From Ground Up in Alexandria

From Ground Up in Alexandria

ARHA CEO Roy Priest addresses Andrew Adkins residents and nearby community members.

ARHA CEO Roy Priest addresses Andrew Adkins residents and nearby community members. Photo by Vernon Miles.


The Andrew Adkins neighborhood

A few blocks away from where the Ramsey Homes are set to be redeveloped, the Alexandria Redevelopment And Housing Authority (ARHA) has set its eyes on the redevelopment of another neighborhood.

The Andrew Adkins will be the first of five ARHA properties to undergo redevelopment into mixed-income communities. Following Andrew Adkins, the Samuel Madden, Cameron Valley, Hopkins-Tancil and former ARHA administrative building will undergo redevelopment.

"We also want to make sure it's known where folks will be housed during development." — David Leapheart

Adkins sits a block away from the Braddock Metro Station. Ninety affordable rental units comprise the two city blocks in Braddock neighborhood. On Dec. 18, ARHA launched the Adkins Redevelopment with a public meeting at the Charles Houston Recreation Center. As part of the announcement, Roy Priest, CEO of ARHA, said they are looking for community feedback on what a redeveloped Adkins project should look like.

Connie Staudinger, chief operating officer of ARHA, said the concept for the project will be developed throughout 2017. Staudinger said no information on the development's budget or timeline will be available until a concept for the project is formed. According to Staudinger, ARHA will file for tax credits for the project in 2018.

ARHA announced on Sunday that it will partner with Alexandria Opportunity Housing LLC as the development partner for the redevelopment of Andrew Adkins and Samuel Madden into mixed-income communities.

"It's a great spot for redevelopment," said Michelle Krocker, executive director for the Northern Virginia Affordable Housing Alliance. "Increased density and mixed income housing are all positive. We have to see more affordable housing near the Metro. It's all positive so far. I'll want to see how the community reacts."

Residents of Adkins and surrounding community members expressed cautious enthusiasm, though several wondered where current residents would be moved during the development.

"In the past, when we've seen redevelopment occurring, as a result maintenance stops," said David Leapheart, a member of the nearby St. Joseph's. "We also want to make sure it's known where folks will be housed during development."

"Some units are five bedrooms," said Rod Belcher, also a member of St. Joseph's. "These are large families, and a lot of current developments don't have that [space available]. A lot of other housing has a more restricted number of bedrooms per unit."

Staudinger said a relocation plan will be established as the project moves forward. According to Staudinger, current residents will have a choice of staying in other available public housing or receiving a voucher for housing.

"Adkins needs upgrades," said Wykiki Alston. "Redevelopment is a great idea. This is a great community. We need to keep that community and we need to keep the neighborhood's current accessibility."

Priest said ARHA will be looking at putting retail into the site. Alston said she hoped ARHA would consider putting a grocery store into the site to help residents without cars with accessibility to healthier food options. If not, Alston said she would encourage ARHA to help establish a farmer's market like the one on King Street.

"This is a neighborhood where it's important that something be accessible to everyone," said Alston.