Time will tell, as it always does, but Arlington elected officials say the public and some activists are mistaken if they believe there will be wholesale displacement of residents of the Barcroft Apartments complex in South Arlington.
At a May 14 meeting, County Board Chairman Katie Cristol – not one normally known for getting rattled while on the dais – decried as a “lie” the displacement rumors at the sprawling, 1,334-unit apartment complex.
“The goal is not to displace a single family – we want them in this community’s future,” Cristol said. “They will not be displaced.”
Cristol’s remarks came after a week of online community furor and a rally over concerns that rents would be raised to force an exodus at the apartment complex. The board chair said that if the result of the chatter was to encourage residents to depart on their own out of fear of possible eviction, that would be a loss for all.
“It anyone … is propagating the lie of displacement, they are hastening the displacement,” she said.
County Board member Takis Karantonis, who called the whole tempest “definitely a misunderstanding,” acknowledged that those of limited means are getting increasingly squeezed in these inflationary times.
“The pressure on our housing market continues,” he said.
The Barcroft Apartments and associated commercial buildings were constructed in the late 1930s by the DeLashmutt family. As part of the acquisition of the property by Jair Lynch Real Estate Developers last fall, the county government agreed to a loan totaling $150 million, and in return says it has received concrete and binding assurances that units will remain available to those of low incomes.
In exchange for the county government’s participation in financing, Jair Lynch agreed to maintain units on the parcel as affordable to residents earning no more than 60 percent of area median income for the next 99 years, a term far longer than is agreed to in most Arlington affordable-housing deals.
The deal came under scrutiny and criticism for what some said was a lack of transparency both before it was inked and for months after. Critics have raised concerns that, should the developer default on the deal, Arlington taxpayers could be on the hook for any financial losses – a possibility top county officials have rejected.
“That shouldn’t be a worry,” County Board member Christian Dorsey said in January.
Jair Lynch closed on the transaction at the very end of 2021, and plans on spending 2022 creating a master plan to guide the future of the parcel.
Some units will be demolished to make way for new ones, but the new property owner said existing tenants would be moved among buildings during that process so none was displaced.