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A $30 million overhaul of Alexandria’s Union Station, a Virginia Railway Express stop, is in the final design phase and is working through some final permitting ahead of project construction next year.

An update scheduled to be presented to the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC) tomorrow (Thursday) noted that the project is going through permit coordinating with the City of Alexandria as part of the final design phase.

“Passenger safety will be improved by replacing an at-grade pedestrian track crossing with elevators to connect the two platforms,” the NVTC description said. “The elevators, along with
the current and proposed stairs, will connect to the existing tunnel between the two platforms. Adjustments to platform elevation will eliminate the need for stepboxes to access VRE and Amtrak trains. The center platform will be widened and lengthened to accommodate trains on both tracks.”

The widening of the center platform will allow the station to accommodate two trains at any given time, cutting down on the regional bottleneck around the D.C. area.

The VRE site also says the project also takes into consideration the Department of Rail and Public Transportation’s plans to build a fourth track through Alexandria, though the fourth track won’t stop at the VRE station.

“This project will take into consideration the design for DRPT’s planned Alexandria Fourth Track Project,” the VRE site said. “The new fourth track will not have platform access and will be built next to Track 1.”

Permit pending, the project is scheduled to start construction next year.

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This week’s Q&A column is sponsored and written by Lisa Groover of McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant Alexandria market news, contact Lisa at 703-919-4426 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: I have often wondered how real estate agents juggle multiple listings, numerous buyers, pre-listing updates and their personal priorities all at the same time. Would you mind sharing your strategy?

Answer: During this season of thanks, I value the occasion to recognize those who have truly helped me throughout the year. Whether in my business or my personal life, surrounding myself with amazing contractors, terrific service providers, wonderful clients, great friends, collaborative agents, supportive brokers, lovely neighbors and of course my fabulous golden retrievers, makes all the difference in my fast-paced lifestyle.

In 2021, I had the pleasure (and sometimes challenging) opportunity to list a number of homes for sellers who did not live in the area. In every situation, quite a bit of work was required prior to initiating the marketing plan. Over the years, I have accumulated an outstanding team of like-minded and dependable service professionals to take the pressure off me. My general contractors, painters, hardwood floor experts, carpet companies, electricians, plumbers, mold and water remediation specialists, cleaners, fireplace pros and landscapers have saved the day more times than I can count.

I would also like to extend my sincere gratitude to my preferred lenders, settlement companies, inspectors and real estate attorneys. Knowing you can count on this group of real estate professionals for the many details associated with a transaction makes all the difference in a sometimes stressful situation.

Whether the sellers are living in the home or not, during the time that a house or condo is getting ready to go on the market, I have the privilege of working with McEnearney’s excellent marketing team to create my print ads and brochures, mailings and social media. Once the repairs are complete, my stager adds the finishing touches and my photographer takes professional photos, and produces a 3D Tour and video.

It always amazes me how so many moving parts come together according to a predetermined timeline. Hitting the market in time for the listing to be syndicated to hundreds of websites prior to the weekend so that open houses are publicized in order to attract the most buyers is always a top priority.

As my fourth career, I give credit for my success in real estate to the skills I acquired in my previous lives. My experiences in sales and marketing, as well as my problem-solving background and people skills, allowed for a natural transition into this industry. I am still working on getting my personal list of priorities in order but have made big headway over the last few years thanks to another team of professionals.

Many thanks to my accountant, bookkeeper, financial advisor, insurance professionals, and overall support team for your expert advice and service. Based upon your guidance, I was able to check quite a few things off my to-do list in 2021 and look forward to continuing to do so in the year to come!

Whether you are thinking of buying or selling, or just need suggestions for updating your home, I am happy to provide ideas, or recommend contractors for your specific projects. I am a resource for the duration of home ownership, not just the buying or selling process. Feel free to reach out anytime!

Lisa Groover is a licensed real estate agent with McEnearney Associates, Inc. in Old Town Alexandria, VA. As an active member of the community since 1989, Lisa specializes in Alexandria, and is thrilled to have the opportunity to work closely with her friends, neighbors, former clients and their referrals.

In addition to enjoying the Old Town lifestyle and the art related events and activities, she is a member of a number of volunteer organizations. Having had nine Golden Retrievers, she is dedicated to helping other dog owners through the challenges of renting, buying and selling their home.

