Three West End neighborhood associations say that a proposed residential development at 1900 N. Beauregard Street will create too much density.
The Seminary West Civic Association (SWCA), Seminary Heights Condominium Association and the Seminary Park Home Owners Association wrote City Council discouraging the proposal by Monday Properties.
The developer wants to replace a three-story 1970’s-era medical office building with a six-to-seven-story multifamily residential building with 340-to-350 apartments, a parking garage and a swimming pool.
“The Seminary West Civic Association (SWCA), a community of approximately 600 townhouses and detached homes in the immediately adjacent neighborhood, urges the City to reject this proposal,” wrote Owen Curtis, SWCA president. “Trying to turn North Beauregard into something that resembles Crystal City or the Carlyle or any other dense urban neighborhood is wholly inappropriate.”
Monday Properties submitted a concept plan last month for an apartment complex with 343 apartments — 36 studios, 180 one-bedroom apartments, 121 two-bedroom apartments and six three-bedroom apartments. The company also wants a 110-foot height allowance (10 stories) and construction of a public roadway between the property and its neighbors. That new parallel roadway is drawing the ire of neighbors, who are calling it a dealbreaker after residents successfully lobbied for its removal from the Beauregard Small Area Plan.
Seminary Heights Condominium Board President Dodi Baker said that his community “vehemently opposes the newly proposed redevelopment,” and Seminary Park President Les Jackson wrote that his neighborhood’s board of directors voted against it.
“This proposal seeks to break promises made to our community by inserting a parallel road we fought to have removed from future city planning,” Baker said.
Monday Properties wants to remove the existing 57,600-square-foot office building, which is the home of the Alexandria Workforce Development Center. The development is also next door to The Blake, a 300-unit residential apartment complex that Monday Properties opened last year. Neighbors say that, if the plan is approved, the area would be too crowded with more than 600 residential units within two blocks.
According to the three citizen groups:
In addition, across the street from The Blake and 1900 North Beauregard developments on Seminary Road, more than 95 additional residential units have been approved to be built in the “Upland Park” development. Nearly directly across from North Beauregard Street and adjacent to the Alexandria Hilton, 367 more residential units have been approved for construction as part of “The Rutherford” building. And only a few more blocks away on Seminary Road, an office building was recently converted from office space to 212 residential units. When combined these developments total over 1300 new residential units within several short blocks and developed within a shared compressed time period.
The neighborhood associations are also supported by Bud Jackson, a member of the Beauregard Urban Design Advisory Committee, which reviews many land use applications in the West End. Jackson says the development goes against Alexandria’s Beauregard Small Area Plan, which calls for less density and more roadway development.
“This proposed development seeks to avoid key provisions established by the Beauregard Small Area Plan (BSAP) and, if allowed to proceed, goes back on promises made to the Seminary Heights community – including promises made that are now memorialized within the BSAP,” Jackson wrote in a letter to City Manager Jim Parajon. “For me, this plan is dead on arrival and should not even be presented to BDAC in its current form. It asks our city to hand out special use permits like candy without regard to the neighborhood, abutting neighbors, and the loss of benefits our city should expect in return for the privileges being granted.”
A public meeting on the proposal is scheduled for Thursday, March 23, at 6:30 p.m. at 1800 N. Beauregard Street.
One of Alexandria’s last waterfront warehouses is becoming a tavern.
According to a press release, the squat brick warehouse at 10 Duke Street is going to be converted into a market, tavern and event space called Cooper Mill, a throwback to the site’s history of making barrels for the Alexandria Flower Company.
The warehouse — once used as a mess hall and commissary by Union soldiers during the Civil War — is in the Robinson Landing development and was left intact while the rest of the buildings around it were rebuilt.
The release said the new tavern is being helmed by Noe Landini, who operates the eponymous Landini Brothers Restaurant (115 King Street) and Junction Bakery & Bistro (1508 Mount Vernon Avenue), and boutique builder Murray Bonitt.
“When [Bonitt] brought this opportunity to me and asked me to participate, it was a no-brainer,” Landini said in the release. “An incredible building as it stands, but Murray shared his vision, and I simply couldn’t resist. It wasn’t long before we were drawing out a concept on the back of a napkin and before you knew it, we were off.”
According to the release:
The current plans for the two-story 6,400 square-foot warehouse building will consist of a small upscale market at the rear of the building, with a casual tavern on the first floor, and a 3,200 private event space upstairs. The market will feature grab-n-go breakfast foods and coffee, sandwiches, soups, prepared foods, fresh breads, and baked goods from Landini’s various locations, as well as beer, wine, and other high-demand market items. The tavern will have a relaxed casual vibe consisting of repurposed materials from the building to create a warm rustic, yet urban feel. The special event space upstairs will be the crown jewel of the building, Bonitt says, with lots of light, exposed brick, balconies with views of the park and river, repurposed roof trusses and flooring, with the ability to host events up to 120 people.
