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Press Release
January 19, 2012

In arguing that the City Council should pass their
waterfront plan this Saturday without further debate,
George Mason’s Steven Fuller, a long-time consultant for
developers, sounds more like a salesman than a scholar.

Alexandria, VA— Citizens for an Alternative Alexandria Waterfront
Plan (CAAWP) released the following response by Old Town resident
Dick Cooper to a letter written by Steven Fuller in support of the City’s
waterfront plan. Fuller, a professor of Urban Planning at George
Mason University told the Old Town Patch that he was asked “two
years ago by the Robinson Terminal Corporation to help it determine
‘what could be done with those sites.’”

The Robinson Terminal Corporation recently asked him to write a
letter in support of the City’s plan. The letter was submitted to the
City Council on January 18 by Duncan Blair, a local attorney for the
Robinson Terminal Corporation and Washington Post Company.
Blair was involved in numerous ex-parte discussions dating back to
2008 with senior planning staff related to waterfront development
that were recently brought to light through the Freedom of
Information Act (FOIA).


The report on the Alexandria waterfront by Stephen S. Fuller,
director of the George Mason University Center for Regional
Analysis, was commissioned and paid for by supporters of throwing
the last riverfront open to virtually unrestricted commercial
development. So it’s not surprising that a document put forward as
impartial, expert analysis ends up supporting the outside
What is surprising is that Fuller’s analysis actually makes the
case for taking a more careful, balanced approach to developing thewaterfront – one that will bolster Alexandria’s whole economy by
preserving the things that make it uniquely attractive to businesses
and residents alike.
First, Fuller recognizes that, in his words, “for Alexandria, the
waterfront stands out as its most unique asset that distinguishes it
from the region’s other jurisdictions.” He calls it “one of the
competitive advantages upon which the city’s future economic
vitality is dependent.”
Second, he says, for “the ultimate success of the local economy . . .
each new use must support the other new uses and must be
complementary to the existing commercial and residential uses that
define Old Town.”
Yet the proposal pending before the City Council does nothing to
insure that the new pieces fit together and strengthen the economy
now or in the future.
Instead, it offers a blank check to developers, wiping out the
existing zoning rules and putting no binding curbs in their place.
One result is that Fuller’s conclusions contradict his own analysis,
not to mention present-day reality. “For the Old Town economy to
grow and prosper,” he says, “it needs to reestablish its retail base,
and broaden its overlapping market segments to attract a diverse
consumer base.”
But Old Town has a thriving retail base and attracts a wide range
of visitors. It also has one of the strongest real estate markets in the
United States. And both the businesses and the residential areas
serve and enrich all of Alexandria. That’s an inconvenient fact for
developers who want to make a quick hit and won’t be around for
the consequences.
What this whole issue comes down to is a strategic choice for the
city: It can build on its present success, or it can chase after the Will-
‘o-the-wisp of mega-development—like Tysons Corners or Pentagon
Large-scale development – multiple hotels, big condo projects, and big new stores – made sense for Tysons and Pentagon
City. They were huge parcels of empty land that nobody had any
reason to visit.
Alexandria is nothing like that. It has a well established, growing
economy based on its
unique attractions.
The challenge is to keep the city growing without killing the goose
that lays the golden eggs.
And in arguing for a quick decision, Fuller sounds more like a
salesman than a scholar: Grab this deal now, before it’s too late.
Alexandria has time to do this right, developing the remaining
waterfront just the way Fuller says we should: Carefully, so all the
pieces fit together and make the whole even stronger than it is now.
Only the outside developers are in a hurry. But it’s not their city.
And it’s not their future.
It’s ours.

Citizens for an Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan (CAAWP)
is a group of Alexandria residents who joined forces to oppose the
overdevelopment of the waterfront and protect the historic integrity
and charm of Old Town.

Andrew Macdonald:, 603 512 9379

Andrew Macdonald (220) | User | January 20, 2012 - 9:44 AM | Waterfront Comment Board

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Andrew Macdonald (220) | User | January 20, 2012 - 9:40 AM | Waterfront Comment Board

On the waterfront, Alexandria style
By: Barbara Hollingsworth | 01/10/12 8:05 PM
Local Opinion Editor
Alexandria's City Council is expected to vote Jan. 21 on a new $50 million rezoning plan that will increase density along the city's historic Potomac River waterfront. During the past four years, the city has held numerous public hearings and "charrettes" to persuade residents to sign on to its gauzy vision of chic boutique hotels and expanded green space.

But many Alexandrians are not buying the dream. In fact, "the political potato is getting hotter and hotter," Waterfront Plan Work Group member Burt Ely told The Washington Examiner.

That's because, as Ely points out in his minority report, the plan "is nothing more than a marketing brochure" for increased commercial development along the river. Two of the most important parts are missing: a study on how higher densities will affect Alexandria's traffic congestion, and any specifics on water-related access. "That second issue is totally unresolved."

One of the few concrete proposals is the loss of 100 parking spaces in parking-starved Old Town. Some of them belong to the Old Dominion Boat Club, of which Ely is also a member. Although the city backed away from a prior threat to seize ODBC's property via eminent domain, Ely says it's still "lurking in the background."

"They're talking about large green open space at the bottom of King Street, which they would have to take out of ODBC's parking lot," which is essential to the club because it's used for launching boats.

And even though the Circuit Court upheld ODBC's right to a vested easement on Wales Alley dating back to 1789, the city issued a special-use permit that allowed the Virtue Feed & Grain restaurant to set up tables and chairs for private outdoor dining in the same alley all summer.

In a May 14, 2010, memo to City Council members, Mayor William Euille denied having any "direct involvement in the day-to-day management or policy making decisions" of the restaurant located at 106 Union Street.

City attorney James Banks later parsed it for The Examiner: "The mayor is not an investor in Virtue Feed & Grain or the company that owns Virtue Feed & Grain. He's an investor in Mango Mike's" -- whose owner is an investor in VF&G. Got that?

However, Vice Mayor Kerry Donley, who votes on matters before the council, has yet to publicly reveal the fact that Virginia Commerce Bank, where he is employed as a vice president, gave Virtue Feed & Grain loans totaling $3.9 million.

If the restaurant flops, Donley's employer stands to lose a lot of money. Conversely, the bank stands to profit financially if higher waterfront densities contribute to the restaurant's long-term success. Yet Alexandrians are supposed to believe that somehow this is not a huge conflict of interest.

In his minority report, Ely slammed "the numerous 'charrette charades' and public hearings" designed to make commercial development near the waterfront palatable to the public without telling them the whole story. "Rarely mentioned is the fact that this upzoning would greatly increase the market value of commercial properties" along the waterfront, which is what this exercise is really all about.

Nothing wrong with making money, as long as the public interest is balanced against the expected private gain. But there's something plenty wrong when city staff forges ahead on a disputed rezoning plan that will dramatically alter one of Virginia's most historic districts without first conducting detailed traffic and marine engineering studies to determine its feasibility both on and offshore. And when elected officials don't reveal their stakes in the outcome.

Barbara F. Hollingsworth is The Examiner's local opinion editor.

Read more at the Washington Examiner:

Andrew Macdonald (220) | User | January 11, 2012 - 12:59 PM | Waterfront Comment Board

Press Release
January 6, 2012

Alexandria Citizens ask City Council, Planning
Commission, and Waterfront4ALL to disclose any
financial connection to waterfront redevelopment.

