City of Alexandria, VA
Alexandria Approves Potomac Yard Redevelopment to Include Construction of a New Metrorail Station
On June 12, the Alexandria City Council approved a rezoning plan that provides a framework to transform the Potomac Yard Retail Center into a sustainable, mixed-use, urban community that is adjacent to the future site of a new Metrorail station and high-capacity transitway corridor. The redevelopment, as proposed, is envisioned to occur in three phases over the next 15 to 25 years. Construction phases are based upon the size of the plan area and the timing of new Metrorail station construction.
Officially called North Potomac Yard Small Area Plan, the area comprises a 69-acre site currently owned by CPYR, Inc., a Delaware company. City Council approved the rezoning of the existing Potomac Yard Retail Center, located within the North Potomac Yard planning area, to include up to 7.5 million square feet of development. This new plan would replace the existing 600,000 square foot retail center that currently includes businesses such as Target, Best Buy, Regal Cinema, and Shoppers Food Warehouse. This rezoning is vital to the subsequent approval of a new Metrorail Station.
In October 2008, the City of Alexandria initiated a collaborative planning process with property owners and the community to develop the North Potomac Yard Area Plan. City Manager James K. Hartmann appointed a diverse advisory group composed of neighbors, property owners and representatives from the business community, public housing and environmental advocacy groups, who worked together to create a plan for a vibrant, walkable, mixed-use, smart growth community.
The plan prioritizes multiple transportation options and an array of cultural, educational and recreational opportunities located next to a proposed new Metrorail station. The North Potomac Yard Urban Design Standards balance the need for providing sufficient densities near the proposed Metrorail station and for mitigating impacts to the surrounding neighborhoods. Standards also specify quality design elements such as building materials, retail storefronts, signage, streetwalls, setbacks and building height variation. These elements all support the plan’s vision for creating an urban community with a compelling and lasting identity.
The proposed Metrorail station, which may cost $240 million to construct, is being financed with over $81 million in contributions from CPYR, Inc., incremental new taxes generated by Potomac Yard development, and a special tax district overlay in Potomac Yard.
An environmental analysis will be initiated next to determine the precise location of the Metrorail station from the three options determined to be most financially feasible. Following the analysis, the redevelopment process will move forward in three phases that will restrict development that can occur prior to the Metrorail commencing construction, expand development while the station is being constructed, and finish development after the station is operational. Additionally, transportation improvements, infrastructure, open space, neighborhood traffic calming, affordable housing and public art will be phased in as development occurs to ensure that the new redevelopment creates contiguous and cohesive neighborhoods.