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Report: Arlington Boasts One of the ‘Healthiest’ Housing Markets in the Country

Arlington has one of the “healthiest” housing markets in the country thanks to a stable supply of affordable homes, according to a new study.

The financial research firm SmartAsset ranked the county first in Virginia and 24th in the nation in a new evaluation of the country’s largest housing markets.

Arlington earned those high marks based on four factors the firm considered in weighing whether homeowners can easily sell their homes with a low risk of losing money: stability, affordability, fluidity and risk of loss. SmartAsset found the county performed best when it came to demand for homes, based on how long the average house stayed on the market — Arlington homes are available for an average of 41.9 days, well below the national average of 52.5 days.

The firm also found that home costs tend to take up about 20.1 percent of the average Arlington homeowner’s income, a touch below the national average of 22 percent, which also helped the county score well in these rankings. However, Arlington’s high income levels surely impacted that statistic.

SmartAsset also determined that just 10.9 percent of county homeowners have negative equity on their homes, increasing the risk of foreclosure, another statistic below the national average.

Arlingtonians stay in their homes for an average of 11.3 years, below both the state and national averages, lending some fluidity to the market as well.

The one factor where the county scored poorly compared to some of its peers is the percentage of homes decreasing in value — 22.2 percent of Arlington’s homes are dropping in value at the moment, compared to 13.8 percent nationally.

Overall, SmartAsset ranked Buffalo, New York; Fremont, California; and Colorado Springs, Colorado as the top three healthiest markets nationwide.

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Real Estate Tax Break Program for Seniors Set to Change Next Year

(Updated at 1 p.m.) Some changes are on the way for Arlington’s real estate tax relief program for seniors, though officials declined pursue the sort of sweeping overhaul favored by some in the community.

The County Board approved a series of tweaks to the program’s eligibility criteria Saturday (July 14), in a bid to better realize the county’s goal of helping older Arlingtonians stay in their homes even as values, and associated tax bills, creep upward.

Starting next year, the program will be open to homeowners age 65 or older and people with disabilities, with an annual income of up to $99,472 and household assets — excluding the home itself — up to $400,000, a slight increase from the old $340,000 limit. The county is also now letting people apply for an exemption from 75 percent of their tax bill, when the program previously only let homeowners try for an exemption from their full bill, half of it or a quarter of it.

“This is important not just for a compassionate community, but a community that works,” said Board Vice Chair Christian Dorsey.

To make up for some of this expansion in eligibility, the newly revised program stipulates that the top earners eligible to apply for tax relief — households making anywhere from $80,000 to $99,472 per year — can only apply for deferrals on their tax bills, not exemptions. Yet even that change frustrated some in the county, who would’ve preferred to see the Board move to a deferral-only system instead.

“I absolutely cannot understand why we want to help out the heirs in Spokane of people who are receiving an exemption,” Dave Schutz, a local activist and ARLnow comment section veteran, told the Board.

Caitlin Hutchison, an assistant director in the county’s Department of Human Services, said staff and a working group convened on the issue considered such a policy change, but ultimately decided against it. She noted that the city of Hampton moved to a deferral-only system, only to change course after many homeowners with reverse mortgages “almost immediately received notice that foreclosure proceedings would initiate” when tax bills came due.

“I have no interest in protecting inheritances,” said Board Chair Katie Cristol. “I am concerned that folks can stay in their home without a notification of eviction or having to leave the county.”

Hutchison also noted that the program broadly does not serve the wealthiest Arlingtonians — 76 percent of households who applied for the program last year had an annual income of $60,000 or less, and total assets of $100,000 or less. Since the tax relief changes were first proposed, the Board also added new limits on the eligibility of owners of properties valued at $1 million or more.

But Kathryn Scruggs, a longtime affordable housing advocate and member of the working group discussing the issue, argued that the program needs an even more substantial makeover to serve solely homeowners with “low incomes, low asset levels and lower than average home values.”

“There is no justification for increasing the asset limit, that just diverts resources from the people who need it most,” Scruggs said.

The revised program is indeed likely to cost the county an extra $154,000 in tax revenue each year. But Hutchison argued that the asset limit changes will help homeowners keep pace with rising home values, and stay in the county longer.

