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New Development

Giant/ABC Site
2nd Street Green Project
Power Plant Site
Old Colony Inn Site
National Airport North
Metro Bus Barn Site
Travel Lodge Motel Site
The Towns at 1333
Powhatan Potomac Yard
Mount Vernon Trail
Robinson Terminal North
Robinson Terminal South
Old Dominion Boat Club
The Thornton
Hoffman Town Center
Landmark Mall
Potomac Yard Metro
Alexandria Sewer
Craddock/Smoot Lumber
Potomac Yard


Montgomery Street
Crowne Plaza
Waterfront Center
Holiday Inn
Beach Drive

Park Development

Montgomery Park
Windmill Hill Park
Jones Point Park
Potomac Yard Park
King Street Waterfront Park

Completed Projects

National Airport South
Canal Center Plaza

Development Around Watergate

Watergate of Alexandria (blue dot in the aerial view above) is situated on one and one-half blocks in North Old Town bounded by North Pitt Street to the west, Second Street to the north, and North Royal Street to the east. 

This development page summarizes the major development projects taking place in and around our neighborhood.  Click on any of the development projects on the list to the left to see all the available details on that project.  If you are using a computer, hovering your cursor over the project names provides the street address or other identifying information about the project.  Click or tap most photos or images on this development page to enlarge.

General Notes Regarding Development In Old Town

According to the city, nearly 85-90 percent of all new office construction in Alexandria takes place within a quarter-mile of a Metrorail station.  Watergate is located nearly a mile away from Braddock Road, our closest Metrorail stop.

Farther away from Metro, expect to see more conversions of existing office and other commercial space to residential housing (e.g., The Oronoco, Best Western Old Colony Inn, Crowne Plaza Hotel, and Waterfront Center).  Commercial tenants today want amenities that most older buildings struggle to offer -- close proximity to Metrorail, tall ceiling heights, large open floor plans, abundant natural daylight, and nearby shops and eateries.

New developments in Old Town have to go through an elaborate and time-consuming public review process that considers zoning, compliance with the city's master and applicable small area plans, architecture, environmental factors, geotechnical challenges, archaeological matters, impact on city services, traffic mitigation, noise, rodent-abatement, demolition requirements, and construction plans.  In contrast, the conversion or repurposing of an existing building requires little review and no more than a building permit.

Residential housing is relatively easy to build, has lots of willing buyers, and makes a lot of quick-return money for developers.

Local Planning

The City Planning page of this website provides additional information regarding urban planning in Alexandria and the Old Town North Small Area Plan.


Pay to Play

Pay to Play is a pernicious concept found in many contexts that supposes one must put up funds in order to participate in a desirable activity that should theoretically be open to all but in practice is closed to most.  In sports, it's called paying to get into the game.  In politics, it's making a campaign contribution to secure access and influence.  And for the City of Alexandria, it's offering matching funds to speed park improvements.  Literally, pay to play.

With legal authority tucked into the FY 2017 municipal budget, the Alexandria Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities established a $50,000 Community Matching Fund to encourage neighborhood groups to raise half the funds needed to upgrade their local parks or recreation centers.  If they do so, the city is positioned to match the funds dollar-for-dollar, and allow the projects to move to the front of the queue for government approval.

The city defends this practice because it "fosters public/private partnerships and cultivates innovative ways for residents to have a greater stake in improving the park and recreation facilities that they use. These partnerships will also provide opportunities for developing positive relationships between the city and the community."  Just like taxes and user fees.

There are much better ways to facilitate positive relationships between the city and its residents, but our city government thinks little of asking everyone else to pony up to play -- developers, local businesses, visitors and now citizens.  And it is not much of a leap to move from parks to other city services.

Old Town Development in the News

History meets change in Alexandria’s Braddock Road neighborhood, Washington Post, July 21, 2017 (this neighborhood abuts Old Town North to our immediate west).

Rat City -- Combating the rat population in Alexandria, Alexandria Gazette, July 6, 2017 (this rticle discusses how local construction aggravates the city's underlying rodent problem).

On the Potomac, Change Comes to Alexandria’s Old Town, New York Times, August 23, 2016.

A Community In Flux, Old Town North Has Long-Lasting Appeal, Washington Post, August 5, 2016.



Old Town North Small Arts and Cultural District

On April 14, 2018, the Alexandria City Council unanimously approved a proposal to amend the city's zoning map and ordinance to implement a recommendation in the Old Town North Small Area Plan, which was updated on June 24, 2017, to establish an Arts and Cultural District in North Old Town (see shaded area delineated in the map at left, which has been excerpted from the city staff's report and edited to show Watergate of Alexandria outlined in red).

The designation of a neighborhood arts and cultural district is intended to encourage property owners and developers to allocate large blocks of space in new or rehabilitated buildings -- particularly at ground level fronting major streets -- for certain artistic and cultural uses, including theaters and other performance venues; museums, art galleries and other exhibition spaces; studios for artists and craftsfolk; and schools, academies, instructional areas and practice spaces for the visual, musical, dancing, dramatic and culinary arts. 

The dedicated spaces must be between 5,000 and 100,000 square feet in area, endure for 15-30 years, and combine public access with significant public activity and participation.  In exchange for these long-term set-asides, developers may exclude the arts and cultural spaces from their maximum square-footage calculations and exceed existing zoning density limits on the remaining developed space by up to 30 percent.

A version of the proposal was previously approved by the Alexandria Commission for the Arts and the Alexandria Planning Commission.  As adopted, the proposal does not apply to the redevelopment of the GenOn Power Plant site, which will be separately evaluated by the city in the years ahead.

It is hoped that the new arts and cultural district will bring more vibrancy, diversity and foot traffic to North Old Town.  In the near term, MetroStage, our neighbor one block to the north, and The Art League, our neighbor one block to the south, are iintended beneficiaries of the new arts district.  For its part, MetroStage is planning to move into the redeveloped Crowne Plaza building.


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