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Developer Bonaventure broke ground last week on a six-story senior housing project just a few blocks away from the Braddock Road Metro station.

The project at 1112 First Street was formerly known as Aspire Alexandria, and was approved by the City in February 2020. It includes 133 one- and two-bedroom units, a 4,500-square-foot restaurant, underground parking and other “resort-style” amenities.

“Our housing portfolio may span multiple demographics, but our Bonaventure standard of excellence is the same — every property is purposely designed with excellence and the needs of the community in mind,” Dwight Dunton, Bonaventure’s CEO, said in a statement. “The future residents of this community will enjoy top-of-the-line and have unparalleled access to the best of Alexandria, helping to create a highly attractive destination that appeals to our target demographic.”

Bonaventure doesn’t have a name for the Old Town West property, which was previously home to Tony’s Auto Service for seven decades.

“The unnamed property will be situated within walking distance of the Braddock Road Metro Station, as well as I-495, King Street and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport,” Bonaventure said.

Bonaventure received a $50 million construction loan for the project in March, and said it expects apartments available to rent in late 2023. Units will only be available to residents who are 62 and older.

Photo via Bonaventure

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Updated at 1:40 p.m. Two people were shot to death in a burglary gone wrong in the West End on Saturday morning (July 16).

One person of interest is in custody, and police continue to investigate multiple crime scenes at an apartment complex in Century Drive.

The identities of the victims have not been released.

The shooting and burglary incidents occurred at the Assembly of Alexandria apartment complex in the 100-to-200 blocks of Century Drive. The identities of the victims and their relationships with each other have not yet been released.

Police received the call for shots fired at around 7:30 a.m.

“The first victim was found dead when police arrived,” Alexandria Police spokesman Marcel Bassett told ALXnow. “The second victim was pronounced dead at the hospital.”

Residents outside the apartment complex have been turned away from entering. One single mother and her two children sat on a curb, and she complained that the area is unsafe.

“We hear gunshots all the time, mostly on the weekends,” the woman said. “My car was broken into and my debit cards have been stolen… There’s no security here, and I am trying to figure out how I can get out of my lease.”

Complex owner Greystar says on its website that Assembly Alexandria enjoys “resort-inspired amenities,” although a number of residents say that the property has no security and that the doors to apartments have only single locks on the handles.

“See this key?” said one resident, raising a key from their keychain. “There’s no double locks. This is all it takes to get into our apartments. Anybody can get in.”

Two people were killed in the 200 block of Century Drive on Saturday, July 16, 2022. (Via Google Maps)

Alexandria Police will send out a press release updating the public on the incidents later today, Bassett said.

The incidents are the fifth and sixth homicides in Alexandria this year.

Anyone with information on the incident is asked to call Detective Stephen Riley at 703-746-6225. Callers can remain anonymous.

Via Google Maps

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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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D.C.-based real estate investment firm Willow Creek Partners has bought a West End 189-unit apartment complex.

Willow Creek Partners bought the property from Baltimore-based Continental Realty Corporation, the latter of which bought it for $23 million in 2011. The apartment complex was built in 1963, and includes one-, two- and three-bedroom designs and seven separate floor plans.

“Our team executed a great, value-add strategy at Ripley,” JM Schapiro, CEO of Continental Realty Corporation, said in a statement. “We repositioned the asset into a high-quality, yet affordable housing option within a growing submarket. Our team elevated many of property’s physical elements and improved the resident experience with modern property management tools and a customer-first approach. 101 North Ripley serves as another great example of CRC’s team adding value for both the resident and the investor.”

CRC renovated the property several years after buying it, and installed new windows and sliding patio doors, hallways and laundry rooms, and converted an outdoor pool into a 45-space residential parking lot.

Willow Creek owns 11 other apartment complexes spread across North Carolina, Colorado, Maryland and Virginia.

