Friday, October 27, 2006

Eye on EYA

Developer EYA recently briefed the Braddock Lofts homeowners association on their plans for the redevelopment of Andrew Adkins public housing, and one of the Growler's moles has passed along their impressions of the presentation.

"The plan, as you stated, is to start with the Glebe Road disaster ... There won't be any market-rate homes in this development, but on top of rehabbing some of what is there, EYA will rebuild those that are uninhabitable as well as build additional units. The key here is that this development will house almost all of the big townhouses (3-4-5 bedrooms), most of which currently can be found at Adkins.

Adkins will be replaced with a mix of public housing (some sort of "condo style" buildings and townhomes) and market rate housing (all townhomes). You said that the 90 public housing units at Andrew Adkins will be replaced with 153 public housing units and 45 market units. We didn't hear that -- I believe we heard the 90 units will be replaced with 110 public housing units and 65 market units.

The key to this is that there will be fewer total bedrooms (in the public housing units), thus actually decreasing the number of Section 8 residents across the street. There will be a lot of efficiency and one-bedroom units, a few two-bedroom units and NO larger units. The goal is to put couples and elderly Section 8 folks in these buildings and give those who actually might use Metro closer access to it.

Bland's numbers were VERY different from what you reported as well, though off the top of my head I can't remember them exactly (a lot of Lofts residents at the meeting mentioned your Web site, so I'm sure someone will write in after this posts), but it was something like this: Bland would get a few of the larger (3-4-5 bedroom) units, many 1-2 bedroom units to total well over 100 Section 8 units, plus 65 or market rate units. No one said anything about so-called affordable housing being made available in Bland or anywhere else."

Lofts residents in general were pretty receptive to the plan, particularly with what was presented for Adkins. The EYA rep was really interested in hearing what we had to say, which centered around three things: 1) find a way to cut down on the teenage pedestrian foot traffic between Bland and Adkins (EYA seems to have tackled that with moving the majority of large units to Glebe); 2) update and modernize the units with A/C, etc., to give people a reason to want to stay INDOORS on a steamy Sat. night in July (I don't know if you've ever been over here on a weekend night in the summer, but it's like an allnight street party -- pretty miserable); and 3) find a way to build the "condo-style" buildings at Adkins in such a manner that it doesn't give people dark corners in which to congregate.

The current EYA proposal had two 45-unit buildings with a lot of green space between them and indoor entrances to the individual units...generally a bad idea. We suggested outdoor entrances to all (via open stairs) and green space broken into smaller areas.

EYA said the city appears interested in the entire proposal, and the next step was to meet with them about it further. In addition, EYA was scheduled to present to Adkins and Bland residents last week for input. If everything runs on EYA's proposed timeline (and you know it won't), the Glebe development would be the first area to be rehabbed and start in 2007."

A couple of observations. First, the Growler stands by the numbers as originally reported in this blog, which were confirmed in the October 13 Alexandria Gazette article by reporter Chuck Hagee. "Overall there will be 324 units of public housing effected by the concept spread throughout the three project sites — Glebe Park 106; Adkins 153; and James Bland/JB Addition 65."

Clearly the numbers and the mix of public and market rate housing are still in flux.

Next, be afraid -- be very afraid about the seemingly noble concept of putting elderly or disabled into the new Andrew Adkins.

At the last ARHA meeting, the board heard from Otis Weeks, the resident council president at ARHA's Ladrey Highrise, a 170-apartment complex for seniors with one-bedroom and efficiency units. He stated quite eloquently that Ladrey residents lived in fear because the place is overrun with strangers who have been given unauthorized access to the building by other tenants -- so much so that residents are afraid to go down to the lobby after 6 PM. He also discussed other security lapses and failures.

Mr. Weeks' concerns were testily dismissed by ARHA Executive Director William Dearman and the Growler was frankly shocked the Board didn't react or seem to care, quickly moving on to other business. So why would one think ARHA would run a new senior development more efficiently and humanely than they do Ladrey?

So the Growler gonna ask this question again (and again and again if necessary). Given the Fair Share Task Force findings, why is the City even considering permanently enshrining so much public housing in our neighborhood, particularly at a prime Metro stop location? WWAFCD (what would Arlington or Fairfax Counties do)?

And why aren't City leaders keeping EYA's feet to the fire about dispersing units to other sites?