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A new affordable housing community is officially open in Rosslyn.

Queens Court Apartments at 1615 18th Street N. is a 12-story, 249-unit apartment building within a quarter mile of the Rosslyn and Courthouse metro stations. The complex is made of two towers, one with 90 units and the other with 159 units, with a mix of studios and 1-, 2- and 3- bedroom units, which will remain affordable for the next 75 years.

The Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing’s $107 million project, which has amenity spaces, community rooms and local art, was delivered under budget and ahead of schedule by construction company Donohoe, according to APAH. The complex replaces 39 garden apartments that were built in 1940.

Queens Court Apartments, APAH’s sixth new development, is part of an array of changes coming to the Rosslyn area this year. Across the street, developer Penzance is set to finish three apartment buildings and a new Fire Station 10 this summer and fall, as well as the Rosslyn Highlands Park this winter. APAH today unveiled a 9,000 square-foot playground on its property that is a northern extension of the forthcoming park.

“We are excited to be cutting the ribbon, signifying a new chapter in the lives of 249 individuals and families who will call this community home,” said APAH president and CEO Nina Janopaul, who is stepping down this week after 14 years with the nonprofit.

She said the development — “our largest and most ambitious project to date” — will make “a significant dent in meeting the area’s affordable housing goals and provides beautiful, affordable homes to essential workers, seniors, and so many others earning 60% or less of the Area Median Income.”

That also includes nine units are set aside for adults with disabilities, according to Our Stomping Ground, a nonprofit that fosters community among adults with disabilities living independently.

The project drew on a $16.7 million loan from Arlington County’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF), as well as loans and tax credits from Virginia Housing, Bank of America and other sponsors.

“Quality affordable housing units are in high demand in Arlington. This project adds to our supply of units and does so in a needed area of Rosslyn,” County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti said in a statement. “We are proud to support this project to help fulfill a critical goal we share with APAH: housing affordability for years to come in a location that is accessible and will help the neighborhood, residents, and our community thrive.”

The Queens Court project was included in the Western Rosslyn Area Planning Study, which the County Board kicked off in 2015.

APAH’s Executive Vice President and incoming CEO, Carmen Romero, participated in the study planning process. She said the original study included goals for new market rate housing, a fire station, a new school, and recreation and open space, but APAH pushed for the inclusion of affordable housing.

“APAH worked relentlessly to ensure affordable housing was a strategic addition to the plan, and fought to secure rezoning approval that would allow us to take a creative approach in maximizing density on the site,” she said.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Susan Dewey, CEO of Virginia Housing praised the project.

“With affordable housing continuing to be a challenge all across the country, these new apartments will help attract more folks to live, work, and raise a family in the Commonwealth,” said Warner, who toured the newly-built complex yesterday during a grand opening event.

Queens Court “will pay dividends in this community for years to come,” Dewey said.

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Developer Penzance is approaching the finish line for The Highlands development in Rosslyn, which includes a trio of residential towers, a fire station and a park.

One apartment building, named Aubrey, will be completed this summer, a spokeswoman said.

Early this fall, Penzance is set to deliver two residential buildings — apartment tower Evo and condo tower Pierce — as well as the new ACFD Fire Station 10, which is temporarily located at 1791 N. Quinn Street.

Construction on The Highlands started in October 2018. When finished, The Highlands will feature 780 luxury rental apartments, 104 condos and 40,000 square feet of retail space, in addition to the park and fire station.

Yesterday (Thursday), Penzance announced the start of leasing for apartments in Evo, a new milestone for the massive development. Leasing for Aubrey began March 1 and condo sales are ongoing for Pierce.

“We’re excited to begin leasing for Evo, the final residential tower coming to The Highlands,” said John Kusturiss, Penzance’s senior vice president of development and construction.

The 29-story building with more than 450 luxury apartments will feature a number of amenities, including a rock-climbing wall, a golf simulator, a dart alley and bar, a rooftop pool, grilling stations, and coworking lounges.

“Following The Highlands’ delivery, Rosslyn will also welcome the forthcoming Rosslyn Highlands Park that residents can enjoy,” a press release noted. The 26,000-square-foot park is set to be completed by the end of the calendar year, the spokeswoman said.

The Highlands is part of a flurry of construction in Rosslyn, including the recently completed Queens Court Residences affordable housing development (1801 N. Quinn Street), which will have its grand opening on Tuesday and which features a new playground on-site.

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On Saturday, the Arlington County Board is slated to award a contract to construct a playground in Rosslyn.