Alexandria, VA - Citizens for An Alternative Alexandria
Waterfront Plan (CAAWP) announced today that it had sent
a letter to City Council asking members to voluntarily
disclose any financial ties to businesses and individuals
who are involved with the redevelopment of the waterfront.
The letter also asks Council members to sign a Waterfront
Conflict of Interest Statement, which includes a pledge not
to accept campaign contributions from waterfront
developers and property owners.

CAAWP’s Co-Chair Andrew Macdonald said, “The
community has lost confidence in the political process. To
that end, we hope that the members of the Council,
Planning Commission, and Waterfront4All will disclose any
financial involvement in and connection with the rezoning
and redevelopment of the waterfront.”

Many Alexandria residents and visitors are deeply opposed
to the current waterfront plan and outraged by the multi-
year, $1,000,000 planning process that culminated in its
adoption by the Planning Commission last May.

“The City has paid too much attention to the demands of
developers and property owners in their rush to rezone and
cash in on the revenue potential of the waterfront,” said
Boyd Walker. “This plan comes at the expense of a true
waterfront for all and will result in long-term economic
harm to the City’s historic Old Town,” he said.

“CAAWP is very concerned about the relationship between
the Mayor, who has been a vocal supporter of this hotel-rich
over-development plan and Waterfront4All, a group with
strong ties to the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce,” said
Anne Peterson. “We hope that this Waterfront Conflict of
Interest Statement will be a step in the right direction,” she

About Citizens For An Alternative Alexandria
Waterfront Plan

Citizens for an Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan
(CAAWP) is a group of Alexandria residents who joined
forces to oppose the commercialization of the waterfront
and protect the historic integrity and charm of Old Town.

Andrew Macdonald
Boyd Walker

Andrew Macdonald (220) | User | January 6, 2012 - 1:02 PM | Waterfront Comment Board

Museum rejuvenates Olde Towne Portsmouth
Posted to: Attractions News Portsmouth

1 OF 2 PHOTOS: Cullen Mullane, 4, walks through one of the exhibits, Dr. Force's Traveling Energy Extravaganza, at the Children's Museum of Virginia on Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011, in Portsmouth. "I think it's fabulous," said his mother, Beth, of the museum. "We just love all the exhibits." They are from Smithfield. (Ross Taylor | The Virginian-Pilot)
View second photo | Buy Pilot photos

The Children's Museum of Virginia has taken in $514,000 through the first five months of the fiscal year. The admission has increased to $10 from $6 for children over the age of 2.
Since late May, about 126,300 people have visited the museum. That's on target to meet a projected attendance of 175,000 for the first fiscal year since the renovation.
Kid's eye view of the new Children's Museum of Virginia - May. 26
Children's Museum to reopen May 26 in Portsmouth - Mar. 29
Children’s Museum expansion on time, under budget - Sep. 14, 2010

By Janie Bryant
The Virginian-Pilot
© December 24, 2011

It can sound a little like Whoville, standing in the Children's Museum of Virginia.

There's the bowling alley-like sound of balls dropping in the Fantastic Motion Machine, and the constant air pressure whoosh of small rockets being launched nearby. On top of it all is the rhythm of makeshift bands banging out tin tunes on garbage cans and other unusual instruments.

After a two-year hiatus for construction, the expanded Children's Museum reopened at the end of May, and child-spun noise became a soundtrack of downtown again.

Add to those happy sounds a little ca-ching, ca-ching - for the museum and rest of downtown, too.

With the Children's Museum back online, Portsmouth's overall museum revenue has soared, totaling $514,000 through the first five months of the fiscal year, compared with $57,000 in the same period a year ago, according to city figures.

The $13 million expansion gave one of the city's star attractions a High Street gateway and a larger, brighter space with new exhibit areas and recast old favorites.

Since late May, the museum has welcomed about 126,300 visitors and is comfortably setting sights on a projected target of 175,000 for the first fiscal year under its new look.

The city's economic development director, Patrick J. Small, declined to comment on the effect that the reopening has had on local businesses, but the museum's downtown neighbors seem happy with the buzz it has generated.

"I would say it's had a fantastic impact," said Roger Brown, a former NFL player who owns a restaurant and sports bar on High Street.

Brown said now that the museum has reopened, stroller-pushing parents are headed his way again.

"I think it's a great asset for downtown businesses," he said.

He calls one of his restaurant TVs the Children's Museum screen - it's devoted to cartoons for the children who lunch there. He gives out crayons and coloring sheets and offers kids' fare, too.

Elizabeth Psimas, a former city councilwoman who owns a travel agency near the High Street ferry landing, also has enjoyed watching the museum audience return.

"The families on the street are phenomenal," she said.

She likes walking by Roger Brown's and seeing a couple generations of a family taking a patio table, with the Cartoon Network playing in the background.

"That's playing to the crowd," she said.

Angela Clark, owner of The Coffee Shoppe downtown, didn't take long to do that herself.

Toward the end of summer, she added ice cream to the menu and wishes she'd done it sooner. She stocked fruit snacks to go with sandwich plates and came up with a peanut butter creation that children love.

Her sales increased about 30 percent just in the month of July, she said. "We were really thrilled."

Psimas doesn't have a restaurant to feed the museum's flock, but she doesn't discount some indirect spinoff.

The museum's comeback, she said, gives all nearby businesses visibility, increasing the likelihood someone will come back later without the kids.

The new Children's Museum has come a long way from its beginnings about 30 years ago. Then, it had a small role as a city exhibit in the basement of the Portsmouth Public Library, featuring a police motorcycle and a traffic light.

It became the city's sleeper hit, so popular that it was moved down the street to the Courthouse Galleries.

Its following grew, and by the early 1990s, the Portsmouth Museums Foundation was established to raise funds to create its new home by transforming the first floor of an empty Leggett department store. It grew to the second floor four years later.

When that was complete, museum supporters were already dreaming up the latest expansion, said Martha Frances Fortson, executive director of the foundation.

Nancy Perry, the city's museums director, said that seeing nine years of work come to life was wonderful.

"And to see people's faces and the positive comments that we got, we felt like we had really hit the mark."

Admission has increased to $10 from $6 for children over the age of 2, but Perry said that from visitor comments, it seems people feel the experience is worth the price.

On Tuesday morning, the place was packed, including more than 200 students on field trips.

A group of Chesapeake second-graders sat in front of a giant tugboat that looks as if it sailed into the building. They needed some quieting down, Portlock Primary School teacher Marvis McFadden explained.

She understands the excitement. She, too, described the renovated museum as awesome.

"There is more of everything to see."

Pilot writer Dave Forster contributed to this report.

Janie Bryant, (757) 446-2453,

Andrew Macdonald (220) | User | December 26, 2011 - 2:02 PM | Waterfront Comment Board

17 December 2011

The following item was found in a City trash bin, wedged between a poster advertising the Scottish Christmas Walk and a sign advocating “Don’t Re-Zone the Waterfront!”

The Week Before Christmas

By A. Nonny Moose

‘Twas the week before Christmas,
And all through the town
Debate o’er the waterfront
Raged up and then down.

