Density & Zoning

Nan's notes



New Links for information: changes/

Actions by City Council last Saturday to abrogate conditions agreed to in the Chatham Square DSUP portend a new era in which all agreements between neighborhoods and the City are no longer binding. The Alexandria Federation of Civic Associations (AFCA) has written to City Council and the City Manager about civic groups concerns over this change in process. Transparence is over!
The strategic plan for the campus at The Episcopal High School (EHS) was explained by several speakers including the Head of School Charlie Stillwell, the Athletic Director, and two contractors. The new Campus Master Plan was completed in June 2018, and construction will start in the Fall of 2018 and should be completed in 2020. Essentially, EHS plans to move the current Track and Field and the facilities building to the outer rim of the school boundary and then build two new dormitories. EHS is a 100% boarding school and they need more and updated space for the students. The plan also calls for an updated Health Center. Overall, the presentation was very well received - particularly the fact that EHS involved nearby residents in the planning phase.
SHA signed a resolution letter to the City from the Alexandria Federation of Civic Association (AFCA) concerning opposition to the reversal of conditions previously legislated in the DSUP for Chatham square.
Vice Mayor Justin Wilson walked the site of the affordable housing at Fairlington Presbyterian Church with about 25 neighbors then had a meeting with the owners of the townhouses. He heard concerns about the building being too large, having too few parking spaces, no capacity in local schools for more students, and the location of the trash dumpsters. The groups suggested other possible uses for this 3-acre site that would have fewer negative impacts and solve needs of the community (pre-school, day care, etc.) Wilson gave no hope that the scale or purpose of the project would be reduced to fit with the neighborhoods around it.
The plans for affordable housing at Fairlington Presbyterian Church are too large for the size of the site; the building will be 45 feet tall with additional height for air conditioning and heat ductwork and systems on the roof. Only 0.6 parking spaces are required for each of the 81 units. Lots of unanswered questions about the FAR and required open space.
Two companies that own Landmark Mall—Howard Hughes Corporation and Seritage Growth Properties—are in discussion to form a joint venture to redevelop the mall. There would be residential and business but no commercial buildings as the City already has excessive commercial building space.
Morgan Properties in the Beauregard Small Area Plan area will hold the Hamlets - 2600 units on 150 acres around Beauregard and Sanger Streets - long term.
Some of the office buildings on N. Beauregard Street - Park Center, near Seminary Road across from Mark Center - have new ownership and will be converted to residential.
The neighbors of Fairlington Presbyterian Church sent a letter to the Mayor asking for a neighborhood representative on the Advisory Panel of the Design Working Group that oversees the development's issues for the affordable housing to be built on the parking lot.
There is hope again that progress is being made on the Eisenhower West/Landmark Van Dorn Implement Action Plan, since the owner of most of the Mall is trying to buy out the Sear's portion of the property.
City Council vote approved the Karig Estates Site Plan in a 6-1 that neighbors, SHA, and Beth El Congregation had asked to be revised into a better plan that would have moved one of the four homes away from the marine clay ravine..
SHA passed a resolution to support the appeals to City Council by the Beth El Congregation and other neighbors of the November 9, 2017 decision of the Planning and Zoning Commission that modified but affirmed its decision of October 3, 2017, approving the Karig Estates Site Plan.
A new home is being built on Trinity Drive in Area 4.
The City plans to reduce required parking for developments and proposed new commercial parking standards for the "Enhanced Transit Area" meaning close to metro and recognized that sites outside this area may demand more parking.
About 100 attended a meeting about the plans of the Fairlington Presbyterian Church to partition off part of their land to allow development of affordable housing. Members concerns were four: concerns about the height and density of the building, the number of residents, the lack of parking, and the lack of space in the local schools. The Church does not appear open to changes. No members of the community are on the planning committee.
The City allocated $400,000 for a traffic study concerning the proposed new building on the Fairlington Presbyterian Church site (this cost would normally be borne by the developer).
The City is ignoring citizen input and plans to allow a 400% density increase in Potomac Yards.
The Virginia Legislature in Richmond passed a law preventing citizens from challenging zoning and building violations on single-family homes.
