Last week, the Planning Commission for the City of Alexandria unanimously recommended the approval of special use permits for a development proposed in Glebe Park. The total development package involves the construction of six new buildings, evenly divided between the fronts of Old Dominion and West Glebe Roads in Arlandria.
The properties currently existing on the site house 152 residential units, about a third of which serve as public housing, divided amongst three parcels of land. The construction process includes tearing down 120 of the existing residential components and rebuilding 78 of them as a combination of subsidized and market rate rental housing. The master plan also includes the renovation of two existing buildings on Old Dominion Road which will be absorbed into the development
The new plan is the result of an out of kilter real estate portfolio held by the Alexandria Redevelopment & Housing Authority (AHRA), a chartered housing organization created by the State of Virginia, which owns the land. The initial Glebe Park development was uniquely planned so that the market rate units, which made up a majority of the housing, would subsidize the public housing units. Unfortunately for ARHA the market rate rental receipts have not accrued enough revenue to refund the current $6 million mortgage.
To solve their financial troubles ARHA partnered with Eakin Youngentob & Associates (EYA) in a joint effort to analyze their public housing portfolio to make it profitable. The findings of this collaboration resulted in a two part resolution involving two separate properties owned by ARHA: the current Glebe Park property and the James Bland Community - a 194-unit collection of residences which occupy five contiguous blocks on N. Alfred Street. The first step involves the sale of land under the non-public housing units, located on the James Bland property, to EYA. AHRA would then use the proceeds of that sale to finance both the redevelopment of Glebe Park and the $6 million mortgage behind it.
The arrangement is not cleared for construction yet; sources close to the process speculate that the Planning Commission might deem the construction density too high, concerns which will surely be raised this Saturday, October 13, at a public hearing before the Alexandria City Council.