The tweaks will also help Arlington keep pace with its neighbors, Hutchison said, as both Alexandria and Loudoun County have higher asset limits for similar programs.

And as the county struggles to manage a surge in its student population, Dorsey argued that it can only be a good thing for Arlington to keep older residents in their homes for as long as possible.

“Typically when seniors leave their homes, they’re not replaced by seniors,” Dorsey said. “The more we concentrate our housing stock on families with children, the more it creates pressures in other areas.”

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Morning Notes

Metro Leaders Square Off with Union Over Strike Threat — The transit service is still negotiating with its largest union to avert a strike, though details remain murky. Virginia’s Republican lawmakers in Richmond are urging Gov. Ralph Northam to ask a federal court to intervene to prevent any work stoppage. [Washington Post]

County Board Approves Incentives for DoD Tenant — Arlington officials agreed to spend $8 million over the next decade to keep the Office of Naval Research in a Ballston office building. [InsideNova]

Landscapers Spruce Up Arlington National Cemetery — Roughly 400 landscapers from the National Association of Landscape Professionals for Renewal and Remembrance donated their time to work on the cemetery Monday. [WTOP]

“Evictions in Arlington” Forum Set for Tonight — The county and its Tenant Landlord Commission is hosting a panel discussion the issue at 6:30 p.m. at the Department of Human Services building (2100 Washington Blvd). The conversation will center on “resources and gaps, opportunities and challenges” in preventing evictions. [Arlington County]

Flickr pool photo via wolfkann

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Dorsey: Stop Trying to ‘Protect Neighborhoods’ from Density

County Board Vice Chair Christian Dorsey is urging people around Arlington to embrace density in their communities and abandon the idea of “protecting” certain neighborhoods from development.

Without that sort of shift in mentality, Dorsey expects the county will never meet its stated goals of bringing down housing costs and making Arlington more accessible for people of all income levels.

“We have to look inward and look at ourselves and some of the things that are holding us back,” Dorsey told the audience at last month’s annual Leckey Forum put on by Arlington’s Alliance for Housing Solutions. “We can’t kid ourselves into thinking we can have it both ways, to tout our progressive bonafides with housing and affordability while also accepting the framework that certain neighborhoods need to be protected. Ask ourselves: protected from what?”

Dorsey would concede that he doesn’t want to “change in any way the notion that neighborhoods are for people who want to grow their families and stay in Arlington for generations.”

But he did challenge people in wealthier neighborhoods to consider that fighting against more dense development often amounts to “preserving a level of unaffordability and segregation” that already exists across the county.

“Often, you hear, ‘We want to mitigate density, we want to concentrate density in certain areas, we want density to be something that we don’t deal with,” Dorsey said. “If that’s our framework and our paradigm, we are losing a key tool to deal with affordability.”

In the past, some critics have charged that the county is facilitating the overdevelopment of affordable housing in places like the western end of Columbia Pike while exempting large swaths of affluent North Arlington from more affordable development.

Dorsey sees the constant churn of redevelopment of small, single-family homes into ever larger homes on the same property as helping to contribute to this problem, arguing that “the whole idea that we have one dwelling per lot and we allow for the increase in footprint on said lots, that absolutely factors into our affordability challenge.”

“It restricts housing supply and increases the pricing of housing on those parcels,” Dorsey said.

Dorsey acknowledges that forcing this sort of shift in attitudes won’t be easy, however, and he lamented that “the pursuit of effective public policies to achieve these outcomes are often thwarted by political considerations.”

Yet he also has hope that “these considerations… are not immutable,” and he believes people in the county will prove to be receptive to his arguments, if they’re framed correctly.

“What I hear as often as, ‘We want to protect our neighborhoods and mitigate density,’ is that ‘I want my neighborhood to be a place where I can interact with people of diverse backgrounds, I want my kids to go to school where they interact with people from diverse communities and diverse life experiences,'” Dorsey said. “We need to hold people to that, and engage them on those levels and expose them to tools to actually make that a reality.”

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Report: Arlington Will Add 24,000 New Homes Through 2040

Crystal City is set to add 5,300 homes over the next 20 years, leading the way among all of Arlington’s Metro corridors, according to county projections.

In all, the county will likely see a total of 24,000 new homes built between 2020 and 2040, according to the “Arlington Profile 2018” released by the county this spring.