The project is expected to open sometime in late spring 2024.
Alexandria is preparing to launch a massive overhaul of its housing zoning with a kickoff event later this month.
The Zoning for Housing/Housing for All initiative was announced late last year but has been in the works since 2020. The initiative is essentially a top-t0-bottom review of the city code to rewrite the city’s zoning code to emphasize affordability and equity.
According to a release:
The Zoning for Housing/Housing for All initiative began in 2020 and supports the City’s commitment to housing production and affordability and acknowledgement that Alexandria’s zoning policies have perpetuated historic and systemic discrimination, and how those policies can be changed to reflect our tenet that housing is a human right.
Housing for All, the equity component of Zoning for Housing, will explore the extent of past discriminatory housing policies and their continued impact, especially on people of color and/or low income.
According to the release, the initiative’s focus is a gallery of some of the most discussed housing and density issues in Alexandria over the last years, from the trade for bonus height to questions about housing in single-family zones.
According to the release, the initiative will examine:
- Historic Development Patterns
- Coordinated Development Districts and Affordable Housing
- Expanding Housing Opportunities in Single Family Zones
- Industrial Zones Analysis
- Expansion of Transit Oriented Development
- Residential Multi-family Zone Analysis
- Townhouse Zoning Analysis
- Office to Residential Conversions
- Bonus Height Text Amendment
Kickoff events are scheduled for Monday, March 20, from 5-9 p.m. and Tuesday, March 21, from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Alexandria – Carlyle (2460 Eisenhower Avenue). The kickoff events are the start of a community and civic engagement process scheduled to run through the rest of the year.
Alexandria’s Board of Architectural Review can be infamously picky about urban design, but the board unanimously voted to approve a large new project in Old Town with significant enthusiasm.
Applicant City House Old Town, LLC is applying to have the office building at 1101 King Street — currently a mostly vacant office space called the Tycon Building — changed into a residential development with 210 units.
The current office building was built in 1983, predating new regulations for density in the area set in 1992. The new plans won’t add any density to the building, but still require a special use permit because they aren’t compliant with current limits.
While the interior is undergoing significant changes, the exterior changes are relatively minor. The developer is proposing new railings and balconies, along with some cosmetic changes to the coloring of the building’s exterior.
The Montgomery Center redevelopment is heading to Alexandria’s Planning Commission later this month.
The proposed development, first announced last spring, is a sweeping overhaul of a block at the heart of Old Town North.
The plan is to replace the current structure with a mixed-use development, featuring 327 residential units and 25,273 square feet of ground-floor retail. As part of a trade for bonus density, developer Carr Companies will provide 22 on-site affordable housing units and a monetary contribution.
Carr is also looking for city or public funding to aid in the construction of a three-level garage — or a two-level garage if no public funding is made available.
With the writing on the wall, some of the current tenants of Montgomery Center have been struggling to find a new home. Seichou Karate, a longtime martial arts school in the Montgomery Center, has been struggling to find a comparable new location. Local bike shop Wheel Nuts closed last December.
The project is heading to Planning Commission review at the March 30 meeting.
After more than six months of delay, the renovation of Mount Jefferson Park is complete.
City inspections now stand between the park reopening to the public, according to the city. That process could take another two months.
Developer Stonebridge agreed with the city to renovate the 4.6-acre park as part of its deal to construct the massive Oakville Triangle project. The park has been shut down since construction began between the 300 Block of E. Raymond Avenue and Richmond Highway (Route 1) in January 2022. The project, which includes removing invasive species and reshaping trails, was initially scheduled to wrap last September.
“They’ve (Stonebridge) encountered supply chain issues, weather delays, as well as some design revisions that occurred last fall that they’re trying to work through,” Alexandria Park Planner Judy Lo told ALXnow.
She said the city has not done any inspections on the improvements since the park was closed down last January.
“We definitely want to make sure all the improvements are constructed according to the approved plans and that the park is safe for the public to use,” she said.
Alexandria has had plans to renovate the park on the books since 2015.
Today, Friday, Del Ray resident Ron F. was walking his dog near the park when he shared with ALXnow his desire to see the park open soon.
“How long does it take to inspect a park?” asked Ron, who only gave the initial of his last name. “It looks ready to open. It looks safe.”
