Frequently Asked Questions About Proposed Landmark Redevelopment

Page updated on Jan 29, 2021 at 12:18 PM
Landmark redevelopment proposal concept drawing
(Concept drawing, subject to change)

The City, Inova Health System and a development joint venture have announced a proposal for a four million-square-foot community and medical campus at the site of the former Landmark Mall, which would revitalize the West End with a new mixed-use, walkable urban village. Inova would create a new medical campus, anchored by a relocated and expanded Alexandria Hospital. The site would include residential, retail, commercial and entertainment offerings integrated into a cohesive neighborhood with a central plaza, a network of parks and public spaces, a new fire-EMS station, and a transit hub serving bus rapid transit, DASH, and Metrobus.


Background

What is the history of the Landmark site?

The 52-acre Landmark site in Alexandria’s West End – bounded by I-395, Duke Street, and Van Dorn Street – was the location of the former Landmark Mall, once a prominent regional retail shopping center. Originally developed as an outdoor mall in 1965, Landmark was the first mall in the region to feature three anchor department stores.  During the 1980s, when open-air malls fell out of favor in lieu of indoor malls, Landmark Mall underwent a series of renovations to enclose it. As structural changes in the department-store industry threatening the survival of anchor tenants in the 1990s and 2000s, as well as the malls they occupy, Landmark’s traditional suburban mall concept became less viable for long-term prosperity. The last store in Landmark Mall closed in 2020.

How has the Alexandria City Council encouraged the redevelopment of the Landmark site?

In 2009, City Council unanimously adopted Ordinance 4598 to incorporate the Landmark/Van Dorn Corridor Plan into the City's Master Plan as an amendment to the Landmark/Van Dorn Small Area Plan. Meeting and background information can be found on the 2009 Landmark/Van Dorn Corridor Plan Archives page.

In 2018, after lengthy delays due to changes to the Landmark Mall sites' ownership structure; changes in department store ownership and economics; and the overall real estate market, The Howard Hughes Corporation, a publicly traded real estate development company headquartered in Texas and the partial owner of the Landmark Mall site since 2010, indicated their readiness to move forward with redevelopment. This required an update to the Landmark Mall framework plan and 2009 Landmark/Van Dorn Corridor Plan. City Council approved this effort as a priority in the FY 2019 Long-Range Planning Work Program. The Ad Hoc Eisenhower West/Landmark Van Dorn Implementation Advisory Group served as the community forum for the duration of the Landmark Mall re-planning process.

Since City Council's adoption of the Landmark Neighborhood Chapter of the Landmark/Van Dorn Corridor Plan in May 2019, the Landmark property owners have discussed renewed redevelopment potential with the City. The City facilitated discussions between Inova Health System and the property owners to explore the possibility of relocating and expanding Inova Alexandria Hospital to a redeveloped Landmark site. The owners are actively working towards implementing the concepts and priorities in the Plan, which were developed through the 2018-2019 community process for this large and complex site.

Proposals

What is being planned for the new development and what are the community benefits?

The proposed development would help revitalize the West End of Alexandria by transforming the unoccupied, enclosed former mall site into a four million-square-foot mixed-use, walkable urban community. The project would be anchored by a new world-class Inova Alexandria Hospital campus, including a new hospital upgraded to Level II trauma capability, a cancer center and medical office building. 

The development would also include a vibrant retail core centered around an activated central plaza; an urban framework of streets with connected open spaces and bicycle facilities; a new fire-EMS station; a critical transit hub to serve multiple bus routes and services; and a wide range of housing opportunities. The project’s diverse residential uses envision both for-rent and for-sale alternatives – including affordable housing, senior housing (assisted and independent living), market-rate apartments, condominiums and townhouses.

Inova and Foulger-Pratt (a DMV-based real estate investment and development firm with local expertise) have proposed a neighborhood that would be a gathering place for people of all ages and abilities, whether they are residents of the community; patrons of the shops and restaurants; Inova’s patients, visitors or employees; or Alexandria and neighboring residents simply looking for a pleasant space to enjoy. The City will work to ensure both local-serving retail uses and regional destinations such as theaters or grocery stores are provided.

The Landmark Neighborhood Plan envisions a mix of residential and commercial land uses, and establishes a minimum percentage of commercial use to ensure that the objective for a mixed use community is met. The Plan also envisions a minimum of 3.5 acres of public park space across the site, including a central public park. The central open space would serve as a gathering area for neighbors within the redeveloped Landmark site as well as communities throughout the West End and beyond.

