Alexandria Redevelopment & Housing Authority took the first step Monday night to extricate itself from a financial catch 22 that has plagued it for years. Its Board of Commissioners voted to approve an agreement with Eakin Youngentob Associates to form a development partnership for the revitalization of Glebe Park.
This Pre-Development Agreement also brings into play three additional ARHA properties. “EYA has determined that it will be necessary to redevelop other ARHA owned and operated properties in conjunction with the redevelopment of Glebe Park in order to make redevelopment of Glebe Park economically feasible,” ARHA Executive Director William M. Dearman explained to the Board in his cover memorandum recommending approval of the arrangement.
The three phased operation, estimated to take from five to 10 years to complete will incorporate ARHA properties Andrew Adkins, James Bland and James Bland Addition. If the EYA’s “concept” succeeds as outlined each of the projects will be transformed into “new modern communities” of public housing and market rate units similar to Chatham Square.
“This is a concept only. I don’t want anyone to think that tonight’s action is a decision. After tonight’s meeting we will be sitting down with residents, neighbors, the Planning Commission, City Council, and anyone else impacted,” said ARHA Chair A. Melvin Miller to the overflow crowd crammed into the meeting room at Ladrey High-Rise.
“We are running into some very serious situations as to keeping our public housing. We have received continuous [financial] cuts from HUD [U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development]. We have selected EYA to be our development partner for Glebe Park and they have come up with this concept,” Miller said.
“It is necessary for ARHA and EYA to enter into a pre-development agreement in order to set out the pre-development work required to be performed by the parties with the redevelopment of Glebe Park and, ultimately, the redevelopment of the additional properties,” Dearman explained in his memo.
Under the agreement “ARHA shall have no obligation to commit any of its funds toward the payment of any costs associated with the development and construction of the project. The Pre-Development Agreement also provides that, if the parties are unable to obtain the necessary approvals for Glebe Park from the city or if the parties are unable to mutually agree upon the terms of a Development/Purchase and Sale Agreement, ARHA shall be reimbursed for its documented out of pocket costs up to $100,000,” according to Dearman.
IN PRESENTING the concept, Brian Jackson, development executive, EYA, told the Board and audience, comprised of many Glebe Park residents, “Glebe Park presently has 65 vacant units and is losing approximately $500,000 per year. Glebe Park can not support its own renovation. That is why we have to bring other properties into the equation.”
Unlike when “The Berg,” Samuel Madden Homes Downtown, was transformed into Chatham Square in a public/private partnership with EYA, Glebe Park is saddled with a $6 million mortgage coupled with decaying units that are causing an ever increasing drain on ARHA’s overall budgetary capabilities. HUD has also terminated its HOPE VI Program which formed the financial foundation for Chatham Square.
“We are primarily a market rate developer. We specialize in in-fill development and we have a track record we can bring to bear on this concept,” Jackson said in making EYA’s powerpoint presentation.
In addition to Chatham Square, EYA has been involved with a variety of projects in Alexandria that have involved both public housing and private developments. “The market rate units in our mixed projects are what make the concept viable,” Jackson explained.
“We are trying to stop ARHA’s financial loses. We need to do all this with no money from HUD,” he said. 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. “There is no net displacement of residents,” Jackson emphasized.
“Our proposal is to invest in all the sites while this is going on at Glebe Park. However, Glebe Park is the initial priority due to applying for tax credits,” he said.
“Our target is to apply for tax credits in March. You can only do this once a year. We should know if we have been successful in receiving them by June or July,” Miller explained.
“Because of the tax credits, the decisions affecting Glebe Park have to be made much sooner. If we do not resolve the problems at Glebe Park we will probably lose it. It will be foreclosed because we do not have the money to deal with it. Since we can’t look to HUD for help we have to figure out a way to do it ourselves,” Miller said.
Commissioner Peter Lawson asked Jackson and Le Roy “Terry” Eakin, III, chairman and CEO, EYA, if the company had ever been involved with a project that involved 100 percent public housing. “We are not affordable housing developers. But we have had plenty of experience with public/private partnerships,” Eakin said.
“However, the detailed economic side of this was not presented tonight because it is a delicate one. We think Adkins is the premier site in this package because of its proximity to Metro. We are looking for ways to redevelop Glebe Park,” he said.
“At some point we are going to need an in-depth discussion into the financial plans for this,” said ARHA vice chairman Carlyle “Connie” Ring, Jr.
The concept calls for a three phase approach with Glebe Park being the initial phase. It has five primary objectives as outlined by Jackson and Eakin:
1. A one for one replacement of all old units at the sites.
2. Assure quality public housing for residents.
3. Solve ARHA’s major problems with Glebe Park
4. Provided for continued maintenance and support of units at each site.
5. Enhance the long term financial viability of ARHA
“We will be setting up meetings with Glebe Park residents as we proceed,” Miller assured. He also announced a work session with City Council and Alexandria Planning Commission Oct. 10 to explain and discuss the EYA concept.
ARHA’S CONTINUING financial dilemma was further spotlighted Monday night by an agenda item calling for a resolution to revise the current fiscal year budget upward by approximately $1.2 million “to close an existing financial gap.” The revised budget is now $27,545,000 after a unanimous vote of approval.
However, as Ring noted, “We can’t keep taking money from reserves to balance the budget.” In making the motion for approval, Ring pointed out the revised budget did not include staff merit increases and is based on HUD’s approval to authorize the use of reserve funds. It does include a three percent cost-of-living increase for ARHA staff.
Explaining the need for the fiscal revision, Dearman said in a cover memorandum, “In the event HUD does not permit the use of other Public Housing Funds, staff will request the Board authorize and approve the use of a line of credit.”
He also provided “a summary of the Authority’s current and past financial obligations which will continue to have a financial impact on our future budgets.” That list totaled $15,106,000 spread over 10 items.
In other actions, the board voted to:
v Start the process of converting electricity utility payments from ARHA to residents at James Bland and James Bland Addition.
v Approve ARHA’s annual Agency Plan to be submitted to HUD.
v Approve a change to Section 8 Housing to provide for Housing For People With AIDS (HOPWA).
v Approve the establishment of a second Family Resource Learning Center at Hopkins Tancil. This passed on a five to two vote with Lawson and Carter Flemming voting against for separate reasons. Commissioners Tucker and Blake were absent.