The Alexandria City Council voted unanimously Saturday to approve the construction of a residential, hotel and commercial project at the north end of the Old Town waterfront, signing off on the last of the major pieces of the city’s waterfront plan nearly four years after the city council agreed to remake its Potomac River shore.
The developers, City Interests and Rooney Properties, plan to build two structures on the site of warehouses known as Robinson Terminal North, which were formerly owned by a subsidiary of the old Washington Post Co. The combined project, expected to be completed in 24 to 30 months, will contain 66 multifamily units, a 132-room hotel and 25,000 square feet of commercial space, including up to four restaurants with as many as 500 indoor and outdoor seats.
The multimillion-dollar development, located at West’s Point, the earliest continually occupied site in the city, drew scrutiny from some residents. They raised objections to an expected increase in both on-street parking demand and construction traffic. They attempted, as they did during the waterfront plan controversy four years ago, to delay passage of the project.
“If you are not careful . . . you will bring festering resentments that will last for decades,” warned neighborhood resident Carolyn Merck.
But unlike four years ago when more than 100 members of the public objected during an 11-hour meeting, only 10 residents spoke against the proposal. Most were Old Town residents or those who have fought the waterfront plan for years.
The developers will create a public walkway along the river, rebuild the existing pier and add a floating dock, both of which will be open to the public. The project will include 260 underground parking spots for condo residents as well as hotel and restaurant customers.
Any additional parking needed will be handled with valet parking to area garages. City staff pointed out that nearby parking garages reach only 35 percent of their capacity during peak times, but residents said many visitors won’t walk the four to five blocks to the garages.
Mayor Bill Euille (D) disclosed at the start of the meeting that he has received campaign contributions from people involved in the project both in the past and in his current write-in campaign for mayor, but he said he did not find himself in a conflict of interest and would participate and vote.
The hotly contested waterfront plan, which took years to resolve, passed in January 2012, then was passed again 14 months later. The City Council last year adopted a $120 million landscape design and project plan created by Olin Studios. The Old Dominion Boat Club, which accepted a $5 million buyout offer from the city for its clubhouse and parking lot at the foot of King Street, is moving a few hundred feet south, and its old home will become part of a new civic square.
Work on both Carr Hospitality’s planned boutique hotel at 220 S. Union St. and a residential and retail project on the site of the old Robinson Terminal South warehouse, now owned by EYA, began this summer.