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Massive sports, entertainment complex proposed for Alexandria

Friday - 6/28/2013, 6:47pm  ET

The city of Alexandria has received an unsolicited proposal to turn the 15-acre Hensley Park, between Eisenhower Avenue and the Capital Beltway, into a massive sports and entertainment complex featuring baseball, ice hockey, rock climbing and more.

Proposed by the St. James Group LLC, the complex is envisioned as a “landmark sports and entertainment destination”with “unparalleled facilities and programming.” It is now up to the City Council to decide, following a review of the bid, whether it will issue a request for proposals to gauge broader private sector interest in Hensley Park.

Alexandria has never received a proposal like this one, city officials say. So the city must determine its benefits the community “without bypassing the normal review and procurement processes that ensure open competition.”

The St. James Group was recently formed by Kendrick Ashton Jr., former managing director of Perella Weinberg Partners LP, and Craig Dixon, formerly an assistant vice president of Smithfield Foods Inc. It was organized specifically to pursue the Alexandria opportunity.

"Kendrick and I, having grown up in this area and being active in competitive sports, are really passionate about the vision for the complex," Dixon said. "We think it’s something that the region will definitely be able to support. It’s the kind of facility we would have liked to compete in and train in when we were growing up."

Dixon, of Gaithersburg, and Ashton, of D.C., declined to release details such as the estimated cost of the facility or the St. James business plan, citing the competitive nature of the process.

The group has lined up FXFowle Architects to design the complex and Hunt Construction Group Inc. to manage construction. It is seeking a 40-year ground lease, or possibly longer. And it says the project will be a “catalyst for additional economic activity and development in the Eisenhower Corridor.”

The complex, as proposed, would include:

  • 80,000-square-foot field house with 60-foot ceiling clearance and indoor track and field.
  • 10,000-square-foot baseball center with four batting cages.
  • Four regulation-sized basketball and volleyball courts.
  • Aquatics center with Olympic-sized pool, therapy pool and 6,000-square-foot water fun zone.
  • Two National Hockey League-sized ice rinks.
  • 15,000-square-foot gymnastics center.
  • 20,000 square feet of rock climbing walls.
  • Golf and racquet club featuring 20 covered and heated and covered driving-range bays.
  • 30,000-square-foot health club.
  • Sports medicine center.
  • Child development center.
  • Retail outlet.
  • Full-service restaurant plus grab-and-go cafe.

The St. James Group will host a community meeting July 1, 6:30-:30 p.m., at the Eisenhower Avenue Holiday Inn to further detail its plans.

© 2013 American City Business Journals, Inc.