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New grant elevates Old Town North civic organization with an arts focus

A cyclist along a path in Old Town North near the old power plant (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

A volunteer-led group representing the rapidly-developing Old Town North will now have paid leadership, with funding from the City of Alexandria.

The group will be focused on assisting the city’s goals of turning Old Town North into an arts hub, amid several sweeping developments in the works there, including the eventual demolition and redevelopment of the GenOn Power Plant.

The city is giving the group $83,000 in  American Rescue Plan Act funding, which it will spend on staffing.

“This grant will enable OTNA to move beyond the all-volunteer stage with new professional staff, and to intensify its work toward its goals of implementing the Old Town North Small Area Plan and the Old Town North Arts and Cultural District,” per a release.

The grant comes as big changes are in the works to the area, facilitated by the same density trade that creates affordable housing to create arts spaces. The move has created some concern that it sets arts and affordable housing up as competing interests.

Last October, the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership announced it would be allocating $535,000 in total to several community organizations around Alexandria, including the Old Town North Alliance.

Former Vienna Town Council member Edythe Kelleher was hired as the first executive director.

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