Carr Hospitality is making a bid to develop a parcel of South Union Street land into a hotel and garage while opponents of hotels on the waterfront seek to delay action on it.
Carr has applied with the city to demolish the existing warehouse at 220 S. Union St. and build a 59-foot high, boutique hotel.
“We feel that our proposal for a 121-room hotel on S. Union Street is compatible with the Alexandria Waterfront Plan,” Carr Hospitality President Austin Flajser said via email to Patch. “One of the major concerns we have heard regards the overall density proposed in the Waterfront Plan, and a desire to instead review projects on a case-by-case basis, based on their individual merit. …We are moving forward with a plan for site-specific rezoning to a zone that complies with the Alexandria Waterfront Plan and Potomac River height district, but is independent of the overall density proposed in the Waterfront Plan.”
Flajser added that the Carr proposal also addresses another significant community concern—increased traffic, driven by large hotels with large conference and meeting facilities.
“The product we are proposing is expressly the opposite of this. Our proposal is for a boutique hotel product of only 121 keys, with one small meeting room. By its very nature, this is not a conference hotel. We are excited about the project and the opportunity to discuss its merits with the community,” he said.
Friends of the Alexandria Waterfront, a successor to Citizens for an Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan, has sent a letter to the city’s Board of Architectural Review for the Old and Historic District asking the body to defer any consideration of the Carr proposal.
The letter, signed by Co-Chairman Bert Ely, argues that BAR should defer because the Waterfront Small Area Plan and related zoning are subject to legal challenges, the proposed hotel does not comply with zoning requirements for this specific site and the Union Street traffic study has not been published.
“Because it is the policy of the BAR not to review applications which do not meet city regulations such as the zoning ordinance, Friends of the Alexandria Waterfront is asking the BAR to ask city staff to defer action on the Carr Hospitality application by withdrawing the application for a ‘concept review’ from the agenda for the BAR’s July 25 meeting,” reads the letter from Friends of the Alexandria Waterfront to the BAR.
“City staff is developing a legal response,” Planning and Zoning Director Faroll Hamer told Patch, adding that staff had a meeting planned Tuesday afternoon to discuss the issue.
At a meeting of the Waterfront Plan Work Group last October, Carr Hospitality presented a plan working with local architecture firm Rust Orling to place a Hotel Indigo in the spot, a brand owned by InterContinental Hotels Group.
At that meeting, architect Mark Orling compared the proposed upscale Indigo with Upper King Street’s Lorien Hotel, adding that it doesn’t make good business sense to build a hotel with much fewer than 120 rooms.
Carr did not confirm if that is the current plan.