Construction on the Rosslyn Highlands Park Playground will begin when construction on the new Queens Court Residences affordable housing development (1801 N. Quinn Street) nears completion, in early 2021, according to the project page. The playground could open near the end of 2021.

The playground and the new Rosslyn Highlands Park are part of a flurry of construction activity in western Rosslyn, including the Queens Court redevelopment, the massive Highlands residential project (which will include a new fire station), and the new H-B Woodlawn school building, known as The Heights.

A concept for the 9,000 square-foot playground at 1615 18th Street N. was approved by the County Board last year. Bids were submitted in October 2020, and county staff recommend awarding the contract to the Donohoe Companies, one of 11 bidders.

The overall budget for this project is $1.56 million. Donahoe bid $1.33 million to build the project, the county is tacking on $133,000 in contingency, and the Queens Court developer — the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing — is chipping in $125,000.

“The new playground will include separate play areas with age-appropriate play equipment for pre-school and grade-school age children as well as extensive seating, native planting and bioretention stormwater management planters,” the report said. In addition to standard playground equipment, there will be a prominent climbing tower in the center.

After additional community engagement in 2018, more swings and seating were added to the plan.

The 9,000-square foot playground will be located within the Queens Court property. The 12-story apartment building, with 249 committed affordable housing units, was approved in February 2017.

Rosslyn Highlands Park Playground is part of the Rosslyn Highlands Park+ open space plan, which the County Board adopted in September of 2016.

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Arlington officials are sending another $8.8 million in loan funds to support the redevelopment of Queens Court in Rosslyn, supplying a nonprofit with the cash it needs to move ahead with construction of the new affordable housing complex.

The County Board unanimously approved the loan at its meeting Saturday (Jan. 26), committing a total of $16.7 million to the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing’s effort construct two new buildings on the property at 1801 N. Quinn Street.

In all, the developer plans to build 249 apartments at the site which are guaranteed to remain affordable to renters, replacing 39 garden apartments built back in 1940. One new building will have room for 90 apartments, earning loan funds from the county last February, while the other will have 159. That second phase of the development prompted the loan approved this weekend, which is drawn from the county’s “Affordable Housing Investment Fund.”

Most of the apartments, dubbed “committed affordable” units due to the nonprofit’s guarantee to hold rent prices steady for the next 75 years, will serve people making 80 percent of the Arlington’s “Area Median Income.” The county currently pegs that amount at $49,260 annually, for a household of just one person.

But some other homes will be set aside for people at 50 percent and 40 percent of the AMI, tabbed at $41,050 and $32,840 annually for one-person households, respectively.

“It’s a substantial project, with a lot of units,” said County Board Chair Christian Dorsey. “But, within those units, we’re providing some affordability that we don’t normally get.”

Dorsey also hailed the project as one that will “accomplish a lot of our objectives of our master plan” governing the county’s affordable housing goals, which stipulates that officials work to generate 585 new affordable homes each year. However, the county has consistently fallen short of meeting that goal since signing off on the plan four years ago.

The Queens Court project also includes a 9,000-square-foot public park and playground, which the Board also approved Saturday, designed as a northern extension of the new Rosslyn Highlands park. A developer building a new mixed-use complex around the corner, at 1555 Wilson Blvd, will add new green space to the area as it builds atop the existing park.

The county will shell out just under $1.5 million for the section of the park attached to Queens Court, while APAH will spend another $125,000 on the effort.

The nonprofit is hoping to have all its construction contracts for the Queens Court project drawn up by this spring, and hopes to wrap up work on the redevelopment sometime in 2021.

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Work is kicking off on a massive new development in West Rosslyn, and its developer is offering a first look at its plans to build three new residential towers, a new fire station and an improved Rosslyn Highlands Park.

The D.C. developer Penzance announced today (Monday) that it would be dubbing the project “The Highlands,” which will be located at 1555 Wilson Blvd.

In all, the development will include 104 condos, 780 apartments and 40,000 square feet of retail space, including a new CVS pharmacy replacing the old shop at the location that closed earlier this year.

The Highlands is the result of a years-long effort by county officials to guide the redevelopment of a busy section of Rosslyn while maintaining space for public amenities, including a new Fire Station 10 included in the development and a public school on the adjacent site of the old Wilson School. The 1.2 million-square-foot Highlands development will also be centered around a new park to replace the existing Rosslyn Highlands green space.