City inspections are scheduled between March and May, and the park could be opened sooner than May if inspections are completed, Lo said.
“If inspections go well, the park will open,” Lo said. “If there’s a section that can open, we can definitely look at opening it in sections.”
Ron contends the process should not take that long, saying “it’s trails and trees.”
According to the city:
The City, in conjunction with the Oakville Triangle/Route 1 Corridor planning process, developed a plan in 2015 for the Mount Jefferson Park & Greenway between East Raymond Ave. and Route 1.
The approved plan draws inspiration from the site’s former use as a railroad, and seeks to balance the natural characteristics of the park through enhanced landscape plantings and the preservation of the nature trails south of Fannon Street.
Improvements to the 4.6-acre park area include site drainage and stormwater infrastructure, an ADA multi-use permeable trail and trail connectors, an expanded off-leash dog exercise area, native plantings, invasive species removal, a new speed table at Raymond Avenue to slow vehicular traffic, a new water meter, new park wayfinding signage, and new historical interpretative features.
The 1.1 million-square-foot Inova at Landmark project is headed to the Alexandria Planning Commission on Tuesday, signaling the beginning of an official public approval process. If all goes according to schedule, construction of the four-building medical campus could wrap in the second quarter of 2028, according to site development partner Foulger-Pratt.
The hospital building is designed to face Interstate 395, and is proposed to have a two-story glass atrium at its entrance, above which would be a six-story Z-shaped inpatient tower. Inova anticipates that the building will be 184 feet tall (nearly 17 stories) to hide hospital mechanical equipment, although the hospital system is asking for a maximum height allowance of 250 feet, or 23 stories.
“This layout ensures that the primary hospital building–the tallest building on the site–will be a visible anchor and focal point for the western end,” City staff said in a report.
Following approval by the Planning Commission, the City Council will hold its public hearing on the project on Saturday, March 18.
The project takes up a fifth of the total land use on the 52-acre West End Alexandria development, and includes a 565,000 square-foot hospital center, a 111,000 square-foot cancer center, an 83,000 square-foot specialty care center and a retrofit of the mall’s old 550-space parking garage. The parking garage is the only remaining vestige of the once-popular shopping destination.
“This will not only revitalize a site that many had given up on, but will also provide a catalyst for redevelopment and enhancement throughout the West End of our City,” Mayor Justin Wilson said in his March newsletter. “Despite over two decades of decline, it is not a mystery why we had been unable to spur redevelopment on this site in the past, It is a complicated site, with a complicated ownership structure requiring significant infrastructure investment.”
The fate of the Landmark Mall property lingered for years. The mall opened to the public in 1965, and was the first in the region to feature three anchor department stores (Sears, Woodward & Lothrop, and Hecht’s). By 2010, the mall had nearly no tenants, and in 2021 the city bought the 11-acre parcel of land for $54 million from The Howard Hughes Corporation. That same year, Inova signed a 99-year ground lease for the property.
The project was designed by Ballinger and Ennead Architects and is managed by Inova.
A new senior living community in the West End has hit a construction milestone and has targeted a 2024 opening.
The project recently “topped out” — meaning the superstructure of the building was finished. Benchmark at Alexandria will include 89 assisted living apartments and 26 memory care units with personalized care for those who need it once it launches sometime next year.
Benchmark at Alexandria is Benchmark Senior Living’s first outing in the Washington region.
“We’ve always thought of ourselves as a New England to Washington company, but we think of Washington as a natural extension of our geographic footprint,” said Benchmark Senior Living CEO Tom Grape.
Benchmark is coming to an area of the West End — near the intersection of N. Beauregard Street and King Street at the northwest tip of Alexandria — that’s become another development hotspot. While it hasn’t gotten the same attention as Landmark or Potomac Yard, that area’s seen significant new development, including affordable housing and a Harris Teeter.
“It’s an exciting area with lots of things happening,” Grape said. “We’re at a prime intersection in a mixed-use development with other activities, including retail uses and other residential uses. It’s a happening, vibrant spot.”
Grape said the notion of senior living as isolated communities is an outdated one.
“Our residents want to be able to access the things they’ve accessed for many years,” Grape said. “It will be a terrific convenience to go downstairs or go to the diner, and it will be convenient for adult children to visit. There’s a childcare center in the development to help with intergenerational activities.”
Grape said the new development will feature rooftop space and community amenities, like a club room and bistro.
The project is scheduled to launch in 2024. Grape said prices for units in the development have not been finalized yet.
The conversion of a high-rise West End office building into a 212-unit apartment tower has been completed, according to developer PRP.
