Council approves senior housing building on First Street

Council approves senior housing building on First Street
A rendering of the Aspire, a planned independent senior housing building at 1112 First St. (Rendering/City of Alexandria)

By Cody Mello-Klein |

A new type of housing project is coming to Alexandria.

City council approved the Aspire, a six-story, age-restricted multifamily building at 1112 First St., at its public hearing on Saturday. The project will include 133 multifamily units, including nine one-bedroom affordable units, for those 62 years of age and older, according to the development special use permit for the project. The site will also include a 4,500-square-foot ground floor restaurant. Overall, the development will measure 127,000 square feet.

The developer for the project, Boneventure, aims to fill specific needs for seniors: independent living and the ability to age in a transit-accessible area.

“It was not built to meet the requirements for assisted living or memory care, but it does provide independent living for people who are able to do [so] and do so for some time, until such time as they need additional help,” Cathy Puskar, attorney for the applicant, said.

For an additional fee each month, residents will have access to a service package that includes shuttle service to grocery stores, scheduled medical appointments and weekly activities, an in-house healthcare provider, prescription delivery, a fitness center, hair and nail salon, art studio and library. In addition, the restaurant, which would also be open to the public, would provide residents with 30 meals per month, although residents would be able to purchase more.

With rent, utilities and the service package included, a one-bedroom will cost about $4,900 per month, Tamara Jovovic of the Office of Housing said. The affordable units will cost about $3,500 per month with the service package. The service package accounts for about $2,300 of the total monthly cost of living.

In addition to providing the nine affordable housing units, the applicant plans to contribute money to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, Capital Bike Share Fund, Braddock Community Amenities Fund and Braddock Open Space Fund, according to the staff presentation.

Staff presented several special use permits for the site alongside the project’s development special use permit, including requests for an increased floor area ratio, the restaurant use, bonus density in exchange for the affordable units and a parking reduction from 124 to 75 spaces.

Residents of the Aspire will have access to an extensive service package, which will include shuttle service, prescription deliveries and paid meals at the ground floor restaurant. (Rendering/City of Alexandria)

Staff supported the proposed parking reduction because of an in-depth trip generation analysis and the site’s 0.4-mile proximity to the Braddock Road Metro station, Catherine Miliaris, principal planner in the Department of Planning and Zoning, said.

“The trip generation assessments show that because of the age restriction, the characteristics and habits associated with parking and trip generation are more aligned with senior housing rather than your typical multifamily housing,” Miliaris said.

Councilor Canek Aguirre asked whether shuttle service could extend to the Metro station. The applicant is waiting to assess demand for Metro trips before promising regular shuttle service, Puskar said.

The applicant also requested an open space reduction, reducing the total open space from the required 40 percent. The 29 percent open space will be distributed between a ground floor private courtyard, publicly accessible sidewalk and planting area, rooftop terrace and fifth floor open area.

Staff supported the reduction, noting the high quality of the open space included in the DSUP and the site’s proximity to two public parks, Miliaris said.

The building will comply with the city’s 2009 Green Building Policy, not the 2019 policy council passed last year, since the project was submitted prior to March, 1, 2020, the date the new policy goes into effect, Karl Moritz, director of the Department of Planning and Zoning, said.

Councilor Del Pepper made a motion, seconded by Aguirre, to approve the DSUP. Council approved the motion 6-0. Councilor Amy Jackson was not present at the hearing.

“I can speak personally from my family: This is a real need for our community,” Mayor Justin Wilson said. “At every income level, honestly, there are not enough opportunities for our seniors to age in place or age in place in our community.”