What will be the fate of the largest single land use element of Alexandria's West End? That question and others were left unanswered last month at the third public meeting focused on the Landmark/Van Dorn Area Plan.
Landmark Mall, as noted by the consultants undertaking the area study, "has experienced declining sales in recent years and is ... coming under scrutiny as the retail world and consumer preferences continue to evolve and change."
They also pointed out, "The present mall owners, General Growth Properties of Chicago, has approached the city with a prospect to redevelop the mall for a mix of uses, including retail restaurants, a theater complex, hotel, and over 1,000 residential units."
General Growth Properties continued interest in redeveloping the mall site was reiterated in a letter from Maura Feaheny, senior development director, the day of the meeting. "We ... are continuing to work with the City of Alexandria to refine the plan for the potential redevelopment of the mall," she stated.
However, those gathered at the Washington Suites Hotel on South Reynolds Street on June 15, were told by Wallace Roberts & Todd representatives, consultants for the city Department of Planning and Zoning, "While the primary focus is on the Landmark/Van Dorn area, it is important that the study also consider the area's larger sphere of influence within Alexandria's West End."
That was the primary purpose of the third public session, to develop an "Understanding of the Place," according to the consultants. The study area is approximately 4.26 square-miles in size or 27.5 percent of the City and contains more than 31 percent of Alexandria's population.
It is also an area of Alexandria that has been steadily increasing in population since 1970. "The Landmark/Van Dorn Area increased its population by 29.38 percent since 1990," they reported.
In order to address these statistics, the meeting focused on two specific aspects of the overall plan: Transportation and Land Use. As noted by the consultants at the outset, "These ideas are not plans." They then proceeded to cover both aspects in detail.
This public workshop completed Phase 1 of a four phase study. The consultants, working with Planning and Zoning Department staff and the Planning Commission, will now commence the Planning and Design phase of the study.