The Planning Commission ultimately agreed with dozens of speakers who pleaded with its members not to make a decision that could aggravate already abysmal parking conditions in Lynhaven.
Nonprofit AHC plans to build a three- to five-story building with nearly 80 affordable housing units for 60 years at the corner of E. Reed Avenue and Route 1.
But the AHC proposal calls for its tenants to pay for parking at $35 per space per month. Area residents cried foul, saying the building's new tenants would try to circumvent the fee by searching for free street parking.
The AHC representative, the omnipresent Alexandria lawyer Duncan Blair, said the city is spending a fortune on public transit and the E. Reed Avenue corridor is a “transit-oriented area” through upcoming services such as the Bus Rapid Transitway and Potomac Yard Metro station.
Blair argued that the project fits with the city’s desire for residents to use public transit and discourage single occupancy vehicles.
He also said that paying for parking is important for the tax scoring of the project.
Preston Condominium owner Mike Becker said that in the area some people park on their lawns “It’s hard to believe that 77 unit owners and the demand for visitor parking will work,” he said.
Becker said he paid $15,000 for additional parking space so he would not suffer the pain of having to find parking on the street.
Elementary school teacher Jason Ray said he often can’t back out of his driveway until several cycles of the traffic light are completed in the morning because traffic is so congested.
“The city might want to think about opening up more arteries in the Del Ray area,” he said, adding that he’s concerned the affect the new project will have on the resale value of his house.
Joe Bondi of Lynhaven Drive representing the Lynhaven Citizens Association said his group supports affordable housing but “there is no more street parking left.”
All speakers also pressed for a right hand turn lane onto E. Reed Avenue.
The city's Transportation and Environmental Services department said it is currently analyzing this special lane concurrent with the project.
“This is a good project… but we shouldn’t be charging people for parking. …The financial point should be worked out by the partners, AHC and the city,” said Planning Commissioner Stuart Dunn. “It shouldn’t be on the community. It should be on the applicant.”
The project has about a $24.5 million price tag and the partners are looking for a way to generate more revenue for financing.
“If that problem could go away, it would have gone away a long time ago,” Blair said.
After listening to about three hours of public comments—all unanimous in their concerns—the Planning Commission agreed that the project should add an additional permit with no separate charge for using the parking facilities.
“In the event that this causes serious problems in moving ahead for this project, the city and applicant can ask for reconsideration,” Commission Chairman John Komoroske said.
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