Alexandria, VA

Shoppers is closing in Potomac Yard, its parent company announced today.

The supermarket, at 3801 Richmond Highway, is expected to close by the end of January. Other Shoppers stores in Manassas, Baltimore and Severn (Maryland) are also closing, and the company is selling 13 other locations.

“Each of the transactions is expected to close between mid-December and the end of February 2020, subject to customary closing conditions,” Shoppers owner United Natural Foods, Inc. said in a press release, about the store sales. “UNFI will also close four additional Shoppers stores, which are expected to cease operations by the end of January 2020. UNFI made the decision to not renew the lease at three of these locations and the fourth is being cancelled pursuant to agreement with the landlord.”

Shoppers was founded in 1929 and serves communities in the Baltimore and Washington, D.C. metro areas, including Northern Virginia.

The shopping center at Potomac Yard is slated for a major redevelopment that will see the existing big box stores close to make way for a more dense mixed-use community.

Photo via Google Maps

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Before it was a Starbucks, before it was the Seaport Inn, the restaurant at the corner of King and S. Union Street was a bawdy little tavern with a petrified pig.

As early as 1893, records refer to the location as Brill’s Restaurant, and local newspaper reports from a year later detail a curious incident with a slab of ham. These details, and others about local Alexandria restaurants, are featured in a new book by local journalist Hope Nelson called Classic Restaurants of Alexandria.

A newspaper article from the Alexandria Gazette-Packet from 1894 said the restaurant kept a unique petrified ham on display.

“A curiosity in the shape of a petrified ham is on exhibition at the restaurant of Mr. Jacob Brill,” the article said. “The ham was found in the ground near Staunton and will be sent to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.”

After Brill’s restaurant closed, Nelson said the space was eventually transformed into the Seaport Inn, a more upscale restaurant that served seafood for more than 50 years before it closed in 2000. All that remains of the restaurant today is a plaque outside the building, which now houses a Starbucks.

Nelson, who has written a food column for the Gazette-Packet for several years, said Alexandria has a unique culinary history shaped by restaurants both long gone and currently active. Given the city’s long culinary history and numerous restaurants, the book only discusses the long-time establishments.

“The litmus test was, if it’s currently operating, it needs to have been operating for more than 25 years,” Nelson said. “A few are right at the level, while some like Gadsby’s have been around much longer.”

One of the youngest on the list, Nelson said, is Taqueria el Poblano — a baja-style taco place in Del Ray, though it’s since expanded to Columbia Pike and Lee Highway in Arlington.

“It’s slightly over 25 years old, so it is the baby of the book, but it has such a following in Del Ray and Alexandria that I couldn’t not include it,” Nelson said.

Nelson said the restaurant’s family-friendly reputation and welcoming environment are the keys to its local success.

“It’s a small little restaurant that whether winter or summer, there’s always a wait to get in,” Nelson said. “Because it’s such a family-oriented place, a lot of families with young children feel comfortable that their kids can be loud and act up and they’re part of the family. Management welcomes you like an old friend and they have a knack for recognizing people.”

The book is available online or at The Old Town Shop. Nelson will be signing copies at her book launch party next Wednesday, Dec. 11, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. in the Union Street Public House (121 S. Union Street).

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It’s been a rough couple months for George Washington Middle School.

First, an old mold problem at the school resurfaced. Then there was the series of fire-related incidents at the school. School administration is hoping an environmental test can help provide a light at the end of the tunnel.

In a message sent to parents, school officials said mold was found in a number of classrooms in late 2018 and early 2019, but the issues were resolved when the school worked to fix its water intrusion issues. The issue made headlines when students at the school took the initiative and collected samples, had them analyzed, and were able to prove that there was mold growing in the classrooms.

Since then, the school has been working through various projects aimed at eliminating leaks in the school.

“Over the summer 2019, eight rooftop HVAC units that had been leaking above the auditorium and adjacent classrooms were replaced,” school administration said. “ACPS also carried out extensive roof repairs and sealed areas around windows that were found to be leaking.”

Now, ACPS is commissioning independent environmental testing at the school this month in hopes that it will show the repair work has paid off and solved the school’s mold issue.

“The entire school, including all classrooms in all wings of the building and all offices, will be tested to confirm that the building repairs and replacements have remedied our mold issues,” the school said. “The results of the tests will be shared in January 2020.”

Going forward, ACPS said it would provide the GW community with updates every quarter on projects at the school.

