March Meeting Recap: Clarendon Development Plans

March Meeting Recap: Clarendon Development Plans
County planner Brett Wallace, who is project manager for the Clarendon Sector Plan (CSP) Update, reviewed the current status of work on the update. The plan has shaped the physical development of Clarendon over the past 14 years, including private development projects and major public investments like the Clarendon Circle transportation improvements. Several large developments are currently proposed in Clarendon, including redevelopment of key sites south of Washington Boulevard, reconfiguration or relocation of Fire Station 4, several high-rise residential buildings, and a convention hotel. Changes to the plan may have a significant impact on traffic, parking, trash, and safety in LV.

CSP Presentation Slides

CSP Presentation Audio

How does the Sector Plan update relate to the County’s “Missing Middle” initiative and proposed changes to zoning?

Are you discussing moving Wilson Boulevard a few feet South into the Silver Diner block between Clarendon Circle and 10th Street N, so as to provide more sidewalk space on the North side of the street, where Northside Social is currently located?

It is widely acknowledged that there are limits to growth. Will you consider limits on Clarendon’s infrastructure? Streets and sidewalks in Clarendon are narrower than Rosslyn or Ballston. Is there a limit to what can be reasonably built in this area?

How will the proposed projects taper down to the residential neighborhoods — particularly on the 10th Street side where you are very close to Ashton Heights and Lyon Park?

Are any parcels north of Wilson and Washington Blvds. in play in your study? Parking in Clarendon is tight and spills over into Lyon Village. Are any thoughts be given to increasing the parking requirement — the County seems to be reducing it to about 0.46 spaces per unit in residential buildings.

How much more density has been added above the current density under the 2006 Sector Plan in the four private project proposals? Their presentations don’t seem to list the original density nor the additional square footage they have requested.

What is a modified step back?

On the St. Charles side of Washington Blvd. opposite the Bromptons, the proposal is to keep the edge of the site at 55 feet and then taper up more rapidly than currently planned. Yet this is the lowest part of the site, and elevations are typically measured based on the whole site. What would be the likely height at that point with an average site elevation of 70 feet or more?

Is there not enough parking in Clarendon, or is it just a matter of folks not wanting to use the public parking garages?

A convention hotel is proposed for the Silver Diner site. The transportation needs for a hotel are very different than those for a residential building or office building. How would you keep traffic from cars, shuttle vans, and tour buses from spilling out into the neighborhoods?

How many of these sites will include residential that will cater to families? where will those children go?

Dittmar is currently proposing to remove seventy-five homes from our housing supply by converting them to short/medium-term rentals across three of their buildings (not in the subject area, but nearby) in a “minor” site plan amendment. What is the County doing (through this sector plan amendment or anywhere else) to compensate the community for the removal of those 75 homes, especially in the context of our housing shortage?

Will the fire department station and office building remain? Will their current activities continue? Will any of it need to be moved?

When will the Joyce Motors site be bringing something to the Board?

Fast-Moving Developer Demolishes Historic House

Fast-Moving Developer Demolishes Historic House
Community associations once again prove to be no match for well-funded developers and a county government oriented toward development. The Dominion Hills Civic Association lost its long-running effort to preserve the Civil-War era Febrey-Lothrop House. The nine-acre property is now expected to be developed. While currently zoned for single-family homes, local residents are worried because affordable housing advocates are pushing for higher-density affordable housing, which residents call “inconsistent with our neighborhood.” Story at ARLnow

Major Affordable Housing Project in LV

Major Affordable Housing Project in LV
At at emergency County Board meeting held virtually in the early hours of Thu, Apr 1, the Board approved acquisition of the now-decommissioned Ever Given container ship for an undisclosed amount. The Ever Given is one of the largest container ships in the world and the subject of media attention as it blocked the Suez Canal for a week.
  Plans are to convert shipping containers aboard the ship into affordable housing units. Container homes can cost half as much per square foot as traditional construction. Organizations around the world have been embracing shipping containers to economically create housing for low-income populations.

  The Ever Given has a capacity of 20,000 containers. It is estimated this would comfortably accommodate at least 1,000 housing units with below-decks parking for 1,500 vehicles.
  Project location is the the south side of Lee Hwy stretching from Adams to Danville. The area is zoned RA8-18, a zoning designation the Board is expected to modify at its April 17 meeting to permit “bonus” height for affordable housing developments. The Ever Given would be the County’s first such project.

