The Planning Commission unanimously approved the controversial Heritage Old Town project on Tuesday, clearing a path for it to go to City Council for a vote on Feb. 20.
The decision was made after hours of public comments from more than 40 people in support and opposition to the project.
The project was sent back to the developer last June and September for lacking an Old Town aesthetic. New York-based property owner Asland Capital Partners wants to replace the four-story 1970s-era urban renewal buildings in southeast Old Town along South Patrick and North Washington streets with three apartment buildings that will be up to seven stories in height. The plan preserves all existing 140 housing assistance units on-site and would add 57 units, according to a city staff report.
Alexandria is under an affordable housing crisis, and the city has pledged to produce or develop 2,000 affordable housing units by 2025. The city has also agreed to produce an additional 1,950 units by 2030 in order to meet its regional housing goal set by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, which aims for the region to produce 320,000 affordable housing units.
Like many of his neighbors, Old Town resident Stephen Sweeney opposes the project because it will add hundreds of cars to roadways and increase traffic.
“The affordable housing component of this is a Trojan horse to get more market rate units in there,” Sweeney told the Planning Commission. “There’s gotta be a better plan. It’s got to be a compromise here to get a development in here that works with a community that doesn’t impact traffic as bad.”
Even former Mayor Allison Silberberg weighed in, and told a community group that the project has too much density.
“Just because you can do something does not mean you should,” Silberberg said. “If the developer can make a profit with a smaller number of market-rate units, then we as a city should look for that middle ground.”
Jim Simmons, a managing partner with Asland, said that his project is the victim of a disinformation campaign.
“I’ve been in a lot of different domiciles and cities, but I don’t think in any of them would characterize a seven story building as a high rise,” Simmons said.
Asland attorney Cathy Puskar said that it was the city that approached Asland for help with affordable housing, and that the plan has gone through community meetings for more than a year.
“My client did not come to the city,” Puskar said. “The city came to my client. The city encouraged my client to redevelop using a new tool that the city created in its small area plan to incentivize redevelopment or the provision of deeply subsidized housing, without any city funding. And so I would ask the Planning Commission to understand that we have done our best to work with the community, that there have been changes to this project, and that we understand that they wish that it was two stories lower, but that is just not possible.”
Image via City of Alexandria
Cold, wet and exhilarating: Alexandria parent Southerlyn Marino learned so much about her high schooler’s crew-rowing that she wrote a book about it. Marino’s youngest son Pierce (now 17) started…
A pedestrian bridge at Ben Brenman Park will be closed over the next month for repairs. The closure means anyone going to the Ben Brenman Dog Park or Ben Brenman…
Good Friday morning, Alexandria! 🌥️ Today’s weather: A chance of rain, mainly between 10am and 1pm. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 57. Mostly cloudy tonight with a low around 39. Partly…
A look at the smallest and largest homes sold in Alexandria last month, January 2024.
Are you looking to work on health and fitness from the comfort of your own home?
Skip the big box gym and try out our in-home personal training service. We bring the gym to you so that you can save time and avoid the hassle of going the the crowded gym.
We bring all the equipment you need for a solid workout and if you have a community gym we can use that too.
We offer programs that will help with weight loss, strength, flexibility, more energy and overall feeling better.
Peace in Gaza: Prayer Liturgy and Community Discussion for Peace in Arlington VA, Sunday, Feb. 11, 10:15 AM
Prayer, liturgy, and community discussion for peace in Gaza, an immediate cease fire and resumption of humanitarian aid will be hosted by Nova Catholic Community. The focus will be Pope Francis’ call for an immediate ceasefire, the release of all hostages, resumption of humanitarian aid for Palestinians in Gaza, and peace talks for a lasting and just peace for all people in the region.
Discussion will follow at Noon on US military role in the conflict and appropriate steps the US should take to foster peace and rebuilding. Light lunch served.
Again this year, The Critical Mass, LLC, the Made in ALX store and local Ukrainian-American artists are throwing a Pysanky Party — and partnering on a fundraiser for the nonprofit organization Razom for Ukraine.
The free event, from 5 –