Via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

The ‘I Love You’ art installation at Waterfront Park opens on March 25, 2022. (staff photo by James Cullum)

Leasing Starts for Apartments Over Wegmans —  “Developer Stonebridge and its leasing partner Bozzuto, announced Wednesday the start of leasing for Easton, a boutique-style apartment building offering sophisticated design and amenities located in the Carlyle Crossing neighborhood. The 11-story building is slated to begin move-ins in mid-April just ahead of the anticipated May 11 opening of Wegmans Carlyle Crossing.” [Alexandria Living]

Ukraine Donation Drive Launched — Leaders launched an effort Wednesday to provide donations, such as gently used coats, new blankets, new pairs of sweat socks or heavy socks, and new pairs of gloves at locations around Northern Virginia. “No matter the scale – global to local – humanity is a community unto itself and we must always come to the assist of those in need,” Alexandria Vice Mayor Amy Jackson said at the event. [Facebook, Patch]

Kingstowne Woman’s Family Raises Funds to Find Suspect — “The family of a missing Alexandria woman, who is presumed dead, is raising money to help catch her alleged killer.”[WJLA]

It’s Thursday — Light rain throughout the day. High of 67 and low of 58. Sunrise at 7:06 a.m. and sunset at 7:25 p.m. [Weather.gov]

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Elbert Avenue Apartments, image via Google Maps

Alexandria non-profit Community Lodging has announced plans to significantly expand affordable housing in Arlandria-Chirilagua with the redevelopment of a 1940s apartment complex.

Elbert Avenue Apartments, a set of three three-story buildings constructed in the 1940s, currently has 28 units affordable for renters making 60% of the Area Median Income (AMI) — the standard applied for evaluating affordable housing. But these buildings are in rough shape after what Community Lodging called years of “Band-Aid fixes”.

In a release, Community Lodging said the plan is to redevelop the site with 96 units available at various levels of affordability.

“The new property, currently proposed to include 96 apartments, would substantially expand Community Lodging’s impact,” the non-profit said. “The project provides a unique opportunity as Arlandria-Chirilagua faces challenges of rent increases and gentrification due to its location near Amazon HQ2 in Arlington and the upcoming Potomac Yard Metro.”

Community Lodging said affordable housing investments are particularly important for Arlandria-Chirilagua’s majority Latinx community where median household incomes are below 50% of AMI and are a “historically underserved and underinvested community.”

Financing for the project is being sought through a housing tax credit program. Households will be accessible for those at or below 60% of AMI. Of the new units, 20% will be dedicated to households at or below 50% of AMI.

Image via Google Maps

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A 14-story Arlandria apartment complex has been acquired by the Alexandria Housing Development Corporation, the latest move in an effort to preserve affordable housing in an area facing significant development pressure.

AHDC recently announced that it bought the Park Vue of Alexandria apartments from Florida-based ZRS Management with support of $51.4 million from the $2 billion Amazon Housing Equity Fund, and conditionally will reman affordable for at least 99 years.

The announcement of the sale comes as developments progress on Amazon’s HQ2, Virginia Tech’s Innovation Campus and the Potomac Yard Metro station — all projects that have raised concerns of gentrification.

“AHDC’s goal is to ensure that those who are currently living in this community have the chance to stay, and that households of all incomes will be able to enjoy the benefits of this vibrant neighborhood well into the future,” AHDC CEO Jon Frederick said in a statement. “As a non-profit that is dedicated to community development in Alexandria, the acquisition of Park Vue of Alexandria helps us achieve our mission of creating and preserving housing affordability here in our own backyard and allows us to create meaningful connections in the Arlandria-Chirilagua neighborhood.”

Earlier this month, City Council also approved a $10.5 million loan to the nonprofit to begin development on more than 500 affordable housing units in Arlandria at the intersection of Glebe Road and Mount Vernon Avenue.

“The culture and diversity of neighborhoods like Arlandria-Chirilagua are what makes Northern Virginia such a wonderful place to live, work, and thrive,” said Catherine Buell, director of the Amazon Housing
Equity Fund. “But unique communities like this, with all its valuable contributions, could be otherwise lost to commercial development that does not factor in the affordability needs of the community. By teaming up with organizations such as Alexandria Housing Development Corporation, we are able to help preserve and grow the housing stock for moderate- to low-income households to help build more diverse and inclusive communities.”

No residents at the Park Vue building will be displaced by the sale, and the conversion to affordable units will take place over the next several years, according to AHDC. The purchase maintains “accessible” rents for households making up to 60% of the area median income.

