Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Bottom Line

Greetings, readers! The Growler is back from an extended vacation, and launched right back into the throes of the public housing debate.

Tonight (October 7) at 7:30 PM at City Hall, the Planning Commission will consider two important docket items. The first is the Braddock East report, which will be incorporated into the City's Master Plan. The second is the SUP for the James Bland public housing redevelopment project.

Some in our neighborhood have been frustrated with the Bland process as it unfolded this year. Why so much density? Why can't we have more open space, more centrally located? Why do the buildings behind Columbus Street have to be so high? Why can't more public housing units be off-sited?

Where has there been any give or take?

The Bland project has seemed like an unstoppable 16-wheeler plunging down the highway, with ARHA refusing to make any significant changes to accommodate the Parker-Gray community and City leaders utterly and abjectly caving to every whim. Our neighborhood wants to know why, if ARHA has to come hat in hand to Council every few years for a bailout, the arrogance is allowed to continue.

But the Growler is coming to the conclusion that in the end what it's all about is money. Despite the posturing and touchy-feely about Resolution 830, about "compassion" and "income diversity," Alexandria's leaders don't really want to put taxpayer money into public housing unless a gun is placed to their heads. While ARHA's got that trick down perfectly, in fact the City is forcing ARHA to bootstrap itself by selling off its valuable properties one by one.

That's not a bad thing for the long term, but in the here and now it appears our neighborhood's desires regarding the Bland project are being ignored. Unfortunately, we're simply road kill on the path between the dysfunctional housing authority and a spend-thrift City Council that is suddenly forced to put the brakes on some of its promiscuous spending.

The City isn't willing to off-site more units from Bland because they would have to pay for the land. ARHA claims it can't do it because the financials for the Glebe Park and Bland projects are so delicately balanced any further expense would topple the house of cards.

As it is, staff have been hoping desperately that they could squeeze developers to pony up for for the 16 Bland units that won't fit on the Glebe Park, units which the City pledged to pay for. The City would rather use OPM (other people's money) rather than spend taxpayer revenue on the land. But those months-long efforts have been fruitless to date with the slump in new development.

What's intriguing is that in the end the City might have to cough up cash for the 16 units and/or the land to build them on. And in this economic environment, does the City have the funds? Will it have to issue bonds, and is this even remotely feasible — even with a great Moody's rating — given the crisis in international credit markets right now?

Another interesting angle: when the Glebe Park redevelopment was first proposed, there was discussion about the City advancing money first to developer EYA, and then (after someone had a fit of propriety) to ARHA to forward to EYA to get construction started. Someone has to prime the pump so that the first units can get built and sold.

Will we see ARHA come back to the City with hat in hand once again? Or is it all being financed on the back of our community?

53 comments:

Anonymous said...

Welcome back, Growler!!!!! How we've missed you!

Message to City Council: Count me among those who, in the understatement of the century, have been "frustrated with the Bland process as it unfolded this year." I attended the VERY FIRST neighborhood meeting on the Bland redevelopment. And that time, we were ASSURED that the numbers of public housing units to be offsited were not carved in stone. Of course, we know now that was utter BULLSH_T. And, Messers Krupicka and Wilson, I don't accept the fact that money is what's preventing offsiting more units. It's FREE to transition to Sec 8, abolish Res. 830, or give the new firehouse units to Bland. FREE. And nobody loses a roof over his or her head.

I'm done now. You know how I feel. You know how my neighbors feel. I've emailed you. I've spoken to you. I've testified before you. I've attended your charettes. Now I'm done. I'm going to get on with my life. Not going to do anything more that VOTE AGAINST YOU and send money to your opponents. See you at the primary.

Anonymous said...

Ditto. After years of neglect and paying for the city's failed policies in more ways than one, this liberal Democrat will enjoy, no actually relish, voting Republican and anybody else but down the ballot down the ballot come the primaries.

Anonymous said...

"What's intriguing is that in the end the City might have to cough up cash for the 16 units and/or the land to build them on. And in this economic environment, does the City have the funds? Will it have to issue bonds, and is this even remotely feasible — even with a great Moody's rating — given the crisis in international credit markets right now?"

So the Growler is also a drama queen? If the city can float bonds to pay for affordable housing as was recently done then it can float bonds to pay for off siting or any other public housing endeavor. It is simply a matter of political will. How many times has the Hunting Towers saga been postponed? But Bland? BEAG? A kissy-face kick our asses passage process! Euille is determined to sacrifice us to the greater cause and sacrificial lambs we are.

"Not going to do anything more that VOTE AGAINST YOU and send money to your opponents. See you at the primary."

ARHA Vice Chairman Connie Ring is known as Mr. Republican so I'd be careful how I threatened Council. What goes around comes around. Euille is the snake to unseat.

Anonymous said...

Didn't say I was going to vote republican necessarily. Just going to vote AGAINST them all - any challenger will get my vote.

Anonymous said...

