Cash-strapped governments ramping up tax-collection efforts

Tax officials in the DC area are trying new, and maybe extraordinary, efforts to collect tens of millions of dollars in delinquent payments. These efforts are hoping to help combat the huge projected budget deficits that threaten to slash public services.

Together, DC area localities are owed more than $40 million in overdue real estate taxes from fiscal 2010. In Arlington, real estate tax delinquency has nearly tripled since 2003.

Clarendon church apartment project could be national model

An Arlington church is building an apartment development above the church sanctuary as a way to generate revenue while they face a shrinking budget.

The Views at Clarendon will consist of 70 affordable apartments and 46 market-rate apartments on eight floors being built on top of the two-stort sanctuary of First Baptist at Clarendon. The development is expected to open late next year and is gaining national attention from many urban churches.

Buena Vista may lose city hall to repo man

The country's dire financial straits extend beyond homeowners, as one Virginia city's officials are learning. In the go-go days of 2004 and 2005, the city of Buena Vista in the Shenandoah Valley borrowed $9 million to build and refinance a city golf course. On the refinance application, they offered up two public buildings as collateral: the Buena Vista city hall and its police station.

Now, the bills are coming due and the city can't afford to make payments, making it quite possible that the financier, ACA Financial Guaranty Corp., will exercise its right to seize the buildings.

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DEVELOPING: DoD seeks spending cuts in VA

Virginia's economy stands to take a heavy blow if Secretary of Defense Robert Gates's proposal to cut the Pentagon's budget goes ahead as planned.  And there's little recourse for the Commonwealth's political leaders who are obviously concerned about the proposed cuts: Congress doesn't need to approve them.  Here's what's at stake in the Commonwealth.

Builders likely to win sprinkler code battle

On Monday, the directors of the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development are expected to pass revisions to the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code that would include a requirement that all new residential construction in the Commonwealth include a fire extinguisher in or near the kitchen. This provision is likely to be adopted instead of a proposal that would have required sprinklers in all new townhouse construction.


Planning begins for future Herndon-Monroe Metro station

Town officials in Herndon are preparing residents and business owners for the new  Herndon-Monroe Metro station, which is slated to open in 2016. Plans are afoot to make the area surrounding the coming station more appealing to passengers. Officials would like to see the area transformed into an attractive, walkable urban community.

Officials looking at wind farms for Virginia

Virginia officials are working to lay the groundwork for the state to become a national hub for wind technology. If they are successful, it could mean an estimated $80 billion to the Commonwealth and more than 5,000 long-term jobs.

"We have the potential for not only wind turbines off the coast of Virginia, but for Hampton Roads to become the silicon valley of wind development for the entire east coast," said Bob Matthias, assistant to the Virginia Beach city manager.

Virginia commercial RE posts gains

Virginia Business reports that commercial real estate in the Commonwealth may be headed back in a positive direction according to 2Q figures released by CoStar.

All three of Virginia's major metro areas (Hampton Roads, Richmond, and Washington DC) have vacancy rates below the national average of 17.4% and Northern Virginia has actually seen a drop in its vacancy rate in 2Q, from 16% to 15.6%.

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Gov. McDonnell says almost 72K jobs created in six months

Governor Bob McDonnell says that Virginia has seen a net increase of nearly 72,000 jobs since February. Experts say that an improved job market will help lead a general economic recovery and bolster the housing market. It's also positive news for the commercial real estate market.

The net gain in jobs could have a strong impact on homeowners, who are more likely to keep up with their mortgages if they are employed. Sellers looking to market their homes will also benefit from an increase in jobs, as buyers with jobs will be able to qualify for financing.


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