Roxbury Farms area ideal for building affordable housing

The closing of Roxbury Farms represents a difficult and pressing reality facing Fredericksburg. In the past few years, several commercial operations have closed or relocated. While demolition and infill are natural components of the urban life cycle, redevelopment in Fredericksburg has been alarmingly problematic.

Recent development has focused on appearing “historic.” In theory, copying the proportions and materials of historic buildings could be successful, as it blends development into the city’s existing fabric.

In reality, developers aren’t interested in wooden details or cast-iron railings. They want maintenance-free exteriors and garages. Negotiating these conflicting interests leaves our city with odd buildings belonging in neither 2019 nor 1819.

If Roxbury is developed, I hope the city prioritizes contributions to transit, adaptive reuse, and affordability over ensuring it has architectural details arbitrarily deemed “historic” or “charming.”

A mixed-use development centered around Roxbury would turn the already-vibrant area into a walkable destination with studios, shops, and public resources. This access makes Roxbury ideal for affordable housing in a region plagued by increasing rent.

Hundreds of commuter parking spaces with underutilized evening availability sit less than an eighth of mile away. The construction of a pedestrian tunnel or bridge could facilitate bringing in a music venue, food hall, or other large gathering space. Shifting our architectural efforts away from policing quasi-historic new construction and toward smarter planning policies will yield unimaginable dividends for future residents.

Duke DiEugenio


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