  The LVCA is expected to develop a stand on this matter. Based on recent interactions with the County, resistance is expected to be futile. Discover Containers website Ever Given Every Where

Apartment Space to Hotel Conversion

Apartment Space to Hotel Conversion
Despite allegations of an Arlington “housing crisis” the County Board is expected to allow another developer to temporarily convert apartment space to hotel use. The developer of 1555 Wilson Blvd wants to convert 5 floors of residential units into a hotel because they are expected to remain vacant for a long time. County Board is expected to advertise a public hearing on the matter for April. Sun Gazette County’s Project Page

Arlington Rents Drop 15%

Arlington Rents Drop 15%
A survey of the nation’s 50 largest cities finds that COVID-19 disrupted the rental market in expensive cities, like Arlington. The change in annual trend started late March as COVID-19 concerns intensified. At the same time rents rose in midsize cities. The survey notes that expensive rental markets possess many renters able to telework, eliminating the need to live close to work. Also, laid-off workers became unable to continue paying high rents. The farther away from city centers, rents have not declined as much. Further declines are not anticipated. Survey at Apartment List

Red Top Site: Shorter Building, More Units

Red Top Site: Shorter Building, More Units

Red Top Redevelopment (click to enlarge)
The Red Top site project, between 13th St, N Hudson, and Washington Blvd has amended its plans to shorten the 10-story building on Washington Blvd and shift its mass to lower floors. The number of residential units increased from 247 to 269 units. Units will be studios and 1 or 2 bedrooms. The amendment awaits approval by the county Planning Commission. Ground has not yet broken on the project. Urban Turf

Oct 28 Missing Middle Housing Study Begins

Missing Middle Housing Study Kick Off Event Online
When: Wed, Oct 28 at 7PM
Where: Online Meeting Website
The Missing Middle Housing Study will explore how new housing types could help address Arlington’s shortfall in housing supply and gaps in housing choices.
● What housing types are appropriate for Arlington?
● Where could new types of housing be located?
● What would the infrastructure and environmental impacts be? How could they be mitigated?
● How much would new types cost, and what impact would that have on Arlington’s housing market?

Tense Meeting on “Upzoning” Residential Areas

County Board members were queried about a planned study of zoning during a Jan 2 housing forum. At issue is the desire by some to “upzone” single-family neighborhoods to accommodate more properties. The goal is to keep costs of Arlington housing from growing unaffordable for middle-income residents.

A bill introduced for the 2020 General Assembly session would eliminate single-family zoning across all of Virginia.
Va House Bill 152 Would Ban Single-Family Residential Zoning

“None of us are interested in destroying all our single-family neighborhoods,” said new County Board Chairman Libby Garvey.

More at Sun Gazette

County Expands Areas for Elder Care Facilities

To to promote housing options for seniors and persons with disabilities., the County Board voted to amend the Zoning Ordinance. The change allows new assisted living and similar facilities in areas where multifamily development is already allowed. The change also lowers parking requirements at these facilities.

The amendment expands permissible areas to 18 zoning districts located near and along Arlington’s major planning corridors. Designated areas in Lyon Village are primarily along Lee Hwy and Wilson Blvd (shaded areas on map). Some of these areas currently include single-family houses.

LV Portion of Fuzzy Map Published by County (labels added by Tom)

News Release: Arlington to Allow Elder Care Facilities In More Areas

Staff Presentation to Board

“Housing Arlington” Initiative Launched

County Board seeks ways to solve Arlington’s affordable housing shortage by leveraging existing county housing programs, zoning changes, and private-public partnerships.

Six initiatives fall within the overall Housing Arlington program:
1 Land Use Tools
 ● Accessory Dwelling Regulations Update
 ● Elder Care Zoning Study
 ● Bonus Density
 ● Plan Lee Highway
 ● Housing Conservation District
 ● Missing Middle Housing Study
2 Financial Tools
3 Institutional Partnerships
4 County Employee Housing
5 Condominium Initiative
6 Affordable Housing Master Plan Review

No mention of transit
Did failure to address Columbia Pike transit hamper development in the parts of Arlington and Fairfax counties most available for affordable housing?

Housing Arlington

Housing Arlington: Program News

Missing Middle Housing Study Framework