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“Lipstick on a Pig” Heritage Development in Old Town Headed to Planning Commission

The Heritage, a new development in Old Town widely reviled at a September Board of Architectural Review meeting, is headed to the Planning Commission on Tuesday, Feb. 1, for review after some architectural fixes.

The plan is to demolish four 1970s-era buildings in southeast Old Town —  along South Patrick and North Washington streets — originally built as an urban renewal project in the historic Black neighborhood The Bottoms. Despite community objection, the BAR and City Council found that the buildings do not meet historic preservation criteria.

The application submitted to the Planning Commission primarily focuses on requested height allowances and the affordable housing trade-off. The plan notes that the new development will preserve all existing 140 housing assistance units on-site and add more for a total of 188 units.

The developer claimed in the application that the added density at the site requires bonus height, requesting permission to add 25′ of bonus height for two blocks of the development and 18′ for another for a total of one additional affordable unit.

Current designs for the building were reviewed, with a decreased scale and some redesign, at an October BAR meeting.

According to the application:

The six parcels comprising the site contain a total of 207,158 square feet or 4.75 acres of site area. The Property contains one midrise building (Block 2), and six low rise buildings (Block 1 and Block 4). The seven existing buildings on the site were constructed in 1977 as part of The Dip Urban Renewal project. As part of the 1977 redevelopment, The Dip Project demolished a historic African American neighborhood known as The Bottoms. One of the three proposed redevelopment blocks (Block 2) is located entirely within the boundaries of the Old and Historic Alexandria District and one of the redevelopment blocks (Block 1) is partially within the District. The SPSHAS anticipates redevelopment of the Property, which necessarily requires demolition of the existing buildings to achieve the stated goals and objectives of the Plan.

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