Your Views: The flaws of Landmark

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Your Views: The flaws of Landmark
Concept drawing of the Landmark redevelopment. The proposed new Inova Alexandria Hospital, with two in-patient towers, is in blue. (Courtesy rendering)
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To the editor:

Inova Alexandria Hospital has decided to move to the Landmark area to build a twin tower, state-of-the-art facility with 230 beds, a trauma center and a medical office building. The total development will also include 2,500 residential units and retail.

The bill for the city in this endeavor is $130 million: $76 million for the sewers and parks and $54 million for the land. Bonds covering 30 years will pay for this project, using the taxes generated by the development of the 2,500 residential units. In a recent article, it was stated by the city that this Landmark development would generate $778 million dollars over a 30-year term as a result of tax revenues from the Landmark project.

Sounds like a winner doesn’t it? Well, no not really.

Where are the schools that will support this Landmark community? There must be students in the 2,500 units. However, according to the city plan there is no need for a school at this location. How can this be?

Tucker is at full capacity. Where do we build another school?

I am concerned with the need of renovation of Francis Hammond and George Washington middle schools. I am concerned that only two elementary schools have been recently renovated – Patrick Henry and Jefferson Houston. Douglas MacArthur is next in line with 10 other schools to follow.

The city and School Board have a penchant for excessive spending. Jefferson Houston came in 18% over budget. Patrick Henry came in 40% over budget. The recent cost of MacArthur is a 45% increase over the original estimate, and the Minnie Howard rebuild is currently assessed at $180 million for construction.

Our remaining 12 schools need to be fixed, and the price tag will be in excess of $1 billion. How can we reconcile laying down $130 million at Landmark when the schools are a mess? The return on the investment in the Landmark project for the city over 30 years is quoted as net $600 million – a partial payment at best.

Where will the remaining funds for school construction come from?

I am concerned about the number of tenants that will occupy the 2,500 units that the city will build and the number of cars that these units will occupy. Let’s assume the units house two individuals with two cars. The cars will overtake the roads at Landmark and spill over to Duke Street, creating severe congestion and gridlock.

Duke Street is already the most congested street in the city and the city is seeking to make it worse. The city, in an attempt to mitigate congestion, will declare eminent domain over the Duke Street corridor in order to tear up sidewalks and store fronts to place a new third bus lane, which will not mitigate the issue of congestion if these residential units are built in such mass numbers.

The city has been negligent in providing school capacity. We build for high density. We build towers for apartments, towers for corporations – and we let schools crumble. It shouldn’t be that way.

-Bill Goff, Alexandria

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