First waterfront hotel approved — again

First waterfront hotel approved — again

By Katie Callahan (Image/City of Alexandria)

For the second time this year, city councilors cleared Carr City Centers’ proposed waterfront hotel.

In a 5-1 vote Saturday, Alexandria’s top elected officials upheld the board of architectural review’s earlier stamp of approval for the city’s first boutique shoreline hotel. That body, though, struggled with the design of the 200 block of S. Union St., which underwent multiple rounds of edits in recent years.

One member, Wayne Neale, recused himself. Chair Thomas Hulfish abstained, citing personal reasons. In the end, the board voted 3-2-1 in favor of the project.

But residents — many of them longstanding opponents of the project as well as the waterfront redevelopment plan — forced city councilors to reconsider the board of architectural review’s narrow decision. Led by Bert Ely and Mark Mueller, co-chairs of Friends of the Alexandria Waterfront, critics cited everything from the 120-room hotel’s size to potential traffic issues.

Their arguments failed to sway the majority of city councilors, who previously voted to implement a redevelopment plan that explicitly calls for two hotels on the Potomac shoreline. Vice Mayor Allison Silberberg cast the lone dissenting vote. Mayor Bill Euille was not in attendance.

“This is the end of long, rather tragic journey, so there’s not much left to say. We were supposed to get a world-class waterfront,” said Katy Cannady, a longtime opponent of the waterfront plan. “I don’t see anything in these buildings that does those things.”

Carr’s project includes underground parking, a 5,000-square-foot courtyard and a restaurant in addition to the five-story hotel. Saturday’s decision comes as other waterfront redevelopment projects pick up steam.

The warehouses at Robinson Terminal South likely will become a mix of residential and retail while its counterpart to the north is slated to become home to a second waterfront hotel.