Arlington County, which last year approved construction of a record 3,747 rental apartments or condominiums, has given the green light to build about 1,900 more so far in 2016.
Developers on Saturday got the go-ahead to build 491 units at 750 N. Glebe Rd., 105 units at 2400 Columbia Pike and 90 units at 2000 Clarendon Blvd., adding to about 1,200 residential multifamily units approved earlier in the year, according to county records.
Twenty-two of the newly approved rental units will be set aside for low- to middle-income households, and four units will be made available for purchase by people who make up to 80 percent of the area’s median income, or about $84,500 for a family of four.
The pace of applications could illustrate the continued demand for new housing in the wake of the 2008 recession and real estate collapse, housing and real estate officials said. But it may also reflect developers opting for residential projects over office and retail developments because of the county’s high commercial vacancy rate, which has made it easier right now to get bank financing for housing.
“Residential is doing better than commercial right now,” Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey (D) said. “But Arlington is also a great place to live.”
She said she sees continued high demand for apartments and condos in Arlington as part of “a generational change. . . . People don’t want the suburban yards anymore. They like the exciting, vibrant places.”
Arlington has about 112,000 residences, 65 percent of which are in multifamily developments, according to the county’s annual demographic report.
The rental vacancy rate is 4.2 percent, up from 2.3 percent last year, said Joel Franklin, who oversees those numbers for the county. The average rent has dropped slightly, to $1,935 from $1,977 in 2015.
David Howell, executive vice president and chief information officer at the real estate firm McEnearney Associates, said he sees no indication that residential units are being overbuilt in Arlington and other close-in communities.
“I don’t think we’re there yet,” he said. “Millennials are slowly coming out of mom and dad’s basement, and the first rental or purchase tends to be in these apartments and condos. There’s an enormous pent-up demand.”
The most recently approved residential projects will replace low-rise buildings with much taller ones. All three required zoning changes.
A 12-story development by Saul Centers will bring 491 new residences, a large retailer and a car-rental business to the site of a former auto dealership in Ballston.
The next-biggest development, at Columbia Pike and South Barton Street, will build 105 new condos and ground-floor retail in a six-story structure where three one-story buildings now stand, including the building that houses the Rappahannock Coffee shop.
The historic facade of that building, on Columbia Pike, will be preserved. Parking will be underground. The developers are Four Mile Run Associates and B.M. Smith & Associates.
The smallest of the three projects approved Saturday will house 90 condos in a 14-story building at 2000 Clarendon Blvd., with street-level retail stores. The developer is Bush Construction.
Garvey said the county remains committed to keeping dense growth concentrated along major routes in Arlington’s urban corridors and protecting the single-family-home neighborhoods behind them.