Neighborhood Blight in Alexandria’s West End?

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A reader writes in (after the jump…) about the Brent Place apartments on 375 South Reynolds Street in Alexandria. Submit your thoughts below.

From the email:

Brent Place apartments in Alexandria, Virginia

“I would like to share with you a situation in our neighborhood, West End in the Landmark/VanDorn area, that perhaps you would be interested in bringing to light for the benefit of our community.

Brent Place located at 375 S. Reynolds St is an affordable housing building in Alexandria owned by a non-profit called Housing for America (HFA) from Annapolis, MD. The Alexandria Redevelopment Housing Authority (AHRA) assists in keeping the building financially afloat by providing low interest loans such as to replace the elevators in 2009. The building is part of an effort to keep low income people living in Alexandria. Unfortunately, the building is possibly the worst environment to raise a family in the city as it’s akin to a high rise ghetto. So much so the Alexandria Police has a post inside the building. This speaks volumes of the behavior exhibited by some of the residents. The residents’ behavior can at times spill over onto the street, whether it’s an altercation, what sometimes appears to be drug dealing, or just plain loitering. Never mind the constant calls to Fire Rescue, which is draining city coffers at a higher rate than the rest of the b lock of high rises. Whether it’s someone pulling the fire alarm to actual emergencies day or night, one can always guarantee that Alexandria Fire Rescue will soon pay a visit. The place is far from being a residential sanctuary, which is what most people would consider their homes to be regardless of income. The City of Alexandria and HFA should come to the realization that while the intent to keep affordable housing available in Alexandria is a noble and worthwhile effort, having a high concentration of low income families in a high rise building is not a good idea. Integrating the low income population more evenly throughout the area would avoid the perpetuation of neighborhood blight. The Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) tried this method with the Cabrini Green complex and it failed miserably. Cabrini Green was eventually torn down as a failed public housing project which may be the best outcome for Brent Place. The Van Dorn/Landmark Corridor Plan which aims to redevelop the area should be reconsidered to add the redeveloping of Brent Place. Perhaps tearing it down and allowing a private developer to build a mixed use complex, which is more appropriate to the revitalization efforts proposed by the city.”

What are your thoughts? Discuss below…

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Susan C
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Susan C

Alexandria closed many of the “projects” years ago and went to small concentrations of town houses…. I didn’t know this place even existed. What a shame

HappyCyclist
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HappyCyclist

I don’t know all the details, but I don’t think Brent place is anything like Cabrini Green used to be. Certainly there are benefits to spreading guaranteed affordable housing around – but how does the the author suggest doing so? The Beauregard Small Area Plan will establish guaranteed affordable units in mixed income buildings, but that is only be by increasing total density, and the number of AH units there will not be enough to even make up for the current market affordable units there. Are we to have the City rent out apts and houses at existing complexes all… Read more »

EyesWideOpen
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EyesWideOpen

HappyCyclist, perhaps while you’re happily cycling in Alexandria you should pass by S Reynolds Street so you can become acquainted and experience the blight that Brent Place brings to the neighborhood. Just today, the Alexandria Police was out to disperse, arrest, what have you, several individuals who decided to congregate and drink alcohol at high noon on the public sidewalk. The premise that the city of Alexandria has to “guarantee” affordable housing is flawed and only leads to encourage this type of behavior. People on the dole who literally hang out all day drinking alcohol on the street. All this… Read more »

HappyCyclist
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HappyCyclist

“I then hesitated because I heard a woman yelling “Just go Home” to the group of men heading north on the street. I sympathized with her angst, so I didn’t call. ”

So then perhaps you should stop blaming ALL residents for the behavior of a few?

EyesWideOpen
Guest
EyesWideOpen

“Blaming All residents” Your words.

EyesWideOpen
Guest
EyesWideOpen

The blight continues thanks to the people of Brent Place. They struck again early this morning at about 2:00AM. About 15 people running around on S. Reynolds ST screaming and shouting to the top of their lungs for about a half hour. which eventually woke me up. I saw them out my window and it appeared to be males yelling at each other. My first thought was to call the Alexandria Police. I then hesitated because I heard a woman yelling “Just go Home” to the group of men heading north on the street. I sympathized with her angst, so… Read more »

Dan
Guest

I agree that this place should be torn down. The fact that there is a police post there due to the abnormally high crime risk and the fire department is constantly getting calls there should convince the Mayor it is time to end this charity. West Alwxandria is moving in the right direction with the Landmark Mall development project, which will not see its full potential unless Brent Place is torn down and a working professional high rise is substituted.

John
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John

We need to shut this place down. These ghetto thugs are bringing crime and infestation to my neighborhood.

david
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david

Completely agree! I was playing tennis the other night at the Samuel Tucker Elementary school tennis courts, and two of the large group of people playing basketball were smoking marijuana. Cameron Station is a fantastic neighborhood, and there shouldn’t be subsidized ghettos surrounding the neighborhood.

Why are we subsidizing housing with tax dollars anyways? If ended, it would lower the average price of rent in Alexandria and our taxes would go down too (or at least have more money for schools, etc)!

Cactus Tony
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Cactus Tony

Smoking marijuana? OH NOES!!!! Keep clutching those pearls, David. Your white, Ph.D. candidate, pillar-of-the-community neighbor prolly hits the bong like it owes him money too, y’know.

Newsflash for those of you who’ve never lived in other cities: Alexandria really does not have “ghettoes”, it really doesn’t have blight and it certainly doesn’t have a crime problem (unless you consider Walking While Black a crime, which, well, I think that’s the primary campaign platform of at least one council candidate).

Publius
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Publius

The African American community of Alexandria is older than the United States. While many could live here without committed affordable units, I think it is fine that the City wants to have some affordable units – the loss of market affordable units, alongside the construction of new market rate units, means the city will grow more affluent over time. We can improve the city without driving out the poor.