high-income and the region’s unwillingness — compared to other coastal regions — to permit multi-family housing,” she said.

Recent calls to rezone some neighborhoods to allow smaller-scale multi-family homes would not outlaw single-family homes, Hamilton said. Rather, owners would be allowed to replace or convert houses into duplexes and townhouses, if they so choose. Still, the prospect of rezoning has already prompted opposition, making any changes an uphill battle politically.

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Morning Notes

Coronavirus Outbreak at Marymount — A COVID-19 outbreak has been reported at Marymount University in Arlington. “Initially, cases were identified over Columbus Day weekend and we’ve seen a decline in the total number of cases since October 21,” university spokesman Nicholas Munson told Patch. “To date over the more than two-week period, 31 students have tested positive.” [Patch]

New Charges Against Arlington Resident — “Prosecutors in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, on Tuesday unveiled 15 felony charges against a pair of right-wing operatives over a recent robocall aimed at discouraging minority voters from casting their ballots by mail, similar to an indictment filed earlier this month by authorities in Michigan… The Ohio robocall claimed to be the work of the 1599 Project, an outfit that Burkman and Wohl run out of Burkman’s home in Arlington, Virginia.” [StateScoop]

Missing Middle Housing Event Tonight — “The Missing Middle Housing Study will explore how new housing types could help address Arlington’s shortfall in housing supply and gaps in housing choices. All members of the community are invited to virtually attend the study’s kick off” from 7-9 p.m. tonight. [Arlington County]

Home Sale Prices Still Going Up — “The housing market in Arlington County, Virginia, is not cooling off, with sales and prices showing among the biggest gains in the nation in September. The median price of what sold in Arlington County last month was $710,000. That’s the highest county-level median price in Northern Virginia, and up 21% from last September.” [WTOP]

Library Pumpkin Decorating Winners — “We are thrilled to have received 42 pumpkin submissions for our first virtual Pumpkin Decorating Contest! It was hard to choose the winners, as we adored so many. Thank you for submitting, attending the virtual decorating programs and carving out fun with the folks at the library!” [Arlington Public Library]

Local Lawyer Pens New Novel — “By day, Jim Irving is a sixty-something, buttoned-up attorney, a partner in a prestigious Northern Virginia law firm. By night, he is a writer tapping into his past experiences as a private eye and criminal lawyer. In his debut novel, Friends Like These: A Joth Proctor Fixer Mystery, the first in a planned trilogy, Irving draws heavily on his Arlington environs in crafting the adventures of his protagonist.” [Washington Independent Review of Books]

Rosslyn Outdoor Coworking Space Update — “Arlingtonians have about a month left to enjoy outdoor office space provided by the Rosslyn Business Improvement District (BID). The space, dubbed O2, was created after the pandemic pushed employees out of their cubicles and into their home offices… Reservations are free of charge and can be made on the O2 website. Masks are required for entry and tables are six feet apart.” [WDVM]

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