Don't let anyone on Council tell you they have no control over ARHA - Council went along with the whole mess: From the City website, look at the minutes from the City Council meeting of Nov.23 2004, item #21, where COUNCIL MEMBERS UNANIMOUSLY REAPPOINTED MELVIN MILLER AND RUBY TUCKER TO THE ARHA BOARD OF DIRECTORS:

Regular Meeting
Tuesday, November 23, 2004 - - 7:00 p.m.

* * * *

21. Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority Board of Commissioners
2 Citizen Members

(The following persons volunteered for appointment to the above Commission:)

NAME: ENDORSED BY:

Edward Fader
James Hoben
Laura Lantzy
A. Melvin Miller
Molly Nichelson
Kerry-Ann Powell
Ruby Tucker

(Material pertaining to the above appointment is on file in the Office of the City Clerk and Clerk of Council, marked collectively as Exhibit No. 1 of Item No. 21; 11/23/04, and is incorporated as part of this record by reference.)

WHEREUPON, ballots were distributed, tellers were appointed and the ballots tallied with the following results: City Council reappointed A. Melvin Miller and Ruby Tucker as the two citizen members to the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority Board of Commissioners. The voting was as follows:

Euille - Miller, Tucker
Pepper - Miller, Tucker
Gaines - Miller, Tucker
Krupicka - Miller, Tucker
Macdonald - Miller, Tucker
Smedberg - Miller, Tucker
Woodson - Miller, Tucker

http://dockets.alexandriava.gov/dsr/fy05dock.nsf/2270a4cebee420408525704900604514/4d2e2da4ef36b3c785256f6b00522e26?OpenDocument

Anonymous said...

(The following persons volunteered for appointment to the above Commission:)

James Hoben is a nice guy but I think like Miller he is a former HUD employee who has been active in the city's faith based housing movement and likely not an improvement over Miller, Tucker or Ring. Don't know the other names but they are all probably causal.

Anonymous said...

The funny thing is this thing could be totally derailed by the 16 units:

http://www.alexandrianews.org/index.php/2008/10/09/east-braddock-bland-redevelopment-move-forward/

East Braddock, Bland Redevelopment Move Forward
(Thursday) October 9, 2008

By Carla Branch
alexandrianews.org

The Alexandria Planning Commission has approved the Braddock East Small Area Plan and a proposal to redevelop James Bland and James Bland Addition, two public housing complexes in North Old Town. The Commission did not resolve the outstanding issue of the 16 public housing units that the City must replace under the terms of an agreement between the City and the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority, which was signed in 1982.

The Braddock East Small Area Plan envisions a walkable neighborhood with a mix of market-rate and public housing, with small retail and commercial properties, public parks and green space. The plan calls for more density near the Braddock Metro Station with decreasing heights and mass going away from that area.

Most of Braddock East is currently occupied by ARHA-owned property, including James Bland and James Bland Addition. More than 18 months ago, ARHA selected Eakin/Yongentawb Associates to redevelop these two properties and build a mixed-income community and to redevelop Glebe Park, another ARHA property in Arlandria that will be torn down. ARHA and EYA formed a successful partnership some years ago, resulting in Chatham Square, the award-winning redevelopment of The Berg.

Money from the Bland project and Low Income Tax Credit financing from the Virginia Housing Development Authority will finance the redevelopment of Glebe Park. Both the Planning Commission and the Alexandria City Council have approved the Glebe Park plan but it cannot move forward without approval from both bodies for the Bland project.


Braddock East
Most of Braddock East is currently public housing, and the properties therein are owned by ARHA. Although no funding is available for redeveloping all of the public housing properties in Braddock East, the Small Area Plan, which the Planning Commission adopted, will serve as a framework to guide the City for future mixed-use, mixed-income and pedestrian-oriented developments.

The first of the Braddock East properties is Samuel Madden. This 3.8 acre site consists of 66 housing units and sits on the edge of an historic district. Preliminary plans call for mixed-use development, including the addition of small shops, a grocery store and three-story residential units. The property is located on two blocks along North Henry Street between Madison and 1st Streets.

The second ARHA property is Andrew Adkins. The 4.5 acre site consists of 90 housing units on land that was originally two city blocks between North Fayette and West streets. The site is near the Braddock metro station and, according to the draft plan, has the “greatest potential for higher density development with taller buildings.” The Braddock East plan proposes a mixed-use development, with buildings of up to 70 feet in height, and 30-foot shoulders along the walking streets of Wythe, West and Madison.

The last ARHA property in Braddock East is Ramsey Homes. The site consists of 15 public housing units along the eastern side of North Patrick Street. The smallest site in the master plan, it should either be rehabilitated with infill housing as part of the overall redevelopment program or be redeveloped with townhomes within 40 feet in height.


The Bland Project
The Bland project will contain 134 ARHA units and 245 market-rate homes, although the commission reduced the number of market-rate units by four to increase the percentage of open space for a park in the new development.

