These are notes from my meeting on May 23, with Neil Thompson, an engineer in the Arlington County Community Planning and Housing Division. At that time we went over the preliminary redevelopment application from AHC, (the Key Boulevard Apts. owner and ‘nonprofit affordable housing’ provider).
The AHC application is called a 4.1 document, the term deriving from the regulation number. The application will be reviewed for completeness for about a month. That completeness review will confirm that all required information has been provided by the developer. After the completeness review, Arlington County staff will recommend whether the County Manager should ‘accept’ the application. After ‘acceptance’ the project is subject to the public Site Plan Review process. This process is required whenever a project requires a change in zoning and, therefore, approval by the County Board. NRCA will be invited to participate in the Site Plan Review. I expect that we will take an activist role in that process.
I saw no great surprises relative to what we heard from AHC months ago. It’s mostly 6 floors of housing with parking below ground. However, the lot is lower on the 19th street side so on that side the housing is 7 stories high. The building will be 60 feet high from Key, plus there will be 16 feet of various utilities on the roof.
There’s 75 market price condos, and 84 affordable units (including 6 three BR units). The affordable units are on the west (community garden side), the market units are on the east (Rosslyn Mews side). There will be a community room on the affordable side, a club room on the condo side, and fitness rooms on each side. Most of the market price units will have small balconies projecting beyond the building walls. My reading of the plans is that the building street view will have little character but rather will present itself as occupied and neat.
There’s room for 150 cars and 48 bikes. Resident parking access is from Key. The service entrance is on 19th. The garage is underground.
The development will include a 56' X 72' (gated) central green space. For many units, their balcony and outdoor windows front on this space. Pretty clearly it’s intended as a passive park.
Most of the big trees on the walkway side come down. So too the central green area trees (eg. flowering Cherries) come down, as do some of the big trees on Key and on 19th. The impermeable surface increases from .63 to .85 acres.
On the side toward the community gardens and on the side facing Rosslyn Mews there’ll be 24 feet of space from the building wall to the property edge. My notes indicate less space between wall and street on 19th and on Key but I need to confirm that. The surface area on the community garden side includes a metal grate area which will cover subground transformers. The garage ventilators will exhaust on the Rosslyn Mews side. There will also be a play space, presumably with some equipment, measuring 20' X 26' on the community garden side.
No property easements are requested. No vacations of existing property easements are requested.
AHC has indicated in at least two public meetings that they intended to use some ‘transfer of development rights (TDR)’ on this project. Some County staff and politicos have told me that TDR may not work at this site. Regardless, the current 4.1 document from AHC does not include this process.
Kindly consider this a 'first pass' review.
PS. A personal note. I continue to wonder how ‘affordable housing for families’ can be built when there’s no sizeable recreation space nearby.