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$4.6 Million Upgrade

Residents of the 36-year-old subsidized apartment complex could soon have updated kitchens and bathrooms.

Residents at Cedar Ridge Apartments, a 36-year-old federal housing project owned by Fairfax County, can expect the infusion of roughly $4.6 million to pay for much needed renovations, mostly to their kitchens and bathrooms.

“That’s good,” said Idris Ali, who has lived at the property for three years, echoing thoughts of other residents, who have yet to be notified about the pending renovations.

The 198-unit apartment complex at 1601 Becontree Lane, which has never been renovated since it was built in 1970, would benefit from a county-designed refinancing plan that involves selling federal low-income housing tax credits to pay for the overhaul.

According to the county, no tenant relocations would be required during the renovations. “Any work will be done around the tenants. So relocation will not be an issue,” said Assem Nigam, director of the county’s real estate finance and grants management.

IF THE PLAN goes according to schedule, Nigam expects renovations to begin in January or February, assuming the project gets additional approvals from the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

Last week, the board approved the recommendation of the Housing and Redevelopment Authority to form a separate limited liability corporation and the sale of tax exempt and taxable bonds to raise more than $5 million in tax credit equity to fund the improvements. The county plans to issue the bonds in October.

Rents at the property are affordable to households up to 50 percent average median income, according to the county.

Residents, who now pay monthly rents between $802 for a small two- bedroom unit to $1,129 for a four-bedroom unit, will be notified about the renovations later this year, according to Nigam.

THE AUTHORITY purchased the property near Forest Edge Elementary in 1995 with the idea that Reston Interfaith would purchase and rehabilitate the complex. But in 2005, the charity organization determined it was too expensive to proceed with the plan to purchase the property.

“It was disappointing to walk away from that, but the important thing is that property is not threatened of being sold or converted,” said Kerrie Wilson, president and CEO of Reston Interfaith.

The county says the rehabilitation plan will ensure that the complex is “sustainable as decent, affordable housing for low income households for a long period of time.”

With affordable housing under siege from redevelopment and condo conversions, the Board of Supervisors has made preservation a top priority. Two years ago, the board set a goal to preserve 1,000 affordable housing units by 2007. To date, the county has preserved 882 units, many of them in Reston.

In May, the county bought 10 affordable units at ParcReston. Three months earlier, the county paid $49.5 million to purchase the 181-unit Crescent Apartments.

THE COUNTY HIRED a professional third-party firm to determine what repairs and improvements were most needed.

According to the independent report, interior improvements should focus on the kitchens and bathrooms.

For kitchens, the report called for new appliances, floor covering and light fixtures. For bathrooms, it called for new plumbing fixtures, lighting and floor covering.

Exterior improvements should include new roofing, light poles, trash enclosures, and the installation of a playground.