The Alexandria City Council has again approved a plan to re-develop part of the city's waterfront, this time by a 6-1 margin.
Alexandria has been a seaport for more than 250 years. In recent decades, the attraction of the waterfront has sparked a vibrant business community in Old Town.
Two old, Washington Post warehouses (on the waterfront) will soon be sold. By right, the new developer can put in housing, or businesses or some combination of both.
City planners have come up with a proposal that would allow 20% more density, in exchange for more parkland, more public access to the riverfront, and more architectural controls. Two small waterfront hotels would be permitted on these old warehouse sites. Planners say the hotels will generate taxes forever.
Opponents remain furious at the city's plan. "It is preposterous to claim that more development of this kind is going to make this a better waterfront for the entire community," thundered Andrew Macdonald at a lengthy public hearing, Saturday.
Bert Ely, another opponent of the plan told the Council: "The dream of having 'boutique' hotels along the waterfront is a pipedream. Five days a week those hotels will be too far removed from public transportation to be convenient for business people who can afford 'boutique' hotel rates."
Although a majority of Alexandria Council Members approved the waterfront plan in January of 2012, opponents sued, complaining of procedural errors, including the lack of a super-majority.
The newly-formed council (following the November election) has agreed to the super-majority requirement.
Some residents, like James Palkofski, are tired of three years of debate. Palkofski told the councilmembers: "Enough delay, enough stalling, enough with allowing vocal minority to deny the mandate of the vast majority."
The all-Democratic council voted 6-1 in favor of the plan. The new council thinks the super-majority makes moot the opponents' lawsuit. But the opponents have not yet withdrawn that suit, and they're complaining of new (alleged) procedural errors.
So the courts, in Virginia, may still have to sort out whether the Alexandria waterfront plan moves forward.
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