“Development first!” one side decried.
“No! No! Parks and Art!” the other replied.
Letters and ads in newspapers galore
Let residents know they were in for a war.

Waterfront Working Group meetings had ended,
With such a division, all knew what portended.
Onward to Council their big report flew,
No trace of consensus at all within view.

City Council proceeded with plans and Op Eds,
While visions of dollar signs danced in their heads.
“On with development! Let’s have more and more!
“We won’t be content ‘til hotels crowd the shore!”

“We started with BRAC and then Corridor A.
“We’re just getting started! We won’t go away!
“The waterfront’s next. Then Potomac Yard’s coming!
“When we are all done, the City’ll be humming!”

“But what about us?” a young resident asked.
“Don’t we have some rights? Aren’t you going too fast?”
“You don’t understand,” all the Councilmen said.
“We need those hotels, or we’ll go in the red.”

“But our kids need the parks,” the young resident said.
“Your plan has hotels and new bars there instead.”
“And our history matters!” an old graybeard stated.
“Tall ships, George Washington, Bob E. Lee … all created

“The city we love! The City we live in!
“We’ll, no never agree to give in!”
“But hotels are so cool!” the Council replied
“They’re all glass and faux brick, with parking inside.”

“Never mind all the traffic the hotels will bring.
“Tax income alone will make our hearts sing!”
“And the submarine parking! Why that’s all the rage!
“Cars will float up and down in a huge steel cage!”

“And don’t forget restaurants! We own three or four.
“With these new hotels, we can add several more!
“And boats! Lovely boats! We can tax them a lot!
“And we’ll build a new pier to bring more to this spot!”

“Now wait just a minute!” the young citizen cried.
“Don’t YOU work for US? Why aren’t you on our side?”
“And do you not see?” asked a citizen true,
“That hotels don’t bring tourists. Art and History do!”

“How charming,” the Councilmen said with a sneer.
“The truth of the matter is perfectly clear!”
“Developers rule! And biggest is best!
“A huge new hotel will just pass the test.”

And then clapping their hands overhead in great glee
The councilmen gloated, “And it’s practically free!”
And they danced up the hill, trampling Art ‘neath their feet
And History, too, lay there bruised in the street.

And Parks were forgotten. They’d soon be paved over,
While the Councilmen all rolled on in the clover.
And I heard them exclaim as they danced up the street
“Merry Christmas to us! We can’t wait for our treat!”


But the end of this story’s not yet written, my friend.
You still have a chance to change how it will end.
If you support Parks, Art, and History, too,
Then write to the Councilmen. Let them know your view

Then perhaps, just perhaps, a real change can take place
And the Council may find different use for the space
And respect what was done by Councils before,
And generations to come will still have the shore.


Andrew Macdonald (220) | User | December 17, 2011 - 7:47 PM | Waterfront Comment Board

Alexandria Times
December 15, 2011
Your Views
— 15 December 2011
By: Andrew Macdonald
To the editor:
I’ve grown weary of the fight over the waterfront too, though for very different reasons than those expressed by Alexandria Chamber of Commerce co-chair-elect Andrew Palmieri and Dennis Auld, a lead spokesperson for Waterfront for All, a group composed of wealthy business people who support the city’s waterfront plan.
I’m tired of a political process that cuts off all real debate and the opportunity for thoughtful planning, whether it is along the waterfront or in the West End. And I’m tired of hearing Mayor Bill Euille say hotels, townhomes and offices will make the waterfront more accessible to everyone in Alexandria.

A process that involves senior city planners meeting regularly, out of public view, with property owners (and developers) to decide how the waterfront should be rezoned, is neither fair nor democratic. Yet it likely was in those former meetings the real business of deciding how to rezone the waterfront for revenue, as opposed to creating a waterfront plan that truly benefits everyone, took place. As Katy Cannady, president of the Alexandria League of Women Voters, has pointed out many times, residents had little if any opportunity to make fundamental changes to the plan. She has attended every public meeting since 2009.

In truth, the city’s waterfront plan is not really a plan at all but hundreds of pages of weak guidelines attached to a zoning text amendment (for several properties) that effectively turns over planning of the waterfront to what seem to be the city council’s real constituents: The Washington Post Co., developers and the folks they work for and invest with.

The plan’s advocates claim more high-density development will make the waterfront a more public place at no cost to taxpayers. In fact, the development will further cut the community off from the river, will increase traffic problems, pollute the Potomac and Chesapeake Bay, denigrate the historic character of Old Town, and attract fewer tourists. The city’s plan has no compelling vision. We might as well all be living in Ballston or Crystal City and that indeed is what a majority of the council seems to think will improve our quality of life in Alexandria.

Opponents of the current plan, including Citizens for an Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan, have offered the seeds of compromise only to be told by Councilman Rob Krupicka and others that our plan is unrealistic and takes resources away from other projects. The facts suggest quite the reverse: that the city has failed to seriously look at any other alternatives, failed to conduct a thorough cost-benefit analysis of all the alternatives, has not developed a waterfront plan at all and has not engaged the community in a serious visioning process.

I strongly oppose the proposed rezoning of the waterfront. It closes the door on a waterfront that should be open to all Alexandrians. Tell the city council to vote no to rezoning and yes to alternatives January 21. Take back your waterfront! We all live along the river!

- Andrew Macdonald
 Co-founder of Citizens for an Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan

Andrew Macdonald (220) | User | December 17, 2011 - 7:44 PM | Waterfront Comment Board

Dec. 1, 2011
Contact: Boyd Walker, 703-732-7269
Andrew Macdonald, 603-512-9379
Anne Peterson, 319-471-1518

Former EPA Chief Asks Alexandria Mayor to Reconsider Waterfront Development

Alexandria, VA - Citizens for An Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan (CAAWP) announced today that former EPA head William K. Reilly, a long-time Old Town resident, has joined the chorus of citizens calling for the City to revise its waterfront plan.

In a letter to Mayor Bill Euille, Mr. Reilly asked the mayor to work with citizens to develop an alternative waterfront plan. In his letter, Reilly states that, “the City would be far better served over the long run, economically and in other ways, with a waterfront that is predominantly open space and accessible to people.” “A hotel complex that blocks residents and visitors from the waterfront is the wrong way to go,” Reilly stated.

Reilly writes that the waterfront is one of the “Alexandria’s most treasured features, reflecting the town’s historic riverside character, assets that can distinguish the city in a highly competitive global economy.” According to Reilly, investments in “parkland, open space, greenery, and outdoor recreation” will “pay ongoing dividends in the quality of life residents enjoy and the long-term economic health that comes with stable and improving property values, tourist attractions, new businesses, and continuing revitalization.”

Reilly also believes that “Alexandria must recognize the threat [of global warming] and proceed to develop its waterfront in ways that are resilient and can accommodate rising waters. Open space is the best answer.”

Mr. Reilly commends CAAWP’s Interim Report on the City’s waterfront plan, commenting that, “their report on reclaiming Alexandria’s waterfront has much to commend. They deserve to be heard and their ideas incorporated in a revised city plan. We know well that people protect what they love, and Alexandria residents cherish the waterfront, for what it is and more importantly, for what it could become.”

