Friday, October 31, 2008

No Lease for Outreach Center in New Gates Community Center

At the grand opening of the new Gates of Ballston Community Center on Saturday, Arlington County Board Vice Chair Barbara Favola said, “The county is the proud sponsor of most of the programs in this building.”

That is almost true, but not quite yet.

The county sponsors the Buckingham Community Outreach center which has space in two conjoined apartments at the Gates of Ballston. But the county and AHC, Inc., the affordable housing developer which owns the property, have yet to sign a lease that would move the program onto the second floor of the new Gates of Ballston Community Center, where empty offices await.

Price is the problem, officials have said, though people on both sides were not overly dismayed by the delay.

The Gates of Ballston Community Center opened Saturday Oct. 25 at 4108 N. 4th St. (Click to enlarge the image.)

“It’s taking more time than we thought it would,” said Catherine Bucknam, an AHC spokesperson, adding, “We want them [the Buckingham Outreach Center] there…It’s important to provide those services. That’s what a community center is all about.”

For his part, David Cristeal, in the county’s housing division, said "I think we were expecting to have [a lease] but we didn't, so we're working through it."

"I don't think the amount of space is at issue, it's just how much for that space," he said.

Ms. Bucknam added that AHC wants all outside organizations to have a lease for the space they use. The Child and Family Networks Center, which is running a day care facility on the second floor of the community center building, has a lease, she said.

For the past several years, the county has run the Buckingham Outreach Center from various apartments on the property; currently it is on 4th Street across the parking lot from the new building.

The outreach center offers computer classes, career counseling, English as a Second Language classes, and conducts other social work activities.

Although Ms. Bucknam was sure that the county was paying something for the use of the property, she was not sure how much, or if there was a formal lease anymore.

The Community Center building houses a day care center, management offices for the Gates of Ballston, and an office for the tenants association. As well, it has a community room for gatherings and other amenities.

No word as to how much longer it might take to ink the lease.

Related stories…
  • Gates Center Opens with Fanfare (Oct. 27, 2008).
  • Gates Center to Be Built (Feb. 7, 2007)

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