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The massive Inova at Landmark project is headed to the Alexandria Planning Commission and City Council for final approval in March and the project could wrap by 2028.

The city released Inova’s development site use permit application last week and it includes new renderings for the 930,000-square-foot hospital campus. The Planning Commission’s public hearing on the project is on Tuesday, March 7, and the City Council public hearing will be held on Saturday, March 18.

Inova, which has held numerous public meetings on the project, wants construction to occur between 2024 and 2028. That schedule is subject to change, Inova’s attorney Cathy Puskar previously told ALXnow.

Inova at Landmark includes 675,000 square feet devoted to the new hospital, 130,000 square feet to a cancer center and 110,000 square feet to a specialty outpatient care center. The inpatient hospital is designed to be nine stories tall and includes a roof tower to hide hospital mechanical equipment that would make the structure 175-feet tall (16 stories).

Inova signed a 99-year ground lease for the property more than two years ago, and sent its first wrecking ball into the former Landmark Mall in May 2022. The old above-ground 550-space parking garage is the only structure that remains, and it will be retrofitted into the new hospital campus.

The project makes up a fifth of the total land use on the 52-acre West End Alexandria development. The city bought the 11-acre parcel of land for $54 million from The Howard Hughes Corporation in 2021, and Inova has a 99-year ground lease for the hospital land.

The project was designed by Ballinger and Ennead Architects, and is being managed by Inova.

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

(Updated at 1 p.m.) The first set of buildings in the West End project — the start of a massive redevelopment of what was Landmark Mall — were approved at a City Council meeting this weekend.

Developer Foulger-Pratt won the unanimous approval of four blocks of the sprawling development, consisting of residential, commercial and medical offices.

There were no public speakers on the topic and relatively limited discussion from the City Council after a presentation by staff and the developer. Vice Mayor Amy Jackson noted that the development was “the best holiday gift ever.”

While the projects have been met with enthusiasm by city leaders who have tried for decades to move Landmark redevelopment forward, at the Planning Commission there were concerns that the project wasn’t progressive enough in its environmental design. At the City Council, some leaders shared their nervousness at how the new development could impact market-rate affordable housing throughout the West End already struggling with increasing rents and skyrocketing evictions.

City Council member John Chapman expressed support for the project but did note concerns that the high-end residential development could threaten some of the area’s existing market-rate affordable housing stock.

“I’m cautiously nervous about what this means for the rest of that area of the West End,” Chapman said. “We’ve already seen some developments come forward that want to shift what we call naturally occurring affordable housing to non-naturally occurring affordable housing. With the approval of this site, I think we as a Council need to be cautious about what we see from development in that neighborhood and what that means.”

The project did face one additional setback: prior to the approval of the project, Chapman did note that he “can’t promise he’s ever going to call it West End.”

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Thrive (image via City of Alexandria)

Alexandria’s Planning Commission’s recommendation of approval for the long-awaited “West End” development was offset slightly by concerns that the city isn’t doing enough to pressure developers into adopting more environmentally conscious design.

The Planning Commission voted 5-1 in support of development plans for a large chunk of what was once Landmark Mall. The recommendation heading to the City Council supports four sprawling blocks of development with a mixture of multifamily residential, ground-floor commercial, and medical office spaces.

But while there was some enthusiasm from the Planning Commission about seeing these plans come to fruition, some lamented that the developments don’t follow best practices for minimizing energy consumption.

“I recognize that the Planning Commission is likely to concur with staff recommendation of approval for this project on the basis that it is compliant with CDD and DSUP requirements. I won’t be joining that consensus,” said Commissioner Stephen Koenig. “In critical aspects of operational performance, this project will underserve the community and damage the environment. It is not fully responsible architecture in this era of accelerating climate transformation.”

Koenig said developments should be expected to do more to design their buildings with an environmental focus at their core.

“We miss the opportunity to achieve a cleaner environment, neighborhood resilience, and expanded affordability which are integral to our vision for the future of our city,” Koenig said.

