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St. Rita Catholic Church comes to agreement on construction of Arlandria affordable housing project

The Alexandria City Council is poised to approve an amended plan to build a 473-unit affordable housing complex in Arlandria, now that St. Rita Catholic Church has signed off on the project.

Citing safety concerns for parishioners and children, St. Rita Catholic Church and the Catholic Diocese of Arlington sought legal action against the City and the Alexandria Housing Development Corporation when the development was approved in January.

A key feature of the AHDC Glebe/Mount Vernon project was construction of two loading docks and a new private road with public access adjacent to St. Rita’s playground that would connect E. Glebe Road and Mount Vernon Avenue.

The roadway and loading docks have since been removed, and the Planning Commission unanimously approved the changes last week. The changes take away one affordable unit in exchange for a new publicly accessible walking area where the alley is, as well as construction of a playground.

“Consequently, the revised project has been changed for the better,” Roy Shannon, an attorney for the diocese, told the Planning Commission. “The ultimate objective for the church is the safety and the health of its parishioners, especially the young children who attend the church in the school.”

City Council on Tuesday (July 5), will vote on the new changes, as well as on repealing the ordinance they approved in January and eliminate the roadway from consideration.

Attorney Duncan Blair represents AHDC, and said that the modifications are universally agreed upon.

“We look forward to moving forward with the first phase, which is utility relocation, including improving stormwater in the area to benefit the community, underground parking and then shortly be able to go vertical and provide the much-needed housing,” Blair told the Planning Commission.

Blair said that the demolishing of the existing buildings at 221 West Glebe Road and 3606, 3608, 3610, 3612 and 3700 Mount Vernon Avenue will take up to two years, in addition to massive utility relocation and construction of a two-level underground parking garage. He said that the 3.26-acre development of the two new affordable housing apartment buildings would be finished in late 2025 or early 2026.

Alexandria is experiencing an affordable housing crisis and lost 14,300 (or 78%) affordable housing units between 2000 and 2022. The city has pledged to produce or develop thousands of units to meet 2030 regional housing goal set by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.

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