Arlington VA will repurpose & renew historic Red Cross site as green, affordable housing

Here in Arlington, Virginia (where REVITALIZATION is based, the Arlington County Board approved (on April 21, 2018) a rezoning and Site Plan that will allow Wesley Housing Development Corporation to redevelop a historic block of property in the Buckingham neighborhood.

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. The site, which was once home to Arlington’s Red Cross headquarters, will be repurposed as residential, with 97 of the housing units designated as affordable (which is desperately needed in Arlington). There will be two rows of townhomes, and four historic buildings comprising the Whitefield Commons will be preserved.

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.

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.

The developer has also 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.

Rendering courtesy of the Arlington County Board.

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