Arlington County Sinks $150 Million into Acquisition of Barcroft Apartments by Private Developer

Comments at Arlington County Board Meeting, December 14, 2021.

The Barcroft deal is amazing for its lack of transparency. The County has announced that it’s taking out a $150 million loan to facilitate Jair Lynch’s purchase of 1300 market rate units on South George Mason Drive. The agenda item for the project indicates that Amazon is in on the deal but provides no information about how much financing either Amazon or the project’s equity investors will supply. There is no explanation why the developer needs so much moolah from the County to seal the deal. It is known that Amazon owner Jeff Bezos is worth $198 BILLION not million. He’s not short on cash.

You don’t need to know the assessed value of the property or even the purchase price. Nor do you need to know the cost of improvements to the property. All you need to know according to a flyer the County has distributed is that 1300 market rate units will be kept affordable for 99 years, and no one will be evicted. Since the project comports with the County’s housing goals, there is no need to perform a fiscal impact analysis justifying the expense. If County leaders don’t need any additional information to make an informed decision, you and I certainly don’t.

I’m all for affordable privately owned, market rate housing, i.e. MARKs. In fact I live in one of the few affordable garden apartments remaining in Westover, and I can attest to both its affordability and convenience. But the loan we’re talking about is more than 10 percent of the County’s annual operating budget. Surely the taxpayers who are financing this thirty-five year loan are entitled to know that the investment is both prudent and necessary.

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