New Beginnings for Old Town North’s Coal Plant

Phyllis Patterson

Last week, we had the opportunity for a site visit to the decommissioned Potomac River Generating Station. To locals, we just know this site as “the coal plant” that sits along the banks of Old Town North. To future residents, this site will be a destination, home, and arts center for Alexandria along the Potomac River.

Hilco Redevelopment Partners (HRD) plans to develop this approximately 20-acre site into a new sustainable community for Alexandrians and visitors. As one of Alexandria’s largest industrial sites in the city, the decommissioned station is long overdue for development after officially shutting down in 2012. Hilco Redevelopment Partners focus on maximizing value from obsolete industrial real estate sites and intermediate communities for growth and sustainability. Hilco plans to work closely with the city and community to create a thoroughly planned, mixed-use development that will take what is now a shadow on the city to one that will be a source of pride.

If you didn’t get a chance to make it to one of their site tours that invited the Alexandria community to learn more, follow this link to the tour boards outlining the project benefits, development, and focus for each goal. Ultimately, the project focuses on integrating the site into Old Town North, connecting people with the waterfront, and providing a meaningful and varied open space.

The site plans to benefit the community through environmental remediation, add economic benefit with 1,100 construction jobs and 2,000 permanent jobs, offer affordable housing and subsidized arts uses, add 14 acres of new or improved open space, bring 25% energy savings and 3% on-site renewables, and offer transportation through pedestrian and bike friendly connections.

The site will add to Old Town North’s growing community, bringing new opportunities for businesses, arts and residential use spanning six blocks along the waterline. We learned the term “woofner,” a Dutch urban planning concept that means “street living” that the project architects are eager to implement. The woofner will share space with pedestrians and traffic to create a low-speed, pedestrian-priority street. There will also be special attention to open space, planning around the Mount Vernon Trail, City Bike Trail, and planned plazas to welcome park space. Additionally, street art opportunities, community programming spaces, and areas for arts and innovation are important to the project to fit in with the goals of Old Town North as a growing arts district. 

As Alexandria residents who have known this site as an obsolete coal plant, we’re excited to see that it may turn into something that will add value to our city. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will this site, but we will keep our eyes on this project eagerly awaiting it to become a new destination for visit here in Old Town!


The Patterson Group is one of the most experienced and trusted real estate teams in the area, serving the community of Alexandria, VA for more than 30 years.

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