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Redesigned 515 King Street (image via GTM Architects/City of Alexandria)

After few months after purchasing 515 King Street — the big brutalist building in Old Town with a big clock on the side — Douglas Development is pitching a building overhaul to the city’s Board of Architectural Review (BAR).

The purchase of 515 King Street is just one of many recent acquisitions along King Street by Douglas Development.

According to a permit application scheduled for review at the Wednesday, June 15 BAR meeting. According to the permit, planned changes for the building include:

  • A new painted exterior to the brick building — images included with the application show it as a darker grey.
  • Added storefront windows along King Street and the other sides of the building
  • A new office lobby canopy facing King Street
  • A new “address sculpture” (in lieu of a tree in a planter box on King Street)
  • Expanded ground floor storefront

The building will also have a 5th-floor roof deck facing King Street. The new building will also have railing along a raised sidewalk to make the building ADA accessible from King Street.

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Rendering of new proposed Samuel Madden development (image courtesy ARHA)

The Alexandria Redevelopment Housing Authority (ARHA) is getting ready to tear down a cluster of affordable garden apartments in Parker-Gray and turn the lots into a larger mixed-use development.

Samuel Madden Homes at 899 & 999 North Henry Street currently comprises 13 two-story garden apartments built in 1945 with 66 affordable housing units. The homes were build to house defense workers during WWII and were transferred to ARHA’s predecessor in 1947. The plan is to demolish and redevelop on the site with two new buildings with 500 residential units

ARHA is headed to the Board of Architectural Review on Wednesday (May 18) for a permit to demolish and a concept review for the new development (items 6 and 7).

The staff report for the BAR described the homes as “contributing structures” to the Uptown/Parker Gray National Register Historic District, describing them as one of several groups of buildings by architect Joseph Henry Saunders, Jr. that helped establish the look of the Parker Gray neighborhood.

“As such, demolition of these structures requires a higher degree of scrutiny than non-contributing structures,” the report said. “Staff is always reluctant to recommend demolition of any building
that has historic or architectural significance, but several factors mitigate against retaining these buildings.”

The staff report said that while the homes are representative of a popular construction style in the area, there are ample enough “colonial revival” style buildings in the area. The report also said that while the scale of the buildings were once generally reflective of much of the neighborhood, there are several high-rise multi-use buildings in the neighborhood.

“Since the construction of this community, the scale and character of the neighborhood has undergone radical change,” the report said. “Samuel Madden now appears out of scale with the surrounding community.”

As for a permit for the new development, the staff report suggests that some further refinement is needed.

“Staff has been working with the applicant on the development of their documents and recommends that as the project progresses, the applicant explore different architectural motifs that relate to either the history of the site or to the surrounding buildings. The Board has often encouraged applicants to take design inspiration from the historical use of the general area of the city.

The staff report says the proposed building needs some touch-ups to bring it more in-line with some of the neighboring development.

“Staff recommends that the BAR request the applicant to return for a second Concept Review after addressing feedback from the Board and Staff. Staff finds that the height and scale of the project as submitted is appropriate for the immediate context,” the staff report said. “The applicant should continue to develop the massing and architectural character, taking into consideration comments from the Board and Staff.”

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Some changes could be coming to the King Street pedestrian zone to make the block’s change a little more permanent.

The Board of Architectural Review is scheduled to review a certificate of appropriateness for new bollards at either end of 100 block of King Street at the Board’s Thursday (May 5) meeting. The use of bollards was already approved in January, but the type approved in January was not rated for withstanding vehicle crashes, so a new type needs to be approved for locations like the 100 block where they’re designed to block vehicles.

“This request is for a second bollard type that is rated for vehicle crashes and could be used on the block where needed, such as at the Lee Street end,” the application said. “The bollard will be black to be as similar in style as possible with the previously approved bollard. The previously approved bollard will remain an option for other areas, potentially the Union Street end. Final selection of the two bollards, quantity, and location will be determined after coordination with an engineer and the utility companies.”

Bollards planned for 100 block of King Street, image via City of Alexandria

The addition of 20 bollards are part of an effort to make the area safer for pedestrians to prevent vehicles from crashing into the zone.

“Manufacturer testing has determined that these proposed bollards provide the ability to arrest a 5,000 lb. vehicle traveling up to 20 miles per hour,” the application said. “In addition, they are removable, which offers the ability to maintain the bollard over time and increase its use-able life span. They can be easily replaced without having to go through the costly re-installation of the entire bollard unit.”

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Parking garage for 116 South Henry Street, image via City of Alexandria

Two years after plans to convert 116 South Henry Street into an automated parking garage first went to city review, the garage is going to the Board of Architectural Review again on Thursday (May 5) with some changes in mind.

The plan remains to build a 50-foot garage just off King Street, but the entrance is going through something of a redesign after the earlier designs were considered too “monolithic” at earlier hearings.

“The lower levels of the garage will be clad in black brick and the levels above will be clad in EIFS/Dryvit synthetic stucco,” the staff report said. “Entries on the first level will consist of two overhead rolling garage doors, an aluminum and glass storefront door system, and two pedestrian doors. Large backlit letters spelling ‘PARKING’ will be at the west end of the north elevation, above the entrances.”

The report comes with some potential changes to the visuals of the front of the building along with options for different lighting, though to the untrained eye they all still pretty much look the same.

Construction was approved in April for the three buildings on the site. The parking structure will be neighbored by a four-story residential building and a four-story mixed-use building.

