Redevelopment project in Arlington forces longtime residents out

New high-end developments across the D.C. region are forcing some longtime residents out of their homes. 

In Arlington, 60 tenants who live at the Columbia Gardens Apartments will have to find a new place to live soon since the company that owns the building plans to redevelop it. 

Tenants say they were given a 45-day notice to vacate their homes. One woman who lives in the Columbia Gardens Apartments says the community is not happy about the short notice management gave them. "They just sprung it on us," she said. 

Merion Companies, the company that owns Columbia Gardens Apartments, sent FOX 5 a statement that reads: "The reality is the buildings have lived beyond their useful life. There is no good time to give notice.  We are sensitive to that fact and have tried to do the right thing by our tenants to minimize heartache and impact."

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Merion Companies says they are finalizing plans for a multi-phase long-term redevelopment project, which will include townhouses, market rate apartments, and a significant number of affordable housing units. 

FOX 5's Sierra Fox spoke with Delegate Alfonso Lopez who represents Arlington. Lopez says this is just one example of what's happening all over the county. In Virginia, he says, there's a shortage of nearly 200,000 safe and affordable homes putting those who are forced out of their homes in a serious predicament. 

"Unfortunately, what’s happening is that it’s having the effect of increasing overall rent and the value of properties are going up, mortgages are going up, and some of the poorer communities inside the beltway, which there are a few in Arlington, are seeing significant increases, and it’s pricing people out of their homes and out of their traditional communities that they’ve lived in," Lopez explained. 


Since Arlington is so close to Washington D.C. and with Amazon HQ2 on its way, as well as many more businesses, delegate Lopez says the area is becoming a popular place to live. 

Elder Julio Basurto, an Arlington Community advocate, calls what's happening "unfair." 

"The more gentrification that we see, the more residents that have been here 20 to 25 years, they’ve been providing to the economy. But now they’re just being uprooted," Basurto says. "You're talking about children, elderly, disabled." 

Community advocates like Basurto and Delegate Lopez are working on changes and reforms to help future tenants in a similar situation.