Post Content
The proposed Inova Alexandria Hospital building on the former Landmark Mall site (via City of Alexandria)

Inova Alexandria Hospital is currently a 318-bed community hospital. Once it opens its new hospital in Landmark in 2028, it’ll be a 192-bed hospital.

At a City Council meeting last week, Councilwoman Alyia Gaskins raised concerns from the community about the loss of beds in the new development. Dr. Rina Bansal, president of Inova Alexandria Hospital, said the decrease in beds is part of making services more efficient.

“On the surface, that seems like a reduction in services,” Bansal said.

Bansal said around 30% of patients using inpatient beds shouldn’t be there.

Year over year, we’ve grown in the number of patients we have in the inpatient beds in the hospital. When you have patients in beds in the hospital, there are patients under observation status that are not considered true inpatients, and you have actual inpatients. About 30%… are observation patients; patients who should not be in inpatient beds

Even though the number looks like a decrease, it’s a number based on significant research from a strategic perspective, from a market share perspective, as well as transition of services from inpatient to outpatient.

Bansal said the number of beds is based on projections.

“Our goal as a system is to continue to grow and care for a larger segment of the community,” Bansal said. “We are growing; we are not going to spend over $1 billion to make our footprint smaller in Alexandria.”

Bansal also noted that the Inova Oakville facility will be ready for occupancy next summer and will be open for business in October 2024. Bansal said the groundbreaking for the Landmark development will be in the summer after the Oakville location ribbon-cutting.

22 Comments
Dining in Old Town. (Staff photo by James Cullum)

All arguments aside, Alexandria’s equity standards and economic prospects have been declared sound.

Yesterday, the city announced that S&P Global Ratings and Moody’s Investors Service reaffirmed Alexandria’s ‘AAA’ bond rating. The city has maintained the designation since 1992, and it equates to a good credit rating for the city to get low-interest rates from bond investors to provide funding for multiple projects.

“This is the ‘Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval’ for the city’s fiscal management and the state of our municipal balance sheet,” Mayor Justin Wilson told ALXnow. “This allows the City to borrow at the lowest-possible rates and maximize taxpayer dollars as we invest in critical infrastructure projects, including two new schools.”

This city said that before the end of the year it will issue $258 million of tax-exempt general obligation bonds to pay for capital improvement projects, like the Minnie Howard Redevelopment Project at Alexandria City High School, the newly constructed Douglas MacArthur Elementary School, and to the West End project at the former Landmark Mall property.

The Nexus at West Alex rendering (via AHDC)

Alexandria also announced Thursday that it got a perfect score in The Human Rights Campaign’s 2023 Municipal Equality Index. The city, which got its third annual perfect score, is one of more than 500 municipalities across the country evaluated on the inclusiveness of their laws, policies and services toward LGBTQ+ residents.

Last year, city leaders decried Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin’s recommendations restricting transgender bathroom and pronoun use in public schools. In July, Alexandria City Public Schools put out a statement refusing to comply with the recommendations.

“(W)e want to reaffirm our commitment to all students, staff and families, including our LGBTQIA+ community, that ACPS will continue to both implement and develop gender affirming policies for all ACPS students,” School Board Chair Michelle Rief and SUperintendent Melanie Kay-Wyatt said in their joint statement. “School Board Policy JB: Nondiscrimination in Education protects students from discrimination due to gender expression, gender identity, sexual harassment and transgender status.”

Wilson said that equity was prioritized by City Council in its 2021 ALL Alexandria resolution, as well as by the city’s LGBTQ+ Task Force.

“I’m thrilled to see that paying off, and our efforts being recognized with another perfect score,” he said. “But this recognition is not the mark of a finished job. We have to keep working to ensure that Alexandria is an inclusive environment for everyone.”

4 Comments
A DASH bus at Southern Towers (staff photo by Vernon Miles)

While the plan is to eventually create a new transit hub in the Landmark Mall redevelopment, the city is looking for grant funding to make the key transfer point more bearable in the near term.

