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The City of Alexandria has received an award from the National Capital Area Chapter of the American Planning Association (NCAC-APA) for its design of The Station at Potomac Yard, which will be the first newly constructed fire station in the United States to combine a fire station, affordable housing and retail in a single mixed-use building. The award was presented at NCAC-APA’s 60th Annual Anniversary and Awards Gala on Thursday, November 8.
The Station at Potomac Yard, the first fire station to be built in Alexandria in 30 years, will be the first civic building established in Potomac Yard, a former railyard along Route 1/Jefferson Davis Highway in Alexandria. The project will consist of a four-bay fire station, 20 workforce housing units, 44 affordable housing units, a community meeting room, and neighborhood retail space. The project is slated to be completed in early 2009.
A public/private partnership, consisting of the City of Alexandria, Potomac Yard Development (a private developer), and the Alexandria Housing Development Corporation (a not-for-profit housing group), was created to build the project. The impetus for locating housing above the fire station was the opportunity to maximize the developer’s contribution for affordable housing in Potomac Yard. By locating the housing above the fire station, the City did not have to pay for the cost of land, which freed the full amount of the developer contribution as leverage for low-income housing tax credits.
The NCAC-APA awards panel noted that the collaboration of City agencies to coordinate their facility planning was an innovative response to using scarce public land in an efficient and effective way to meet community needs. In particular, the panel cited the use of air rights over the fire station to provide for affordable housing as an inspired approach that could serve as a model for other jurisdictions in the region.
“Communities in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. region increasingly face the challenge of providing affordable housing,” said Alexandria Mayor William D. Euille. “Through the Station at Potomac Yard, Alexandria is demonstrating that locating workforce housing above essential public facilities can be a creative solution for addressing the challenge of providing affordable housing.”
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