Commissioner David Brown said that he agreed with Koenig’s concerns, but disagreed that they should cause the Planning Commission to not support the project overall. Brown said in a recent Planning Commission case, the Commission voted not to recommend a parking lot be allowed to continue operating as it went against previously established plans for the area, but the City Council later voted to allow that operation to continue.

“I agree with everything [Koenig said] except his decision not to support the project,” Brown said. “I will be supporting the project… My loadstar is playing by the rules. In this case, the applicant has all the way down the line played by the rules. If I’m not going to give an applicant a pass because they do more than the rules, I’m not going to turn down an applicant because they do less than we might have hoped in the way of climate change.”

Brown added later that the project also represented an exemplary mixed-use zoning plan.

Like Brown, others on the Planning Commission said they shared Koenig’s concerns that the city isn’t doing enough to require more environmental protections on sites, but said the positives of the Landmark redevelopment plans still merited approval.

“This is one project that, as the small area plans evolve… didn’t have to adjust community expectations that were developed during the small area plan to meet what’s being presented,” said Planning Commissioner Mindy Lyle. “This project has met all of the expectations set forth to the community during those processes and I think that’s unique to this particular site.”

The redevelopment plans now head to the City Council for review at a meeting on Saturday, Dec. 17.

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The Inova At Landmark campus conceptual design (via Inova)

(Updated 12/8) A street near the planned Inova hospital anchoring the Landmark redevelopment could celebrate a woman who founded one of the city’s first hospitals.

The Planning Commission voted unanimously at a meeting last night approve of renaming Healthway Place to Julia Johns Place.

While Alexandria hosted 30 military hospitals during the Civil War, by the 1870s there was no central location to treat patients or enforce a quarantine, a nonprofit called Alexandria Celebrates Women wrote in the Alexandria Times. When a sailor arrived at Alexandria with a case of typhoid fever, fear of an outbreak prompted a local woman named Julia Johns to assemble a group of women to create a hospital for the city.

A charter was approved in 1872 and Johns leased a townhouse at the corner of Duke and South Fairfax streets. The hospital opened in 1873. The Alexandria Times story noted that the first surgery, the amputation of a railroad employee’s crushed leg, was performed on Christmas in 1882.

The hospital would grow to include the first nursing school in the area as well as the first outpatient treatment in the state. The Alexandria Infirmary was renamed the Alexandria Hospital in 1902 and later incorporated into INOVA Health System.

Johns died in 1883 and is buried at the Virginia Theological Seminary, not far from the current hospital. The original infirmary site was demolished in 1953; replaced with a small parking lot.

Planning Commission chair Nathan Macek said the name change had some behind-the-scenes prompting by city leadership.

“Part of this is based on some behind-the-scenes discussions I’ve been having over the last few days,” Macek said. “I think this is a much better fitting name, especially given the prominence of the institution — the hospital that will be on the street.”

Macek said the renamed street would also be one of the few in the city named in honor of a woman.

“I think it’s an opportunity to honor someone who had a founding role in the institution as well as a significant figure in Alexandria’s history and a woman,” Macek said. “We don’t have many streets named after women, so I think it’s fitting for a number of reasons.”

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The “West End” project is a lumbering titan, one of the most enormous of the development projects in progress. While projects of that scale can move slowly — this one first reared its head in late 2020 — the Landmark Mall redevelopment is building momentum as it moves toward Planning Commission review next month.

Four blocks of the sprawling development, Blocks E, G, I and K, are scheduled for review at the Planning Commission on Tuesday, Dec. 6. The blocks consist of a mix of multifamily residential, ground floor commercial space, and medical offices.

Those four blocks are some of the furthest along in the design process according to representatives of developer Foulger-Pratt at a meeting last month.