In addition to these community benefits, the long-anticipated redevelopment will generate new jobs and significant tax revenues for the City of Alexandria, while serving as the catalyst for future redevelopment in the Landmark/Van Dorn corridor and surrounding areas.

There have been previous efforts to redevelop the Landmark site. What is different about the current proposal?

Inova Health System’s plan to relocate and expand Inova Alexandria Hospital to the Landmark site represents the first committed anchor tenant for the site since redevelopment plans for Landmark Mall have been under discussion. An anchor tenant is a large facility or business that provides the owner or developer of a site with a firm foundation to recruit additional tenants, and forms the heart of a new mixed-use community. The addition of Foulger-Pratt to the joint development venture also brings new energy and resources to the redevelopment effort. Along with infrastructure investments by the City of Alexandria, the necessary pieces are now in place for a shared revitalization vision to come to fruition.

How is the City of Alexandria supporting the proposed Landmark redevelopment?

The proposal includes the use of $54 million in public bond financing to allow the City to acquire the land for the hospital and lease it to Inova, as well as $76 million in public bond financing for site preparation and infrastructure at the Landmark site and adjacent Duke Street and Van Dorn Street corridors. These investments are expected to generate $778 million in City tax revenue over the 30-year life of the bonds, which will cover the principal and interest on the bonds as well as contribute to public safety, schools, human services, transportation, environmental protection, and other expenditures in the City’s general fund. The Landmark-Van Dorn Small Area Plan approved by City Council in 2009 contemplated a to-be-determined level of financial participation by the City.

The hospital uses on the site will be exempt from certain taxes under state law, but most of the site will be subject to the same taxation as any other residential or commercial property. The City’s support of the Landmark redevelopment allows Inova Health System – a nonprofit critical care provider – to expand its services in Alexandria, which is a more expensive urban location for development than surrounding suburban options.

What is the redevelopment timeline for the Landmark and Seminary Road sites?

The development joint venture for the Landmark site anticipates completing the City’s review and approval process in time to begin construction in 2023, with the first buildings opening in 2025.

The timeline for the Seminary Road site (where Inova Alexandria Hospital is currently located) will be planned by the eventual buyer and developer teams, and subject to the City’s review and approval process. Redevelopment would not begin until the new hospital opens at the Landmark site after 2025. For more information regarding the Seminary Road site, visit inova.org/seminaryroad.

Inova Health System

Why does Inova Health System want to relocate and expand its hospital in Alexandria?

For more than 145 years, Inova Alexandria Hospital has provided high-quality medical care.  Inova Health System has made frequent investments to offer the latest treatments and technologies, earning recognition for many "firsts" in patient care. Inova Alexandria Hospital is a nationally recognized hospital, with the highest possible rating in the most recent Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Five-Star Quality report.  In May 2020, Inova Alexandria Hospital was again awarded an "A" and Top General Hospital from The Leapfrog Group's Hospital Safety Grade, marking straight "A's" for two years running.

For the 2020–2021 awards year, Inova Alexandria Hospital earned the distinction of #4 Best Hospital in the Washington metropolitan region, and the #9 Best Hospital in Virginia from U.S. News & World Report. Inova Alexandria Hospital has earned recognition from The Joint Commission (the national body for hospital accreditation) for demonstrated excellence in accountability measures, joint replacement, and stroke care.

Today, Inova Alexandria Hospital is a busy hospital, delivering over 3,000 newborns, caring for 14,500 inpatients, handling nearly 70,000 emergency visits, providing over 18,000 surgeries and other procedural interventions, and providing 9,000 cancer treatments annually. While Inova maintains a high-quality care, the existing facility needs modernization. Consistent with similarly aged hospitals, the facility requires significant infrastructure investment, lacks current industry-standard private patient rooms, and cannot accommodate current-day services needed by the community such as Level II trauma services and the growing demand for outpatient care.

Given the existing zoning and surrounding uses at the Seminary Road site, the current property does not allow for the mass, scale, and density needed to create the state-of-art, modern facility to serve the community that Inova would be able to achieve at the Landmark site. 