“While nothing can totally eliminate mold altogether, we believe that the necessary actions that have been taken over the past year have gone a long way to prevent water from entering the building and causing additional mold growth,” ACPS said.

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Just Listed in Alexandria

Just Listed highlights Alexandria City properties that came on the market within the past week. This feature is sponsored by the Jen Walker Team (Licensed in VA) of McEnearney Associates Realtors®. 

Welcome Back!

Jen Walker here with The Jen Walker Team! We are a real estate group based out of Alexandria, Virginia. I, along with my two rock-star team members, Sue Kovalsky and Micki MacNaughton, have more than 35 years of experience in real estate and sold over $115 million in 2018.

We hope that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday filled with happiness, health and delicious food! As we approach 2020, have you locked in your goals yet? Do you even participate in New Year’s resolutions? When in the market to buy or rent a home, it’s always best to start with smaller, immediate goals that will allow you to accomplish your overall goal (buying a house) in no time.

For instance, instead of writing down your goal as “I want to buy a home in 2020,” make specific, date oriented goals; “I want to pay off $XXX in credit cards before January 15th, 2020,” “I want to build my savings to $XXX by March 5th, 2020.” By being specific, knowing what steps will get you to the finish line, and actively working to accomplish these goals by the date you set, you will find that your overall goal will be much more attainable and less stressful to achieve.

This week in real estate (November 24-30), total new contract activity was down 5% compared to the prior week. We expected this drop due to the holiday week. However, three of the areas we monitor increased their number of newly ratified contracts! Prince William was the front runner at 13.4%, Montgomery County sat at 5.4% and Washington, D.C. rose 1.5%!

Want to check out some Just Listed properties in the Alexandria area? The following properties offer a snapshot of what is new on the market. Click here for more Just Listed properties in Alexandria and call The Jen Walker Team to schedule a home tour at 703-675-1566 or email [email protected].

Happy House Hunting!

In our highly competitive Alexandria market, the Jen Walker Team has the insider knowledge to connect you with homes that are not even public yet. With more than 35 years of experience, the Jen Walker Team has the expertise to answer questions, calm fears, and streamline your transaction. Want to see other homes not featured in this article? Contact our team today!

Please note: While The Jen Walker Team provides this information for the community, they may not be the listing agents of these homes. Equal Housing Opportunity.

McEnearney Associates Realtors®, 109 S. Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 #WeAreAlexandria

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The Animal Welfare League of Alexandria (AWLA) has plenty of pets for adoption, but few with as many tricks and devious tactics as the shelter’s own master-thief: Moomoo.

Moomoo, or Moo as he’s known by his friends, is a two-year-old domestic shorthair. Like Remmy, the stately gentleman, Moo is a tuxedo cat. But unlike Remmy, Moo has a devious streak.

“Moo is a mischief kitty and loves to find sneaky hiding places,” said Gina Hardter, director of marketing for the AWLA. “But even if you can’t see him, he’s there…and can be cajoled into the open with some tasty treats!”

Hardter said Moo loves to hang out near people and roll over to show his belly. This might seem like an invitation to be pet, but Hardter said this is another one of Moo’s traps. The AWLA even put together a quiz to help prospective owners learn whether or not to pet Moo’s belly.

But this doesn’t mean Moo isn’t a people person. The AWLA said Moo sometimes enjoys lounging near the office staff and staring up lovingly.

As a bonus, Moo’s adoption fees have been pre-paid through December as part of the shelter’s Home for the Pawlidays, so he can come home to a new family at now cost.

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Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) is overhauling its feedback process system-wide to make sure parents know who to turn to if they are having trouble getting their concerns addressed.

In the past, parents at several schools have spoken at School Board meetings and expressed concerns that they weren’t being heard. Parents at George Washington Middle School said at a recent School Board meeting that they felt they weren’t being heard over concerns about the modernization of the school and fire safety — though school officials at the meeting did address the repairs made to the fire system in the school.

“This month we are introducing a new, standardized way for parents, guardians and community members to have their concerns, inquiries and suggestions addressed,” ACPS said in a press release. “We want to make sure that you are directed to the right staff to have your concerns addressed quickly, and that you are aware of the best paths for escalating unresolved issues.”

ACPS put out a flow-chart describing the new system, which mostly seems to codify an existing chain of command. The schools also put out a site with direct links to every administrator in the process.

For classroom or student-specific concerns, parents are advised to reach out to teachers, athletic coaches, or school support staff. If the issue isn’t resolved, it can be taken to school administrators, then up to ACPS administration.