Citizens for an Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan (CAAWP) co-founder Andrew Macdonald welcomed the former EPA Administrator adding his voice to a growing number of people asking that the City of Alexandria not to overdevelop the waterfront, and to consider an alternative plan. Macdonald stated, “We are still hopeful that elected officials will do the right thing and work with citizens to come up with a waterfront plan that we can all support.”

Citizens for an Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan (CAAWP) is a group of Alexandria residents who joined forces to oppose the commercialization of the waterfront and protect the historic integrity and charm of Old Town.

Andrew Macdonald (220) | User | December 1, 2011 - 4:51 PM | Waterfront Comment Board

REPRINTED Letter to the Editor of PATCH: City's Waterfront Plan Endangers National Historic Landmark
Andrew Macdonald, co-chair of Citizens for an Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan, outlines why the CAAWP plan is the only realistic, long-term economic alternative for the city.
November 28, 2011

I’ve grown weary of the fight over the waterfront too, though for very different reasons than those espoused by the Chamber’s, Co-Chair Elect, Andrew Palmieri. For one thing I’m tired of a political process that effectively cuts off all real debate and the opportunity for compromise, whether it be along the waterfront or in the West End near the BRAC-133 monstrosity. For another, the waterfront plan that the Chamber and its proxy, Waterfront4All$, supports is a direct threat to a National Historic Landmark District.

Mr. Palmieri appears to believe that a process where senior City planners met much more regularly with property owners (and developers) than it did citizens is a fair and democratic one too. Yet it was in those former meetings that the real business of deciding how to rezone the waterfront for revenue, as opposed to creating a waterfront that benefits everyone, took place. As Katy Cannady, President of the Alexandria League of Women Voters, has pointed out many times the public process included very little opportunity for citizens to make fundamental changes to the plan that the City had set in motion in back-room meetings with developers. She attended every public meeting since 2009.

Yes, the City staff did produce hundreds of pages of cleverly written documents, and they all promote just one thing: revenue and more density for property owners like The Washington Post Company. City planners claim that hotels will make the waterfront a more public place and generate revenue that pays for things like parks. This is a silly argument at best given the meager public amenities in the plan and the negative impacts the plan will have on Alexandria. The City’s waterfront plan fails to create a lasting connection between what should be two of the most important elements in any plan: the river and our history.

Citizens for an Alternative Alexandria Waterfront (CAAWP) has presented the ONLY realistic long-term economic alternative to this short-sighted “National Harbor-like” plan. We have proposed that the City purchase additional land along the river for parks, art venues and a seaport museum. It does not exclude small restaurants and other businesses from the river’s edge. More importantly though, our proposal focuses attention on the real business of Old Town: preserving a National Historic Landmark. In this context, taxpayers will pay less to buy land along the waterfront then they will to buy into the Black Friday sale of our waterfront being offered by groups like the Chamber of Commerce.

Andrew Macdonald

Citizens for an Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan Co-Chair

Andrew Macdonald (220) | User | November 29, 2011 - 1:44 PM | Waterfront Comment Board

Press Release
November 28, 2011

CAAWP will hold a news conference on Tuesday, November 29, at noon in front of City Hall to address the City’s rejection of the citizens’ waterfront plan.

Alexandria, VA - Citizens for An Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan (CAAWP) announces it will hold a news conference at noon on Tuesday, Nov. 29 outside of City Hall on Market Square. CAAWP will address the City’s recent response to its alternative waterfront proposal, and outline the steps it plans to take to protect one of the City’s most endangered historic resources.

Old Town and its waterfront were designated a National Historic Landmark District in 1966. According to the National Park Service, “National Historic Landmarks are nationally significant historic places designated by the Secretary of the Interior because they possess exceptional value or quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States.”

Alexandria’s plan to redevelop its waterfront with hotels and town homes threatens this national heritage. The City’s plan will also have an adverse impact on the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay.

About Citizens For An Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan

Citizens for an Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan (CAAWP) is a group of Alexandria residents who joined forces to oppose the commercialization of the waterfront and protect the historic integrity and charm of Old Town.

Andrew Macdonald
Boyd Walker
Anne Peterson:

Andrew Macdonald (220) | User | November 28, 2011 - 4:02 PM | Waterfront Comment Board

Letter to the Editor
The Washington Post

A waterfront with history

Published: November 27

Roger K. Lewis’s high-fiving of Alexandria’s plan to commercialize its waterfront [“Planners envision a livelier waterfront,” Real Estate, Nov. 19] missed the mark.

Alexandria is in the throes of significant development, building hundreds of condos and townhouses near the waterfront, to the detriment of anyone who drives on congested roads such as Route 1 and the George Washington Memorial Parkway. In light of this, it is essential to preserve the Old Town waterfront to provide an oasis of green space.

Mr. Lewis’s column made no mention of the waterfront’s history. George Washington shipped agricultural goods from this harbor, and in the 1770s, Alexandria rivaled Boston and New York by exporting what would become the most lucrative crop in U.S. history: tobacco. Development emphasizing the history of the waterfront can attract more visitors than would a more commercial approach.

Opposition to the waterfront’s commercialization comes from not just Old Town but also historic preservationists, environmentalists and residents who just enjoy strolling, jogging or bicycling the waterfront without spending a dime.

Patty Sheetz, Alexandria

Andrew Macdonald (220) | User | November 28, 2011 - 1:08 PM | Waterfront Comment Board

November 21, 2011

Mr. Bruce Johnson, Acting City Manager
City of Alexandria, Virginia

Subject: Request to City of Alexandria to include West’s Point in National Historic Landmark District

Dear Bruce:

Citizens for an Alternative Waterfront Plan (CAAWP) requests that the City of Alexandria take immediate steps to add West’s Point (or Point West) to the Alexandria Historic District.

As one of the most historic spots on the Alexandria waterfront, we believe that it should be included in the Alexandria Historic District, which was designated a National Historic Landmark by Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall in 1966.

CAAWP does not believe that the City’s Draft Waterfront Small Area Plan adequately protects this historic waterfront spot, which we believe is also of special national significance.

We will be proving additional information in the coming days to support our request.


Andrew H. Macdonald
Co-Chair Citizens for An Alternative Waterfront Plan (CCAWP)

CC: Mayor Bill Euille and City Council
Faroll Hamer, Planning Director
James Banks, City Attorney
Councilman Paul Smedberg, Convener, Waterfront Plan Work Group

Andrew Macdonald (220) | User | November 22, 2011 - 9:17 AM | Waterfront Comment Board

Date: November 14, 2011

To: Bruce Johnson, Acting City Manager

CC: Mayor and Members of City Council
James Banks, City Attorney
Faroll Hamer, Director, Planning and Zoning
Members of the Waterfront Plan Work Group

Subject: CAAWP’s Response to the City Manager’s memorandum of November 1, 2011: “Analysis of Report of the October 30 Citizens for an Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan (CAAWP)”

First, we would like to thank the Waterfront Plan Work Group and the City for inviting CAAWP to present a summary of our alternative proposals at the most recent meeting. We view this as an important first step toward a compromise plan. Indeed, following that meeting Leigh Talbot and Tony Kupersmith met with Karl Moritz to discuss the financial aspects of our proposal. We look forward to continuing what we hope will be a mutually beneficial and collaborative effort between the City and CAAWP.

