Alexandria decides to raze, redevelop previously segregated apartments

WASHINGTON — The City of Alexandria is planning to bring new life to a block of public housing that dates back to the days of segregation.

“It’s a hard decision to make,” said Mayor Allison Silberberg before the unanimous vote to tear down and redevelop the Ramsey Apartments area Tuesday night.

The vote came after months of controversy and debate. Earlier in the year, some on Alexandria’s City Council had expressed a preference to keep the facade of one building to preserve the history of what was once government-segregated housing.

“Sad as the history is to why they were built, it’s part of our history — you know, the good, the bad, the ugly,” said council member Redella Pepper.

In the end, Pepper joined other council members in deciding to completely tear down the dilapidated block for a multitude of reasons — one being that residents in a renovated building might feel lesser than those living in the new construction.

“I just wonder if they would feel like second-class citizens and that’s exactly what I do not want,” Pepper said.

Presented with two building options, council members unanimously voted to replace the four buildings on Patrick Street with two three-story buildings.

The buildings will house 53 affordable housing units — 43 of them two-bedroom apartments — and will feature an underground garage.

The project has long been on the punch list of the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority.

Redeveloping the entire Ramsey Apartments also means nearby alleys can be transitioned to open green space for residents.

“In this part of the area, I think it’ll be important for the quality of life for those residents,” Silberberg said.

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