- Carver Homes: 73 units, including six affordable units, mini-park
- New public mini-park and playground planned in Arlington View
- Columbia Hills: 229 new affordable units, existing units preserved
- More family-size affordable units and new playground in Columbia Forest
The Arlington County Board tonight (Tuesday evening, Feb. 24) approved two redevelopment projects along Columbia Pike that combined will include a net total of 235 new affordable units, in keeping with the goal of preserving the current level of 6,200 affordable units along the Pike.
Carver Homes and Columbia Hills are the first two redevelopments within the Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Special Revitalization District to be approved in accordance with the Neighborhoods Form Based Code (N-FBC) that the Board adopted in 2013. Applicable to multi-family residential areas along the Pike, the N-FBC benefits the community by managing growth, supporting public improvements and aligning redevelopment with the community’s vision in a predictable manner. It is an optional tool that offers developers the incentive of more density and an expedited review process in exchange for setting aside 20 to 35 percent of net new units on site for affordable housing that must remain affordable for at least 30 years.
“The Board, based on years of collaborative community work, embedded the preservation or replacement of the current number of affordable housing units along Columbia Pike as an overarching development goal in the Neighborhoods Plan,” said Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes. “We’re off to a good start with Carver Homes and Columbia Hills, each of which will contribute attractive, affordable homes, including homes large enough for families. We believe these projects are the first of many successful redevelopments up and down the Pike.”
The planned redevelopments underwent a community review process, including meetings with the Form Based Code Advisory Working Group and the surrounding communities.
Carver Homes is proposed for 1300 S Rolfe Street, a 3.35-acre site that is currently developed with the George Washington Carver Mutual Homes Association and includes 44 townhouses. The redevelopment of the site in the Arlington View neighborhood will replace the existing homes with 50 townhouses, offering 73 dwelling units; a public mini-park; private open spaces; vehicular and bicycle parking; internal street connections and streetscape improvements around the site’s perimeter. The new buildings will meet green building standards and are designed with accessible entrances in compliance with Neighborhoods Form Based Code requirements.
An amendment to the Master Transportation Plan will add a new segment of S Quinn Street and 13th Street S to service the development.
The County Board voted 5-0 to approve the plan.
Honoring the property’s history
The federal government built the existing homes in 1945 to provide housing for residents displaced by the construction of the Pentagon, and descendants of Arlington’s Freedman’s Village, a historically significant African American community. In 2011, Carver Homes was added to the list of “important” sites as part of the Historic Resources Inventory (HRI). This listing was considered during the creation of the Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Area Plan in 2012, however, it was determined that full redevelopment of the property was appropriate during that community process.
The Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board (HALRB) recommends the 70-year history of the property be honored with historical information about the African American history of the site and the architect of the original homes, Albert Cassell, a noted African American architect in the region. This history will be incorporated into two historical markers; specific locations will be determined during the permitting process.
Columbia Hills: adding family-size affordable units
The Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) plans to build Columbia Hills, a new eight-story building, at 1010 S Frederick Street in the Columbia Forest neighborhood. It will include 229 affordable multi-family dwelling units, community rooms, a new playground and underground parking. The units will be affordable to working families earning between 40% and 60% of the area median income, or $30,000 to $70,000 per year. All of the units will be committed to the County’s affordable housing stock for at least 60 years.
Of the 229 new units, 138 will have two or three bedrooms, increasing the number of family-size committed affordable units (CAFs) available in the County. Ten of the new units will be designated for Permanent Supportive Housing and 13 will be designed as fully accessible.
The garden-style apartment complex now on the site includes 208 units, 130 of which are CAFs. The existing complex, named Columbia Grove, will remain. The new building, an infill development, will replace a surface parking lot and playground. Parking will be located in the new building’s three-level garage and the playground will be relocated on site.
The approved development, in compliance with Neighborhoods Form Based Code requirements, will meet standards for the building envelope, open space, vehicular and bicycle parking, accessibility and energy efficiency. Two levels of bonus height, previously identified as appropriate for the site during the 2012 Neighborhoods Area Plan, were granted in exchange for the significant contribution of 229 affordable units beyond the minimum 36 required. An allowable modification to the maximum building footprint was also granted in alignment with goals set forth in the Neighborhoods Area Plan.
The County Board voted 5-0 to approve the plan.
APAH will develop the site using a combination of Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF) loans, low income housing tax credits and private loan funds. The County approved approximately $18.9 million total in AHIF loans to assist with the acquisition of land and the construction of the units. This is an average AHIF-cost per unit of about $83,000, leveraging nearly $4 for every $1 of AHIF financing.
Planning Columbia Pike
Columbia Pike has been the focus of extensive planning efforts since 1986, when the Columbia Pike Special Revitalization District was established. Community-based planning efforts have helped shape the vision for a revitalized Pike. The 2012 Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Area Plan made affordable housing a long-range planning priority with a goal of preserving all the Pike’s existing affordable units.
Form Based Code (FBC) is an optional zoning tool the County uses in Columbia Pike’s Special Revitalization Districts to help achieve the vision outlined in the Pike’s planning initiative. Two variations of the tool regulate redevelopment: Commercial FBC and Neighborhoods FBC. Each Code provides a citizen-endorsed set of regulations aimed at improving properties in the designated areas and forming quality public places.
To learn more about Form Based Codes and planning along the Pike, visit the County website.
Affordable Housing Investment Fund
AHIF, a revolving loan fund, is the County’s main financing program for affordable housing development. The funding comes from local and federal sources, as well as loan repayments and developer contributions. Since its creation in 1988, AHIF has helped to create the majority of Arlington’s affordable rental units that benefit low-income households.
To learn more about funding affordable housing, visit the County website.