An Arlandria-based tenants’ group marched with signs and passed out leaflets protesting plans to demolish 2,500 market-rate affordable apartments in West End Alexandria during an awards luncheon Wednesday honoring one of the property owners, JBG Companies.
The NAIOP Commercial Real Estate Association honored the company with its 2012 Developer of the Year Wednesday at a luncheon at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington. Wesley Aten, interim executive director of Tenants and Workers United, said affected tenants and supporters protested in an effort to speak with Michael Glosserman, chairman of the company’s executive committee.
“They were tolerated for a while, and then police were called,” Aten said. “There was no desire for any sort of confrontation, so people peacefully disbursed.”
Alexandria City Council approved the Beauregard Small Area Plan in May. The plan calls for substantial redevelopment in the city’s West End along Beauregard Street with the vision of a mixed-use community and a town center.
The plan also calls for developers to demolish about 2,500 apartments in the area to make way for more expensive units. The city negotiated with developers for the plan to include the dedication of at least 800 units of committed affordable and workforce housing.
Aten said the plan calls for only 100 affordable units over the next seven years. Currently, about 8,000 people live in the apartments scheduled to be demolished, he said. According to the tenants’ group, more than 70 percent of the residents are Asian, black or Hispanic.
“They’re being driven from their homes, their community, and the company and the city are providing them with no real answers,” Aten said. “There’s no affordable housing alternatives in the city of Alexandria, and the commitment to build 100 units over the next seven years is not enough.”
He added: “I think that they’re aware there’s an issue that’s not going away, and there are people who are not going to stop.”
Hector Pineda, a long-term resident and president of the Beauregard Tenants’ Association, stated in a press release, “JBG still has a chance to do the right thing. They could reduce rents and ensure that all current tenants have a home in the new development.”
A call to JBG Companies seeking comment on the incident late Wednesday afternoon was not immediately returned.