Development Opinion Your Views — 13 January 2012
Opinion: Waterfront For All? More like a waterfront for the businesses.

To the editor:

Two resident groups are battling to influence Alexandria’s waterfront plan on which the city council plans to vote after a public hearing January 21.

One, the Citizens for an Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan, has banded together because its members believe the waterfront is a public treasure that should benefit all Alexandrians. The group oppose the emphasis the city puts on commercialization of the waterfront (featuring three hotels and about 300 townhouses). CAAWP prefers an approach emphasizing parks, open space, art and history.

The second group, which supports the city’s plan, is called Waterfront For All. But do its supporters really mean what the name implies? Or is the waterfront for the guests of high-priced boutique hotels and the residents of expensive town houses? The organization’s main activity seems to be badmouthing opponents of the city’s plan. Waterfront For All has produced nothing comparable to CAAWP’s comprehensive 200-page report regarding the waterfront’s future.

Bank rolling last September’s lavish Waterfront For All fete and the recent restaurant open houses are people who stand to benefit financially from the proposed rezoning. If so, the organization is being deviously misleading in calling itself a resident group rather than a lobby for real estate developers.

To dispel this impression, Waterfront For All officers and active supporters should publicly pledge, like members of CAAWP are doing, that none has a financial stake in the future of the area proposed for rezoning. Their failure to do so would regrettably suggest that ugly rumors circulating around town about conflict of interest are true.

- Dennis Kux
Alexandria

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Alexandria Times Staff

(2) Readers Comments

  1. There are many of us, including our family, who live in the area proposed for redevelopment that does indeed support the City’s initial plan. The initial plan was vetted for 2 years, has extensive detail and demography to prove its fiscal merit, and is thoughtful in its recognition of the waterfront being a resource — both an economic resource and recreational resource. I initially thought CAAWP would help improve the City’s plan but now they just want to scuttle it or worse yet, are touting a fiscally insane plan that will cost property owners untold new taxes. I’m with the City on this one and everyone else should be too.

  2. Mr. Kux, while you are correct that CAAWP wants parks, but how does it expect to pay for them. Here’s how. The City is to purchase the properties. By CAAWP’s extimate, it is about $100 million. The City says $200 million. Either way this is way too much. There are about 950 acres of parks in Alexandria, 150+ of these on the waterfront. Therefore, the waterfront occupies 4% of the city, has 15% of the parks. The current parks on the waterfront occupy 40% of the land space. Parks are needed throughout the City, especially the West End. Do you advocate spending all of the open space funds on the waterfront at the expense of everywhere else in the City? In addition, bonding for the purchase price decimates the Capital Plan, approved but not yet funded for schools, firestations, road improvements across the City. Do you want that? There is about 8 million sq. ft. of development on the waterfront now. Development on the 3 sites is about 800,000 sq. ft. , with the “rezoning” adding 160,000, about 2%, well worth the control the City will gain thru SUP.

    We support hotels because they are welcoming, attracting facilities that prove to be the least traffic impact than any other structures that will be placed there. The property owners will develop. If we do not pass the City Plan, we are taking the chance that they will move ahead, with residential units, something no one wants.

    You say Waterfront4All (I am one of the founding members) badmouths opponents. Show me 1 example. I can show you several from the other direction. As for your “pledge”, all that is a farce, and you know it. City officials as well as any board and committees are required to sign financial disclosure documents. I reject your insinuations. Prove them. For now, I will tell you that I have no financial interest, nor will I get any whatever works out on the waterfront. My only return is to be able to walk thru a park and enjoy a meal in a new hotel on the waterfront, with many friends.

    Waterfront4All came together mainly because of the mis information being put out by CAAWP. Since CAAWP is no longer discussing the issues, but has now engaged in mudslinging, It looks like our job is not over.

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