Following its regular meeting Tuesday night, Alexandria City Council went into a closed executive session with Alexandria Housing and Redevelopment Authority's Board of Commissioners for the purpose of finding a solution to saving the deteriorated and deteriorating Glebe Park public housing project. Even most of ARHA's Board was unaware of the substance of the secretive Council briefing, initiated by ARHA Chairman A. Melvin Miller and Executive Director William Dearman, until it was underway, according to sources.
Glebe Park has posed a financial problem to ARHA for a number of years since nearly one-half of its 40 units are in a decaying condition — exacerbated by a $6 million mortgage. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has reportedly sent letters to ARHA advising them of "possible foreclosure" if Glebe Park is not brought up to standards.
Located near the intersection of Glebe and Russell roads, the aging project is not able to be rehabilitated in the model of the former Samuel Madden Homes Downtown, now known as Chatham Square, due to the federal government's curtailment of its HOPE VI program. To revitalize Glebe Park it will take an expanded innovative approach, again under the umbrella of a private/public partnership.
Such an approach was undertaken in the creation of Chatham Square with Eakin/Youngentab Associates. However, in the case of Glebe Park, the large existing mortgage has a dampening effect on the interest of most private developers. Therefore, ARHA and the City must find additional incentives to make such an undertaking financially plausible to the private sector. There is also a time factor tied to tax credits needed to enhance a possible solution.
This was the essence of Tuesday night's session with City Council that also included Eric Wagner, chairman, Alexandria Planning Commission. Any ultimate solution to the problem will supposedly involve the City's planning/zoning process as well as other facets of City government and possibly other elements in ARHA's housing inventory.