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Alexandria Planners Give Green Light To Waterfront Hotel, But Not Without Debate

Developer Carr City Centers wants to build the Cummings Hotel, a five-story building with 120 hotel rooms, a restaurant and a meeting room.
Alexandria Department Of Planning And Zoning
Developer Carr City Centers wants to build the Cummings Hotel, a five-story building with 120 hotel rooms, a restaurant and a meeting room.

In Virginia, members of the Alexandria Planning Commission are giving a green light to a controversial waterfront hotel — the first development in the city's new waterfront plan.

Not one speaker supported a proposal from Carr City Centers to build a five-story, 120-room hotel on the Alexandria waterfront, a building that would be more than twice as large as the 1960s-era warehouse that's there now. Speaker after speaker said the building was too big, too boxy and too bulky for the scale of historic Old Town.

But Planning Director Faroll Hamer disagrees. "It was the best that we could make it. We think it's good," he said.

Planning Commissioner Derek Hyra says good might not be good enough. "You felt it was good, but you didn't use the term great. And I think I know I mean I pretty much sense that everyone up here wishes that you could use the word great when you were describing this," he said.

Planning Commissioner Stewart Dunn says the project if far from great. In fact, he said, "This applicant is giving us a roadside motel, and it's not special."

Dunn suggested the developer go back to the drawing board, and reduce 10 rooms so that it was a 110-room hotel, perhaps making the size and scale of the building a little easier to take.

But Ken Wire, a lawyer representing the developer, flatly rejected that idea. "We will not build a 110-room hotel," he said.

In the end, Planning Commission members approved the proposal, although they asked the developer to find a way to make it seem less obtrusive.

"You work on the finances with the city manager to make sure it's as small as we can possibly get it and then in concert with that you make it look as small as you can possibly get it with the best design as you can possibly get it," said Chairman John Komoroske.

Planning Commissioner Eric Wagner says the proposal is more than good. "I think this is going to be of great benefit to the city. I put the word great into my sentence there. It is going to be of great benefit to the city. I think we will be proud when it's built," he said.

City Council members will have the final say on the proposal, which will be closely watched as a direction for other soon-to-be-redeveloped properties along the waterfront.

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