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Alexandrians Seeking New Approach to New Waterfront Critique City Plan

Citizens for an Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan released a critique of the city's plan and offered its own approach.

The City of Alexandria’s plan to redevelop the waterfront will worsen traffic, exacerbate parking and environmental problems and relies too much on the construction of new buildings, according to a new report by a group advocating development alternatives.

The city’s Waterfront Draft Small Area Plan “fails to create a compelling vision for the redevelopment of the Alexandria waterfront,” say Citizens for an Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan in its report, “Parks, the Arts, and Museums: the Keys to Rediscovering, Revitalizing and Protecting the Alexandria Waterfront.”

It criticizes the city’s plan for seeking revenue from up to three 150-room hotels to be built at three sites, which, the group says, “amounts to a density increase of 162 percent when compared to what currently exists on the waterfront today.”

CAAWP says it is not opposed to adding some new retail development on the waterfront “but it believes that any new businesses should be located in existing structures, many of which are of historic significance.”

It also slams the city for failing to offer residents alternative plans that do not include “large amounts of new development and ‘boutique’ hotels.”

It asserts that the city is kowtowing to the Washington Post Co., which two key waterfront properties, Robinson Terminals North and South.

The CAAWP report cites a letter from the Post to the city in which the Post wants the plan to be “refined to be more flexible in its development requirements and more realistic in its treatment of required amenities.”

It acknowledges that city planners did produce several alternatives after public outcry, but CAAWP’s “preferred parks and museums alternative was presented [by the city] as an overpriced and therefore unrealistic scenario.”

It refutes the city’s claim that the city plan would add 5.5 new acres of parkland, saying that number includes one acre of piers “that probably won’t be built.”

CAAWP argues that Alexandria’s plan for a new park at the foot of King Street probably also won't come to fruition unless the city acquires the land or takes by eminent domain , which would reduce the 5.5 acres by .73 acres.

It maintains that the city’s plan adds about 3.93 acres of new public open space and it says the city’s plan is more concerned with an upgrade to the appearance of certain historic sites like Thompson’s Alley rather than innovative ways to highlight the area’s historic significance.

“Hotels and town houses that make up the bulk of development at three key sites not only shut out the public but also do not achieve what CAAWP feels is a central goal of any waterfront vision plan, which is to use art and history to tell the story of the town and its unique history.”

The plan also offers critiques of traffic, parking and flood mitigation suggestions from the city, and it disagrees with the mayor to move forward with the plan without considering the 25 acres of riverfront land that could be freed up when the .

The city’s approach to leave GenOn out of the discussion is at odds with its goal of “offering a holistic approach to waterfront development.”

The group will discuss its report at 6 p.m. at the on Sunday.

Editor’s Note: The next Old Town Alexandria Patch article summarizing CAAWP’s plan will look at its financial approach to a redeveloped waterfront.

Boyd Walker November 02, 2011 at 01:23 AM
I am glad you mentioned Bed And Breakfasts, as I am not aware of any in Alexandria. I think allowing some of our larger houses in Old Town to become a Bed and Breakfast to give visitors another option for accomodation is a great idea. It is also a great way for someon to help pay for a large house, and Bed and Breakfast establishments are usaully meticulously cared for.
Boyd Walker November 02, 2011 at 01:29 AM
Lastly, I am curious who the "100 citizen groups" are. Do you have them listed on the waterfront for all website? Does this include AEDP and ACVA and the Chamber?
Leigh Talbot November 05, 2011 at 02:08 PM
Dennis, As promised, i am getting back to you with figures surrounding the CAAWP petitions. At the following links you will find 1,033 petitions filed with the City in September. Of these, 970 are signed by Alexandria residents with the remainder being local NoVA residents or tourists from out of state. Further buried in the dockets from May and June are another few hundred petitions filed with the City and there remain about 200 not yet filed, but collected, since September. I appreciate your interest and hope this helps. http://dockets.alexandriava.gov/fy11/092711rm/dioralb1.pdf http://dockets.alexandriava.gov/fy11/092711rm/dioralb2.pdf http://dockets.alexandriava.gov/fy11/092711rm/dioralb3.pdf http://dockets.alexandriava.gov/fy11/092711rm/dioralb4.pdf http://dockets.alexandriava.gov/fy11/092711rm/dioralb5.pdf http://dockets.alexandriava.gov/fy11/092711rm/dioralb6.pdf http://dockets.alexandriava.gov/fy11/092711rm/dioralb7.pdf http://dockets.alexandriava.gov/fy11/092711rm/dioralb.pdf
JohnFitzgerald November 08, 2011 at 09:45 PM
Leslie - the Superfund opportunity is one which should be explored more. The creosote continues to leach into the potomac at the foot of Oronoco. Gosh only knows what lies under Robinson terminal north. With regard to the bedrock question, recall when the new Wilson Bridge was built, pilings had to be driven way way down through the perhaps hundreds of feet of silt (dont quote me on the specific depth but i recall that it was way down there... you can download the CAAWP report for free at the link below or make a $20 donation to cover print costs. http://www.freeuploadshare.com/DOWNLOAD/58403836/CAAWP%20REPORT%20MERGED%20FINAL%20PDF.pdf
matt tallmerq November 09, 2011 at 01:19 PM
@JohnFitzgerald: Every person to whom I have spoken about this issue (whether they support the City's plan or the CAAWP proposal) all agree that seeking Super Fund status is possibly the worst way to go. It will cost the city hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars, and ensure that nothing is done for decades.

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