What are some of the big City of Alexandria priorities in 2023?

Alexandria City Hall was lit up for the weekend of Juneteenth 2021 (via Carol Jean Stalun Photography for Visit Alexandria)

Alexandria has kicked off the new year with a glimpse at some of this year’s biggest priorities.

A memo from Director of Planning Karl Moritz, published ahead of Planning Commission meeting this Thursday, lays out some of the work priorities for the city over the upcoming year.

Planning and Zoning

There are some major items on the plate for Planning and Zoning, most of which involve updating some of the city’s older outdated plans for locations around the city.

  • Alexandria West Plan: With some major developments reshaping the West End over the coming year, the city launched last fall an 18-month planning process for a large swath of the neighborhood. The process includes updates to the 1992 Alexandria West Small Area Plan and the 2008 Beauregard Plan, combining them into a sort of super-plan for the West End. According to the memo, priorities for that plan include “addressing topics such as equity, housing, mobility, land use, parks, infrastructure and safety.”
  • Zoning for Housing/Housing for All: Another major project that started late last year and will continue through 2023 is the city’s Comprehensive Zoning for Housing and Housing for All Package” — a whole-cloth review of the city’s housing policy to try to work affordability into regulations from the ground-up. In a previous memo, Moritz said the goal is to remove policies and regulations that were intended to support exclusion and segregation, as well as creating new more equitable policies and boost the supply of both committed and market rate affordable housing. The goal is to complete the plan by the end of 2023.
  • Vision Plan: This planning process will look at documenting and updating policies established in the various Small Area Plans dating back to 1992. This process is set to start this summer if staffing and resources are available.
  • Duke Street Plan Update: This land use update is set to follow some of the ongoing plans around transforming transportation along Duke Street.

Transportation and Environmental Services

With the former Landmark Mall site in the middle of redevelopment, the city is considering a new pedestrian and bicycle bridge that would cross over I-395 and grant better access to the site from communities in the West End. The city has applied for funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation to begin a feasibility study and community engagement, and if awarded, that plan could start in October.

Other items, which are listed as being part of planning for the upcoming year, but don’t have other specific descriptions attached, include:

  • Lower King Street Closure
  • Beauregard Ellipse Analysis
  • Parking STandards Evaluation & Update
  • Curbside Management for Food Trucks

Office of Housing

One of the top priorities for the Office of Housing this year is a new WMATA Affordable Housing Feasibility Study. The study, as the name suggests, looks at the feasibility of affordable housing built near Metro stations — in particular, the Van Dorn and Eisenhower Metro stations.

“This internal study involving an interdepartmental team… as well as a nonprofit developer and design and economic consultants will assess the feasibility of developing affordable housing (including mixed-use, mixed income models) at or near the Van Dorn and Eisenhower East Metro stations,” the memo said.

The study is funded through a grant from Amazon and is scheduled to start this month and run through June.

Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Resources

Looking a little further afield, the Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Resources (RPCA) will start planning for a few new parks and a broader improvement plan over the next couple of years.

  • Eisenhower East Park under the Metro Tracks: The RPCA is scheduled to start planning for a park near the Eisenhower Metro station, converting a parking lot under the tracks to a new community park. Planning is scheduled to start in FY 2024.
  • Neighborhood Parks Improvement Plan Update: The Neighborhood Parks improvement plan was created in 2015 with a plan to be updated every 10 years to reflect changing community and infrastructure needs. The next update is scheduled for 2025.
  • Old Town North Linear Park Planning: Pending the acquisition of the Norfolk Southern rail corridor in Old Town North over the next two years, RPCA is planning to launch a community park planning process to design a new “linear park” — a park that’s long and narrow — along the former railroad tracks through Old Town North.

These and other priorities will be reviewed on Thursday, Jan. 5, when the Planning Commission discusses a draft version of the 2024 fiscal year Long-Range Planning Interdepartmental Work Program (item 5).