County Board Plans Safety, Housing, Future Priorities at Oct. Meeting

Published on October 16, 2021

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The Arlington County Board took action at its October meeting to ensure the safety of its youngest residents and secure quality housing. It also took steps to plan for Arlington’s priorities of housing and land use, transportation, sustainability efforts and more in the 2022 General Assembly legislative session.  

“Today we acted to help Arlingtonians stay safe from traffic in our neighborhoods and ensure affordable housing projects remain on track,” said County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti. “We also began consideration of our community priorities for the 2022 Legislative Session in Richmond – efforts to invest in human services, housing, sustainability, and how we conduct public meetings." 

County Slow Zones 

The Board approved a request to advertise a public hearing to consider lowering the speed limit and creating permanent 20 mph “slow zones” on residential street segments near 13 schools within the County. This effort is part of the Vision Zero initiative, which supports lowering speed limits near schools, where children—who are vulnerable users—take frequent trips as pedestrians, bicyclists, or passengers. This initial outreach will help the County test proposed signs and collect data to determine the impact on speeds and safety before the County deploys the slow zone guidelines on a larger scale. Read the staff report. 

 Affordable Housing Loans

The Board formally approved several different loan agreements that will benefit various affordable housing projects throughout the County.  

It amended the Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF) loan agreement for Standard Foundation Park Shirlington to extend the existing $6 million loan on the project for a year and approved a subordination agreement for the AHIF loan on the project to ensure needed renovations and improvements are completed without interruption. This action is to help finance the acquisition of Park Shirlington Apartments, a 294-unit complex built in the mid-50s in Shirlington, where significant renovations were approved over the summer. This action provides for extensions of existing loans to allow time to close on a new renovation deal and pay off the original senior financing. Read the staff report. 

The Board also approved loan documents totaling just over $19 million to help facilitate the development and construction of the Ballston Station project – a new building with 144 affordable apartments along Fairfax Drive in Ballston. This action follows those taken at the June meeting this year that allocated $15.9 million in AHIF to the project, in addition to the $3 million originally allocated to the project at the February 28, 2017 meeting. Read the staff report

Additionally, the Board approved a loan subordination agreement to facilitate the refinancing of Columbia Grove Apartments. This agreement refinances the first mortgage loan on the project and allows for an interest rate reduction on the Board’s loan to the Columbia Grove Apartments Limited Partnership. Columbia Grove Apartments has 208 units with 130 restricted to 50% and 60% Area Median Income (AMI) households and the remaining units are unrestricted. Read the staff report. 

Columbia Pike Zoning Amendments

The Board authorized advertisement of public hearings to consider amendments to the Zoning Ordinance that would allow for greater flexibility for ground floor commercial uses along Columbia Pike. The recommendation would permit a wider range of allowable commercial uses and respond to current and anticipated commercial market conditions within the redevelopment nodes along Columbia Pike and align with the 2019 Columbia Pike Commercial Market Study, the 2015 Arlington County Retail Plan, and the intent of the FBC’s ground story use table to achieve a high level of pedestrian activity adjacent to the public sidewalk, interesting design, and transparency into the building. Read the staff report

State Legislative Priorities

The Board held a public hearing to consider proposed General Assembly Session priorities. These priorities, which range from sustainability efforts and transportation funding to human services, criminal justice reform, and continuation of virtual participation in public meetings, as a result of consultation with Arlington’s many commissions and advisory groups as well as staff and community leadership. After additional public input, the final legislative package will be adopted in November before the General Assembly session begins in January. Read the staff report