The city-owned small parcel at 2 King Street — currently home to eight leased parking spaces — could have a big impact on the block at the end of King Street if the city approves a sale.
At the Waterfront Commission meeting this morning (Tuesday), staff said the city received an unsolicited offer for the lot in June from the current owners of the adjacent Fitzgerald Warehouse building. The City Council subsequently authorized staff to consider the sale and look into alternatives for the property.
Staff said the proposed plan would involve tearing down the late 20th-century addition to the historic property — which currently houses Thai restaurant Mai Thai — and replace it with a new extension that would take advantage of the waterfront view. The historic Fitzgerald Warehouse, where Starbucks is currently located, would not be torn down.
Staff was skeptical of the likelihood that another development could be built on the site, saying it could theoretically be its own building but “it would be a tight fit.”
One way or another, the parking spaces at the foot of King Street are likely going away soon. Jack Browand, division chief with the Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities, said that the current use does not fit with the city’s plans to make the surrounding streets more pedestrianized.
“Even if it stays with the city, it would be improved in some way, like turned into an outdoor seating area,” Browand said.
Whether the property stays with the city or is sold to a developer, several members of the Waterfront Commission said that part of the deal should be the inclusion of public restrooms or other public uses at the site.
Staff said a public meeting will be held in December to gather more ideas for what to do with the site, but no specific date has been scheduled.
The Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) will be sending one of its research vessels to the Old Town waterfront while the crew does some work in D.C.
The 93-foot research vessel R/V Virginia is scheduled to arrive on Sunday, Dec. 8 and will remain docked until Wednesday, Dec. 11.
“The R/V Virginia allows VIMS scientists to monitor and study the Chesapeake Bay and its marine life much more effectively and expand the institute’s research footprint into the open waters of the coastal Atlantic from Maine to Florida,” according to a City Council docket item. “It offers flexibility in science outfitting, rapid turn-around for frequent use, and affordable operation.”
The vessel is adaptable to study of a variety of oceanographic fields, from the servicing of ocean observing systems to offshore-energy exploration and development surveys.
While docked, VIMS will host a dockside educational exhibit on the marine research work the ship does.
While docked in the City Marina, VIMS will host a dockside educational exhibit showcasing research conducted aboard the R/V Virginia. Visitors will also be able to speak with VIMS staff on board the vessel. VIMS will provide tours to the public for no fee on Sunday, December 8 from noon to 3 p.m. and on Monday, December 9 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Should attendance warrant, additional public tours will be added on Tuesday, December 10 & Wednesday, December 11. In addition to the public tours, VIMS will provide private tours for VIMS partners and stakeholders, and educational groups.
It’ll be a tight fit, with the tall ship Providence now occupying a permanent spot on the waterfront, but Jack Browand, Division Chief, with the Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities said they were able to squeeze it into a spot.
The City Council waived the ship’s docking fee at the Wednesday, Nov. 6 City Council meeting.
New scooter regulations have blocked scooters from parking in a multi-block stretch east of N. Union Street, between Oronoco Street and Prince Street. The result has been an 80 percent decrease in scooter parking on the waterfront, staff told the Waterfront Commission at its meeting last week.
When users try to end their ride in the restricted area, a message will appear on their phone telling them to move the scooter elsewhere.
The city also tried to incentivize legal scooter parking by adding two parking corrals to the area, which have had roughly 400 scooters parked there per month.
This hasn’t stopped scooters from riding through the areas, despite signs encouraging visitors not to do so, but there has been a 50-65 percent decline in scooters riding through the waterfront, staff said.
Geofencing isn’t a fix-all solution. Staff noted that the geofencing can only cover large areas, with accuracy up to only about 20-30 feet. Despite the decline, neglected scooters littering the waterfront are still a common sight.
“It’s bad behavior and it’s going to continue,” said Mark Michael Ludlow, a member of the Waterfront Commission.
The scooter corrals have also become something of a victim of their own success. Staff noted that corrals have frequently been overflowing and scooters have been left on nearby sidewalks.
Staff is currently collecting feedback from the city’s boards and commissions, with Phase II of the scooter program going to City Council for approval next month, for implementation in January.
Map via City of Alexandria
Improvements and changes are coming to the Waterfront Park over the next few weeks.
Mirror Mirror, the circular art exhibit currently on display in the park, had originally been scheduled to remain on display through the end of next month, but at a Waterfront Commission Meeting on Tuesday staff said the installation will be removed the first week of November.
Staff also said a portion of the park will be closed for 3-5 weeks to replace lawn panels. Several light fixtures in the park will also be replaced with LED lighting. Lighting in the older section of the park south of King Street was noticeably darker than the area at the foot of King Street, staff said, so the new LED lights should equalize that.
Further south, the city is still struggling with debris at Windmill Hill Park. Some of the trash is brought in by the tides, but staff is laying some of the blame at the webbed feet of mischievous local geese.
The park is still within a one-year warranty with the contractor that built the project; staff said they are currently in discussions over the condition of the shoreline. Goose mitigation efforts are also in place to help hold back some of the debris.
Rising water levels are forcing one planned redevelopment of a historic property to move the building up a few feet.
The Mill, a building at the heart of Robinson Landing development along the waterfront, is being renovated and turned into a Southern-inspired restaurant. The city filing by local builder Murray Bonitt noted that the building was at one point used as a mess hall for Union soldiers during the Civil War. But the renovation will involve taking the building apart and putting it back together again a few feet above its current elevation.
“Google global warming, historic building, and waterfront sometime,” Duncan Blair, the attorney for the applicant, told Alexandria’s Waterfront Commission at a meeting this morning (Tuesday). “Buildings are being moved, disassembled, or raised to put them out of the flood plain. We saw this weekend there was high water as a result of the full moon. It’s a phenomenon we’re all going to have to deal with and that is the basis for the change of this building.”
Blair said the building will painstakingly reassembled brick by brick.
“The building is currently below the flood plain, and we can’t just lift it up because of the old structure,” Blair said. “You’ll probably read about it in a preservation magazine.”
As the building is put back together, Blair said the brick will be “flipped,” allowing the brighter interior to show on the exterior of the building.
The project is scheduled to be completed sometime in mid-2021.
Image via City of Alexandria