Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Love Letters and Meetings

Love Letters for Valentine’s Day

Dave Wharwood got back in touch with me about his blog. You may recall that he was among those I mentioned a few posts back. I said that I had a problem with his link, and Mr. Wharwood tells me that’s because he changed the name (and therefore the link) of his blog—that explains it.

At any rate, he’s back, and his first substantive post is a nice one. He’s eloquent, and passionate about this great neighborhood. His first letters have been about Buckingham (she is a sweet mistress, she is). Check out Arlington Love Letters (it’s Valentine’s Day, afterall), and let him (and me) know what you think.

He has an eye for the camera lens, I’m guessing, given there have been two different, nice, photos on the two different days that I’ve checked it out. The link is to the right.

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Meetings over Bham Villages 1 & 3—Final Chances for Public Comment

The county has scheduled a batch of meetings that will finalize plans for Buckingham Villages 1 & 3 for the end of February and half of March. These will be some of the last chances for public comment on the plans.


As reported on Jan. 24, Paradigm is applying to build “Scenario 8” in Buckingham Village 1. Village 1 lies between N. Henderson Road and N. Pershing Drive, and between N. George Mason Drive and the property line of the Culpepper Garden Apartments. Scenario 8 calls for two large, four-storey apartment buildings and townhouses that line George Mason Drive.

The latest committee and board meeting schedules, are posted on the county’s Buckingham community page.

Tuesday, Feb. 20 the Community Preservation Committee, which is primarily concerned with the residents of the Buckingham Village Apartments, will look into relocation plans for the current residents of the neighborhood as their lives are disrupted during any renovation process. (See more in the next item of this post.)

Wednesday, Feb. 21, the Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board takes up Buckingham. Their primary concern is maintaining the look of the community. Although the garden style apartments typical of this neighborhood are not going to survive in Village 1, they still want the neighborhood to feel much the same. As well, Village 3 is likely to see changes with additions to some buildings, and maybe even stairwell access to basement apartment or condo units.

The Site Plan Review Committee has a tentative meeting scheduled for Monday, Feb. 26. Their concern is what, exactly, what happens to the overall site—the buildings, roads, lights, everything.

Thursday March 1 (with a potential carry-over meeting on March 8) the Transportation Committee takes up potential changes to the traffic of Buckingham. In Buckingham Village Scenario 8 plan (the one Paradigm has said they are pursuing, see the post from Jan. 24) N. 3rd Street is extended across N. Henderson Road, and N. 4th Street cuts through Village 1 (currently it’s little more than a cul de sac). Different entrances and exits from the development must be considered as well as potential traffic lights, especially at 4th Street.

The Housing Commission picks up the discussion on Thursday March 8.

Monday March 5 (with a potential carry-over on Wednesday March 7), the Planning Commission takes up the overall project. This is a large, final preparatory meeting before the entire application goes before the County Board on Saturday March 17, with a carry-over on Tuesday March 20.

[Buckingham Village 1, Scenario 8]


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Community Preservation Committee

In all the activity surrounding the Buckingham Villages renovation project, I’ve mainly focused on the Site Plan Review Committee because I didn’t have time to go to every meeting.
Luckily, a couple people in the community have been keeping me apprised of developments in other areas.

The Community Preservation Committee—which is primarily concerned with what happens to tenants during a renovation—is one of those areas, and they’re asking for input, so I thought I’d find some space for it here.

They’ve put together a draft proposal for the relocation plan, which includes plans for relocation assistance as well as the procedures by which the owners of the property (Paradigm Development Co.) can further communicate with renters on the property.

Email me if you want a copy of the proposal, and I’ll send it along: heraldtrib@gmail.com; better yet, contact David Cristeal, dcristeal@arlingtonva.us, in the county’s Housing Department.
I’m posting here in its entirety a memo signed by 20 Buckingham Village residents regarding what they hope to see happen during the relocation and renovation process:

MEMO TO
Paradigm Development Corporation & Paradigm Management Corporation
February 5, 2007

We, the tenants of Buckingham Villages 1 and 3 are proposing the following for the Relocation Plan that is being prepared by you. We have read the Arlington County Relocation Guidelines, and we have also read relocation plans from other complexes. Below is our list of points and positions that should be included in the Buckingham Village Relocation Plan

Note: This plan only contemplates a relocation package whereby Paradigm continued to control the entire property, including Village 3. If Paradigm sells Village 3 to another entity, then we think there should be a separate Relocation Plan for Village 3.

