The sale of the Robinson Terminal warehouses in Alexandria to two different developers is likely to bring a boutique hotel, residences and retail to the Old Town waterfront in the next few years, just as proponents and opponents of the city’s contentious waterfront debate have predicted over the past 30 months.
Both industrial warehouses, huge remnants of what was once a working waterfront, were sold Friday by the Washington Post Co. after seven months on the market. The brick structures, which enclose a combined 600,000 square feet, are assessed for a total of $30 million, but the individual sale prices were not disclosed.
Mayor William D. Euille (D) said both developers were highly qualified and known players in Alexandria. EYA, which bought the southern terminal, at Union and Duke streets, in a partnership with JBG, has built more than 10 communities in the city over the past 21 years, including the waterfront condominiums at the Oronoco, Fords Landing and Old Town Commons. CityInterests — which bought the northern warehouse, at Oronoco and Union streets, with Armada Hoffler — has built numerous mixed-used developments in the area as well as the District’s Mandarin Oriental hotel.
“Hopefully, they are both fully cognizant of the city’s waterfront plan, and they will be supportive and compliant,” Euille said. “We’re looking forward to working with them.”
Planning director Faroll Hamer said the city will have an initial meeting with the buyers next week.
The city’s waterfront plan, the subject of pitched civic and legal battles over the past 2 1 / 2 years, aims to revitalize an eight-block stretch of land along the Potomac River. Parks, parking lots and piers, some in disrepair, now line the shore, cutting off walking access at key points. Opponents of the plan fought to restrict commercial development; the City Council reduced the number and size of hotels it would allow to be built, but twice supported the waterfront plan.
Bert Ely, leader of the opposition movement, said Monday that the sale of the properties was all the talk during a weekend river cruise with some neighbors.
“This all gets back to our concern about traffic and parking,” he said, “and whether [development] would have an impact on the historic nature of Old Town.”
Together, the warehouses bookend the heart of Old Town Alexandria, whose history dates back to before 1749.
CityInterests principal Peter Farrell said they will build a “first-class project to comport with the city’s waterfront plan.”
The northern warehouse is split into two buildings. Both will be demolished, and the land west of Union Street will probably house a “boutique, luxury hotel” and condos, he said. The eastern portion is likely to house residential and retail space, “with a fully integrated plan for the pier and trail.”
A deteriorating pier juts into the river at West’s Point at the end of the northern terminal warehouse. The National Park Service’s Mount Vernon Trail, heavily used by runners and bicyclists, curves around the warehouse.
A.J. Jackson of EYA confirmed the sale of the southern terminal Friday but would not say what the firm’s plans are for the 3.5-acre property.
“We look forward to working closely with the Alexandria community and the city to redevelop this one-of-a-kind property in accordance with Alexandria’s recently adopted waterfront plan,” the firm said in a prepared statement.