Falls Church News Briefs

Credit Squeeze Hits F.C. Affordable Housing Effort

Reporting to the Falls Church City Council at its work session Tuesday, leaders of the Falls Church Housing Corporation (FCHC) said that the global economic downturn, and the U.S. banking and credit crisis, has stalled progress on obtaining financing for their City Center South Apartments project, which is now jeopardized by at least a temporary unraveling of agreements between participants in the plan.

The project for 174 affordable units in the downtown area of Falls Church first ran afoul of a City Planning Commission that nixed its site plan in December, despite repeated City Council approvals, and now may not get the favorable tax-credit financing it needs to proceed in the coming year. For now, reported FCHC president Dr. Steve Rogers and Executive Director Carol Jackson, the FCHC, Homestretch Inc., and Thomas Sawner of EdOptions, Inc., are not in agreement on how to proceed. Jackson said within three weeks, the FCHC will be able to know whether it will be viable to continue with its submission for $14 million in tax credit financing this year, noting that the status of a $4 million proffer for affordable housing from Atlantic Realty, developers of the $324 million City Center project, is also up in the air, given the current market conditions, she said. A representative from the Virginia Housing Development Corporation (VHDC) reported Monday that, given the current condition of the financing markets, the deadline for the FCHC application has been pushed back to mid-May. He said that Northern Virginia is one of the few regions in the nation in which housing development financing is still considered viable.

Another F.C. Gathering on Upcoming Budget Saturday

The Falls Church City staff and City Council will take another crack at interesting the citizenry in the tough issues facing the upcoming budget cycle with a meeting that will be held this Saturday from 10-11:30 a.m. in the Teen Center at the F.C. Community Center, coinciding with the Farmer’s Market outside in the City Hall parking lot. The session will be more informal than the presentation made at the Community Center last week, when a small citizen turnout disappointed some Council members.

Nathan Ward Top Billing in ‘Godspell’ This Weekend

Falls Church’s Nathan Ward, a 2008 graduate of George Mason High School, will play the lead in the Catholic University Drama Department’s production of the musical, “Godspell,” this weekend. Ward landed the role of “Jesus” despite being only a freshman at the school. Performances are at 8 p.m. Friday, 9:30 p.m. Saturday and 4:30 p.m. Sunday at the Ward Recital Hall on the C.U. campus, 620 Michigan Ave., Washington, D.C.

Matt Smith Guests on ‘News-Press Live’ TV Monday

Falls Church business owner and resident Matt Smith of Smith-Gifford Marketing will be the special guest on this Monday’s “Falls Church News-Press Live” TV show aired on Falls Church Cable TV at 7 p.m. Smith’s firm has been retained by the F.C. Economic Development Authority to develop a “branding project” for marketing the City, and is also bringing new ideas as a new board member of the F.C. Cable Access Corporation. The show’s host is News-Press owner Nicholas Benton. On the air for over 17 years, it is telecast live on Channel 12 on Cox Cable, Channel 35 on Verizon and Channel 3 on RCN for a half-hour twice a month in the same time slot.

Kaine, Webb Launch Job Training Plan for GED Candidates

Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine and U.S. Sen. Jim Webb announced Tuesday a new public-private initiative to prepare high school dropouts for entry-level technology jobs while they prepare for General Education Degree (GED) high school graduation-equivalency tests. The program, called “PlugGED In,” will start a pilot in Southwest Virginia, where the high school dropout rate is the highest in the state. The curriculum will prepare participants to pass the GED tests while also providing project-based instruction in the technology skills critical for entry-level employees in high-tech companies. Virginia’s stepped-up efforts to compensate for high school dropout rates have resulted in a growth of GED awards, rising from 11,830 in 2002 to 16,479 in 2008.