Developer Edens plots mixed-use project for Giant store north of Old Town

Edens, developer of major mixed-use projects in the District and Merrifield, is plotting its next act in Alexandria north of Old Town.

The South Carolina-based company has built a name locally by turning industrial property or dated shopping areas into mixed-use projects with an urban feel. In Fairfax County, it developed the Mosaic District on the site of a former movie theater. It is also building Union Market, a hub of restaurants and food shops in Northeast D.C.


Union Market, an Edens project in Northeast D.C., recently added a full-service restaurant, Bidwell. (Photo by Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

In Alexandria, Edens has purchased a Giant grocery store at 530 First St. and is under contract to buy the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control store next door, according to Steve Boyle, managing director of Edens.

Between the two properties, Edens controls the entire block bordered by First Street to the north, North Pitt Street to the east, Montgomery Street to the south and North St. Asaph Street to the west. Boyle said the company was planning a mix of residential units and retail, referring to it as “another opportunity to enrich the existing community in really what we call North Old Town.”

Edens has not yet submitted plans to the county, but it has begun discussing the project with prospective retailers, including some this week during a meeting of the International Council of Shopping Centers.

A sticking point might be the future of the Giant store.

Stephanie Landrum, chief operating officer at the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership, a nonprofit economic development group, said that Giant opened in 1951 and was the chain’s oldest operating store. After meeting with Giant officials, she said she wasn’t sure the company was prepared to close the store even though the chain will be opening a store in nearby Potomac Yard.

“I think there’s some emotional, nostalgic connection to it,” she said.

A spokesman for Giant, Jamie Miller, said the company had not made a final decision on the First Street location.

“Giant is currently in discussions with Edens regarding their development plans at 530 First St. in Alexandria. We have not made any final decisions concerning our existing store or our potential participation in the new development,” he said in an e-mail.

Landrum said the area around the Giant was probably ready for redevelopment and Edens had the capacity to redefine the location.

“I think Edens is really popular right now. People like what they’ve done in other places and companies want to be a part of their projects,” she said.

She said that, in general, Alexandria was drawing more interest from developers and retailers now that some industrial sites along the Potomac River had been opened up for development.

“There just seems to be a lot of buzz about the waterfront and Old Town,” she said.

Follow Jonathan O’Connell on Twitter: @oconnellpostbiz

jonathan.oconnell@washpost.com

Jonathan O'Connell has covered land use and development in the Washington area for more than five years.
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