The City would have to purchase the property for this park from ARHA and compensate EYA for their lost income. Before, the plan would have cost the City only the price of the 16 replacement units that ARHA will lose because of recommended reductions in these units at Bland and Glebe Park. The cost of the four market-rate units will be approximately $400,000, not including the cost of designing and building the new, expanded park. The Planning Commission approved this concept and a requirement that the new homeowners’ association maintain such a park.

The two Bland developments are located within walking distance of the Braddock Road Metro station. Neighborhood residents support the redevelopment because of the large number of public housing units within a small area. The Bland properties are contained within five city blocks bordered by North Patrick Street on the west, North Columbus Street on the east, Wythe Street on the south and 1st Street on the north. Currently, the project houses 194 public housing units. By agreement, 60 public housing units must be relocated, 44 to Glebe Park and 16 to a site that has not been identified. The Planning Commission did not address the 16 replacement units. “This is not our issue,” said Commission Chair Eric Wagner. “That’s something City Council will have to address.”

ARHA has asked for a binding agreement with the City concerning these units before moving forward with the Bland/Glebe Park project. “We want the City to tell us where these 16 units are going to be or to guarantee that $6.4 million will be available to us when we need the units,” said ARHA Chair, A. Melvin Miller. “Without such an agreement, we cannot move forward with the project.”

There will be a meeting of the ARHA/City work group next Tuesday to discuss the 16 replacement units. That group consists of the ARHA chair and vice chair, Mayor Bill Euille and Councilman Rob Krupicka, and City and ARHA staff. “It is important to resolve this matter before this plan comes to Council,” Miller said.

Council will hold a public hearing on the Bland plan Oct. 18.

Anonymous said...

"I don't accept the fact that money is what's preventing offsiting more units. "

They can't even find the money to do the 6.4 million needed to offsite 16 units. Where would they find money to offsite, say 40 more?

Thats almost 15 million dollars total. You cant just keep issuing bonds for this crap. These are not things that pay any money back to the taxpayers.

Anonymous said...

"If the city can float bonds to pay for affordable housing as was recently done then it can float bonds to pay for off siting or any other public housing endeavor"

Thats the problem...they cant even float money for affordable housing anymore. Its not that easy. At least affordable housing units have a rental stream and the City can get some income to make that money back.

On public housing, there is no federal funds upcoming to pay for these offsited units. So essentially, the City eats the cost.

Anonymous said...

" with ARHA refusing to make any significant changes to accommodate the Parker-Gray community and City leaders utterly and abjectly caving to every whim"

Because in the end Growler, ARHA has turned this debate all into a debate on race. They literally have scared the councilmembers and staff silly by essentially making this about "the community"

No one wants to stand up and say that community at Adkins and Bland is dysfunctional and self-destructive because then its automatically assumed that its a racial attack.

But thats the whole problem here; ARHA has defined itself as the defender of the low-income African American community despite the fact that most PG residents and many low-income African Americans cant stand ARHA. And whats been lost is whats best for the City; instead this is turning into a referendum on race and diversity within Alexandria, as if questioning Resolution 830 is an attack on African Americans.

What a joke.

Anonymous said...

"On public housing, there is no federal funds upcoming to pay for these offsited units. So essentially, the City eats the cost."

As the French woman would say let the city eat cake.

Anonymous said...

Do you all believe that if the City Council nominates new board members to the ARHA board that we'll see some changes? I have had chats with most of the councilmen and all seem to believe that change is needed at ARHA. One in particular is confounded by why ARHA can't be a profitable entity, at least breaking even with the rental of its properties. Could it be that ARHA tries too hard to bring in the lowest income folks in need of housing, rather than catering to families with slightly more income?

Also, something that came in a meeting with some city staff today... not all ARHA properties are equal. Some are Public Housing, others are Section 8 mod-rehab properties, where residents must have jobs, and pay a higher percentage of their income in rent. Anyone identify which properties are which? I have heard that Samuel Madden is a section 8 property, yet Chatham Square is public housing, for example.

After listening to some council members, I am more convinced that ARHA needs to be a profitable entity, and needs to charge a little more in rent to make this happen. Perhaps this would help their budget issues and redevelopment could happen sooner on all thier properties.

Anonymous said...

"Also, something that came in a meeting with some city staff today..."

Would you care to identify yourself?

The Growler said...

According to the City's map of Resolution 830 units, Samuel Madden is public housing, not Section 8.

Click here to see the map:
http://tinyurl.com/3zcnn6

Generating more income for ARHA merely gives them an excuse to continue to stave off redevelopment. The revenue crisis at Glebe Park (where units were empty due to mold and HUD threatened foreclosure on the mortgage it guaranteed) has driven the upcoming redevelopment of not only Glebe Park but James Bland. Otherwise, it would have been business as usual for ARHA until the crack of doom.

Anonymous said...

"They can't even find the money to do the 6.4 million needed to offsite 16 units. Where would they find money to offsite, say 40 more?"

