5 questions about Alexandria’s waterfront

Thursday is the last day on the job for retiring Alexandria Planning and Zoning Director Farol Hamer. , who counts among her major accomplishments helping to launch a major redevelopment of the waterfront in Old Town. Here are five questions and answers about that project:

Q: The Alexandria waterfront plan was approved more than two years ago. What’s been going on since then?

A: The City Council just approved the first phase of a landscape design. Planning is underway for a 120-room hotel on the south end of the waterfront. A new waterfront cafe opened a year ago, and plans for a big new restaurant near the Torpedo Factory are underway. The two Robinson Terminal Warehouses, owned by the former Washington Post Co., were sold last September. Click here for the city’s detailed update of the plan.

Q: When will the new waterfront be finished?

A: That’s hard to say. A report expected this fall will show all the steps that remain, and where the revenues will come from. Emily Baker, the city’s waterfront project manager, said construction of waterfront parks and other public portions of the waterfront likely won’t begin for at least three more years.

Q: What will those parks look like?

A: Six acres of parkland will be developed between Pendleton Street and Wolfe Street after the old newspaper warehouses are torn down. A hotel will likely be built on the south end, and a mixed-use development is planned for the north. The foot of King Street will be the centerpiece, with a multipurpose park called Fitzgerald Square containing a fountain that can turn into an ice rink and a concert space, an overlook and places to sit. At the south end of the project, there will be a civic building, children’s play area, and outdoor reading room. You can flip through a 112-slide presentation here.

Q: Will the Old Dominion Boat Club still have its headquarters on the water?

A: Yes. The city is buying out the Old Dominion Boat Club for $5 million, a deal that the boat club members are expected to sign in mid-July. The club will move its headquarters several hundred feet south to the old Beachcombers building, which it will redevelop into a new clubhouse.

Q: Will King Street still flood after heavy rains?

A: The city has begun fixing the problem of flooding at the foot of King Street and along The Strand (a street that runs parallel to the waterfront). A contractor in May installed backflow devices, which are used to help control tidal backup in the storm sewer system, but there’s been a problem — either with installation, fabrication or the device itself. They’re working on a fix.

Patricia Sullivan seeks out news about Alexandria and Arlington County for the Washington Post.
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