Some Alexandrians called it the 12-Year War, and most believed that the residents won it in 1982.
But during the weekend, the battle between a developer and residents reopened when a new developer announced plans to build a multimillion-dollar complex south of National Airport.
Richard L. Beadles, president of the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad, told the Alexandria City Council Saturday that his company is drafting a blueprint for a complex on 38 acres of RF&P land just off the George Washington Parkway.
Beadles did not elaborate on the scope or details of the project when he announced his plans at a City Council retreat in Airlie, Va. But Mayor James P. Moran Jr. said the project probably would include a hotel plus office and residential units.
"It's inevitable that that land will be developed," Moran said as he gave his tentative support for the project. The proposed project, on one of the most valuable undeveloped city tracts, would broaden the city's tax base and increase the number of jobs, Moran said.
Moran and Acting City Manager Vola Lawson, who also spoke favorably of the proposal, stressed that they would review Beadles' final plans, which are to be presented to the council within a year, before giving final approval.
"It's been hanging fire for a long time," said Lenore Van Swearingen, a longtime Alexandria resident who has consistently opposed development of the largely vacant tract. "We're up in arms because we think it the proposed project will completely gridlock the area."
Van Swearingen, who fought the original construction plans before the City Council from 1970 to 1982, said: "We said there was a density problem then; now there are even more buildings in the area."
Sheldon Lynn, the Alexandria planning director, advised the City Council Saturday to scale down the zoning density permitted on the site. As the city code reads now, Beadles could build a complex that is denser than the recently approved Landmark Century project, Lynn said.
If built, the newly proposed complex would increase traffic on the parkway and surrounding roads and would mar the open space along the scenic parkway, said Andrea Dimond, former Old Town Alexandria Association president.
When the parkway was constructed in 1932, it was considered one of the most scenic parkways in the world, according to transportation authorities, and thus few entrances onto it and developments near it were permitted.
Opposition to developing the 38-acre site intensified in 1970 when Charles M. Fairchild, a developer who had leased the tract from RF&P, announced plans to build a $300 million office, hotel and apartment complex.
Fairchild lost the property lease in 1982 because he had failed to begin construction within the specified time. The biggest obstacle stalling Fairchild's plan was the National Park Service's refusal to allow the construction of an interchange connecting the proposed site and the parkway. Last year, the National Capital Planning Commission, which oversees projects concerning federal property such as the parkway, decided to permit RF&P to build such an interchange.
Beadles said he plans to begin construction on the road connection after further plans for the development are approved