The Transportation Commission is scheduled to vote on Wednesday, Oct. 18, to endorse a grant application to the Department of Rail and Public Transportation for up to $544,000.

A memo from Transportation and Environmental Service Deputy Director Hillary Orr said the hope is for funding to make improvements ahead of the new transit center, which isn’t scheduled to open until 2028.

“The City requests authority to apply for the new category of Passenger Amenities to provide shelters, benches, and real-time signage at the planned transit center in the West End development until a permanent structure is built,” Orr wrote. “Currently, this is a high ridership location and key transfer point with more than 500 boardings per day.”

Orr said the city was awarded $13 million in funding for the new transit center, but that construction funding won’t be available until FY26. While the full transit center won’t open until at least 2028, Orr noted that bus operations could begin using the area as a transfer point sometime in 2024.

“This funding would allow for proper amenities at a major transfer facility serving multiple local bus routes and two future bus rapid transit corridors until a permanent structure is constructed,” Orr wrote.

The temporary improvements would include 12 bus shelters and real-time signage. Once the transit hub is completed, the city said the temporary bus shelters can be relocated.

The total project cost is estimated at $800,000, with the City matching funding up to $256,000 if the grant is approved.

2 Comments

(Updated 12:30 p.m.) The massive WestEnd Alexandria project is taking shape, as the Planning Commission tonight will weigh in on a number of proposals by site development partner Foulger-Pratt.

Nearly half the 52-acre West End Alexandria development is devoted to the Inova at Landmark (the eventual home of Alexandria Hospital), and the rest of the property has been divvied into a multi-block town center. The redevelopment will include new apartment buildings, pavilions, restaurants, rooftop open space and more.

In December, City Council approved Foulger-Pratt’s plan to build three new apartment buildings with 1,117 total units, and tonight’s meeting will focus on the following proposals:

  • 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, would 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)

The Planning Commission meeting starts at 7 p.m.

11 Comments
Proposed ice rink in Landmark Mall redevelopment plans (image via Oculus/City of Alexandria)

Plans submitted for the West End development replacing Landmark Mall include a potential ice rink, but reception to those plans seemed mixed.

The plans, submitted by Foulger-Pratty Development, indicate the seasonal rink could be located on a park in the middle of a mixed-use development adjacent to the planned Inova Hospital campus.

While some expressed excitement for the plan, many commenters on Facebook said the rink seemed like a waste of money — though it should be noted that the rink would be built by the developer as an amenity, not by the City of Alexandria.

How do you feel about the rink? Would you have preferred something else?

9 Comments
Proposed ice rink in Landmark Mall redevelopment plans (image via Oculus/City of Alexandria)

Development plans for the mixed-use development replacing Landmark Mall have been pretty standard so far — commercial tenants on the ground floor, residential and some office above — but a new feature could be a major draw.

The project, confusingly called West End development, is a massive project attached to the construction of a new Inova Hospital campus.

Plans for the site, drawn up by landscape architect Oculus for developer Foulger-Pratt Development, in a Special Use Permit indicate the development could include a seasonal ice skating rink.

Plans show the new rink filling up part of a section of a park, along with a pavilion and public seating — though the application notes that the illustration is “for illustrative purposes only.” The final design and layout of the ice rink is still “to be finalized.”

The project’s website indicated that construction could start on the infrastructure by the end of this year. The developer said last year that vertical construction could start next year and the first buildings could be completed sometime in late 2025.

6 Comments
Landmark Mall demolition in progress (staff photo by Vernon Miles)

Earlier this week, ALXnow launched a survey for readers to provide feedback on the site. At the same time, we asked on Twitter if anyone had questions they wanted answered about Alexandria.

We’re here to provide and update on that — but both questions had pretty vague answers that will require a little more digging.

The first question was about the name for Landmark.

We asked the Office of Historic Alexandria but there doesn’t seem to be much information on why the name Landmark was specifically chosen.

We did, however, find that Landmark Mall originally opened as Landmark Center in 1965 — a large open-air shopping center with three department stores. It wasn’t until 1984 that the center was renovated and turned into the indoor Landmark Mall.

