Arlington County Board approves $150 million to finance Barcoft Apartment acquisition
On Tuesday, the Arlington County Board approved a $150,000,000 County Acquisition Fund loan to an affordable housing provider to help finance Barcroft Apartments' acquisition, a 1,334-unit market affordable garden apartment complex located at 1130 S. George Mason Drive.
The County Managers Office presented the following as a summary to bring everyone up to speed on how the proposal came to the floor:
This fall, a broker circulated a listing advertising the Barcroft Apartments for sale
Risked market-rate development and displacement of its current residents if purchased by a by-right market-rate developer
Instead, acquisition by an affiliate of Jair Lynch REP includes a plan to commit all units to 99-years of affordability.
To help this purchaser acquire the property, staff recommends approval of a $150 million line of credit, associated County Acquisition Fund Loan, and corresponding loan documents.
Amazon has also committed $160 million in a low-rate loan from their Housing Equity Fund to be used for immediate repairs, adding amenities, property upgrades, and other improvements to the property. The Amazon Housing Equity Fund is Amazon’s $2 billion commitment to preserve and create over 20,000 affordable housing units in three regions, including Arlington. The commitment also included a donation of vacant land to Arlington County to build new affordable units on the property.
During the County's presentation, representatives stated that in their housing dashboard, they see the need for housing affordability for the County and the impact that lack of affordability has on racial and ethnic groups in the community. As of today, 11.6% of Arlington’s rental housing stock is affordable to households earning less than 60% of the Area Median Income (AMI). The County's Master Plan has a goal of 17.7% rental housing affordability by 2040. This project was cited as a way to close gaps and raise predictors of success in the County. County representatives stated that racial equity would continue to be monitored during and after the completion of the project.
There were several speakers from the community who made remarks during the hearing. Most community speakers welcomed the plan and recognized the potential to address racial equity and housing affordability issues. However, some were taken aback by what was perceived as a lack of transparency of the deal, involvement from Amazon, and the potential for gentrification. A few current residents of Barcroft spoke out in favor of the agreement since it effectively saved their community from being torn apart, but also noted there needs to be an agreement on fundamental tenant rights such as an agreement that no one will be evicted because of potential overcrowding before new management takes over.
You can view the County Board in its entirety at this link. If you want to skip directly to the County Acquisition Fund loan discussion, it begins at 1:18:03 in the video.