Concept rendering for redeveloped GenOn Power Plant property.
Things have been quiet at the GenOn power plant. In the five years since the power plant closed, the building has sat empty and untouched on Alexandria’s waterfront. There’s movement behind closed doors, though, as the city prepares to start negotiations over the site’s future by the end of the year.
There’s a vision for the site that involves transforming the concrete structure into an open park and office high rises. The Old Town North Small Area Plan outlines the city’s goals to transform the two to four acres of space at the east end of the site into open waterfront space. The rest of the 20-acre site has been identified as potential for new office spaces. But the plan also calls for innovation in the approach to the GenOn plant’s redevelopment, using academic institutions, business incubators, culinary institutes and museums as examples of other uses that can help transform the space into more than just another office park.
But that vision for GenOn is still far from reality. Like Landmark Mall, the GenOn site is divided between two property owners. GenOn holds an 88-year lease on the site from the Potomac Electric Power Company (Pepco), which owns the land. GenOn, a subunit of NRG Energy Inc, filed for bankruptcy in June. Jeffrey Farner, deputy director of Planning and Zoning, said the company is anticipated to come out of bankruptcy by the end of the year.
“Once they do that, they will continue to proceed on resolving the ownership issues and acquiring a development partner for the site,” said Farner. “NRG would acquire the site from an ownership perspective. They would essentially go through a process to bring on a developer to redevelop the site.”
The smaller portion of the site to the west of the main power plant is a closed substation owned by Pepco. Farner said Pepco and Dominion Power are planning on filing an application with the state for re-utilization of the site. After the application is filed, Farner said the city will be working with Pepco and the community to determine the future of the substation. Farner said that any redevelopment of the site would require city approvals, so there will be opportunities for the community to be engaged with the project.
The Small Area Plan also notes that the site will require extensive demolition and remediation.
“That’s a fairly common process,” said Farner. “Being a power plant, it will be a process that will probably be more involved.”