Manager's Report - July 20, 2012
Update on Sale of Hunting Towers
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) received 11 responses to its solicitation for expressions of interest in the 530-unit Hunting Point (Hunting Towers) property. Based on discussions with eight developers (including the prior owner) during the solicitation period, three of the proposals that were submitted have been shared with the City. Here are the highlights:
- The offer prices among the proposals range from $40 to $70 million dollars. All of the preservation scenarios include some future request for City support, e.g., loans of up to $4 million and/or partial tax exemptions.
- The three proposals all include a preservation component, in which some or all of the units would be maintained as committed affordable units.
- All proposals include some renovation, with the level of rehabilitation planned contingent on financing requirements.
- One proposal is from the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority and a private entity with whom it would partner on a potential acquisition.
- One of these proposals also includes an alternative option that was based upon the property being operated as “market rate” going forward.
- One proposal included the possibility of some tenant-owned condominiums.
The responses are non-binding, and the original owner has indicated its intent to re-acquire the property pursuant to its existing right of first offer, if it can reach an agreement with VDOT on the property’s fair market value. The property would continue to be operated “as is” if the original owner is successful, but there is interest in working with the City to preserve some units as committed or market affordable over time.
City Council’s May 22, 2012 resolution recognizing the property’s importance as a market affordable housing asset, affirming the existing zoning and land use, and stating the City’s intent to provide support within available resources to preserve the property as affordable, was conveyed to VDOT on May 25 along with a letter from Mayor Euille. VDOT recently advised the City that it would share the letter and resolution with all respondents as requested by the Mayor. Because VDOT considers the responses proprietary, it will not share information about specific proposals with the City.
Update on I-95 Express Lanes Project
In August, the Virginia Department of Transportation will begin construction of the I-95 (HOV/HOT) Lanes from Garrisonville Road in Stafford County to Edsall Road in Fairfax County. The work is scheduled for completion in December 2014. The work proposed within City limits includes placement of permanent and temporary signage, highway striping, and the proposed installation of sound walls. The regular VDOT/FHWA process for consideration of sound wall installation (all within existing VDOT right of way) will be the process used for the decision regarding whether all or only a portion of the sound walls will be constructed. The proposed sound walls would extend along I-395 in Fairfax County, then proceed into Alexandria to include the area along Stevenson Avenue. They would also be installed on the west side of I-395 up to and along the I-395 exit ramp, and then for a short distance along Duke Street. In addition, a sound wall is proposed along the southbound ramp from Duke Street to I-395 adjacent to Bragg Street, then it heads south into Fairfax County along I-395. City staff will meet with VDOT to discuss the scope of work, and possible impacts to residents.
City Launches Website Survey
The City’s Office of Communications & Public Information recently launched an online survey to gauge customer satisfaction with the City’s websites. Survey results will be used to guide future improvements to the websites’ features and design. The survey is currently presented to a random selection of site visitors, and is composed of questions on the availability of information and services, the organization of content, and the overall user experience. The survey will be conducted in two phases over the next month. In the second phase, the City will publicize the survey through its various outlets, and allow everyone to participate.
Citizens’ Police Academy
Applications are being accepted through August 15 for the 10-week Alexandria Citizens' Police Academy. The Academy provides an opportunity for residents to learn about various aspects of the Police Department, such as administrative philosophy, internal policies and the guiding principles of law and ethical conduct governing the delivery of police services. Classes begin on September 5.