The City spent $400,000 for a traffic study concerning the proposed new building at the Fairlington Presbyterian Church for affordable housing. This sort of cost is normally borne by the developer not the citizens.
Stuart's Walk development-now called Karig Estates-was approved by the Planning & Zoning Commission but could not go to City Council for the lack of some proper paperwork and had to go back to P&Z [November 9th].
Last week, the design for construction at Bishop Ireton went to the Planning & Zoning Commission that changed the agreement (DSUP) between the neighbors and the developer even though the staff in the Planning and Zoning Department has approved. Not sure why the Commission felt it could or should do that.
Mark Center Plaza was sold and is being redeveloped into residential units, which will impact traffic and the schools in the area, including the new school being planned at Beauregard.
Two new faculty homes are being constructed on the campus of the Episcopal High School; basically hidden at the corner of West Braddock and Quaker Lane.
The Greenhill Project on Van Dorn between Edsall and Pickett will not be feasible unless a multi modal bridge is built to the Eisenhower Metro. This project will change warehouses and stores into residential buildings and asks for a reduction in parking.
The affordable housing project at Fairlington Presbyterian Church will require a DSUP and density relief. It has other issues, too, such as needing a parking reduction and lacking input from neighbors.
Neighbors of the Stuart's Walk development continue to have concerns that the development will disturb the marine clay in that area and cause problems for homeowners. Loren Needles asked Seminary Hill residents to let him know if they have had problems with marine clay and had to shore up structures on their land Stuart's Walk is a proposal for new houses on 2.3 acres on Seminary Road between St. Stephen's Road and Beth El Temple. This is the second site plan to build homes on land zoned R-20 'the one in 1993 called for five houses' this one is only four house by right 'a DSP' with no special uses needed. The Planning Commission will hear and may approve the plan on July 6, although this is likely to slip until the fall.
The members of Fairlington Presbyterian Church voted to sell a portion of their property to a developer who plans to build a 4 story condo/apartment type building with up to 81 units. The City will be providing $4M to the developer and $1.3M in tax credits per year for the next 30 years. A parking reduction to 60 spaces is being requested and the addition of families will result in more overcrowding at MacArthur Elementary School. The project will require a DSUP. The Church has invited neighbors to a meeting on 23 May at 7 pm for a more thorough explanation of the proposed development, 3846 King Street.
Greenhill Realty company is planning for the future of its properties in the West End of Alexandria (on S. Van Dorn/Edsall/Pickett Streets). They want a 30% increase in density beyond what is allowed in the Landmark/Van Dorn SAP. The success of the project will depend on the building of the multi-modal bridge to the metro. Citizens are invited to a public meeting on Tuesday, 23 May, at 6:30 pm in Van Dorn Station, 514-E South Van Dorn Street.
Plans to develop 2.3 acres on Seminary Road between St. Stephen’s Road and Beth El Temple were presented by land-use attorney Mary Catherine Gibbs. The new street would come off Seminary Road and run along the Temple’s property. The lot sizes are approximately 20,000 square feet each and the first house would have a 100-foot setback from Seminary Road. The project is not likely to be completed until 2018-19. The SHA Board and others in attendance asked a variety of questions about topics such as the preservation of trees—not likely—and concerns about the wetlands of Strawberry Run. Maya Contreras is the City Planner working this project.
St. Stephens & St. Agnes School (SSSAS) is requesting a minor SUP amendment to increase enrollment from 450 to 480. SSSAS Head Kirsten Adams answered questions. The only a concern was about additional traffic.
Construction is almost finished on the new dormitories for married students at the Virginia Theological Seminary. The project came in under budget but is two months later than expected.
City staff provided an overview of the City Strategic Plan FY 2017 – 2022 to SHA members. Member comments included the following:
  1. Single or two-word themes were not readily understood. Phrases with one short sentence of explanation would stand alone better.
  2. All neighborhoods are unique, not just old and historic neighborhoods; the unique character of all neighborhoods should be preserved.
  3. The Plan should include baseline measurements to serve as a basis for measuring progress.
SHA reviewed the City’s proposal to expand the Administrative SUP process and allow businesses to save a bit in fees. The admin process eliminates public review of changes to a project. City staff was too busy to attend SHA’s meetings to explain the proposal further and any other options; citizens are most concerned about restaurants adding seating and entertainment but not parking.
