Friday, November 02, 2007

Draft RFP for Village 3 Topic of Discussion Today.

A draft “request for proposals” asks potential developers of Buckingham Village 3 to buy the property with help from the county, renovate all the buildings under the watchful eye of the county’s Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board, and figure out a way to sell at least some of the units at perennially affordable rates.

The RFP will be the topic of conversation today at 1 p.m. between the county manager’s office and the co-chairs of the Buckingham Village 3 Working Group, which drafted the RFP.

Neither Caridad Palerm nor Kathleen McSweeney, co-chairs of the working group, know exactly what the topics of the meeting will include, and the county does not want to discuss its ideas until after meeting with the chairs.

Ms. Palerm and Ms. McSweeney had some ideas.

“It [this RFP] makes them nervous on two fronts,” Ms. McSweeney believes. “It sounds expensive. Obviously, that’s a concern. [And] we’re used to the whole rental thing.” The county knows how to manage affordable rental housing plans, but she said, “The fact that we’re asking for some elements of home ownership…at an affordable rate, I think is new.”

Since the RFP is a draft, it was not released, but Ms. McSweeney said some of the other items got into the details of what the inside of the units would look like, including installing gas—not electric—stoves, and having separate water and power meters leading to each unit.

Developer representatives at a working group meeting a couple months ago said they preferred an RFP with that sort of specificity; it makes their jobs easier, they said.

However, Ms. McSweeney acknowledged that they are asking a lot, and the county might be worried that no developer would step forward to take on the challenge.

Ms. McSweeney, who twice said how grateful she was that the county set-up a working group to help with this, hoped that the county only had modest, “wordsmithing,” changes to the proposal.

Ms. Palerm wondered if the county was worried about the make-up of the selection committee, the committee that will select the winning bid. She is Executive Director of BRAVO, a tenant group.

The current make-up of the selection committee is this: Save Buckingham Coalition, and Arlington New Directions Coalition together have one vote. BU-GATA and BRAVO, tenant organizations, together have one vote. Individual tenants from Village 3, who participate through the whole process of reviewing the proposals fromdevelopers will have one vote in the block. The Arlington County Housing Commission has 1 vote.

Three county representatives have one vote each. Each of the three county offices, Housing, Management and Finance, and the county attorney have one vote a piece.

“We are concerned with the composition of the group because in the end, those are the people” who will choose which company redevelops the neighborhood where these people will then live, Ms. Palerm said. “It’s basically because we think that people who are living there should have more votes.” She is not sure if the county management agrees with her on this.

The Buckingham Village 3 Working Group stemmed from the agreement, finalized last June, between the county and Paradigm Development Corp, the owner of the property. In that agreement, Village 3 became part of the Buckingham Historic District while Village 1 is set to be torn down. Village 3 sits on the northeast corner of N. George Mason and N. Pershing drives.

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