Memo for fiscal year 2022, updated 2021-02-15

[Archived] Question # 07: What would a renovation of Market Square entail and what would be a rough order of magnitude cost?


What would a renovation of Market Square entail and what would be a rough order of magnitude cost? (Mayor Wilson, Councilman Aguirre)


Alexandria’s historic Market Square is a living landmark that requires significant renovation to address structural deficiencies and water penetration problems. Engineering studies of the plaza and garage levels, including a structural report completed in 2014, identified a number of conditions present on the Market Square Plaza and in the garage, including water infiltration into the garage from the fountain, structural issues in the garage as a result of the water infiltration, drainage issues and electrical malfunctions of the plaza lighting. The studies and report outline the work and some of the costs associated with refurbishing the infrastructure. Those studies also indicate there may be an opportunity for the City to reimagine the functions and uses of the plaza and implement functional space changes as part of the major plaza and garage repair project.

The Proposed FY 2022-FY 2031 CIP budget for the Market Square Plaza and Garage Structural Repairs project totals $10.5 million, including $1.63 million budgeted through FY 21 and $8.86 million budgeted in FY 22. This funding is to provide for the design and construction required to address the immediate structural repairs on the plaza and in the garage identified in the 2014 structural report. 

If a complete redesign of the plaza is contemplated, the City would need to retain the services of a design and engineering firm to lead a community engagement effort to consider potential redesign options for physical elements on the plaza and in the garage. To reimagine this historic public space will require an inclusive public engagement process. The process must ensure the City receives input from users, including residents from across the City, businesses, market vendors and visitors. The redesign will need to consider the historic significance of the old Alexandria Market House, maintain the continued operation of the weekly Old Town Farmers’ Market, consider improved accessibility needs, and explore potential design updates to reflect how all users interact with this civic space.

The public engagement process would need to ensure that stakeholders have an opportunity to provide feedback in ways that are easy and convenient, whether virtually or onsite, considering equitable access of all stakeholders to the process. Early ideas for community visioning include creative use of stakeholder questionnaires, focus group sessions, opportunities to learn about and celebrate the history of Market Square, identification of relevant and innovative case studies, and a communications plan with regular status reporting and opportunities for community feedback through all phases of design and construction.

If Council requests that the Market Square Plaza and Garage project be expanded to include a total re-design, additional funding of some unknown amount (in the millions) would be required for the community engagement process, redesign of the main plaza elements, additional design costs, storm water study, and increased construction costs for the revival of the Alexandria Market Square Plaza and Garage. Undertaking a redesign would likely increase the project timeline by one to two years in order to ensure adequate time for stakeholder input, design and execution. While this added consideration of the redesign of some or all elements of Market Square & Garage will add time to the project, this is a once in a 50-year opportunity to improve the popular civic central plaza of Alexandria. If Council wishes to undertake a redesign of the plaza, the funding can be carved out of the prior year funding and the $8.86 million moved to FY 2024.

007 Market Square Renovation Chart

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