An exciting new beginning for Alexandria, Inova Alexandria Hospital and the run-down site at Landmark Mall was announced on Dec. 22. We agree with City Manager Mark Jinks and other participants in Monday’s community engagement session that this agreement is a tremendous accomplishment for Alexandria and its residents. See the Times’ page one story, “Stakeholders discuss Landmark redevelopment,” for more information on the session.
There are many ways in which the city and our residents win from this:
• We not only retain our hospital, which at the land-locked Seminary Road location was not a given in the long-term, but we will also have an improved facility.
• The plan presented appears fiscally sound and presents little financial risk to Alexandria’s residents, as the city’s portion of the deal will be financed with bonds that will be repaid out of tax revenue generated from the site. Because the plan calls for significant retail and housing development, and there’s a contingency capability to levy an extra tax on property at that site only, Alexandria’s taxpayers will likely see a significant net windfall with extremely low risk.
• The aesthetics of the location will improve dramatically, as it will change from an eyesore to a gathering place, with improved access.
Yes, there were also red flags raised at the session, chief among them the admission that up to 2,500 new housing units are anticipated at the site, but a new school is not planned there. The statement by Director of the Department of Planning and Zoning Karl Moritz that bus lanes on Duke Street are going to happen – even though the community engagement process has not yet begun – is also troubling. There will be many conversations in the coming years about specific elements of this project. But this is the time to focus on the many tremendous positives of this, well, landmark agreement. It’s been many years in the making, and it appears to have been worth the wait. Kudos to all involved.