I'm so tired of the money excuse. Offsiting is free. Just amend or abolish Resolution 830. Concentrated brick and mortar public housing is bad public policy. That's why there is no money. Shift to Sec 8 for free. Make the taxpaying residents happy. Make the public housing residents happy. Don't destroy an historic district with behemouth buildings. The only people who lose with this approach are the ARHA folks. And, frankly, &*(*( them.

Anonymous said...

"I'm so tired of the money excuse."

Ditto here. If ARHA can't continue the way it is without taxpayer bailouts then ARHA needs to do something different.

COUNCIL unanimously put Miller on the ARHA Board in 2004. With the power of appointment comes responsibility for the results.

COUNCIL needs to stop bailing them out. COUNCIL members are elected - and I hold all COUNCIL members responsible for this mess. It's COUNCIL's responsibility to fix the mess that COUNCIL ALLOWED to happen.

What, me mad? You Betcha!

Anonymous said...

"Also, something that came in a meeting with some city staff today..."

Would you care to identify yourself?


LOL. I will if you will!

Anonymous said...

"I'm so tired of the money excuse. Offsiting is free. Just amend or abolish Resolution 830. Concentrated brick and mortar public housing is bad public policy. That's why there is no money. Shift to Sec 8 for free. Make the taxpaying residents happy. Make the public housing residents happy. "

That wont ever happen now. With the BEAG process/joke complete, there is no other natural forum to debate the merits of Resolution 830.

Anonymous said...

"According to the City's map of Resolution 830 units, Samuel Madden is public housing, not Section 8."

Isnt Hopkins Tancil Section 8? The reason I ask is that people generally have a harder time dealing with Hopkin Tancils problems versus Samuel Madden Uptown....

Says a lot for what this mess has wrought. No clear way out for either Tancil or Madden Uptown.

Anonymous said...

"I have had chats with most of the councilmen and all seem to believe that change is needed at ARHA. One in particular is confounded by why ARHA can't be a profitable entity, at least breaking even with the rental of its properties."

Because their revenue mix is way off. They basically have too many tenants who pay little to no rent and not enough tenants who use Section 8 vouchers or pay higher rents.

And isn't it obvious why this is? People who could afford to pay higher rents want nothing to do with places like Tancil, Adkins, and the like. So ARHA gets caught in this death spiral where they require City bailouts to rebuild their properties so that they become more feasible for higher-rent tenants.

Thats why I have some hope for the "new and improved" Bland. Really won't be much improved but at least it will represent some change for the better since ARHA will need to make sure it gets tenants willing to be integrated into society and willing to follow basic norms of society in order to have a prayer of selling market rate units.

Anonymous said...

"Could it be that ARHA tries too hard to bring in the lowest income folks in need of housing, rather than catering to families with slightly more income?"

NO, the problem is they lack properties to attract people with higher incomes.

Would you want to live in Adkins? 700 Fayette has been empty for more than a year. Its also on the corner of Wythe and Fayette, a notorious spot for loitering and right near where the last Adkins murder occurred in 2005.

The reason its called a "bailout" is that the taxpayer is essentially paying land-rich ARHA to make their properties (hopefully) more saleable to higher-rent tenants.

Anonymous said...

"“We want the City to tell us where these 16 units are going to be or to guarantee that $6.4 million will be available to us when we need the units,” said ARHA Chair, A. Melvin Miller. “Without such an agreement, we cannot move forward with the project.”"

Are you kidding me? The City bails ARHA out and he has the gall to demand 6.4 million more for his 16 units?

Where does Melvin the Magnificent intend to find this magic 6.4 million?

Anonymous said...

"And whats been lost is whats best for the City; instead this is turning into a referendum on race and diversity within Alexandria, as if questioning Resolution 830 is an attack on African Americans."

I am not sure what you mean by "whats best for the city" but I do understand the racial issueof all this. What City leaders seem reluctant to talk about is how much the activities that occur at Adkins and Bland and Tancil and all the others contribute to the problems in these neighborhoods, yet these activities seemingly are ignored or forgotten in public discussions of these issues.

In order to "save" ARHA the City has to strengthen its finances, and the only way ARHA can do that is by renting to higher-income tenants (or by generating cash through land sales, which is not going to happen as long as Resolution 830 is in place).

Yet ARHA's management of its properties and its refusal to accept that something is wrong at Adkins, Bland, etc... contributes to the problems of making its properties desirable to higher-income tenants.

Anonymous said...

"I have heard that Samuel Madden is a section 8 property, yet Chatham Square is public housing, for example.
"

You must mean Tancil; thats Section 8 Rehab.

Anonymous said...

"I have had chats with most of the councilmen and all seem to believe that change is needed at ARHA. "

Try chatting with local cops. They seem to feel that 50% or more of ARHA staff are just plain incompetents, and many have an idealistic (and ideological) view of the world that simply ignores the reality on the ground.