“The Highlands will establish a culturally-rich, welcoming, and lively urban-style space that aligns nature with architecture to create a pedestrian-friendly, connected environment, delivering equal parts D.C. culture with Northern Virginian charm,” John Kusturiss, Penzance’s vice president of development, said in a statement.

Penzance, which purchased the property at 1555 Wilson for $67 million back in 2011, has already kicked off initial preparations at the site. In all, the developer plans to build a 27-story tower featuring 449 apartments, a 26-story building populated by the 104 condos and a 23-story building with 331 apartments. Amenities at the site will include “a cabana-covered rooftop pool, private club deck and state-of-the-art fitness center,” according to a Penzance release.

The CVS is the only ground-floor retail tenant the developer has announced thus far, but it expects to unveil others soon. The construction will also include a “north-south connector street” to better connect Wilson Blvd to 18th Street N. for pedestrians, the developer said.

Penzance hopes to hold an official groundbreaking for the project on Oct. 24, and expects the entire project to be finished by 2021. The new Wilson school is set to open next fall.

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The Arlington County Board on Tuesday unanimously approved a $7.9 million loan to redevelop Queens Court, an affordable housing building in North Rosslyn.

The Affordable Housing Investment Fund loan would help build 249 affordable units at what will be called Queens Court South, yielding “a net gain of 388 bedrooms over the existing 39-unit building,” according to a county press release.

The existing Queens Court structure, built in 1940, has studio and one bedroom apartments. Queens Court South will have those configurations as well as two and three bedroom units, with more room for families.

The project also dedicates 9,000 square feet for a northern leg of Rosslyn Highlands Park, with a planned playground and tot lot.

The redevelopment is part of a Western Rosslyn Area Plan adopted in 2015 that will add a new fire station and public secondary school. Current Queens Court households will be relocated, and the new building will be required to remain affordable for 75 years.

County Board Chair Katie Cristol said the Board was “delighted to help” the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing, which is redeveloping the property.

Here’s more from the press release regarding the project’s financing:

APAH will apply to the Virginia Housing and Development Authority for competitive 9 percent low income housing tax credits for Queen’s Court South, which will contain 90 affordable units. If APAH is awarded the 9 percent low income housing tax credits by VHDA, the Board is expected to consider a second AHIF request of up to $11.8 million for the remaining 159 units this fall. Although Queen’s Court North and South will be separated into two land condominiums for financing purposes, the development will be built in one phase, with all 249 units in one building.

After the Board approved its Site Plan in February 2017, APAH submitted an AHIF application for $24 million as part of the County’s Fiscal Year 2018 Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) process for affordable housing funding, to redevelop the property. Staff selected the Queen’s Court project to move forward with AHIF negotiations and the public process.

During the negotiation process, APAH reduced the AHIF request for the entire development by $4.3 million. The AHIF reduction was a result of APAH working with VHDA to increase the amount of certain VHDA low interest loans that are being layered with the VHDA senior loan. APAH also agreed to contribute another $2 million in equity to the development resulting from the transfer of the property into the tax credit partnership.

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Rosslyn Highlands park (photo via Arlington County)Two people have been arrested after police interrupted their very public lovemaking in Rosslyn.

The incident happened behind Fire Station 10, in Rosslyn Highlands Park, according to scanner traffic.

“At approximately 3:32 p.m. on March 22, officers were dispatched to the report of two subjects allegedly engaged in sexual activity in public view,” Arlington County Police said in a crime report. “As officers were conducting the investigation, the female subject charged at the officer and struck him repeatedly.”

“Nicole Faircloth, 42, of No Fixed Address was arrested and charged with assault and battery on police and performing a sexual act in a public place,” the crime report continued. “Petko Ubiparipovic, 42, of No Fixed Address, was arrested and charged with performing a sexual act in a public place. Both were held on bond.”

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Following a recommendation from county staff, the Arlington County Board on Saturday voted to locate a temporary fire station next to the future Rosslyn home of the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program.

Fire Station 10 will be temporarily relocated to the corner of N. Quinn Street and 18th Street, not far from the current fire station, which is set to be torn down. The old, stand-alone station will be replaced with a modern fire station at the bottom of a new mixed-use development; developer Penzance will be paying for its construction.

A number of alternative temporary fire station locations were considered but found to be lacking. In approving the location — despite the objections of H-B Woodlawn parents — County Board Chair Libby Garvey said in a statement that the Board made the best choice in a difficult situation.

