The Alexandria City Council adopted a resolution Tuesday at affirming the current zoning of the Hunting Towers apartments and the city’s commitment to preserving the market affordable and workforce housing in the complex in south Old Town.
The Virginia Department of Transportation purchased Hunting Towers and the nearby Hunting Terrace in 2001 to make room for the new Woodrow Wilson Bridge. VDOT is now looking to sell the property—valued at $61 million—and will begin taking sealed bids from potential buyers beginning this summer.
“Essentially what we are trying to do with this statement is let potential owners know we want to keep this workforce through whatever way we possibly can,” Councilman Rob Krupicka said. “The second thing is we’re making it clear to [potential buyers] that we’re not going to allow any structural changes to the buildings that would essentially turn them into luxury apartments.”
Deputy City Manager Mark Jinks after councilmembers expressed a priority to keep the 530 units at Hunting Towers—now called Hunting Point—at an affordable rate.
On Tuesday, Krupicka said the towers are important because the affordable rents help attract people to the city.
“Hunting Towers has always been a workforce housing building,” Krupicka said. “It’s the way a number of folks first get to live in Alexandria, specifically Old Town Alexandria.”
Built in the 1940s, the two eight-story towers were constructed in a way that now prevents massive interior renovation and the addition of modern amenities. Krupicka said the units are small and thick walls can’t be torn down to create bigger spaces. Without the potential for new amenities, Jinks said in April that the units could likely remain at an affordable rate.
Renters at the complex have organized the Hunting Point Tenants Association aimed at protecting the rights of residents and addressing quality of life issues at the complex.
“We want to ensure that necessary repairs and reasonable improvements [by VDOT] are not delayed because the building might sell soon,” a message reads on the association’s website.
The group expects to hold its first meeting in June.
The resolution passed on a 6-0 vote. Councilwoman Alicia Hughes recused herself because of a conflict of interest relating to her membership on Gov. Bob McDonnell’s Commission on Government Reform and Restructuring and its recommendation to surplus and sell as many state-owned properties for their highest and best use.