Its always funny to listen to them laugh at Miller's stubbornness and incompetence.

And yes, I know this because they come to the local HOA's meetings and actually talk to residents. And they also report what they hear from residents (and what they think) to City staff and leaders.

So its no secret that ARHA is led by nitwits and has too many bureaucrats interested more in protecting their jobs than in helping their residents.

But what has that led to? Everyone knows theirs a problem and no one does squat.

Anonymous said...

"According to the City's map of Resolution 830 units, Samuel Madden is public housing, not Section 8."

Isnt Hopkins Tancil Section 8? The reason I ask is that people generally have a harder time dealing with Hopkin Tancils problems versus Samuel Madden Uptown....

Says a lot for what this mess has wrought. No clear way out for either Tancil or Madden Uptown.
_____________

Regardless of what the map shows, Roy Priest himself has stated that Hopkins/Tancil is Section 8 Housing, and that folks who live there have jobs and pay a higher percentage of their income in rent. He also mentioned that the site has been majorly renovated and that there are no short term plans to redevelop the site like ARHA did with Chatham Square.

Anonymous said...

"pay a higher percentage of their income in rent. He also mentioned that the site has been majorly renovated and that there are no short term plans to redevelop the site like ARHA did with Chatham Square."

Thats news to Chatham Square residents. We have been told repeatedly by the City that Tancil is a high-priority redevelopment item. Didnt you see the outrage at the last Council meeting/worksession about the problems at Tancil and the Royal Market? Redevelopment was promised years ago.

Anonymous said...

To me, this whole debate shows that whether the unit is Sec. 8 or public housing is immaterial. Rather, it shows that concentrated poverty is bad and causes huge problems, particularly when ARHA is put in charge.

The solution is to make clear to Council that we hold THEM responsible. For years, we complained about ARHA properties. For years, the politicians claimed they had no control over ARHA. Now, since they've loaned them money and extracted the MOU, they do. WE CAN'T ACCEPT THEIR EXCUSES ANY LONGER. Council and the mayor are directly responsible for this.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure most of you reading this blog will enjoy this tidbit, put out by the Mayor's office, especially during conversations around your dinner tables tonight...Dare we say,
"Mission Accomplished, Mr. Mayor!"
Buon Appetit...
ENJOY !!!
Assuming we're all going to sign up for the Braddock Implementation Advisory Group, or must we wait for
our assignments from a hired consulting firm???
Oh, Mayor Euille, you're wonderfull !!!

Alexandria City Council Approves Braddock East Master Plan

Redevelopment of James Bland Public Housing Into Mixed-Income
Community Also Approved


On October 18, the Alexandria City Council unanimously approved a
master plan amendment to the Braddock Metro and Northeast Small Area
Plans to include the Braddock East Master Plan. The City Council also
approved a rezoning, concept development plan and a development
special use permit for the James Bland Redevelopment in Braddock
East. The Braddock East Master Plan comprises nine blocks of public
housing owned by the Alexandria Housing and Redevelopment Authority (ARHA). The Braddock East Master plan provides a framework to
encourage and guide the future redevelopment of these public housing
sites into diverse, mixed-income, mixed-use, urban and
pedestrian-oriented residential communities.

The approval of the Braddock East Plan and James Bland
Redevelopment represents a landmark decision by the City Council to
turn a major section of Alexandria's public housing into a
mixed-income residential community, said Alexandria Mayor William D. Euille. A lot of hard work has been done, and many compromises have been made by all in the community to ensure that the quality of life is enhanced for everybody who lives there.

The Braddock East Master Plan was a collaborative planning process
between the City, ARHA and the COMMUNITY. Earlier this year, City
Council appointed a diverse advisory group composed of neighbors,
public housing representatives, and other stakeholders, who worked
together and conducted outreach in the community to create the plan.
The plan addressed many concerns regarding the redevelopment of the
area, including the need to continue to provide high quality,
affordable housing; the need for adequate open space, community
facilities and supportive social services; and the opportunity to
incorporate new retail, office, and hotel space in order to provide a vibrant and viable mix of uses.

City Council also approved the James Bland Redevelopment Plan,
located in the Braddock East Master Planning area. The plan proposes
the redevelopment of 194 old, outdated and inadequate public housing
units and replacing them with 134 new public housing units, 159
market-rate town homes, and 86 market-rate condominiums. Forty-four
of the displaced public housing units will be replaced at Glebe Park in Arlandria, with the City committed to finding a suitable site for the remaining 16 public housing units elsewhere in the City. The redevelopment is proposed to be constructed in five phases over the
next few years, with the last phase expected to be completed by the end of 2015. The plan was created with the intention of developing a diverse, mixed-income community, revitalizing outmoded public housing, similar to the successful, award-winning Chatham Square development in Old Town. The approved plans also provide an
appropriate level of density to capitalize on the proximity of the
James Bland development to the Braddock Road Metro station.

