main banner

Monday, July 8, 2013

After sale of Hillwood Square, residents struggling to find affordable housing

The interior of the Hillwood Square community is accessible by paths, not roads.
The sale of the Hillwood Square community in the Falls Church area of Fairfax County means some longtime residents are struggling to find an affordable place to live.

The new owner of the nearly 20-acre property, AvalonBay Communities Inc., plans to build 461 garden-style apartments for a more affluent population, although a certain percentage of affordable units had been promised. The sale to AvalonBay closed in June for $38 million. The land is zoned R-20, allowing 20 units per acre, which allows by-right development of 20 units per acre.

Residents are getting about $178,000 to $278,000, depending on the size of their unit. “You can’t find a comparable place around here for that,” said David Knapp, a resident of Hillwood Square since 1999. He is downsizing to a condo.


Tran Son, who’s lived at Hillwood Square for 23 years, said he can’t afford to buy another place in Falls Church or Arlington with the $230,000 he’s getting for his two-bedroom unit, so he plans to move in with his son in Bailey’s Crossroads.

Olivia Weiss, a 22-year-old college student who has lived at Hillwood Square since she was born, says her parents are looking for more affordable housing outside the area, possibly in Silver Spring or Fredericksburg.   

All three of the residents quoted here opposed the sale, and Weiss’s parents were part of a lawsuit to try to stop it.

But more than the required two-thirds of the 160 homeowners in the Hillwood Square Mutual Association voted in favor of the sale, so everyone has to move out by Aug. 23. The development was organized as a cooperative, with all homeowners given a say in how the  community is run.

The community, on Cherry Street close to Route 50, was built during World War II to house workers at the torpedo factory in Old Town, Alexandria, long before that facility was converted to art galleries.

“It’s pretty sad to see it torn down,” Weiss said. “It’s got a lot of historic value.” Hillwood Square was added to the Fairfax County Historic Register in 2009.


The sale was initially planned by Archstone Enterprises, but AvalonBay acquired 40 percent of that company earlier this year. The Hillwood Square residents who opposed the sale were particularly incensed that Lehman Brothers, which they refer to as the “bankrupt symbol of the great recession,” bought a controlling interest in Archstone and was preparing to demolish a housing development for moderate-income households.

Knapp said some residents thought they could have gotten more if they held out longer, while some people were concerned that if they didn’t sell, they would have had to replace the aging water and sewer lines.

22 comments:

  1. How sad to see, no one cares about people anymore. It is more important to be and look affluent. Where are the rest of us supposed to go?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ask Tabitha Yothers. Im sure she has a plan seeing she was the spearhead to derail the whole thing...and lost...miserably.

      Delete
    2. Tabitha Yothers is an old crotchety miserable individual. She resisted the sale and slandered all those involved with it just to try and get her selfish way. She lost, and rightfully lost, and I will dance when they bulldoze her house.

      Delete
    3. As someone who has nothing to do with this story just reading it on the blog I am disappointed that people are name calling on this blog. Just because you do not agree with someone does not allow you to be mean and nasty.

      Delete
    4. yeah you try being civil when someone plasters flyers around the neighborhood calling you a criminal and accusing you of accepting bribes simply because you "disagree." This woman accused members of Hillwood of robbery, fraud, extortion, embezzelment and and even breaking and entering. She deserves what she gets. Incidentially the lawsuit proved all her accusations were unfounded.

      Delete
    5. It wasnt name-calling so much as it was carefully selecting adjectives that were adequate to describe her and her behavior.

      Delete
  2. Presumably the majority who supported the sale had some idea where they were going to go.

    And more units will provide MORE places to live. I fail to see how we create more places for people to live by LIMITING the number of units that get built.

    BTW, for 230k for a 2BR, you can move to Landmark, Hybla Valley, to Chantilly, to Herndon and to Loudoun or Prince William.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We do. I had to pay off a mortgage and STILL found a great place to live. There's a handful of people there who refuse to change. Its scares them. However the 2/3 by-law on dissolution is sanctioned. Sorry guys, you need to move, make the best of it.

