The Ground Work
In 2014, the Alexandria City Council approved a new master plan for the City’s waterfront. The Alexandria Waterfront Plan is a 20-year vision for the approximate 1 mile stretch of waterfront that has, in the past, been disconnected and compromised by industrial use. The final plan is brimming with park amenity spaces also serves as a flood mitigation buffer. The multi-phase project is designed meet the recreational and communal needs of a diverse population, restore native flora and fauna to a natural habitat, and proposes a vision that is aesthetically appealing.
Expand and Improve
The Alexandria waterfront is a beautiful, fascinating, culturally significant, and under-utilized part of this vibrant city. The waterfront served as the economic engine for the City from its founding up until the last 30 years. The industries that generated economic benefits to the City included trade, boat building, and manufacturing. Today, the waterfront serves almost solely for passive recreation and not real economic development. This overlay plan seeks to illustrate a method for creating a waterfront that once again is the economic force in the city without sacrificing any open space or passive recreation that exists today. This plan is called the Alexandria Waterfront Economic Development Framework Plan.
The approved Waterfront Plan plans improves the City in many ways; one of which is adding substantial communal and recreational green space to waterfront. Our plan looks at the Waterfront from Jones Point to Dangerfield Island. We have mapped the open spaces between these two points and find an abundance of naturalist open space at the two ends with more manicured and smaller open spaces in between.
Pockets Full of Pennies
The Alexandria Waterfront Framework Plan overlays commercial centers along the waterfront to consolidate economic activity and growth to a series of economic “pockets”. By limiting the economic growth to these series of locations, we prevent the waterfront from becoming a sprawling mass of buildings and we preserve the open space. These commercial centers also function better with higher densities and activities to sustain an lively economic zone.
Alexandria’s waterfront already has its fair share of marinas, but with the increase of communal recreational green spaces and strategically placed commercial pockets it opens the waterfront to more marina opportunities. Additionally, increasing the marina availability will lend itself to expanding the potential for better utilization of the Potomac River for both local and commuter use.
Alexandria, founded in 1749, has always had a bustling boat-driven economy. During its long history, Alexandria was one of the ten busiest ports in America. Though Alexandria’s waterways are no longer moving large amounts of tobacco, they are moving a surfeit of people. By locating a water stop for water taxis and tourists at every commercial center, not only do we link together the commercial centers and marinas, we also provide a convenient way for us to bring people from other locations to our commercial centers without their cars.
The Potomac River is currently quite busy with boats filled with locals and tourists running shorter routes to and from Alexandria. The new water taxis service from National Harbor, the Wharf and the Navy Yard have all indicated a demand for water transportation. Increasingly, it is also clear that commuters both to and from Alexandria is also a viable means of transportation. To accommodate the commuter facilities that have a heavier demand for parking, our plan proposes to locate commuter water stops at Jones Point and Canal Center, both places have substantial parking already.
Lines of Extension
The free King Street Trolley, which stops every two blocks, runs from the King St – Old Town Metro Station down busy King Street all the way to The Strand is a wonderful connection between the Metro and the waterfront. This plans proposes to extend this service to include the Braddock Road Metro station as well making a “U-Loop” from the Braddock Metro to the King Street Metro and stops along the waterfront along the way.
But Don’t Stop There…
The Metro trolleys that connect public transportation to the waterfront is a critically important piece of infrastructure for Alexandria. However, that trolley line does not service the entire waterfront. With parking lots at each end of the waterfront, it seems logical to establish a dedicated waterfront trolley from Jones Point to Canal Center and stops all along the waterfront.
With all this new infrastructure in place we can then direct visiting vehicular traffic from the north and south to Canal Center and Jones Point respectively. This will create a more pedestrian friendly waterfront in the heart of the historic areas of Old Town.
Alexandria Economic Development Framework Plan illustrates the opportunity to create something truly special – an “Alexandria RiverWalk”. With all the redevelopment, redesigning, and re-purposing of land in the approved Alexandria Waterfront Plan the City of Alexandria has all of the pieces of make a Riverwalk a huge success. Alexandria already has the tourism, active community, beautiful views, and an existing path. Currently, there is a path that runs about 2.7 miles along the Potomac River from Jones Point Lighthouse to Canal Center Plaza. Implementing the proposed Alexandria Economic Development Framework Plan creates the ideal way to experience, explore, and enjoy Alexandria’s waterfront.
Experience. Explore. Enjoy.
RiverWalkers would be able to enter the city by foot, metro, boat, vehicle, and can then choose how they would like to navigate along the waterfront. Drivers would be able to utilize any parking nodes along the trolley’s path and explore the approximate 2.7 miles of the Alexandria RiverWalk. They would then have the ability to choose to walk, trolley, or water taxi back to where they started. The Alexandria RiverWalk would be an invaluable addition to the city of Alexandria