In 2015 Arlington County Board adopted the Affordable Housing Master Plan (AHMP), the purpose of which was to provide a roadmap to increase the supply of affordable housing in the County.
One of the tools to accomplish this goal was Transfer of Density Rights (TDR)s, whereby a landlord at one location cedes his by-right development potential to another developer in the same community.
The seller of the TDR would command a price for the transfer, which would offset the cost of renovating his/her property and thus keep it affordable. Two complexes along Columbia Pike—Barcroft and Fillmore Garden Apartments—were viewed as ideal targets for TDR swaps. So in November, 2013 County Board approved a zoning ordinance amendment that that authorized it to approve even more TDRs than granted under the Columbia Pike Form Based code.
To my knowledge, since that time no TDR swaps have occurred along the Pike. Instead luxury townhouses have sprung up commanding prices that virtually no one living along the corridor can afford. In addition longstanding tenants at Fillmore Garden Apartments are being evicted by Scott Management in McLean.
One tenant who recently contacted me reported that he had received an eviction notice on or about August 31. He was not in arrears. In fact, as a disabled person, most of his rent had been paid by an Arlington housing grant—since terminated. When the tenant confronted the Fillmore Garden real estate agent about the eviction notice, she advised that twenty percent of the population of Fillmore Garden Apartments is going to go. Units renting for $1,300 will command $2,000 a month–after renovation.
Not only do recent developments along the Pike belie the notion that TDRs will help preserve affordable housing, other developments—such as the accelerated demolition of garden apartments throughout Arlington—including Westover and Bluemont—and the opposition of single family homeowners to local historic designation to preserve these units–make the AHMP a poor joke on renters in Arlington County.