The Ramsey Homes affordable housing project will loaned an additional $1.4 million thanks to a vote by the Alexandria City Council.
Council members voted to grant the additional funding to the redevelopment last night (Tuesday), bringing the total amount Alexandria has loaned to $5 million.
The long-awaited, sometimes contentious project aims to replace 15 public housing buildings with 52 affordable housing units on the Braddock site. Of the new units, 37 will be reserved for households earning up to 60% of the area’s median income ($56,022) and 15 units set aside for households earning 30% or less than the median income ($28,011.)
“We’re delighted that the City Council is continuing to show strong support for the project,” Helen McIlvaine, the city’s head of housing, told ALXnow after the vote. “It’s going to replace units that had to come down because they’re dilapidated but it’s also going to add new units.”
The Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority (ARHA) is developing the property at the corner of N. Patrick and Wythe streets and requested the money after CEO Keith Pettigrew said last year’s unusually wet weather delayed the archaeological study the city requires as part of the construction site review.
“The unexpected costs associated with the four months of dewatering for archeology had not been accounted for in our pre-development budget,” noted Pettigrew.
“Every time they resumed the archeological work it would rain again so I think they just remained behind the 8-ball,” said McIlvaine. “I understand that they were de-watering systems that might have been more efficient in other projects so maybe that’s a lesson that we would learn.”
“But most of what has occurred here was an external issue and we’re all trying to make sure the project stays on track,” she added.
Pettigrew attended the City Council meeting, but did not comment.
This is the second time the City Council has increased the loan to ARHA. Council members increased it by $1.6 million last May, as reported by the Alexandria Times, after ARHA cited rising construction costs and the loss of a tax credit.
The same document noted that “the ARHA team managing the project currently does not include any of the original staff who have transitioned out of the agency since the development was first approved and funded.”
Mayor Justin Wilson said he was “happy” to have the staff members there and thanked them for their hard work.
“I know that this has been a challenge from the beginning, from even before you got here,” he said. “I know it’s something you inherited.”
The $1.4 million will come out of previous ARHA loan repayments to the city, and agency staff noted in a Council memo they plan to pay it back in 2035.