By Margaret Townsend
Alexandria, VA – In 2005, after numerous environmental studies and united action by residents and local politicians, the federal government ordered the owners of the coal-fired Potomac River Generating Station to address concerns about detrimental effects on the environment and residents throughout the area.
In 2012, after several cost-benefit analyses, the plant was shut down. The buildings were fenced off, and the plant remained closed for almost ten years. The site was purchased by Hilco Redevelopment Partners ( HRP). According to their recent fact sheet, its goal is to “transform the former Potomac River Generating Station site and reintegrate it into the neighborhood fabric of Old Town North.”
HRP has offered tours of the site and Zoom meetings with neighborhood HOAs and local not-for-profits (including NOTICe and the Old Town North Community Partnership) to ensure the redevelopment team of architects, engineers, and landscape architects have a clear sense of the concerns of residences and businesses in Old Town North.
HRP recently set up a tent at The Old Town North Thursday Farmers and Artisans Market to share with members of the local community the vision of the new development as a “vibrant, friendly, and walkable community as contemplated in the Old Town North Small Area Plan.”
The hope is the new development will provide additional housing at varying income levels, create jobs, and provide community benefits, including additional dining, retail, arts, and cultural venues. Michelle Chang of HRP also adds, “One thing we are very excited about is referencing the history of the neighborhood, both the agrarian and the industrial in the architecture and public art.”
Working with the National Park Service, owner of the Potomac River shoreline, HRP envisions creating or improving several acres of publicly accessible waterfront and the Mt. Vernon Trail.
The Potomac River Generation Station, while a challenging neighbor, employed many of Alexandria’s residents. With the walk-through tours, it can be seen more clearly how beneficial this site has been and how it will be more beneficial in the future. Chang concludes, “I have worked in real estate redevelopment for 20 years, and I am impressed by the level of community interest and engagement in this project.” Stay tuned for next month when we profile the experiences of one gentleman who worked for the Generation Station for over 40 years.
Walk-through tours of the old Potomac River Generation Station take place twice a year. The next one will be in the fall “at the earliest.” All site tours are advertised in a newsletter you can sign up for at the bottom of this website: www.hilcoredev.com/projects.