Sunday, December 10, 2006

SPRC, Parking, Etc.

The SPRC Overview:

The estimated cost of the renovation of Buckingham Village 1 is anywhere between $20,000 and $85,000 per unit (at about 520-some units) with the renovation of Village 3 running from $17 to $25 million in total, and there’s now a proposal on the table to add units (and density) to historic BV3 by renovating the basements in some buildings.



All this from the final meeting (“in theory” said Committee Chair Nancy Hunt) of the Site Plan Review Committee last Wednesday.


For a basic understanding of why the estimated costs of the renovations are so large and varied, read the Dec. 3 post (below). The variables are laid out there.


The SPRC meeting ended with committee members saying they needed to contact County Manager Ron Carlee’s office to set-up a “working session” with the county board in order to get more guidance.
No final decisions were made concerning which basic plan to pursue (Scenario 2 or 8, as they’re being called). For a basic run-down of Scenario 8, see the Nov. 19 post, below; Scenario 2 can be found on the
Oct. 29 post.


Pictures of the two layouts are found here (notice the new higher-quality images):
The image above is the design of Scenario 2 with "The Stick" (Building A) and "The Octopus" (Building B). Townhouses line N. Pershing Drive.

The above image is the design of Scenario 8. Townhouses now line N. George Mason Dr.

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A New, Bigger BV3

An idea that could raise the population density of Buckingham Village 3 by 25 percent and offer even more affordable units for sale to current Buckingham residents, was presented at the Site Plan Review Committee meeting Thurday Dec. 7.


Long-time civic activist and member of the Save Buckingham Coalition, Charlie Rinker and others presented the plan that would raise the total bedrooms in BV3 to as much as 278 in 175 units. Currently, BV3 has 140 units. BV3 sits on the north side of N. Pershing Drive between N. George Mason Drive and N. Thomas Street.
Two basic plans were presented. In one, some basements would be converted into one-bedroom apartments accessed from outdoor stairwells on the fronts or backs of buildings.


The other version of the plan would convert some basements into two bedrooms and a bathroom that would be attached to the one-bedroom apartment on the ground floor above it, making a three-bedroom sort of townhouse.


Planners said they could do this while maintaining the historic nature of the property. However, the parking allowance would have to change. One of the potential combinations of units would call for only 0.88 parking spaces per unit.


My take: I like the idea of basement use (I’m typing from my basement which isn’t a bad space). But the parking can’t fall below 1 space per unit (and that’s not even enough in my opinion). We have enough parking congestion in the neighborhood. People who want or need a car will still buy one, even if they live in units without a dedicated space, and they’ll park those cars someplace.


In the Dec. 3 post, the idea that BV3 might go on the block for sale rather than as affordable rental property is covered (see below).

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George Mason Drive is a Boulevard

Members of the Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board also voiced their opinions at the Site Plan Review Committee meeting on Thursday. The concerns for one member revolved around the size of buildings, especially in Scenario 8.


That in size they looked nothing like the current buildings on the property bothered him. I’ll grant him that. Paradigm Development Companies isn’t ever going to bring a plan to the SPRC that has 20-odd two story buildings. It’s just not going to happen; whatever gets chosen as the plan they’ll follow, will alter the landscape here. I just don’t think it’s a fight worth pursuing.


Then the same gentleman (and I don’t have his name, or else I’d post it), said that he didn’t like the boulevard at the center of Scenario 8. His reason: Buckingham isn’t a boulevard community. Historically, we haven’t had boulevards in the neighborhood.


Excuse me?


What’s N. George Mason Drive if not a boulevard?


American Heritage Dictionary: “A broad city street often tree-lined and landscaped.”


N. George Mason is broad, tree-lined and landscaped (at least in front of Arlington Oaks). Our main street in Buckingham is a boulevard.


Granted, the gentleman probably meant interior streets weren’t, typically boulevards. OK. But come on, to say the neighborhood doesn’t have a boulevard at all, when clearly it does, is a little silly.

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Sweet New Parking Stickers. (Or, Enough about the Villages, already)

These new stickers the county’s Division of Transportation has stuck to the parking meters are sweet; they show in large block numbers and letters just how many minutes or hours the meter will run. Given my complaint with them just a few short months ago, I figured I was the cause.

To catch you up [
See my first post, August 30, 2006]: I was caught unawares pumping two hours worth of quarters into a one-hour machine. This prompted a call to Sarah Stott, the county’s parking manager, who told me the color of the meter shows how much time it runs. She said I was welcome to swing by and get a nice key chain with all the meter colors and their times listed on it (which I did—I have it in the console of my car for referential purposes).

Now, just a few months later, the stickers appeared, so that people who hadn’t either memorized the color/time system or hadn’t gotten their own key chains, could just look out their windows to see for how long the meter allowed a driver to park.

I had to call Ms. Stott back and let her tell me that it was all my doing.

“You identified the problem, but we had planned it,” she told me, insisting that they’d been planning this for awhile. But I grilled her with tough questions like, “Really?” and “You don’t say?” Still, she stuck to her story, and even said that D.C. has done the same with their meters, proving in her eyes that Arlington is just part of a national wave of which I was just a little flotsam on the beach. Alas. Still, the stickers are a nice help.

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Police Notes for Buckingham:

Dec. 5: Armed Robbery, 300 block of N. Thomas St. At approximately 10:16 p.m. a man talking on a phone outside of an apartment building was approached by three men. One of the men displayed a knife and demanded the victim’s wallet. After taking the victim’s cash, the three men fled the scene in a blue Nissan Xterra. All three suspects are described as white Hispanic males, 25 to 28 years old, and 5 feet, 3 inches to 5 feet, 5 inches tall. One of the men was wearing a black coat.

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