Sale of downtown Lynchburg building again highlights scarcity of low-income housing

The Arlington Apartment complex has been purchased and will be rehabbed this spring. Photo by Jill Nance

The Arlington, a 21-unit apartment building at 700 Court Street in downtown Lynchburg, is under new ownership and slated for major renovations this year.

The new owner, 700 Court Street LLC, purchased the site from Mayday Investments for $527,000 on Dec. 23, online city records show.

Tony West, of 700 Court Street LLC, said he was interested when he saw the building was for sale.

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“I thought it was a beautiful location,” West said.

This spring, he plans to rehab the single- and double-bedroom apartments, put in some needed repairs and give the overall site a “facelift.” He envisions lofts and condos in keeping with similar developments that have taken shape downtown in recent years.

“Whatever it needs,” he said of renovation plans. “They will be nice, efficient apartments downtown.”

Anthony Beatty, a resident who has lived at the Arlington for a few years, said residents received a notice Jan. 12 which stated their leases expired and they have three months to find a new place to live.

The notice, signed by West, said the new owner would work with them to find new places to live as the work is slated for each of the apartments and common areas, Beatty said.

Beatty, a resident of the first floor, said the Arlington is convenient and affordable. He pays $345 per month for a one-bedroom apartment and two bedrooms are $390.

“It’s all right for what you pay,” he said. “For the convenience, yeah, I will miss it.”

He works at Virginia Baptist Hospital and said he doubt he will find as good a price. He worries about some who live at the building with Section 8 vouchers for low-income residents who now have to find new homes.

The Lynchburg Redevelopment and Housing Authority has eight Section 8 housing choice voucher participants who reside at the Arlington, according to LRHA Executive Director Dawn Fagan.

LRHA staff already has met with those residents and issued new vouchers and tenancy approval to authorize them to locate other housing units, Fagan said. The new owner has notified the authority he has other units in Lynchburg that he would be happy to place any of the displaced residents interested in renting, she said.

Authority staff has provided additional information of other landlords with available units and no tenant would be asked to move until they have found other housing, according to Fagan.

The closure of the Virginian, a former provider of low-income housing, displaced 86 people last year and highlighted a shortage of affordable housing options in the city. Fagan has said it is especially hard to find landlords of single-bedroom apartments for Section 8 recipients.

Jeff Smith, director of the Rush Homes of Central Virginia, said a few low-income residents of the Arlington have inquired about living in Rush Homes but it is unlikely any units would be available in time because of a lengthy waiting list.

Smith said even though the Arlington situation is much smaller scale than the Virginian, which caused nonprofits to band together to tackle an immense need, it still is a blow to the affordable housing stock downtown.

“Any time any of the apartments that are affordable are lost right now, it’s a problem,” Smith said.

Located in a historic district, the Arlington is on a street bustling with traffic heading to several churches, four courthouses, the Lynchburg Museum, the police department, the school administration offices and a string of law offices.

West pointed out any of the residents would have an opportunity to move back after the renovations are completed.

He expects the living spaces to run at $650 per month but that would include cable, Internet, trash removal, water and utilities. He said a tenant would probably pay less than $400 in actual rent, which he feels is affordable.

Beatty, who is not among the Arlington’s Section 8 residents, said he plans to move out of the building some time this month.

“This is a historical neighborhood,” he said. “You need all kinds of housing for all people. Hopefully, the people on fixed income will be able to find something.”

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