City gets affordable housing boost

City gets affordable housing boost

By Derrick Perkins (Image/City of Alexandria)

Just a few months after adopting a roadmap for saving Alexandria’s dwindling supply of affordable housing, city officials broke ground Saturday on the largest project for low- and moderate-income families in recent memory.

City councilors joined representatives from Arlington-based AHC Inc. to celebrate the nonprofit development group’s 78-unit apartment building along East Reed Avenue — not far from Potomac Yard. The development will serve residents making 60 percent or less of the area median income, which skyrocketed to $106,100 between 2000 and 2011.

“Jackson Crossing is a model of how the city likes to do business,” said Mayor Bill Euille in a statement. “We will continue to seek productive partnerships and investments to expand affordable housing opportunities for low- and moderate-income residents.”

The project has been a bright spot in an otherwise dark period for affordable housing in Alexandria. AHC pitched the plan as officials grappled with the loss of more than 12,500 homes deemed affordable in just a decade.

And the nonprofit received considerable help from City Hall. Officials handed AHC $2.5 million in loans and a piece of city land to complete the project. The effort earned city council’s approval early last year.

“We are thrilled to break ground on our first affordable housing community in Alexandria,” said Walter D. Webdale, president of AHC. “Building on nearly 40 years in our home base of Arlington, we hope to develop more projects with our Alexandria neighbors to address the ongoing challenge of affordable housing in Northern Virginia.”

Though the project predates Alexandria’s newly approved housing master plan, partnering with nonprofits is one of many strategies the roadmap endorses. City councilors overwhelmingly approved the document in December and adopted one of the zoning changes proposed therein over the weekend.

AHC expects to wrap up construction within 18 months and have the building fully occupied by late next year.