McMansion may increase flood risk in resource protected Barcroft (Arlington, VA)

The relatively new owner of 4831 8th Street South has recently filed for a permit to build a new three story house (also known as a McMansion). It’s hard to fathom this monstrosity on our relatively modest Barcroft dead end street.

The new home construction will consume the majority of the small 6,000 square foot land (R6) parcel. The soil at the existing property now becomes saturated and overwhelmed with water during heavy rainfall. Replacing this soil with a much larger home will displace surface area that would otherwise help to absorb and slow the flow of water.

The property is also on a relatively steep hill from which large amounts of water flow down during storms. While the area already has problems with storm water, erosion and backs to the Four Mile Run stream which is regularly overrun. As a result, such a development may further exacerbate that existing problem. The next street over is the 4800 block of 7th Street South, part of the Chesapeake Bay Resource Protection Area, would also be negatively impacted by ground disturbance.

4831 8th St S

Unfortunately the former owners of 4831 had let their tenants put the property in to such a state of disrepair that it seems they felt there was no other choice but to sell it off at a distressed value to a holding company called Preferred Resource, LLC which is involved with development and re-sale of property through another, related company.

According to a (now defunct) website affiliated with Beckwitt and Associates (the company on the Arlington building permit) the goal is to “fix and flip” or in this case knock down and build anew for the purpose of providing a return to investors. Both Preferred Resource, LLC as well as Beckwitt and Associates are operated by Ken Beckwitt of Springfield, Virginia.

Scaling back the development to utilize a smaller footprint and ensuring ecologically sensible storm water management practices are followed would reduce the negative impact of a new home development.

The property currently sits abandoned, waiting to be demolished. What happens next will be determined by Arlington County, the developer — and possibly to some extent the neighborhood itself.