The plan addressed a number of challenges, such as achieving
compatibility with historic neighborhoods adjacent to James Bland, ensuring adequate open space and parking, and creating a neighborhood plan in which residents of diverse income levels are effectively integrated into the development. ARHA's development partner will be EYA, which is one of the leading residential developers of new urban communities in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan region. It is envisioned that this plan will be financed by the value of the James Bland property owned by ARHA, combined with federal low-income housing tax credits.

A Braddock Implementation Advisory Group will be established to
monitor the implementation of the Braddock Metro Neighborhood Plan
and Braddock East Master Plan and will ensure that ongoing community
concerns are addressed as the plan moves forward. The ARHA
Redevelopment Work Group, composed of representatives from City
Council, ARHA, the Planning Commission and the City Manager, will convene regularly to facilitate the successful implementation of the
Braddock East Master Plan.

Anonymous said...

"
A Braddock Implementation Advisory Group will be established to
monitor the implementation of the Braddock Metro Neighborhood Plan
and Braddock East Master Plan and will ensure that ongoing community
concerns are addressed as the plan moves forward. The ARHA
Redevelopment Work Group, composed of representatives from City
Council, ARHA, the Planning Commission and the City Manager, will convene regularly to facilitate the successful implementation of the
Braddock East Master Plan."


hahahaha...successful implementation....I love that little twist....

Why do I get the sense we will be back here in 10 years doing another plan?

Anonymous said...

"I'm sure most of you reading this blog will enjoy this tidbit, put out by the Mayor's office, especially during conversations around your dinner tables tonight...Dare we say,
"Mission Accomplished, Mr. Mayor!""

It should be important to note that one thing thats not in there thats actually quite important; Bland will not be managed by ARHA but will be managed by an independent site management company.

So at least the bureaucratic buffoons at ARHA will not be managing this redeveloped property; an experienced site manager will, someone who most likely will have it in their best interests to be responsive to neighborhood issues.

Anonymous said...

Thought you'd like this article Growler, from the Times:

http://www.alextimes.com/article.asp?article=11010&paper=1&cat=142

Our View - History Repeats Itself
October 23, 2008

In 1748 the Virginia legislature petitioned Captain Philip Alexander II for his property, bounded in part by Hunting Creek, so that a prosperous riverfront city could be established. Alexander opposed ceding his land, but cede it he did for the good of what would be called Alexandria, named after the stubborn but principled Captain.

Like the Alexander of old, the Alexandria of today made a tough but admirable decision based on its principles. The city denied IDI’s proposal that would have meant high-rise buildings at Hunting Creek and possible affordable housing at Hunting Towers. Captain Alexander was no doubt angry to sell his land, but in doing so, he relieved many around him hoping to prosper. While the city has angered some — particularly the residents of Hunting Towers — it has made a decision that has pleased many. Even more will be pleased years down the road when Alexandria’s colonial character is maintained and reflected by a strong tourism industry.

In this particular case, the possibility of affordable housing took a back seat to definitive historical ambiance. It’s impossible to assert that the welfare of human beings is more important than maintaining a distinct look around town, but this is not what the city did; instead, it looked at the long-term what-ifs:

What if the current figures defining affordable housing change by 2012 when IDI finally buys the Hunting Towers property? What if renovation costs end up exceeding the proposed ones? What if there’s a better place to build affordable housing more certainly — perhaps not along highly desired waterfront property — to be determined by the Housing Master Plan?

The answer to all of these questions, if the Council had accepted the proposal, would have been “Tough luck.” Officials were right in saying that the commitment was too gargantuan for potentially miniscule — or all together negative — returns.

However, we see a slight hypocrisy in the argument for historical ambiance.

In Alexandria and across the country, our history tends to be remembered by notions of grandeur more often than the contention-crusted cobwebs of the past. The Braddock East Master Plan was also passed this week, and with it, some very old neighborhoods will cease to exist as we know them: the predominately minority and low-income neighborhoods of Samuel Madden, Andrew Adkins, Ramsey and James Bland. Instead, they will be shrunk and filled in by mixed-use dense development.

The Samuel Madden neighborhood is named after the first African American pastor of the renowned Alfred Street Baptist Church. He used to have a 100-unit public housing complex named after him as well, but at the beginning of this century, the city decided to cut that number in half in lieu of luxury town homes known as Chatham Square. The project was an award-winning one, but at the expense of history, displacement and relocation.

We know there is a task force to monitor the implementation of the Braddock East plan, but we want to know if the Board of Architectural Review, The Planning Commission and all of the history-oriented departments in Alexandria gave equal heed to these historical neighborhoods as it did to the Hunting Creek area. In one case, development seems to have won and in another, history has triumphed.

We hope that 100 years from now, when this century is considered history, such decisions will be looked upon as fondly as Captain Philip Alexander’s decision is seen now.

Anonymous said...

