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What’s next for GenOn and the rest of Old Town North?

Hilco Redevelopment Partners is preparing a sweeping redevelopment for the GenOn power plant in Old Town North, and at a public meeting held last week the developer and city staff gave an overview of how plans for the site fit alongside other nearby developments.

Jeffrey Farner, Deputy Director Department of Planning and Zoning, said the GenOn team faces the challenge of designing something that is in many ways the opposite of the current plant. The GenOn site is a closed off and very likely polluted site, and the city aims to work with the developer to turn the site into an open mixed-use development complete with open park space.

“How do we stitch this back into the fabric of the great neighborhood of Old Town North,” said Farner. “Many people in the community reinforced the fact that this is a waterfront community and we need to celebrate that in re-creating the streets and the parks.”

Farner said the site is planned to have 2-4 acres of waterfront open space, which will help increase the open passive areas along the river beyond just the stretch of the Mount Vernon Trail that runs through the site. Much of this, Farner said, will have to be developed alongside the National Park Service. The expanded waterfront access would allow for separate pedestrian and cyclist trails along with more amenities for trail users.

Staff at the meeting said public site tours are likely to start on June 4.

Michael Swidrak, an urban planner with the City of Alexandria, provided an overview of some other nearby developments close to the GenOn plant.

  • The Alexan (600 N Royal Street): Former a WMATA bus barn, The Alexan is being redeveloped as a 286-unit apartment. Swidrak said framing for the building is complete and workers are now applying exterior materials. Construction is likely to wrap up in 2022.
  • The Venue (901 N Fairfax Street):  Former Crowne Plaza, The Venue is a project to convert a hotel into 102 condominium units. The ground floor will have a 7,000 square foot theater space for MetroStage. Swidrak said occupancy for residential units will likely commence in late 2021 or early 2022.
  • The Muse (1201 N Royal Street): Former the Craddock Site, this spot at the northeast edge of Old Town will be turned into 73 condominium units and will house an Art League gallery space on the ground level of the building. Occupancy is scheduled to start in late 2021.
  • Towne Motel Redevelopment (802 N Washington Street): After the historic townhouse at the site was lifted and moved, redevelopment work has started on turning the building into a 98-room Holiday Inn Express. The project is scheduled to finish later in 2022.
  • Waterfront Center Conversion (801 N Fairfax): Waterfront Center is in the process of converting its office space into a 54-unit residential building. Permits for the project were approved earlier this year and construction is currently underway.
  •  Tide Lock Building (1033 N Fairfax Street): Swidrak said the applicant is still preparing a permit request, but will likely come to the city with a preliminary submission sometime in the next few weeks. The concept review sent to the city in 2019 included 232 rental and condominium units and 77,000 square feet of retail along with a 5,000 square foot arts anchor.

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