This was a very tough decision for the Board. And we know that there will be members of the community who are disappointed. I think everyone will agree, however, that we listened to the community’s concerns and launched a thorough search for an alternative that would meet the criteria of providing fire protection and emergency medical services to Rosslyn, at a reasonable cost to taxpayers. We acknowledge that this solution will need to be accompanied by serious efforts to mitigate the impact of the fire station on the Wilson school site and the students who will be learning there. We have always said the redevelopment of Western Rosslyn is complex and difficult, but in the end, it will result in benefits for our entire community. We will have a wonderful new urban school, new, integrated open space, including a park that the developer has agreed to pay for, a fire station that the developer will build, affordable housing and a commercial building.

Also on Saturday, the County Board approved a “coordinated open space plan” for Rosslyn Highlands Park — a plan that will come to full fruition after the temporary fire station is removed to make way for a new field.

According to the plan, the renovated park will include:

  • Multi-use, lighted court for basketball and other sports
  • Sloped green lawns for added tree canopy, picnics, seating and play
  • Lighted, synthetic turf field at Wilson School
  • Planted/permeable field boundary with trees
  • Playgrounds for tots and school age children across the street from the main park
  • Community access to Wilson School indoor amenities including gym, cafeteria and theater
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Morning Notes

Runners get ready to start the 2015 Marine Corps Marathon (photo by Jennifer Currier)

Marine Corps Marathon Wrap-up — Despite a soggy start, spirits were high for the 40th annual Marine Corps Marathon, which wound through Rosslyn, D.C. and Crystal City Sunday morning. The winners were a 22-year-old recent West Point grad, representing the Army team and, on the women’s side, a Costa Rica native who only started running seven years ago. [Run Washington, Stars & Stripes]

Orange Line Delays — Orange Line riders are experiencing delays of up to 25 minutes this morning due to a broken rail in Maryland. [Twitter]

School Bus Camera Tickets May Be Refunded — Arlington County is considering refunding tickets issued by stop arm cameras on public school buses, following a determination by the state Attorney General that the county doesn’t have the legal authority to issue such citations via mail. [Washington Post]

I Like This Park Because — Arlington’s Dept. of Parks and Recreation has erected two new chalkboard in Rosslyn Highlands Park, asking park users why they like the park. [Twitter]

Top Bus Lines in Arlington — The county-run transit organization Arlington Transportation Partners has a list of the top five most important bus lines in Arlington. They are: ART 43, ART 45, ART 42, Metrobus 16 series and Metrobus 38B. [Arlington Transportation Partners]

New Little Free Library in Arlington — There’s a new Little Free Library in Arlington. The resident-created library is located at 1723 N. Veitch Street, three blocks north of the Courthouse Metro station. Affordable housing developer AHC, which helped with the library’s creation, is planning a celebratory launch party tomorrow at 4 p.m.

Photo by Jennifer Currier

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The Rosslyn of the future is envisioned to be more walkable, more dynamic and more green with the County Board’s approval of the Rosslyn Sector Plan and Western Rosslyn Area Plan (WRAP). However, with the approval comes the loss of open space from Rosslyn Highlands Park, which left some residents frustrated with the County Board’s process.

The County Board unanimously approved both plans after hearing resident and staff concerns. Residents generally supported the new sector plan, focused primarily on areas around the Rosslyn Metro station. The Western Rosslyn plan focused on the area around Fire Station #10, up the hill on Wilson Blvd.

It was the Western Rosslyn plan — which calls for a new fire station to be built by a developer, which is in turn building a mixed-use office and residential complex next to it — that attracted the most opposition.

“It is a shame that we felt we needed to pay for the fire station with public land, such an irreplaceable asset, especially here,” said resident Stuart Stein, who was involved with the WRAP study. “This has been an unfortunate process, but it is time to pass this plan.”

The lack of energy from the previously vocal WRAP opponents was reflected in the County Board’s responses. Although they all voted to approve the plan, Vice Chair Walter Tejada said that he came out of the vote “with a sense of resignation, almost, about the open space angle particularly.”

“We do need to move forward, but it really is a good lesson learned,” he said. “We just can’t let this happen again.”

With the Rosslyn Sector Plan, Board members were more enthusiastic.

“It’s been a bit of a marathon, but I think it was a good conversation and I think we have a plan that will work for all of us,” Chair Mary Hynes said.

