Saturday, February 28, 2009
Folks have been asking what is up with the vacant lots along Mt Vernon Avenue north of Four Mile Road.
An "Open Space" fund was created several years ago when the City allocated 1% of City tax revenues for for acquisition and expansion of Alexandria's public park holdings. These four parcels were acquired by the City of Alexandria just over two years ago with Open Space funds after an intensive prioritization process. The City continued to lease the properties for an additional year up until they were vacated back at the beginning of 2008. Since then, Alexandria has moved ahead with demolition of the three smaller builders but left the old Duron building for some, yet-undetermined future park use (bathrooms?).
The expected park planning meetings have been delayed past the Fall 2008 start, because Alexandria's Parks and Rec department is still awaiting final state certification of the environmental remediation that was performed after the former dry cleaning establishment vacated their parcel. This certification is expected to be forthcoming soon, at which point, Parks and Rec staff anticipate moving forward with implementing park plans after a public vetting process.
(Conceptual drawings from the Four Mile Run Master Plan and Arlandria Plan).
It seems that FEMA has begun re-evaluating their flood control certification practices and have notified the City that the Army Corps of Engineers project no longer satisfies contemporary criteria.
The de-certification of the flood walls is still pending, but it is already having real effects. Last month, at a City Council hearing, Congressman Jim Moran announced that the Four Mile Run restoration work would not qualify for funding from the federal stimulus package, despite the huge amount of time, effort and money that has gone into getting it shovel ready.
According to the memo, the impact of the new flood insurance rate maps (FIRMs) should only be felt by a few properties, but the question still up in the air is what will become of the stream restoration work. That answer and more coming up soon when the Four Mile Run Joint Task Force meets next month.
Friday, February 27, 2009
Monday, February 23, 2009
There were two meetings. The first was a City Council Meeting on Saturday, Feb 21. The second was a coffee with Councilman Justin Wilson held at a Lenox Place residence (many thanks to Paul Cox) on Feb 22. Here are the pertinent highlights from the two meetings.
First, the City Council meeting:
If you want to listen to the audio and view the docket, go here. It's the meeting listed as Feb 20, 2009 (it actually was on the 21st). The audio about Arlandria is approximately half an hour into the meeting and lasts about half an hour. The audio link takes a few minutes to load. Here's a summary of what was said:
- Mayor Euille and Council wants to move forward on exploring ways to make Revitalization feasible, largely due to Councilmen Krupicka and Wilson. They do not doubt the study that says Revitalization of the Safeway/Datatel site is infeasible as is currently written based on current market conditions. Councilman Krupicka mentioned that City Council has the power to relax the guidelines if there is an interested party with a solid plan (can be flexible with taxes, zoning, parking, density, etc.).
- Concilman Krupicka mentioned creating an Arts District so we encourage revitalization. Doesn't want to lose Birchmere and wants to move forward.
- City Council voted for forming an implementation group (similar to the one created for Braddock Rd) consisting of citizens and businesses to focus on implementing the action plan, developing a new one, and keeping Arlandria on the front burner.
- 12 Arlandria citizens showed up for the meeting and 4 Arlandria citizens spoke in favor of moving forward. The main points by citizens were:
- Arlandria is an important gateway to Alexandria and should not be looked at in a vacuum. It affects the whole city's image.
- The perceptions of Arlandria should not stop the city from pushing forward because DC has numerous models of how new and positive development can cause an area to improve.
- We're behind in the Arlandria plans and other developments seem to be moving forward due to flexibility and lower requirements for low income/affordable/work-force housing. We need to relax the limitations in the Arlandria plan.
- The citizens and citizens associations are willing to do some legwork to get wayfinding signs and other improvements done ahead of the city's schedule. Arlandria needs a real brand. Right now, many people don't know we exist and we intend to change that.
- New head of Alexandria Economic Development Partnership spoke with us after our docket item. She's very interested in our efforts.
- Councilman Wilson (I'll use CW from here on out) mentioned the triangle project is moving forward at long last and that this should be good for Arlandria. There may be other nearby buildings revitalizing soon.
- CW mentioned that city staff is trying to get a request for interest posted by this summer to see if any developers have interest in the site with slightly different ideas (more floors, bigger site, etc.). CW also mentioned that other pieces of land could be incorporated into the final project (between Russel Rd and Mt Vernon Ave). They're trying to leave the door open. The Arlandria small area plan was the first of it's kind in Alexandria and they've learned through subsequent projects that they need to keep things more flexible. West End and Potomac Yard re-development has been more successful because of the built in flexibility. This is in line with Councilman Krupicka's comments at the City Council meeting.
- CW also mentioned a carrot to developers of partnering with them on the Datatel site since it's currently bringing in no revenue and redevelopment would bring in revenue to the city.
- CW thinks Potomac Yard Metro will come within the next 10 years b/c of help from the current Potomac Yard site owners and their desire to redevelop as a more urban site.
- CW discussed many other topics (transit, Verizon Fios, city's cable agreement, Potomac Yard development, density, traffic, etc.). This was just the Arlandria-related discussion.
Kevin Beekman E-mail Kevin
Nick Partee E-mail Nick
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Planning Department Attributes Inertia to Lack of Community Involvement.
Your show of support for Arlandria is critical as the economic downturn sidelines initiatives without strong public backing.
Other development is being aggressively pursued by the city:
“We are at the point where it behooves us to focus on this right now,"Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille told WTOP. "This is all at the very beginning stages, and it may not happen until five or 10 years down the road, but we want to make sure that we don't miss our chance."
Mayor Euille was unfortunately not making this impassioned statement
about Arlandria, but this is exactly what we are looking to hear.
Please attend Saturday's City Council meeting or e-mail council at:
Let the City know it needs to show flexibility & creativity to encourage business & development in Arlandria.
Tell them: They need to take a more active and aggressive role in
encouraging activity by rewarding landowners willing to step
forward and set the example.