Oakville developer eyes mixed-use project

By Drew Hansen

The developer of the 18.6-acre Oakville industrial triangle on the eastern edge of Del Ray is planning a mixed-use concept with residential and retail elements as well as potentially a hotel.

Doug Firstenberg of StonebridgeCarras, the real estate firm teaming with parcel-owner Blackstone Group, said both parties are happy Alexandria’s planning department agreed to put the project in its work plan for the coming year.

“We’re looking at a mixed-use plan that we think works,” Firstenberg said. “We’re looking at some very cool retail, residential, and maybe a hotel.”

Firstenberg said the firm has some very rough conceptual plans for the project, but the focus at the moment is launching a public outreach process.

The city plans to reconstitute a citizen advisory group that worked on Potomac Yard to analyze the Oakville project. There will be more Del Ray representation in the stakeholder group that will examine Oakville, Carrie Beach of the city’s planning department told the Del Ray Citizens Association.

An overhaul of the parcel will likely have a big impact on Del Ray, but could yield some benefits to the public. Any tradeoffs between development rights and public value would be determined during the outreach process.

Bethesda, Md.-based StonebridgeCarras has overseen the redevelopment of many significant projects in the region, including Constitution Square in D.C.’s NoMa neighborhood, Chevy Chase (Md.) Center and multiple projects in Bethesda, including Lot 31.

Blackstone purchased the Oakville triangle (which primarily consists of the land between Route 1 and the Mount Jefferson Greenway) for about $47 million in June 2012. The private equity firm purchased Hilton Worldwide in 2007.

During a presentation to the City Council on January 14, the Oakville project was described as less dependent on the location of a Potomac Yard Metro station but more dependent on the Route 1 Bus Rapid Transitway. The BRT is expected to open in the spring or summer.

Firstenberg said he sees the transitway as an asset to the development.

“With that right at our front door and connecting to employment centers, it gives us a real commuting option without people getting into cars,” Firstenberg said. “Along with real Metro accessibility, it’s a real value.”

The redevelopment at Oakville will displace many industrial businesses. Whether they can relocate within the city remains a difficult question, said Alexandria Planning Director Faroll Hamer.

“That’s very much going to be part of the conversation,” she said. “In the Braddock neighborhood, we lost a lot of industrial properties. It’s a perennial question. We want to be a real city. We want industrial uses. We’re also a city with Metro and transit.”

2 thoughts on “Oakville developer eyes mixed-use project”

  1. Our neighborhood really needs industrial businesses nearby. Despite the rough looks, that little area is a treasure – so many services are available within walking distance. I routinely board my dog, get the car serviced, have big prints made, and buy tools and supplies for my business. Need work done on the house? Contractors are there. Have a boat? Get it fixed there. We need more than restaurants and boutiques, we need offerings that help us build and produce rather than consume. These businesses depend on being local, and we depend on them being close. It stinks to have to go all the way out to General Washington Drive every time you need some little necessity — or worse yet, Springfield or Lorton, which is where so many formerly local businesses that *make things* have been forced to go.

    This area could be redeveloped in a thoughtful way that would allow contractors and services to stay — think flex-space, offices, or business condos. Business areas don’t have to be ugly!

    From recent comments made by city staff, they have realized that all this new residential development has a downside. Here’s a perfect opportunity to keep some real substance in the local community.

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