If you would like a question answered in our weekly column or to set up an appointment with one of our Associates, please email: [email protected] or call 703-549-9292.

McEnearney Associates Realtors®, 109 S. Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. www.McEnearney.com Equal Housing Opportunity. #WeAreAlexandria

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A 26-year-old Maryland woman faces serious charges after allegedly fleeing from a police investigation of a shoplifting offense at the Target store in the Potomac Yard shopping center.

“During the course of investigating this incident, one of the suspects resisted arrest and jumped into a vehicle,” police reported in a search warrant affidavit.

Sharifa Shuler was arrested on September 27 in Bowie, Maryland, after allegedly eluding police in a silver BMW on September 18.

“Shuler drove the vehicle into (the investigating officer’s) police cruiser striking the passenger side rear tire,” police said in the warrant.

Shuler allegedly almost struck the officer and a pedestrian in a crosswalk, according to the warrant. Police said that Shuler then allegedly drove on the sidewalk on S. Henry Street.

Several minutes later (police) located the suspect vehicle traveling south along S. Henry Street and observed it traveling on the sidewalk,” police said in the affidavit. “The pursuit was terminated and the vehicle was last seen traveling into Maryland.”

Shuler was booked in the Alexandria Jail on October 21 and released on a $3,000 bond the same day, according to the Alexandria Sheriff’s Office. She was charged with petit larceny (less than $1,000) not from a person, assault on law enforcement, resisting arrest, failure to stop at an accident and reckless driving. She goes to court on December 10.

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Alexandria’s current School Board districts (photo via City of Alexandria)

The City of Alexandria is going through a mandatory review of voting districts in Alexandria and City Manager Mark Jinks is recommending that the Carlyle neighborhood — called the Alexandria Renew district — have its representation on the School Board changed from District A to B.

The issue comes out of a review of the 2020 census. While the City Council seats are at-large, the School Board seats are voted by district. District A encompasses Old Town, Carlyle, Del Ray, Arlandria and Potomac Yard. District C is the western fringe of the city, from the Landmark/Van Dorn corridor up to the Bailey’s Crossroads area. District B is more-or-less everything in between.

District C is the city’s most populous, with 53,800 residents, followed by District A with 56,160. District B has a significantly smaller population: around 49,507. With new residential development anticipated at Landmark and Potomac Yard, it’s a disparity that’s only likely to increase in coming years.

“An initial review of the 2020 census data indicates that City Council will need to adjust School Board Districts before the next election in 2023 to maintain compliance with voting laws,” a memo from Jinks said. “Based on this data, District A has a population larger than is acceptable to provide equitable access, and District B has too few voters represented.”

The memo indicated that the easiest way to balance the districts would be to move the Carlyle neighborhood to District B, taking its 3,819 residents and boosting the city up to 53,326 residents — roughly on par with the other two districts.

The city will have to balance the districts in one way or another before the next election, the memo said. There is also a pending lawsuit, the memo said, arguing that all elected seats must be re-contested in 2022 because the 2021 elections were not based on the most recent census data. The memo says that no ruling has been made in the lawsuit.

“This question will come to the City Council sometime in the new year,” Mayor Justin Wilson said in a newsletter. “Let me know your thoughts!”

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The Return to Earn initiative was launched in June of this year in an effort to support small businesses and organizations find and retain the talent they need while also helping unemployed Virginian’s transition back into the workforce.

What better way to retain new staff members, reward them for their hard work, and increase workplace morale than by providing a $500 holiday bonus?

Basic eligibility requirements for program participation are as follows.

Employers:

  • Must be incorporated in Virginia
  • Be in good standing with the state
  • Have 99 employees or fewer

For new hires:

  • Must have a hiring date that falls between June 1, 2021 — December 31, 2021
  • The position must be W2 and come with a wage of $15 an hour or more (tips can be included in wage determination)
  • Must attest to having been unemployed at the time of hire*

The SkillSource Group, Inc. and Virginia Career Works Northern is working hard to make this program available to the small business community and to make the application, enrollment and reimbursement process as simple as possible. Click HERE to access an online application.