We would, however, like to clarify a few points. The November 1 Memorandum presents a number of inaccurate statements about CAAWP’s October 30 Report: “Parks, the Arts and Museums: The Keys to Rediscovering, Revitalizing and Protecting the Alexandria Waterfront.” We address several of the more obvious points of divergence below.

1. The memorandum misstates CAAWP’s position when it claims that the CAAWP’s “October 30 Report agrees, or does not take issue with the vast majority of recommendations contained in the City’s Draft Waterfront Plan.” Please note that we disagree strongly with the level of commercial development proposed in the City’s Plan, which weakens the bulk of the recommendations (and goals) to such an extent as to render many of them ineffective. The City’s Plan does not increase public access to the waterfront and river in a meaningful way. The history elements of the City’s Plan seem to be an afterthought, and not central to any redevelopment of the waterfront. Parking and traffic issues are not addressed in a comprehensive manner and the data we need to understand the traffic problem and solutions does not exist. Finally, in our view, the City’s Plan does not adequately protect the environment or the Potomac River.

2. CAAWP’s efforts to “safeguard historic buildings, river quality and public access” is a policy of creative change that will benefit all Alexandrians and visitors who appreciate the riverfront, green spaces, and history. It is therefore quite inaccurate to characterize our Report as preserving the “status quo” along the waterfront. In our view, this alternative strategy will create a more vibrant, attractive and world-class waterfront. In fact, what we propose amounts to substantial change relative to what exists today on the waterfront. We view the City’s Plan as the wrong-type of commercialization of the waterfront. In working together, we need to acknowledge that there are two very different visions for the waterfront that need to be carefully considered.

3. Despite the importance of financing, the City made little effort to compare, comprehensively, the costs and benefits of the various alternatives. The City has not carefully examined many of the financial underpinnings of its own plan, let alone any other alternative. The City’s Plan makes assumptions about hotel revenue and the costs and benefits of the high-density development Are the community impacts of hotels and a 162% increase in density as minimal as the City’s Plan suggests? Are they realistic? Does the projected and speculative revenue generated by all this new commercial development outweigh the costs? What are the long term economic, cultural, social and environmental costs and benefits of the City’s Plan vs. the CAAWP proposals? Our report addresses many of these issues. The City’s Plan does not, and we hope this can be addressed in future meetings.

4. There is nothing illegal about the 1992 zoning, which we support. We believe that the City had every right to rezone the waterfront using the 1983 Agreement as the “density cap” only. We are not proposing that the City take development rights. Instead we are saying that the City should purchase additional land along the waterfront as they did along The Strand for public and public/private uses that increase public use, and enjoyment of the waterfront and Potomac. There are willing sellers, such as the Washington Post, whom the City should contact. The 1992 zoning allows significant development along the river and NO hotels. The zoning proposed in the City’s Plan would increase density to levels that do not match the historic scale of the town and add hotels as a permitted use. Given the highly questionable economics of waterfront hotels—which is not just CAAWP’s view, but also a position held by experts advising The Washington Post -- the proposed rezoning will more likely simply enable developers to build anything they want at maximum density.

Given these differences between the CAAWP Report and the City’s draft Waterfront Plan are large, we believe it will be difficult for City staff to complete a full analysis by November 15 that is anything more then a critique of our plan. Indeed, it make would more sense for the City might work with CAAWP and the community to develop a ”shared community vision” for the waterfront. In the eyes of many Alexandrians, this is a high priority issue. We reiterate our interest in working with you.

Respectfully yours,

Citizens for an Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan

Andrew Macdonald, co-chairman
Boyd Walker, co-chairman

Andrew Macdonald (220) | User | November 14, 2011 - 5:09 PM | Waterfront Comment Board

News Release
For immediate release on October 25, 2011
CAAWP’s Announces Release of Interim Waterfront Report that Outlines their Vision for An Alternative Waterfront Plan

Alexandria, VA - Citizens for An Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan (CAAWP) today announced that they will be releasing their Interim Waterfront Report on Sunday, October 30, at a reception in Old Town Alexandria. The report critiques the City of Alexandria’s Draft Waterfront Plan and explores what it considers to be a far more preferable, alternative vision for a waterfront plan.

According to Andrew Macdonald, one of CAAWP’s co-chairs, the Report shows that “the City’s waterfront plan will have adverse impacts on the community and the historic identity of Old Town.”The report also explores what CAAWP calls its vision for a Parks, Arts, and Museums plan. “Our study shows that communities with successful waterfronts have developed a shared vision for their waterfronts before drafting a plan,” Macdonald observed.

The report presents the outlines of a vision that we think reflects more accurately the views of the 1,500 or so citizens of Alexandria, who have signed petitions opposing the City’s waterfront plan. “Our report will also outline alternative financing options,” said Macdonald.

CAAWP will present its Interim Waterfront Report on October 30, in the main gallery of the Athenaeum at the corner of Prince and South Lee Streets. The even starts at 5:00 PM, the report will be presented at 6:00 PM.
About Citizens For An Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan

Citizens for an Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan (CAAWP) is a group of Alexandria residents who joined forces to oppose the commercialization of the waterfront and protect the historic integrity and charm of Old Town.
Andrew Macdonald Co-Chair
Boyd Walker: Co-Chair

Andrew Macdonald (220) | User | October 25, 2011 - 3:25 PM | Waterfront Comment Board

Rezoning for whom?
There seems to be some confusion in the City Attorney's office regarding the right of of The City to uphold the City's 1992 waterfront zoning. Sometimes we hear that the City believes it had the right to reduce the allowable density (as compared to what was outlined in 1983) and other times we hear statements to the contrary.

It is CAAWP's position that the cIty had and has every right to change, down-zone if you will, all the properties along the waterfront as it did in 1992. That is not spot zoning --as some believe occurred at the Harris Teeter site. Given this confusion, it is no wonder citizens, including me, wonder if all the back room discussions between developers, property owners and senior City staff that occurred since 2008 are really mostly an attempt to work out new waterfront zoning rules that will benefit both parties -- as they see it anyway -- while leaving the community in the dark.

With the 1992 rezoning gone -- the real goal of the City's 2011 draft plan -- developers will have greater flexibility to do what they want (including not building hotels) and get the maximum density too , while the City gets what it really wants and that is more tax revenue.

As for the goals that we feel should be pursued for all sorts of reasons that will be clear on Oct 30 when CAAWP release it's interim REPORT, will they will meet the same fate as the arts and be edited out too? Oh, perhaps I should add, that's happened when the Planning Commission passed the Draft Waterfront Plan this spring.

Andrew Macdonald
Co-Chair CAAWP

Andrew Macdonald (220) | User | October 15, 2011 - 9:42 PM | Waterfront Comment Board

Andrew Macdonald, Co-Chair
Boyd Walker, Co-Chair
Bert Ely, Treasurer
Katy Cannady, Vice President Citizens for an Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan
(CAAWP) Van Van Fleet, Vice President
Dennis Kux, Vice President
Mark Mueller, Vice President
Anne Peterson, Vice President

Press Release
September 27, 2011

CAAWP’s Successful Fundraiser Shows that Community Support for Alternative Plan is Growing

Alexandria, VA - Citizens for An Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan (CAAWP) today announced the record attendance – 100+ neighbors and friends from across the city at their waterfront fundraiser, which was held on September 22 at the home of Deena DeMontigny and Joe Demshar.