The idea of tax incremental financing is still being discussed in relationship to the redevelopment of Landmark Mall; range of over $20 million to Hughes Development.
The German low-cost grocery store ALDI store is slated to open this month at Seminary Plaza, 4604 Kenmore Avenue.
City Council approved plans for the Alexandria Gateway Project at King and Beauregard that will have three residential buildings - one 7-story and two 5-story - and one commercial building - 3-stories. Construction begins in the fall of 2016 and is slated to finish in 2019. All access to the 5-acre project is from Beauregard.
City Council approved the Eisenhower West Small Area Plan. Since the Victory Center may not become the new home of Homeland Defense, the success of this plan is in doubt.
The idea of tax incremental financing was being discussed in relationship to the redevelopment of Landmark Mall.
Construction to build housing for married students at the Virginia Theological Seminary has closed one parking lot used by SHA members attending the Annual Meeting.
WRIT - the Washington Reality Investment Trust - will be constructing a 9-story medical office building at the corner of Seminary Road and Kenmore Ave. It is a by-right development.

NOTE: In July Nan incorrectly reported that the renovation of the Stuart Gymnasium was happening at Virginia Theological Seminary. It is on the campus of Episcopal High School. Renovation is expected to be completed in the fall of 2016.

Landmark Mall demolition and reconstruction may begin in the first quarter of 2016. The City approved a request from the Howard Hughes Corporation for additional floor area - 52,000 - for residential and/or commercial use. The new mall is expected to have an indoor movie theater and may include an ice skating rink.
The Virginia Theological Seminary is adding buildings to house married students. They will not be easily visible from Seminary Road but will require construction vehicles to have continued access by the Seminary Post Office. Take care leaving the Post Office because of two-way traffic there.
The German low-cost grocery store ALDI plans to open two new stores near us: one in Seminary Plaza - 4604 Kenmore Avenue - that used to be a McGruder's and the other on Duke Street at N. Jordan, which was Mango Mike's Restaurant. The Seminary Plaza store may open in December 2015.
The Virginia Theological Seminary is renovating the Stuart Gymnasium built in 1913 into a student center. No new building construction. Renovation is expected to be completed in the fall of 2016.
The City approved a request from the Northern Virginia Waldorf School Initiative to establish a day-care center and private school for 78 students in pre-school to grade 5 at the Fairlington Presbyterian Church, 3846 King Street.
Despite neighbors objections including SHA, City Council approved a project from Cambridge Healthcare that is non-compliant with zoning on King Street. It will expand the Woodbine Nursing Home.
Despite the objections of neighbors and SHA to this 'spot zoning' proposal from Cambridge Healthcare to expand Woodbine Nursing Home, the Planning Commission approved a building that can be described at the 'son of BRAC'.This non-compliant use on our end of King Street was approved after the Planning Commission disapproved a non-compliant use on King Street in Old Town earlier in their meeting. The argument that this building is needed by our old and indigent does not ring true, since the cost is prohibitive; about $8,000 per month or $96,000 per year with two 'affordable units' at about half that. My understanding is that the building can only have 'memory care' because there is a moratorium on nursing home beds in the State of Virginia.
The SHA Board of Directors passed a resolution opposed to the rezoning of residential property adjacent to the Woodbine Nursing Home that wants to expand and build a huge new building adjacent to Ivy Cemetery.
The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority is asking to expand Cameron Run Park. The City will hold a meeting on 3 February between the City Planning Commission and the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority. A petition is available online asking that citizens review the proposal before a 40-year lease is signed. Go to then search 'Cameron Run'.
Cathy Puskar advised that three new projects are coming: two Aldi supermarkets will open - one in Seminary Plaza on Kenmore Avenue (Magruders space) and the other where Mango Mikes was on Duke Street - and a self-storage facility is being proposed for the Wheeler Avenue site across from the police department (where we didn't want a scrap metal recycling center).
Landmark Mall update: The Howard Hughes Corporation submitted an amendment to their approved Development Site Plan to increase the amount of residential and commercial floor area on the Landmark Mall site. The residential unit count remains capped at 400 per the approved plan. The application is currently under review by City Staff, and additional information will be provided as the review progresses.
