The plan for a 66-unit new senior affordable housing project in downtown City of Falls Church cleared a major hurdle tonight with a critical 4-3 vote on the Falls Church Planning Commission to reject a motion to disapprove the project. A follow-on vote to approve the plan passed 5-2. With the Planning Commission’s approval tonight, the F.C. City Council can vote final approval on the project at its meeting this coming Monday, without having to achieve a super-majority.
The vote tonight keeps the project, a new structure called The Wilden, named in honor of the late dedicated champion of affordable housing Bob Wilden, on a timetable to apply for and deploy tax credits and federal stimulus money ahead of tight deadlines. The ability of the Falls Church Housing Corporation and its partners to leverage these resources, combined with a $2 million loan from the City of Falls Church’s Affordable Housing Fund, would produce a project that the City would wind up subsidizing to the tune of $17,000 per unit over the next 15 years, while similar projects in Northern Virginia cost sponsoring jurisdictions over $50,000 per year.
In the critical 4-3 vote, Planning Commissioners Lindy Hockenberry, Mike Kearney, Melissa Teates and Russ Wodiska voted for the project, and Chair John Lawrence, Ruth Rodgers and Bob Meeks voted against. Lawrence and Meeks also voted against the second motion, make by Hockenberry, for an affirmative recommendation of the plan.
On opposite sides of both votes tonight, Hockenberry (for the plan) and Lawrence (against it) are among the candidates squaring off in the upcoming May 4 Falls Church City Council election. Another candidate, Ira Kaylin, also weighed in as a citizen speaking against the plan tonight.