As the new location for Inova Alexandria Hospital, the Landmark site would allow for comprehensive, patient-centered programs and services that include a larger emergency room; private patient rooms; and the Inova Schar Cancer Institute at Alexandria Hospital, which would offer full cancer services, including radiation and infusion. The hospital would be one of only three Level II trauma centers in Northern Virginia, seven statewide, and 270 nationwide, providing 24-hour specialty services for brain injuries, complex fractures, and other trauma care. The addition of a medical office building would allow an estimated 50 specialty physicians to see patients on the same campus as the new hospital.

Would a new Inova Alexandria Hospital alter the plans for an Oakville Triangle / Potomac Yard health care center?

No. The new facilities at Landmark join Inova Health System’s broader plan for its Eastern Region (Alexandria, Mount Vernon and Springfield), which includes the previously-announced construction of an ambulatory facility that will become an integral part of Alexandria’s Oakville Triangle / Potomac Yard community.

What would happen to Inova’s current Seminary Road site?

Until a new hospital is approved and constructed at the Landmark site, Inova Health System will maintain its commitment to providing excellent patient care at the current Seminary Road location without interruption.

As a necessary part of the proposal to relocate and expand Inova Alexandria Hospital at the Landmark site, Inova plans to sell the Seminary Road site for residential redevelopment. In the coming months, Inova will work with the community to finalize a request to the City to rezone the property for a variety of residential uses. Although the details (including requested housing density) will not be known until the formal request is submitted in 2021, Inova has indicated that it expects future redevelopment to consist of single-family houses and townhouses.

Although Inova’s participation in the redevelopment of the Landmark site depends on the ability to relocate from and redevelop the Seminary Road site, they will be treated by Inova and the City of Alexandria as two separate planning processes to be undertaken by different developers.  

For more information regarding the Seminary Road site, visit inova.org/seminaryroad.

Housing and Fire Station

What would be the approach to housing affordability with redevelopment at the Landmark and Seminary Road sites?

The level of affordability at each new housing development will depend largely on the housing types (e.g., detached houses, condos, townhomes, apartments) and tenures (e.g., ownership, rental) proposed when plans are submitted to the City. The City will apply the housing affordability policies and strategies adopted as part of the 2013 Housing Master Plan to plans submitted for these sites.

The community and a stakeholder group participating in development of the 2019 Landmark Neighborhood Plan recommended that a broad spectrum of housing affordability be achieved, with the construction of new units affordable to households with incomes ranging from 30% to 80% of the area median income. Achieving this range of affordability will be important to create opportunities for workers filling the more than 2,000 health care jobs expected at the new Inova campus at Landmark. Affordable and workforce housing would be enhanced through developer contributions and co-location with community facilities such as a new Alexandria Fire-EMS station.

How would the proposed Landmark redevelopment incorporate a new fire-EMS station to promote affordable and workforce housing?

The proposal for the Landmark site incorporates the new fire-EMS station that was included in the City’s existing Landmark Neighborhood Plan. This station would replace the existing Station 208 at 175 N. Paxton St., which is located half a mile from the existing entrances to the Landmark site. Station 208 was built in 1976 and currently houses a fire engine, ladder truck, and ambulance. A new station would help serve the increase in resident population at the Landmark site and would benefit from modernization. The station would also serve as the foundation for the construction of affordable or workforce housing above the facility. While the City would pay for the cost of the new station, the land would be donated by the developers and the developers would be responsible for constructing the housing.

Alexandria has many successful existing examples where residential uses, including affordable and workforce housing, have been combined with commercial, institutional and municipal uses. The Station at Potomac Yard has successfully operated since 2009, combining a City fire-EMS station, retail space and 64 units of affordable and workforce housing. At St. James Plaza, completed in 2018, a pre-K center is part of a 93-unit affordable housing community. At The Nexus, which began operating in late 2019, a 78-unit affordable housing building is part of a large, mixed-use project that combines retail, a restaurant, offices, a Montessori school, a grocery store and a market-rate apartment building. The Bloom, which opened in 2020, combines a shelter serving families experiencing homelessness with a 97-unit affordable apartment building above. In Alexandria’s urban environment, where land use must be maximized, residential development often occurs above ground floor or lower story commercial (retail, restaurant, office) uses.

Transportation

What transportation improvements will be made at the Landmark site and along the Duke Street corridor?

The site will be able to leverage significant, planned and funded transportation investments. Plans for the Landmark redevelopment include an on-site transit hub where Metrobus, DASH and two Bus Rapid Transit lines will intersect. The City’s existing Smart Mobility plan envisions urban streets with at-grade intersections, with safer and more accessible crossings for people to access the site. The City is already investing in technology along Duke and Van Dorn streets to manage congestion and improve traffic flow.

