Arlington to Study Historic Designation for Westover Garden Apartments

Published on December 02, 2016

Arlington County's Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board (HALRB) decided this week that further study of the Westover garden apartments is needed. The Board's decision came in response to a resident petition requesting that the Westover National Register Historic District be considered for designation as a local historic district.
The Board held a public hearing Nov. 30 as the first step in a historic designation review process. After hearing public comments from many speakers, the Board made two decisions:

  • The study area meets designation criteria. Arlington County's Zoning Ordinance requires that potential historic districts meet at least two of 11 designation criteria (Section 11.3.4). The HALRB found that the Westover study area meets at least two. In particular, the property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the property has character, interest, or value as part of the development, heritage or cultural characteristics of the county.
  • Further study is needed of only the garden apartment buildings, including those listed in the Historic Resources Inventory that the County Board approved in 2011. The HALRB directed County historic preservation staff to conduct further analysis in conjunction with the ongoing County study to assess the creation of zoning tools and proposals for the preservation of market rate affordable housing.

The Board voted 6-2-1 in favor of these decisions.

The HALRB's actions are preliminary steps in the local designation process. County historic preservation staff estimate it will take at least 6-12 months to undertake analysis, of the Westover garden apartments, which will include:

  • Collecting community feedback, including targeted outreach with property owners of garden apartments
  • Educating the community about the designation process and addressing concerns
  • Conducting an architectural survey and evaluation of the garden apartments to assess their physical integrity and historical significance
  • Writing a designation report that includes results of the analysis
  • Drafting proposed historic district guidelines with stakeholder input
  • Coordinating with the ongoing market rate affordable housing study
  • Holding additional public hearings with HALRB

After the analysis is completed, the HALRB will decide whether to support the designation request and send it forward in the designation process. If the HALRB chooses to send the request forward, additional public hearings would be held before the Planning Commission and the County Board.

The Westover neighborhood is a planned community that was developed in phases from 1939-1957, influenced by the dramatic increase of the federal workforce in Washington, D.C. and the need for affordable, quality housing.

In 2006, the Virginia Department of Historic Resources and the National Park Service approved the Westover National Register Historic District. Westover is one of 17 single-family neighborhoods in Arlington that has been listed as historic districts in the National Register.

These listings are honorary and do not impose any special restrictions on historic properties. A direct benefit of such designation is the ability for property owners to take advantage of state and federal tax credits for rehabilitating historic buildings.

Historic Preservation in Arlington

Arlington currently has 38 locally designated historic districts, ranging from individual single-family homes, churches, and businesses, to cemeteries, Civil War forts and neighborhoods such as Maywood, Colonial Village, and Buckingham Village.

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