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Alexandria Mayor says city services to begin West End expansion within the year

4850 Mark Center Drive. (Courtesy photo)

Alexandria is moving forward this year with plans to shift more of its services to the city’s west end.

In a recent town hall, Mayor Justin Wilson provided an update on plans to consolidate the Department of Community and Human Services (DCHS) into the former Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) headquarters (4850 Mark Center Drive) at Mark Center. As part of the shuffle, IDA moved to Potomac Yard and redevelopment plans are in the works for one of the DCHS facilities in Del Ray.

“This is an opportunity to bring these agencies closer to the people they serve,” Wilson said. “Most of the population they serve is in the West End of the city.”

Wilson said the new centralized DCHS office is also an opportunity to set up what Wilson called a “West End Service Center.”

“The majority of our population is west of Quaker Lane, yet all the customer service elements have long been in City Hall in the farthest east of our city,” Wilson said. “Part of this effort is a desire to bring those city services to the West End of our city to make sure folks can access their government without having to get into a car and go to Old Town and find parking.”

The deal has been in the works since at least 2018. According to a city memo, it will cost approximately $1.9 million in annual building operating expenses and the city would need nearly $14 million in “upfront tenant fit-out costs.” As a city-owned building, Wilson said it will also save money long-term in comparison to buildings currently being rented across the city to house DCHS offices.

Wilson said staff should start moving into the building this year with services opening in the building sometime in the next fiscal year. The new 15-year lease on the building is scheduled to go into effect in February 2023.

“We should be moving people in this year,” Wilson said. “The building is in good shape. We have a lot of work to do, but we should have people coming in the next fiscal year. We’re excited to get this service center set up.

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