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Makeover for Potomac Yard's ugly stepsister

Monday - 4/28/2014, 5:13pm  ET

alexandria planning potomac yard (Courtesy Alexandria)
The industrial Oakville Triangle in Alexandria is being replanned by both the city and its owner, The Blackstone Group. Click for a larger version. (Courtesy Alexandria)

Potomac Yard’s less appealing neighbor is on the verge of a major makeover.

The Oakville Triangle, owned by The Blackstone Group, fronts Jefferson Davis Highway between Potomac Yard and Del Ray, on the west side of Route 1. It is heavily industrial, and built as such, with roughly 446,000 square feet of development across its 560,000 square feet of land area.

Blackstone has retained Bethesda-based StonebridgeCarras to redevelop its 13 acres of the 20-acre industrial park. But before it gets started, Alexandria has decided to replan the area over the next year. The first meeting of the nine-member community advisory group is scheduled for Tuesday.

According to the Del Ray Citizens Association, Blackstone is proposing as much as 1.5 million square feet of retail and residential development on the site, and perhaps a hotel. 

“StonebridgeCarras has been discussing with city staff and the community, including the DRCA, a project that would have a retail focus, with shops and restaurants along Route 1 as well as the central east-west street through the project, Swann Avenue,” Bill Hendrickson, president of the citizens association, wrote on the organization’s website. “The conceptual design shows a finger park on Swann that would continue the design of the finger park on the east side on Route 1 in the Potomac Yard development.”

Douglas Firstenberg, Stonebridge founding principal, said the project will look very familiar to those familiar with Stonebridge's work — ground floor retail topped by residential and a hotel component. Retail, he said, could account for as much as 125,000 square feet to “really create a sense of place.”

The advisory group work plan includes land use, open space, connectivity, transportation and community amenities, illustrative principles and building design and massing. StonebridgeCarras representatives were not immediately available for comment.

“It’s finally getting some attention,” Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille said last month. “Property owners/developers are eager to redevelop this Oakville Triangle portion, but rather than coming in and saying ‘Here’s what we want to do,’ staff is suggesting that we put together a comprehensive civic advisory group.”

Similar groups were established to replan the Eisenhower West area and the Royal Street Bus Barn property.

The Blackstone property sits on the Crystal City Potomac Yard Transitway, a 4.5-mile bus rapid transit system linking the Braddock Road Metro Station in Alexandria with, eventually, the Crystal City Metro Station. The total project is expected to cost upward of $35 million, split between the two jurisdictions.

The Oakville Triangle redevelopment, per Alexandria planners, is less dependent on the ultimate location of the North Potomac Yard Metro station and more on bus rapid transit. The developer has offered to contribute financially to technical studies and staff resources to support what is essentially a “small, small area plan.”

© 2014 American City Business Journals, Inc.