Lying along the western bank of the Potomac River is Alexandria, Virginia. This large independent city is steeped in history yet is also moving with the times as an exciting and vibrant urban metropolis. The city's robust economy is fueled by government departments, defense contractors, the tech sector and trade associations. Among the largest employers are the U.S. Department of Defense, Department of Commerce, and ABM Industries. Forbes lists Alexandria as one of the country's ten-best cities in which to find a job and naturally, new jobs mean new residents. As of 2012, the population was 147,391 and growing fast. This modern-day boom period includes the need for new housing of course, and this can pose challenges due to the finite available space and properties. In many cases, developers are finding ways to repurpose existing sites. This can include adapting a commercial structure, redeveloping a mall or demolishing old warehouses to make way for new housing. Here are just three of Alexandria’s many high-profile new developments; The Oronoco residences near the waterfront, the Landmark Mall at the western reaches of the city and Landmark Gateway, not far from the mall.
One of the most interesting new residential developments in Old Town Alexandria is The Oronoco. This much talked about adaptive reuse of an old office building will feature 60 luxury condo units starting around $900,000 and escalating to $4 million. Located along the Potomac's west bank, many of the residences will offer stunning views of DC, the river and the Old Town skyline. The development is just five short blocks from renowned King Street with its wonderful restaurants and shops. Designed by Shalom Barones, the Oronoco's unique multi-tiered approach descends from five stories at its highest point down to just one level. The residences will range from 1,600 to 3,500 square feet and are due to deliver sometime in 2014. One of the more unusual aspects of this development is that the units are all one-story flats, regardless of square footage. With 10-foot ceilings, huge glass window walls and spacious modern interior design, these are not your average cookie cutter condos. In order to get to the end result, the builders stripped the original structure down to its basic steel and cement core and started over. Many of the units feature oversized outdoor terraces that can stretch to 1081 square-feet while others have balconies or patios. Among the amenities are a swimming pool with bath house, fitness center with yoga studio, outdoor kitchen and entertainment area and much, much more. As for neighborhood conveniences, you're just steps from Braddock Road Metro, Trader Joe's, parks and biking trails and of course, the excitement that is Old Town.
It's hard to write about mixed-use developments in Alexandria without mentioning the Landmark Mall redevelopment. The long gestating plans seem to have picked up critical momentum as the three central owners came to a meeting of the minds. The venerable mall opened in 1965 and was once one of Washington Metro's premiere shopping destinations. In recent years it has fallen into a period of slow decline, with only two of the major anchor stores remaining, The Howard Hughes corporation representing one-third ownership, recently came to an agreement with the remaining anchors, Macy's and Sears, who will each flank the central area of redevelopment. The new plan calls for converting the new portion into an open-air, mixed-use development of retail and restaurants, 400 residential units and an upscale dining cinema. The current mall flyover ramp will lead visitors down a two-block retail street and into the existing parking structure. In time, if the larger Landmark/Van Dorn Corridor Plan moves forward, the ramp will be replaced by a High Street Bridge. The central space will include a pedestrian arcade, a plaza for a farmers market and other events, a restaurant row and the new cinema. Midrise residential buildings will offer one, two and three-bedroom units with rooftop decks and a pool. The Alexandria City Council unanimously approved the plans in a June 4, 2013 meeting. The developers will also commit to outside streetscape improvements, $200,000 in public art and $2 million for the city's affordable housing fund. Eventually, developers hope to expand into a new Alexandria town center.
Moving into a new home doesn't always mean buying. Upscale rentals are one of Alexandria's fastest growing real estate components. After a lengthy period of planning, construction is finally underway at Landmark Gateway, a mixed-use multifamily community which will feature 360 rental apartments. Less than a half-mile from Van Dorn Metro and the Landmark Mall redevelopment site, this west end transit-friendly development is scheduled to deliver its first units in the summer of 2014. Demolition of three pre-existing warehouses was completed in March 2013 followed by approximately two months of excavation work. The site lies adjacent the popular Cameron Station master-planned community and is also inside the Capital Beltway. Residents will be offered a wide range of floor plans, including studios, junior one-bedrooms, one- and two-bedrooms and den options. The apartments will feature gourmet kitchens with 42-inch Maple cabinets and stainless steel appliances, tile backsplashes and in-unit washer/dryer combos. Community amenities will include state-of-the-art fitness, cyber cafe, game room, TV lounge and a demonstration kitchen. The developer, Mill Creek Residential Trust, is currently interviewing potential retailers to fill 15,000 square-feet of space.
Andre Perez | District One Properties LLC | Realtor/Agent/Owner
1305 Leslie Ave, Alkexandria, VA 22301