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Council Approves Plans to Replace Layton Hall Apartments

The decision came after a 5-hour long council meeting Tuesday evening.

The Fairfax City Council approved a developer’s plans to replace the Layton Hall garden style apartments with a 360-unit complex.

Councilmembers, developers, and residents debated on the issue in a five-hour meeting Tuesday evening before the council ultimately approved the plans despite passionate pleas from current residents who resisted the move.

“I hope that the current residents can see that we are doing what we can to keep you in the city,” Councilmember Dan Drummond said. “As many of you know, I’m the son of a single mother, so when I hear those comments they don’t fall on deaf ears.’”

The council raised concerns on everything from affordable housing, to the impact on Accotink Creek, to adequate bike storage.

The current Layton Hall apartments in walking distance from the city’s Main Street are "1960s vintage 3-story walk-up apartments,” said Lynne Strobel, an attorney who represented the developer, Seventeenth Car Layton Hall Limited Partnership.

"We think this will create synergy with the downtown area…and an opportunity to have some more residents that will go to those businesses," Strobel said.

The proposed apartments would be five stories and would include underground parking and a recreation center for residents to include a swimming pool and exercise room.

Citing the concerns of affordable housing advocates, the developer presented the council with plans for 18 of the 360 apartment units to be set aside for those households making ether 80 percent of 70 percent of the area’s median income. 

In the city of Fairfax, the median income is about $100,000, said Louise Armitage, human services coordinator for the city, during the council meeting. 

“Currently, people at Layton Hall are working as teachers aids, in retail, or as truck drivers or home health care workers. They are making maybe $27,000 a year …. I think something that is more in the 50 percent range is justifiably affordable.”

The units would be set aside in the complex for 20 years in total. Strobel said they came to the conclusion on what defines “affordable” by modeling them after the standards for Fairfax County.

“That would be the maximum required for a developer in Fairfax County,” Strobel said.

But many residents said the concessions were simply not enough and that many of them would have to find another place to live.

“Before I moved to Fairfax I lived in Baltimore and commuted everyday for 10 years. I was overjoyed when I found an apartment I could afford in Fairfax,"  Charles Bobosh, who lives in Layton Hall, said. “My family works here and goes to school here, and I’d love to stay here.”

These are real people, they are our neighbors,” said Henry Brinton, pastor at Fairfax Presyterian Church. “We need to be fair to them and to be fair to the other residents who will be effected to other developments that lie ahead.”

“This is just the beginning of the redevelopments,” Brinton continued. “I fear what will happen to them.”

Several Fairfax residents also spoke up in support of the project, including a representative of the Farrcroft Homeowners Association, a neighboring community.

“This project increases our attractiveness to young professionals and it would increase the patronage of our business,” the representative said.

The council approved the project unanimously.

“I think this illustrates a deliberative process,” said Councilman Steven Strombres. “While I’m truly appreciative of this first step that the developer made … I’m also saying that this shouldn’t be the precedent of what we are going to do.”

