Condo project a perfect fit

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To the City of Alexandria, it is crucial that the North Washington Street facade part of the condominium project at 900 N. Washington emulate traditional historic buildings on Washington Street or other buildings of architectural merit. So say the planning documents. To Mary Peterson who has lived across the street from the project, its all about cleaning up the area, especially the bad crowd that gathered at the 7-Eleven that used to be on that block. Its a hundred percent better, with all the drinking and beer bottles in your yard, she said.

Petersons neighbor a few doors down agreed. That building had become a rat harbor, and there were street people who lived between the two buildings, said the neighbor that declined to give her name.

The 7-Eleven, a dry cleaners and run-down buildings that were in the block bordered  by Columbus, Washington, Powhatan and Montgomery streets are things of the past now that the city approved a project for 57 condo units in three multi-family buildings with one level of underground parking, along with three townhouses. The triangular lot only faces Washington Street at one of the points, but still must meet those facade standards set by the city.

According to city documents, the Master Plan designated this site as appropriate for redevelopment for quite some time, it stated. It still must comply with Washington Street Standards, Old and Historic district design requirements, and applicable zoning ordinance provisions such as open space, parking, and height.

The original plans included a four-level condo building but the city only approved it for three-stories. In addition, the applicant is providing 55 percent of ground level open space. These spaces will function as a neighborhood pocket park/open space for adjoining residents of the city.

According to city zoning specialist Jessica Ryan, because the site meets the present zoning requirements it was not subject to a rezoning decision, or anything more than typical Board of Architectural Review meetings that previously took place in May and June 2006 with the city. The construction company was required to secure off-site parking for their employees.

In addition to the 7-Eleven and old buildings previously on the site, there was also parking which was rented by the American Academy of Physician Assistants, located across Powhatan from the site. Lisa Gray, the receptionist, now has to find street parking and another convenience store. We miss the 7-Eleven at times, she said.

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