LAI GW Chapter Awards Program
On October 18, 2017, the George Washington Chapter of Lambda Alpha International held at reception at the Sulgrave Club in Washington, DC to celebrate the investiture of new LAI members. The event also marked the reinstitution of a Chapter Awards program with awards given in two categories: Outstanding Plan and Outstanding Project. LAI GW is giving the Outstanding Planning award to the Planning and Zoning Department of the City of Alexandria because it found that the two submissions-North Potomac Yard Small Area Plan and Old Town North Small Area Plan, made by the department were outstanding examples of the urban planning process.
The North Potomac Yard Plan establishes a creative vision for the 70-acre former railyard as a transit-oriented, sustainable community with 7.5 million sq. ft. of mixed-use development.
The new Metrorail station serves as the economic catalyst for the area. The implementation of a grid of streets promotes walkability. The transportation strategy encourages a significant mode shift from autos to more sustainable transportation. It also includes a dedicated high-capacity bus rapid transit corridor (Metroway), local buses, car sharing, and bicycle infrastructure.
The strategies for sustainability which are included for all aspects of development are innovative and cutting edge. And include such goals as carbon neutrality. Diversity was another important objective-diversity in land use, housing opportunities, amenities, and community facilities are included to serve a variety of age groups, interests, and income levels.
The planning effort included a comprehensive community engagement program.
The Old Town North Small Area Plan took a 200-acre waterfront area which included a 20-acre decommissioned coal-fired power plant site and a brownfield site provides for a balanced mix of uses and includes an Arts district and Urban Design Standards and Guidelines to produce a high quality, sustainable built environment. The arts district provides incentive to create affordable arts spaces and promotes the city's goals of social equity and economic diversity.
A 21-member advisory group guided the planning effort which included charrettes and community meetings, public hearings and online engagement.
The urban design guidelines are being effective. Projects are reviewed by an Urban Design Advisory Committee. Already the arts incentives are resulting in projects that seek to integrate arts uses. This gives Old Town North, a unique identity separate from Old Town.
LAI GW Chapter's Outstanding Project, is given to The Wharf whose $2.5 billion first phase of includes 3 million sq. ft. of mixed-use development on a 24 acre, mile-long stretch of the District's Southwest waterfront including more than 14 acres of parks and public spaces.
The Wharf, has transformed and will continue to transform the Southwest waterfront bringing the liveliness of mixed-use development to the area creating a world-class destination. It includes restaurants, shops, residences, hotels, businesses, music venues, places for events and numerous waterside activities. Planners have paid special attention to urban design and place making and sustainability.
The plan includes a new street grid, public parks, four public piers, spaces for events, docks for boaters, and kayak rentals and access to water taxis and jitneys enhancing access to the waterfront from around the region.
The comprehensive community engagement process included more than 730 community meetings during the eight-year entitlement process.
Finally, the District has a project that fully captures the amenity value of the Potomac River by reconnecting people to the waterfront.
Possible candidates for the American Planning Associations Special Places Award in the future.