Waterfront hotel developer reaches out to residents

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Waterfront hotel developer reaches out to residents
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By Derrick Perkins (File image)

Work on Carr City Centers’ waterfront hotel, after years of discussion and in spite of fervent opposition, is poised to begin along the 200 block of S. Union St.

Representatives with the company, better known as Washington-based Carr Hospitality, will meet with neighbors in the coming weeks to discuss the logistics associated with the 120-room upscale hotel’s construction. It is one of two small hotels called for in the city’s controversial waterfront redevelopment plan.

In a September 12 letter sent to residents, officials with the firm wrote that the meeting’s purpose was to fill in neighbors on issues like work hours and traffic control.

“We just want to update them on the preliminary schedule, site logistics and how we will be working at the property,” said Austin Flajser, president of Carr City Centers, earlier this week. “We’re happy to keep [residents] updated and closely coordinate with people.”

Flajser shied away from setting firm dates, but said he expected utility work would begin this fall, followed by the demolition of the existing building by the year’s end. Construction, once it begins, should last about 15 months, he said. Signs about the project at the site advertise a 2016 completion date.

He also would not put a price tag on the project.

Along with the work schedule, representatives should be prepared for questions regarding the removal of asbestos, construction debris and potentially contaminated soil, said Old Town resident Bert Ely. And those are just a few of the concerns he expects will arise during the meeting.

Ely, who jointly heads Friends of the Alexandria Waterfront along with fellow resident Mark Mueller, also worried about potential for heavy vehicles to damage Old Town’s streets and whether vibrations from pile driving would cause problems in nearby buildings in the historic neighborhood.

In Carr’s letter, officials indicated workers would begin photographing the exteriors of adjacent buildings prior to demolition. But they also must document the interiors, Ely said.

“A lot of times the potential damage is on the inside of the building,” he said. “You have foundation cracks and so forth that you can’t see from the outside. These are all issues that are going to get raised, I am sure, at [Carr’s meeting]. It will be interesting to see how well Carr is prepared.”

Officials originally scheduled the meeting for today, but shifted it to Wednesday after several residents noted the gathering would have fallen on Rosh Hashanah. The 7 p.m. meeting will be hosted at 220 S. Union St.

The project is the first of several outlined in City Hall’s waterfront plan. The polarizing document, which underwent intense public scrutiny and weathered fierce criticism before earning approval last year, targeted the Carr site and the two Robinson Terminals for redevelopment.

Work on the hotel predates the redevelopment roadmap, though. Carr representatives met with city officials as early as 2010 to discuss their designs for the Potomac shoreline, more than a year before the public learned of the company’s plans.

After working with various boards and commissions over several years, the project earned city council’s approval in January. It cleared its final hurdle — getting the board of architectural review’s OK — in the spring.

The project, slated to become a Hotel Indigo, will rise up five stories and boast a 5,000-square-foot courtyard. It also will include underground parking and likely house a restaurant.

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