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County Board Approve Purchase of Courthouse Building

At its recessed meeting last night (agenda item 35, December 13, 2011 meeting), the Arlington County Board “authorized the county manager to purchase a Courthouse office building . . ., the first step to the creation of a new, year-round homeless shelter,” according to ARLnow.com.

The Arlington Sun Gazette today made another point in their headline, saying, “County Officials Aim to Mollify Angry Courthouse Residents.” The need to mollify residents was described by ARLnow.com:

“Arlington first publicly proposed the purchase of 2020 14th Street N. last month, saying that the building would help the county consolidate overflow office space, would facilitate the redevelopment of the Courthouse area, and would serve as the site of a long-desired comprehensive homeless service center. The homeless shelter would take up two floors of the seven-story building, which the county has valued at $25.5 million, and would replace the current emergency winter homeless shelter, located two blocks away.”

Although the county may value the property at $25.5 million, now, the property was assessed for $14.4 million by the county assessor on January 1, 2011, only 11 months ago.

We will have more to say about this county transaction, but as ACTA’s president pointed out last night, the question isn’t a matter of homelessness or relocating the current emergency homeless shelter. Rather, it’s a matter of process, including how government treats its citizens, and whether the acquisition will adequately fit the budget promises made only a few days earlier by the Arlington County Board.

For more information, here’s the press release on the acquisition of 2020 14th Street North. It includes an embedded link to a prior press release containing more detailed information. We'll update this Growls with other news stories as we learn of them.

UPDATE (12/15/11): The Washington Post reported today on the County Board's approval of the purchase of 2020 14th Street North, including the following:

“We do support a [new] homeless shelter, but this property is seriously flawed,” said Patricia Yeh, who lives in the Woodbury Heights condominium complex and, like her neighbors, objected to how county staff planned the purchase and how it communicated the idea. “If you choose to adopt this, you’ll be sending the message that ‘the Arlington Way’ is synonymous with government arrogance, government overreach and government incompetence.”

The Post story includes a definitive picture of the property.

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