"The Samuel Madden neighborhood is named after the first African American pastor of the renowned Alfred Street Baptist Church. He used to have a 100-unit public housing complex named after him as well,"

Ridiculous. As if the public housing complex had been there forever, or even before WWII. Now who would have such a limited view of history, other than Bill Euille or a segregationist?

And why must a neighborhood named after a distinguished Alexandria black minister be crime-ridden and impoverished? Sounds like a segregationist white-wash.

The Growler said...

The Times' editorial writer seems unaware not a single public housing resident or representative of the black community testified against the redevelopment. The majority of tenants want redevelopment, since it will give them sparkling new units with central air conditioning, washers and dryers, garbage disposals, etc.

Anonymous said...

"Sounds like a segregationist white-wash." Or crocodile tears. In the end, only one person on Parker Gray's BAR voted against the plan, which is way, way too massive for the neighborhood. Council unanimously passed the plan with zero additional offsiting.

And in this market, taxpayers will ultimately wind up paying to subsidize the [likely]non-saleable "market rate" units so City can stuff its employees in them in order to populate this thing.

Anonymous said...

"The project was an award-winning one, but at the expense of history, displacement and relocation."

Yes I can see how a decrepit, crime festering, eye sore of a pseudo-slum is equivalent to "history" and moving people into new homes should be termed "displacement and relocation" ... if you are a half-wit working for the rag of a newspaper that will publish this drivel.

Of course the writer fails to address the question of whether the new development(s) created by the Braddock East Master Plan will fit in with the actual "very old neighborhoods" that will continue to exist.

Anonymous said...

"Council unanimously passed the plan with zero additional offsiting. "

It's called "rubber stamping" just like the BMSAP was rubber stamped. It will continue to happen regardless of who in the community opposes it. Council thinks that this is their "bailout" for Old Town and ARHA. This stinks, but it is the truth.

Even though ARHA is the major problem concerning the PG community, I feel that Chatham Square folks (who like us, are dealing with their own concerns), should continue to fight their fight, but on their own blog, with their own issues.

Lets report all ARHA concerns, but keep PG issues the focus of our interest.

SCSA

Anonymous said...

"The Times' editorial writer seems unaware not a single public housing resident or representative of the black community testified against the redevelopment."

So, Growler, is the ICCA planning to write an explanatory letter to The Times editor?

Anonymous said...

Where is the Chatham Square blog? I would love to read what they have to say about Hopkins-Tancil....

Anonymous said...

"Even though ARHA is the major problem concerning the PG community, I feel that Chatham Square folks (who like us, are dealing with their own concerns), should continue to fight their fight, but on their own blog, with their own issues."

Chatham Square is dealing directly with their issues while trying to share experiences with a group of people (Parker Gray) that are about to face the same ones. Open your eyes and welcome information when it's given to you. You're going to need it.

Anonymous said...

"Chatham Square is dealing directly with their issues while trying to share experiences with a group of people (Parker Gray) that are about to face the same ones. "

I agree....we are basically moving into a Hopkins Tancil situation on steroids...so I very much want to know about the day to day activities that go on at Chatham Square.

I especially want to know how responsive the City is to the problems at Tancil and the Royal Market.

Anonymous said...

"Chatham Square is dealing directly with their issues while trying to share experiences with a group of people (Parker Gray) that are about to face the same ones."

Hogwash! The Chatham Square homeowners operate with their own agenda including crime and parking. Maybe the Growler's dumb enough to buy their line but we don't.

Anonymous said...

"The Chatham Square homeowners operate with their own agenda including crime"

Yes, the CS homeowners want less crime and those of us in PG want ... less crime. Two entirely different agendas. Maybe the growler isn't the dumb one ....

Anonymous said...

"Yes, the CS homeowners want less crime and those of us in PG want ... less crime. Two entirely different agendas. Maybe the growler isn't the dumb one ...."

Two entirely different agendas? I heartily agree. Chatham Square residents have used this blog and Council forums any forum to successfully complain including assistance from the city's quality of life committee thus elevating Hopkins Tancil to next level of priority. What have Parker Gray residents received? Little more that density increases. No offsiting future promises budget hassles another parking study and racial sensitivity training. The Growler excluded who's dumb?

Anonymous said...

"Lets report all ARHA concerns, but keep PG issues the focus of our interest."

Why?? It's us against ARHA and the City Council. We need all the help we can get. Why the heck would we cut out CS people? The more the merrier. CS folks, most of us here appreciate your input. Please continue to keep us updated.

Anonymous said...

"Lets report all ARHA concerns, but keep PG issues the focus of our interest."

"So, Growler, is the ICCA planning to write an explanatory letter to The Times editor?"

"... people generally have a harder time dealing with Hopkin Tancils problems versus Samuel Madden Uptown...."


Time out folks! I don't believe the Growler would disagree:

1. "The Parker-Gray Growl" originally stated it concerns life in Alexandria’s HISTORIC PARKER-GRAY DISTRICT. Considering the wide variety of topics the Growler has addressed, all of which concern Parker-Gray, that appears to still be the case.

