100-year-old Arlington church sold, to become affordable housing unit

Arlington Presbyterian Church. (WJLA photo)

ARLINGTON, Va. (WJLA) – The Arlington Presbyterian Church has stood on the corner of Columbia Pike and South Lincoln Street for 100 years. But soon enough, the landmark will be gone.

With the building getting less use and becoming more costly to maintain, church leaders felt it was time for a change, including Susan Robbins Etherton.

“We looked at this and said, ‘We have an asset here, an amazing asset in a great location,’” she said.

Church leaders have seen plenty of construction along Columbia Pike, much of it high-end retail and residential. Robbins Etherton and other leaders wanted more balance, and agreed to sell the building to the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing to build a five-story, 142-unit apartment building filled with affordable housing.

“The balance of the service workers and teachers and cops living in the very community they serve, and in order to do that you have to have housing they can afford,” Robbins Etherton said.

But for some who live in the area, another construction project—no matter the intent—will only make bad construction worse.

“You can do the math. If you add 142 units and it’ll make it worse,” said resident Dave Maher.

Jean Hispiche said, "The neighborhood is gonna be a whole lot noisier and a whole lot of traffic will be this way.”

The first floor of the apartment building will also include retail space, some of which may or may not be occupied by the congregation itself; it is still uncertain where it’s headed next.

A lot of decisions will be made in the next two years of planning, which will be followed by two years of construction.

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