Saturday, April 18, 2009

Sneek Peek at the Madison at Ballston Station

I’ll admit to being impressed by the Madison at Ballston Station. The new four-storey building on N. Pershing Drive near N. George Mason Drive boasts a community room, a business/conference room, a pool and exercise room with showers, all just off the modern lobby where fresh coffee is brewing and visitors can wait for residents.

Mary Resnick worked the reception desk Friday. (Click to enlarge the image.)

One hundred of the 234-units in this building are priced affordable, that is, within range of people making less than 60 percent of the area median income (about $60,000 for a family of four). People can rent 1, 2, and 3 bedroom apartments (there’s one efficiency at market rate).

I’m sure part of what impresses me is that the building is new; everything inside is clean, the paint is fresh. More than that, though, they feel roomy, especially for apartments in Buckingham. Each has a walk-in closet attached to the main bedroom (the closet is about as big as the kitchen in my Buckingham townhouse. How often do you find that?.) The two bedroom that I toured had some unexpected angles, but they were used well. I really enjoyed the walk-through.

All of the three-bedroom, and some of the two-bedroom units have two bathrooms, another rarity in this just-barely-north Arlington neighborhood. Lots of windows, some balconies; there’s a lot to love.

The modern lobby includes this waiting room for guests. (Click to enlarge the image.)

What’s more, the apartments are the same for both the people who rent at market and those who rent affordably save for the countertops: granite in the market-rate units, laminate for the affordable ones.

"That's the only difference," said Micheline Castan-Smith, the manager of the project for Paradigm Development Corp., the developer of the site.

The countertop choice was a decision made with the county government which loaned the developer about $7 million to be put toward the affordable units. They each have microwave ovens, laundry and dishwashers in the units.

Micheline Castan-Smith led a tour of the Madison at Ballston Station, including the community room (picutured here and below). (Click to enlarge the image.)

(Click to enlarge the image.)

The carpets are a light tan, and the ovens are electric, what had been two sore points for some of the residents of Gates of Ballston after that property went under renovation. The Latino population in Gates complained that the electric was not as good as gas for cooking slowly with large pots over long periods of time. The carpets in some units were quickly soiled, especially by children and by the bicycles that many of the residents use to commute.

A view from the kitchen through the dining and living rooms of a model, one-bedroom apartment. (Click to enlarge the image.)

Ms. Castan-Smith said “People really struggle with how to decorate,” and the neutral color of the carpet makes that easier. Plus, she said, with 80-some bike racks secured in the basement, “They don’t really need to bring their bikes into the units.”

During the site planning, they decided to go all electric with the appliances because gas at the time was so high, she said.

About 20 apartments have been rented so far. And quite a few people are in the application process. For people wishing to rent affordable units, especially, the process is a long one, requiring renters to prove that they make less than the income limit per household, which shifts depending on the number of adults and children living in the household, according to HUD and Fannie Mae.

This is all part of the large redevelopment plan worked out between Paradigm and the county over the course of a year that ended during the summer of 2007. The redevelopment of Buckingham Village 3 (on the northeast corner of N. George Mason and Pershing drives) is a part of that process as well.

Next up for the project is to move all the people out of the buildings along N. George Mason Drive and N. Henderson Road so that those buildings can be razed to be replaced by another large apartment building, a small county park, and a couple lines of townhouses.

The relocation process is ongoing, with some of the people who live in those buildings taking units in the new building, Ms. Castan-Smith said. People who rent the affordable units must complete a lengthy application process.

A walk-in closet attaches to the master bedroom in each apartment. (Click to enlarge the image.)

The Madison at Ballston Station was built by Paradigm Development Company and is managed by their management arm.

Related stories…
  • Board Votes on Villages, March 2007
  • BV Vote (click then scroll down), June 2007
  • Bham Villages to Begin Relocation (this one is good for a couple design images), June 2007.
  • Many of these stories have "tags" and other links that would connect you to yet more stories dealing with this very long process. --ST
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    The Madison - I have been to this property and it is wonderful. Great sized units, open, bright. Nice Amenity Spaces as well.
    They are racist

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