City turns to deal with Landmark Towers to save Arlandria | ALXnow
Landmark Towers has a problem.
The West End residential property at 101 S Whiting Street, originally built in 1964, was more or less falling apart, and a ten-year rehabilitation project was prohibitively expensive.
The city of Alexandria also has a problem: its bleeding Affordable homes at market rates faster than hired affordable homes – homes with rents capped below market prices – can be built to meet demand.
Last year, the two organizations reached an agreement for a loan which – like the old reese ad – took each party’s problems and turned them into respective solutions. Now the city is considering this West End partnership as a potential solution to help conjure impending gentrification d’Arlandria when Amazon comes to town.
At a city council meeting on Tuesday, city staff said the previous deal with Landmark Towers could serve as a model for partnerships in Arlandria, where there are similar residential developments at market rates that may require a extensive review. Today, city staff said the majority of market-rate units in the region are affordable at 60-80 percent of the region’s median income (MAI).
“[We’re] proactive engagement with willing landlords can also create future opportunities to buy back rents, ”said Tamara Jovovic, Alexandria Housing Planner. “The recent investment in Landmark Towers in the West End is an interesting example. The city provided funding to the owner to resolve outstanding capital maintenance issues. “
According to the Alexandria Housing Affordability Advisory Committee (AHAAC), the loan would help pay for capital improvements in exchange for meeting certain rent guidelines and other stipulations.
Providing a $ 2.5 million capital improvement loan to Landmark Towers, LLC, a 154-unit mixed-use rental property in return for long-term compliance with the City’s voluntary rental guidelines, granting a right of first refusal in the event of a future sale and a commitment to jointly explore potential redevelopment possibilities, if mutually beneficial, to add labor-intensive and affordable units engaged.
The AHAAC said in its report that affordable units at market rate are part of a diminishing supply. The recommendation also stated that the loan was the first of its kind: a housing opportunity loan to a private entity, but that it was in line with the city’s housing and community development powers. This is a change that could blur the lines between affordable engaged units and affordable at market rates in the future.
“The importance of this residential asset to Alexandria’s housing affordability ecosystem,” the report states, “the property’s many long-term tenants, its location and transit efficiency, as well as that its potential for additional development, combined with the owner’s desire to work with the City on a mutually acceptable solution that maintains the property as affordable housing and for labor at market rate, prompted the parties to offer a package that offers short, medium and long term benefits.
This is a solution that was raised among others during the city council meeting to discuss the plans underway to try to preserve not only affordable housing in Arlandria, but also the predominantly Hispanic and immigrant communities that have made their home in the region for several decades.
Jovovic said other aspects of the plan will include ensuring residents of Arlandria benefit the most from new affordable housing, with the city developing a system that would prioritize existing residents in the neighborhood when new units are put in. online in the region. Jovovic said the city is also working to make the housing application process less intimidating, which can be dense and difficult to decipher even for English speakers.
City council member Canek Aguirre said he was excited about the plan and acknowledged that the city’s partnerships with local community organizations had helped raise awareness.
“I am excited about this project and the level of awareness – even in the pandemic – and the Spanish approach first to ensure that demographic areas are reached,” Aguirre said. “This is a testament to the importance of our relationships with organizations like Casa Chirilagua and Tenants and workers united. “