The Arlington tenant-landlord committee has approved a resolution supporting a move by tenants at the Buckingham apartments to buy the complex, while at the same time recognizing the right of the owner to develop the property as it chooses.
Recently, nearly 1,400 units at Buckingham were sold for $44 million by the Klingbeil Corp. to Stein & Co., a Chicago-based firm known as a major condomiminum developer. The Ohio-based Klingbeil Corp. retained 400 units at the 54-year-old complex.
The resolution approved last week came after nearly 500 Buckingham tenants showed up at the commission meeting to urge commission members to support the tenants move to preserve the low-and moderate-income housing at the 1,821-unit complex.
The tenant-landlord commission, stressing the desire to preserve the supply of rental housing for elderly, handicapped and low- and moderate-income residents, urged the County Board and developers in general to "consider seriously the needs of those people in their planning."
The commission asked the County Board, the developer and the Buckingham Tenants Association "to work together sincerely and seriously to achieve this goal in some way, including a purchase of the property" by the tenants' association.
"I think it was a victory for the tenants in the sense that the commission expressed that there be low- and moderate-income housing," said Susan Shanley, president of the tenants association, after the vote.
In recent weeks, the tenants association has been organizing residents at Buckingham to gather support for preserving the complex. Next week the association plans to meet with private developers in the area to discuss a possible ventures with them and to seek advice about buying the complex, Shanley said.
"We have to get down to brass tacks, figure out how to raise the money and how to do it," she said. "There are innovative ways of pulling this off, of exercising creative capitalism."
The County Board and representatives of the tenants' association hope to meet soon -- possibly this weekend -- with Richard Stein, president of Stein & Co., to discuss Stein's plans for the complex. In the meantime, Shanley said, the tenants have asked Stein to defer any plans for 120 days so they can draft plans for purchasing his property or joining with him or another firm in a joint venture.
Stein, whose firm has converted other Arlington complexes to condominiums, plans to announce his development plans for Buckingham at a press conference here tomorrow, according to company vice president Julie Stasch. Stein could not be reached for comment on the commission's action, but Stasch confirmed tenants' reports that he has rejected the moratorium request for financial reasons. She said Stein told a tenants' representative that he is planning to redevelop 372 units of his property immediately because of interest rates on a loan he has.
But Shanley and Stasch added that Stein said he would be willing to consider selling the tenants' association the remaining units at the price he paid, or to discuss other options with them.