Vacant Lot Could Become City Park

For years, High Oak Terrace Apartments sunk into disrepair.

Built in 1970 to provide housing to low-income residents, the 132-unit apartment became a magnet for drugs, prostitution, and other crime. With the help of federal grant funding, the apartments were demolished in 2005 with plans to build single-family homes on the vacant lot.

Now, almost seven years later, the space in west Arlington could instead be converted into a neighborhood park.

Area residents are invited to discuss the project at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 31 at City Hall’s Council Chambers.

“These apartments were a real problem for the community,” said David Zappasodi, assistant director of community development and planning. “This is a wonderful opportunity to build a park for the community.”

Residents will be asked whether they support a park, and to provide input and direction on what features they would like a park to have.

Arlington purchased the crime-ridden and dilapidated complex at the northwest corner of Bowen Road and Wesley Drive in 2004 with Community Development Block Grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The city sought developers to build single-family homes which would have included a handful of units to be developed and sold to homebuyers with incomes at or below 80 percent of area median income.

But when the housing market slipped, the project failed to take off Zappasodi said, and the 12 acres remained vacant.

Some area residents initially came up with the idea of building a park on this site; however it was not an option available to the city at that time.  As a result of recent discussions, HUD is now willing to allow the city to build a park, contingent on community support.

So far, Zappasodi said, the community has shown support for the project.

“We think this is a positive outcome for the city, HUD, and the neighborhood,” Zappasodi said. “The City of Arlington has a wonderful parks system, but this area of the city is underserved by neighborhood parks. This is a great opportunity.”