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Residents Of Alexandria's West End Await Rezoning Decision

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Developers want to upzone Alexandria's West End to replace the low-slung garden apartments with higher-density buildings and office spaces.
Michael Pope
Developers want to upzone Alexandria's West End to replace the low-slung garden apartments with higher-density buildings and office spaces.

Members of the Alexandria Planning Commission approved a rezoning plan late Tuesday night that would clear the way for a massive redevelopment project in Alexandria's West End.

The measure now awaits the vote of City Council members later this month, but already the hundreds of families who stand to lose their market rate affordable housing are voicing their frustration.

Rodolfo Navorio, a senior at T.C. Williams High School, says he doesn't know what his family will do if the apartment building they live in is demolished.

"We might move in with local relative in Fairfax, but it's totally unknown to us right now," Rodolfo says. "I try not to let it bother me, personally, but when the time comes, I'll have to deal with it."

His mother, Milagros Navorio, came to America from Nicaragua in 1994. She says living in Alexandria has been her American dream. But now that dream is becoming a nightmare.

"I feel very sad because I live for sixteen years here, and I want to stay here for my family," Milagros says.

Kathy Puskar is a land-use attorney who represents the developers. She says many of the families will be able to stay, at least in the short term.

"There will be many, many apartments that remain in place over time," Puskar says. "So the first phase is not tearing down all 2,500 units."

City officials are working with the developers to set aside 800 units of dedicated affordable housing. Residents say that's small consolation to the hundreds of families who are now living in 2,500 units of market-rate affordable housing. Alex Santiago says he wants City Council members to consider what it's like to live with a sense of uncertainty.

"Let the stress kick in  of having to find a place to live, of relocating their kids, of having a longer commute to work," Santiago says. "Have them stress about it as much as me and my family are stressing about it."

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