In attendance was a special guest— the former Councilwoman, Mayor and State Senator Patsy Ticer. Senator Ticer expressed her views on the waterfront plan, which are posted on a brief YouTube recording (search “Patsy Ticer”). Ms. Ticer commented on the historic nature of Alexandria, and observed that, “Old Town and the waterfront are the identity of the city.” Senator Ticer spoke of the need to avoid making a “quick buck” if Alexandria is to remain a “favorable place” for citizens and visitors alike. Senator Ticer encouraged citizens to become involved in preserving the historic character of Old Town and commented that Alexandrians need to become involved now. Ms. Ticer observed, “once it has been changed, you can’t go back. So please get involved, please tell the powers that be that we care about this city.”

CAAWP Co-chair Boyd Walker released the following quote about the groundswell of support and momentum for CAAWP’s efforts. “The funds raised from this event exceeded our expectations, and the quantity of people donating speaks to the broadening of the movement. More and more Alexandrians are becoming aware of the issues surrounding the waterfront plan, and they are showing their support for alternatives. ”

Andrew Macdonald observed, “We are making great progress, in contrast to the City’s Work Group, which seems to be on a path to rubber stamp the existing plan. Bert Ely, Bob Wood, and Dave Olinger seem to be the only two members of the Work Group who are interested in the concerns of residents.” Macdonald remarked that, “instead of worrying about passionate responses that have been called ‘vitriol,’ I suggest we spend a bit more time looking into the deals made by the City and developers which are at the heart of this impasse.”

CAAWP will present its vision for the waterfront on October 30, in the main gallery of the Athenaeum.

About Citizens For An Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan
Citizens for an Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan (CAAWP) is a local group of Alexandria residents who want to preserve Old Town’s historic waterfront and protect its charm from proposed commercial development.

Andrew Macdonald (220) | User | September 28, 2011 - 9:25 AM | Waterfront Comment Board

Press Release
From: Citizens for an Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan
Date: Aug. 22, 2011

Chamber of Commerce and its allies still support Flawed Plan, while Alexandria residents are concerned about the role of special interest business groups in the waterfront planning process

Alexandria, VA –Citizens For An Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan (CAAWP) is deeply disappointed by recent comments made by the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce and their new organization, Waterfront4All, indicating that the original waterfront plan adopted by the Planning Commission in June is right for an historic seaport like Alexandria and its citizens.

“We are disappointed but not surprised by their comments,” said Andrew Macdonald. “The Chamber has been an advocate for hotels and high density development from the start, and has rejected as essentially inconsequential all community concerns. We think there are more fiscally sustainable ways to redevelop the waterfront and create a more affordable public riverfront.”

“Their comments,” said Anne Peterson, “indicate that they want to deny citizens and the at-­‐large work-­‐group established by the Council at the request of the community, an opportunity to develop an alternative waterfront plan. There is no factual evidence that putting hotels on the waterfront will lower residential property taxes, improve our quality of life or help small businesses. It may very likely have the reverse effect of reducing neighboring property values and residential tax revenues.”

“Waterfront4All is really little more than a group that supports a ‘waterfront for ALL developers,’” she said. “If these groups truly cared about making thewaterfront a place that ALL Alexandrians (and visitors) will cherish, why fight so hard to promote a high density plan that is so unacceptable to so many people?”

“They are trying to frighten Alexandrians into believing that this plan represents the best option we have to get rid of old warehouses and open up the waterfront,” notes Boyd Walker “but it is not. Through building great parks that connect our existing parks, creating a museum that can promote all the different threads of history in Alexandria, and restoring historic buildings as the centerpiece of a plan, we can create a great waterfront. With the amount of development being proposed and supported by the Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with the city, our history will be buried under the façade of commercial development. We are interested in a sustainable economic model based on public access along the water. The Chamber of Commerce and Waterfront4all are interested in only in their own short term economic interests.”

“The City’s strategic economic plan lacks vision. It was crafted by developers and groups like the Alexandria Convention and Visitors Association (ACVA), which get its funds from a local hotel room tax,” says Mark Mueller. “The current waterfront plan is no more strategic then the City’s economic plan, and we need to rethink both, especially in light of the BRAC debacle and current economic climate.”

CAAWP believes it is important to remember that Alexandria has spent decades cleaning up an old industrial waterfront and converting the riverfront into a more public space. The river is cleaner now, but pollution from earlier decades still lingers, and Alexandria’s combined storm water and sewage system still discharges raw sewage into the Potomac. The fact that Alexandria was once a commercial center with old warehouses is no reason to assume that we must put hotels on the waterfront instead of tall ships, museums, art centers, and more parks. We should use this opportunity to think very carefully about what the best and highest use of the waterfront is and how we can implement such a vision.

CAAWP believes that recent comments made by the Chamber of Commerce and Waterfront4All misrepresent the viewpoints of many Alexandrians who have spoken publically in support of an economically sensible plan that actually creates a “waterfront for all Alexandrians.”

About Citizens For An Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan
Citizens for an Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan (CAAWP) is a local group of Alexandria residents who want to preserve Old Town’s historic waterfront and protect its charm from proposed commercial development.
Contacts: Boyd Walker Andrew Macdonald

Andrew Macdonald (220) | User | August 22, 2011 - 4:57 PM | Waterfront Comment Board

Citizens for an Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan

CAAWP Letter to Waterfront Plan Work Group, July 20

July 20, 2011
Dear Waterfront Plan Work Group:

CAAWP and its members believe that the City’s preferred waterfront plan, with its emphasis on three 150-room hotels, does not create a great public riverfront and is not right for Alexandria. We are looking for alternatives that are more appropriate for an historic seaport like Alexandria, with its unique blend of residential communities, small businesses and tourism that is based on history and the arts.

We believe that the current plan assumes incorrectly: 1) that commercial development is inevitable and will not further privatize the riverfront; 2) that all public improvements must be paid for by this waterfront development; 3) that parks, museums and art centers have no real economic value; 4) that there are no alternatives that might generate greater long-term benefits, have fewer impacts on the community and create a much more “lively” and sustainable public waterfront.

We have begun to explore such alternatives and review the basic assumptions regarding revenue projections, costs, benefits and environmental impacts (etc) that have been driving this process forward toward one predetermined conclusion. We hope that you will begin your meetings by challenging the validity of these facts and the recommendations that follow from them, too.

CAAWP has formed twelve working groups that are looking into, among other issues, what other US cities have done to improve their waterfronts. We are sharing this information with the community and will present a final report to the citizens of Alexandria early this fall. We anticipate that our report, based on the information from our working groups, will be used to inform the efforts of your Work Group, as well as the decisions of our elected officials.

It is clear that the community does not think the City’s so-called “revenue neutral” waterfront plan will have a positive impact on the waterfront or the town. There is clearly more public support for the basic elements of the so-called “Parks and Arts Plan” (if not the unrealistic cost estimates released by the Planning Department), than there is for the plan adopted by the Planning Commission, and the revenue goals that underpin it.

We urge the committee to begin its work by developing a vision for the waterfront that reflects the comments of one thousand or so citizens who spoke against the plan at several earlier hearings, signed the “Don’t Rezone the Waterfront” petition, and have sent emails to the City Council. Perhaps the City should hire a facilitator like the Project for Public Places (PPS) to help define what the objectives of this plan should be.

