Parker-Gray district among areas in citys planning sights

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Planning for the Braddock Road Small Area Plan is underway. In 1992, the Alexandria City Council passed a master plan for the entire city. The master plan included defined small areas for which planning has been done and is now being revisited. For her first neighborhood effort, new Planning Director Farroll Hamer is tackling Braddock Road.

The Braddock Road area includes the Parker-Gray district, seven or eight blocks of public housing, new residential construction, the retail area on Queen Street and warehouses near the Braddock Road Metro station. It is incredibly diverse, as are the people who live and work in the area, Hamer said.

The typical process for developing small area plans has been to appoint a design advisory group comprised of representatives from the small areas stakeholders. In this case, we decided not to do that but to invite anyone who wished to do so to participate in the entire planning process, Hamer said. I just felt that we were going to spend more time arguing about the make-up of the advisory group than we would on the small area plan and this seemed the best solution.

To date, a core group of 30 to 40 people have consistently attended all meetings. We will see what happens as we get further into the winter but I am very pleased with the participation, Hamer said.

Area diversity
Parker-Gray is perhaps the largest piece of the Braddock Road area. The city is in the process of nominating this historically black neighborhood to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places, a process that is now scheduled to go to the National Park Service some time in late summer or early fall of 2008.

We have identified about 160 buildings that should be included and each of these buildings requires a ten-page application, Hamer said. This is a very detailed and time-consuming process.

The planning process and the nomination can continue in tandem. Just because a building is included on the National Register, doesnt mean it is protected from demolition or structural change, Hamer said. It is up to each locality to establish those rules.

There are warehouses around the Braddock Road Metro station that are, perhaps not the best plan for uses around a Metro station, Hamer said. We need to maximize the advantages that come with our Metro stations and are certainly looking at more density where that is appropriate.

Land Bay L, for example, in Potomac Yard, was approved with that in mind. If you take away the roads, it is one of the densest areas in the City, Hamer said. People dont realize that because the FAR was calculated with the roads included.

James Bland and James Bland Addition are owned by the Alexandria Redevelopment Housing Authority and are home to families who qualify for public housing. The thinking in public housing today is that public housing should be mixed with market rate housing. I believe that a public housing master plan would be appropriate for the entire city but the redevelopment of James Bland and James Bland Addition are certainly an integral part of planning for Braddock Road, Hamer said.

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