Alexandria, VA

(Updated 6/24) A new mixed-use development featuring a ground-floor daycare facility is scheduled to go to the City Council for approval this Saturday (June 20).

There’s extensive redevelopment underway at the northern end of the Braddock neighborhood just south of Potomac Yard. A seven-story residential building with ground-floor retail and the aforementioned daycare is planned for the very northern point of that neighborhood on a triangular lot at 1200 N. Henry Street.

The 115 unit multifamily residential apartment building was initially approved in 2018, but the applicant — 1200 N. Henry LLC — is coming back to the City Council for approval of changes that include placing the daycare entirely on the first floor of the building at the cost of some of the planned retail development. The project was initially approved with 17,000 square feet of retail development, but that has dropped to 6,423 square feet. The change will raise the number of units to 119.

The change is emblematic of some hesitation on the part of Braddock developers to focus ground-floor space on retail. A nearby development at 701 N. Henry Street also prioritized lobby space on the ground floor, saying the area is “not really a good spot” for retail.

“Since the 2018 approval, the applicant discussed the daycare and retail configuration with providers and leasing brokers,” the applicant said. “Through these conversations, there was a strong preference for the daycare to be located entirely on the ground level with an adjacent playground to improve access and appeal to more age groups. Additionally, the retail space was considered too large and disjointed, with the space too dark to engage pedestrians.”

The building is described in the application as a “gateway” to the Braddock Neighborhood for those traveling south along Route 1.

A signature gateway feature at the northern corner of the building marks the entrance to the plan area with a tower element. The base of the tower contains diagonal columns that form an abstraction of the letters “AV” to represent Alexandria, Virginia, welcoming those headed southbound on Route 1 to the Braddock neighborhood. These columns face onto a publicly accessible park/plaza. The northern tip of the park/plaza is a potential location for public art, drawing pedestrians into the space and offering respite to those heading south from Slater’s Lane and Route 1 to the nearby Braddock Metro.

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