Goodwin House is planning to build a new Long Term Care Facility with 90 rooms. Some of the occupants will come from rooms in the current configuration and others will be new patients. The net increase of beds will be 40 going from the current 386 to 426 beds. There are plans to build 40 more parking spaces below ground level at the new facility.
The Gateway project at King and Beauregard is on hold. The owner who wants to build a 14-story 400-unit apartment building, a grocery store, 144-room hotel, and small amount of retail and office space is in negotiations with the owner of the small business strip that used to have the Five Guys.
Nan is unaware of any problems created on Seminary Hill by the City's food truck program that began in 1 July.
The Bradlee Safeway store is expected to reopen in December 2014. It will be about 50% larger than the old one - selling more varieties of products - and include a caf, Starbucks, and Bergmann's dry cleaners. Parking will be on the ground level and the store itself is on the second level all above the parking garage. Stairs, elevators, and escalators will take customers from the parking lot to the store. The use of the additional building in the parking lot between the store and the gas station is yet to be determined.
SHA passed a resolution in opposition to the Wheeler Avenue Recycling LLC Proposal 'SUP 2013-0059' that could have brought recycling of autos, trucks and equipment to the City's lot on Wheeler Avenue. The applicant withdrew the proposal.
Cambridge Healthcare presented another concept plan at a SHA meeting - I believe it is the third - for an assisted living facility adjacent to the Woodbine Rehab-Healthcare Center, 2729 King Street. The new design is 20% smaller with underground parking and would be a memory care unit. Northridge Civic Association continues to oppose this project because of its overwhelming size in a residential area and prefers an institutional use such as the various churches nearby.
SHA Board Members held a special meeting in August about the Wheeler Avenue Recycling LLC Proposal ''SUP 2013-0059' that could have brought recycling of autos, trucks and equipment to the City's lot on Wheeler Avenue. SHA tabled a motion opposing the project because of the lack of information; for example, what other uses this property might have and the impact of noise and traffic on the neighbors.
Home Properties has decided against building the Seminary Overlook project that would have replaced Seminary Garden apartments on Kenmore Avenue with 5-story buildings. They will also not contribute $10 million to the City in exchange for the increased zoning.
Abramson Properties proposed a project at King and Beauregard - where our 5 Guys was located - but will need a zoning increase. This proposal may go to City Council in the fall.
The Mayor and City Council approved access for food trucks to sell for 4 hours anywhere in the City beginning July 1.
Cambridge Healthcare has a new concept plan for an assisted living facility adjacent to the Woodbine Rehab-Healthcare Center, 2729 King Street that will be presented to the SHA Board of Directors likely in September.
City staff is proposing giving food trucks more access to customers and letting them park and sell for 4 hours anywhere in the City, including parks and residential streets. The Mayor and City Council will consider this change on May 17. Citizens are welcome to speak that morning beginning at 9:30 am in Council Chambers, 2nd floor, 301 King Street.
The Virginia Theological Seminary will ask the City for an SUP to build 40 units of housing on its campus for students with families. The units would be in four buildings-two 2-story and two 3-story-in the center of the campus adjacent to Episcopal High School. They will be financed by tax exempt bonds rather than gifts. Currently VTS subsidizes 65 students in apartments near the campus at a cost of $900,000 annually. Single students are now housed on campus.
The City dismissed Cambridge Healthcare's second concept plan for an assisted living facility adjacent to the Woodbine Rehab-Healthcare Center, 2729 King Street. Another plan is coming.
Virginia taxpayers are funding the construction of a new fine arts building on the Alexandria campus of NOVA Community College on N. Beauregard Street.
Cambridge Healthcare's current concept plan for an assisted living facility adjacent to the Woodbine Rehab-Healthcare Center located at 2729 King Street is slightly smaller with reduced parking. It remains too big for the site that is zoned for single family homes and could only have a negative impact on the Ivy Cemetery.
Residents in Taylor Run Citizens' Association presented a signed petition to the Planning Commission protesting Cambridge Healthcare's plan for an assisted living facility adjacent to the Woodbine Rehab-Healthcare Center.
