Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Church and Housing Provider Vindicated in Clarendon Case


A church's involvement in affordable housing subsidies by the state doesn't violate the Constitution. So says another court in the ongoing battle at The Views at Clarendon, which has cleared yet another legal hurdle in its battle to build an apartment building heavily subsidized by the government in place of the First Baptist Church of Clarendon. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit this week upheld a ruling, issued last May, that found that Arlington did not violate the state or U.S. constitutions by subsidizing the church-led project.

The struggle may finally wrap up 5 years of lawsuits 7 years after the Church hired the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) to advise on an affordable housing project. The Church later sold the land to The Views at Clarendon Corporation, a non-profit, for $5.6m, with plans to build 46 market-rate and 70 affordable apartments. The Church retained 3 of 7 seats on the board, and will retain two floors within the new structure and a small building on the side. That lead to a neighbor arguing in Peter Glassman v. Arlington County, et. al that the subsidy amounted to unconstitutional support to a church, an argument that has been repeatedly rejected by both state and federal courts.

The news is a relief for the housing provider, not least because it began construction on the project last January (tearing down) and has just now begun building the 10-story structure, and the courts have refused to enjoin construction. While the case could be appealed - back to the same appellate court or to the U.S. Supreme Court - "further appeals are unlikely to be successful" says Raighne Delaney, an attorney Shareholder with Bean, Kinney & Korman, a law firm representing the non-profit. With plaintiffs having exhausted all automatic appeals, further appeals would be heard only at the discretion of the court.

"The county got a great bargain here," said Delaney. The nature of the bargain was a $13.1m loan the county gave to the developer, for which it got 70 subsidized apartments, with the feds kicking in a $14.5m loan and $20m grant for the project thanks to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. "Constitutionally, the only thing that mattered here was what the church got out of it. Even if it was a bad deal, the government is allowed to make bad deals," said Delaney, who stressed that the transaction is unbeatable for the county. Delaney said the real test is not whether the state is doing business with the church, but whether there is any "excessive entanglement" with the church. "The answer to that really is no. The state is not disallowed from doing business with the church, prohibiting regular business with the church would be a sort of anti-religious bigotry, and that's not allowed either."

Arlington Virginia real estate development news

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think that is the single ugliest building I have seen in my life....

Anonymous said...

"The single ugliest"?

Did you move to DC area last Tuesday?

Aiden said...

Yeah, that's probably an overstatement. Its probably only in the top 10 ugliest. Imagine how bad it will be in real life with a few years of age on it.

Anonymous said...

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder guys.. just think of the need of affordable housing in Arlington..now that is beauty.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, I'm so glad that our govt is broke and borrowing 40c on every dollar it spends, but can spend $50 million to put low-income people in a development hotspot, where market forces would have easily allowed private development. You get how this works, don't you? A builder does this because its so much easier to have the govt provide millions up front rather than have to suffer the vagaries of the marketplace. I can't afford to buy in Clarendon, but still poorer people get to live there, and the gov makes me pay for it.

Dan said...

"I can't afford to buy in Clarendon, but still poorer people get to live there, and the gov makes me pay for it."

Somebody call the wah-mbulance. Anonymouse d-bag is angry that the less-than-affluent "get" to live in Clarendon. *Everyone* knows that people making less than $80k should be relegated to Woodbridge and Martinsburg.

Anonymous said...

But if it helps keep a dying church alive, isn't all the government's money worth it?

As for beauty being in the eye of the beholder.... anybody out there think this pile is anything but a screaming mistake? But it is a perfect visual expression of how absurd this project is. Move over "Our Lady of Exxon", there is a new joke in town.

Anonymous said...

D-bag above: "they" should live wherever they want, but not at your or my expense.

Anonymous said...

Less than 80k? 50% average median income is like 25k for a single person. I agree with Dan that poor people are entitled to live in 500K condos next to Whole Foods and the Cheesecake Factory.

Anonymous said...

It is absurd that the government is spending $50MM of our money on this project. Incidentally, the Arlington County Fair Housing Board is AGAINST this project. The whole project is super shady. Someone from the Gov was definitely paid off here.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry...no one is "entitled" to a spot 100 yards from a Metro stop in one of the richest zip codes in the country. I can't afford to live there so guess what, I don't. This country is in a lot of trouble if we keep assuming everyone is so entitled.

Anonymous said...

I agree, Arlington is for rich people only, and there should be a minimum income requirement to live there.

You want to live near your job? Too bad--you get a three-hour commute.

Anonymous said...

"Arlington is for rich people only..."

And now it for the rich and super poor. The middle class still have to live 3 hours out in the suburbs.

 

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