With the half-dismantled Arlington Presbyterian Church sanctuary serving as the backdrop, ground was broken July 27 for a new 173-apartment, $71 million mixed-use complex that aims to help stem the exodus of affordable rental units from the Columbia Pike corridor.
“This is without a doubt the most complex project we have ever undertaken – it takes many hands joining together to get it done,” said John Milliken, board chair of the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH).
APAH will build the apartments on land in Alcova Heights that had been occupied for generations by the Presbyterian church. In 2012, church leaders approached the affordable-housing organization with a proposal to use the land for affordable housing.
“This is the most complex deal we’ve ever worked on,” said Art Bowen, managing director of rental housing for the Virginia Housing Development Corp., an arm of the state government. Perseverance of the interested parties through the process proves “Arlington County, by far, does more than any other locality in the state” in its efforts to create and retain affordable housing, Bowen said.
The parcel is located on the north side of Columbia Pike, a block west of South Glebe Road. Among the units will be nearly 70 of two and three bedrooms, plus 11 designed specially to meet the needs of residents with physical disabilities. The six-story, 165,000-square-foot project was designed by Rosslyn-based KGD Architecture. The new apartment complex, which also will include retail space, will be named “Gilliam Place” in honor of Ronda Gilliam (1906-70), a leader in the local community and the first African-American member of Arlington Presbyterian Church.
The new apartment building is slated to be completed by mid-2019.