Blocks E and G are part of a new housing development called Aspect, featuring a total of 390 units and a bridge connecting them with 80,400 square feet of retail space. The buildings will also have 119,500 square feet of medical office space, part of the link to the separate Inova Hospital campus anchoring the development.

Block I, listed as “Block Eye” in other development documents, is planned as a project called The Brightly. Block I will also be a mixed-use building, with 390 apartments and 105,000 square feet of commercial space. Developers said in previous meetings the goal is to have a “big box ” occupant on the ground floor, with possibilities ranging from a gym to a traditional large retail store.

The last piece up for review in December is Block K, called Thrive in other developer documents. It sits at the heart of the new development and is described as having a more “neo-industiral” aesthetic. The docket item for the Planning Commission said Block K will have 337 apartments and 32,000 square feet of commercial space — smaller than the other blocks up for review.

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It’s been a busy week as the city announced progress on a few new policies that could give a financial boost to some Alexandrians in need.

One of the most notable is a pilot project testing out a Universal Basic Income pilot with $500 a month for local residents making less than half of the area median income. Local residents can apply for Alexandria’s Recurring Income for Success and Equity (ARISE) online.

Another funding request under consideration is $500,000 to a program that offers grants to minority-owned businesses. Minority-owned businesses were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, and the program aims to offer support for those that may have been missed from earlier recovery programs.

  1. Alexandria seeking qualified locals to receive $500 a month for two years
  2. Pedestrian critically injured in Landmark crash
  3. No injuries after shots fired on Duke Street Sunday night
  4. Townsend Van Fleet, Alexandria City Council candidate and community leader, dies
  5. Jersey Mike’s to open in Alexandria Commons tomorrow
  6. Alexandria Hyundai gets approval to run in Del Ray until 2045
  7. Two crashes with serious injuries bookend Monday
  8. Meet the couple behind one of Old Town’s best Halloween displays
  9. Alexandria opens up about progress on Holmes Run Trail fix and Mount Vernon Trail widening
  10. City Manager Jim Parajon to discuss exchanging building heights for more affordable housing
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Landmark Mall is gone, so what’s next?

A representative from developer Foulger-Pratt spoke at the Eisenhower West Landmark Van Dorn Implementation Advisory Group earlier this week to provide a bird’s eye view of what’s going on at the project.

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

Currently, Landmark Mall itself is almost completely demolished, saved for one corner still being used as an office to oversee the development.

While Inova is currently working through its own development application process at the western end of the development, other projects are in the works throughout the site.

At the presentation, the developer’s representative said the first four buildings to come online will be E1, E2, G and Eye on the map above. The E and G blocks will be part of a new housing development called Aspect.

The two residential buildings will have a total of 390 units and will be connected by a bridge, with residents able to move between buildings easily. The development will also have around 70,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor.

Block Eye is set to become a development called The Brightly. It will feature 390 residential units with “big box retail” on the ground floor. The developer said that could be anything from a gym to a large retail store.

Clockwise below block Eye are blocks M and L2, which are both slated to become townhomes, with that development process scheduled to kick off beginning in 2023.

Block L1 is set aside as senior housing, but a previous contract for that development fell through in August. The Foulger-Pratt representative said that project is going back on market to find a senior housing developer.

Block K, set in the center of the new development, is named Thrive and the developer said it will have a more “neo-industrial” aesthetic. Thrive is set to have 337 residential units with 30,000 square feet of retail space.

The rest of the development includes:

  • Block J: dedicated affordable housing
  • Block D: future multifamily project
  • Block H: split between hotel and condominiums

The developer’s representative said none of those three projects have begun the application process.

The Foulger-Pratt representative said horizontal infrastructure work starts in November while the rest of the development starts to work through the application processes. If all goes well, vertical construction at the site could begin as early as January 2024. Infrastructure at the site is scheduled to be completed in the third quarter of 2025 with the buildings completed starting in the fourth quarter of 2025.

The developer was, once again, confronted by city officials about the project’s terrible name: West End.

