Route 1 South Housing Affordability Strategy 2017-2018: Ten Things to Know

Page updated on May 29, 2018 at 11:08 AM

10 Things to Know About the Route 1 South Housing Affordability Strategy Process

  1. Why are we planning now?
    In January of this year, the City began a planning effort in the Route 1 area south of Duke Street focusing on five blocks that are home to two large privately owned rental communities – The Heritage at Old Town (3 blocks) and Olde Towne West III (2 blocks). The timing of this effort is closely tied to the expiration of long-term subsidies that provide deep housing affordability for the residents of these blocks. The main goal of this planning initiative is to proactively explore and propose options and tools for preserving the neighborhood's 215 existing committed affordable units, the deep levels of affordability they offer, and the varied unit types that exist today, prior to any potential redevelopment. The planning process also includes developing strategies to provide safe streets for all within the neighborhood, specifically on Route 1, and to strengthen the character and identity of the neighborhood, including its gateway area, through the potential long-term redevelopment of commercial sites along Route 1, south of Gibbon Street.
  2. How is the City engaging the community in this process?
    This planning process has been guided by the City’s civic engagement policy and, to date, has featured a variety of opportunities for the community to learn about, participate in, and provide feedback in person and online. All background information, meeting materials and videos as well as community input received are posted on the project webpage. Community engagement has included:
    • Letters mailed to property owners within an area between Wolfe St. south to Jefferson St., S. Henry St. east to S. Columbus St.
    • Flyers and posters distributed to all residences, commercial establishments and community centers within the Southwest Quadrant (an area from Duke Street south to I-95, the cemeteries east to Washington Street); Flyers and posters were provided in multiple languages and distributed on multiple occasions.
    • Large canvas banners posted in multiple high visibility locations.
    • Five pop-up engagement events throughout the neighborhood, including at The Heritage and Olde Towne West rental communities.
    • Two community meetings prior to the week-long charrette.
    • Community walking tour in preparation for the charrette.
    • Week-long community ‘charrette’ workshop that was open to the public, which included three community meetings, two open houses and all-day access to staff
      • The City offered translation, child care, snacks and refreshments and transportation services for these events.
      • Community members unable to attend in person were invited to follow the
        charrette progress and participate in real time online throughout the week.
    • Outreach to civic associations within and bordering the Southwest Quadrant; briefing to
      the Alexandria Federation of Civic Associations.
    • Updates as part of the regular public meetings of the Alexandria Housing Affordability Advisory Committee, Transportation Commission, Board of Architectural Review Old and Historic District, and Planning Commission.
    • eNews and social media notifications, City Calendar notices and frequent email contact with community members and stakeholders.
    City staff continues to reach out to the Southwest Quadrant community, Committees, Commissions, and City Council as this planning process continues.
  3. What was the outcome of the Charrette?
    During the week-long community ‘charrette’ workshop (February 26-March 5), city staff and members of the community created the foundation of the draft Housing Affordability Strategy/ Plan Framework, through the development of draft principles and strategies and a draft illustrative plan that shows where those principles and strategies can be employed within the neighborhood. The draft guiding principles and strategies prioritize preservation of the affordable housing units in the area, building and site design that complement and contribute to the neighborhood, and safe streets for all. After further community input, final refinement, and City Council adoption, the Housing Affordability Strategy will become part of the City’s Master Plan. The Master Plan is a City mandated document that guides future redevelopment projects as they go through the City’s development review process. During the development review process, the community can provide additional feedback on each project.
  4. No residential properties, except for the Heritage at Old Town and Olde Towne West III, are being considered for redevelopment in this process.
    Three commercial properties on Route 1, south of Gibbon St., will be considered for redevelopment. City staff has notified owners of the commercial sites about this planning process and will continue to keep them informed. Should the commercial property owners choose to redevelop in the future, the City Council-adopted Housing Affordability Strategy will guide their redevelopment decisions.
  5. No development proposals have been submitted for any of the blocks outlined above – neither the Heritage at Old Town, Old Towne West, nor the commercial sites.
    Redevelopment of the residential blocks is anticipated to occur in the next five to ten years and in multiple phases. There is no anticipated timeline for the commercial sites. The Housing Affordability Strategy/ Plan Framework is a 10 to 15-year vision plan for the identified sites.
  6. The City does not own any property within the blocks described above, except for the Wilkes Street Open Space that extends from S. Patrick St. east to Columbus St.
    The draft Housing Affordability Strategy/ Plan Framework sets the expectations for 3 redevelopment of sites within the identified blocks should the private owners of the properties choose to redevelop in the future. The decision to redevelop is entirely up to the private owners.
  7. Residents affected by future redevelopment of the Heritage at Old Town and Olde Towne West III will be provided with financial resources and housing counseling services to assist with temporary or permanent relocation, depending on each resident’s desire to return to the neighborhood, in coordination with the Office of Housing.
    Any future redevelopment proposal will include a “housing relocation plan” which will be reviewed by the City’s Landlord-Tenant Relations Board. Housing staff is scheduling a meeting with tenants this spring to begin a dialogue regarding relocation related questions and concerns. For more information, please contact the Office of Housing at 703-746-4990.
  8. This process is separate from the Alfred Street Baptist Church development proposal to expand its church on its current block.
    The Church’s proposal does not yet have a public hearing date, and is not yet approved. The 22 units impacted by that development proposal are owned by the Church and are located outside of the focus area. Residents affected by the proposal will be provided with housing resources and counseling services to assist with relocation, in coordination with the Office of Housing. The Church development proposal will include a separate “housing relocation plan” which will be reviewed by the City’s Landlord-Tenant Relations Board.
  9. The Old and Historic District boundary and their associated requirements for (re)development are not proposed to change.
    The Southwest Quadrant as a whole will not be rezoned per this planning process. The strategies and recommendations associated with this Plan are tied to the parcels within the identified blocks, only.
  10. High-rise buildings are typically 10 to 14 stories tall and will not be considered in any strategies that come from this process. 

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