How is traffic at the redeveloped Landmark site expected to compare to traffic when Landmark Mall was thriving?

Traffic patterns and peaks will be different with a mixed-use community than with a shopping mall.  The planning process will include a traffic analysis to further assess the proposed development and ensure that road, transit and streetscape modifications help realize the long-term vision of adopted community plans. When the Landmark-Van Dorn Small Area Plan was approved in 2009, some 5.6 million square feet was accommodated on the Landmark Mall site. The new Landmark Mall site redevelopment plan is contemplated to include only about 4 million square feet of development.

How is traffic at the Seminary Road site expected to change with redevelopment?

Traffic patterns typically shift with changes in uses of a site, and a traffic analysis will be done as part of the planning process to determine the impacts of the changes. When the analysis is complete, the City will work with the applicant to determine traffic, pedestrian or transit improvements that may be required as part of the redevelopment.

For more information regarding the Seminary Road site, visit  inova.org/seminaryroad.

Will there be direct access to the site from Interstate 395?

Exploring direct access to the site from Interstate 395 is a recommendation of the Landmark Van Dorn Corridor Plan. It is being considered as part of this rezoning process. However, this improvement will require support and coordination from the Federal Highway Administration and extensive study and approval from Virginia Department of Transportation.

What transit is proposed as part of the project?

The proposal includes a new transit hub that will serve the planned West End Transitway (Bus Rapid Transit) as well as Metrobus and Dash. Consistent with the Plan, the transit hub is in the southeast section of the site to allow quick access for buses, promote bike and pedestrian safety, and avoid traffic conflict with the hospital. Please visit West End Transitway | City of Alexandria, VA to see how the Landmark site is integrated into the West End Transitway.

Will there be safe access for pedestrians and cyclists to the site and within the site?

The applicant team is working to ensure safe and efficient bike and pedestrian access to the site including protected bike lanes and enhanced intersections at Duke and Van Dorn streets as recommended in the Plan. In addition, the Plan recommends a safe bike connection within the site, connecting cyclists to the transit hub and Duke and Van Dorn Streets.

How will this project address parking?

The current proposal retains the existing above grade parking structure to serve adjacent development blocks and visitors to the site. An additional underground parking garage and above grade parking garage is proposed to support the hospital and give easy access to patients, visitors, doctors, and staff. Other development blocks propose above grade garages. The Plan requires that any new above ground garages to be screened with active uses.

Environmental Sustainability

How will this project meet the City’s environmental sustainability goals?

The applicant is committed to meeting the City’s goals and complying with or exceeding Alexandria’s Green Building Policy. They are working with consultants to find the best ways to meet these goals. The Master Plan also establishes site wide requirements. In addition, the Plan recommends robust public transportation access on the site as well as an built environment that encourages walking and biking, all of which will help contribute to the environmental sustainability of the project.

Open Space & Parks

How much open space is proposed?

The submittal will outline how the proposal meets or exceeds the required 3.5 acres of publicly accessible open space per the Landmark-Van Dorn Corridor Plan. The Central Plaza will be designed to be an easily accessible, attractive, and inviting gathering place for the west end. The Plaza will have an active and engaging urban nature which allows retail and recreation to permeate throughout the space.

Schools

Will a school be considered on the site?

As part of the 2019 planning process, the community agreed that a fire station was a higher priority than a school. A fire station is very sensitive to siting and Landmark may be the only feasible location to replace current Fire Station 208, while there is more flexibility in locating a new school site. The community also acknowledged that not all desired civic uses may be able to fit on this 52-acre site. When the hospital site, fire station and other public uses (streets, sidewalks and parks), and the existing parking structure to be retained are deducted from the total site area, 17 acres (33%) remains for development (and to generate taxes).

Landmark Proposed Redevelopment Civic Uses image

Through the implementation of the Long Range Educational Facilities Plan, jointly developed by the City and ACPS, as well as the current Joint City-ACPS Facilities Master Plan process, the City and ACPS are creating a roadmap for future investment in City and ACPS facilities based on identified existing and projected needs. Potential solutions for addressing school facility needs include, but are not limited to, existing school sites and/or sites identified in recent City Small Area Plans, such as North Potomac Yard, Eisenhower East, and Eisenhower West / Landmark Van Dorn (Greenhill North). Specific to the Eisenhower West / Landmark Van Dorn area of the city, the condition of approval of the Greenhill North CDD, for example, requires a 30,000 sq. ft. parcel of land be provided for the development of a school as part of the first DSUP for the site, which is anticipate in approximately 5-7 years. 