Road improvements - additional left turn lanes - at the intersection of King and Beauregard may begin in 2015.
Abramson Properties filed a concept plan for the site of the old Jefferson Hospital - 4600 King Street - that would be a mixed-use development with a hotel, apartments, grocery store, and office space.
Home Properties filed a site plan in Arlington County to replace its 294 apartments - 4510 31st Street (north side of I-395 between Shirlington and King Street) - with 750 new ones.
Cambridge Healthcare presented its second concept plan for an assisted living facility adjacent to the Woodbine Rehab-Healthcare Center located at 2729 King Street. Like the first concept plan, it is still huge for an area zoned for single family homes.
Area 4 resident Jim Durham has applied to be a representative on the City’s West Eisenhower Small Area Plan. Because of the ill-conceived plans proposed for Potomac Yard—i.e. locating the Metro where federal property would be impacted—the West Eisenhower Plan schedule that was moved up from 2016 to 2014 may now be delayed.
City Council rejected a recommendation by staff—changes to Section 11-808 of the zoning code—that would have reduced the ability of landowners to protest zoning map changes. A minor win for residents who oppose increased density near their property.
City staff advised that the Hawthorne Extended Suites Hotel—420 North Van Dorn Street near Landmark—is being converted back into an apartment building, which was its original use in the 1960s. The owners are doing the conversion by-right.
Plans for the new chapel at the Virginia Theological Seminary were approved by the Planning Commission and City Council. The new chapel is under construction and slated to open in January 2015. To watch the construction project progress, go to and Click Here To Watch Now, Immanuel Chapel Construction then click on the dates in the calendar!
Cambridge Healthcare presented its first concept plan for an assisted living facility adjacent to the Woodbine Rehab-Healthcare Center, which is located at 2729 King Street and in the Taylor Run neighborhood. The plan proposes a 4-story complex and parking lots in an area zoned for single family homes. It would have 92 units: 56 one- and two bed units, 36 memory care units, and 8 affordable housing beds. City staff reviewed the plan and asked for changes/improvements.
The City Manager Rashad Young created a new department - the Department of Project Implementation - with Emily Baker as the Director.
Woodbine Rehab-Healthcare Center at 2729 King Street - in the Taylor Run neighborhood - proposed building a 4-story building for assisted living adjacent to residential properties, on land zoned residential. Taylor Run Civic Association opposed the proposal.
Construction on the new Safeway store at Bradlee Shopping Center has begun and is expected to be completed by the fall of 2014.
City Council decided to move up the schedule for the West Eisenhower Small Area Plan from 2016 to 2014. SHA has no equities in the plan area but is concerned about its possible impact on the Hill.
Plans to rebuild the Safeway at Bradlee Shopping Center are moving slowly. When the store will close is undetermined - was October, February, etc. - the Safeway spokesman said the store is awaiting final comments from the City to receive its building permit.
The Planning Commission approved plans for the new chapel at the Virginia Theological Seminary. VTS expects to dedicate the memorial garden on October 20, 2013 and the new chapel in October 2015.
City Council adopted the DSUP for all Colonial Heights property owners to build decks on their units. SHA had opposed decks on a few of the units that tower over homes on Fort Williams Parkway. Instead of a blanket approval for all of the homeowners, SHA had asked the City reaffirm its 1999 decision but allow balconies on a case by case basis. The Planning Commission and City Council both added requirements to the DSUP that may mitigate concerns of some SHA home owners.
The Planning Commission and City Council approved a text amendment to the Zoning Code Section 11-808 despite requests from SHA and other neighborhoods that the vote be delayed until more information was available. Citizens had unanswered questions—such as when in the past 20 years this section of the zoning code was used and whether this issue related to the Zoning Code (a City issue) or the City Charter (a Richmond issue)—but City Council rushed the vote on this issue and gave only a two weeks. The SHA Board scrambled to have a special meeting in February to discuss and pass its resolution.
SHA Board of Directors in support of residents on Fort Williams Parkway passed a resolution asking the City to reaffirm its 1999 decision that protected residents privacy and the quality of life in our neighborhoods by prohibiting all properties in Colonial Heights from adding balconies except in a case-by-case basis.
