Waterfront debate leaks into political races

As if there weren’t enough opinions about how Alexandria should deal with the waterfront (one week until the City Council work session, 18 days until the public hearing/vote), two candidates for the council have now weighed in.

Republican Scott Gordon, who describes himself as “a huge proponent of commercial development, specifically mixed-use real estate that blends ground-floor retail with upper-floor modern rental or condominium housing,” eschews both the city’s plan and the Citizens for an Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan. He calls for a “facelift” instead of a wholesale redevelopment.

The mostly-empty Robinson Terminal buildings (owned by a subsidiary of The Washington Post Co.) which bracket the most-scrutinized area of the waterfront, “provide ample space for mixed-use retail and housing, parking, green space and leisure boat marinas,” Gordon wrote. He supports hotels on the waterfront, with city hotel occupancy tax revenues aimed at a variety of uses, including acquiring and maintaining open space.

Democrat Sean Holihan, who’s also running for the council, said in a letter to the editors of local blogs that it’s time to stop debating and delaying, and vote. CAAWP, he says, is “faced with certain defeat...  Worse, they’ve negotiated in bad faith, pocketing every compromise then complaining that they’re not being heard...It’s been over two years now, with nearly 100 meetings to get input from Alexandrians on the Waterfront Plan. We’ve been heard in this process and what Alexandria wants is an economically viable Waterfront for all of us.”

CAAWP’s co-founders, Boyd Walker, plans a run for the council, and Andrew MacDonald said last month he’s considering it, too, although rumors say he’s looking at the mayor’s job. Rumors swirl about other Alexandrians who have acquired a taste for local politics over the past year.

Patricia Sullivan covers government, politics and other regional issues in Arlington County and Alexandria. She worked in Illinois, Florida, Montana and California before joining the Post in November 2001.

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