News: November/December 2004

CONDOMINIUM PROJECT APPROVED AT FIRST AND ROYAL STREETS

Holladay Corporation won approval this month for construction of a 53-unit condominium project on the southwestern portion of the block just across First Street from Montgomery Park. The site is currently occupied by the National League of Postmasters and a 24-space surface parking lot.

The new buildings are to be three to four stories high and provide one three-bedroom unit, 17 two-bedrooms, and 35 one-bedrooms. Two levels of below-grade parking supply 84 parking spaces for the project. Existing utilities on Royal Street are to be relocated below grade.

The project is designed to effect a transition of building scales within the block, and provides amenities for residents and the neighborhood. It includes a “pocket park” on the site usable by the general public, and provides visual linkages to Montgomery Park and the waterfront by installing a new brick sidewalk, landscape strip, and street trees along First Street, and placement of stamped and colored pedestrian crosswalks at the Royal and Fairfax Street intersections with First Street. The developer has proffered $10,000 toward Montgomery Park improvements.

Holladay Corporation worked over several months with neighborhood associations, the Old Town North Urban Design Advisory Committee, and City staff to finalize its plans. The Old Town North Community Partnership supported the project due to its favorable effect on the appearance of our neighborhood, and after ascertaining that the developer would work with neighbors to mitigate construction impacts.

Holladay is currently building the “Liberty Row” condos at First and Washington Streets, and recently purchased the northern half of the Hearthstone Mews block, currently occupied by Windows Catering.

ST. ANTHONY’S DAY SCHOOL PARENTS EFFECTIVE IN AIRING CONCERNS

Throughout the planning process for the Postmasters project, St. Anthony’s Day School parents expressed concern about the potential impact on young children of the future construction activity. Several wrote letters and spoke at the Planning Commission and City Council public hearings about these concerns. As a result, the City of Alexandria added to the project approval a number of conditions to minimize construction noise on school days, control dust and debris during demolition and new construction, and to provide for community liaison between the builder and affected parties.

SCHOLARSHIP FUND OF ALEXANDRIA EXCEEDS GOALS

Old Town North resident Laura Machanic was one of the Chairs of the recent Scholarship Fund of Alexandria Telethon that raised over $100,000 to provide scholarships to academically qualified students with financial needs. Since 1986, more than 2,000 scholarships have been awarded. The organization’s stated goal for this year was $83,000. The Old Town North Community Partnership donated $250 from its own funds, and many of our members made personal donations as well.

CITY COUNCIL CHANGES MIRANT PLANT’S ZONING STATUS

At its November 13 meeting, the Alexandria City Council voted to change the Mirant Power Plant’s status from noncomplying to nonconforming. This will give the City a greater ability to press for improved pollution control measures at the plant. Being classified as “nonconforming” means that the plant would have to apply for approval for its operations within seven years, and that the City could refuse approval, causing the plant to be shut down. In practice, the matter would probably be subject to years of negotiation and litigation to resolve. Two additional zoning actions, revocation of existing special use permits for the plant, are still pending.

HOLIDAY FESTIVITIES ABOUT TO START

Alexandria will soon be entering the holiday season, marking it with a number of events and promotions. Among the highlights:

  • Potomac West Turkey Trot Race, November 25
  • Tree lighting ceremony at Market Square, November 26, 7 pm
  • Scottish Christmas Walk Parade, December 4, 10:30 am
  • Holiday Parade of Boats, Torpedo Factory Marina, December 4, 5:30 to 6:30 pm
  • National Capitol Christmas Tree visits Alexandria, George Washington Masonic Memorial, December 5, 1-3 pm. After leaving Highland County on November 13, and visiting two to three Virginia cities a day, the 70-foot red spruce tree will stop here before reaching its destination at the US Capitol on Monday, November 29 at 10 am.
  • Holidays on the Avenues, Mount Vernon Avenue, December 4, 6-9 pm
  • First Night Alexandria, December 31.

The Alexandria Convention and Visitors Association is sponsoring a City-wide Holiday Decorating Contest, with a business and a residential category. Participants are eligible to win gift certificates from area florists. The program’s theme is “A Scottish Holiday”‚Ķbreak out the plaid ribbons! Business organizations and civic groups may each nominate three candidates by December 22, and winners will be announced at First Night Alexandria.

WHAT’S NEW, IN BRIEF

A draft Mount Vernon Avenue Business Area Plan has just been released by the Planning Department. Copies are available on the City’s web site, and a public forum is being held on December 1 at 6:30 pm at the Mount Vernon Community School.

A 168-unit residential building with 16,000 square feet of ground floor retail was approved for the Hennage site, the entire city block surrounded by North Henry, Oronoco, North Fayette, and Pendleton Streets. The project will be named “The Monarch”.
The Harris Teeter grocery store, which previously was interested in the Hennage site, is now looking at a property slightly to the north, the 800 block of North Henry Street (currently a block-long one-story warehouse painted a pumpkin color).

The recently closed and sold Executive Club hotel suites are getting a facelift… apparently in preparation for a condo conversion. Marketing signs have just gone up.

The City is looking for a new site for the Police Department headquarters to replace the too small and sinking building by Eisenhower Avenue. Although nothing is decided yet, it appears a likely choice will be south of Duke Street near Wheeler Avenue (just east of the Duke Street McDonalds and near the skate park).

Watch for changes at George Washington’s Old Club, a well-maintained though vacant building on South Washington Street. Development proposals will soon be considered by the Planning Commission.

The City has a new “Sandbag Policy” for distribution of sandbags in the event of an upcoming flood event. Sandbags will be delivered to areas that often flood. For Old Town North residents and businesses less subject to regular flooding, empty sandbags and loose sand will be available on the 500 block of South Union Street.

SIGN UP FOR OLD TOWN NORTH COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIP MAILING LIST

Please send an email with your contact info@oldtownnorth.org. Or complete and mail the form below to Old Town North Community Partnership, c/o Montgomery Center, 300 Montgomery Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314.