Comments at Arlington County Board Meeting on May 19, 2018.
I am speaking on my own behalf as a Westover resident and one of at least two dozen tenants who were recently evicted from two garden apartments on 10th Road to make way for more luxury townhouse development.
On May 16, 2018 in response to a petition submitted by Arlington resident John Reeder in June, 2016, the Arlington Historic Affairs and Landmark Review Board (AHALRB) met to decide whether to grant local historic designation for greater Westover garden apartments. Despite majority support for historic designation and two years to consider Reeder’s petition, the Board adopted a motion put by the chair to defer a decision on advice of County staff.
While this decision is disappointing, it is not surprising as Arlington’s historic footprint has all but disappeared. In historic Jamestown, Charlottesville, Georgetown, and DC whole neighborhoods are off limits to redevelopment. Even Donald Trump got into the act, undertaking a masterful renovation of DC’s historic Old Postal Pavilion in 2016. Not so Arlington.
In 2017 Arlington Public Schools (APS) demolished the Wilson School in Rosslyn, one of two century old school buildings remaining in the County. In April, 2018 APS approved the demolition of the historically preserved Reed School, which restoration was done by one of Washington’s premier architectural firms in 2009. The working group that recommended demolition reported a unanimous decision.
At a previous public hearing on November 30, 2016, an angry crowd of Westover home owners objected to inclusion of their homes in the historic district and some declared that they wanted the garden apartments razed.
Since then AHALRB has narrowed the boundary of the proposed district to the apartments. Yet If County Board were to approve the petition for local historic designation for Westover garden apartments, it would likely antagonize a solid majority of homeowners whose principal consideration is evidently the resale value of their homes. So much affordable housing and historic preservation.