Alexandria leaders dismayed by developer’s baffling ‘WestEnd’ project name

(Updated 9/27/23) Before unanimously voting on financing the massive WestEnd Alexandria project at the former Landmark Mall site, a majority of Alexandria City Council members said that they still dislike the name.

Council unanimously approved a number of proposals on the 52-acre development, which will be devoted to the new Alexandria Hospital, and a multi-block town center with apartment buildings, pavilions, restaurants, and rooftop open space.

But Foulger-Pratt’s WestEnd project is located within the larger West End neighborhood; akin to naming a development DelRay or OldTown.

Foulger-Pratt has already branded the development and has no plans on changing the name.

“No, a name change is not being considered at this time,” Courtney Williams, Foulger-Pratt’s marketing director, told ALXnow.

One of those approved measures is a wayfinding sign program throughout the development, which Council members said will only confuse residents.

Vice Mayor Amy Jackson said that the wayfinding signs will be confusing.

“When you are putting in wayfinding signs saying ‘2.5 miles to the West End,’ and people saying, ‘Hey, aren’t we in the West End?’ What West End is that?” Jackson said. “That’s what’s going to start happening.”

City Councilman Canek Aguirre said that he feels dismayed by the name.

“I wasn’t happy with the name, but we can’t tell people what to name things,” Aguirre said. “They’re going to name it what they want. But what this body can do is signal some of our displeasure behind what the name is. We are still fully behind the project, we still want to see everything happen… but the name is problematic.”

Council Member Alyia Gaskins said that WestEnd signage will be confusing, since the neighborhood nickname is tied to a geographic area.

“The West End for so long in this city has meant a geographic area, not a specific development,” Gaskins said. “That is something that we need to be thinking about.”

Council Member Kirk McPike said that the name hurts other organizations with “West End” in their name, such as the West End Business Association.

“All of that gets destroyed for them by this development, which is going to take the name of half our city and apply it to one piece of land,” McPike said. “We would never allow a development on the east side of the city call itself Old Town. We would never allow a development in the middle of the city to call itself Del Ray, but we’re allowing this development to take the name of half the city and apply it to themselves. I know the horse left the barn, the ship has sailed, but it was wrong and I’m really disappointed that we allowed that to happen.”

Councilman John Taylor Chapman said that the issue will be problematic for the city.

“We are now going to have to focus on this,” Chapman said. “We are going to have community members and folks who have grown up in the region and have gotten to know what the West End does, and signage is going to be an issue for us. We need to be very clear with them about the problems that creates for staff and the city.”

Council also approved the creation of the Landmark Community Development Authority, which will set a special tax rate for the development in order to pay the city back for $141 million in financing.

Council approved the following:

  • A development special use permit to build a central plaza (on blocks F and N), a paseo (on block R) and a terrace park (on block P)
  • Plans to build two retail/restaurant pavilions with outdoor dining, a playground, seasonal ice-skating rink, and areas for passive recreation
  • Plans to extend commercial space and add new rooftop open space to block E
  • Plans to modify the layout of the block E residential building by infilling the ground floor courtyard with a one-story commercial space
  • Development of 4.4 acres of open space on four blocks, including a tennis/pickleball court, basketball court

The first pavilion, a two-story 4,610-square-foot structure, will be located in a central plaza on block F. The second pavilion, a two-story 978-square-foot building on block N, would include a 270-square-foot seasonal ice-skating shop and a public restroom.

The development for the WestEnd Alexandria project (via City of Alexandria)