The Planning Commission approved the plans for the new chapel at the Virginia Theological Seminary that would be completed in 2014.
The City has approved the plan of Inova Alexandria Hospital to restore indigenous vegetation by planting Eastern Red Cedars and Crab Apple trees in the buffer area.
Virginia Theological Seminary hopes to begin building a new chapel in June or July next year with completion expected by the fall of 2014.
Alexandria Inova Hospital is working with the City arborist to develop a plan to restore the landscaping its contractor recently destroyed. This area is an easement controlled by the City of Alexandria and is subject to a 99 year lease that says the land must remain in its normal state – no vegetation or trees are to be removed. Recently, the Hospital hired a contractor to cut down small trees and remove a wide swath of vegetation ostensibly to remove poison ivy. When neighbors complained, the Hospital staff didn’t know anything about an easement. Finally, after neighborhood complaints to the City Attorney, the Hospital was ordered to cease and desist any more vegetation removal and to return the area to its natural state. The Alexandria City Arborist has told the Hospital what new types vegetation should be planted to replace what was removed.
Alexandria Inova Hospital has no plans at this time ot build a doctor's office building.
An employee at the Safeway at Bradlee Shopping Center said the store will close in August 2012 for about a year to build a new larger store.
The City is proposing a text amendment that would apply to section 11-416 of the zoning law that would include specific language to be applied by the Planning & Zoning Department when it grants variances in site plans and SUPs; i.e. side yard setbacks. The language of the text amendment and the date for consideration is not yet available.
A fire at 5325 Polk Avenue (near Pegram) where developers have proposed dense projects caused the owner to tear down the abandoned structure that had created a public nuisance, including campers and teenage parties.
City Council approved the rezoning for the Safeway’s property at Bradlee Shopping Center—a bigger grocery store and a commercial building (use unknown)—with promises from staff to improve the traffic at the King-Braddock-Quaker intersection known as “dysfunction junction.” The approved ‘Big Box’ store will not have access for delivery trucks from King Street. No plans were discussed about closing the King Street service road at Quaker Lane that citizens recommended to improve pedestrian access. No plans were discussed about adding more turn lanes in dysfunction junction that staff had proposed. Additional lanes likely require acquisition of land from other commercial properties in the Fairlington/Bradlee Small Area Plan, such as Lindsay Lexus, Radio Shack and/or the gas station.
City Council approved the rezoning for the Safeway’s property at Bradlee Shopping Center—a bigger grocery store and a commercial building (use unknown)—with promises from staff to improve the traffic at the Braddock-King-Quaker intersection known as “dysfunction junction.” The approved ‘Big Box’ store will not have access for delivery trucks from King Street. No plans were discussed about closing the King Street service road at Quaker Lane that citizens recommended to improve pedestrian access. No plans were discussed about adding more turn lanes in dysfunction junction that staff had proposed. Additional lanes likely require acquisition of land from other commercial properties in the Fairlington/Bradlee Small Area Plan, such as Lindsay Lexus, Radio Shack and/or the gas station.
SHA and Brookville-Seminary Valley Civic Association sponsored a town meeting at the Burke Library to hear about the proposal of the Polk Avenue Brothers and the Bonaventure Realty Group to build 42 apartments at 5325 Polk Ave. near Pegram.
Many citizens turned out for the “town hall” about the Polk Avenue Brothers and the Bonaventure Realty Group’s proposal to build 42 apartments at 5325 Polk Avenue near Pegram. Citizens and City staff note that this plan, like the previous one, fails to address specific criteria of the Zoning Ordinance listed in Section 11-410.
Polk Avenue Brothers and the Bonaventure Realty Group submitted a proposal to build 42 apartments at 5325 Polk Ave. near Pegram. The plan is denser than the previous one; the postman will not deliver mail to the project because of the steep grade and runoff onto Pegram Street should be no more than ankle deep. Citizens will have a “town hall” meeting to hear about this project on Sept. 15 at the Burke Library, 4701 Seminary Road, 7 pm.
