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Landlocked Waterfront: Landmark Mall Redesign Takes Cues from The Wharf

As plans for the redevelopment of Landmark Mall start to come together, the project’s architects turn their eyes to other successful developments in the region for inspiration.

Don Hoover, a landscape architect and urban designer with design firm Oculus, described the planned layout of the site at the Eisenhower West/Van Dorn Implementation Advisory Group meeting last night. The plan is to have a central “green spine” of open space running through the heart of the site and connecting to Holmes Run.

While tourism in Alexandria today is largely focused around eastern neighborhoods like Old Town and Del Ray, part of the goal of the Landmark redevelopment is to build an attractive space that will bring people in from throughout the region.

“It’s going to take a lot to make [this] a destination,” Hoover admitted, “and there are a lot of ingredients that go into that.”

Hoover specifically cited The Wharf, a mixed-use development in D.C. that opened in 2017, as an example of what they’re hoping to accomplish with the active retail space.

“The Wharf is something I consider as a good example of how to choreograph how you walk someone through the space,” Hoover said.

Hoover said the intention is to have a retail core at the center of the space, gradually tapering out toward the hospital and towards a hillside park on the east.

“We intend the retail core to be highly activated, then more passive as you go towards Inova and diminish to the east towards the open space,” Hoover said. “We’re building up the center to be an active space.”

Jack Browand, division chief of Parks and Cultural Activities, said each parcel of the development will have 25% open space accessible to the public. Beyond just parks, Browand said those open spaces could have temporary active uses, like pop-up events and food trucks.

The Landmark Mall development is intended to replace the existing vacant mall with a new Inova hospital complex and extensive mixed use development. At the meeting, representatives of the developers said the project will have a mix of residential uses.

The plan is to have affordable housing built above a fire station, similar to the layout of the mixed residential-fire station in Potomac Yard.

Michael Cross, assistant fire chief, said the design in Potomac Yard does not put residences directly over the apparatus bay. Housing is built over the office and residential spaces of the fire station, helping to mitigate the impact of sirens on residents. Cross said there has only been one noise complaint at the site and it was related to non-emergency vehicles at the site.

In addition to affordable housing, the area is planned to have market rate apartment units, senior housing, and townhomes and condos for sale.

Construction of the hospital is projected to start in 2023, beginning to come online in 2025. The residential and retail corridor would come later, representatives at the meeting said, with the project is scheduled to be built in a series of phases and the earliest projection for completion sometime in 2032.

Image via City of Alexandria

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