County staff believe Crystal City will have a total of 9,500 housing units by 2020, up from 7,924 in 2010, and see that number jump to 14,800 by 2040. Should that happen, Crystal City will be the Arlington community with the most housing available, and that level of growth will far outpace its fellow Metro-accessible neighborhoods of Ballston and Rosslyn.

The county projects that Ballston will have 9,200 homes in total two years from now, placing it just behind Crystal City. But by 2040, Ballston will have 11,600 units in all, or 3,200 fewer homes than Crystal City.

By 2020, researchers expect Rosslyn will have 8,700 homes, but they project the neighborhood will surge into second place by 2040, with 12,700 homes in total.

Pentagon City will add the third-most homes over the next two decades, county staffers estimate, jumping from a projected 6,600 units in 2020 to 8,300 homes in 2040.

Clarendon, the Metro-accessible neighborhood with the smallest amount of housing available, is only set to grow from a projected 3,700 homes in 2020 to 4,600 in 2040. Courthouse is also projected to add 900 homes over the same time period, growing from 8,300 units to 9,200.

The county projects Virginia Square will add the fewest homes of anywhere in Arlington, growing from 4,600 homes to 5,400 by 2040.

With a projected total of 143,000 homes two decades from now, staffers expect that Arlington will add slightly more housing than residents between 2020 and 2040. The county is expecting to have a population of 238,300 by 2020 and jump to 287,600 by 2040, an increase of 22,700.

Researchers project a similarly large jump in jobs in the county — Arlington has 224,000 jobs right now and is projected to have 261,000 jobs by 2040, a jump of 37,000.

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Despite Hefty Rent Prices, Arlington Ranked Among Top Places for Solo Renters

Arlington has one of the highest median rent prices in the entire country, yet the county still ranks among the top places people can afford to live alone.

That’s according to a new study of 100 of the nation’s largest cities and counties by the financial data research firm SmartAsset. The company ranked Arlington 17th among that group for places where renters have the financial wherewithal live alone, largely because of the robust median income level of the county’s workers.

SmartAsset found that full-time employees in Arlington have a median income of just over $90,000 a year, putting the county at the top of the list among the firm’s top 25 places where renters can afford to go solo.

The county’s median monthly rent of $1,657 was also the most expensive of any other city on the company’s top 25 list, yet Arlington still ranked ahead of other large cities for renters looking to live alone, including San Francisco and Denver.

For context, the median income in D.C. is just over $75,500 a year. SmartAsset didn’t immediately have median rent prices available for the District, but real estate listing firm Zillow found that the median rent in the city was about $2,146 a month last year.

Arlington also scored high marks in SmartAsset’s rankings for its stock of homes with less than two bedrooms. In all, the company found that 36.5 percent of homes for rent in the county have one bedroom or are studio apartments.

Cincinnati, Omaha and Minneapolis ranked as the firm’s top three cities where renters can live alone. The full rankings are available on the company’s website.

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Report: Arlington Has Lost More Than 14,500 Market-Rate Affordable Homes Since 2000

Rent prices on more than 14,500 homes in Arlington have surged past rates deemed “market affordable” since 2000, according to a new report.

In an evaluation of affordable housing around the region, the Northern Virginia Housing Alliance found that the county has seen steep declines in the number of homes affordable for people making 60 percent of the area’s median income. In Arlington, federal officials set those levels at $49,260 a year for a one-person household and $70,320 for a four-person household.

The county had only 2,245 homes on the market affordable for people at those income levels through the end of 2017, the group wrote. The affordable housing advocacy group also determined that the county lost 335 homes affordable for people at those income levels over the course of 2017 alone.

At the same time, the county added 276 homes with rent prices specifically “committed” to remain affordable last year, “despite significant expenditures of local resources,” the group’s researchers found. In all, the county had 7,729 committed affordable units last year, or “approximately half of what has been lost in the last 17 years.”

County officials have long eyed this issue, and Arlington is hardly alone among its Northern Virginia neighbors when it comes to dealing with spiking rent prices. The group found that Alexandria and Fairfax County are dealing with similar trends, particularly as the D.C. region’s population continues to grow.