Safeway representatives—Avis Black, Lee Quill, and Duncan Blair—provided a briefing at the SHA meeting on proposed plans to build a new Lifestyle Safeway at Bradlee Shopping Center. Basically, Safeway wants to demolish the old store built in the 1960s and replace it with one that is almost 50 percent bigger. In order to do this, Safeway proposes lifting the store up one story and putting parking at grade level. The size of the final building would be about a 3 or 4 story building. Safeway executives want to create a new life-style re-design with more space for prepared foods in accordance with today’s lifestyle. Safeway was unable to acquire additional property either from the Sun Trust Bank, the Sunoco gas station or the doctor’s office building. The store would be closed for a year or a bit more during construction with prescriptions available nearby. The new store is planned to open in the spring of 2013.
SHA sent a letter to the Mayor and City Council objecting to the process used on the Waterfront Plan and requesting a delay until citizens could explore other options.

“SHA supports a plan for Alexandria’s waterfront that preserves Alexandria’s rich history and unique character and that has less development and more public access to the water than now envisioned in the City’s Waterfront Plan. SHA requests the Mayor and City Council delay the final decision on this plan until other options are developed with an economic analysis and citizen support.”

Panel on the development process in Alexandria—Agenda Alexandria is sponsoring a panel on Monday, January 24, to explore “Alexandria Development: Are Residents Part of the Process?” The panel will include Don Buch, a civic activist from Cameron Station; Duncan Blair, an attorney with Land, Clark, Carroll, Mendelson and Blair, PC; Faroll Hamer, the City’s Director of Planning and Zoning; and Jack Sullivan, a civic activist from SHA. The event takes place at the Holiday Inn Eisenhower Metro Center, 2460 Eisenhower Avenue. The reception begins at 6:30, dinner is at 6:45 ($25 members/$30 nonmembers) and the program at 7:15 ($5 non-members). Dinner reservations are required. For information or reservations, contact Sherry Brown, 703-548-7089 or email
Bob Garbacz of the City’s transportation staff, said that Safeway is hoping to expand and renovate its store at the Bradlee Shopping Center but that he had no insight into the scope or design. By the grapevine Nan has heard that the plans are very preliminary, not even at the "concept plan" level. Safeway wants a bigger, brand new, au courant grocery store. It will likely increase density and height (2-story building), perhaps with underground parking. Safeway may propose moving its building closer to King Street and adding trees on the West Braddock side.
The residents of Seminary Hill and other parts of the West End are for solving the existing and predictable traffic problems of our area before providing land use and zoning changes that will increase density. Join SHA’s “Stop the Beauregard Corridor Plan” described on
Ken Wire of McGuire & Woods spoke about plans to redevelop the Steak & Ale property. WRIT plans to build another medical office building like the one it owns on Seminary Road just across Kenmore Avenue. The new building will have more than adequate parking—4 levels underground and 3 above—to meet the needs of both buildings. It will also have five floors of offices (the above ground size will be 8 stories). The project will be built by right with a 3.0 FAR. The concept plan will be available in 2011.
City staff clarified the process for handling zoning violations, such as noise and odors. During business hours Monday-Friday call the City Transportation & Environmental Services (T&ES) Department at at (703) 746-4065. Any other time—such as nights and weekends—call the police non-emergency number (703) 838-4444. The more complaints, the better likelihood of response from City officials.
Joanne Lepanto reported that City staff in Planning & Zoning are proposing changes to the Potomac Yard Plan for more density and changes to the grid roadways without input from citizens. The Planning Commission deferred the proposal.
Pat Lidy reported that the subdivision of the property at 4448 West Braddock Road was approved and new homes will be built but the old tree and open space is retained and Ivor Lane will be widened.
The City staff's proposal to increase their ability to grant zoning changes for businesses continues to cause frustration because it erodes citizens' control of development. If the City had the will and ability to enforce existing regulations - for example implementation of the Noise Ordinance and parking enforcement - citizens might look more favorably on simplifying the City zoning processes. Members of the Federation may meet in the fall with the City's Planning staff to discuss enforcement processes.
The Beauregard Corridor Plan meeting scheduled for June 28 was postponed until the fall at which time SHA may mount a public campaign against any increased density in the corridor. The City of Alexandria plans poorly and thus the BRAC at Mark Center. While the debate continues on how to handle the traffic gridlock that development will bring, City officials are planning more high rises and dense development nearby. Stop the madness!
