Friday, November 21, 2008

Telesis' Planning for BV3 Called "Very Responsive"

Whether a redeveloped Buckingham Village 3 turns into a co-operative or a condominium—or some other mix—is still at issue; as is exactly how many of the apartment units will receive additions, or what the interiors will look like.

However, Telesis Corporation, Arlington County staff, and the tenants of the apartments which are changing hands as part of a major redevelopment, are working at these problems, and things, if Monday night’s meeting is any indication, are working out.

The meeting drew about 50 tenants and a handful of county staff including Walter Tejada, the chair of the county board. He told the residents that their destinies were in their hands.

County Board Chair Walter Tejada told the Buckingham Village 3 tenants that "the economny does affect how we [the county] do business in the future,...but we're moving forward." (Click to enlarge the image.)

Beatriz Torres said she understood that Mr. Tejada was supportive of the project, but she wondered if the rest of the county board felt the same.

The project requires the county to be an intermediary purchaser of the property from Paradigm Development Corp.; it will then be sold to Telesis Corp. for redevelopment.

(Telesis, of Washington, D.C., won the right to purchase and redevelop the site earlier this year. They focus on urban communities including affordable home ownership and mixed-use rentals.)

As part of the redevelopment agreement voted on last year, Village 3 was protected by the county’s Historical Affairs and Landmarks Review Board, meaning any landscaping or exterior changes to the buildings must be approved by the HALRB.

Telesis should take over the property next March; the whole redevelopment is not scheduled to be completed until the end of 2010.

Mr. Tejada reminded Ms. Torres that the county board unanimously approved of the redevelopment plan last year and that the support is shown in the county staff who attend the meetings. (Most of this was said in Spanish, and some was not translated until after the fact; hence, no quotes. –ST)

Much of the meeting’s focus was on what has already been done, including a tenant survey and the results of discussions from previous meetings.

As with other projects in the neighborhood, this one has Telesis balancing the issues of quality construction and quality of life against affordable rents. And since this project will take some of what are now rental units and turn them into ownership opportunities for current residents, the question of how to do that, and make it affordable, is at issue.

“We want to preserve not just the buildings, we want to preserve this housing for you. And we can figure out how to do that with the right information,” said Bert Mason, senior development advisor with Telesis. “Our goal is to try to make this housing affordable to the households.”

The commitment to the people appeared to be appreciated.

Lois Athey, a long-time activist with the tenants, said she thought Telesis has been “very responsive” to the needs of the community.

And the people have been responsive, too. About 165 people in the villages completed household surveys regarding family make-up, ethnicity, income and other factors.

“You’re talking about people who care, Buckingham people,” she said.

Some results from the survey of Buckingham Villages apartments:

  • The average length of stay in Arlington: 10 years.
  • Over 60 percent of the apartments are home to nuclear (39 percent) or extended (24 percent) families.
  • The average household size is 3.2 persons, with 42 percent of those households having children under 18.

  • The income range per household:

  • Under $25,000: 17.6 percent.
  • $25,001 to $40,000: 23.1 percent.
  • 40,001 to 55,000: 29.6 percent.
  • 55,001 to 70,000: 15.7 percent.
  • Over 70,000: 13.9 percent.

  • Ethnic make up:

  • Hispanic: 83 percent.
  • White/caucasian: 8 percent.
  • African/American: 4 percent.
  • Asian: 4 percent.
  • Other: 1 percent.

    Buckingham Village 3 sits on the north side of N. Pershing Drive between N. George Mason Drive and N. Thomas Street.

    Village 2, at the intersection of N. Henderson Road and N. George Mason Drive, has been torn down, and high-end townhouses are being erected “by-right” meaning that the owner, Paradigm Development Corp., can do what they wish with the property so long they stay within current zoning regulations.

    The large apartment building being under construction on the northwest corner of N. George Mason and N. Pershing Drives sits in the heart of Village 2.



    Related stories…
  • Summer Flashback to BV3 (HeraldTrib Today Nov. 1, 2008)
  • BV3 Sale and Resale to Be Studied (July, 2007)

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