Neighborhood Of Chirilagua Braces For Change (Transcript) | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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The Latino Neighborhood Of Chirilagua Braces For Change

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

00:00:03
Staying on the subject of urban development and how it changes the face of our communities and our region, we head now to the northern Virginia neighborhood of Arlandria-Chirilagua, which has long drawn working class Latinos. The Alexandria City Council recently approved a measure that would bring 53,000 square feet of retail space and 500 apartments to the neighborhood on a street where now you'll find few buildings more than two stories tall.

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

00:00:28
A one story half-vacant strip mall will be destroyed to make room for the new development and to many people passing through it's just another strip mall. But to Ingris Moran, a 20 year old woman who's lived her whole life near the three block drag that makes up Arlandia, it's something much more. Moran took our reporter, Emily Friedman, through her neighborhood as it sits on the brink of gentrification.

MS. INGRIS MORAN

00:00:51
My name is Ingris Moran. I was born and raised in Alexandria and the town Arlandia-Chirilagua. I'm currently a student at Northern Virginia Community College, as well I've been working a full-time at Mom's Organic Market, which is in the same neighborhood in Arlandia. I'm a cashier and so I talk to a lot of customers and that's actually how I found out about the whole redevelopment.

MS. INGRIS MORAN

00:01:18
This is Mount Vernon Avenue and, you know, as you see a lot of the places are Latino markets, grocery stores, you know. Most of Chirilagua starts from here and on. Everybody is either sending money to their countries or paying their cell phone bills. They call it here Los Chinos, I used to come here all the time as a little kid and buy, you know, toys that would probably break within the week. You have, you know, things like that and of course, you can't really compare this to, you know, like, Toy's R Us or something.

MS. INGRIS MORAN

00:01:52
But I mean, the kids don't really know, you know, I have to have Barbie or, they're happy what they get it, you know. The thing about Chirilagua, almost everybody knows everybody here so most likely a lot of people will hand wave me because they know my parents and so on. So we can go (speaks foreign language).

MS. INGRIS MORAN

00:02:19
The Waffle Shop, everybody comes there. I used to come there as a little kid and I remember back then the counters were more dirty. It's usually open all night so a lot of people come and eat, you know, like a steak and cheese and, you know, waffles. You're going to see, you know, like sometimes carne asada or something and that didn't used to be there. It just comes to show how prominent the Latino culture is in here.

MS. INGRIS MORAN

00:02:44
The majority of the people that live in Chirilagua live in these apartments and it's two streets. It's Russell and Executive. I remember living here and going to that playground as a kid, you know. My parents came here in the '90s. they wanted to escape the civil war in El Salvador because it was really tough economically and there was a lot of danger there in the families and they would have a lot of massacres and death squads over there. My dad, he is illiterate. He has jobs, he works as a dishwasher. My mom would always tell me, I don't want you cleaning toilets like me.

MS. INGRIS MORAN

00:03:21
As a little kid I would have to, you know, translate each letter, each bill that we would have to do so I wouldn't worry about money all the time. Are you going to pay the rent on time? Are you going to pay this on time? And so once we have this redevelopment, people are going to be moving in, most likely people who work in D.C. and, you know, people who earn a lot of money.

MS. INGRIS MORAN

00:03:41
We're going to be realistic. The people here work construction, cleaning and so they earn $20,000 annually. People living in the community, they're going to be slowly be moving out, possibly the managers from the other apartments are going to say, well, people are starting to move here a lot so why don't we boost up our rents, you know. And that's when slowly the people are going to start moving out.

MS. INGRIS MORAN

00:04:05
A lot of people don't want to say this word and they're afraid of this word, you know, gentrification, you know, this placement of people. And I feel sadly it's going to happen.

SHEIR

00:04:20
That was Ingris Moran talking with Emily Friedman about her neighborhood of Arlandia-Chirilagua in Alexandria.
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