2. "The Parker-Gray Growl" is not the official vehicle of the ICCA. Further, any person, not just a civic association, can write a letter to the editor.

3. And - starting a yahoo discussion group or even another single-issue blog would actually be helpful for those of us who wish to focus exclusively on dealing with Hopkins Tancil problems versus Samuel Madden Uptown problems.

If you know how to set something up, please do so and let us know about it.

Anonymous said...

"Chatham Square residents have used this blog and Council forums any forum to successfully complain including assistance from the city's quality of life committee thus elevating Hopkins Tancil to next level of priority."

And where has that got them? Tancil, according to Priest, is in fine shape and is not going anywhere.

I am more than happy to hear Chatham Squares issues since they directly apply to what the "new and improved" Bland is about to become.

Rather than listen to City happy talk I would rather hear it from people who experience it every day

Anonymous said...

Speaking of the quality of life in Parker-Gray there seem to be a spate of brazen armed robberies around Braddock Rd Metro during the evening rush hour.
(from http://www3.alexandriava.gov/police/crime_reports/reporter.php)

108150784 2008-10-18 160J Pending 300 N WEST ST Robbery

108151224 2008-10-21 160F Pending 0 N WEST ST & ORONOCO ST Robbery

and in today's Crime report email:

500 block of East Braddock Road. On 10/27, at 6:15 P.M., a 26 year-old female City resident was robbed of personal property at gunpoint. There were no injuries. The suspects are described as two black males, one held a gun, both wore skull caps and suspect #1 wore a black coat and black pants.

Hopefully everyone is keeping their eyes open.

Anonymous said...

FYI, the latest news in Parker Grey by the metro... an armed robbery! From the city email, time to walk from metro with a large bat, perhaps an automatic rifle slung over one's shoulder? Anyone want to take bets on where these fellows live? If this isn't a good excuse for surviellance cameras, I don't know what is.

ROBBERY:

500 block of East Braddock Road. On 10/27, at 6:15 P.M., a 26 year-old female City resident was robbed of personal property at gunpoint. There were no injuries. The suspects are described as two black males, one held a gun, both wore skull caps and suspect #1 wore a black coat and black pants.

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=500+e+braddock+rd,+alexandria,+va&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=46.898798,68.994141&ie=UTF8&z=16&g=500+e+braddock+rd,+alexandria,+va

Anonymous said...

"500 block of East Braddock Road. On 10/27, at 6:15 P.M., a 26 year-old female City resident was robbed of personal property at gunpoint. There were no injuries. The suspects are described as two black males, one held a gun, both wore skull caps and suspect #1 wore a black coat and black pants."

At 6:15? No wonder cop presence is beefed up on Wythe.

Anonymous said...

sounds suspiciously like

Intersection of Oronoco Street and North West Street. 10/21 at 7:45 P.M. The victim, a 28 year-old Washington, DC woman, reports that two unknown suspects approached her and demanded her property. One suspect brandished a handgun. The victim complied and the suspects fled. There were no injuries. The first suspect is described as a black male wearing a black hoodie and blue jeans. The second suspect is described as a black male wearing a white hoodie and blue jeans.

and

300 block of North West Street. On 10/18 at 10:40 P.M., two City residents were robbed at gunpoint of personal property. There were no injuries. The suspect is a black male, 20-25 years-old wearing a black coat and dark colored jeans.

Anonymous said...

At least someone of competence will be in charge at ARHA:

Priest Named ARHA Executive Director

(Wednesday) October 29, 2008

By Carla Branch alexandrianews.org
Roy Priest, Executive Director of ARHA. (Photo: Regan Kireilis)
Roy Priest, Executive Director of ARHA. (Photo: Regan Kireilis)

On Monday night, the board of directors of the Alexandria Redevelopment Housing Authority named Roy Priest as the agency’s new executive director. Priest has been the Authority’s interim executive director since July, 2007, replacing William Dearman, who resigned.

“Since Roy’s arrival, he has demonstrated his ability to lead the agency by guiding us through planning for the redevelopment of Glebe Park and the James Bland properties and preparing for the restructuring of the agency in compliance with HUD’s new mandates. We are very pleased that he has agreed to remain with us,” said A. Melvin Miller, the chairman of the ARHA board of directors.

Priest has more than 30 years of experience in public housing at the federal, state and local level. His familiarity with U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development policies will serve the agency well as all Housing Authorities move to mandated asset management next year. This means that each public or publicly supported HUD property will have to become self-supporting. Also, with City Council’s approval of the Braddock East Small Area Plan and the redevelopment plans for James Bland and James Bland Addition, ARHA will undergo many changes over the next several years.

Anonymous said...

"At least someone of competence will be in charge at ARHA"

"In charge" is a relative thing. Note that Melvin Miller remains chairman of the ARHA board and, I suspect, continues to regard himself as the one who is really in charge.