Arlandria Residents Concerned About Gentrification | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

Arlandria Residents Concerned About Gentrification

Play associated audio
The Alexandria City Council will consider a proposal to demolish this 1940s-era strip mall in favor of a massive new mixed-use development, which critics say will gentrify the neighborhood.
Michael Pope
The Alexandria City Council will consider a proposal to demolish this 1940s-era strip mall in favor of a massive new mixed-use development, which critics say will gentrify the neighborhood.

Neighbors in the Alexandria community of Arlandria are divided over a proposal for a massive new development, and many low-income residents in the area are concerned about gentrification.

As customers browse up and down Mount Vernon Avenue in the working-class neighborhood straddling Arlington and Alexandria, anxieties are building about a proposal to knock down a 1940's-era strip mall and construct a massive new mixed-use development. The proposal would demolish an existing 50,000 square foot retail strip and replace it with two six-story buildings that have nearly 500 rental units and 53,000 square feet of retail space.

Gabriel Rojo, director of the nearby advocacy group Tenants and Workers United, is leading an opposition to the proposal.

"This development is going to cause a chain reaction," says Rojo. "The rents across the street in this huge apartment complex are going to go up. The rents on all the small businesses are going to go up."

One of those small businesses is FPP Communications, which sells cell phones and accessories. Owner Roberto Perez is an immigrant from Bolivia who says he's concerned about what will happen with an upscale building opening across the street.

"Our market is the Hispanic community that lives around here, and I assume it won't be the Hispanic community that is going to live in the new development," says Perez. Many neighborhood residents spoke up against the development during a public hearing on the proposal last week.

Others say redeveloping the old strip mall will bring a new sense of vibrancy to a blighted strip of land.

"I hear a lot of comments this evening about diversity," says Jacob Cuomo, who lives in nearby Hume Springs. "I challenge anyone to ride down Mount Vernon Avenue and see diversity of races."

Arlandria is a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood, but it has small businesses owned by immigrants from all over the world. Sopha May is an immigrant from Cambodia who owns a market on the avenue. She says she's concerned gentrification could push her out of the neighborhood.

"I don't like it," she says. "I'm worried about it closing my business down." Residents will have another chance to weigh in at a public hearing Dec. 17, and the Alexandria City Council is expected make a final decision on the development later this month.

NPR

Church Of Scientology Calls New HBO Documentary 'Bigoted'

The filmmaker says Going Clear, harshly critical of the Church of Scientology, is about the dangers of "blind faith." The church has hit back with an aggressive public relations effort of its own.
NPR

Was Your Seafood Caught By Slaves? AP Uncovers Unsavory Trade

Some of the seafood that winds up in American grocery stores, in restaurants, even in cat food, may have been caught by Burmese slaves, a year-long investigation by the Associated Press finds.
NPR

Amazingly, Congress Actually Got Something Done

The leaders and members must, in a word, compromise. And on this occasion, Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi did just that, with skill and savvy.
NPR

Police Departments Open Up 'Safe Lots' For Craigslist Transactions

Several crimes around the U.S. have been tied to the website's in-person transactions. So police departments are offering up their parking lots to provide a secure space for buying and selling stuff.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.