Developer Breaks Ground On $200 Million Arlington Commons Project
By Susan Schrock, Office of Communication
Posted on February 08, 2016, February 08, 2016

Developers broke ground Friday on the first phase of a 10-year, $200 million project to revitalize Lamar Boulevard in north Arlington and bring high-quality, urban-style apartment living to the city.

As part of a public-private partnership with the city, The Nehemiah Company demolished three aging apartment complexes along Lamar Boulevard east of Cooper Street last year to make way for its 1,328-unit Arlington Commons luxury apartment complex.

Developer Robert Kembel said Friday's ground breaking for the first 353-unit has been a long-anticipated milestone in the redevelopment project, which his Arlington-based company embarked on in 2009.

"Arlington Commons is the beginning of a revitalization of north Arlington. This area developed in the '70s and '80s and it was not developed particularly well then. So we've got a chance to recreate ourselves," Kembel said. "Already you are seeing the redevelopment of retail and the raising of the values of the single-family homes in the area."

City leaders say Arlington Commons will increase Arlington's property tax base, provide housing options that are currently unavailable and hopefully spur additional private investment in the area. The Huntington Chase, Pointe of North Arlington and Countrywood apartment complexes that were purchased and torn down were valued on the tax rolls at about $10 million, Kembel said. When complete, Arlington Commons is expected to have a $200 million taxable value, which will generate higher tax revenue for the city, he said.

This project is part of the City Council's priority to "Invest in Our Economy," ensuring that the Arlington community continues to thrive.

In 2014, the Arlington City Council approved nearly $10.5 million in possible economic development incentives, including reimbursement for demolition and abatement expenses, and a 30-year, 90 percent property tax abatement to help the project's financial viability.

"It's a complex project. It doesn't just happen," City Manager Trey Yelverton said. "It requires a patient developer. It requires a city that is willing to reinvest in redevelopment to cause a positive outcome."

The city's partnership will help Arlington Commons become one of the best-looking, walkable high-density communities in the region, Kembel said.

"Because of our public private partnership, we are able to do things with architecture that cost a lot more that other developers can do," Kembel said. "If we properly put those dollars to work, we should have an architectural gem that will stand the test of time and 30 years from now will be high quality."

With patience and hard work, dreams get done.

Click here to watch developer Robert Kembel's interview about how he's realized his American Dream in Arlington.

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