County Board Considers Options for Arts, Affordable Housing and Infra
Published on April 20, 2021
The Arlington County Board took action at its April meeting on a number of projects designed to invest in community development and improve infrastructure throughout the County.
"The Board's actions today invest in Arlington's future through a flexible space for the arts, additional flexibility to allow for additional affordable housing, four neighborhood conservation projects, and infrastructure that improves our core utilities and provides essential services for our residents," County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti said.
A Commitment to the Arts, Affordable Housing and Responsible Development
In an effort to realize a vision of the Four Mile Run Valley Area Plan as well as the goals of the Public Spaces Master Plan and the County's Arts and Culture Strategy, the Board voted 5-0 to exercise its option to purchase two building parcels located at 2700 S. Nelson Street/2710 S. Oakland Street near the County's current Cultural Affairs space. Staff demonstrated how this additional property, which encompasses nearly 19,000 sq. ft. of land, could be activated as an interim use for performing arts, outdoor movie screenings, festivals, and/or an outdoor market and provide a critical anchor to a potential future arts and industry district. The current building currently houses several tenants; to give those tenants ample time to relocate, the County would wait until up to December 31, 2021 to close on the sale. To read the staff report, please visit the April 20, 2021 recessed meeting agenda and scroll to Item No. 44.
The Board also approved additional flexibility to realize the County's affordable housing goals by approving changes to the Zoning Ordinance that would allow it to consider and approve increased building heights of up to 60 additional feet beyond the maximum height permitted in three multifamily residential districts. The modification is a limited tool for immediate, near-term action on affordable housing projects. The additional allowance could be approved if 100 percent of the units in the proposed development were deemed affordable or if the overall project demonstrated a strong commitment to meeting the County's goals as outlined in the Affordable Housing Master Plan. To read the staff report, please visit the April 17, 2021 meeting agenda and scroll to Item No. 39.
Along Columbia Pike, the Board unanimously approved a use plan amendment to allow new owners of the Rappahannock site at 2400 Columbia Pike to add 6,500 square feet of overall density to its site and add 15 residential units for a total of 120. The proposed development will not only preserve the existing building facades but will also retain space for current retailers and offer transportation improvements contributing to a cohesive and user-friendly network. To read the staff report, please visit the April 17, 2021 meeting agenda and scroll to No. 40.
With a 3-2 vote, the Board approved the temporary conversion of up to 100 units at the Highlands in Rosslyn from residential use to hotel use for two years, with the option of an additional two-year extension. The temporary hotel use is expected to facilitate faster occupancy within the building and contribute toward activating the site during the initial leasing timeframe. To read the staff report, please visit the April 17, 2021 meeting agenda and scroll to No. 41.
Improving Arlington's Infrastructure
The Board awarded a $1.017 million contract, including contingency, to Old Line Construction, Inc. to build a sanitary sewer and water main along South Uhle Street, South Glebe Road and South Troy Street. The project, part of the County's Water and Sewer Infrastructure program, would reduce the risk of sanitary sewer backups in the low-lying area of S. Troy Street and South Uhle Street at South Glebe Road. The area has a history of basement flooding in several homes caused by sewer backups during intense storms. To read the staff report, please visit the April 17, 2021 meeting agenda and scroll to Item No. 28.
The Board also awarded a $9.89 million contract, including contingency, to Corman Kokosing Construction Company for design-build services to replace the structurally deficient West Glebe Road Bridge over Four Mile Run. The bridge lies just south of the intersection with South Glebe Road and connects the County on its north side to the City of Alexandria on its south side. The project will remove the existing superstructure and replacing it with a new superstructure with steel girders and a concrete deck. The existing substructures will be repaired and new, wider sidewalks, bike lanes, enhanced lighting and architectural features installed. To read the staff report, please visit the April 17, 2021 meeting agenda and scroll to Item No. 26.
Neighborhood Conservation and Historic Preservation
At today's meeting, the Board also approved four projects recommended by the Neighborhood Conservation Advisory Committee with a total combined cost of approximately $2.046 million. The projects include:
- 6th Street North & North Edison Street — intersection improvement project
- 12th Street South & South Scott Street — intersection improvement project
- South Abingdon Street — 31st Street South to 31st Road South — street improvement project
- 11th Street North & North and Danville Street — open space improvement project
All projects recommended went through the standard Neighborhood Conservation public engagement process, which is a collaborative effort that seeks input from residents and civic associations on concept designs. To read the staff report, please visit the April 17, 2021 meeting agenda and scroll to Item No. 25.
After a public hearing, the Board also voted 5-0 to deny the proposed local historic district designation of a portion of the Febrey-Lothrop Estate as recommended by the HALRB and to direct the County Manager to conduct a potential planning study on the property. The Board directed the County Manager to have staff explore and report to the County Board by October 2021 regarding a schedule for a planning study of this site in support of furthering Historic Preservation Master Plan and Affordable Housing Master Plan goals and objectives. To read the staff report, please visit the April 17, 2021 meeting agenda and scroll to Item No. 42.