Friday, March 06, 2009

HeraldTrib Today, March 6 2009

County Board approved the Village 3 lease and financing package…

Plans for Buckingham Village 3 slid as easily as expected through the recessed county board meeting on Tuesday Feb. 24. (For the most recent story on this, click here).

At that meeting, the board voted to commit about $36 million to the purchase of the ground and buildings that make up Village 3, and they committed money from the Affordable Housing Investment Fund to help preserve the apartments as affordable. On March 19, the county will buy the building and grounds from Paradigm Development and its partners, the current owners.

In the plan, the county OKed a long-term lease, 75 years, with Telesis Corp. of Washington. Telesis will own any improvements made to the property. Arlington must enter into these sorts of deals as the county is legally barred from owning housing.

Patricia McCullough (Taken from board meeting video.)

“There was an area in southeast D.C., it was a very, very old place; they [Telesis] turned that place around,” said Patricia “Pate” McCollough, at the Feb. 24 meeting. McCullough, formerly of Buckingham, but late of Fairfax County, said the apartments in southeast changed from “the wild west” to a nice place to live. She was part of the working group that chose Telesis for this project.

Lois Athey, an activist with BU-GATA, the tenants association echoed the sentiment.

“We asked for participation, well we got it,” Ms. Athey said of the experience working with Telesis as that company plans the takeover.

Village 3 covers about six acres of land north of N. Pershing Drive between N. George Mason Drive and N. Thomas St. The 16 buildings that make up the village fell under the protection of the county’s Historical Affairs and Landmark Review in 2006 when the county entered a memorandum of understanding with Paradigm Development Corp. and its partners, the current owners.

Under that MOU, Paradigm began to renovate Village 1, which sits next to Culpepper Garden assisted living facility of N. Pershing Drive. Village 2, at the corner of N. George Mason Drive and N. Henderson Road is being redeveloped “by right” and has about a dozen upscale townhomes on it now.

All 140 units on the property will remain affordable, starting as affordable rentals. A plan to sell the units at affordable rates is being considered.

SunTrust bank will hold the first deed of trust on the property.

Lubber Run Center hit by proposed budget…

It looks like Lubber Run Center will lose some hours of operation under the county manager’s proposed budget.

Programming might not be cut, but the potential is that it would move to other locations in Buckingham or Arlington.

“During the day, it’s pretty darn busy [at Lubber Run Community Center]….I don’t believe there’s a lot of programming in the evening,” said Susan Kalish, the director of marketing and communications for the county’s Department of Parks Recreation and Community Resources.

It might be, too, that the building, at the corner of N. George Mason and N. Park drives stays open on some odd hours, maybe late on one day of the week but not on others, Ms. Kalish said. The county will be looking at what is offered in the evenings, how the people who attend the events get there, and whether those people would be able to get to another location.

Gulf Branch Center is generating some interest…

Could have been worse for the Lubber Run Center—at least the county is not threatening to close it as they are the Gulf Branch Nature Center in far-north Arlington. The county manager’s budget aims to close the building and move indoor programming to Potomac Overlook Regional Park and elsewhere in the county. Read the full story here.

Gulf Branch Nature Center, 3608 N. Military Road.(Click to enlarge the image.)

Ms. Kalish said in an email after the story ran that letting the park itself run down is not in the plan, though it was a concern for Suzy Wagner, a neighbor interviewed for the story.

“Funding to maintain the park environments is alive and well,” Ms. Kalish wrote.

She admitted in a later email that she supposed the park could be sold, but building on the property is really hard.

“It’s a Resource Protected Area…by the Chesapeake Bay Local Assistance Department. Demolishing on the site won’t be too hard, as long as you provide extra care. But building—oh my—you can’t build bigger than the current footprint, as well as not impacting the stream and nature,” she wrote.

It was exactly that fear that drove Ms. Wagner to take up action to keep the building open she said. At the same time, in the interview she said how tough it is to do anything in a Resource Protected Area, something she learned while renovating her house.

Follow this twit…

I’ve set up and gotten used to the whole Twitter idea. I need a different phone to really make it work, as I can’t stand the press-the-two-key-three-times thing to type a “c” only to have typed a lower case “c” when I wanted upper case! I tried twitting from the National Mall for the inauguration, but had to stop as the press-the-two-key-three-times thing to type a “c” thing really was too much while walking through masses of people.

Surf to to follow my little updates. Only business-related items; I won’t tell you “My shorts are bunching. Thoughts?” as Roland Hedley on Doonesbury did the other morning! Go ahead and follow my twits!

For those of you unfamiliar: twitter is a web site much like a blog. The trick, though, is that someone posting a twit only has 140 characters. It was started by a guy who thought it would be fun to tell people stuff like “I’m drinking coffee” from work. In the last couple of months, it has grown. Twits can still only be 140 characters, but many news types have them in this info-overload world.

The Week’s Headlines…
As always, you can scroll down to see all the recent stories, or simply click the links below (if the link doesn't work, scroll down to find the story, and email to tell me what's busted: --Steve Thurston).

Today's Headlines:

  • John Cephas, I Will Miss You

  • Headlines from Earlier in the Week--the race for the 47th:

  • Sen. Ticer Endorses Parkhomenko
  • Hope Picks Up Furlow Endorsement

  • Headlines from Earlier in the Week--the county budget:

  • County Proposes Closing Gulf Branch Nature Center (a lot of people have commented on this one--take a peek, add your two eents).
  • This story is from awhile back (Oct. 2007), but it deals directly with the Glebe Road bridge over Arlington Boulevard. It's rather prescient. I have to admit that I love it when I have already covered a story...

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