The second question was about Taney Avenue, which is split in the middle by Taney Avenue Park.

City Historian Dan Lee said Taney Avenue did, indeed, run through where the park is today. The when and why is still unclear.

A staff report from 2016 said the “when” at least was possibly in 1976:

In December 1976, 2.58 acres of land was conveyed to the City of Alexandria to be used as Taney Avenue Park by Davis Mortgage Company and the Prudential Insurance Company of America as part of a subdivision related to the development of the Shirley-Duke Apartments, now known as the Foxchase Apartments.

A Washington Post article from the time noted that the entire area was closed down and the families in the low-income housing were evicted. After this, the neighborhood was demolished and rebuilt, which may have been when the park was created as part of a plan to turn the area into a “middle-class development”.

We’ll keep digging into this after the long weekend, but in the meantime, if anyone else has questions about Alexandria or ALXnow they’d like answered in a future post, leave them in the comments below.

7 Comments
Concept map for new Landmark Mall development (image via City of Alexandria)

Updated at 3:30 p.m. on May 24 — The estimated costs of the total infrastructure improvements at the former Landmark Mall site have ballooned 40% since City Council signed off on the project in 2021, forcing the city to get creative with its financing.

Tonight (Tuesday), the City Council will vote on directing City Manager Jim Parajon to execute an agreement between the city, Landmark Land Holdings (a joint venture between Foulger-Pratt, The Howard Hughes Corp. and Seritage Growth Properties.) and Inova Healthcare Services to address the $62 million shortfall.

The increase is due to a number of issues, including inflation and equipment shortages, according to a staff report to be presented to Council. The initial agreement between the parties had the city contributing $86 million for infrastructure and $54.25 million for the future home of Alexandria Hospital for a total of $140.25 million. Now the city proposes to increase Landmark Redevelopment-related City Bonds in a “maximum aggregate principal amount sufficient” to raise $37.6 million in net construction proceeds to pay for the infrastructure improvements and interest charges on those bonds.

City staff said that worsened economic conditions pose challenges to future private investments to the project, and that “unanticipated interest rate hikes coupled with illiquidity of the debt markets further worsened by the collapse of regional banks have resulted in a deterioration of asset values.”

“The cost increase is a factor of various events including advancement of design and engineering, infrastructure, parks and open space scope refinement, supply chain disruptions, material and labor cost increase due to both inflation and shortages, and regional competition due to the prevalence of major projects stimulated in part by federal infrastructure funding,” city staff reported.

Additionally, “While the Developer was able to value engineer approximately $17 million in savings, the overall cost for infrastructure improvements has increased by approximately $45 million based on executed guaranteed maximum price construction contracts for approximately 70% of the infrastructure costs.”

In March, City Council unanimously approved the Inova at Landmark project, which includes a 569,000 square-foot hospital center, a 111,000 square-foot cancer center, an 83,000 square-foot specialty care center and a retrofitted 550-space parking garage. Inova wants to start construction on its 1.1 million-square-foot project in 2024 and have the four-building hospital campus finished by 2028.

The hospital takes up a fifth of the total land use on the 52-acre West End Alexandria development, the rest of which is dedicated to residential, commercial and medical offices.

The proposed plan to address the funding gap is below:

  • Landmark Land Holdings has agreed to cover approximately $7.5 million of the funding gap by waiving fee on increased costs and increasing its equity contribution, further reducing its developer fee, and shifting a portion of the infrastructure improvement costs to individual vertical parcel developments
  •  The City will fund $37.6 million of the funding gap through the increased issuance of City Bonds to be repaid from synthetic Incremental Tax Revenues (real property tax, retail sales and use tax, meals tax, and transient lodging tax) generated from the Landmark site. The CDA will increase the special assessment backstop to account for this increased issuance
  • Block D in the project will be dedicated as workforce housing
  • The parties will explore exemption/removal of Block J (Affordable Housing/Fire Station) from the Landmark Community Development Authority special assessment obligations and from assessments related to a future business improvement service district to increase feasibility of affordable housing at Block J
  • For two years, Landmark Land Holdings will identify and make available up to three pop-up spaces for local businesses with a minimum of 90 days to operate with their license agreement becoming month-to-month after the initial 90 days
34 Comments
Gunfire was reported in the 6200 block of Duke Street on April 30, 2023 (via Google Maps)

No one was injured and no arrests have been made after shots were fired in the 6200 block of Duke Street on Sunday morning.