But with the potential arrival of tech giants like Amazon and Apple, the researchers warn that Arlington officials need to take a hard look at these numbers and put a focus on preserving the affordable homes already available.

“Preventing the further loss of rental units available to low- and moderate-income households is critical to expanding economic opportunity and supporting the region’s growth,” the group wrote. “In a resource-constrained environment, bridging the affordability gap requires stemming the loss of the existing stock of affordable homes.”

The researchers awarded the county government high marks for how it approaches the issue generally, but it also urged leaders to move ahead with plans to provide additional incentives for developers to both build and renovate affordable homes.

Additionally, the group urged local officials to work with “non-traditional, mission-driven developers” to help them acquire properties that might otherwise be used for high-priced apartments or condos.

“As budgets remain constrained and competing priorities emerge, it is important now more than ever that the region’s leaders work together to develop a range of creative solutions to create mixed-income communities that provide a range of housing choices,” the researchers wrote.

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Morning Notes

It’s Summer — Today is the first day of summer and the longest day of the year in terms of daylight. [Fortune]

Verizon 911 Outage Updated at 11:40 a.m. — From Arlington Alert: “Due to a regional Verizon outage, Verizon mobile phones may not be able to reach 9-1-1 or non-emergency numbers in the area at this time. Please use Text-to-9-1-1 or another phone carrier if the voice call does not go through.” Callers in Alexandria, Fairfax and Prince William are also affected by the outage. Service was restored around 11 a.m. [Twitter, WJLA]

Crash Leads to All-Time Terrible Commute — Yesterday’s evening commute was “atrocious” and the “worst I’ve ever seen” in Northern Virginia, per transportation reporter Adam Tuss. Traffic was especially slow on northbound I-395 and the northbound GW Parkway approaching D.C., after a deadly and fiery truck crash shut down a portion of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and the Capital Beltway. [WTOP, Twitter, Twitter]

New Details in Police Shooting — There are new details in the police shooting of a man near Columbia Pike last month. According to court records, Steven Best and his passenger “were involved in a drug transaction with a man outside a hotel.” Police then boxed in his van to make an arrest, but Best allegedly tried to flee, driving “forwards and backwards, striking multiple police cars,” leading to the shooting. Best’s family, which has questioned the police account of what happened, says they have a video of the shooting. [WJLA]

Housing Costs Still Rising — The average per-square-foot cost of an existing home in Arlington is now $475, an increase of 1.3 percent compared to last year and the highest such figure among Northern Virginia localities. [InsideNova]

New ACPD Officers — Ten new Arlington police officers took the oath of honor to protect and serve the residents of Arlington County earlier this week after graduating from the Northern Virginia Criminal Justice Training Academy. [Twitter]

Bishop Burbidge on World Refugee Day — Catholic Diocese of Arlington Bishop Michael Burbidge released a statement in honor of World Refugee Day yesterday, saying in part: “may we… stand with refugees and commemorate their courage, resilience and perseverance. May we always remember to ‘treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and … love him as yourself, for [we] were strangers in the land of Egypt’ (Leviticus19:34).” [Arlington Catholic Herald, Twitter]

Food Truck Inspections — The Arlington County Fire Department has been performing inspections this week of food trucks that operate in Arlington. Officials have been specifically looking at fire suppression systems and the storage of cooking fuels. [Twitter]

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Real Estate Tax Break Program for Seniors Could See Eligibility Changes

Arlington officials are set to move ahead with changes to the county’s real estate tax relief program, a policy designed to help older Arlingtonians stay in their homes amid rising property values.

The program is currently open to homeowners age 65 or older and people with disabilities, with an annual income of up to $99,472 and household assets — excluding the home itself — up to $340,000.

But the County Board could agree to advertise changes today (Tuesday) that would bump up the total asset limit and change how the county awards tax exemptions by income level.

“This is really for folks who tend to be on limited or restricted income, where their homes have appreciated in value to the point where it makes it hard to stay in that home,” County Board Chair Katie Cristol told ARLnow. “This is not a sweeping overhaul of the program… it’s about efficacy, making sure the program reaches the people who qualify for it.”

The proposed policy changes would increase the asset limit to $400,000 to account for rising home values, and allow the county to adjust that amount annually as property values and the area’s median income level changes.

