Plans for the redevelopment of part of Landmark Mall could go before the Alexandria Planning Commission by the end of this spring, West End residents learned Monday night. City approval could take a while longer.
Speaking before a meeting of the Watergate of Landmark Homeowners Association, Karl Moritz, the city’s deputy director of planning and zoning, said the city has been working with mall owners Howard Hughes Corp., Macy’s and Sears to redevelop the shopping center that has become an eyesore for the West End.
The three companies, or the city, will hold community meetings once plans become public, Moritz said.
Each company owns about a third of the site, and each must agree on any redevelopment that involves all three properties. “Anything that happens has to be a cooperative venture,” Moritz said.
One idea being floated is to build a “restaurant row” in the spot that currently serves as the mall’s front entrance, which is owned by Howard Hughes Corp., with residential space above the restaurants.
Landmark Mall was built in 1965 and last renovated in the early 1990s. It has 900,000 square feet of retail space, but many storefronts remain empty.
Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille said Monday the original plan was to demolish the mall and build everything anew.
“Now, what they’re talking about, which the city is amenable to, is to phase it, so you won’t see the mall being 100 percent demolished,” Euille said. By then, he hopes Sears will be on board with the project.
“To be very blunt and honest with you, Sears has been the holdup all these many years, in terms of not wanting to be a very solid player,” Euille said. “But we think they’re coming around to understanding how beneficial this will be, not only to the rest of the us, but to them, as well.”
The remarks on the mall came as part of a city planning and transportation presentation to Watergate of Landmark residents. Several city council members attended the meeting.
Also at the meeting, Steve Sindiong, Alexandria’s principal transportation planner, reviewed plans to add dedicated bus rapid transit lanes along Duke and Beauregard streets. The city also plans to build an ellipse intersection at Beauregard Street and Seminary Road, create a transit center on the site that currently houses Landmark Mall and reconstruct the Holmes Run trail underneath Interstate 395 to reduce flooding.
Rich Baier, director of Alexandria's Department of Transportation and Environmental Services, said the city does not plan to build elevated walkways across Duke Street because evidence has shown they aren’t heavily used unless they connect two buildings. In response to questions from the audience, Baier also said bus rapid transit would reduce pollution by taking cars off the street, that Metrobus would likely operate the bus rapid transit and that the city is not considering a senior fare price for DASH buses.
Also Monday, residents also spoke out against the creation of a Virginia Department of Transportation off-ramp from the I-395 HOT lanes. Baier said localized pollution modeling is not required in the VDOT process.
Euille told residents they have the opportunity to take legal action against VDOT. He also said he’d contact Senate Democratic Leader Dick Saslaw, of Alexandria, to talk about the project.
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