Old Dominion Boat Club relocation approved

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WJLA) - On a snowy spring, it is hard to see the bright side – but John Keegan found it:

{ }"I think the move's a great idea. It's great for the city. I think it's gonna be okay for the boat club."

Keegan is a seven-year member of the Old Dominion Boat Club, and on Monday night, with 66-percent of the vote, members approved a plan to move the club from the foot of King Street along the Potomac to two blocks over to the foot of Prince Street in Old Town, Alexandria.

"It's a win for the city, and a win for the boat club," said member Dennis Aula.

"I think we got a long way to go," says Keegan, still. "It's a nice concept plan. The devil's in the details."

That cautious optimism is the result of a battle between the club and the city that has endured for decades -- including the city’s threat of eminent domain.

The deal allows the city to take over the club’s building and parking lot, and in exchange, the club will get land on Prince Street for a new building, a lot – plus $5 million.

"Win-win for both sides," says Mark Jinks, Deputy City Manager for Alexandria. He is thrilled for what this deal will mean for Old Town – a continuous waterfront access for walkers and runners:

"This is the missing link in a 40-year effort by the City of Alexandria to provide waterfront access for its citizens."

Jinks says the future space would be pedestrian-friendly, including a fountain, ice-skating rink and promenade along the river.

It will be years until the transformation takes place, but locals are excited at the prospect of a different landscape.

"It'll be good for the folks who hang out around here, eat lunch, and look at the river," said Michael Anderson, who works in Alexandria.

The ultimate goal under the redevelopment plan would be to create continuous access from Daingerfield Island to Jones Point.

"Euphoric," describes Jody Manor of his own reaction. He is a lifelong Alexandrian who owns the new Waterfront Market & Cafe, which after the boat club moves, will look right out on to the water:

"It's not hyperbole to say this is a transformational moment for the city -- it's really a historic thing for the city."