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Arlington County, Virginia News

For Immediate Release

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Contact:Mary Curtius 703-228-7943 (voice) 703-228-4611(TTY)

County Board Approves $7.1 Million for Buchanan Gardens

  • 111 garden apartments to be improved, enlarged, kept affordable for 60 years
  • Project part of County's effort to preserve affordable housing around Columbia Pike
  • County expects further funding request from APAH to renovate units

ARLINGTON, Va. – The Arlington County Board today approved a $7.1 million loan to a non-profit housing corporation for the purchase of historic Buchanan Gardens, a 111-unit garden apartment complex one block north of Columbia Pike.

The Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) also won the Board’s approval for a plan to add bedrooms to some of the units to make them more suitable for families. APAH has agreed to keep the units affordable for moderate-and-low-income tenants for up to 60 years.

“This is a rare opportunity for the County to help preserve and improve affordable housing suitable for families close to Columbia Pike,” said Board Chairman Barbara Favola. “The County’s investment in Buchanan Gardens underscores its commitment to aggressively seeking opportunities to preserve affordable housing as development pressures intensify.”

Historic property is in poor repair

Buchanan Gardens is an 11-building complex at 914-934 S. Buchanan Street, built in 1949 to provide housing for wartime workers migrating to the metropolitan region. It is listed by reference in the National Register of Historic Places as part of a larger nomination, “Garden Apartments and Apartment Complexes Built in Arlington County from 1934-1954.” The complex is in poor repair and has been cited for major code violations and safety hazards.

The property now offers 82-one bedroom units, 28 two-bedroom units and a single three-bedroom unit at affordable rents. None of the units are accessible to persons with disabilities.  Rents range from $835 to $1,395 a month.

Renovations would create more family-sized units

Once it secures financing for renovation, APAH plans to use bump-outs to add bedrooms to some of the units. It will drop the number of one-bedroom apartments to 55, increase two-bedroom units to 49 and increase three-bedroom units to seven. Up to twelve units will be accessible to persons with disabilities and up to three of those units will be accessible to persons with disabilities with sight and hearing impairments. The renovation also will modernize systems and finishes and create a new office and community space.

Under the agreement with the County, APAH will restrict 60 percent, or 66 of the units to households with incomes at or below 60 percent of the Area Median Income. That would result in a rent of $995 a month for a one bedroom, $1,325 for a two-bedroom and $1,425 for a three-bedroom apartment.

Financing 

The $7.1 million loan approved by the Board will come from the County’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF), the County’s main financing program for developing affordable housing. AHIF is funded with local and federal money. The loan will be used to acquire the property and do routine repairs and maintenance – such as replacing broken appliances, painting stairwells, replacing light fixtures in stairwells and repairing sidewalks.  The 35-year loan would have a 3% interest rate. The County expects APAH to come back in February, 2010, to ask for additional County AHIF funds to renovate the property. 

APAH will apply for Low Income Housing Tax Credits during the 2010 application round through the Virginia Housing Development Authority. If it does not win the tax credits, APAH and the County assume the property will be held for up to five years without major renovations and bump-outs while APAH seeks other financing sources.

The Board voted 5 to 0 to approve the project. To read the full staff report, visit the County website, and click on Agenda Item #35.

Arlington, Va., is a world-class residential, business and tourist location that was originally part of the "10 miles square" parcel of land surveyed in 1791 to be the Nation's Capital. It is the geographically smallest self-governing county in the United States, occupying slightly less than 26 square miles. Arlington maintains a rich variety of stable neighborhoods, quality schools and enlightened land use, and received the Environmental Protection Agency's highest award for "Smart Growth" in 2002. Home to some of the most influential organizations in the world - including the Pentagon - Arlington stands out as one of America's preeminent places to live, visit and do business.


Last Modified: November 19, 2009
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