As far back as the start of demolition on the mall, city officials have been urging the developer to pick something else. The area is already locally known as Landmark, but “West End” generally refers to the broader section of the city rather than this specific development. The representative at the meeting said Foulger-Pratt is “pretty wedded” to the West End branding, but that the expectation is over time the individual developments within the site — ie Thrive or The Brightly — will become the more commonly used names.

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Tentative location for Landmark pedestrian bridge (image via City of Alexandria)

The City of Alexandria is looking into building a pedestrian bridge over I-395 to connect the Landmark Mall site to neighborhoods west of the highway.

Last week, the Transportation Commission reviewed a potential grant application to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to provide funding to study the potential bridge.

The idea is to give West End residents better access to the large new development — including a new hospital and mixed-use district — currently under construction.

“The City is seeking technical assistance funding from the DOT to study the feasibility of a bicycle and pedestrian bridge over I-395 to connect the Landmark Mall site to the neighborhoods west of I-395,” a city memo said. “This will provide safe and direct access to jobs and amenities that will be available once West End Alexandria has been redeveloped.”

At the meeting, staff said without the bridge the only pedestrian access to the Landmark site for residents west of I-395 would be to either go down to Duke Street or cross on the Holmes Run Trail, which is currently still impassable following damage from a storm in 2019.

The bridge is recommended in several planning studies focused around the site, though members of the Transportation Commission said one of the challenges will be finding the right spot for the bridge in an area that’s a patchwork of private development. Transportation Commission member Melissa McMahon noted that the final bridge location could be more dependent on agreements with private land owners than any optimal connection.

The total cost of the study is $300,000, with a $240,000 grant request to the Department of Transportation and $60,000 in local matching funds. The Council is set to review the application at a meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 28. City staff said grant recipients are announced in early 2023 and, if approved, the study would start in 2024 and take about a year.

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

In addition to being a mall and Wonder Woman battleground, Landmark has also served as a major transfer junction for Alexandria bus riders: but that changes this week as the mall’s redevelopment has forced DASH to relocate.

According to the DASH website, the transit center’s closure is necessary as mall demolition removes a ramp connecting Duke Street to the junction.

“Beginning Monday, August 1, the Landmark Mall Transit Center will be closed to all bus traffic for several weeks for construction,” the bus service said on the site. “This closure is necessary to remove the flyover ramp connecting eastbound Duke Street to the mall. The closure is part of the ongoing redevelopment of Landmark Mall.”

The demolition is part of a redevelopment plan that aims to turn the site into a new hospital and mixed-use development. The project is currently slated for completion in 2026.

A chart on the DASH site outlines what transfers bus riders on lines 30, 32 and 35 should make.

DASH transfer chart for Landmark closure (image via DASH)
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Morning Notes

Boats at the Old Town Waterfront (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Alexandria Man Killed in D.C. — “A 22-year-old man from Alexandria was shot and killed over the weekend in Washington DC, authorities said. Keonte Broadus-Gallman was found around 9 p.m. in the 1900 block of Anacostia Drive after authorities received a report of an unconscious person, the Metropolitan Police Department reported.” [Daily Voice]

Alexandria Recognized by State Planning Association — “The City of Alexandria is the winner of two prestigious awards. Today the Virginia Chapter of the American Planning Association’s (APA Virginia) recognized the Department of Planning and Zoning with the Commonwealth Plan of the Year Award for its Arlandria-Chirilagua Small Area Plan and the Red Clay Development of the Year Award for its Landmark Mall Redevelopment Plan.” [Zebra]

Carpenter’s Shelter Finalist for Award — “AHDC is honored to share that The Bloom and Carpenter’s Shelter has been selected as a Terwilliger Center finalist for Innovation in Attainable Housing:” [Twitter, ULI]

It’s Tuesday — Humid and mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 87 and low of 75. Sunrise at 6:00 am and sunset at 8:32 pm. [Weather.gov]

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