A huge crowd turned out Tuesday night at the last Arlington County Board meeting of the year, many to speak for or against the county's potential acquisiton of a seven-story building to use as a homeless shelter and office space.
The board tonight will vote on whether the county manager should make an offer on the Thomas Building at 2020 14th St. North, which the county has had appraised at $25.5 million. The board's action stipulates that if a selling price cannot be agreed upon, then the county will begin the process of acquiring the building via eminent domain.
The decision has mobilized residents of Courthouse who have questions about the shelter's impact on their community. It's shaken business owners in the Thomas Building, as many will be forced to move once the county takes over. And it's energized advocates of ending homelessness in Arlington, who see the establishment of a year-round, low-barrier homeless shelter as a critical need for the broader community.
Shortly after 7:30 p.m., 60 people had signed up to speak for or against the matter before the board. That's 2 hours, 34 minutes of speaking time alone. As 8 p.m. approached, the board was in the middle of hearing from speakers on a setback modification.
County officials expected discussion on the acquisition of the Thomas Building could last until midnight, possibly later.
The meeting can be viewed online on the county's website by following this link and clicking "view event."