In summary, we believe the current plan needs to be replaced with an alternative that reflects who we are as a community and what we have to offer the nation as an historic destination. Crafting that vision is our goal and we hope that it will be yours too. We hope that we can work constructively together this fall to draft this new waterfront plan.

Andrew Macdonald, Co-Chair

Boyd Walker, Co-Chair,

CC: Mayor Euille and Members of Council

Andrew Macdonald (220) | User | July 25, 2011 - 1:40 PM | Waterfront Comment Board

We are very pleased that the City Council recognized the need to consider waterfront alternatives that have been proposed by citizens, but very disappointed that the Council did not see fit to appoint us to the new waterfront working group last night along with Old Town Civic and the City-appointed Waterfront Committee. We are still hoping that Mayor Bill Euille will remedy this oversight and ensure that CAAWP is represented as an at-large voting member. We have worked hard to seek public input on the plan as a community-based organization.

In fact we are not waiting for the new working group to take their seats. We have already begun to explore a number of other alternatives -- indeed one of our 12 citizen working groups is studying the lessons that other waterfront town have learned in their effort to redevelop their waterfronts.

In short, we are engaged already in trying to find elements of a plan that are right for a historic town like Alexandria. If appointed to the new group by the Mayor , we will bring all this citizen expertise with us.

Only the most cynical would say that citizens who care deeply enough about their town to spend hundreds of hours looking for solutions -- after finally getting the attention of our elected officials - are not open minded and deserving of a seat at this table.
Andrew Macdonald
Former Vice Mayor
Co-Chair Citizens for an Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan (CAAWP)

Andrew Macdonald (220) | User | June 29, 2011 - 8:39 PM | Waterfront Comment Board

SENT after the May 14 Council Hearing

Andrew H. Macdonald
By email and mail
May 19, 2011

Mayor Bill Euille and Members of Council
City Hall
Alexandria VA 22314

RE: Waterfront Plan – Next Steps

Dear Mr. Mayor and Council Members:
I would like to thank you for holding the recent public hearing on the draft Waterfront Small Area Plan. This was a great opportunity for citizens to provide direct input to Council. The session was clearly a step in the right direction.

The hearing confirmed what many residents have been saying for a long time: that this is not the right plan for the Alexandria waterfront. What is the right plan? We believe that your comments and that of the majority of speakers showed that this question cannot be answered until a number of important issues have been explored further. There are simply too many outstanding issues standing in the way of a waterfront plan that is acceptable to the community. We applaud your decision to delay adoption of the plan, but we believe that the process of approving “a new plan” should proceed carefully and with the full participation of the community.

Residents by and large do not think that the impacts of all this new development on the town has been studied thoroughly enough. We have no way of comparing the pros and cons of various development options either– because only a single plan was presented. Our view is that the current plan does not look at innovative ways to expand public access to the waterfront and river. Indeed, it is too concerned with development and the revenue that things like hotels might generate. It is no wonder that many citizens (voters) want a very different plan, and find it incomprehensible that these choices were not explored earlier on.

The current plan seems to be constantly changing, too. Many issues are not clear. For example, what is the status of the Old Dominion Boat Club? Fitzgerald Square? Flood mitigation? Historic preservation? How about the history plan, the art plan, parking, and the financial cost of implementing the current plan? What will be impact of hotels on neighborhoods? No one knows the answers to these questions, and the plan does not answer them, either. For this reason, it is hard to even view this plan as a ‘plan,’ since it lacks critical analysis of important elements like those listed above.

The principle landowner of the largest land parcels also wants more flexibility. The so-called central park, Fitzgerald Square, may not be built. Flood mitigation is supposed to be a top priority of the plan but even that issue is clouded in debate. It is not clear what should happen along the Strand waterfront, where the Dandy will dock, etc. We need a real parking plan. No wonder residents ask: Who really is going to benefit from all this new development? Is it the best public waterfront plan we can create? The answer is, quite clearly, NO. Residents have lost what little confidence they did have in the planning process and the plan’s purported public benefits which is why so many attended, spoke, and participated in the Council session last Saturday.

There are a number of key considerations that must be addressed before this planning process can be called a success:
1. How much more development should be allowed along the waterfront and what should it look like? Are hotels really a good choice?
2. What are the economic benefits and costs of various development options?
3. How will this development affect the environment and town? The Potomac?
4. How much of the waterfront should remain public and what uses are acceptable? Should we include more parkland in the plan? Convert a warehouse into a museum?

Our suggestion is to conduct a comprehensive (and easy to compare) impact and cost-benefit analysis of several redevelopment options.

A) The current plan – 150 room hotels on three sites and the open space defined under the earlier Settlement Agreements.
B) Assume town homes and offices on the RTW North and South sites and hotels on the Cummins-Turner sites. (Assume land is completely redeveloped for mixed used at these sites.)
C) Assume public acquisition of the RTW North Site (East of Union) for a museum or open space, commercial uses west of Union at same site And acquisition of all of the RTW South site for parks and Seaport Foundation.
D) Same as C for RTW North site but assume some town homes along Union at RTW South and larger public parks in that area.
E) Mixed-use redevelopment of Cummins Turner with hotels, without hotels.

In short, we ask that you give the community some real choices so that together we all might weigh the options and decide on the best plan for Alexandria.

I’ve listed below other questions that have been raised but not answered fully:

• How will hotels, offices, town homes, parks, museums impact parking, traffic, pedestrian safety, air quality, and the ecology of the river? We don’t really know since there is no way to compare their impacts.
• What are the costs associated with acquiring private property for public uses? What are the economic benefits and costs of the different options – hotels, town-homes, offices, parks, museums, etc, to the City? The plan does not answer these questions.
• How might we pay for and or acquire additional land for public uses like parks and museums along the waterfront? Does the City own land elsewhere that might traded for private property along the waterfront? Can we move FAR around in ways that increase our ability to open up the waterfront to public use?
• How are we going to preserve the oldest buildings along the waterfront and prevent new development from negatively impacting the historic character of Alexandria? Intermingling new buildings that will have much larger footprints and will be five stories tall will dwarf the historic buildings, such as the 1840 Fowle warehouse. This could well destroy the historic ambience the tourists come to see and residents enjoy. The plan is largely silent on this question.
• We want to understand how hotels and other commercial uses will affect our quality of life? What can we do to retain uses like the Art League? Is a hotel appropriate here?
• How should the shoreline area east of the Strand be redeveloped? The City purchased some of the properties along this shoreline with open space funds. What are the legal, financial and land-use issues associated with acquiring the rest of this waterfront for public use? Should the Beachcomber be converted into a restaurant again? Where will the Dandy dock? We want to see a much clearer plan for this area and a more realistic parking plan to replace the surface parking lot used by several local businesses.
• What can we do to make the waterfront a more accessible and affordable public space? There should be more than just a narrow public easement along the waterfront. The plan should consider the purchase of private land for museums and larger parks.
• How do you control flooding along the waterfront? Flooding is an important issue but the plan raises more questions than it answers. What are we trying to accomplish? Are we trying to reduce flooding along lower King Street or protect the proposed development sites? What are the environmental and aesthetic tradeoffs? Could increasing parkland along the waterfront actually be a less expensive mitigation plan than other options? How will development affect flooding?

