Two City of Alexandria development projects have been honored by the Washington Business Journal in its prestigious “Best Real Estate Deals” annual regional awards program. The City’s agreement with Inova Health System, in partnership with three development firms (Foulger-Pratt, Seritage Growth Properties and Howard Hughes Corporation), to redevelop Landmark Mall into a medical campus and mixed-use, walkable urban village has garnered 2020’s “Best Deal of the Year,” the Journal’s top commercial real estate designation. The Bloom at Braddock, a project to build a homeless shelter and affordable housing by Carpenter’s Shelter and Alexandria Housing Development Corporation, has been named “Best Redevelopment.”
“We are truly honored to have received these accolades,” said Mayor Justin Wilson. “Redeveloping the Landmark Mall area in concert with locating and establishing a new, state-of the-art hospital center will generate economic growth for the West End, enhance the City’s ongoing plans for the area, and help increase access to health care for all Alexandrians.”
“This is a very complicated transaction, with the three different firms comprising the development entity, joining with Inova and the City to create a comprehensive development plan that has eluded all for the last 15 years,” said City Manager Mark Jinks. “The City’s financial incentives made a big difference in getting all parties to agree.”
The City is providing public financing for the project, agreeing to issue bonds to fund $76 million in infrastructure improvements and $54 million to purchase three parcels at the Landmark site. The land will be leased to Inova for construction of the new hospital. Development plans will also include residential, retail, commercial and entertainment offerings integrated into a cohesive neighborhood with a central plaza, a network of parks and public spaces, and a transit hub serving bus rapid transit (BRT), DASH, and Metrobus. Affordable and workforce housing would be enhanced through developer contributions and co-location with community facilities such as a new Alexandria Fire-EMS station. It is estimated that the development will generate more than $900 million in new tax revenues over the next 30 years, which will enable the City to pay back debt-service costs on the bonds.
The Journal’s “Best Redevelopment” honor went to Carpenter’s Shelter and The Bloom at Braddock, a partnership between the shelter and the Alexandria Housing Development Corporation. The $52 million development built a 17,000-square-foot homeless shelter with services and amenities, such as computer and laundry facilities, a medical clinic and expanded winter shelter space. Above the shelter is the six-story The Bloom at Braddock, with 97 units of affordable housing for households earning up to 60% of the Area Median Income, including “permanent supportive housing” units reserved for former clients of Carpenter’s Shelter, who will continue to receive support from the shelter’s services team. In 2016, City Council approved a rental subsidy grant program of $250,000 to make 10 units deeply affordable and a loan of $8.8 million to help with the construction of the affordable rental housing. Each dollar of the City’s investment in the project leveraged approximately five dollars in public and private funding. Carpenter’s Shelter and The Bloom at Braddock opened in late 2020, and the apartments were fully occupied by the end of December.
The 2020 recognition marks the third Washington Business Journal “Deal of the Year” honor Alexandria’s government has received as part of several public-private collaborations over the last eight years. Alexandria received this regional accolade for the Amazon/Virginia Tech Innovation Campus project in 2018 with the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership, the City’s economic development agency, serving as lead; and for its role in incentivizing the construction of a new headquarters for the National Science Foundation at the Eisenhower Avenue Metro in 2013.