The Board is also considering allowing people apply for an exemption from 75 percent of their total tax bill, based on their income level — previously, the county only offered a full exemption, relief from half of the tax bill or relief from a quarter of the bill.

For the very top earners allowed to apply for tax relief — households making anywhere from $80,000 to $99,472 per year — the policy change would restrict them to only applying for a deferral from the taxes, not a full exemption. Previously, the policy allowed households making that much to apply for 25 percent or 50 percent exemption, but only if at least four people lived in the home in question.

County staff estimate that about 90 of the 915 households who apply for the program could lose their exemptions under that change, but they expect many would still receive a deferral instead.

Cristol notes that this proposal is the result of roughly two years of effort by a working group convened by the Board to study the issue. She doesn’t expect that the changes will result in some sort of major fiscal impact to the county — staff wrote in a Board report that Arlington will lose about $154,000 in annual revenue under these proposed changes — but merely better target the program at reaching people who need it.

“The goal is to tighten it and make it more effective as a program, not lower obstacles for participation,” Cristol said. “This is not a large scale policy change.”

According to a report prepared by county staff for the Board, 76 percent of households who applied for the program last year had an annual income of $60,000 or less, and total assets of $100,000 or less.

Should the Board approve the request to advertise item on its agenda today, the county would hold a public hearing at the Board’s July 14 meeting.

Photo via Arlington County

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Morning Notes

Happy Trails to Barry TrotzArlington resident and Stanley Cup winning coach Barry Trotz is stepping down as head coach of the Washington Capitals. (A number of Caps coaches and players call Arlington home, given that the team’s home base is the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Ballston.) [Washington Post, WJLA]

Crash Closes Departures Roadway at DCA — A vehicle crash and the subsequent cleanup effort closed the departure level roadway for an extended period of time yesterday. “A car with three occupants accidentally ended up on a jersey wall and rode along it for approximately 100 yards before coming back down,” an Arlington County Fire Department spokesman told ARLnow.com. “One occupant had minor injuries, but none were transported.” [Twitter, Twitter]

Neighborhood Battles to Save Tree — “Another development-preservation battle is gearing up in Arlington, this one focused on the fate of a dawn redwood on Ohio Street… A petition was recently initiated by Todd Murdock who lives several houses away from the tree. In a day the petition had 500 signatures and by June 10 the number of signatures had grown to more than 700.” [Arlington Connection]

Kaine on Housing Affordability, Amazon — U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) swung by Clarendon on Monday to speak at a forum on housing affordability. He believes localities like Arlington that are dealing with skyrocketing rents need help from the federal government, but he lamented that the Trump administration’s policies could be actively making the problem worse. Afterwards, he told a reporter that rush hour traffic may be a significant detriment to Northern Virginia’s bid for Amazon’s HQ2. [Twitter, Washington Business Journal]

Nearby: Wawa Coming to Georgetown — Rosslyn residents and workers may be able to walk — or take a gondola? — to the next D.C. Wawa. The convenience store chain plans to open in the former Restoration Hardware space on Wisconsin Avenue NW. [Washington Business Journal]

Photo courtesy @NineTiger

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Would Amazon HQ2’s Arrival Supercharge Arlington’s Growth Or Just Change its Timing?

Concerns abound about how the arrival of Amazon’s second headquarters might squeeze an already space-starved county — but could HQ2 merely speed up population growth in Arlington that would inevitably happen over time even if Amazon chooses another location?

It’s a possibility that county leaders say they’re increasingly beginning to consider, as Arlington has emerged as a top contender to earn HQ2, among its competitors both locally and nationally.

The way Arlington County Board Chair Katie Cristol sees it, the D.C. region is already set to grow exponentially in the next few decades. For instance, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments projects that 1.5 million people will move to the area by 2045, an estimate worked up long before Amazon cast its eye towards the region.

Accordingly, Cristol reasons that Amazon’s arrival in Arlington would indeed prompt a sudden surge in growth in the county, but not substantially change how officials are preparing to handle an ever-growing population.

“It’s not as though we are in this perfect equilibrium now and Amazon will upset the apple cart,” Cristol told ARLnow. “Growth is coming to this region… but I think Amazon could really force the issue by probably condensing how fast that growth could happen, maybe we’re talking 10 years over 20.”

