After years of groundwork, the Huntington Club is pausing its plan to terminate itself and delaying major redevelopment plans that would have tied into the nearby Metro station.
On Friday (April 21), the Huntington Club condo association announced it will no longer move to disband this year and has paused construction of a large mixed-use development near the Huntington Metro station.
The condo association acknowledged to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in December that it was cash-strapped and needed the county to step in by issuing $45 million worth of bonds to push redevelopment forward.
The county was set to establish a community development authority (CDA) to borrow the needed money. Then, the CDA would pay back the $45 million in bonds through tax increment financing (TIF).
However, there were risks involved, particularly for the condo association and unit owners. The current financial environment convinced the Huntington Club to delay the project for the foreseeable future.
“We have all reached the conclusion that despite everyone’s best efforts, we’re not able to move forward with our redevelopment at this time,” Huntington Club Board of Directors president Lloyd Tucker said in a press release. “For us to terminate our condominium by December 15, as our termination agreement calls for, many pieces would need to be in place that simply cannot happen in today’s financial environment.”
Currently, the community comprises 364 garden and townhome condos on a 19-acre site next to the Metro station. It was set to be transformed into a denser development with 200 stacked townhomes and 1,300 multifamily units. It would also include senior living, office space, a hotel and ground-floor retail.
The redevelopment would have been a major complement to a development plan for the Metro station area, which is already in motion.
Explaining its decision, the club cited the pandemic’s impact on commercial real estate, rising interest rates, and recent bank failures that have combined “to essentially freeze the credit markets.”
“It’s an industry-wide issue at this time,” a spokesperson for the condo association told FFXnow.
In response, a scheduled public hearing on May 9 about the Huntington Central CDA has been canceled and “won’t be rescheduled until the project starts up again,” per the spokesperson.
However, the agreements, rezoning efforts, and plan amendments negotiated with the county for the redevelopment won’t expire, allowing efforts to ramp up again when the financial climate becomes less murky, the condo association said.
Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck, vice chair of the board’s economic initiatives committee, told FFXnow he still expects the redevelopment to happen at some point.
“Redevelopment of the Huntington Metro station remains a high priority for me, the County and our community as it furthers our goals for transit-oriented development,” Storck said. “We have invested substantial time and due diligence to move this project forward, including planning for special Tax Increment Financing (TIF) to fund public infrastructure for Phase 1 of the project. We look forward to the resubmission of this project as economic conditions improve.”
First built in 1967 as Telegraph Hill Apartments, the community adopted its current name and converted all units into condominiums in 1979. The owners started considering redevelopment in 2005 due to maintenance needs and its location next to the Huntington Metro station, which opened in 1983.
The process began with an amendment in the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan to allow for increased density on the site and the selection of Arlington-based IDI Group Companies as the developer.
In 2017, the association announced it was taking steps to end itself so the owners could sell the land to raise money for the redevelopment. More than 87% of residents voted in favor of the plan, which would have reportedly made the Huntington Club the first condo association to do so in the country.
More than half of the owners, though, opted out of the deal, meaning they would take the cash from their property and leave. About 40% of owners, or 138 people, opted in to become a “tenancy-in-common.”
Owners who opted in believed that, when the redevelopment finally happened, they would receive a much higher price on their property than if they sold in 2017 due to rising property values and the overall value of owning property near a transit station.
However, if the development took longer than expected, the owners would be on the hook for taxes over that period of time. Across the county, property values have risen significantly since 2017, driving up tax bills.
County supervisors were concerned the owners didn’t fully understand those risks. If the redevelopment was delayed, the owners might have tax increases of close to an extra $11,000 a year, and if they were unable to pay it, they could face foreclosure.
“My concern…is the residents understanding what the impact will be to them,” Sully District Supervisor Kathy Smith said in December. “…I’m concerned about the worst case scenario is that people default, they’ll lose their properties.”
The owners seem to have taken those words of caution to heart by at least delaying their plan for now.
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