A movement decrying Bonaventure’s proposed mixed-use development in the heart of Del Ray has been launched online this month, and its organizer says the plan will ruin the neighborhood’s peaceful vibe.
Nate Hurto and a few dozen neighbors aren’t happy with the proposal to convert the former 88,500-square-foot house from the Alexandria Department of Community and Human Services building at 2525 Mount Vernon Avenue in a four-story, 43-foot-tall building with 12,530 square feet of retail space and 79 rental units.
Hurto, a neighborhood resident for 15 years, launched SaveDelRay.org earlier this month.
“We are not against development or against progress,” Hurto told ALXnow. “We just want everyone to look at this in a concerted way and more importantly, the city council, the planning commission and everyone else to know that this is important to us.”
Hurto says the development ignores the guiding principles of the city’s Mount Vernon Avenue Commercial Area Plan, which includes preserving the neighborhood’s historic scale and character and providing convenient parking and transportation solutions .
“Go to the site and imagine a building twice as tall as the existing structure,” Hurto told ALXnow. “I think if you’re standing on the corner, where Pork Barrel BBQ and Tops Of Old Town are, just look north on Mount Vernon Avenue. Imagine a structure twice as tall right there on the street, right next to the houses. It doesn’t convey a small town neighborhood feel, it doesn’t convey any historical sense of place.
Bonaventure owns the 144-space parking lot across from Pat Miller Square on Mount Vernon Avenue and E. Oxford Avenue, which be available to residents living in the new building. The company says residential and commercial parking required for the project can be accommodated and will be provided within the existing lot at block 2400 of Mt Vernon Avenue.
“We want to focus on ensuring there are enough parking spaces for the development, that traffic controls are in place,” Hurto said. “Instead of fundamentally changing the community, we want the developer to look at this project and say, ‘How can I make this really fit into Del Ray?’
As for SaveDelRay’s strategy, Hurto wouldn’t say much.
“Join our mailing list, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Instagram and you will see the strategy unfold,” Hurto said.
Bonaventure last informed the Del Ray Citizens Association of the project in February and wants the plan submitted to the City for review in November. This would be followed by the final site plan and building permit process, and over a year and a half for construction. This means, barring unforeseen circumstances, development would begin in the fourth quarter of 2023 and be completed in approximately 20 months.
Images via Bonaventure