- County to retain ownership of nearly 2 acres of park land
- Buyer must agree to preserve home
- Community gardens to be maintained
The Arlington County Board today directed the County Manager to pursue re-subdivision of the 2.4-acre Reevesland parcel at 400 North Manchester Street, and create a lot that will include the 19th century farmhouse. The Board also directed the Manager to then pursue sale of the house to a buyer who will be required to preserve its historic integrity.
The remaining parcel, with its much-loved sledding slope, historic milk shed and raised planting beds created by the Reevesland Learning Center (RLC), will remain public park land. Reevesland Learning Center’s recently expanded planting beds will be maintained.
“Reevesland is a lovely piece of Arlington’s history, and important open space for our community,” said Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes. “Based on advice from the ad hoc Reevesland Study Committee, the County worked with the community for six years to find a way to retain public ownership of the house, or to create a public-private partnership to restore the house and open it to the public, but we were unable to achieve such a partnership, and the cost of restoring the property and bringing it up to code for public use was prohibitively expensive. After careful consideration, we believe that the best way to preserve this property is to find a private buyer, one of the options included in the Task Force’s recommendations.”
Cost of renovating facility for public use prohibitive
County staff had estimated it would cost $2.5 million to restore the house and bring it up to code for public use, including making it fully accessible and compliant with all public building code requirements. In addition, such a facility would require an unknown amount of ongoing maintenance and operating funds. The County Board had allocated $500,000 for repairs to the house at the close of the Fiscal Year 2013 budget and included no additional funding for the project in the recently adopted Fiscal Year 2016 Budget.
Reevesland purchased to expand Bluemont Park
The County purchased Reevesland, located at 400 North Manchester Street, in 2001 for $1.8 million to expand Bluemont Park. The parcel and farmhouse, owned by one family for almost 100 years, is the remnant of Arlington’s last operating dairy farm. In 2004, the County Board designated the entire 2.4-acre site as the Reevesland Local Historic District. Any exterior alterations to the buildings or to any portions of the grounds require approval by the Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board (HALRB). As a local historic district, a protective zoning overlay exists regardless of who owns the property, and will remain in effect after the re-subdivision and sale of the farmhouse.
The Board voted 3 to 2 to authorize:
- creation of a separate parcel containing the house and a small amount of surrounding property to be sold to a buyer who would be required to renovate the house and maintain its historic integrity
- maintenance of the recently expanded raised planting beds at Reevesland
- use of the $410,000 left from FY 2013 closeout funds authorized for Reevesland to pay transaction costs related to creating a conforming parcel and to enhance urban agriculture on the portion of the parcel the County will retain.
To read the staff report on this issue, visit the County website.
There will be several more opportunities for public hearings as the County moves forward with its plan to sell the former Reeves farmhouse — when the County considers the re-subdivision of the property, when it considers applying an easement to provide additional protection to the farmhouse and when it considers the sale of the farmhouse. The County will have a professional appraisal conducted to determine the value of the new parcel. Any proceeds from the sale, less the costs of sale, commission and settlement fees will go to the Park Land Acquisition Fund.
For several years, the Boulevard Manor Civic Association and Reevesland Learning Center have advocated for the County to fully fund the cost of restoring the Reeves Farmhouse and make it available to the Reevesland Learning Center. In 2011, the Department of Parks and Recreation received approval from the HALRB to construct raised beds on the property where Nelson Reeves, born in the farmhouse in 1900, originally had his garden. The raised beds are used by the Lawns2Lettuce4Lunch program of the Reevesland Learning Center to grow vegetables and teach local school children about food, the history of growing food on the farm and nutrition. More beds were added in 2014.