Monday, May 18, 2009

Newfound Humanity in Arlington

Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia will soon convert a 50-year-old Arlington apartment complex into low income housing, pending county approval. Known to area residents as the Perry S. Hall Apartments, Habitat will update the aging facility at 2912 17th Street South and then, in a move not usually associated with non-profit developer, put all 12 units of housing in complex up for sale as affordable-rate condos.

But neighbors shouldn’t fret over more low-income housing going up next door, says the developer. Since purchasing the property from Wesley Housing in 2005, the building has remained entirely vacant and George Lane, Project Manager for Habitat NOVA, tells DCmud the revitalized Hall Apartments will contribute to, not detract from, thank you very much, the surrounding Nauck neighborhood.

“[It’ll be] a major improvement to the neighborhood. If you drive by what’s there, it’s a pretty raggedy looking old building. No one’s done anything to it in 25 or 30 years and what we’re doing will blend in with the neighborhood. It’s colonial-style and it’s going to look very nice. There will be brick used in it…and a lot of nice window features. The units will be updated with modern appliances and plumbing and all that,” said Lane. “We’re building the same sort of housing [middle-class buyers] expect to live in today. We’re just building it for people who don’t make as much money.”

According to Lane, the development team – which also includes Creaser/O’Brien Architects – met with local Nauck residents last year to present designs and has stated the intention to ensure that locals already living in the area with be given “an equal, if not preferred opportunity” to purchase condo units. At present, they are scheduled to be available to those making between 20% and 60% AMI. Though Habitat famously relies on a stable of volunteers to construct their homes, the developer stresses the quality of the colonial-style apartment building will be on par with that of any professionally built project.

"Habitat uses a lot of volunteers for finishes. They’ll hang the drywall, they’ll install the insulation, they’ll do the carpentry and they’ll paint…All electrical, mechanical plumbing and things of that nature…are all done by professional contractors,” said Lane. “We sub-contract that out to other companies.”

Surprising to most will be the fact that this is not Habitat of Northern Virginia’s first foray into world of condominium development. They’re currently under construction on another, 9-unit development, entitled the Maple Ridge Condominiums, at 4150 Stevenson Street in Fairfax. Another Fairfax condo project, the 12-unit Westbrook Forest, was completed in 2007. And, following an upcoming Planning Board hearing, Habitat hopes to have the Perry S. Hall condos join them in short order.

“If all goes well [at the May 19th hearing]…then we’ll settle our building permit. Hopefully, the County will turn those plans around in a month or two and we’ll be able to start in mid to late summer,” said Lane. The project is scheduled to wrap up by the spring of 2010.


Anonymous said...

I have a deep & abiding love for Habitat. I was treasurer of my local for years, and it was an ineffable experience. Very pleased to read this. ~Mary

Justin Orr said...

Okay, yes, thank you for doing a good deed. Now, is that picture what you are building? Good God, that is the ugliest thing ever, and the rest of us will have to look at it for the next 30 years, until it gets torn down because it is essentially disposable. Does no one have taste in architecture anymore? Colonial style?? Colonial buildings looked nothing like that, and norther VA is littered with appallingly ugly buildings in the so-called colonial style, which is, to designers, code for cheap piece of garbage.

I'm not saying don't build affordable housing, but there's not excuse, no matter the wage level, for not making it tasteful.

Hunter on May 19, 2009, 10:55:00 AM said...

The picture is of the building as it currently stands, pre-renovation.

Anonymous said...

Many black people are mistakenly identified as being poor. This is incorrect. They are merely lazy.


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