1. Survey: The survey/questionnaire instrument should be reviewed by a Working Group (see below) to ensure that the questions are responsive to the tenant population and its socio-economic and demographic characteristics. Paradigm will conduct the survey in the entire complex and with every vested tenant during the first two months following the County’s approval of the Paradigm project. Paradigm will give all tenants copy of the survey form that they filled out.

2. A Buckingham Village Working Group should be established that is comprised of Paradigm representatives, tenants and/or representatives from BU-GATA, BRAVO, Save Buckingham Coalition, Commissioners (Housing and Tenant/Landlord), and County staff. This group shall have the job of monitoring the relocation process and the return of tenants to the new buildings once they are built. This group will also establish a Mediation Committee that will resolve cases in the case that the tenant is not satisfied with the decision by Paradigm regarding their benefits.

3. The Working Group will work with Paradigm to help prepare the agenda and format for the first meeting with tenants after the County approves the plan, whenever that occurs. Paradigm will notify all tenants about this meeting. Paradigm will continue to hold tenant meetings on a quarterly basis until the new mixed-income building is fully occupied.

4. Relocation payments
· all tenants that are in good standing, receive a 120-day notice and move within Buckingham Village will be paid a relocation payment
· all tenants who move back into one of Paradigm’s new rental units will also receive a second relocation payment
· all tenants who move into Buckingham Village after the County approves the Village 1 and 3 projects, whenever that occurs, will be eligible for a relocation payment if they are in good standing, living at Buckingham Village, and receive the 120-day notification

5. Paradigm will present a grid explaining the anticipated rents for the new mixed-income building (both for affordable and market rate units), as well as the incomes that will be required to qualify for the units

6. Paradigm will not require a minimum income qualification for Buckingham Village tenants to qualify for the new units in the mixed-income building

7. Paradigm will hire a full-time Relocation Specialist who is bi-lingual in English and Spanish. This person will work nights and on Saturday and will hold meetings on an as needed basis. This person will be skilled in dealing with complicated, difficult cases and will have experience working with tenants or households with social service needs.

8. The current proposal to displace all 140 households from Village 3 at the same time is not tenable. Relocation in this village should be broken into mini-phases of 40 units for each phase. Notices could be sent out at 30-day intervals.

9. The current proposal to displace all 76 households in Village 1 at the same time is not tenable. Relocation in this village should be broken into two mini-phases. Notices could be sent out at 30-day intervals.

10. All information about the Relocation Plan, the Affordable Housing Plan shall be posted in English and Spanish Paradigm’s Management Office wherever it is located. Currently this office is located on N. Pershing Drive.

11. The priority list shall include a system that is detailed in the County’s Relocation Guidelines. Tenants shall not have to prove their status (i.e. former displacement, ages of children, etc). The survey document will be used to collect this information.

12. Tenants who are not on the lease will be encouraged to get on the lease. Paradigm will work closely with BU-GATA to try and achieve this goal by the time the first 120-day notices are sent out.

13. If a vested tenant wants to move to a larger and/or smaller unit at Buckingham Village, Paradigm will maintain a waiting list and give priority to a current tenant rather than rent to a tenant off the street.

14. Paradigm will allow tenants who receive 120-day notices to move to an apartment of their same size at no rent increase until the tenant’s anniversary date.

15. Paradigm will not raise rents at Buckingham Village for the first year after the first 120-day notices are issued.

16. Paradigm will establish a hardship fund for difficult cases. For example, if a tenant wants to move to HPB or Gates of Ballston and has to pay a fee to determine if he/she qualifies for a unit, that fee will be waived and covered by this fund. Likewise, if a tenant does not have the money to pay a security deposit at another complex, the hardship fund can be used to cover that security deposit. The fund will be used on a case-by-case basis.

17. Paradigm will stop charging the $300 move-in fee for all tenants who sign leases for the first phase of Village 1 (see attached map). This policy will begin now.

18. If a tenant who receives the 120-day notice moves within the complex, Paradigm will pay for reconnection of utility and phone fees.

29. Paradigm will provide the financial resources and enter into a contract with BU-GATA so that BU-GATA can work with individual tenants to ensure that they get their benefits and/or resolve their individual problems.

30. There will no new leasing in units one month prior to issuance of the 120-day notice

Name Address

Signed by 20 Buckingham Village tenants

Comments are welcomed and should be sent to Micheline Castan-Smith of Paradigm at macastansmith@paradigmcos.com, David Cristeal and Jo Ann Cubbage of Arlington County staff, dcristeal@arlingtonva.us and jcubbage@arlingtonva.us, or Melissa Bondi, of the Community Preservation Committee, mmbondi@yahoo.com, as soon as possible, and before Monday, Feb. 19.

This will allow Paradigm to review & incorporate any changes in a second draft in time for relevant meetings next week.


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