That’s why she says county officials are already putting such an intense focus on issues like affordable housing and transportation, and encouraging residents to do the same. She sees the “Big Idea Roundtables” the county is convening this month as a key step in the process, designing them as forums for people to have frank discussions about all of the problems and opportunities associated with the county’s growth in the coming years.

Cristol fully expects many of those conversations to center around the arrival of huge companies like Amazon, or perhaps Apple. But, as she tries to take a long view of the region’s future, she expects they’ll be helpful no matter what Jeff Bezos decides.

“Whether Amazon comes and hastens that [growth] or whether Amazon doesn’t come and the general projected job growth and population growth comes over a longer period of time, the questions and the need for the community conversation are the same,” Cristol said.

Amazon critics, however, are less convinced that leaders like Cristol should accept such growth as unavoidable. Margaret McLaughlin, chair of the Metro D.C. Democratic Socialists of America, says her group has led a campaign highlighting HQ2’s potentially negative impacts on marginalized communities in order to get officials thinking differently about the region’s future.

“By them saying that growth is coming inevitably, they’re taking their own agency out of the economic decisions they’re making,” McLaughlin said. “Rents are going to go up, and that ends up pushing out renters, people of color, people working in the service industry… so they’re ones making choices, they’re pushing families out. They’re making the economic situation better for the rich and worse for the poor.”

Other experts wonder if Cristol is even right in believing that Amazon might speed up growth in the area, but not fundamentally change it. Yolanda Cole, owner of a D.C. architecture firm and chair of the Urban Land Institute’s Washington District Council, thinks that sort of assumption is “unrealistic.”

“If they come here, it’s not just Amazon on the way,” Cole said. “It’s going to be all the companies and people who serve Amazon.”

Jenny Schuetz, who studies housing policy as part of the Brookings Institute’s Metropolitan Policy Program, cautioned that it’s likely too early to tell if Cristol is right until Amazon reveals more about their hiring plans at any future HQ2 in Arlington. However, she does agree with Cristol’s broad point about the region, noting that the arrival of the second headquarters would still have “localized impacts as it grows.”

“Someplace like Crystal City could absorb it easily, since there’s a lot vacant office space, but the question is whether workers would live close by,” Schuetz said. “Somewhere like Ballston would have a lot more of the residential infrastructure and amenities nearby… but housing there is already in such high demand.”

Cristol stresses that those neighborhoods are likely to wrestle with those same issues in the coming years, regardless of whether Amazon shows up one day.

“The pressures are coming,” she said. “So how do we deal with them?”

File photo

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Morning Notes

More Capacity for Yorktown, Career Center — The Arlington County Board this weekend is expected to approve use permit amendments that will allow 300 additional seats at Yorktown High School, thanks to internal modifications, and another 200 seats at the Arlington Tech program within the Arlington Career Center. [InsideNova]

Crystal City BID Considering Expansion — “The Crystal City Business Improvement District is weighing plans to include Pentagon City and Potomac Yard within its borders, creating a single, unified submarket that could also serve as a larger canvass for Amazon.com Inc. as it homes in on potential locations for its second headquarters.” [Washington Business Journal]

Entry-Level Homes Remain Sparse — One of the challenges facing the real estate market in Arlington and Northern Virginia as a whole is a dearth of entry-level homes for sale. Likewise, the inventory of homes for sale in general is low. Said one agent: “In hot areas like Merrifield, Arlington, Reston and Tysons, my buyers are experiencing multiple-offer situations.” [InsideNova]

ACFD Removes Handcuffs from Student’s Wrist — “Interesting call of the day: When you’re playing with handcuffs and the key breaks! [Rescue] 109 cut off a pair of handcuffs that had got stuck on a student’s wrist. No injuries except a broken pair of cuffs.” [Twitter]

GGW Endorses in County Board Race — The urbanist website Greater Greater Washington has endorsed Matt de Ferranti in the Democratic Arlington County Board primary. de Ferranti told the website that he supports “building housing that would be affordable across a variety of incomes and available to younger workers who can build income and own homes in the future.” [Greater Greater Washington]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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Transportation Planners Invite Arlingtonians to ‘Visualize 2045’

Transportation planners are inviting Arlingtonians to look three decades into the region’s future at a meeting tomorrow night.

