Alexandria City Council on Saturday voted to approve a development bringing a Harris Teeter grocery store and multifamily housing to Alexandria's North Old Town.
The project will be located at the 700 blocks of N. St. Asaph and N. Pitt streets. The new building, which replaces a crumbling, vacant structure, will be owned by Buchanan Partners. That firm will lease it to Harris Teeter.
Harris Teeter will operate a full-service grocery store and pharmacy, with underground parking and outdoor seating. Multifamily housing will also be constructed, with 175 new rental units and underground parking for tenants.
Members of the Alexandria House condominiums, which are located next to the proposed development, filed a protest against the plan on Friday but it was rejected by the Planning and Zoning Department on the grounds they did not have the necessary amount of signatures to be officially accepted.
Some of Alexandria House residents spoke at the meeting expressing concern that a 52,000-square-foot store was going to spur density, traffic and safety challenges.
Rick Gutwald, who lives in the 400 block of Madison Street, spoke out against the plan. "The size, traffic and parking problems will negatively affect us," he said.
However, many North Old Town residents favor the plan. Some residents said they enjoy the Trader Joe's down the street, but considered it more of a specialty store rather than a full-service grocer. Additionally, North Old Towners consistently characterized the nearby Giant as "substandard."
Mark Boudreaux, a resident of Oronoco Street, said he was looking forward to shopping at the new Harris Teeter rather than biking over to the one in Arlington's Shirlington neighborhood. He added that a new Harris Teeter would allow him and his family to change their practice of driving to Fairfax to get a large amount of fresh fruits and vegetables not currently available in the neighborhood.
Developers for the project will make significant public contributions, including nearly $600,000 for affordable housing, $400,000 for improvements to and maintenance of nearby Montgomery Park, $40,000 for bus stop improvements, and a variety of streetscape improvements.
Buchanan Partners' lawyer at the City Council hearing outlined the changes that his group has made to accommodate citizen requests, such as enlarging the loading dock area to ensure 18-wheel delivery trucks do not stick out into the street so that traffic can pass by more easily.
Buchanan Partners also had offered to provide a $40,000 bike share station, but it agreed to take that language out of the approval document because the city does not yet have a bike share plan in place.
The project also is expected to create 150 new jobs and generate $1 million in net, new tax revenue for the city.