      Delete
  3. You should have asked some of the 117 who voted YES why we did it. The reserve studies stated it would cost us 8 million dollars to repair the plumbing. These people fail to understand that we did NOT want to go bankrupt. This was awesome. Im in a new place and I love it. Thanks so much AvalonBay! You saved me from an underwater mortgage and a plumbing disaster! As for the ones who are bitter...You shouldn't have moved into a place with a by-law that requires a 2/3 dissolution. It's over. Pack your bags and move on. I know some of these people and many never even spoke to a realtor and even sent flyers around encouraging squatting. You can find something with the money you're getting, you just need to look.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The people who are against the sell are just lazy and unwilling to change. They have known about this sale for over 2 years, and did not look for new housing, all they did was encourage people to squat and print/spread lies about the sale to try and change people's minds.

    It's important to note, that it wasn't just the 2/3 majority, LESS than 20 people voted not to sell. What this is, is a case of the small ignorant minority making the loudest noise. The rest of the of the community who realize that the infrastructure was deteriorating, and that the prices Avalon Bay paid per unit were more than current market value, took the sale and ran. I'm sorry, but if you've lived in a community for 30 years, and are receiving $200,000 and still can't find an affordable place to live, then you simply are not looking hard enough, or at all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it was dumb how they waited until the last few months to start a new effort to stop the sale. What triggered their effort was the news letter explaining that the closing was near. I do not think they are lazy, more that they are stupid, and they react with what little thought they can muster in response to something.

      Delete
    2. A trend I have seen here in the last 10 years is for commercial interests to target vulnerable residential areas for a hostile takeover. They buy residential homes, often for cash, turn them into motels and use them for employee housing commercial equipment storage depots. The effect, of course, is to lower residential quality of life and property values which increases the number of homes for sale, which in turn further restricts sales price, and makes more bargain homes available for purchase. This continues until the 'owners' outnumber the original residential owners and can control the destiny of the neighborhood. Long before this the Supervisor should have stepped in but never does. The Board of Supervisors advertise their duty to protect stable neighborhoods a duty which they rarely honor when a commercial interest is involved. Directing the Department of Code Compliance to ignore violations is essential to the success of this social crime. That is Mason District today.

      Delete
  5. Hey, does anyone have any model cars they want to sell?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Just to clarify - The four random people walking around when I happened to visit Hillwood Square all said they opposed the sale. It seemed like a lot of people who supported it had already moved out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Because that's all that's left. 45 to 50% vacated before closing even occurred.

      Everyone is off enjoying the money they made on the sale, and living somewhere that isn't falling apart.

      Delete
  7. What about our pretty doors?!?!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Walk out through them and dont look back...

      Delete
  8. Speaking of worn out backdoors, does anyone know how much time our neighbor who was a teacher and pedophile got after he was busted last year?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think the judge really threw the book at him. I'm pretty sure he got something like 35 years in prison.

      Delete
  9. I am a big supporter of the blog, and have even submitted story ideas. But I am disappointed the 7/12 12:00 p.m. anonymous comment was allowed to be posted.

    ReplyDelete
  10. He got 20. Apparently the person complaining does not have young children. WE DO!!!

    ReplyDelete
  11. This is the neighborhood I grew up in. It is very sad to see it destroyed, though my family moved across town when I was 13. I am sad for the old folks who knew only of this place as their home as change in residence is very hard for old folks. It would have been nice if enough money could have been secured for each family that allowed them to remain Falls Church residents. People set up their lives according to where they live. For those of you who are happy about it, congratulations. I suspect that you are among the younger crowd and have by now adjusted well to your new homes. I would imagine the trauma might be too much for some of the old folks who I knew as a child. God bless.

    ReplyDelete