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City lays out goals for Arlandria-Chirilagua preservation

Amazon’s Sword of Damocles is hanging over Arlandria, and city staff have been working with local residents and community leaders to put together a plan to help preserve the local community against gentrification.

Arlandria, also known as Chirilagua, is a primarily Latino community in northern Alexandria with refugees from El Salvador and other parts of Central America.

The community is one of the city’s few bastions of market rate affordable housing — housing affordable to those making less than the area median income that isn’t part of a committed affordable housing program. But it’s a community that is also less than a mile from the rapidly-transforming Potomac Yard and just down the road from Amazon’s “HQ2” in Crystal City.

City staff are scheduled to discuss a first draft of the Arlandria-Chirilagua Plan at the Thursday, Sept. 9, Planning Commission meeting. In a memo, Director of Planning and Zoning Karl Moritz outlined what the plan’s goals are:

  1. Preserve Arlandria-Chirilagua as a culturally diverse neighborhood; protect residents’ ability to remain in the community amidst anticipated market pressures by preserving and expanding housing affordability and opportunity;
  2. Support the existing commercial corridor and local businesses;
  3. Build on neighborhood walkability, safety, and transportation options;
  4. Connect and expand the open space network with more play areas and outdoor living rooms; and
  5. Empower residents to advocate for their needs and participate in decisions affecting their neighborhood.

Moritz said the plan is to address preservation of Arlington-Chirilagua on several topics, from housing affordability to community safety and mobility. The plan is scheduled for release later this month for review throughout September and October. The final draft plan will be released in mid-October with public hearings throughout November.

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