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City Moves to Keep Affordable Housing

The Alexandria City Council thinks Hunting Towers and Hunting Terrace should be maintained as affordable rental housing. A resolution to that end was passed by Council during their last public hearing at City Hall.

Judy McVay, representing the Coalition for a Sensible Bridge, brought the issue to the attention of Council during public hearing. The Virginia Department of Transportation purchased the buildings late last year and representatives of that agency have made it clear that VDOT only intends to retain the buildings until the Woodrow Wilson replacement bridge is completed. At that time, VDOT will sell the remaining buildings to the highest bidder.

“This is some of the last affordable rental housing in Alexandria,” McVay said. “We believe that Council needs to take some kind of action now to see that these buildings remain affordable housing. We are very concerned that a new owner could replace them with offices or luxury comdominiums.”

McVay suggested that Council try to get VDOT to grant an historic easement on the property. “It will be much easier to work with VDOT on this than to get this kind of concession from a future owner,” McVay said.

Vice Mayor Bill Cleveland agreed. “I am going to propose a motion that we move forward to do what we can to retain this as affordable housing,” he said. “And to support the formation of a task force to work on this issue.”

Councilwoman Joyce Woodson agreed with the need to maintain affordable housing but had some concerns. “We all know that we are never going to have rent control in the city,” she said, “so what exactly can we do to preclude some owner from turning these into condominiums or offices?”

City Attorney Ignacio Pessoa suggested that there are several changes that can be made in the zoning of the area to induce an owner to maintain affordable housing. Cleveland and Mayor Kerry J. Donley will discuss the issue at their next meeting with VDOT and Council will monitor the situation.