*Length of unemployment is dependent on time of hire

Golf could return to former Topgolf Alexandria property — “The shuttered Topgolf Alexandria and neighboring former Ruby Tuesday restaurant on South Van Dorn Street may be resurrected as a golf-centric venue by the underlying landowner, whose efforts to rezone the properties for residential use have been slow to advance.” [Washington Buisness Journal]

Alexandria Film Festival 2021 extended into December — “The festival, held in a virtual format, is giving viewers more time to view films through Dec. 10.” [Patch]

Little Theater’s Christmas Carol completely sold out — “Congratulations to the Cast & Crew of LTA’s A Christmas Carol – your spirited production is completely SOLD OUT!” [Facebook]

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Salon Meraki on Queen Street (photo courtesy Salon Meraki)

A salon in Old Town has announced plans for a grand reopening next week to celebrate a massive expansion into a former print service next-door.

Salon Meraki, an Alexandria-based salon, said in a press release the salon at 1101 Queen Street will be expanding into 300 N. Henry Street next door, formerly home to ARC Document Solutions. The expansion will boost the salon up to a total of 3,600 square feet.

The ribbon-cutting for the new expanded space is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 8., at 4 p.m. The salon will officially reopen on Friday, Dec. 10.

“The renovated Queen Street location will allow space for 19 pedicure stations, in comparison to the previous six, and 12 manicure stations,” the press release said. “The salon’s treatment room was updated and expanded to ensure that their clients will be able to have a more luxurious experience.”

In addition to the new options like micro-needling and non-invasive resurfacing treatment, the press release noted that the salon will continue offering manicures, pedicures, skin treatment and other services.

There are two Salon Meraki locations: both in Old Town. The other is at 320 King Street.

“I’m beyond delighted to invite people to see our new expanded space,” Salon Meraki owner Kathleen Le said in the press release. “This could not have happened without the incredible support that we have received from the Old Town community. After spending almost five years in Del Ray, I fell in love with the area and the people. I realized how supportive the community is with small businesses and believed that Old Town is where my dreams could be realized.”

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After being canceled last year, the 50th annual Campagna Center Scottish Christmas Walk Parade is back on Saturday, Dec. 4.

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) will be the grand marshal at Saturday’s parade, which begins at 11 a.m. at St. Asaph and Queen Streets and ends in front of City Hall.

In the parade, dozens of Scottish clans march to “Scotland The Brave” and other favorites as played by the City of Alexandria Pipes and Drums.

While the main attraction, the parade is usually the proverbial cherry on top of a weekend caked with Scottish-themed events that historically generates approximately $250,000 in revenues such for the Campagna Center’s Early Learning Center at St. James, it’s New Neighbors program and Building Better Futures program, among others.

The festivities begin on Friday at 6:30 p.m. with the Taste of Scotland scotch tasting, which will be held in the newly renovated Atrium building (227 S. Washington Street).

The event is sold out.

Attendees are asked to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19, which includes a photo of a CDC vaccination card or a confirmation email from a negative test result.

“Guests who do not bring proof of vaccination/test results will not be allowed into the venue,” the Campagna Center said. “To expedite the check-in process, you may email a photo of your vaccination card to [email protected] by December 1, 2021.”

The festival is not yet back to full strength, as cancellations still include the annual historic homes tours and the Campagna Center’s heather and greens sale.

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After a five-month-long national search, the Alexandria City Council will select a new city manager at a special meeting on Wednesday night (Dec. 1).

“Yes, we will be choosing a city manager,” Mayor Justin Wilson confirmed to ALXnow.

The meeting will be held at 6 p.m.

The new candidate will have been vetted this month through three advisory committees made up of city staff, department heads, and other representatives chosen by council. The city manager is the highest-ranked public employee in Alexandria, and makes more than $250,000 a year.

City Council contracted with talent acquisition firm POLIHIRE to find candidates after City Manager Mark Jinks announced his intent to retire in June. The names of the final candidates for the position have not been announced.

The new manager is expected to begin work in December/January.

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212 S Saint Asaph Street (photo via Google Maps)

In this month’s “Most Expensive” column, there were some eye-popping home sale prices over the last month, with some topping over $4 million.

For starters: there are currently 374 homes listed for sale in the city, according to Homesnap. There are 263 condominiums listed for sale and 70 townhouses — fewer in all categories than last month. The median list price is $477,000 and the median sales price is $615,000.

Let’s take a look at some of the most expensive sales from November.

In the market? Check out Just Listed properties in Alexandria.

Photo via Google Maps

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