HousingPolicy.org Forum

Join us on Wednesday, July 27 from 12 - 1:00 pm ET (9 - 10:00 am PT) to learn how transit-oriented development and other sustainable development practices can aid communities in efforts to overcome scarce resources, a political climate wary of public spending, and other challenges brought about by the economic recession.  Presentations will include case study examples from Arlington County, VA's Columbia Pike Initiative and Fairfax County, VA's Transforming Tysons project.


Speakers include:

  • Matt Ladd, Senior Planner, Fairfax County, Virginia
  • Danilo Pelletiere, Research Director, National Low Income Housing Coalition 
  • Jennifer Smith, Columbia Pike Initiative Coordinator, Arlington County, Virginia


Click here to view a recording of this session.


This session is presented as part of the Live at the Forum Summer Series: Sustainable Development in the National Capital Region, a three-part webinar series highlighting exciting and innovative projects in the Washington, D.C. metro region. Learn more about other sessions in the series, which address regional coordination and tools for preserving affordability.


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Replies to This Discussion

Danilo: you mentioned that communities are preparing economic impact research to make the case for affordable housing and provided a link to reports on NLIHC's site. Can you please re-post that link?

Jennifer, was there a reason behind going with a streetcar along Columbia Pike rather than, say, Bus Rapid Transit?

Absolutely, here is the site for NLIHC State Coalition research: http://www.nlihc.org/template/page.cfm?id=139

And there is also this brief from NHC: http://www.nhc.org/media/files/Insights_HousingJobs_Factsheet_Jan_1...

Here is also the report I mentioned on affordable housing at risk in the Columbia Pike area (Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax, VA): http://www.nvaha.org/pdfs/NVAH001PreservStudyWeb.pdf

Jennifer: In your presentation you mentioned that the Columbia Pike project differs from other projects in Northern Virginia because of the large amount of existing homes in the area (affordable or otherwise).  Can you talk about how the difference in site characteristics – specifically, the presence of current residents -- influences the public participation and resident engagement processes?


The Pike area and current study differed from our prior planning processes in the Metro corridors because we are studying areas with existing housing.  In the Metro corridors, these areas were originally commercial development and we weren't displacing housing.


The multi-family residential areas along Col Pike are primarily garden apartment housing stock built in the 1940s and 50s.  We have mid-rise (about 7-8 stories) constructed in the 1950s - early 70s.  Otherwise, very little new (ish) construction occured since then except for one wood frame walk up apartments in the late 1990s.


The resident mix is very diverse.  We have over 80 languages spoken this corridor.  We have been doing tenant outreach as part of this process however our attendence is still low tryng to reach tenants.  Our active stakeholder group is comprised of over 22 different representative groups, which includes neighborhood reps, adivsory commission reps, developers, major property owners, and tenants.

Jennifer, do you think the Pike plan should have considered affordability preservation earlier in the planning process? If so, how would you have incorporated it?


Somewhat relatedly, how have you tried to balance the chicken-egg problem of increased density and commercial development along the corridor? Has transit been able to (and will it continue to) meet the needs of the growing area?
Also, have developers (or the planning department) been able to use revenues or incentives from commercial development to finance/underwrite/encourage affordable housing development? If so, how?
The County has an affordable housing fund which it has used in several instances for projects along Columbia Pike and in other parts of the County to help private and non-profit developers to achieve affordable housing.  Since the revitalization effort began on Col Pike, there have been a few site plan projects and some renovation projects in the multi family residential areas where the aff housing investment fund has been used to help subsidize units.
Laura, the Pike was an untested market in the late 1990s.  There had been effectively no new development, even though some Site Plan tools had been available in teh commercial area, for decades.  So the County's efforts with the CPI Plan were just test whether new development would come under that Plan and the subsequent FBC.  The FBC was seen as an incentive in and of itself offering more streamlined process, predictable results and approval of projects and fewer demands of community benefits.  The County, and community, at that time recognized that placing higher demands, inculding affordable housing requirements would likley continue to stall development in this location where land values were high but not high enough to offset higher rents.  If I had to speculate going forward, the FBC where it exists today in the commercial areas would ultimately change and offer either bonuses to achieve affordable housing or be restructured to require contributions.  We aren't however, focusing on that with the current study.

The DC metro area is a bit of an outlier in terms of housing prices, on-going development and other factors. In spite of this, are there some lessons that we can take from these development projects -- increasing development and transit access in practice -- to places where the economy has taken a larger hit?


Financing for multifamily housing seems to be a particular problem currently, and yet is necessary to get the densities to make TOD work. Do you have strategies that could be used in slower markets? What about for attracting commercial development?


In Boston, there is interest in creating a triple-bottom-line fund to attract equity investors to market-rate return, mixed-income, mixed-use TOD projects. Has Tysons Corner done a gap analysis to identify missing elements in the TOD financing landscape. Some areas of our region seem comparable to Tysons.



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