Hilco Plans Redevelopment of Potomac River Generating Station

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Hilco Redevelopment Partners (HRP) continues to refine its plans for the old Potomac River Generating Station in Alexandria’s Old Town North neighborhood. Its initial phases could include more than 1 million square feet of commercial and residential space.

HRP publicly unveiled its plans for part of the site Wednesday at the neighborhood’s Urban Design Advisory Committee (UDAC) meeting.

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HRP is dividing the nearly 20-acre property into six parcels, which it labels Blocks A through F, along with open green spaces that weave around and between the proposed blocks. The first phase of the development will include Blocks A and B, while Block C will be a part of Phase 2.

Block A will consist of 65,000 square feet of commercial space, set aside for office and arts use. The far larger Blocks B and C will contain both commercial and residential space: 370,250 square feet of residential and 80,000 square feet of commercial for Block B, and 583,370 square feet of residential and 50,870 square feet of commercial for Block C.

The Potomac River Generating Station shut down in 2012 after more than 60 years of operation due to environmental opposition from the city and locals. HRP purchased the site in 2020.

The firm’s vision for the site includes connecting the redevelopment to the rest of the neighborhood, connecting people to the Potomac waterfront on the site’s border, providing open space, and using sustainable development strategies.

Aspects of that vision come through in the design of the buildings themselves. Designers took inspiration from the sails of wooden ships and sailboats, officials said, which is reflected in both the look of the buildings and their layout, particularly for Block A. 

The design for Block B took further inspiration from New York’s triangular Flatiron building, while Block C’s look was inspired by both the sinuous waves of the Potomac and the contrast of texture and smoothness of oysters and their pearls.

Comments on the plans from locals and UDAC members were mostly positive. Some offered constructive criticism, such as making it clear where pedestrians could and could not go. Others expressed concerns about local wildlife, due to the amount of glass in the designs, as well as how the project will affect Muse Old Town, a condominium complex across the street from the site. 

Officials from HRP promised transparency and vowed to continue working with the local community as plans evolve. 

“The design concepts we presented today are the result of an iterative approach that incorporates dialogue with the city, UDAC members and our neighboring community, and represents an important step in realizing our shared vision for an integrated and vibrant Old Town North,” said Michelle Beeman Chang, vice president of mixed-use development and local project lead for HRP.

“We were excited to receive positive feedback from the committee and community members, and we look forward to continuing this dialogue as we move forward with this iconic redevelopment,” Chang said.

An HRP spokesperson said there will be additional presentations of the evolving design concepts over the coming months, prior to an endorsement from the UDAC. 

UDAC Chair Stephen Kulinski declined to comment. 

Nick Trombola can be reached at NTrombola@commercialobserver.com.