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City Blasts Alternative Waterfront Plan as Deficient on All Fronts

City staff said the plan is not financially or legally sound.

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.”

JamesOnThePotomac November 22, 2011 at 02:33 PM
It appears to me that this Alexandria Waterfront issue is boiling down to a fight between the City Council and a group of concerned citizens. Maybe this issue will be best resolved at the polls next fall.
Ann Dorman November 22, 2011 at 06:04 PM
And why is anyone listening to Andrew McDonald ? The last time he was elected he quit costing the City tens of thousands of dollars for a special election!
Dennis Auld November 23, 2011 at 06:01 AM
John, could it be that the changes in the plan were responses to groups, like OTCA? Do you believe that no changes have been made since the release of the intital plan? They are there, they are documented. CAAWP chooses to ignore them because it is an all or nothing approach with them. I appreciate your position, and passion, what i have a problem with is arguments that have no back up, other than emotional statements. The City has a plan, and it is supportable. The CAAWP plan is not. To make it potyentially viable, rework it, make it believable.
JohnFitzgerald November 23, 2011 at 02:37 PM
Mr. Auld please explain to me why we must rezone in order to get the dwindling list of ammenities in the city plan? with regard to "Legal Defensibility" - I hope folks outside of Old Town realize that the precedent the city is potentially setting here by not defending their own 1992 zoning is the elephant in the room. By declaring their own masterplan 'indefensible' this action opens pandoras box for upzoning city wide - perhaps in your back yard, Mr. Auld. A feeding frenzy for high density development across Alexandria. To Mr. Clark's point - yes, since the City leadership has completely dimissed any and all of CAAWPs findings it does look to be a potential political issue. These same leaders in city hall brought us BRAC. we must stop the madness now. The waterfront is our Alamo and citizens i believe will go the distance to protect it. To Ms. Dorman's point about Andrew Macdonald - I would challenge her on the costs he caused the city--- how much has this Mayor and Council cost us with their ill advised decisions and costly pet projects -- (BRAC, Wales Alley Defense, Metroblunder in Potomac Yards, Police Station, Jefferson Houston, and on and on and on.......). Have a fantastic Thanksgiving everyone (that goes for Mr. Auld too).
Dennis Auld November 24, 2011 at 03:01 AM
Thank you John. You have a Happy Thanksgiving also.

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