Former Red Cross Headquarters Site to be Redeveloped

Published on April 21, 2018

  • County Board approves 97-unit multifamily residential building, 19 townhouses
  • Multifamily building to be 100 percent affordable
  • Historic Whitefield Commons buildings to be preserved

The Arlington County Board today approved a rezoning and Site Plan that will allow Wesley Housing Development Corporation to redevelop a block of property in the Buckingham neighborhood, once home to the County's Red Cross headquarters, with new housing. The redevelopment will include 97 affordable units in one new building,  two rows of townhomes, and the preservation of the four buildings that comprise Whitefield Commons.

"This redevelopment meets many of the goals of our Affordable Housing Master Plan," Arlington County Board Chair Katie Cristol said. "It adds to our stock of affordable housing, and importantly, adds affordable homes in our Metro corridors, north of Arlington Boulevard.

"The project also includes renovating an existing playground with public access on weekends, weekday evening hours, and on Arlington Public Schools holidays; improving circulation around and through the site by widening sidewalks; consolidating curb cuts, and filling in missing sidewalk links. Our community, facing an ever more severe deficit of affordable housing, needs more projects like this one."

The County Board voted 5 to 0 to approve the rezoning of a portion of the site and the Site Plan. To read the staff report(s), visit the County website. Scroll to Item No. 48 on the agenda for the Saturday, April 21, 2018 Regular County Board Meeting.

About the redevelopment plan

The property is located at 20 N. Thomas Street, 15 and 19 N. Trenton Street and 4333 Arlington Boulevard. The rows of three-story townhouses will front on N. Thomas Street, with the four-story multi-family building fronting on the Arlington Boulevard Service road at N. Trenton Street. The project is expected to be phased, with the townhouses built in Phase I and the multi-family building in Phase II.

The developer has agreed to achieve Earthcraft Gold or LEED v4 Homes and Multifamily Midrise Gold certification for the multi-family building. Both programs set standards for green building practices and energy efficiency. The developer received additional density for providing affordable housing and for energy efficiency certification for the new building.

The applicant will put in place a Transportation Management Plan (TMP), for each element of the project, to encourage transportation alternatives. The plan will include an annual contribution for 30 years to the Arlington County Commuter Services to support the TMP; provide each new tenant in the multi-family building with a choice of a SmartTrip card preloaded with a $65 balance or a bikeshare or car share membership, and other steps.

Preserving Whitefield Commons

The developer has agreed to record a historic preservation easement for the Whitefiled Commons apartment buildings on the site. Historically known as Windsor Apartments, the garden apartments were built in 1943. The easement will preserve the buildings' elevations, landscaped open space and circulation networks. The buildings will be preserved in perpetuity. The developer plans to reconfigure the interiors of the complex to add five units to the existing 63 units.

The complex is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places and is identified as an "Important" garden apartment property in the County's Historic Resources Inventory.

Public engagement

Five County Board advisory commissions reviewed the proposed project. The Site Plan Review Committee reviewed the proposal at four meetings between October, 2017 and February, 2018.

A walking tour of the site was held on January 20, 2018. Representatives of the Buckingham Community Civic Association, Arlington Oaks Condominiums, Bethel United Church of Christ, and Saint Thomas More Cathedral and School participated in the Site Plan Review Committee meetings. Several residents of the Arlington Oaks Condominiums attended SPRC meetings throughout the process.

View the 2015 Affordable Housing Master Plan, which outlines affordable housing principles that confirm "housing affordability is essential to achieving Arlington's vision."