“As a partner with the Amazon Housing Equity Fund, Park Vue of Alexandria will maintain a 99-year affordability covenant,” AHDC said in the release. “AHDC will work with Amazon and other lending partners to refinance the property in the coming months to help support the long-term affordability of Park Vue of Alexandria.”

Alexandria lost 90% of its affordable housing stock between 2000 and 2017, and 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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Local developer Bonaventure hopes their new shopping center in the middle of Del Ray could be constructed as early as summer 2025. That’s if all goes according to their plan.

Right now the plan for 2525 Mount Vernon Avenue is still in its conceptual phase, but includes a four-story, 43-foot-tall building with 12,530 square feet of retail and 79 rental units on the one acre lot. Bonaventure is not planning on including any affordable housing units in the project, and will instead contribute to the city’s Housing Trust Fund.

The 88,500-square-foot building is the former Alexandria Department of Community and Human Services. Bonaventure bought it for $22.5 million in the summer of 2019, along with the properties at 2401, 2403 and 2411-2419 Mount Vernon Avenue.

Bonaventure also owns the 144-space parking lot across from Pat Miller Square on Mount Vernon Avenue and E. Oxford Avenue, which will be available for residents of the new building, but shoppers will be relegated to parking on the street.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, the developer wants the plan to go to the City for review in November, followed by the final site plan and building permit process, and then upward of a year-and-a-half for construction.

“If things go according to our schedule, we would go to public hearing in November,” said Cathy Puskar, an attorney for Bonaventure. “Following the public hearing, there’s a final site plan process and building permit process, and we would look to start construction in the fourth quarter of 2023, and the building would be completed in 18-to-20 months.”

Via Bonaventure

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The Mark Apartments, photo courtesy Washington Property Company

The Mark Apartments at 100 S. Reynolds Street near the Landmark area is under new ownership.

Washington Property Company (WPC) announced its acquisition of The Mark, a 227-unit apartment tower in the West End, last Friday. The company bought the tower for $52.7 million.

“This is WPC’s first acquisition of an existing multifamily property,” said Quinn Rounsaville, WPC Senior Vice President of Acquisitions, said in a press release. “We have long been committed to multifamily as an asset class in our portfolio, and this acquisition provides an opportunity to grow. We believe that with Amazon HQ2, Virginia Tech’s Innovation Campus, the redevelopment of Landmark Mall, and Virginia’s business-friendly political climate, the Alexandria submarket is poised for tremendous growth over the next five to ten years.”

In the press release, WPC said it plans to complete an ongoing renovation program at the apartments to finish upgrading apartment finishes and features. WPC also said it plans a more extensive upgrade of the building’s systems and common areas.

The redevelopment planned at Landmark and the HQ2 development in Arlington were name-dropped as a key feature that made the building an appealing acquisition.

“It is just 1.4 miles from the Van Dorn Metro station and four Metro stops to Amazon’s HQ2,” the press release said. “Only a half-mile from the property is the Landmark Mall redevelopment, expected to comprise 4.2 million square feet of mixed-use development anchored by a new billion-dollar Inova Alexandria Hospital, delivering as early as 2025.”

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105 N. Alfred Street (photo via Google Maps)

A historic Old Town home that had most recently been an art gallery could undergo a conversion into a small hotel.

Bruce and Thelma MacGregor, owners of 105 North Alfred, are requesting a special use permit to turn a current commercial and apartment building into a hotel. The home was originally built in 1790, and the permit notes that the property was recently used as an art gallery with eight apartment units on the floors above.

The shift to the hotel business is not as big as it might seem on paper, though. The permit notes that for roughly ten years, all of the apartment units had been used as short-term rentals through Airbnb. The change is notable, though, as hotel revenue remains low in Alexandria.

According to the permit request, the changes will involve adding a new front-desk area and other amenities, with guests being able to book rooms and check-in remotely.

The MacGregors are also hoping to make a two-story addition to the property to the north, adding new bedroom units.

The permit request is scheduled for review at the Planning Commission meeting on Dec. 7.

Photo via Google Maps

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