The 367-unit residential development The Rutherford is headed to Planning Commission review tomorrow and makes use of a relatively recent new policy that codified an older trade.
The project is a multifamily building set on a 4.5 acre site at 5000 Seminary Road, next to the Hilton Mark Center. Of those 367 units, 25 will be committed affordable units. The developer is also contributing $811,547 to the Housing Trust Fund.
The staff report noted that The Rutherford is the first application within the Beauregard Small Area Plan to use the increase in density in exchange for housing approved back in 2020. The practice was a longstanding one for developments in Alexandria, but The Rutherford is the first in the Beauregard area to use the new official guidelines.
“The applicant noted that the proposed project is the first application within the BSAP to involve an increase in density following the adoption of the 2020 Housing Policy Update and underscored its efforts to maximize the total affordable housing contribution,” the report said. “Pursuant to the BSAP, developer contributions are charged on net new development and are intended to offset plan-wide and neighborhood-specific impacts to infrastructure, public facilities, affordable housing, and other city priorities by new development.”
The project is also set to have 405 parking spaces in two levels of underground parking. A presentation on the project notes that city staff are currently recommending approval of the project.
The project’s development special use permit, coordinated sign permit and transportation management plan are scheduled for review on Tuesday, June 6.
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.
Students and parents are facing years upheaval in Alexandria’s West End, as the city’s school system is planning on completely rebuilding two elementary schools within the decade.
Alexandria City Public Schools plans to redesign an office building at 1703 N. Beauregard Street to be used as swing space while George Mason Elementary School (2601 Cameron Mills Road) and Cora Kelly School for Math, Science and Technology (3600 Commonwealth Avenue) are completely rebuilt.
Barring construction holdups, a newly built George Mason could be up and running by fall 2026, staff said in a community meeting on Monday night. That means that, at a minimum, the next two years will be spent planning and retrofitting the office building into a school, with George Mason students to transition to swing space in fall 2024. Cora Kelly students would then move to the swing space in fall 2027, while their new school is under construction, and they would move into a newly built school in fall 2031.
“The most aggressive schedule that we have is showing the fall of 2026 [for George Mason students to return],” Azjargal Bartlett, director of ACPS capital programs, said in a community meeting Monday night. “These are anticipated timelines, and if there is any change to the schedule we’ll communicate that out.”
Bartlett said that ACPS is working with the remaining tenants on “mutually beneficial solutions for them to vacate the building prior to the start of the construction,” she said.
The school system is considering staggered dismissal times to minimize traffic between Ferdinand T. Day and the swing space, as well as busing students to the new school.
“We are anticipating that the transportation will be provided to all the students when the building is being used for swing space,” Bartlett said.
So far, $24.5 million has been allocated to the project in the city’s 10-year Capital Improvement Program, with an additional $5 million that is going into the upcoming fiscal year 2024 budget.
Between now and then, a lot of planning and design work with the architect, Perkins Eastman, has to happen, like adding outdoor and playground space at 1703 N. Beauregard.
“We’re still working through that we do not have any options to present at this time,” Bartlett said. “We are in discussions with our design team and once we have more information we’ll provide an update early next year on that design progress for the swing space.”
Tonight, the City of Alexandria is launching a kick-off meeting for the 18-month process of updating and potentially reshaping city policy governing the West End.
According to the city’s website, the goal is to “engage the community to create a shared vision for the future of Alexandria West, addressing topics such as equity, culture, housing, getting around, land use, parks, and safety.”
The planning area mostly focuses on the westernmost parts of Alexandria, on the west side of Van Dorn Street. The plan is an update to a 1992 small area plan for the area and a 2012 plan that focused on the neighborhoods near Beauregard Street.
“Creating an updated community vision for the future allows us to proactively plan for change and prepare for challenges and opportunities in the years to come,” the city said.
The virtual event starts at 7 p.m. tonight. Attendees can register for the meeting online.
“Tuesday, November 15 at 7 p.m., community members, businesses and organizations are invited to attend a virtual kick-off meeting launching the City’s 18-month Alexandria West planning process,” the city said in a release.
According to the city website, the discussion over the next 18 months will explore issues of housing affordability, equity, culture, land use, mobility, pedestrian and cyclist safety and accessibility, and connecting both existing and future open space.
The city said the meeting will be recorded with a video posted afterward and pop-up events will be held around the West End.
Things are about to slow down in school zones.
The Alexandria School Board on Thursday (October 6) unanimously approved a resolution requesting a reduction from 25 miles per hour to 15 mph in school zones.
“We are really making our students and our community safe,” said Board Member Abdel Elnoubi, who wrote the resolution. “We’re helping save lives here.”
The resolution now goes to City Council for approval.
The following school zones have 25 mph speed limits:
- N. Beauregard Street — Outside the John Adams Elementary School, William Ramsay Elementary School and Ferdinand T. Day Elementary School zones
- Braddock Road from N. Beauregard Street to Quaker Lane — Outside Alexandria City High School’s Minnie Howard Campus school zone
- Seminary Road (Kenmore Avenue to N. Pickett Street) — In the Francis C. Hammond Middle School zone
- King Street — Alexandria City High School’s school zone
City Council will also review a plan to install Alexandria’s first speed cameras in school zones later this month.
The conversation over a speed limit reduction and cameras installation began after a nine-year-old girl was hit by a car and seriously injured just outside Jefferson-Houston Elementary School in March.