Citizens Group Fights to Save The Heritage Complex in Alexandria

Opposing Modern Construction in Historic Old Town

The Heritage apartment buildings are three stories tall, with red brick façades that complement the neighborhood. (Photos: Grace Arnold)

By Grace Billups Arnold

ALEXANDRIA, VA – The Heritage is an affordable housing complex in Old Town that was built in 1973. It is owned by Asland Capital Partners, a New York-based investment company.

Asland has proposed to replace the existing property with multiple buildings ranging from four to seven stories in height, with 750 underground parking spots. The plan includes 750 units, 188 of which will be affordable housing.

The City of Alexandria has approved demolition of the site. This decision has prompted Alexandrians to actively contest the proposal.

Opponents argue The Heritage would be replaced with a structure that is inconsistent with Alexandria’s architectural atmosphere. (Photos: Courtesy of Stephen Hayes)

After several months of discussion, residents living near The Heritage created the Citizens Association of the South West Quadrant (CASWQ) to oppose this development. CASWQ created a website (www.caswq.org), recruited supporters, distributed flyers, and presented at Alexandria Board of Architectural Review meetings.

Adopting the tagline, “High rises don’t belong in Old Town,” CASWQ is fighting to preserve Alexandria’s historical integrity and charm. CASWQ member Stephen Hayes says, “This project would do real damage to Old Town in terms of livability and traffic congestion, and dramatically increased density. We are starting to see a groundswell of opposition to the Asland development.”

Hayes points out that a structure of this size and capacity would produce logistical complications. According to a CASWQ press release, Alexandria is already the most densely populated city in Virginia. Implementing a massive apartment complex would further overcrowd the city, the streets, and the skylines.

Chris Faranetta, a CASWQ member, adds, “We do not want The Heritage project to be rejected. We want a development that provides much needed affordable housing and fits into the scale of our neighborhood, a development that will not overwhelm our neighborhood school, street parking, and the already difficult traffic situation.”

Members of CASWQ urge the City to see how the Heritage would be replaced with a structure that is inconsistent with Alexandria’s architectural atmosphere. (Photos: Courtesy of Stephen Hayes)

Members of CASWQ implore the City to pause and consider the effect that a modern structure of this scope would have on Alexandria, its history, its people, and its identity. Old Town is steeped in brick and rooted in cobblestone. There are ways to accommodate the future while preserving the past.

To learn more and to stay abreast of developments, go to www.caswq.org.

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1 COMMENT

  1. This stretch of Route 1 through Old Town has about as much charm as a doorknob, so the outcry from (hyperwealthy) local homeowners on the grounds of preserving historic are hollow on their face. Make no mistake: NIBMYism like this is the accelerant that is fueling our housing affordability crisis and will price all of us out of our homes here if left unchecked. Makes me furious that existing owners are empowered to poison our common well of housing stock under the guise of “historicity.”

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