Monday, June 11, 2007

Bham Villages to Begin Relocation

County to Spend $49 Million, Saves 300 Affordable Units in Bham.

Eighty-four households in Buckingham Village Apartments are facing relocation before the year’s end as Paradigm Development Company works to implement the redevelopment plan OKed by the Arlington County Board in a five-to-nothing vote on Saturday.

Paradigm plans to open their relocation office next Monday to begin helping families and individuals, said Micheline Castan-Smith, Paradigm’s project manager.

“Phase One” of the redevelopment includes razing the buildings along N. Pershing Drive west of N. George Mason Drive. Obviously, that cannot happen until the apartments are emptied, Ms. Castan-Smith said in an interview. Relocating the families will take until late November or early December, she estimated.

Paradigm is enlisting the help of AHC Inc., an affordable housing company based in Arlington. AHC owns and manages the Gates of Ballston in the Buckingham neighborhood and 18 other properties in Arlington. [For more on AHC, see the June 2 post, below.] Ms. Castan-Smith said other companies will be involved with the relocation.

As I wrote in the Feb. 28 post, eight buildings, between Culpepper Garden Apartments and N. George Mason Drive will be destroyed to make room for construction of “Building A,” a four-storey, 234-unit apartment building with pitched roof, a cupola atop, and a parking garage underground. The building will be a mix of market rate and affordable housing.

This is the facade of "Building A" on the side facing the "Common Green." (All images here were developed by Paradigm and are taken from plans shown at various Site Plan Review Committee meetings over the last 10 months.)

The plan for the property, “Scenario 8,” was the product of months of discussions between county staff, Paradigm, and residents throughout Arlington.

Village 1 in Scenario 8 includes two large apartment buildings, a "Common Green" between them, and rows of townhouses along N. George Mason Drive.

The affordable housing, open space and streets will cost the county about $49 million. What does this buy the county?

As reported in the Dec. 3 post (click the link then scroll down to “Village 3 Co-op-eration” under the Dec. 3 post), Village 3, on N. Pershing Drive just east of N. George Mason Drive, will be sold to the county and turned into a condominium or Co-operative. The details there are still to be worked out. The county cannot buy the property itself, but must work with another company to do so. They have two years to find the company to help them buy, said JoAnn Cubbage, the chief of the county’s Housing Services Sector. Purchasing Village 3, reported March 21, will be about $32 million, plus interest of up to $4 million.

The county will pay $14.8 million for the land on Village 1 to make street extensions of N. 3rd Street and N. 4th Road as well as a community open space just smaller than a football field on the extended N. 4th Street, David Cristeal in the county’s Housing Division said in an interview. Another $1.5 to $2 million will cover the cost of developing that space into a park.

The "Common Green" will be a public park in Village 1, including, (from left to right), a tot lot, gazebo, sculpture (or something similar), and flags.

Finally on the capital side, the county is loaning $7 million from the Affordable Housing Investment Fund and the Housing Reserve Fund to help Paradigm build 100 affordable apartments in the new buildings. That money will be paid back with interest, 3.5 percent, once the project is “stabilized,” Mr. Cristeal said, meaning that the building has been built and the units have been rented. That might take as much as five years, he said.

A couple hundred thousand more will be spent helping with tenant relocation and other assistance, Mr. Cristeal said.
In all, 300 units of affordable housing will be saved. All 140 units of Village 3 will remain and will be sold at below-market rates. (Some plans even call for adding units in basements and in other spaces.) One hundred units in the two new buildings will be affordable at the 60 percent of the Area Median Income, which will qualify Paradigm to receive tax credits on those units.

The final 60 units will be found somewhere in Buckingham. These units will be affordable at the 80 percent of AMI. Many households make more than the 60 percent AMI to qualify for the lowest-rent units, but they do not make enough to rent apartments at the market rate. This attempts to fill the gap, people involved in the negotiations have said.

“It’s an effort to assist those people. If they wanted to stay in the neighborhood, they could,” Ms. Cubbage said.

Where these units will come from has not been planned completely. Most likely they will either be found in the new buildings or taken from the market-rate units in Historic Ballston Park, Ms. Cubbage said.

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