On the Alexandria waterfront, old warehouses and chain-link fences stop pedestrians from walking along the Potomac River — a lingering concern for city leaders who have wanted to transform this space to a grand pedestrian walkway for generations. Now, some say that goal is finally coming into focus with a development plan that would almost triple density at three sites compared to what's there now. But many people in Old Town say the city should keep the existing zoning, which would more than double the density.
"It's essentially a sell-out to the corporate entities," says Old Town resident Bob Wood. "We are all glad to get rid of the warehouses, but the city could have seized an opportunity, really a once in a lifetime opportunity, to make this an Alexandria brand instead of a corporate brand."
Before the city even released a plan, The Washington Post brought a lawsuit challenging the city's existing zoning, which dates back to 1992. The Post, which owns two waterfront warehouses, charged that it was entitled to more density than the current zoning allows. So city officials gave the Post all the density it was asking for, and more.
Planning director Faroll Hamer says the City Council has already approved the concept of increased density. Now, the only item on the table is implementing the new zoning.
"It gives the city a lot more control over the new development, and it allows the city to require contributions from the developers."
One hotel has already expressed an interest in developing on the waterfront, and other developers may be waiting in the wings for the zoning change.
The City Council is expected to cast a final vote during a public hearing Saturday.