We passed the planning commission 4-0 in favor! We also had the most opposition of any project in front of the commission. I honestly did not think it would pass, but the people on the planning commission see the big picture.
Here's the video if interested. We are #11 in the index to skip ahead to. The most valuable info are the commission's remarks prior to voting. Go to 02:41:53 for that part. Next is the City Council hearing on the 15th.
“We’re very concerned with the type of transient customer that this type of facility is going to draw.”
“You don’t want lots different kinds of people come in and out around kids.”
“I am also around 30 years old and I don’t think I would ever stay in a facility of this type. I would fork over the extra money to stay some place a little nicer with more service.”
“As a resident of Old Town Alexandria, I am uncomfortable knowing individuals having no ties to our community, and sometimes no ties to any community, are invited to this area.”
“It’s no secret that people patronizing hostels are often not outstanding members of the communities where they travel from.”
Great responses from the Commission!
“You would think we’re being asked to approve a brothel in Alexandria instead of a hostel,” Planning Commissioner Nate Macek said.
Commissioner Derek Hyra said he used them when he traveled Europe as a student. Now an associate professor of urban affairs at Virginia Tech in Alexandria, Hyra said it would be difficult for him to vote against something that would open the city up to more people... "Something like this that will open up the city to be looked at, studied, enjoyed, appreciated by certain people who don’t have the income to spend $200, $300 a night is something this city needs.”
Commissioner Maria Wasowski said the hostel was a good use of a space that has been empty for several years and would help “further more cultural exchange for everyone.”
The comments after the article are also very positive and in support of the hostel project, which is fantastic considering how much opposition you said there was.
Congratulations, and good luck at the City Council hearing!
Thank you for sharing your experience with the planning commission! This is really helpful for me (opening up a hostel in Memphis) and for others who are working to put hostels on the US map. There's no question that there's a perception problem (opportunity!) with hostels here. Similar questions/concerns came up in my initial meeting with city planners, and I'm taking care to address those concerns in my plan. Keep us posted with the outcome of the June 15 meeting. Good luck!
We are trying out a crowdfunding campaign to raise some start-up money. There are some great rewards on there, including future stays with at our hostel once open. Take a look around and feel free to back us! ... even $20 would be fantastic!!!
Cianciolo said the landlord’s decision to sign another tenant caught him off guard.
“It was kind of out of blue,” he said. “I was expecting to get the lease back with the signature on it and get the renovations going. … He just didn’t want to take any risk and took another offer. It’s probably an office tenant.”
He was probably getting a lot of pressure from disgruntled neighbors too. Has he given you any kind of explanation?
Cianciolo said Wednesday he’s not giving up on the plan.
“We’re going to continue,” he said. “We’d still like to open in Old Town. I think there’s a lot to offer. But we’re definitely looking at D.C. because they don’t have [the special use permit] process for a hostel.”
With all of the support from the community during the hearing, what are the chances that someone else might step up and make you an offer on a different property in Old Town? If they don't, do you already have your eye on any possible sites in DC?
Yes, the owner just changed his mind when I was expecting the final draft of the lease back to sign. Very unethical!
Overall there has been positive community support. Hopefully we can find another property, but that's a minimum 6 month process for another Special Use Permit with public hearing. Anyone want to invest in a building with us?
From a guest perspective, in Alexandria is actually better with a 6.5% lodging tax rather than 14.5% in D.C. Sales tax is more too Plus is right on the Metro. But we will consider the District since they have more less strict rules.
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