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Finding A New Home For Alexandria Seaport Foundation

A traditional wooden boat tied up at the Alexandria Seaport Foundation on Potomac River in Old Town Alexandria.
Mr. T In D.C.: https://flic.kr/p/bHXEc4
A traditional wooden boat tied up at the Alexandria Seaport Foundation on Potomac River in Old Town Alexandria.
The Alexandria Seaport Foundation was founded in 1982 to maintain the town's maritime culture. (Michael Pope/WAMU)

A popular nonprofit organization in Alexandria, Virginia, is looking for a new home. The Alexandria Seaport Foundation is about to lose its facility because of the controversial waterfront redevelopment plan.

Robinson Terminal South is a sprawling building at the foot of Duke Street in Old Town Alexandria — an old warehouse that was once used to store giant rolls of newsprint. These days it's home to the Alexandria Seaport Foundation, a nonprofit organization that teaches at-risk youth boat-making skills. By this time next year, the nonprofit will have to move out of this building, which will be demolished as part of the waterfront plan.

"I like this place right here, though. I really don't want it to go nowhere. So I really don't like it," says Randall Smith. He's building a kind of ship known as a Bevin's Skiff.

"I feel, like, hurt I guess. It should stay right here. They don't need to go nowhere. Stay on the waterfront in Old Town," Smith says.

Leaders of the nonprofit say they want to stay on the waterfront, although right now they don't have a location. Executive director Mari Lou Livingood says that without a seaport, the Seaport Foundation would suffer.

"It will change the mission. It will change our access to the Potomac. It will change our access to the Potomac. It will change our boat use. It will change providing that opportunity for those who don't have access to the Potomac," Livingood says.

For now, nonprofit leaders have their eye on a civic building that's part of the Waterfront plan. The building not yet been built, and city leaders don't even own the land at this point.

"We're prepared for a capital campaign also, so we're not expecting a free ride," says Duncan Blair, chairman of the foundation and a prominent land-use attorney in Alexandria.

"The amount of a capital campaign could be several million dollars, and that may make us stand out when others are vying for a space," Blair says.

As the waterfront plan moves forward, leaders of the Seaport Foundation say they're ready to make the case for their place on the waterfront.


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