Staff is recommending approval of the parking garage design, with a preference expressed for the fourth option.

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The demolition and redevelopment of 628 King Street, formerly Banana Republic, is headed to review at the Board of Architectural Review (BAR) as the developer hopes to make some changes to the upper part of the building.

Currently, the building’s second floor is an almost entirely windowless brick facade. Jemal’s Gap Corner King, LLC, part of Douglas Development, is applying to demolish part of the north and west parts of the building to add windows to the second floor.

628 King Street proposed development, image via Douglas Development

“Staff supports the proposed demolition, as the proposed changes will improve the appearance of the building, which currently appears imbalanced and bulky due to the lack of second-floor fenestration,” the report said. “The character-defining features of the building will be retained, and the overall proportions will be improved. The wall surfaces to be demolished are not of old and unusual or uncommon design, and they could be reproduced easily. Staff therefore recommends approval of the Permit to Demolish.”

The staff report says there was a 19th-century building on the site that was in poor condition and the 1949 BAR “reluctantly” approved demolition and redevelopment. the retail building at the site was combined with adjacent buildings for a store design referred to by the BAR at the time as “simple and dignified.”

Banana Republic and Gap Outlet closed at the location in January after decades in business.

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A stretch of the waterfront could be getting new permanent railings after being stuck with unsightly temporary fencing for years.

The area of the waterfront at 1 Pioneer Mill Way, where BARCA Pier & Wine Bar is, could be getting a new permanent railing.

The proposal is scheduled for the consent calendar — items usually approved with little or no discussion — at the Wednesday, March 3 Board of Architectural Review meeting.

The addition is designed by OLIN, the studio handling much of the waterfront redesign, and will be designed to complement other nearby features at Waterfront Park.

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With the City of Alexandria closing off the 100 block of King Street for good, it’s looking to make some permanent additions to the street to signal that it’s closed to car traffic.

The city is applying to the Board of Architectural Review at the Wednesday, Jan. 5, meeting for approval of traffic-blocking bollards that will close off the ends of the 100 block of King Street. The city will be using the same type of bollards already in place along the Waterfront.

“These bollards are already approved as part of the Waterfront Common Elements Plan and used in the Waterfront Area,” the city said in its application. “This approval would extend that approval one block to the east to include the 100 block of King Street.”

In addition, the city is seeking permission to use existing types of furnishings on the waterfront — like benches, trash cans and water fountains — on the 100 block.

Waterfront furnishings, via City of Alexandria
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Rendering of 1117 Queen Street home, courtesy Matt Gray

After having been deferred earlier this year, a tiny home planned for a lot in the Parker-Gray neighborhood (1117 Queen Street) is moving forward with a Certificate of Appropriateness from the Board of Architectural Review (BAR).

The application to build a two-story home on the 2,000 square foot strip of gravel was deferred at its July hearing to make fairly minor alterations to the design. Upon its return to the BAR last night, it won unanimous approval with very little discussion.

There was previously a house at the lot, according to a survey from 1877, but the home was demolished in 1935. Getting a new house built there was a challenge, though, as a staff report indicated that the property meets almost none of the city’s minimum zoning requirements.

“It’s not normal at all,” applicant Matt Gray told ALXnow earlier this year. “The problem is: you can’t build a house on it without zoning appeals. Nothing complies.”

The staff report said that, while the home doesn’t meet many on-paper requirements, it still fits with the character of the other buildings on the street.

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The PT Blooms LLC development at 805 Columbus Street is returning to the Board of Architectural Review for a certificate of appropriateness after having its hand slapped earlier this year for being too Old Towny.

The proposed development — designed by the Penney Design Group — is a five-story building with 78 residential units built on what is currently a vacant lot in the heart of the Braddock/Parker-Gray neighborhood. While the building would tower over some of the nearby two-story homes, the application notes that it’s tapered at the upper levels of the building to shift the height away from the street. Even so, several pending five-story developments for the area indicate that this sort of building could be the norm in the area within a few years.

The new application also included a page with comparisons to the current building design and the old Parker-Gray School that had been a centerpiece of the neighborhood until it closed in 1979.

An earlier special use permit (DSUP) indicated that PT Blooms LLC was looking for slight increases in allowable density for the project and a reduction in parking. The DSUP and site rezoning were approved last month.

Images via PT Blooms Development.

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(Updated 4:45 p.m.) After being denied a certificate of appropriateness from the Board of Architectural Review (BAR), Old Town PropCo LLC is taking the case for The Heritage project to the City Council.

The Heritage is a project that will replace four buildings in southeast Old Town ( 900 Wolfe Street, 450 and 510 S. Patrick Street, 901 Gibbon Street, and 431 S. Columbus Street) with three new apartment buildings. It’s attracted some criticism from neighbors close to the project, but was eventually unanimously approved by the City Council.

Designs for the new project were roundly criticized at the BAR for being inconsistent with the scale, mass, and general character of its neighbors around Old Town. A certificate of appropriateness for new construction, typically one of the early first steps toward approval of a project, was deferred and later denied by the BAR. The BAR has been critical of the project nearly every time it’s come to the board, with some calling it “lipstick on a pig” during one early discussion.

According to a notice from the City of Alexandria, Old Town PropCo LLC’s appeal for the certificate’s denial is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 13. Members of the public wishing to speak on the topic are encouraged to register online.

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