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Alexandria Council Approves High-Density Development

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The Beauregard small area plan includes 430 acres, and 800 affordable housing units.
Alexandria Department of Planning and Zoning
The Beauregard small area plan includes 430 acres, and 800 affordable housing units.

Members of the Alexandria City Council have approved a controversial proposal to demolish hundreds of low-end garden apartments in favor of high-density development. The decision is likely to have reverberations at the polls next month.

During the daylong debate on the Beauregard small-area plan Saturday, candidates for the Alexandria City Council spoke in support and in opposition to the proposal, which critics say would displace thousands of poor and Latino residents along the western edge of Shirley Memorial Highway, also known as 395.

One of the candidates, Democrat Boyd Walker, compared the decision to the urban renewal movement. "Working in the African-American community, I have learned that they still call it 'black removal,'" said Walker. "So what should we call what's happening today? I have a suggestion: Latino removal."

Vice Mayor Kerry Donley took issue with the characterization: "For you to stand up here and say that this is Latino removal is absolutely ridiculous. You know, I will tell you, you are asking us to turn down a plan, well that is a guarantee that all that market-rate affordable housing will be gone."

Council members set aside 800 units of dedicated affordable housing as part of the plan, although critics are concerned that many residents will be still be displaced in the process.

During a city council forum last week, eight candidates spoke in opposition to the plan, while only six supported it.

The primary is June 12.

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