WASHINGTON — The Alexandria City Council has agreed to replace 15 low-income apartments with 52 low-income apartments in the Parker-Gray Historic District, a neighborhood with a rich African-American history.
Saturday’s vote was unanimous. During a public hearing, a resident said neighbors approve of the project.
“I hope it gets going, it’s just terrific,” said Judy Noratake, who told the council she lives a block and a half away from the redevelopment project.
Under the plan, the four multi-family houses known as the Ramsey Homes, which were nearly 70 years old, will be demolished to make way for a four-story, red brick apartment building and nearby pocket park.
The council approved the plan despite some misgivings that the parking planned for the building may be inadequate.
“This neighborhood is going to be competing for parking spaces, they’re already competing for parking spaces,” warned Councilwoman Del Pepper.
The 52-unit apartment building is to be built with a 31-space underground parking garage.
“You really need to have adequate parking,” Pepper told members of the zoning board staff. Her concern was echoed by Mayor Allison Silberberg.
“This is an ongoing issue for us here. … We don’t want to end up like Adams Morgan, where there’s no parking, where it’s very congested,” Silberberg said.
But Alexandria has a policy of keeping parking spaces to a minimum in new development as a means of encouraging the use of mass transit and encouraging residents to walk and bicycle.
“Parking garages and parking lots are monuments, grotesque monuments to auto dependence,” said Councilman Timothy Lovain, “We need to encourage people to utilize transit and bicycles and walking,” said Lovain, who is the executive vice president of Capitol Strategies, a D.C.-based consulting firm serving public transportation clients.
“Not everybody is going to want to ride a bicycle,” Pepper said.