The Southwest Quadrant Community’s Concerns with the Heritage Redevelopment Project
Resident families, both homeowners and tenants alike, are very concerned about the City of Alexandria’s plans to potentially approve of a developer’s plans (Asland Capital Partners) to demolish The Heritage at Old Town apartment buildings to construct three, seven-story apartment buildings nearly 80 feet in height. The developer plans to build 750 apartment units from the 244 units currently at The Heritage at Old Town.
We feel that design of the buildings would not be in keeping with “the Gateway” in our historic Old Town neighborhood which drove $859 million in tourism dollars to the City of Alexandria pre-pandemic. Many of us moved in this area of Old Town so we would not be surrounded by high-rise apartment buildings that exist in Potomac Yards.
We are also very concerned about the current tenants and neighbors at The Heritage at Old Town who may be forced to relocate later this fall when our community is still in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic, and they may not have a “right to return.” We feel that the City of Alexandria is not taking the appropriate health precautions that affords such a move, nor are they clear about the qualifications to return. In addition, tenants at The Heritage our are neighbors and friends, and we do not want to see them collectively, or permanently relocated at such a dangerous time in our human history.
If the City’s Planning Commission recommends approval of this redevelopment plan on February 2 to the City Council, this proposal will set precedence in breaking with the City’s Master Plan Amendment adopted in October 2018 restricting building heights of no more than 55-feet. This means future developers could propose additional 80-foot-tall apartment buildings in the Southwest Quadrant, and elsewhere in the City of Alexandria.
This new construction will increase already highly congested and oftentimes dangerous weekday traffic between 3:00pm and 7:00pm on South Columbus, South Washington, South Patrick, South Alfred, Gibbon, and Duke Streets covering a tight 1/2-mile radius in every direction.
We believe that the developer can still earn a profit and provide affordable housing with a development that is 4-5 stories in height which is at scale, and compatible with our neighborhood such as at The Clayborne, or at Sunrise of Old Town.
Since January 2018, the Heritage re-development project calls in to question the City Council’s unclear relationship with real estate developers due to the City’s insufficient transparency taxpaying Southwest Quadrant residents. We are still finding residents who had no prior knowledge of this redevelopment plan which will impact the entire Southwest Quadrant.