It's been a long time coming, but Alexandria finally has a home for its boxing ring.

Last week a $300,000 addition at the Charles Houston Recreation Center was dedicated for the boxing ring, the donation of a private developer who "wanted to help the children of that neighborhood stay off the streets."

For three years, since the city paid nearly $9,000 for the boxing ring, members of Alexandria's Boxing Club have hauled it about five times a year from Fort Belvoir, where it is stored, to the Houston center for matches.

More than 100 people attended the gala dedication ceremony, including Mayor James P. Moran Jr., City Manager Vola Lawson, and all the members of the City Council. The center, is at 905 Wythe St., in an area known for drug deals and related street violence.

The Alexandria Boxing Club has some of the top-ranked boxers in the Washington area. It was founded in 1979 with 12 members, and, until the new addition opened, it has used two sparring rooms at the Houston Center.

There are now more than 50 members in the club.

Those who join must agree to not use drugs or alcohol, and they must receive training from the club's three coaches before sparring in the ring.

Greg Fazakerley, chairman and chief executive officer of Development Resources Inc., the real estate development firm that paid for the new addition, said the recreation center "is really an important place in the city.

Moran said the addition, which also includes space for the Houston Center Dancers to practice, "is an excellent example of a public-private partnership." The city provided support staff in planning the addition and will continue to pay maintenance and operating costs.

Moran said the idea for the addition grew out of a conversation he had three years ago with boxing team coach Fred Smith, who mentioned the difficulties of hauling the boxing ring.

"I suggested he {Smith} talk with Greg Fazakerley because Greg was doing some building in the area and I knew he had the resources for the addition," Moran said. Fazakerley's firm also financed a $100,000 renovation two years ago at Hopkins House, a nonprofit community service organization at 1224 Princess St., just a few blocks from the recreation center.

Moran said the city did not allocate money for the addition "because we're simply not paying for new programs right now, we're cutting back . . . . Although this was a useful one, we'd be breaking a policy to pay for it."

Moran, a former boxer, said he plans to use the facilities regularly. The city had planned a Mayor's Cup match between Moran and D.C. Mayor Marion Barry as the first big event for the addition. That was scratched, however, after Barry's arrest on cocaine charges this year.

Meanwhile the addition has brought even more popularity to one of the city's busiest recreation centers. The Houston Center has basketball courts, an outdoor pool, numerous arts and crafts programs, cooking classes, aerobics, a dance company, a children's chorus and an adult chorus, a game room, weight lifting, day care, and several programs for senior citizens.

"This center allows the children to get off the streets and to learn from the leadership of the adults that work there," Fazakerley said. "This will give the adults an opportunity to give to the children. It ties in with say no to drugs and say yes to more productive activities."