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Will Alexandria Lose Affordable Housing At Hunting Towers?

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Residents of the Hunting Towers in Alexandria enjoy a rare view of the Potomac.
Ed Cabic: http://www.flickr.com/photos/edcabic/3589945372/
Residents of the Hunting Towers in Alexandria enjoy a rare view of the Potomac.

Hundreds of residents of a low-income apartment complex in Alexandria, Va., are worried about the the future.

The twin buildings of Hunting Towers rise above a spot south of Old Town once known as Broomilawn. It's a spot known in the 19th century as a pleasure garden. These days the area is home to an affordable apartment complex, one of the last spots where residents can snag low-end housing in a high end area.

Olga Calahorra has lived in the area for three decades. She says she can't imagine finding another place like Hunting Towers, situated at the southernmost tip of the District of Columbia, where George Washington laid the first boundary marker of the capital city.

"We have the river. We have the place to walk. We can walk to Old Town, and it's a nice place to live," Calahorra says. "That's the reason I live here for more than 30 years."

Others are more circumspect. Nick Miles has lived here for four years. Unlike many residents of this complex, he says he's not concerned that his landlord, the Virginia Department of Transportation, has sold the building the Chicago based Laramar Group.

"I would just find somewhere else," Miles says. "It's perfectly nice. But, you know, I could always find another apartment."

Many residents here are hoping they can persuade the new owner to maintain the towers as affordable housing. Rob Alderman has lived here for ten years.

"It has a lot of residents on edge, obviously, because once their leases expire, we anticipate there being an increase in the rent," Alderman says.

That could mean hundreds of people might be kicked out of this slice of Old Town, yet another loss of affordable housing.

"People on fixed incomes and the elderly make up a good portion of the building and, you know, add a lot of flavor and color to Old Town," Alderman says. "And we're afraid they would be pushed out of here."

City officials say they are in talks with the new owner to preserve as many affordable units as possible.

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