With a large swath of new development coming to the east end of Eisenhower Avenue, the City of Alexandria is looking at ways to make the pedestrian crossing to the nearby Eisenhower Metro station a little easier.
“The City of Alexandria is seeking input on the pedestrian experience of crossing Eisenhower Avenue adjacent to the Eisenhower Avenue Metrorail Station,” the city said in a release. “This project was identified as a high priority improvement in the Eisenhower East Small Area Plan adopted by the Alexandria City Council on March 14, 2020. Improving the crossing is vital for pedestrian safety and accessibility of the Metrorail Station, as well as overall connectivity between the station and other areas of Eisenhower East.”
The Eisenhower Metro station has historically been one of the least used stations in the network even before the network was hit with Covid and reports of widespread mismanagement. Additionally, the Yellow Line will be cut off from D.C. until at least spring 2023. The station could see a boost in ridership from new nearby residential development.
“This area has experienced an increase in the number of pedestrians due to high-density residential developments north of the station, plus staff and visitors of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, National Science Foundation (NSF), and WMATA’s Virginia facility,” the city said on the project website. “Pedestrian traffic will continue to increase as the mixed-use additions to Hoffman Town Center and other planned developments are completed. Improving the crossing is vital for pedestrian safety and accessibility of the Metrorail Station, and overall connectivity between the station and other areas of Eisenhower East.”
Proposals in the Eisenhower East Small Area Plan update — approved in 2020 — include a potential park beneath the Eisenhower Metro station.
“The City has launched an online survey to provide the public with an opportunity to provide feedback on their experience when crossing to and from the Metro station,” the city said. “The data collected will be used by project staff when developing the initial concepts for crossing improvements. The survey results and design concepts will then be shared at a community outreach meeting in summer 2022.”
Image via Google Maps
The Alexandria City Council unanimously approved a massive high-rise apartment building project near the Eisenhower Metro Station in Carlyle, and none of the 1,414 units will be dedicated to affordable housing.
Instead, the applicant Carlyle Plaza, LLC, will contribute $6.1 million to the city’s Housing Trust Fund.
Jonathan P. Rak, an attorney for the applicant, told Council that the city will get more bang for its buck by spending the $6.1 million on “wood construction, which is a less expensive type of construction to actually produce more high-quality affordable units within the city, than if we were to just take that money and apply it to these high-rise concrete construction units.”
Alexandria is currently experiencing an affordable housing crisis, and lost 90% of its affordable housing stock between 2000 and 2017. Consequently, the city has pledged to produce or develop thousands of units to meet 2030 regional housing goal set by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. With land scarce, controversy erupted last year when City Council asked the School Board to consider colocating affordable housing on public school grounds in future development plans.
City Councilman Mo Seifeldein was the only member of Council to criticize the 1.4 million-square-foot Carlyle Plaza II project, which will ultimately add four new 30-story and 28-story apartment buildings, including 15,000 square feet of ground floor retail, above-grade parking, five acres of open space and public art.
“Contributing money alone, while helpful, it also creates those inequities and an intended separation of certain segments of our populations, and also denies them the opportunity to be in this area,” said Seifeldein before voting for the project. “We hope that in the future this applicant or other applicants look at what we’re doing here today and really try to work with us, because this is a monumental project that could have been greater, but an opportunity has been lost.”
Via City of Alexandria
A new restaurant could be coming to the west end of Carlyle
Developers are looking for anew restaurant to fill between 1,708-9,600 rentable square feet of space in the new Shops at Carlyle Tower development along Eisenhower.
A flyer put out by the developer noted that the site could also feature outdoor seating near the busy intersection.
The corner is a prime location, located at the corner of Eisenhower Avenue and Stovall Street off the exit to I-495. The location is also directly across from the Eisenhower Metro Station — a claim that could be less prestigious if Metro plans to move forward with closing the station. The corner is also close to the National Science Foundation and the Patent and Trademark Office a little further down Eisenhower Avenue.
The corner is planned as a new Shops at Carlyle Tower rebranding of what locals know as the Hoffman Town Center. The planned restaurant is neighbored by Starbucks and a recently sold Cold Stone Creamery.
Rendering via Carlyle Tower.
With Alexandria poised to potentially lose two Metro stations due to funding cuts, Rep. Don Beyer issued a statement blasting the proposed cuts as “apocalyptic” and said Congress should rally to pass a new set of funding.
Proposed cuts include ending service after 9 p.m., ending weekend service, reducing the number of trains, and closing operations at 19 stations. Two of those stations, Eisenhower and Van Dorn Street, are located in Alexandria.
“The proposed WMATA budget cuts would be apocalyptic for Metro service and devastate its workforce,” Beyer said in a press release. “This catastrophe must not be allowed to happen, and Congress can prevent it by passing a new aid package. WMATA is not alone in its massive funding shortfall, which is a direct result of the pandemic. Cuts like this will hit across the country without robust aid for state and local governments and specific targeted funding for transit.”
Metro had already been facing a death spiral before the pandemic, but the bad situation was significantly exacerbated by the loss of ridership — around a 90% decrease — due to COVID-19.
