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Alexandria Waterfront Hotel Proposal Pushed Despite Zoning Limbo

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The Carr Hospitality company is pushing for a hotel on Alexandria's south waterfront, despite a lack of clarity in zoning laws.
Carr Hospitality
The Carr Hospitality company is pushing for a hotel on Alexandria's south waterfront, despite a lack of clarity in zoning laws.

The fight over the future of Alexandria's waterfront is moving to a new stage. A developer is pushing a new hotel, even though the zoning changes that would allow it are still caught up in legal challenges.

Hotels aren't currently allowed on the waterfront, nor is density beyond a certain level. But that hasn't stopped Carr Hospitality. The developer has proposed a hotel on the waterfront with a higher density than is allowed under the current zoning.  They're doing so even though challenges to those rules are still in legal limbo.

Old Town neighbors say the scale is too dense, while city leaders say the increased density is needed to pay for flood control and other amenities. Waterfront work group member Mindy Lyle says she doesn't see any problem with the higher density proposal, even if it remains mired in court.

"It's not the way I would prefer to see things, but because there's such a fight over the zoning I can understand their not waiting," says Lyle.

Her fellow work group member Bert Ely disagrees. He says the possibility that Carr Hospitality could put a Hotel Indigo on the Waterfront isn't so much the problem as the city's willingness to entertain zoning that has yet to be approved. "What they are proposing and what people have an issue with, is the physical structure," says Ely. "Whether it's called an Indigo or Madame Bouvier's whorehouse, it doesn't make any difference."

The Old Town Board of Architectural Review was scheduled to formally consider a design next week, but City Attorney Jim Banks says that's now been changed.

"Not to move to formally process this application by the developer, but rather just to have an informational session where folks could just hear about what was going on," says Banks.

The work session, which is scheduled for next Wednesday, will give members of the public an opportunity to voice their concerns.

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Michael Pope is also a reporter with the Connection Newspapers who provides special coverage of Northern Virginia for WAMU 88.5. His story for the Connection can be found at ArlingtonConnection.com.

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