The City and ACPS continue to work collaboratively to address the needs of ACPS students.

Approximate student generation will be calculated using the most up to date student generation rates per the Long Range Educational Facilities Plan. Student generation will be further assessed as future individual block development special use permits are submitted for review by city staff and consideration by City Council.

Landmark Proposed Redevelopment Future School Site image

Community Engagement and Planning Process

What has already been decided about the redevelopment of the Landmark and Seminary sites?

No binding decisions have been made. The initial agreement announced on December 21, 2020, is a non-binding Preliminary Term Sheet document that explains the intent of the City of Alexandria; Inova Health System; and a development joint venture of Foulger-Pratt, The Howard Hughes Corporation, and Seritage Growth Properties (a publicly-traded, self-administered and self-managed real estate investment trust headquartered in New York, which owns a portion of the Landmark site). The Preliminary Term Sheet represents the framework of the proposed City financial participation that the City Manager plans to recommend to the community and City Council. The non-binding Preliminary Term Sheet agreement lays out the principal business terms and responsibilities among the parties, which provides a foundation for formal regulatory applications. The City has not yet given any other party approval to redevelop either the Landmark or Seminary sites. Any future development review, special use permits, rezoning, City financial participation, or other approvals will be subject to all of the usual staff review and recommendations, public hearings, and approvals by the Planning Commission, City Council, or both.

How will the community learn more about and become involved in the redevelopment proposals?

The proposal for the Landmark site announced on December 21, 2020, provides a concrete starting point for further engagement and review by the community, City staff, the Alexandria Planning Commission, and the Alexandria City Council. Inova and developers will submit applications for applicable City review, public hearings and approvals in the months to come, which will provide additional details about the separate projects at the Landmark and Seminary sites (including proposed building heights and housing density). For the Landmark site, this will include submittal of a proposed coordinated development district, a Master Plan amendment, a rezoning request and associated approvals, to be considered by the Planning Commission and City Council following public hearings in summer 2021. This will be followed by an application for Development Special Use Permits for sitewide infrastructure and individual buildings. The permit for the new hospital is expected to be one of the first filed.

The City’s long-standing goal for Landmark is to encourage and accelerate the redevelopment of the vacant mall site in a timely manner and implement the community’s vision for the site. The Eisenhower West / Landmark / Van Dorn Implementation Advisory Group will serve as the venue for community engagement following the January 4 virtual community information meeting.

Links to participate in this process are  alexandriava.gov/Landmark and on the  City Calendar.

Planning and redevelopment at both sites will also incorporate lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic related to the built environment, such as flexibility and adaptability for land uses and how the community designs and uses parks.

What steps are involved in this process?

First, the City will consider a rezoning request to a coordinated development district or CDD as recommended by the Plan. This first step may also include a potential master plan amendment (MPA) if the proposal differs from the adopted Master Plan and if there is a justifiable rationale for any deviation. This first phase rezoning process will address the major elements of the proposals, at a high level, and is anticipated for June City Council consideration. After that, the applicant team can move forward with the infrastructure site plan and may also apply for individual development special use permits (DSUPs) for buildings on the site. The DSUP phase will include a higher level of detail about the proposals.

Miscellaneous

Will the project exceed the maximum height allowed in the Plan?

The projects as it is currently proposed does not exceed the maximum height requirements set by the Plan.

Will the applicant comply with regulations on worker exploitation and provide equitable work opportunities?

The applicant, Foulger Pratt, is fully supportive and plans to be compliant with the new Virginia legislation regarding wage theft (HB 123/ SB 838). The applicant plans to work with its sub- contractors to ensure fair wages for construction workers.

How will noise be handled?

The site will comply with the City’s Noise Ordinance, however, firetrucks are explicitly exempt from that ordinance by state law. The City has several fire stations in neighborhood settings and has experience in building, design, and operational strategies that mitigate noise where possible. The applicant team and City staff also recognize concern regarding noise from the planned helicopter pad on one of the towers of the trauma center. Planned routes and times of operation will be reviewed through the development process.

Additional Resources and Information

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