After 11 meetings, both public hearings and internal discussions, the Potomac Yard Fire Station & Affordable Housing Task Force has recommended approval of a combined fire station/affordable housing structure for Potomac Yard. It will replace fire suppression and Hazmat apparatus now housed in Station 202 on Windsor Avenue in Del Ray.
Following its final meeting in mid-September the 11-member task force concluded, “Station 209 will provide better coverage for city-wide fire protection and regional response systems” and “The economic advantage of co-locating Station 209 with approximately 60 Workforce and Affordable Housing Units is one of the most fiscally responsible actions the city can achieve.”
Under the plan, Del Ray’s Station 202 will remain operative as an Emergency Medical Services location for at least the next five to eight years, according to the plan. EMS personnel from the existing station will serve its present coverage area as well as the new Potomac Yard Development.
To be located in Landbay G of Potomac Yard, the plan calls for 60 units of affordable/workforce housing to be constructed on the upper floors of the four story building. The task force report recommended, “The city shall set a target goal of mixed rental units affordable, 68 percent and workforce, 32 percent.”
It also recommended that, “The workforce units shall be allocated as a recruitment tool for city service providers [Teachers, Police and Fire Department personnel, etc.] and be allotted priority placement whenever an opening occurs and within the legal scope of preferential placement.”
One of the points of uncertainty throughout the discussions was whether Station 209 would be a three or four bay facility. Potomac Yard Development, LLC, which has proposed to build the structure, at no cost to the city, had originally proposed three bays.
Another recommendation of the task force calls for the developers to “design and build a four bay fire station at no cost to the city.” It also recommends, “Any cost not borne” by the developer “in constructing a four bay fire station, the city shall allocate funds to design and build the fourth bay.” If that should happen the task force called for additional public comment.
As noted in the report, “The proposed Station 209 is approximately four blocks east and eight blocks north of Station 202; approximately one mile. This station  will provide the same four minute response time as the current first due response unit for the areas in the communities known as Rosemont, Del Ray, Mt. Jefferson, Lynhaven, Arlandria, and Warwick Village and actually improve delivery of fire suppression services to the Alexandria and Arlington boundary.”
“I certainly think this is the best decision in the interests of the city and the Fire Department. We need to honor this task force for the hard work they have done,” said Alexandria Fire Chief Gary Mesaris.
THE TASK FORCE also saw the proposal as “a much needed improvement to the quality of life for Fire Department personnel that will be transferred from Station 202” to the new Station 209. Constructed in 1926, Station 202 can not house much of the modern firefighting equipment and apparatus used today.
The new station will have individual bedrooms and seven baths to accommodate male and female personnel. It will also have a community room, storage capabilities for Hazmat equipment and be ADA compliant.
As for the residential element of the new structure, there will be two levels of underground parking with an entrance and exit opposite from the fire station to alleviate any conflicts in emergency situations. Eighteen spaces of the garage will be reserved for fire department personnel.
Of the proposed 60 affordable/workforce housing units, plans call for 12 one-bedroom units of 914 sq. ft.; 45 two-bedroom units at 1,150 sq. ft.; and three triple bedroom units at 1,425 sq. ft. Other amenities in the building will include “a small fitness facility and community/business center” with open space on the roof.
The projected location of the combined facility will be near the proposed Potomac Yard Town Center. This location will provide quick response time to Del Ray, according to Fire Department analysis.
Planned as a turnkey project, estimated cost of the facility is $6 million for both construction and total outfitting. “This is an exciting opportunity for us to get a modern station and meet our delivery of service requirements which is always our primary objective,” Mesaris said.