The Eisenhower Partnership is making a last-minute push to try to salvage a 15-minute bus service plan for Eisenhower Avenue ahead of tomorrow’s City Council meeting.
Currently buses cycle along Eisenhower Avenue every 30 minutes, as they do in much of the rest of the city. A new plan would increase the frequency of service in densely populated corridors, while cutting down or eliminating service to some less-densely populated residential areas.
“We ask Alexandria City Council and the DASH Board of Directors to amend the plan to bring more frequent service to Eisenhower by 2022 to support continued economic growth, improved livability for residents, and fewer cars on our streets,” the group said in the petition. “The Eisenhower Valley is booming in new residential and commercial construction. It is an economic engine for Alexandria, increasingly providing improvements to innovation, learning, and living.”
The petition has 118 signatures with a goal of 200.
“DASH ridership on Eisenhower is already strong, averaging 175 riders each weekday,” the petition said. “This number will grow, since several new apartment buildings are planned or under construction along Eisenhower, including partial conversion of the Victory Center to residential. Long-awaited growth is great news, but these new residents will either ride the bus to Metro stations or add to the unmitigated traffic problem.”
The City Council is scheduled to review an update on the transit vision study at the meeting tomorrow (Tuesday).
By 2030, the plan is to have virtually every bus route in the city — including Eisenhower Avenue — at 15-minute frequency. The 2022 planned network, however, would leave the N1 route on Eisenhower avenue at 30-minute frequency.
“To support smart growth and reduce traffic for all Alexandrians, bus service on Eisenhower should be at least every 15 minutes by 2022, increasing as needed,” the petition said. “For certain, another ten years of low-frequency service on Eisenhower will leave all Alexandrians in a jam.”
(Updated at 3:55 p.m.) In the shadow of the Covanta trash incinerator, just north of the Metro tracks, a small garden of unique, local businesses is blooming.
The West End Business Center (5308 Eisenhower Avenue) and Van Dorn Metro Business Center (5416 Eisenhower Avenue) look like average industrial uses, but several of the businesses inside this suite offer unique services that are relatively hidden from those who don’t already frequent the Eisenhower West area.
Perhaps the most well known of the businesses here is Sportrock, an indoor rock climbing facility boasting the tallest indoor rock climbing surface in the Mid-Atlantic, at 60 feet. Lillian Chao-Quinlan, who opened Sportrock’s Eisenhower Avenue location in 1996, said the area was mainly auto shops when she opened, but those have slowly given way to new, unique local businesses.
Allen Brooks, COO of The Garden and Building Momentum, said the success of Sportrock made the city more amenable to approving his special use permit, which allows him to operate a facility where co-workers can utilize 3D printing and other crafting tools.
“We were able to get blanket SUP partially because of [Sportrock],” Brooks said. “It’s a vision of what the west end of Eisenhower could be.”
The business owners on the west end of Eisenhower Avenue are enthusiastic about the future of their community and say it’s ripe for further growth. Brooks said there are about 50 workers who set up in The Garden, but in April that will expand as the Department of the Navy will start bringing employees in for a program called Navy X.
Between The Garden’s co-building clients, parents with their children at Scramble, and people climbing or working out at Sportrock, the business owners said there are people coming to the area for activities — but it lacks the other types of food and retail spots in the immediate vicinity that could make for a more well-rounded community.
“We have a preponderance of people for coffee and [other purposes] but people don’t know we’re here,” Brooks said.
As the city prepares to rewrite the plans for Eisenhower, focusing on turning the corridor into a residential and retail hub, Scramble owner Laurence Smallman said the city should look at the example of what the existing small businesses were able to do with former industrial spaces when given the space by the city to do so.
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.
“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.”