ACPS has acknowledged that community feedback has generally opposed putting affordable housing at a new school development.
In a recent joint Alexandria City Public Schools and City Council meeting, ACPS Director of Capital Programs Erika Gulick said that feedback from Alexandria residents indicated that locals were not comfortable with housing, including affordable housing, being co-located at some school developments.
The acknowledgement is the latest in the debate that was ignited almost exactly a year ago when feasibility study for George Mason Elementary School included an apartment complex. ACPS apologized for the inclusion, saying the complex wasn’t planned for that site, but co-location of housing and other non-school uses at ACPS facilities has repeatedly been stated as a priority for the City Council.
Designs for the new T.C. development are scheduled to go to the City Council early in 2022.
“The co-location goals are not only trying to make sure we have complimentary uses, but increasing use of the site outside of traditional school hours,” Mayor Justin Wilson said in the meeting. “To the extend that we could have public space used for other services. I would encourage us to continue looking at those kinds of opportunities.”
“We did some community engagement before end of calendar year and collected feedback,” said Gulick. “In general, the community generally opposed to affordable housing or housing on a school site. There’s a concern of ‘is it appropriate to use school land or co-locate these two things.’ But [there is] support for other colocation, like a pool or teen wellness center.”
Gulick said school programming remains the highest priority in plans to add new facilities to the Minnie Howard campus, with loss of athletic fields or open space being considered unacceptable, but that development that adds additional uses to the sites would require additional density approval from the city.
A few other school districts across the country have co-located school facilities and housing, and Alexandria Living Magazine has compiled them with a look at how they compare to ACPS plans.