Washington, D.C.-based firm PRP bought the 12-story, 209,000-square-foot property at 4900 Seminary Road in 2018. The property is named Sinclaire on Seminary, and average apartments are 850 square feet in size with ceilings up to 10-feet-tall.
The conversion is the latest in a trend that’s seen Alexandria’s office uses increasingly being turned into residential space. A study last year found that Alexandria took the fourth spot in a national ranking of cities experiencing office-to-residential conversions.
“Find your place to land in sun-filled studio, 1, & 2 bedroom residences,” PRP says on its website. “Stunning kitchens and baths with sleek and modern finishes balance with energy-efficient washers, dryers, refrigerators, and dishwashers by General Electric. Sinclaire’s responsibly repurposed apartments come complete with high 9′-6″ ceilings, large operable windows, oversized closets, and smart-lock entries.”
The building is next to the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center and the Seminary Road exit off Interstate 395.
Kettler is managing the property, and amenities include more than 4,000 square feet of ground floor retail space, indoor parking and outdoor lounge areas with fire pits.
Photo via Google Maps
Alexandria City Manager Jim Parajon released his proposed $881.1 million fiscal year 2024 budget at City Hall on Tuesday night, and it includes an option to raise taxes by 1 cent.
The budget also reflects $8.1 million in collective bargaining agreement funds that will go to the Fire and Police Departments.
Parajon, who presented his budget to City Council, said that unexpectedly high real estate assessments and $4.6 million in efficiency reductions wiped away a projected $17 million budget shortfall.
The budget is a 5% increase over last year’s budget, and Parajon is proposing no change in the real estate tax rate, which would remain at $1.11 per $100 of assessed value for the second year in a row. The same goes for other tax rates, including personal property taxes, which would remain at $5.33 per $100 of assessed value for vehicles and $4.75 per $100 of assessed value for tangible personal property.
Stormwater utility fee rates are, however, projected to increase from $294 to $308.70.
The budget funds the Alexandria School Board’s operating budget transfer request of $258.7 million, which is an increase of $9.9 million, or 4%.
“You’re also going to see a fairly significant emphasis on public safety and first responders,” Parajon told Council.
Parajon is also asking for $500,000 for diverse small business funding. That particular funding request comes after the city recently abandoned a grant program aimed at helping minority business owners after a lawsuit claimed the program was discriminatory against white people.
The budget provides:
- A 7% market rate adjustment for sworn fire, medics and fire marshals
- A 6% market rate adjustment for sworn police and Sheriff’s Deputies
- A 2% increase in General Schedule and Sheriff’s Deputy pay scales
- A $4.5% market rate adjustment for non-public safety personnel
- Three new steps in the general pay scale, which is a 7% increase in salary potential
- 25 SAFER grant-funded firefighters
- Funding for Commonwealth’s Attorney staffing for more than $600,000 toward the APD body worn camera program, which launches in April
Parajon asked all departments for 1.5%-to-2% in budget reductions in their proposals, with efficiencies including the outsourcing of city employee leave of absence reviews, benefits consulting, and city vehicle fleet repair.
The manager is also advising Council to consider an “alternative” 1 cent increase in real estate taxes, which would reduce borrowing for the Alexandria City High School Project, increase city employee compensation and provide an additional pay increase of 1% over what’s being proposed for city and Sheriff’s Office employees.
That 1 cent would also fund:
- An emergency services bed-finder for $79,225
- A new bilingual clinical psychologist to help city employees experiencing trauma for $166,380
- A construction project manager for $212,445
- Out of school time staffing for $200,000
- Summer youth employment expansion for $200,000
Parajon, who also presented a $2.39 billion 10-year Capital Improvement Program (CIP), proposes $367.2 million for Schools capital projects, including $39.5 million in cost escalations for projects currently underway like the George Mason Elementary School project.
The FY 2024-2032 CIP includes:
- $282 million for the city’s stormwater management systems
- $185.1 million for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s capital program
- $63.3 for citywide street reconstruction and repaving
- $48.2 for capital infrastructure improvements associated with the Waterfront Implementation Project
- $17.4 million to renovate Four Mile Run Park
“I certainly look forward to working alongside my colleagues as we spend the next next few months engaging with the community to provide a budget,” said Mayor Justin Wilson.
There will be multiple public forums to discuss the budget, the next being a public presentation by Parajon on Thursday, March 2 at 7 p.m. at Charles E. Beatley, Jr. Central Library (5005 Duke Street), followed by a City Council/School Board budget work session on Wednesday, March 8, and budget public hearings on March 13 and March 18.
The budget will be approved on May 3 and go into effect on July 1.