Map of Alexandria’s Small Area Plans.
Alexandria is a city of smaller neighborhoods. Some date back to before the founding of the country, others are developments that are still in planning. While the areas around the Metro get a lot of attention, most of Alexandria is outside of Metro accessibility. For some of these neighborhoods, plans for the future mean major redevelopment projects. For others, upcoming plans for the city are smaller community improvements and natural restorations.
Beauregard has historically been known for its towering office spaces and traffic congestion. Plans for the Beauregard area hope to both utilize that office space and help diversify the neighborhood. One of the largest projects in the area is The Gateway at the intersection of King Street and Beauregard. The site will be transformed into three office and residential buildings sharing a public plaza, with ground floor retail including a Harris Teeter grocery store. Of the 352 new residential units being built at the site, 74 will be affordable to households at 40 to 60 percent of area median income (AMI).
The Beauregard neighborhood will receive its biggest affordable housing boost from the Church of the Resurrection project; a church being redeveloped into a 113-unit residential site entirely accessible to those households at 40 to 60 percent AMI. The project will come before the City Council for a public hearing in December.
At Filmore/St. James, construction is currently underway on a multi-family residential building that will provide 93 affordable residences. In June, City Council also approved 31 market-rate townhouses at the site.
Work is underway to combat Beauregard’s reputation as a traffic nightmare. Transit signal priorities (TSP) has been installed along the N. Beauregard and N. Van Dorn streets. TSP is a series of coordinated street lights that allow for adjustment of signal timing to accommodate for shifting traffic patterns. Bicycle lanes and high visibility sidewalks were also installed throughout the area this year.
Life generally takes a slower pace in Arlandria than it does in the high traffic, high office volume Beauregard neighborhood, and its small area plan reflects this. According to Lee Farner, senior project planner for Alexandria, the plans for Arlandria are less about creating a new place and more about finding ways to preserve and enhance the existing one.
“A lot of this is about community development,” said Farner. “It’s about improving streetscapes rather than the redevelopment side.”
In contrast to the new towers and plazas in the West End, one of the biggest changes to the area will be the expansion of the MOM’s Organic Market. The grocery store will be expanding by 40 percent this year to include a new organic/vegetarian eatery.
The Arlandria Neighborhood has also recently seen the completion of the Four Mile Run Wetlands Restoration project. Formerly a concrete bulwark put in place by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to abate flooding, the restored wetlands function to both minimize the risk of floods and provide a natural wildlife habitat. The new wetlands include a low and high marshland and an upland meadow with pedestrian trail that runs through the park. The trail has a naturally permeable surface to prevent disruption to the local ecosystem. The next improvement expected for the park is a bridge that will connect the trail to nearby softball fields. The bridge is expected to cost $500,000. The Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities is in the pre-approval stage for a $300,000 federal recreation grant, with the remaining $200,000 funded through the city’s Capital Improvement Plan.
Finally, along the waterfront, long debated projects are finally open or under construction. After a delay following a surprise boat discovery, Hotel Indigo on S. Union Street opened earlier this year. Demolition of Robinson Terminal South was completed earlier this year and an archeological study of the area beneath the warehouses found older building foundations and human remains. Construction is expected to begin at the project this fall. The site will include 26 townhouses with 70 multifamily units, 15,000 square feet of commercial space, and an acre of publically accessible ground level open space.
Like Four Mile Run, a restoration plan is underway at Windmill Hill Park further south along the waterfront. The restoration will replace the existing bulwark with a natural shoreline. Completion of the renovated shoreline is expected in Spring 2018.