Alexandria, VA

The GenOn Plant on the Potomac is getting redeveloped, but don’t expect to see mixed-use development on the site anytime soon.

The first public meeting for the planned development was held last night (Thursday) and mainly served as a meet-and-greet for the community and the developers.

Mary Catherine Gibbs, an attorney representing the developers, said early on that designs for the mixed-use development to replace the power plant wouldn’t be coming until significantly further down the line. Gibbs repeatedly referred to the meeting and upcoming public engagement as “the beginning of the beginning,” a notion repeated by others throughout the meeting as they laid out the timeline.

“Deconstruction starting in 2023, we would also be submitting a DSUP plan for infrastructure as well [around the same time] to be done with those approvals and ready to start first phase of development when we’re done with remediation in early 2023,” said Melissa Schrock, senior vice president of mixed-use development at developer Hilco. “[Construction] would be sometime between 18-31 months after.”

Schrock and others said the plan is to develop the parcel as an urban, mixed-use development with housing. Representatives of the development weren’t shy about saying that the upcoming plans for Potomac Yard and Amazon’s HQ2 also play a role in how the site will ultimately shape up.

While much of the development remains to be decided, one of the more intriguing proposals brought up during the meeting was the suggestion that the GenOn replacement could implement some sort of water-based transit — ala the Waterfront Taxi.

To get to all of that, though, the project is going to have to go through significant environmental rehabilitation to bring the former power plant site up to code.

“We’re starting with enviromental and sustainability,” said George Needs, the other Hilco vice president of mixed-use development. “Remediation is expensive, but we have expertise to do it with in-house environmental expects and bring these projects to regulation closure.”

Needs said plans for both the demolition and the redevelopment of the site will likely span several years.

“This is a very visible project, it’s a prominent waterfront site, so we know how important this is and as we think about conceptualizing a plan we know the key to success is a plan that engages with the public, is transparent, and builds trust,” Needs said. “It’s a generational project, a 10-plus year commitment.”

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