There is broad concern about the impact of several hotels on the community, but we should not limit our analysis to hotels alone since offices, and town homes and restaurants are presently permitted uses here. Without a detailed cost-benefit analysis that includes other options such as museums and parks, it will be impossible to evaluate all the tradeoffs that will be required to create a waterfront that is acceptable to the community, more economically sustainable, and does not adversely impact the quality of life of the immediate neighbors.

Commercial development on the waterfront and the revenue it may produce should not be the sole justification for choosing one option over another It is first and foremost a great public space. In this context, our maritime history can serve as a bridge between tourism and preservation. Why hasn’t this been studied more carefully?

If such questions are answered properly, they should lead to a compromise plan that will accomplish the twin goals of creating a great public waterfront that has a minimal impact on the town’s residents and the environment, and showcase our unique historic heritage for which we are all so proud.

We ask the Council to instruct Staff to ensure that the community is notified about the nature of changes to the plan that will hopefully lead to additional public hearings before Mayor and Council. The goal should not be to rush this complex process, but to improve the plan. Many residents clearly feel, as we do, that the current plan needs to be revised significantly. Let us step back, slow down, and work together to make this plan the best possible outcome for our City. We have but one chance to get it right.

Thank you for your time and attention. We sincerely look forward to working with you in partnership to improve this plan.

Andrew Macdonald
217 N Columbus St
Alexandria, VA 22314

Mark Mueller
404 S Royal St
Alexandria, VA 22314

Andrew Macdonald (220) | User | June 1, 2011 - 11:39 AM | Waterfront Comment Board

Article on the Alexandria Waterfront Plan in the Washington Post, Sunday May 1

Andrew Macdonald (220) | User | May 3, 2011 - 3:25 PM | Waterfront Comment Board

April 29, 2011

To: Faroll Hamer, Director of Planning & Zoning, and Members of the Planning Commission
Subject: Response to Good Friday Waterfront Memo from Planning and Zoning Department
From: Anne Peterson and Andrew Macdonald, Citizens for Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan (CAAWP)

The current planning memo shows once again that the planning process is an ad hoc one that ignores major community concerns about the waterfront planning process and draft plan. We object to the fact that the public will now have no chance to comment on the changes that have been recommended in the public’s name on a variety of issues related to waterfront development. The memo claims to summarize the key issues, when in fact it ignores some of the most important ones.

As reported in the Old Town Patch (“Alexandria residents slam plan, business praises it”) and other news outlets, at the April 5 waterfront hearing, residents opposed to the plan greatly outnumbered supporters. With a few exceptions, the comments made by the planning commission members at the conclusion of the hearing illustrated that the Planning Commission had not really listened to the concerns of citizens and in some cases seem not to have even read the plan.

The following is a list of our ongoing concerns about the plan and the planning process:

1) The Planning Commission and Planning Director have never provided a valid explanation for why the plan includes only one redevelopment option for the major development sites. Indeed, the planning director said at the April 5 meeting that other options were unnecessary.

2) Development in this plan is about revenue generation, not about making this a great public space on the waterfront. “Design guidelines” are no substitute for a careful review of alternatives. We believe that other redevelopment options, including parks and museums should be analyzed and compared to current options in the plan using a thorough cost-benefit approach. The May 3 memo is not a substitute for considering these and other public options in detail. The supplemental documents used to establish the economic basis for this plan, and exclude the museum option (for example) are woefully inadequate.

3) The planning process was not a real dialogue between the City and community. The appearance of this memo and the shutting off of all public debate demonstrates that fact once again. There is one redevelopment option in this plan and that option has existed from the start of this planning process. Hundreds of meetings do not constitute by themselves an effective public process.

4) This is not an environmentally sound plan. There is no discussion of the importance of natural flood plains, and there is no discussion of how the proposed development will affect the water quality on the Potomac; there is no real consideration of the value of parkland vs. development, or of the impact of all this new development on existing parks.

5) History is little more then a prop for over-development, for increasing the FAR. Alexandria’s commercial history as a seaport is not an excuse for privatization, making the waterfront a place for only those who can afford it. Just because there were once a series of warehouses and piers along the waterfront does not mean we must now conceptually recreate that “commercial” view of the past to the detriment of the environment.

6) The parking plan is all smoke and mirrors. It mentions vague concepts like the “Parking Implementation Plan,” which seems to be a combination of valet parking, parking garages, and empty parking spaces.

7) Impacts of development on local neighborhoods and existing businesses are ignored.

8) Pleasure boat marinas that are affordable only to the highest income bracket do not increase affordable public access to the waterfront or river. These slips are designed to attract transient boaters to dine on a waterfront that would be more private than public.

9) We oppose rezoning the waterfront because it increases allowable density and enables hotels to be built on the waterfront. The proposed public amenities, if we ever get them, do not replace the much more salient public benefits that should be the goal of this plan.

10) We believe that the two Robinson Terminal Warehouse Sites should be purchased as open space, for use as parks and museums. The plan’s meager arguments against this option are not based on any real analytical data of merit.

11) We reject as shortsighted the conclusion that high density commercial development, including hotels, is either a necessary or appropriate means of preserving what is unique about Alexandria. Why must development pay for all the public benefits? What public benefits would be possible under a different development model? These questions were never debated.

12) We object strongly to the rezoning of the waterfront in the manner that has been laid out here in this draft plan and we believe that this ‘plan” does not represent a forward-thinking “small area plan.” It does not, in our view, create a framework for long-term investment in the waterfront, both as a public space and as an important part of the City’s seaport heritage and cultural tourism plan.

In summary, this plan does not address many of the basic concerns of residents. Vague concepts and weak, or nonexistent, objectives, and a single redevelopment option, have resulted in waterfront plan that is far from inspirational. We don’t believe it represents a long-term investment in what makes Alexandria unique: it’s seaport history and the tourism and business and quality of life that that past creates Nor does it really expand in ways that can be called effective real affordable public access to the waterfront and Potomac.

It’s all about commerce under the guise of ‘paying for public amenities.’ To date, the Planning Commission has failed to acknowledge the obvious flaws in the process and take steps to ensure that the public process is credible. To that end we support the recommendations of OTCA to slow the process down and consider alternatives to the current development plan, and Greater Alexandria Preservation Alliance’s petition against rezoning of the waterfront to increase the FAR.

Andrew Macdonald
Anne Peterson

CC: Mayor Bill Euille and Members of the City Council

Andrew Macdonald (220) | User | May 3, 2011 - 3:19 PM | Waterfront Comment Board

Response to Planning Commission hearings of April 5 and memo about May 3rd hearing.

The April 5 Planning Commission Hearing on the Waterfront was a public hearing in name only.

You can read my letter to the editor in the Alexandria Times:

We will be responding in writing to the Planning Director's Good Friday Memo outlining the Planning Department's review of the April 5 meeting and recommendations (see memo for the May 3 Planning Commission meeting in the near future.

We will also be letting the public know what additional community action we will be taking. Citizens interested in this issue can contact us at our website Citizens for an Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan (
Andrew Macdonald

Andrew Macdonald (220) | User | April 24, 2011 - 11:38 AM | Waterfront Comment Board