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Arlington Co. Aims to Save Historic Garden Apartments

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Colonial Village was originally built for mid-salary Pentagon employees before World War I.
Jonathan Wilson
Colonial Village was originally built for mid-salary Pentagon employees before World War I.

The County has been working on the Historic Resources Inventory for nearly a decade, surveying almost 400 buildings. The final list is up for board approval Saturday.

Cynthia Licces-Torres, a historic preservation planner for the county, says there is a sense of urgency because the buildings on the list are already disappearing.

"About 25 percent of them have already come down in the past decade alone," she says.

Of the 23 buildings marked essential on Arlington's historic inventory, 11 are garden apartment complexes. Those complexes were commonplace throughout the county in previous decades, but in recent years, many of them have been demolished in favor of condominium complexes or high rise apartments.

"All in all, they really were the prototype for making housing not only affordable but also attractive," says Licces-Torres.

One of the garden apartment complexes on the list, Colonial Village along Wilson Boulevard, was built to house middle-income government workers. It was the first garden apartment complex in the country, and has been inhabited since 1936.

"It's beautiful. There's trees, there's paths and courtyards," Licces-Torres says of Colonial Village. "It really brings nature in."

Licces-Torres says the purpose of the list is to better educate the public, developers, and county leaders so they can make decisions about what to save.

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