“On the Joint Economic Committee we predicted massive, urgent need for state and local government funding at the beginning of April,” Beyer said. “The House passed a legislative package that addressed that problem and included $32 billion in transit funding in May, but Mitch McConnell has blocked additional aid.”
WMATA is currently facing an estimated $500 million shortfall.
Beyer was not alone. Other local leaders also shared frustration at the proposed cuts and said measures must be taken to prevent the worst-case-scenario cuts.
This is what the worst case scenario looks like and should not happen.
This will irreparably harm our region, our economy and those that live here.
Supporting transit agencies and local governments must be a key component of future Federal stimulus.https://t.co/xRhiRoTkxs
— Justin Wilson (@justindotnet) December 1, 2020
Mayor Bowser Statement on WMATA FY2022 Budget Proposal pic.twitter.com/62OTG0B5og
— Mayor Muriel Bowser (@MayorBowser) December 1, 2020
Staff photo by Jay Westcott
WMATA Considers Closing Two Alexandria Metro Stations — “The 19 stations that could face closure include those that are within one mile of other stations and those that are seeing the lowest usage. In Alexandria, that means the Eisenhower Station and Van Dorn Street station are on the list.” [Alexandria Living Magazine]
Local Program Supports Artists With Disabilities — “Coletta Collections, an artisan program for people with disabilities, is helping Alexandrians celebrate the holidays safely and sincerely.” [Zebra]
City Looking for Firefighters — “If you’re interested in working for the vibrant City of Alexandria, we invite qualified candidates to apply for our Firefighter I position.” [City of Alexandria]
Watchdog Group FOIA Shows Internal Disagreement in City Over Seminary Road — “[Yon Lambert] said roads for ‘all users’ were more important than roads that met fire department response needs. More to come.” [Twitter]
Metro Closing Eisenhower and Van Dorn Stations — “Metro’s Pandemic Task Force today announced the strategic closing of 17 additional stations, effective Thursday, March 26, 2020, in an effort to conserve critical resources and protect the health and safety of Metro employees and the public. This follows drastic measures already taken to reduce travel on Metro to essential trips only, leading to a Metrorail ridership decline of 90 percent.” [WMATA]
Inova Blood Services Needs Donors — “COVID-19 has heightened awareness of the necessity to be continuously diligent in protecting our donors both in our donor centers and while we are out in the community. Inova Blood Donor Services is fully committed to the health and safety of our blood donors and the patients who benefit from the generous blood, plasma, and platelet donations.” [Inova]
Locals Support Alexandria Police — “We would like to thank Starbucks for providing our officers with coffee, and Jackson 20 for providing our officers with fruit, and granola bars. We truly appreciate your support!” [Twitter]
Rotary Club of Alexandria Donates $10K to City’s COVID-19 Fund — “Recognizing many Alexandrians are already on the financial edge, the Rotary knows the grant will immediately be available to help meet the demand for emergency health and mental services, food, rent, utility, and childcare assistance.” [Zebra]
Court Appointed Special Advocate Training Goes Online — “Please say hello to this INCREDIBLE class of CASA Volunteers-in-Training! Our team has quickly moved training online so that we can continue to prepare these adults to advocate for children in our community who have been abused or neglected. We are so grateful for their commitment and flexibility as we move forward in these times.” [Facebook]
Del Ray Pizzeria Accepting Donations For Staff — “When you’re picking up your takeout, drop off donations of household products & nonperishable food items at Del Ray Pizzeria to help restaurant workers in Del Ray that are going through a very difficult time right now.” [Visit Del Ray]
School of Rock Alexandria Launches Remote Program — “School of Rock Remote allows us to provide the same level of instruction that we’re known for, but in a way that prioritizes health and safety.” [Zebra]
Del Ray Artisans Makes Schedule Updates — “ALL INDOOR PROGRAMS ARE CANCELLED from now through the end of April. Our two outdoor programs will have fewer than 10 people and remain on schedule.” [Facebook]
There are big things in store for Eisenhower Valley, and local leadership says the southwest Alexandria neighborhood is ready for its moment in the spotlight.
The city is in the middle of developing an update to its master plan for the Eisenhower Valley. Leadership from the Eisenhower Partnership — an organization that recently celebrated its 25th anniversary — spoke with ALXnow about how they see that plan taking shape.
Agnés Artemel started the Eisenhower Partnership in 1994, when the Carlyle neighborhood was just a twinkle in a developer’s eyes. Artemel said she remembered how the first marketing piece the partnership ever put out showed the federal courthouse under construction.
One of the big shifts in the plan would be changes in land use. Today, Eisenhower is mostly a collection of office buildings and some scattered retail. Artemel said the new plans call for a shift toward more residential uses and greater flexibility for mixed use developments.
“The new plan is more flexible to fit the market conditions,” Artemel said. “The original vision was office parks here, but the world has changed and multi-family [residential] is a great addition.”