Catherine S. Read May 16, 2013 at 11:46 AM
Redevelopment of old and outdated structures is normal in the life cycle of any community. It's unfortunate that people who are a contributing and vibrant part of our community are being displaced and forced to move. This not unique to Fairfax City. The gentrification of Washington, DC, has move many people out of the city and into Prince George's county. Many minority populations can't afford to live in the expensive properties being built. I think the expectation that people will be forced out of Fairfax City and into other parts of Northern Virginia is the reality of a very common urban lifecycle. That doesn't make it any less painful for those who are forced to move. I don't know what the answer is without disrupting the system of free enterprise and property ownership our economy is based on. High density housing in close proximity to the downtown might help to revitalize a depressed downtown business area. That would be the upside. There are other areas of the city where possible development of more affordable housing is a possibility. That won't help the people being displaced from Layton Hall in the coming year, but I think we have to recognize that there are normal cycles of development and redevelopment at play here. Oak Knoll is another similar housing development that has recently been sold and going forward, THAT project is the one where it may be possible to create a more affordable type of multi unit housing. Focus on the future.
Laura Baughman May 16, 2013 at 12:31 PM
This is pure greed. And whatever Dan Drummond says, he doesn't care about the people being displaced. We're doing the same thing that other areas are doing. Forcing the teachers aids, truck drivers and home health care workers out of our community because the aren't yuppies. The city is telling working class people that they aren't good enough to live here any more. A sad day indeed.
Coleen MacKay May 16, 2013 at 02:51 PM
You've said it all, Laura. I completely agree.
Susan Addison May 16, 2013 at 08:51 PM
I watched most of the meeting, but what struck me was at one point Dan Drummond talked about all of his "private" meetings with the Developers. That says it all -- City Council's decisions were made far from the public eye, in private meetings. It's clear now that the outcome was decided well before Tuesday's meeting, and the people who took time to speak up (on environment, affordable housing, etc.) late at night wasted their time. The 18 affordable units is laughable-- next to useless. And the Council has now decided to saddle us with a big apartment complex, with almost no landscaping and built-in parking problems, and all they get in return from the developer is 18 affordable units and a new bike lane? These developers are making tens of millions at least on this complex. Other cities actually make developers build things that fit into the neighborhoods, AND provide community amenities like park facilities or school resources. Mr. Stombres said this shouldn't thought of as a precedent. He better be right.
Rema Smith May 17, 2013 at 10:20 AM
I dont understand how a "nicer" apartment will attract people to the town businesses. These people are living check to check now and will be living this way then. I agree with Laura that this is pure Greed. How about those higher income neighbors? Ya think they are resisting? People need to learn to accept people from all races, income and status. Bad move Fairfax City. Leave these people alone, especially those that are barely making it in this City.
Rema Smith May 17, 2013 at 11:01 AM
One more thought! How about you recommend that Safeway at Courthouse Plaza be renovated, now tha's a smart move! Oh, and the Layton Hall residents will still shop there!
Matt Rice May 18, 2013 at 06:30 PM
I'm not sure I understand the reason for singling out and criticizing Mr. Drummond, who in my estimation has been a very strong supporter of the people being displaced at some point in the future. In fact, he successfully proposed a 5 year extension to the affordability clause in the developer's proffers, and proposed an increase in the number of units being offered as affordable/workforce housing. Why does this somehow make him the single blamable person? He was the one person trying to push further towards affordability. Mr Drummond has always been a responsive, empathetic council member. If you take a close look at the last council election and the areas of the city with median incomes lower than average, you will find that he did better than any other candidate in those areas. Lastly, he (and every other council member) has a responsibility to meet with developers, hear their ideas, meet with City Economic Development and Planning Officials, meet with citizen groups, etc. . . To suggest that his reference to meeting with developers is somehow nefarious is to misunderstand the responsibilities of the council members. The vote to support this development project was unanimous. If there is criticism, it goes to all the council. Layton Hall is dilapidated and needs to be redeveloped. Luckily, the developer will preserve some units as affordable, thanks to pressure from council members such as Mr. Drummond.
Elsa May 19, 2013 at 01:47 AM
I thought businesses are supposed to cater to people, as opposed to engineering neighborhoods to support businesses...
Charles Vannoy May 23, 2013 at 05:43 PM
It's a shame we are losing these apartments. Setting aside only 18 of 360 units is laughable to me. This is gentrification and I also dislike the idea of a 5 story building with single family homes nearby. I have lived in Fairfax City for 26 years and am distressed by the decline of the city. Fairfax is losing, no, has lost it's small town feel.
Jai Kalidasi May 28, 2013 at 06:08 PM
It's a shame that people will be displaced as a result of this and I feel they should offer more than 18 affordable units. That said, I was once a resident of Layton Hall and suffered terrible medical issues due to the mold growing in the walls, making me lose time from work, on top of having bills for all sorts of medical testing - at one point I was so scared that I had a brain tumor, due to the symptoms, but doctors could not figure it out. I ended up losing my job over my diminishing health. At the time, I did not link the mold to my health issues. I am OCD and have to have everything clean, so whenever I noticed the mold growing on the walls in my bedroom, I would clean it. At any rate, those apartments are terribly infested with roaches and bedbugs and are also horribly managed. I'm sorry for those that will be displaced, but this truly is a blessing, those apartments need to be torn down, as they are a major health hazard. What you save in low rent, you end up paying out in doctor's bills, loss of work, and replacing furniture and other items due to the infestations. Just look up reviews of this place and you will see. I'm not alone..................http://www.apartmentratings.com/rate/VA-Fairfax-Layton-Hall-Apartments.html

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