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Archive for September, 2012

Layton Hall initial plan looks good, but needs to preserve some affordable units

Posted by Fairfax City Citizens on September 22, 2012

At the City Council’s September 18th meeting, the owner of Layton Hall Apartments presented plans to redevelop Layton Hall Apartments as a more compact and pedestrian-friendly community. However, the plans would not preserve any units at current rates, which would drive current residents out of the apartments and probably out of the city.

JCE proposes to replace the current 110 garden-style apartment units with 357 units on seven buildings, four of which would be set close to Layton Hall Drive. All parking would be underneath or behind the residential units. The more compact, street-oriented building design would connect the apartments more organically with nearby Courthouse Plaza and the city’s downtown area.

 The proposal could move very quickly – JCE intends to file its application within the next few weeks. More information about the proposed project can be found at http://fairfax.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=2&event_id=81&meta_id=30606

The Mayor and several Council members voiced concerns about the scale and density of the proposal. Given the right design, though, this scale and density could be a big plus for the city.

The rents for the units would range from $1,250 to $1,900 a month – a steep increase from current monthly rents ($1,150 -$1,450). Adding market-rate studio and one-bedroom apartments could help the city attract more young professionals – which would add to the city’s diversity, and could bring more activity to the downtown area. That’s a good thing.

At the same time, the city needs to be more proactive in trying to preserve moderately affordable housing as part of the redevelopment. If the city does not make provisions for preserving some below-market rate housing as it redevelops Layton Hall and other aging apartment stock, it will have several negative effects. The city will become a less diverse place, and residents will likely move further out to the fringes of the region, where housing costs are cheaper.

The city and surrounding region have a large service-based economy, thousands of teachers and administrative staff from George Mason University and public and private schools, in addition to a lot of public sector employees. We need to build housing that is affordable to these people, too.

 

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