City of Alexandria Approves New Old Dominion Boat Club

The Project Represents the First of Many for Alexandria’s New Waterfront Plan

ALEXANDRIA, VA – Michael Winstanley Architects & Planners is pleased to announce that the Alexandria City Council approved the Special Use Permit that clears the way for the construction of a new clubhouse for the Old Dominion Boat Club (ODBC). The project is expected to be under construction by this summer, with an anticipated opening in the fall of 2016.

The approval for the new club represents an end to years of acrimony between the City and the ODBC. Over last summer, the club formally agreed to accept Alexandria’s offer to move to the city-owned Beachcombers site at the base of Prince Street. The Beachcombers property is bordered by Prince Street to the north, the Potomac River to the east, Strand Street to the west and an asphalt parking lot to the south.

The new clubhouse also represents the first project to be implemented in the City’s proposed waterfront plan that includes a new twenty foot wide promenade along the water, new parks, and the creation of Fitzgerald Square at the base of King Street, the current location of the ODBC.

“This is a truly watershed moment in the history of Alexandria.” says Tom Hulfish III, Chairman of the ODBC Building Committee and whose father built the Beachcombers building in 1947. “I am so pleased the design of the new club will represent both the history of the waterfront and the history of the ODBC”.

The proposed new clubhouse will be a three-story structure, approximately 13,800 square feet, with a 45-car parking lot on the south side of the structure. On the ground level will be an entry lobby with historic artifacts on display, storage, lockers and showers, and loading/service areas. The first floor will feature a large open hall for member meetings and banquet rentals, administrative offices, a prep kitchen and outdoor patio. The second floor is to include a ballroom, member’s board room, and a full kitchen. The roof level, much like the Beachcombers, will also be utilized for entertainment purposes.

The design of the ODBC is meant to reflect the narrative of a long history of this location and the Old Dominion Boat Club’s own history. In the early years, this site was, in fact, in the water. The piers and decking for the front of the building illustrate the history of the waterfront dating back to the 1700s. The Beachcombers was built in the late 1940s, and the retention of this structure will assure this legacy. Lastly, the addition to the Beachcombers building has been designed to reflect the history of the boat club by using materials and detailing similar to what a boat builder would propose.

The Old Dominion Boat Club is the longest continuous use along the city’s waterfront; and with this move, the club will have been in three locations. In August of 1880, thirty-six young men gathered at the Mansion House to form a club dedicated to water sports – sailing, rowing, canoeing and swimming. They called their new association the “Old Dominion Boat Club of Alexandria.” The members built their first clubhouse on the Strand near the foot of Duke Street, and by 1891 the club had acquired two four-oared shells, two double outriggers, and a 60’ barge. In 1923 the members built a new clubhouse at its current location, 1 King Street.