BALLSTON-VIRGINIA SQUARE

Civic Association Newsletter

October/November 1997 - Volume 21, No. 1



UPDATE ON STUART PARK CONTROVERSY

The Stuart Park transaction was previously discussed at the Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association Candidates Night meeting for the County Board candidates on Wednesday, April 30, 1997, prior to the Republican Canvas for the Arlington County Board and the Democratic Primary for the County Board. The discussion occurred during the session of the Democratic Candidates, under question #7, by Henriette Warfield.

Question #7, Henriette Warfield: "Henriette Warfield, I'm curious, I'm also on the Board of the Ballston Partnership. There's been quite a debate here in this area over the Stuart Park site. I'd be curious how, if you were on the Board, you would have handled that, the sale of that property?" Barbara Favola: "Could you be more specific, Henriette? Was there something specific about that Stuart Park that you are referring to?

Henriette Warfield: "Are you aware of it?"

Barbara Favola: "I'm not aware of the specifics that you seem to be, maybe Jay can enlighten us on that."

Jay Fisette: "I know it was a contentious issue. I read about it in ACTA's Newsletter. I'm sure that it's a fairly unbiased source. But, I know there were questions about whether this was sold under market, whether the building was sold under market value, and the issue of some of this street was needed for a right-of-way. What's the point of your question? I'm aware generally of this issue and how certain members of the community have really challenged the County Board about the appropriateness of purchasing that building and selling it. What's the point of your question?"

Henriette Warfield: "If you haven't gotten the point through reading information, or being aware of it, the point is that there was no public notification. You know it was owned by us as taxpayers. It was owned by us and there was no public notification or opportunity for a bidding process to occur [on the County's sale of the Stuart Park property that was acquired through public condemnation], which is really counter to the role that elected officials have when they are a trustee of our money and our land. And the fact that public process did not occur, doesn't leave us, the taxpayers, with the feeling that perhaps the best deal was gotten, or it could have been sold for more money. And I certainly have met people, who personally would have paid for it. So, you can't tell me no one was interested. So, I'm just curious why the back room deal and why not the public notification. It's so borderline and questionable. I'm curious, and I'm sorry you guys don't know about it, it's very serious in this area."

Jay Fisette: "Well, okay. Thanks for the information. I was not on the Board when it happened. So, I can't speak to any back room deals, or not."

BVSCA Obtains Updated Information on Stuart Park Transaction

If you recall, the BVSCA Newsletter dated March/April 1997, reported under the articles titled Stuart Park Public Comment on February 8, 1997, and the BVSCA Response to Stuart Park Update, that the Stuart Park property was acquired by the County Board on March 28, 1990, using condemnation action (Case Number 89-463), for a total sales price of $3,010,250, or $194.19 per square foot of land.

This Newsletter shows that the County Board approved the sale of the former County property (consisting of 13,296 square feet and located at 4251 Wilson Boulevard) for $365,000, or at a price per square foot of $27.45. Three weeks later, on August 20, 1996, the former Crestar Bank property (consisting of 9,490 square feet and located at 4259 Wilson Boulevard, next door to the former County property) was sold to Fidelio Properties for $885,000, or $93.26 per square foot.

We reported that many members of our Association were confused or troubled by the County's explanation of how and why they sold the property so cheaply, considering the fact that these properties were assessed in 1996 by the Arlington County Real Assessment Office for $970,900, and were sold for a material 85.9% reduction in price, for only $27.45 per square foot. Also, we previously noted that Crestar bank received $93.26 per square foot, or $65.81 per square foot more than the County received for the sale of its property, which was comparable and adjacent property.

Since that time, the Association has acquired documentation, which shows that the former County property and Crestar property at the Stuart Park site were sold on March 11, 1997, by Fidelio Properties to Park Associates L.L.C., c/o Paradigm Development Co. The total sales price was $5,025,812.

This sale price included the former Crestar and County properties at the Stuart Park site, along with the existing Fidelio properties at the Stuart Park site. The total square footage of the property sold was 61,083 square feet, or the equivalent square foot price of $82.28. This price was $54.83 higher per square foot than the $27.45 per square foot price previously approved by the County Board, on its sale of County property at the Stuart Park site.

The Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association previously reported on the Stuart Park controversy in the BVSCA Newsletters dated September/October 1996, March/April 1997, and May/June 1997. These newsletters are readily available on the Internet Web on the BVSCA home page located at "http://www.bvsca.org".



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