NORTH ROSSLYN CIVIC ASSOCIATION
May 4, 2003
The President called the meeting to order at 7:10 pm.
Paul Derby moved and Stephanie Benefield seconded a motion to approve the minutes for the January meeting held jointly with the Radnor-Fort Myer Heights Civic Association. The motion passed unanimously.
The President's report included a plan for the next NRCA general meeting to invite Dave Foster to speak about the Arlington School Board and concerns about Wilson School, probably in April. The meeting will address our concerns about playing fields taken away by the trailers--should they be reduced or eliminated.
The Treasurer's Report was made by Paul Derby. It included a projection that we need at least 20 more NRCA members to meet our expenses during 2003, including the expenses for filing the 501c3 status with the IRS.
Other business included the naming of the park between Wilson Boulevard and 18th Street the Rosslyn Highlands Park. Paul Derby reported he had worked with the Arlington County Streets and Lighting division to add lights to the basketball court facing 18th Street.
Ken Marcus introduced the speaker for the meeting: Dr. Trachtenberg, President of George Washington University (GWU).
Dr. Trachtenberg began his presentation promising to take questions at the end.
Dr. Trachtenberg understands the concerns of the residents of the neighborhood about GWU possible purchase of the Gallery at Rosslyn apartment building. He said there are about 2,000 GWU students already living in Arlington, plus 279 faculty and staff members. GWU is a major tax payer in Virginia having paid about 5 million tax dollars in 2002. He intends GWU to be a good citizen in the future as it has in the past.
Dr. Trachtenberg was accompanied by a legal affairs representative, a public affairs representative and six students.
Was GWU purchasing the Gallery because of housing problems in Foggy Bottom?
There has been an increase in student enrollment, but GWU wanted to purchase the Gallery so that an intergenerational group of students, staff and faculty to live together with other residents. Junior, Senior, medical and law student probably would rent rooms in the Gallery. He also felt the Gallery was a good long term investment and would provide an incentive for attracting new faculty members to GWU in the future. GWU would meet the Arlington County Zoning Board conditions and would have the GWU related residents sign 12 month leases as required by Arlington County. GWU would hire a management company to rent the units under the local laws and regulation"”he understood that overriding those laws and regulations would not be possible.
How would GWU ownership affect local business?
Dr. Trachtenberg thought that it would have a positive effect on local business earnings, for restaurants, shops, and services.
Would GWU rent the affordable housing units to the GWU students?
GWU would continue to rent the affordable units to people who qualify for those units. This was one of the legal conditions with the building. 36 of the 38 affordable housing units had already been rented by Donohoe. The future affordable housing units will be rented in accordance with the zoning conditions.
Will GWU ownership exacerbate the local parking problems?
It will not worsen because few students have cars at the Gallery and there are 21 visitor spaces under the building. In fact, if the students are not able to use the parking spaces under the building, GWU will rent out the spaces or sell the spaces to make revenue. The spaces used by the students will have to hold cars registered with Arlington County, and Dr. Trachtenberg will work to make sure that GWU meets all of its County responsibilities and obligations.
GWU will join the NRCA and pay taxes for the Rosslyn Business Improvement District. He did not find any language in the Gallery documents saying that the Gallery Community Room had to be provided for neighborhood use twice per year.
The Arlington County Director of the Planning Division gave the definition of a dormitory: leases of less than 12 months, and no kitchens in the units. Since kitchens are provided in each of the Gallery units and leases will be fore 12 months, the GWU purchase of the Gallery does not lead to it becoming a dormitory.
The GWU purchase of the building will not change the usage of the building. GWU will hire a professional management company. The County does not need to make any changes to the zoning regulations for GWU's purchase.
The definition of a family is not more than four unrelated individuals living together in one unit. The Building Codes do not stipulate the number of people per size of the unit.
Is the Gallery's 1.1 parking spaces per unit sufficient for the number of people GWU expects will be living at the building?
GWU will discourage students from bringing cars to the Gallery. There might be four students per unit but probably not all four will have cars. He does not expect parking to be a problem. If it does become a problem, GWU will deal with it then. Dr. Trachtenberg expects to have surplus spaces and might lease to others in the area. He might limit the number of cars per bedroom. Students can have parking permits at the campus for $180 per month. Only one of the six students attending the meeting had a car. GWU was considering providing a shuttle bus to move students from the campus to the Gallery after the closing time of the subway.
There are covenants against sub-leasing the units, but GWU will sub-lease under the normal parameters. Some units will be furnished and some will be unfurnished. GWU wants to create incentives for students to continue living at the Gallery even after they graduate, perhaps for an additional year.