Plans for three new homes in Seminary Hill—two on 4448 West Braddock & Ivor Lane and one at 508 Quaker Lane—and a renovation of the McDonalds on Duke Street at Wheeler were presented at the SHA monthly meeting.
Deputy Chief of Planning and Zoning Barbara Ross answered questions about the City staff's recommended changes to business zoning that would include more situations where P&Z could approve changes to a Special Use Permit (SUP), allow more non-industrial uses in the industrial zones, and not count child day-care centers as part of the FAR of a new building. SHA board members will meet to prepare a response to the proposed changes that go to the Planning Commission on June1 and to the City Council on June 12.
President Nancy Jennings asked that P&Z develop a better process for the nuisance abatement hotline because there is no way to enforce City regulations on noise and odors in a timely fashion, especially on weekends.
The SHA subcommittee on proposed development at 21 N. Quaker Lane (Quaker and Duke Streets next to the church) will meet again in two weeks.
The North Potomac Yard Small Area Plan was presented to The Federation of Civic Associations by staff and requires a change in the City’s debt capacity to fund a new Metro station. If the City issues $275 million in debt in 2014, the landowner of Potomac Yard will build commercial and residential buildings where the shopping center currently sits. Staff estimates that within 10 years (of what?), the developer’s projects will begin to pay more in taxes than it costs the City to service the debt. Lots of questions remain unanswered—such as why will this project succeed when everything Arlington has build in this corridor has failed—but mainly what City projects will not be done because funds are tied up in this Metro station? A few come to Nan’s mind: $32 M for improved sewers, $56 M for a flood wall/water break to protect Old Town, $60 M for Landmark Mall, $100 M to rebuild the interchange at Seminary Road and I-395, a new elementary school and a new firehouse in the West End.
Hoffman’s plans for Blocks 12 & 13 in the Eisenhower corridor were MUCH taller than envisioned by citizens who developed the plans. The City’s Planning &Zoning staff recommended a 120’ increase from the 250’ limit bringing the tallest building to 370’ or 32 stories and the other two tower at 22 and 28 stories. Staff claimed the City would get a "significant amount" of market-rate affordable housing units (50) for getting 145,000 sq ft more in the towers. The buildings are expected to pay $1.3 M in taxes. Nan wrote to the Planning Commission in opposition to this project and explained why Staff’s justification of height is flawed.
The City’s Planning & Zoning staff asked for a change at VA Paving as an Admin SUP that citizens and a member of the Planning Commission considered an inappropriate use of the Admin SUP vehicle because this was NOT a "minor" change. As of April 17, the Planning Commission was continuing to discuss this issue with P&Z staff.
P&Z Barbara Ross presented staff recommendations of changes to the Small Business Zoning process; for example, erosion of the definition of an industrial zone by retail and commercial uses, increasing the number of allowable seats in SUP restaurants from 60 to 100, new definitions of restaurants, and a continuance of the $500 fee for street trees and trash cans that only new SUPs pay (retail does not). Comments are due to staff by April 5 The recommendations go to the Planning Commission on May 3 and to City Council on May 15.
Harry “Bud” Hart of Hart, Calley, Gibbs & Karp made a presentation about a commercial development planned for 21 N. Quaker Lane and Duke Street (by the Apostolic Church). It would be a two-story office building with parking next to it and underneath it. Residents expressed concerns about three aspects: 1) its entrance on Quaker Lane may be unsafe because of it s proximity to Duke Street traffic that zips up the hill, 2) cut through traffic would increase on neighborhood streets, such as Trinity, since the building’s traffic can only turn right when exiting, and 3) the modern architectural style would not blend well with the residential properties on Quaker Lane.
Cathy Puskar of Walsh Colucci, presented a concept by Michael Eastwood of Home Properties to redevelop the Seminary Hill garden apartments on Kenmore Avenue. The proposal would replace the 3-story buildings with 4 or 5-story ones, increasing both the number of units and the number of parking spaces.
Nathan Randall of the City’s Department of Planning and Zoning described the subdivision request at 400 Princeton Boulevard at the SHA Board Meeting. Pat Escher also of Planning and Zoning opined that this project would not result in a McMansion.