James Bland Redevelopment

City of Alexandria, Virginia
Owner: Eakin Youngentaub and Associates

The James Bland Development property comprises nearly five city blocks within the northern end of the City of Alexandria, Virginia, and was the site of the historic James Bland Homes, a public housing project constructed in 1954 and 1959.  The proposed redevelopment of the property replaced the older public housing with market-rate and affordable homes.  WSSI's Thunderbird Archeology division provided archeology consulting services on this multi-year phased redevelopment project.

The James Bland residential complex was considered a contributing element of the Parker-Gray Historic District and the proposed demolition of the existing structures was considered an adverse effect to the district.  WSSI directed the Section 106 consultation process for the entire project, which consisted of identifying, inviting, and meeting with individuals and groups that were interested in participating in the consultation process.  WSSI coordinated all aspects of the project review with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, the City of Alexandria Board of Architectural Review, and other agencies, and also wrote the Programmatic Agreement (PA) for the demolition conditions, which were approved by all consulting parties and are currently being implemented. 

A Documentary Study of the history of the five city blocks was required as a condition of the PA. WSSI and its subconsultant conducted the documentary research, conducted oral history interviews with some of the early residents of the housing, and authored the report.  Based on WSSI’s research, a Phase I archeological survey was recommended, and a research design was developed in consultation with the Alexandria City Archeologist.

WSSI subsequently conducted the Phase I Archeological Survey on the five city blocks, resulting in two archeological sites that warranted further investigation.  Phase II evaluations of the two sites are planned prior to the phased development of those city blocks.  Both the documentary research and the Phase I archeological work indicated that deep shaft features, such as wells or privies, may have been preserved beneath the urban fills, and archeological monitoring was recommended.  In addition, a Resource Management Plan was prepared for each of the city blocks, which incorporated the Plan for Unanticipated Archeological Discoveries (a stipulation of the PA).