Atrium residents are afraid that their property values will decrease after GWU purchases the Gallery.
Dr. Trachtenberg thinks that the Gallery is a good investment and expects property values in the neighborhood to continue to rise. GWU is building additional housing on the GWU campus with plans for one building to open in September 2003 and another in September 2004. Within four years, there are plans for one or two additional buildings. As these buildings are completed, the staff and graduate students will probably be the main residents of the Gallery, with the undergraduate students finding housing on campus. This is GWU's plan to protect the Gallery building.
When will GWU take over the Gallery?
GWU has not yet decided but due diligence needs to be completed by mid-May. He did not know the date GWU would decide upon a management company.
Will there be parking for medical students?
Not all of the GWU students who will reside at the Gallery will be medical students and Dr. Trachtenberg did not expect many vehicles. If there is a real problem, GWU will find a solution, for example, only 1.1 spaces used per unit or stop letting fourth year medical students live at the Gallery.
Would Arlington County's legal power have been any different if GWU had announced the intention of purchasing the Gallery?
Arlington County spokesperson answered saying he did not think that the zoning would have been any different if they had known GWU might have purchased the Gallery.
Will there be any additional amenities or a higher level of security?
If there is a need for security, GWU will provide it. GWU might send a vehicle to periodically check the building. GWU will protect the GW name and the students.
Highview had one townhouse with 11 students and 13 cars plus numerous noise problems. The night before that townhouse was making noise at 2:30 am. They have a lot of trash.
Dr. Trachtenberg said that he expects the audience to believe that GWU does not intend to make the Gallery a dormitory; it is a luxury apartment building. Dr. Bets with his wife and two children will move into the Gallery as the GWU resident representative to control the students.
Will the Gallery residents be eligible for Zone 4 stickers?
Arlington County spokesperson said he was not sure and would have to check.
If they are eligible, would the students be limited in the number of Zone 4 stickers received?
Arlington County spokesperson said the students will be treated the same as other residents.
Can we call the GWU resident representative if there are problems?
GWU is putting Dr. Bets in the building as a resident. GWU is investing millions of dollars in the building and wants to protect its equity interest. GWU will not let the building deteriorate.
What will be the percentage of university related people and other residents?
During the first year, because of the circumstances of other off campus housing, the units not rented to the GWU related people will be rented to general residents. So far, 43 apartment have been rented to 92 students, including l bedroom, 2 bedrooms 1 bath, and 2 bedrooms 2 baths. He did not know the number of units so far rented to other people.
Is GWU managing the Gallery from the Student Housing Office?
No. The management company currently is Bozzutto. There was an erroneous assumption that the students would rent the units for only 9 months. Actually, they can rent rooms for 9 months on the campus. At Columbia Plaza the students have always rented apartments for 12 months and it has not been a problem.
If there are parking vacancies, will GWU rent them only to GWU people or to any qualified person?
GWU will not discriminate but they need the Gallery for future housing for professors. Currently they need the housing for students, but they expect that situation to be temporary with the long term need for professorial housing. GWU professors and staff will receive special treatment.
If residents other than GWU related people cause problems at the building what will happen?
Bozzutto will handle the residents other than the GWU related people. Obviously, if the person causing a problem is a GWU related person, we will have additional leverage in solving the problem.
Will the students be paying rent?
The students will be paying more than the 38 subsidized units. GWU will charge the professors as much rent as they can. Rental payments will be market value.
Why is GWU currently renting to students if GWU's objective is to rent to professors?
The future is university faculty, but currently undergraduate juniors and seniors have priority in selecting their housing. Placing Dr. Bets in the building will give us comfort.
Is GWU charging an extra $100 per month for a second car per unit to be parked in the garage?
That charge might reduce the number of cars to be parked in the garage. We do not expect parking to be an issue, but if it becomes an issue, we will fix it.
Suggestion of putting a "Flex-Car" in the building.
If there is a market and a need, we will do it.
Would Dr. Trachtenberg come back next year and meet with our Civic Association again?
Yes. In summary, the main issue is GWU's equity position in the Gallery and we do not want it to deteriorate, in fact, we expect the value of the Gallery to increase within two years. If there are any problems, we will fix them.
Mrs. Trachtenberg spoke saying she had been a DC resident for fifteen years, but for fourteen years she had been employed in Arlington County. She was very committed to Arlington, particularly at the schools and libraries through her job as a WETA representative. GW students work in the community in DC and they will probably work in Arlington in the future.
The meeting adjourned at 8:45 pm.
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