Alexandria Police were dispatched at around 10:30 a.m. to the area near the Landmark Mall site after a driver called in the incident. The caller reportedly told police that the suspect was a male wearing all-black clothing and black sneakers with white soles.

Police brought a K-9 unit to the scene, but no arrest was made.

The incident occurred less than a mile from where a man was shot on April 15, and near to where a man was murdered in March.

Anyone with information on this incident can call the APD non-emergency number at 703-746-4444. Callers can remain anonymous.

Image via Google Maps

0 Comments

The 1.1 million-square-foot Inova at Landmark project got unanimous approval by the Alexandria City Council on Saturday, giving the hospital system the green light to build the future home of Alexandria Hospital.

Inova wants to start construction on the former Landmark Mall site in 2024 and have the four-building hospital campus finished by 2028. The hospital building is designed to face I-395, making it a gateway for drivers traveling north.

After years of stagnation, Alexandria started working with Inova on the site about three years ago — while the City was starting to shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“To be at this point at this time is really transformational, and this is a big deal,” Mayor Justin Wilson said. “I do think this is really important and it’s gonna be really a gateway for our community for a long time to come.”

Inova at Landmark includes a 569,000 square-foot hospital center, a 111,000 square-foot cancer center, an 83,000 square-foot specialty care center and a retrofitted 550-space parking garage. A 1,488-space below-grade parking garage is also planned with at least 19 parking spaces set aside for electric vehicle charging.

“It is our duty to ensure that our new hospital is not only a state-of-the-art facility, but also a place where compassion, excellence, and innovation come together to provide the best possible care for our community” said J. Stephen Jones, president and CEO of Inova in a statement. “We are thrilled with Council’s action and are excited to make this vision come to life.”

Inova can build up to 250 feet, or 23 stories, for the tallest structures, the main hospital building and the cancer center, although the latter is proposed to be only 77 feet tall.

Inova currently plans to build a 184-foot tall main hospital building (nearly 17 stories) with 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 to hide hospital mechanical equipment inside a “mechanical penthouse.”

“As one of the individuals who was born in the now soon-to-be old Alexandria Hospital, I look forward to having new generations of Alexandrians have quality care and to be born in a state-of-the-art facility,” said City Council Member John Taylor Chapman.

Each building will be constructed under LEED Silver guidelines. According to a city staff report:

The campus buildings will feature window glazing and building design to minimize heat gains, low-flow faucets and fixtures, high indoor environmental air quality, and will participate in Dominion’s Renewable Power Program with a goal to achieve a 50% reduction in emissions by 2030.

Inova will also dedicate 64,000 square feet to open space on the site, in addition to building a 14,810-square-foot central plaza in Block Q. Inova must also submit a “consolidated and coordinated” public art plan for the hospital campus.

The proposed Inova Alexandria Hospital campus, outlined in gray, on the former Landmark Mall site (via City of Alexandria)

Landmark Mall first opened in 1965, and was the first mall 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. Inova signed a 99-year ground lease for the property that same year.

Stephanie Landrum, president and CEO of the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership, said that the project makes Inova Alexandria Hospital an anchor that “redefines one of our largest neighborhoods and is a tangible and visible signal of the strength of the Alexandria economy.”

“This helps us attract additional investments, employers, and residents that will bring the WestEnd project to life,” Landrum said.

The project takes up a fifth of the total land use on the 52-acre West End Alexandria development. It was designed by Ballinger and Ennead Architects and is managed by Inova.

5 Comments
×

Subscribe to our mailing list