On August 11, the City of Falls Church finalized the purchase of the multifamily properties at 310 and 312 Shirley Street for $925,000 each. Each building is 2,560 square feet and has four one-bedroom apartments. The City already owns two multifamily buildings in that area; one at 208 Gibson Street, which is managed by a property management company for use by a non-profit organization, and 302 Shirley Street purchased in March 2021. Sixteen units in that area are now preserved as market rate affordable consistent with adopted City goals.
The City Council voted unanimously in July to appropriate funds to the City’s Economic Development Authority (EDA) for this purchase, with the expectation that the City will be reimbursed once the properties are loan financed with repayments supported by the property rents. The EDA voted unanimously in August to ratify the sales contract.
The EDA has made similar purchases in the past, including one of the properties where 301 W. Broad and Harris Teeter are now located. The land was sold to a developer for that project. This practice is known as “land banking” and is part of the EDA’s charter.
The City plans to maintain these homes as market-rate affordable housing, which is in line with the South Washington Street Small Area Plan (www.fallschurchva.gov/SWashSAP) adopted by the City Council in 2013.
A Small Area Plan is a tool used by a municipality to define a vision for redevelopment in a relatively small area. The vision for redevelopment is sensitive to the area's history and responds to the current and future needs of the City's residents, workers, and visitors.
The South Washington Street Small Area Plan states, in regards to the buildings in the Virginia Village neighborhood, “It is important to recognize that this is one of the few affordable housing opportunities in the City. Therefore, redevelopment of the neighborhood should take into account the need for affordable housing and provide for replacement of such within new development projects.” The Small Area Plan also states that the neighborhood could be preserved: “The location of the neighborhood serves as a buffer between the proposed high density uses south of South Maple Avenue and the residential neighborhoods to the north. In addition, the all-brick structures are built in a way that allows the growth of large trees and other landscaping elements.”
As with the 302 Shirley Street purchase, the City will allow the existing tenants to remain in 310 and 312 Shirley Street. City staff will prepare options for the City to consider possible future property uses a later date, while sustaining these affordable units.