The waterfront redevelopment strategy presented by Citizens for an Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan is neither financially feasible, legally defensible nor responsive to change, according to a new City of Alexandria assessment (pdf).
The CAAWP proposal at a price tag of up to $109 million would cost twice that of the city’s draft waterfront plan, said Acting City Manager Bruce Johnson at City Hall on Monday.
“We don’t think that’s financially feasible considering the city’s financial outlook for the next decade,” said Johnson, who previously held the title of city chief financial officer.
He characterized the group’s plan to minimize costs as “deficient” and said potential revenue from a suggested museum is “drastically overstated.”
He also blasted the idea of borrowing money to partially fund the project. “We are pretty close to our capacity” and moves to borrow money could “perhaps endanger our triple A bond rating,” Johnson said.
Additionally, city lawyer James Banks said ideas to transfer development rights are not practical because it’s very difficult under Virginia law.
Deputy City Manager Mark Jinks said the idea of land swaps, which worked well for city development plans in the 1980s, aren’t a viable option for this project.
He said the city does not have land parcels available that have such value or on the order of magnitude that CAAWP suggests. “The alternative is giving up a large public city park,” which is not good policy, Jinks said.
“We see a plan whose intent is to minimize change,” said Johnson, adding that if there were an alternative plan that “could work” the city would love to see it. However, “our final conclusion is this isn’t it.”