A Washington developer disclosed yesterday that plans for conversion of Alexandria's Parkfairfax apartment complex to condominiums will also include construction of a performing arts center and villages where residents can learn to make gourmet dishes, beer and wine.
The condominium units are expected to be offered at moderate prices. Half the complex's 1,684 units will be sold to the general public in the upper-$20,000 to lower-$40,000 range, while the other half will be offered to current tenants in the mid-$20,000 to upper $30,000 range, according to International Developers, Inc. president Giuseppe Cechi.
He said that up to 20 per cent of the untis will be available as apartments for the next five years, although at higher rents than currently in effect.
Cecchi called his conversion plan "a first for the Washington area." He said the only similar development he knew of was one recently begun in Irvine, Calif.
The new Parkfairfax will include several "villages," including one for the performing arts, one for fine arts, crafts and home arts, one for the culinary arts and a special village for horticulture.
A "masters-in-residence" program also is planned, whereby specialists in fields such as crafts and metal work will be available to teach group classes. Architect-planner Wayne Williams said the avocational programs still are "flexible."
Parkfairfax is on 140 acres of rolling hills near Insterstate Rte. 95 (Shirley Highway) at the Shirlington Circle exit. It was buitl in the 1940s by Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., which sold the dwelling units to Arlen Realty Inc. in 1969.
Cecchi said IDI bought Parkfairfax, and its adjacent 15-story high-rise apartment called Parc East, for $30.4 million. The Alexandria real estate assessments office valued land and buildings at about $31.6 million.
Parkfairfax was described in a 1953 National Georgraphic Magazine article as having "the most attractive architecture combined with all the spaciousness of arrangement that anyone could ask," Cecchi said.The apartment complex for years has offered young families moderate rents, park space and roomy apartments. Tenants have included former Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford as well as a number of other government officials.
Cecchi said that generally rents fof new tenants will be about 10 per cent above what current tenants pay, $236 to $370 a month. There are many elderly tenants at Parkfairfax who, because they moved in years ago, pay less than tenants who have just moved into similar apartments.
Last week, as rumors abounded that Parkfairfax was to be converted into condominiums, many elderly tenants fixed incomes expressed fears they will be unable to buy their current apartments. Alexandria City Councilman Donald C. Casey noted that when the rent increases, some tenants will be unable to stay at Parkfairfax.
William Thomas, an attorney for IDI, said the company tried to meet the concerns of as many people as possible.
"Nobody is Solomon," he said. "We could only do so much. It would have been very easy to go in and gut the apartments, build new buildings and sell them for $50,000 because there's a market for it."
According to Cecchi, Parc East will remain a rental building.
The IDI president promised that the cost of a condominium - including mortgage and interest payments, real estate taxes, and the condominium fee, minus tax savings received at the end of the year-will be comparable to what an apartment tenant would be paying as rent. IDI will provide mortgages up to 95 per cent of the purchase price, he said.
Cecchi said the conversion project will start in May or June. Tenants who live in the section planned for the first phase will be given an additional four months to decide whether they wish to stay. The entire development is expected to take about four years, he said.