After reaching an agreement with the National Park Service, the City of Alexandria has a much clearer idea of where the Potomac Yard Metro station might go.

Out of four options, Alexandria picked Alternative B for its new Metro station.

Alexandria’s planning staff is officially recommending Alternative B, one of four possible build locations. When City Council votes to make a decision on May 20th, it’s very likely to follow the staff’s lead.

The recommendation comes after the National Park Service approved Alexandria’s plan to minimize the station’s impact on the Greens Scenic Area that’s part of the parkland around the George Washington Memorial Parkway.

Alternative B is the most likely to promote transit-oriented development

Alexandria planners have long seen Alternative B, a location south of an existing movie theater and just east of the CSX and Metro tracks, as the best opportunity to transform Potomac Yard into a walkable community with high-quality mixed uses. B also allows for nearly four million additional square feet of development in the Potomac Yard North development, an economic boon for the city. 

Alternative A was the original site set aside for a station when the Blue Line was built. Two other alternatives, B-CSX and D, also got consideration in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) released in March, but both are more expensive and have fewer benefits than A and B.

The Metro Station itself will maximize the number of people taking transit in the Potomac Yard area and remove thousands of cars from the Route 1 corridor every day.

Alexandria worked closely with the NPS to make Alternative B happen

Alternative B requires about 7,000 square feet of NPS land, and its structure will be visible from the Parkway, affecting a scenic easement. It became evident during the EIS process, which started in 2011, that these issues would need resolution for Alternative B to work.

After months of negotiating, officials from both Alexandria and the NPS have an agreement that’s good for both parties.

As part of the deal, Alexandria will give the NPS 13 acres of land; limit building heights, lighting, and signs around the Parkway; set aside $12 million for stormwater management on Daingerfield Island and help fund the island’s master plan; repair the Mount Vernon Bicycle Trail; and contribute to planning for the Parkway from Four Mile Run to Mount Vernon.

On its end, the NPS won’t object to Alexandria naming Alternative B as its preferred location. The NPS will also give Alexandria .16 acres of its own land plus 1.71 acres that are under the easement.

Part of the planning staff’s recommendation is that construction access for the station be through Potomac Greens, a neighborhood next to Alternative B; keeping construction access away from the Parkway was another point of contention.

Between now and the May 20th vote, numerous city boards, among them the Board of Architectural Review and the Planning Commission, will consider the EIS and the planning staff’s recommendation. City Council will hold a public hearing on May 16th, and a public comment period is open through May 18th.

Agnès Artemel became interested in revitalizing cities after growing up in France and Germany, where livable and walkable have always been the norm.  She is a founder of the Northern Virginia Streetcar Coalition and Alexandrians Delivering smart growth Around Metro (ADAM).  Her professional focus is on market and feasibility studies, real estate development approvals, and economic development partnerships. Agnès has a Masters in urban and regional planning.