Meeting Recap Alert: City Council Public Hearing March 17, 2018

Recap of City Council Public Hearing Meeting

held March 17, 2018

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On Saturday, the Alexandria City Council held their regular public hearing meeting, where they discussed Special Use Permits (SUP) for Tandoori Nights and Taco Bell Cantina in Old Town, Secret Garten in Del Ray/Arlandria and a Phase II Development SUP for Wegmans-anchored Blocks 4 & 5 in Eisenhower.


The Council also voted on the establishment of an Old Town North Streetscape and Open Space Fund and policy for developer contributions to implement the Old Town North Small Area Plan.
Details on all five items can be found below.

Item: Tandoori Nights Restaurant Special Use Permit (SUP)
Action: Unanimous vote to approve the SUP
Next Steps: The restaurant hopes to open later this year
Description: Proposal for a traditional Indian cuisine and full-service bar restaurant to occupy the 3,885 square feet second floor space previously used by La Bergerie in Crilley Warehouse, with extended hours of operation into the late afternoon and evening.
Details & Issues of Interest:

– 2nd floor restaurant space located at 218 N. Lee Street

– 147 indoor seats

– Limited live entertainment, such as occasional karaoke or a band of three to four members, would be offered for private events in the 40-seat multi-use room

– Hours of operation- 10 a.m. – 12 a.m. (Sun-Thurs), 10 a.m. – 1 a.m. (Fri. and Sat)

– 2 public speakers in support of the application + the attorney representing the new business


Item: Secret Garten Restaurant SUP at 3410 Mount Vernon Ave
Action: 5-1 vote to approve the SUP as recommended by the Planning Commission, with three amended/added conditions (one member of Council recused themselves from the vote)
Next Steps: The restaurant owner will proceed to building permit review (administrative) to allow for a significant renovation, and hopes to open later this year
Description: Proposal to extend hours of operation, add off-premises alcohol sales and outdoor dining for an existing restaurant use
Details & Issues of Interest:

– The restaurant operator will rename his restaurant from Senor Chicken to The Secret Garten, a restaurant which will serve sandwiches, sausages, burgers, and imported craft beers with an emphasis on high quality ingredients from local producers

– Creates a 30-seat outdoor dining area at the rear of the restaurant, in the place of six parking spaces

– Hours of operation- 7 a.m. – 2 a.m., daily (INSIDE), 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. (Sun – Thurs) and 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. (Sat – Fri) (OUTDOOR)

– Conditions added by City Council:

No outdoor power-washing after 4:00 PM

An administrative review of the SUP at 12 and 18 months

Requirement for planters and plant heights of at least 6 ft on the rear property line

– Speakers- 1 supporting the application, 2 against/asking for issues to be addressed, + applicant and their attorney


Item: Taco Bell Cantina Restaurant SUP at 417 King Street
Action: Unanimous vote to approve the SUP with a change to the outdoor dining hours of operation
Next Steps: Build-out and opening
Description: Proposal to operate a restaurant in 2,195 square feet ground floor retail space previously occupied by Pendleton. Taco Bell’s new restaurant concept, Cantina, is designed for urban and pedestrian-oriented environments with tapas-style, shareable appetizers that complement the traditional Taco Bell menu.
Details & Issues of Interest:

– 72-seat restaurant- 52 indoor and 20 outdoor

– Not your typical Taco Bell – the Cantina is designed to feature open kitchens, digital menu boards and local artwork, and the restaurant will serve alcohol

– Hours of operation- 7 a.m. – 2 a.m., daily (INSIDE), 7 a.m. – 11 pm daily (OUTDOOR)

– 5 speakers spoke against the SUP, expressing concerns about noise, late night hours and perceived quality of the restaurant not being a good fit for Old Town


Item: Old Town North Developer Contributions Formula
Action: Unanimous vote to adopt the policy and set rates for developer contributions
Next Steps: Individual redevelopment projects within the Old Town North area will come forward to City Council for approvals using the newly adopted contribution rates
Description: The Old Town North Small Area Plan recommends a variety of streetscape and open space enhancements to serve existing and future Old Town North residents, workers, and visitors and recommends establishing developer contributions to help pay for these. In addition to area-wide improvements, the Plan recommends site-related streetscape and infrastructure improvements to be implemented through redevelopment. The developer contributions policy distributes the total cost of plan area improvements among the City and the redevelopment sites with added floor area and establishes a per square foot developer contribution rate for the redevelopment sites.
Details & Issues of Interest:

– On March 6th, Planning Commission reviewed a proposal that included a catalyst phase, a non-catalyst phase and the former power plant site, each with a different contribution rate

– City Council voted to approve a different proposal, adopting one developer contribution rate for sites 1-10 (see map below) and any future projects not yet identified, as follows:


estimated SF in blocks 1-10= 710,196 SF

estimated value of contribution= $6,391,764

– No rate was assigned to Site 11, the former power plant, with decision on that rate postponed until a time when redevelopment options and economics are more clear

– There was significant discussion about the potential to convert Montgomery Street into a 2-way street following testimony from multiple residents and business representatives- that project had previously been identified as one of the projects the contributions would fund

– No reference to specific projects to be funded were included in the adopted policy or developer contribution tables

– A public process specifically to discuss and debate the potential 2-way conversion of Montgomery Street will take place in the future

– Redevelopment sites:


Item: Hoffman Blocks 4 & 5 Development SUP Phase II- 2410 and 2460 Mill Road 
Action: 6-1 vote to approve the DSUP Stage II and related approvals with one amended condition
Next Steps: Further building design and administrative permitting, with a groundbreaking in the next year
Description: Proposal for final stage approvals for a mixed-use project by StoneBridge Carras- 1.7M square feet including several residential buildings atop a retail podium featuring a Wegmans grocery store
Details & Issues of Interest:

– City Council amended the Planning Commission recommendation by separating ‘live entertainment’ from restaurant uses. Restaurants will be by-right in the project, but any restaurant with live entertainment will need to apply for an administrative SUP

– There was significant discussion about the voluntary contribution to affordable housing – three options were under consideration over recent months:

Developer to “give” City/nonprofit a podium on the SE corner of the project to build affordable units (would likely result in approximately 75 units)

Developer to contribute $3.4M to the City’s affordable housing fund to acquire off-site units

Developer to build $3.4M worth of affordable units on site (approximately 18-27 units dedicated for 25 years)

– Due to design and financing timeline constraints, the developer and City staff reported that the first option was no longer realistic, though the provision for that option was still included in the approval documents and motions in case circumstances change

– No public speakers weighed in on this item other than the applicant and their attorney

Land use items we are tracking in April:

– Special Use Permit at 6 Prince Street for Misha’s Coffee Shop

– SUP at 333 John Carlyle Street to permit office use on the ground floor

– Rezoning and Development SUP for the Crowne Plaza Hotel at 901 N Fairfax Street to allow for conversion to residential with new multifamily development and a theatre use

Weigh in on these issues!

Contact the Planning Commission –
Contact the City Council – Call.Click.Connect.