Under the Rosslyn Sector Plan, the neighborhood will get a new open-air Metro entrance, Fort Myer Drive, Lynn Street and Wilson Boulevard will become two-way streets and the county will create a new esplanade that runs along Rosslyn’s eastern edge, connected to the Mt. Vernon Trail via a new pedestrian bridge. It also calls for a corridor along an extended 18th Street, which is envisioned as “a new central spine for Rosslyn.”

Green space has been a big concern for residents under both plans. The Rosslyn Sector Plan calls for a new park and redesign of existing parks, but residents fear that these are empty promises.

“Whether that green space really is developed in the amount that is projected is a question,” Rosslyn resident Diane Gorman said during public comment at yesterday’s recessed County Board meeting.

Parks and Recreation commission member Caroline Haynes urged the County Board members to make sure that plans for open space in Rosslyn were followed, adding that there are limited parks in the neighborhood.

“If we overbuild Rosslyn to the detriment of open space, views and daylight, the built environment will never reestablish those features,” Haynes said. “This plan represents the long-term view for Rosslyn, and should look to achieve long term value for the entire sector, not just for individual land owners and their interests.”

While the Rosslyn Sector Plan looks to create more open space and redesign existing Freedom and Gateway Parks, the Western Rosslyn plan will shrink Rosslyn Highlands Park to rebuild the fire station, a move that prompted residents to rally in protest, pleading with the County Board to save the park.

Under the plan, the county would take away 3,000 to 7,000 square feet of land from the park to allow for the fire station expansion and the Wilson School will be replaced with a larger, 775-seat secondary school building. However, the plan also calls for a 9,000 square foot park to be built across the street at the Queens Court affordable housing complex, which is slated for redevelopment.

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Co-Chair of Arlington Parks Coalition Jim Presswood (screenshot via Arlington County)Arlington residents, including two County Board candidates, pleaded with the County Board to save Rosslyn Highlands Park on Tuesday.

The county is considering trading part of the tiny park to a developer in exchange for a new fire station as part of its Western Rosslyn Area Plan Study (WRAPS). Board members unanimously approved the advertisement of public hearings on the plan during the meeting.

“Once this land is gone, it’s gone. The land will always be worth more than the fire station. So let’s hold onto the land and do what is right for the community,” said Michael McMenamin, an independent candidate for County Board. Independent candidate Audrey Clement also spoke out against the plan.

McMenamin was joined by more than a half dozen people who live near the park, including Washington Lee High School junior Johanna Klein and 12-year-old Jim Sharkey. Even more people signed up to speak during the public comment on the plan but left as the clock ticked close to 10:00 p.m. before the item was heard.

Sharkey, who was inspired to research park space in Arlington after learning of the park’s possible sale, said Arlington fares poorly in terms of park land when compared to neighboring Fairfax County.

Draft WRAPS plan“If we dramatically shrink Rosslyn Highlands Park, we take away even more park space from Arlington where parks are small and sparse enough already,” he said.

The park holds many memories for Sharkey and Klein, who both say they grew using it. Sharkey’s family is considering moving and he said he believes that the end of the park will only encourage his family to move.

“Rosslyn Highlands Park is not just a part of a number on a graph,” he said. “I believe that parks are important because they’re a good place for people to have fun and bond together.”

In addition to the fire station, the WRAPS plan deals with the replacement of the Wilson School, which will house the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program starting in 2019, the replacement of an aging office building with a new mixed-use development, and a new affordable housing development.

Most of the discussion, however, revolved around the park and what many said was an opaque process of deciding to trade part of it to a developer. Caroline Haynes, a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission, called the process frustrating.

Rosslyn Highlands park (photo via Arlington County)“I guess from our perspective, given that residents do feel like they sacrificed something in this and the density is going to be greatly increased in this area, we believe that is going to be absolutely critical to make sure this park is outstanding,” she said. “That what we have there is going to be an oasis in the midst of very high density. And that we really need to dedicate the resources to make this an incredible destination park both for residents and for our community.”

Members of the working group also voiced similar concerns saying that the group and community did not have enough say in the drafted plan.

“From the beginning, the working group expressed a clear goal that open space be a prime directive of the process and not simply residual of what’s left over,” Erik Gutshall, an at-large member of the working group said.

Members of the public will have another chance to weigh in on the Western Rosslyn Area Plan in July. A public hearing will be held before the Planning Commission on July 6 and before the County Board meeting later in July.

“The proposed plan seeks to balance the need for open space in Western Rosslyn with the need for a new school with associated gym and playing field accessible to residents, a new fire station and more affordable housing in collaboration with commercial redevelopment,” County Board Chair Mary Hynes said in a statement.

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