By Chris Teale (Image/City of Alexandria)
Developer JBG recently announced it will scale back the first phase of redeveloping Beauregard Town Center in a submission to the city, but the project appears to be making progress.
Under a concept plan submitted in July to the city’s planning and zoning office, the first phase of redevelopment would cover just under 17 acres, having previously been slated to cover 24 acres of the 48.2-acre site.
JBG now is proposing 573 residential units, down from approximately 1,150 originally proposed, with 109,481 square feet of retail space, down from 150,000 square feet. That retail space still is expected to include a grocery store as an anchor.
Those new residential units will come in two buildings on the north and south sides of Reading Avenue. The northern building will be made up of 183 residential units and 35,987 square feet of retail space, while the southern one will include 390 units and 73,949 square feet for retail.
Under the plan, 198 garden apartment units in the Hillwood and Stoneridge community will be demolished in this first phase.
In its filing, JBG said construction might be staggered even further, floating the possibility that each block could developed under its own site plan. JBG spokesman Matthew Blocher did not respond to requests for comment.
“[JBG has] been sitting on the property, looking at it, mulling it over, and what they came forward with now is a more focused redevelopment of two of the blocks,” said Maya Contreras, principal planner in the city’s office of planning and zoning. “Technically it is a smaller proposal, but it’s more in line with the type of development that we typically see, or the scale of development that we typically see.”
JBG is the largest landowner within the Beauregard small area plan on the West End, approved by city council in 2012. The plan calls for the Beauregard Town Center neighborhood — one of seven in the plan — to become a mixed-use community, with residential, some office and hotel uses on Beauregard Street and retail along Reading Avenue.
Of those seven neighborhoods, JBG controls three: Town Center, the Garden District and the Greenway, making up 130 acres within the plan’s total of 287 acres.
In the Town Center neighborhood, JBG plans to replace 2,600 garden style apartments, the majority of which are rented by lower-income residents. City housing director Helen McIlvaine said JBG has made a commitment that every resident will be able to find a home in the new development.
“We don’t expect people to really be displaced from the area because we think they’ll be offered other units. If we can’t accommodate them in one of ours, then we think JBG is going to be providing them with what the plan calls ‘comparable units’ within Beauregard,” she said. “That was all planned to keep the community intact and mediate the impacts of the redevelopment.
“I think the fact that it has taken a while to get to this first stage has helped us to make better of what we planned to.”
As part of that commitment, McIlvaine said there are plenty of options being explored for additional affordable housing in the Beauregard area, all with a view to keeping the community together and mitigating the demolition of affordable units as much as possible.
McIlvaine said the city put together a plan that ultimately would provide 800 committed affordable units across Beauregard, including 105 shorter-term units at Southern Towers, 93 units at the St. James Plaza property, which is owned by the Alexandria Housing Corporation, and an area near Goodwin House that would bring about 100 additional units.
For Beauregard Town Center residents specifically, McIlvaine said there might be some potential public-private partnerships to provide housing, working with nonprofit partners.
Contreras said the redevelopment of the Town Center neighborhood is a milestone for the West End, which already has started to undergo some changes. City council approved The Gateway at King and Beauregard last year at the site of the former Jefferson Memorial Hospital and a strip mall, while council reaffirmed a preferred alternative for the West End Transitway bus rapid transit connection in April.
“I think [this project] will be a very important one,” said Contreras. “The town center neighborhood is intended to be the new downtown for the West End. We don’t take any of our projects lightly, but this is a big one. Along with Land- mark Mall, the West End and Beauregard area is one of the areas where people have been waiting for something to happen.”
City staff provided comments on JBG’s filing last month, citing a number of key issues officials expect to be addressed in the developer’s next submission.
Among staff’s comments are that compliance with the Beauregard small area plan and associated design guidelines for the Town Center neighborhood must be ensured; the overall open space and tree canopy requirements must be met; the architecture and site plan design needs continued study; and there must be ongoing coordination with the Beauregard Design Advisory Committee and residents.
Staff said JBG has not provided an overall timeline for the project, although construction originally was expected to get underway earlier this year.