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Planning Commission OKs IDA Office at Potomac Yard

Last-minute move secures $30,000 for traffic-calming money specifically for Del Ray.

The Alexandria Planning Commission approved Tuesday plans for a 370,000-square-foot office for the Institute of Defense Analyses in Potomac Yard Land Bay G, just south of where Target is currently located.

The proposal will go before the City Council on Dec. 15.

The office, the first non-residential building in the Potomac Yard development to enter the city’s approval process, is expected to be the focal point of a new town center. The proposed office is seen by city staff as an important addition to Potomac Yard, envisioned as a mixed-used center that also supports retail and other services.

IDA has outgrown its current office, located next to BRAC-133 in the West End.

Its proposed Potomac Yard structure is composed of two, eight-story towers built on a connected ground floor. It will have a 580-space parking garage consisting of one level below grade and four levels above grade. The 1.88-acre lot was originally planned for a hotel.

Traffic volume analysis submitted by the developer predicted the office would create an increase of 773 peak hour morning vehicle trips and 1,036 more peak afternoon trips to what exists today in the area. These numbers include a net change of 60 additional trips in the morning peak hour and 23 fewer trips for the afternoon peak hour when compared to what was approved to the area in 2009.

City staff hopes the traffic numbers will be mitigated by the Route 1 Bus Rapid Transitway, which will have a stop near the office, when it is completed in December 2013. The proposed Potomac Yard Metro station was cited by planners as another potential source of traffic mitigation.

Two members of the Traffic and Parking Board of the Del Ray Citizens Association, following a community meeting with city planners on traffic issues on Nov. 29, asked the city to take a proactive approach to traffic-calming measures, specifically on neighborhood streets in Del Ray.

“We want to city to be proactive,” said Sandy Modell, an E. Custis Avenue resident. “We have to do this right otherwise it will not be enjoyable.”

Farroll Hamer, the city’s director of Planning and Zoning, said at the Nov. 29 meeting that it was too late in the process to ask the developer for additional money.

On Tuesday, Rich Baier, the city’s director of Transportation and Environmental Services, and the developer agreed to secure about $30,000 from an already agreed upon $90,000 donation for parking meters to be used for some traffic-calming measures in Del Ray. The money will be used at Baier’s discretion.

Baier is planning a second community meeting with Del Ray residents in January to discuss when and how to use the money.  

“This proposal is good for IDA and its good for the city,” Planning Commissioner Stewart Dunn said.

Brett G. December 08, 2012 at 12:39 AM
Well, about 91% of commuters in the region agree with you, Richard, as only 8% of commuters in the DC region use Metro. See page 7 of this 2009 Census Report: http://www.census.gov/prod/2011pubs/acs-15.pdf. I don't really believe that building massive residential/commercial areas near Metro stations relieves traffic in some way (see Arlington, Carlyle). No, most people drive, it's that simple. Even if half the people who are going to live/work in PY take Metro (if a station is ever built, that is), that would still leave thousands of additional cars each day to the PY/Route 1 area with all this development. Even should the Potomac Yard Metro station finally be built, it's probably of more utility to shoppers than actual commuters (provided they actually build it close to the actual stores, and not so far south and east of the stores that people just drive). Couple all this with no widening of Route 1 and the bizarre 7 block-middle-of-Route 1-bus lane (I'm still trying to figure out how that short of a distance is going to help anything and how it is going to work with autos taking left turn lanes in front of buses) and I think we all know the word is cluster---. If anyone is aware of links to any additional traffic studies on this, links would be great.
Doug December 08, 2012 at 02:59 AM
I live 5 blocks from the Braddock Road Metro and work in downtown DC. I choose to ride Metro M-F. It's faster, door-to-door, than driving and it costs less than gas + parking + wear & tear.
Doug December 08, 2012 at 03:00 AM
Diane - the new location, which is what this entire article is about, is located in Alexandria.
Diane Costello December 08, 2012 at 09:01 AM
Thank you Doug; I am fully aware that Potomac Yard is in Alexandria. The possibility of IDA moving there has been known since at least June. Please read my entire comment (two successive parts). The article states “IDA has outgrown its current office, located next to BRAC-133 in the West End” and therefore, implies that this move is necessary for expansion purposes. That is not true as I point out – IDA moved from its previous location, also in the Mark Center, to its present building which it bought as well as adjoining acreage for possible future growth. And it has had City approval for such an expansion at its current location since June 2009 – plan acreage of 7.24 acres, 368,400 sq.ft. of new office space in two buildings, approximately 790 parking spaces and 100,000 sq.ft. of open space. The article describes the Potomac Yard site as 1.88 acres and the project as 370,000 sq.ft. in two towers and a 580 space parking garage. Does that sound like a logical trade-off to you? “This proposal is good for IDA and it’s good for the city,” Planning Commissioner Stewart Dunn said. Really? How is it good for IDA? And exactly what is the City offering in this “proposal” to keep from losing IDA as it did CNA? There would be no need for IDA to move if BRAC 133 had not become their neighbor. And for that we can thank Mayor Euille and the respective City Council for rolling out the welcome mat for DoD at that site.
Michael H. December 08, 2012 at 05:23 PM
91% of commuters in every part of the DC region? No. Perhaps among people in Loudoun and western Fairfax. But in Arlington and DC? Not even close. More than a third of residents in DC don't even own cars. In 2010, only 41% of employed DC residents drove to work. The majority used other forms of transportation, from MetroRail and Metrobus to cycling and walking. (And taxis too, though that was a small percentage of people.) In more densely-populated areas with nearby mass transit and other options, many, if not most, people do NOT drive.

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