Alexandria council defers vote on Waterfront Small Area Plan

The City of Alexandria delayed voting on a master plan Saturday designed to reshape Old Town's waterfront and to prevent future flooding.

The proposal is controversial because it hinges on new commercial development. And at a sometimes rowdy city council hearing this morning, residents expressed their opposition.

Everyone seems to agree something needs to be done to keep the Potomac River from flooding the roads and businesses in Old Town.

But flood mitigation costs money. And the current proposal suggests new development.

Hotels, restaurants, and their associated tax revenue could help pay for it, but some say that's selling out.

Some residents made their objections known at the city council meeting where Alexandria planners debated allowing high density development, including hotels and restaurants at three sites along the waterfront..
paul walker

Other residents welcome the proposal because it would help pay for flood mitigation along the Potomac, with elevated topography, new parks, open space and flood-proof buildings.

But many residents oppose the plan, worried new development will diminish Old Town's historic nature and increase traffic.

A few even accuse the city of privatizing the waterfront.

But business leaders say a few boutique hotels won't change Old Town because the plan only adds a small percentage of commercial space.

Some business leaders want more commercial space while some of the residents want more parks.

Whatever the city council decides, it seems both sides will be unhappy with the outcome.

Meanwhile, every high tidea brings a reminder of how this debate started, with river water flooding their homes and businesses.

For more information about the Waterfront Plan, visit