The National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board is hosting a public forum focusing on its “Visualize 2045” initiative at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday (May 2) at the Arlington Central Library.

The organization — which includes representatives of 22 local governments around the D.C. region and a variety of other federal, state and local transportation officials — is convening a series of town halls on its long-range plans for the area over the coming weeks.

The group wants feedback on seven broad goals for the region:

  • Bring jobs and housing closing together
  • Expand bus rapid transit regionwide
  • Move more people on Metrorail
  • Provide more telecommuting and other options for commuting
  • Expand express highway network
  • Improve walk and bike access to transit
  • Complete the “National Capital Trail

While officials are already working on some of these goals, others are deemed more aspirational and need funding to become a reality. But Transportation Planning Board officials hope to get public feedback on all of them to shape the development of policies to support these benchmarks.

Anyone who can’t make it to the meeting but still wants to submit comments on the plan can do so on the group’s website through May 31.

Photo via National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board

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Avg. Home Sale Price in Arlington Dipped Slightly in February

The average sale price of homes in Arlington dipped in February compared to one year prior, the first such dip for the month since 2014.

That’s according to data from the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors, which releases historical monthly data for the region and for localities including Arlington.

The general trend for February home sales has been up, however, since February 2010.

Despite the decrease in the average sale price, the number of homes — including condos, townhomes and single-family detached houses — sold in February 2018 was up 3.6 percent year over year, with a total of 175 homes sold. Selling prices were 1.48 percent less than the asking prices.

The median home selling price in Arlington in February, meanwhile, was up 0.44 percent to $532,353.

Average sale prices can be affected by changes in the mix of the types of homes sold. For instance, a higher percentage of condos — which typically sell for less than single-family homes — sold may cause a dip in the average. In February 2018, 62% of the homes sold in Arlington were condos, compared to 58% in February 2017.

Update at 5 p.m. — Another source of local real estate data, Bright MLS, is reporting a jump in Arlington’s median home selling price in March.

“Arlington County led the region for price, with a median selling price in March of $564,250,” WTOP reported Tuesday afternoon. “That’s up 11 percent from a year ago and topped D.C.’s median price of $555,451, which was up 3.8 percent.”

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Project to Ask Local Artists About Housing and Other Needs

Arlington Cultural Affairs plans on surveying artists within a 50-mile radius of the county as part of a proposal to bring affordable artist housing to Arlington.

feasibility study said that such a survey would “definitively reveal whether a market for artist housing exists and whether an affordable housing-funded model… would be considered affordable by prospective, income-qualifying tenants.”

The survey will ask artists to “express their interest” in the affordable housing project and detail their “current and future needs in a live/work space,” according to an event page for a presentation and question and answer session which will kick off the “Arts Market” survey.

That presentation, on Thursday (March 22) from 6-8 p.m. at the Arlington Arts Center, will precede a reception where artists can take the survey and mingle.

The survey is expected to cost between $30,000 and $42,500 and would be paid for by the nonprofit Arlington Foundation for Arts and Innovation, which also paid for the preliminary feasibility study.

Artspace, the national arts non-profit based in Minneapolis, Minn., that is collaborating with Arlington Cultural Affairs, has so far led four focus groups to discuss area artist housing needs, according to the study.

The feasibility found that “affordable housing and live/work space was expressed as a need, particularly in the context of anticipated rising rents and the increasing lack of affordable for-sale housing” and cited community feedback that there wasn’t a central artistic gathering place.

That study pointed out four potential neighborhoods for the project — Virginia Square, Columbia Pike, Crystal City, and the Four Mile Run Valley — but specifically noted that central Rosslyn didn’t make sense for the project because of the density and traffic congestion.

Artspace has already finished two projects in the area, in Washington and in Mount Rainier, Md., and is set to launch another in Silver Spring, Md., later this year.

“It is clear that area jurisdictions are finding that communities are strengthened and made vibrant by a strong arts presence,” wrote Jim Byers, the Arlington Cultural Affairs marketing director, in an email to ARLnow.com.

“The Arts Market Survey is the next step towards determining how Arlington might best leverage the creative energies that exist in our region and encourage still more artists to make their home here.”

File photo

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