The East End
Artemel said the strip mall at the end of Eisenhower Avenue (2000 Eisenhower Avenue), home to Foster’s Grille and Zikrayet Lebanese Restaurant and Lounge, has leases that run to 2025, but sometime after that the property will likely be torn down and redeveloped. The update to the Eisenhower Master Plan aims to have this eastern end of the Eisenhower Valley transformed into a retail-focused and pedestrian-friendly neighborhood.
At Hoffman Town Center (2404 Eisenhower Avenue), many of the new developments announced after the arrival of the National Science Foundation — like the new Wegmans — are starting to take shape. But there are concerns about how the local streets will be able to handle the additional traffic.
“People say that visitors will take uber or bikes, but that’s not going to happen,” said Kay Tyler, who joined the organization in 2005. “We need to focus on transportation.”
Daniel Beason, the current vice president of the partnership, said he was excited about the DASH network’s restructuring that would create more frequent, reliable service in high-density areas like Eisenhower.
The group also noted that the type of complete street changes, like the controversial new bike lanes recently installed on Seminary Road, shouldn’t come to Eisenhower Avenue.
“We’re suburban density, it’s not right for us,” Artemel said. “The city wants to be Copenhagen, which is a noble goal, but we’re not there yet. We’re too spread out.”
As Eisenhower East continues to grow, the City of Alexandria is hoping for input on how to shape the community as it continues to grow.
City staff is working on an update to the 2003 Eisenhower East Small Area Plan. A lot has changed for the area since 2003, with the National Science Foundation moving in and new developments taking shape. A draft of the update to the Small Area Plan focuses on how to build or maintain affordable housing and open space amid new development in the area.
“The update considered enhanced flexibility of land uses, affordable housing, building heights, additional development, open space and mobility improvements to support a vibrant community,” the city said in a press release.
Input on the plan can be submitted at AlexEngage through Monday, Dec. 16. after which the plan will go to the Planning Commission and City Council for consideration in January.
A draft of the Eisenhower East Small Area Plan divides Eisenhower East into two neighborhoods, one west of Mill Road — with the National Science Foundation, the Hoffman Center, and the Eisenhower Metro station — and one to the east — with Carlyle Mill Apartments, Alexandria Renew and a shopping center.
The plan indicates that these two neighborhoods will become increasingly distinct over time, with the western neighborhood focused on being a restaurant and retail destination, while the eastern side would be more focused on retail.
The plan notes that commercial uses are required closer to the Metro station, while land further away is identified as having greater flexibility of use. Building height in the plan is also concentrated around the Metro station, with the lots on either side of the station identified with a maximum building height of 400 feet, while lots further away have maximum heights of 150 feet.
Parks are identified as a priority in the city plans, which includes early designs for a park under the Metro tracks and outlines for other locations that could support parks, ranging from urban plazas to nature conservation areas at the eastern end of the neighborhood.
The Foundry, a new apartment complex under construction in Hoffman Town Center, is scheduled to open early next year.
“The Foundry is set to open by the end of February 2020,” a spokesperson for the project told ALXnow in an email.
The 16-story building is under construction at 2470 Mandeville Lane in the heart of the Carlyle neighborhood. The Foundry is two blocks away from the Eisenhower Metro stop and near the under-construction Wegmans.
Plans for the project include 520 apartment units, broken up between studio units, one-bedroom units, and two-bedroom units. When finished, amenities for the project will include a rooftop pool, a three-story fitness facility, a workshop, sports bar, and a pet spa.
A 12,000 square-foot food hall is also planned for the site. Planned options in the food hall include wood-fired pizza and vegan cuisine, according to Eater. The spokesperson said the February opening is just for the residential portion of the project, not the food hall.
(Updated 2:30 p.m.) Work on the new Wegmans in Alexandria is progressing as construction crews dig downwards.
Cranes and workers could be seen on the site near the Eisenhower Metro today (Thursday) that now resembles a five-acre dug-out after construction on the future $400 million mixed-use development kicked off in August, as reported by Alexandria Living Magazine.
The so-called “Caryle Crossing” development complex is slated to reach as high as 18 stories and include an 85,000-square-foot Wegmans as well as 210,000-square-feet of retail space, and 750 housing units, per the Washington Business Journal. The residential units to be included in the complex at the corner of Mandeville Lane and Stovall Street will be a mix of condos (30), senior housing units (200), and apartments (400.)
Wegmans is expected to occupy the second floor of the building complex, though the grocer remains mum on the specifics.
“We are currently working on the internal store design and will begin construction once Stonebridge turns over the space to us, which is still several years out,” a spokeswoman for the Wegmans grocery chain company told ALXnow.
Alexandria originally gave developer Stonebridge Carras the green light for the project last year, and since then the company has pivoted from building mostly condos to multi-family apartments on the site, according to Patch. The timeline given for completion was originally 2021, but by August the developer was reporting construction would likely last until 2022.
Stonebridge did not respond to a request from ALXnow for more information about the construction work in time for publication.
“This project will provide critical retail and services to boost the quality of life for everyone who works and lives here and deliver some of the best amenities anywhere in Alexandria,” Mayor Justin Wilson told the Business Journal in July.