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Virginia Politics
Posted at 06:29 PM ET, 04/22/2011

After Old Dominion boat club holds firm, changes made to Alexandria waterfront plan

Alexandria officials have redrawn waterfront plans in a way that would allow the Old Dominion Boat Club to keep the majority of its property, but create pathways for the public to reach the water.

The multiyear redevelopment project, which would span about three miles from Daingerfield Island Park to Jones Point Park, is primarily parks and pedestrian piers, but includes development at two sites. Residents have argued that the $40 million waterfront plan is being driven by developers and that taller buildings and hotels are not needed.

A memo released Friday from the Department of Planning lists several changes in response to community concerns and discussions with the boat club, city officials said. Some of those changes are shown in two sketches of a waterfront plan that cut into the boat club’s parking lot at the end of King Street. Previous plans showed a park on that property.

After winning its land rights in a 30-year lawsuit with the federal government, the boat club has been in continuing discussions with the city for a land swap. The current two options create either a walkway from King Street straight to the water or a public parking lot and walkway to Waterfront Park, planned one block south of the boat club.

The club membership requested the pleasure boat pier, 28 slips in front of the Torpedo Factory and a boat storage facility in exchange, the memo states.

In one earlier scenario that has been tabled, the city would get the entire property at the end of King Street and build a new club and marina at the end of Prince Street in return.

That plan “ would have been extremely expensive for the city and for that reason is problematic,” said Faroll Hamer, the city’s planning director. She said building a new club and marina would cost the city $10 million.

“The city building a private club for wealthy, white older males by the water, politically that might be problematic,” said Poul Hertel, former president of the Old Town Civic Association.

The memo’s sketches show the pier originally planned for the end of King Street relocated to Waterfront Park. A proposed restaurant building was removed, at the request of community residents.

“Whatever changes are made to waterfront park and the elimination of the boat club parking lot probably represent improvements, but there is a serious problem with the amount of density on the two terminal sites,” said Katy Cannady, a Rosemont resident.

The North and South Robinson Terminal sites, owned by The Washington Post Company, are slated for 50-foot buildings, including hotels, that cover the available land, Cannady said.

“Currently those warehouses look big and they are two stories high,” she said.

The updated plan includes design and operational guidelines for future restaurants and hotels that “will not in any way impinge on the authenticity of the historic fabric and ensure they will be compatible with the existing neighborhood,” Hamer said. She said more ties to Alexandria’s historic waterfront also are planned.

The Planning Commission is expected to vote on the plan on May 3.

By  |  06:29 PM ET, 04/22/2011

 
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