More cash needed for redevelopment project


The Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority (ARHA) needs to redevelop its Glebe Park property, but to do so, it needs a lot of money.

One of the mechanisms for obtaining this money is through Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA) tax credits. On Tuesday night, the Alexandria City Council agreed to write a letter in support of ARHAs tax credit application.

This doesnt mean that we support the project as it is outlined at this time, said Mayor William Euille. The project still has to go through our regular planning process just like any other proposed development. The Planning Commission will have an opportunity to hear testimony about the project and so will this council. If either the Planning Commission or council decides the project should not go forward as proposed, it will not. This letter simply says that we support the project so that ARHA can move forward with the tax credit application.

The proposal calls for the redevelopment of the Glebe Park property at W. Glebe and Old Dominion in Arlandria. All except six of the 106 units at Glebe Park will be public housing. At James Bland, near the Braddock Road Metro station, ARHA will have 134 units and there will be 184 market-rate homes. The project is being developed by Eakin Youngentob Associates, the firm that collaborated with ARHA on the successful redevelopment of Chatham Square.

Alexandria has taken the lead in developing scattered site public housing over the years, said Councilman Rob Krupicka. I believe that we are taking a step backward with this proposal for Glebe Park. This is one of the gateways to our city and I believe that if we take some time, perhaps we can come up with a better plan for a more mixed-use development like Chatham Square. I would like to see us delay this project for a year to allow for more input from the community and from the city. Clearly ARHA is going to need our help with the financing and maybe, with time, we can all think more creatively.

An urgent need
One year means an additional $600,000 in mortgage payments on Glebe Park and could cause the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to force foreclosure on the property. Its not just the mortgage, said A. Melvin Miller, the chairman of ARHAs board. We need to put these units back into service and that will cost a whole lot more than the mortgage. There is significant mold in these units and we have already tried to deal with this once before. The property simply needs to be redeveloped.

The housing authority submitted the tax credit application on March 9. The letter of support from the city will give the organization additional points toward VHDA approval. Without these tax credits, financing for the entire project is in jeopardy, said Councilman Ludwig Gaines. I dont like these options either but we need to support the letter and go through the process. We still have time to withdraw the tax credit application if the project changes significantly.

In the end, council agreed to allow City Manager Jim Hartmann to write the letter of support for the tax credits. The Glebe Park and James Bland development will go to the Planning Commission and to City Council in May.