(Updated at 1:15 p.m.) An Alcova Heights church has sold its building to a senior living provider, leaving organizations that rent space there in search of a new home.
Arlington United Methodist Church recently sold its building at 716 S. Glebe Road to Sunrise Senior Living, a McLean-based senior living provider.
Paul Mandell, the real estate agent who facilitated the deal, told ARLnow he believed the buyer — whose identity he declined to confirm — planned to demolish the building to build a senior living facility, but deferred to the buyer for confirmation.
Sunrise is unable to comment at this time, spokesperson John Chibnall said, but will likely share information on the project in the coming weeks.
There are several organizations operating out of the church’s building, including the Ronda Gilliam Clothing Bank affiliated with the First Presbyterian Church of Arlington, the Redeemer Church of Arlington, Rainbow Road Preschool and others.
The organizations now have about 4-6 months to look for a new space, said Annette Reilly, manager of the clothing bank.
“We have no definite plans yet,” she said.
She found out about the sale about two weeks ago after the building was on the market for about a year, Reilly said. Other offers could have kept the clothing bank and other organizations in place, she said.
“If they had sold it to one of the churches, [an] existing tenant that wanted to buy it, then the use of the building would have continued the same,” Reilly said.
She hoped the clothing bank would be able to relocate elsewhere in Arlington. Otherwise, it would have to close, she said.
There have been previous instances of churches selling to be redeveloped as housing. The Central United Methodist Church in Ballston was torn down and is being rebuilt as an affordable housing complex. Jefferson Apartment Group took over another former Ballston are church building last year, with plans to build an apartment building.
The Arlington United Methodist Church, which still listed as the owner of the property, could not be reached for comment. The assessed value of the building in 2022 was $5 million, according to the county.
Sunrise Senior Living is looking to rebuild, expand and modernize a decades-old facility in Arlington that serves people with memory impairments such as Alzheimer’s.
Members of the Long Range Planning Committee (LRPC) said last Wednesday that they need to study the site more as part of their review, but neighbors are voicing concerns about expanding the facility at 2000 N. Glebe Road in the Glebewood neighborhood.
“There’s a great need for this type of housing in Arlington today, and it’s likely to only get worse in the future,” said Clyde McGraw, Sunrise’s senior director of real estate, development and investments, during the LRPC meeting.
Sunrise’s facility is in a neighborhood that’s designated as “low residential” and is currently legally nonconforming, county staff told committee members. As such, the organization needs permission for the proposed redevelopment.
An initial proposal calls for keeping the property three stories and adding an underground parking garage. If the county requires the facility to be set back farther from the road as part of the redevelopment, a fourth story may be needed to maintain or add units, according to McGraw.
The proposal looks to increase Sunrise’s residential capacity from up to 50 residents to somewhere between 85 and 90, he said. Changing the upward capacity limit, which the county set in 1986, would require a rezoning request, according to staff.
During the meeting, neighbors raised questions about Sunrise’s proposal to expand.
April Myers, who lives in a nearby townhome, said she’s okay with the current size of the facility, but is concerned with increasing it and questioned if that was the best path forward. Others expressed frustration with how the zoning code is applied in the neighborhood.
“Most of my neighbors cannot rebuild a porch because it’s nonconforming,” resident Cynthia Hoftiezer said.