By Carla Branch
The Alexandria City Council deferred a decision on whether to approve a $1.44 bridge loan for the Glebe Park redevelopment until Saturday, when members will ask Alexandria Redevelopment Housing Authority staff and Board questions.
ARHA Executive Director, Roy Priest, and Board Chair, A. Melvin Miller, had planned to arrive at Tuesday night’s Council meeting at 8:30 p.m., when, staff told them, Council would hear the request. Instead, Vice Mayor Redella S. “Del” Pepper, moved the meeting along at a record pace, with the loan request heard at around 8:00 p.m. Miller arrived just as the meeting adjourned and Priest was 35 minutes away.
“This is too important for us to move forward without speaking to ARHA representatives,” said Councilman Rob Krupicka. “We haven’t received anything in writing and we need to have a discussion.”
The $1.44 bridge loan would go from the City through ARHA, to EYA, ARHA’s development partner, so that EYA can purchase land on Old Dominion Boulevard from ARHA. “EYA needs the money so that they can purchase the land from ARHA where they will build the ten work-force and eight market-rate units,” said Alexandria Housing Director, Mildrilyn Davis.
ARHA obtained over $9 million in Low Income Tax Credit financing and another $2.2 million in loans for the 84 public housing units that will be built at Glebe Park. EYA obtained another $2 million in financing and a construction loan from Virginia Commerce Bank for the project. The remaining money is needed for the project to move forward.
“If we don’t get this loan, we may have to put this project on the shelf until the market improves,” said Brian Jackson, who represented EYA at Tuesday night’s meeting. “Housing prices have remained relatively flat in the Bland area, but in Arlandria, they have dropped by as much as 25 percent.”
Currently, Glebe Park is vacant and the buildings are being prepared for demolition. Proceeds from the Bland project will help to finance the Glebe Park project, but the Glebe Park redevelopment must come first so that the public housing units are returned to service by the end of 2010. To meet that schedule, EYA must begin demolition in June. The City loaned ARHA $5.6 million last year to retire the mortgage on Glebe Park. ARHA has repaid $600,000 of that loan.
“EYA has told us that they believe they can repay the entire $1.44 million loan out of proceeds from the sale of the 18 units on Old Dominion,” Davis said. “If not, they will repay the loan out of profits from the first and second phases of the Bland Project.”
Jackson assured Council members that, “you are second in line, after the bank, to get your money.”
Council will discuss the loan request further and decide what to do about it on Saturday.