Chamber celebrates a year of innovation

Chamber celebrates a year of innovation
Outgoing Chamber of Commerce Board Chair Gin Kinneman and incoming Board Chair Charlotte Hall. (courtesy photo)

By Missy Schrott |

The Alexandria Chamber of Commerce held its annual State of Business meeting on Tuesday morning to recap major 2018 events, preview what’s to come in 2019 and celebrate a successful year for the city and the chamber.

The theme of the morning was innovation, and the event appropriately featured a panel of developers who have been working on innovative projects throughout the city. Stephanie Landrum, president and CEO of the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership, moderated the panel.

“We have a new brand for Northern Virginia: Innovation lives here,” Landrum said.

Landrum was a key player in the negotiations with Amazon to bring their HQ2 to Northern Virginia. She said Amazon’s relocation and the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus coming to National Landing was a great accomplishment not only for 2018 but would also bring countless benefits in the coming years.

“Sixty percent of the incentive dollars are invested in this community,” Landrum said. “They’re invested in things that every single person in this room who I know has talked to me about and complained about: traffic and transportation, the lack of affordable and workforce housing, how you’re challenged to hire smart people or technologically savvy people because the unemployment rate is so low, that’s what all of the investments are going into – fixing those existing issues that our business community was grappling with, and we took this opportunity going after Amazon to make those investments.”

The three panelists on the creative and innovative development panel were Richard Greenberg of Greenhill Realty Companies, Teddy Kim of Avanti Holdings Group and Adam Peters of Perseus-TDC. Each discussed projects that will bring vibrancy and new concepts to Alexandria.

Greenberg is behind Pickett Place, the redevelopment of 20-plus acres near the Van Dorn Metro that will become a new coordinated development district with 2,400 residential units, a 150-key hotel, 300,000 square feet of retail, 200,000 square feet of office space and a public square.

“What we’re doing is we’re trying to create this 24/7 place – work, play, live,” Greenberg said. “It’s a place that I think Alexandria’s ready for, and I think the neighborhoods are ready for. I think they deserve it.

And what we’re trying to do is create this coordinated development district that’s going to allow us the greatest flexibility and uses within that plan.”

Kim has worked on several creative developments in Old Town including Madison Collective in Parker-Gray, a multi-use space that hosts tattoo studio Marlowe Ink, Chop Shop Taco, Zweet Sport and Grateful Kitchen Co. all under one roof. Kim talked about using Instagram influencers to spread the word about the new, trendy concept.

“What we’re trying to do is celebrate the diversity of the area and really create a buzz, a sense of place in that environment, so with that we created Madison Collective,” Kim said. “There’s a lot of need for this because the community’s kind of fragmented in its retail.”

Peters’ project along Eisenhower Avenue involves repurposing the former office building at 200 Stovall St. into a 520-unit apartment building. In conjunction with this project, Perseus-TDC will also work to rebrand and revitalize Hoffman Town Center.

“The innovative thing is having a new vision for Hoffman Town Center and figuring out a way to breathe life into a destination that had become tired and become really an afterthought for the growth of the city,” Peters said. “… The innovation of not just new things, but bringing old things back to life is something we need to continue to think about in Old Town and all of these other places where development’s already happened.”

These three developments, among other projects of each of the panelists, will continue to grow and come into focus over the coming year.

After the panel discussion, the chamber honored its members with volunteer recognition awards. The Chamber Staff Award went to Robert Shea, the Membership Growth Award went to Bill Blackburn and Jen Walker, Rising Star Member of the Year was ALX Community, Member of the Year was Inova Alexandria, Committee Chair of the Year was Stephanie Beyer Kirby, Board Member of the Year was Jennifer Ferrara and the Chairman’s Award went to Patti Turner.

The event also served as a farewell for outgoing 2018 board chair, Gin Kinneman, and a welcome for incoming 2019 chair, Charlotte Hall.