School-wide concerns are to be directed to the front office, in this system, then to school administrators. Division-wide concerns should go to the respective departments, like bus transportation or special education.

If a concern goes to ACPS administration, it should start at the ACPS department administrator, then go to the superintendent, then the School Board.

Staff photo by Jay Westcott. Chart by ACPS.

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The waterfront will sparkle tomorrow (Saturday) as dozens of ships decked out in Christmas lights cruise along the shoreline.

This year is the 20th annual Holiday Boat Parade of Lights. Festivities are planned throughout the afternoon and early evening, from 2-8 p.m. Planned activities include a pop-up beer garden from Port City Brewing Company, a bookmark-making station from Old Town Books and holiday music from 97.1 WASH-FM.

Santa is scheduled to arrive at the party at 3:30 p.m. by fireboat, and the parade is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. The parade is expected to last sometime between 30 minutes to an hour, depending on factors like total participants and river conditions. Guests are advised to arrive early to stake out a good spot to view the parade.

Visit Alexandria suggested the following locations:

  • Founders Park — 351 N. Union Street
  • Alexandria City Marina — 0 Cameron Street
  • Waterfront Park — 1 King Street and 1A Prince Street
  • Point Lumley Park — 1 Duke Street
  • Windmill Hill Park — 501 S. Union Street
  • Shipyard/Harborside Park — 1 Wilkes Street
  • Ford’s Landing City Park — 99 Franklin Street

After leaving Alexandria, the parade will head to The Wharf in D.C. for another celebration there.

Photo via Visit Alexandria VA/Facebook

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Morning Notes

Slaughterhouse Lawsuit Dismissed — “Alexandria Circuit Court Judge Lisa Kemler ruled on Nov. 27 to dismiss a lawsuit filed against city council’s decision to approve a live poultry butcher shop at 3225 Colvin St. The hearing was in response to a complaint filed by 10 plaintiffs… Kemler ruled to dismiss the case, concluding that the alleged harms were ‘too speculative.'” [Alexandria Times]

Photos With Santa and AFD — “Get your holiday pictures taken with Santa! @IAFFLocal2141 Helping Hands Fund will host its Photos with Santa event at Fire Station 201 (317 Prince St.) from 11am to 3pm Sunday, Dec. 8 and again on Sunday, Dec. 15. Photos are $10 & proceeds benefit the IAFF Local 2141 Toy Drive.” [Twitter/@AlexandriaVAFD]

Potomac Yard Resident Makes Nat’l Hockey Team — “Charlie is now legally blind – his vision having deteriorated as a result of a genetic condition known as Retinitis pigmentosa – but his career as an athlete has never been better. As of this year, Charlie is one of six new players to join the USA National Blind Hockey Team.” [Alexandria Times]

Credit Union Moves to New HQ — “The Alexandria-based U.S. Senate Federal Credit Union is growing, again, and moving its headquarters. Wednesday morning, the credit union hosted a the groundbreaking ceremony for its new Bertie H. Bowman Building at 1310 Braddock Place, just a few feet from the Braddock Metro station.” [Alexandria Living]

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A new bike campus is all painted and ready to go under the Alexandria side of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.

The smooth pavement between the bridge pylons has long been a popular spot for bicyclists on the Mount Vernon Trail or visiting Jones Point Park, but the new signs and lanes on the ground can help new cyclists learn the rules of the road and practice in a safe environment.

At a grand opening ceremony, scheduled for Saturday (Dec. 7) at 10:30 a.m., instructors from the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) will be available to help teach cyclists of all ages about rules on the street and bicycling techniques. A ribbon-cutting is scheduled for 11 a.m.

According to the Facebook page:

WABA is excited to announce the completion of the Alexandria Bike Campus at Jones Point Park! The bike campus will serve as a dedicated space for people of all ages to learn how to ride a bicycle safely, comfortably, and confidently. WABA will be celebrating the completion of the Alexandria Bike Campus with a ribbon cutting on Saturday, December 7 at 11:00 a.m. at Jones Point Park in Alexandria, VA.

We invite you to bring your family and your bicycles to the ribbon cutting and to participate in a demonstration of the bicycle campus. WABA instructors will show how the campus can be used to teach new cyclists of all ages and how even experienced cyclists can learn and practice new skills. Our instructors will be at Jones Point Park at 10:30 AM – we hope to see you then!

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As part of its controversial efforts to improve bicycle and pedestrian access to Seminary Road, the city is planning to install a sidewalk on the north side of the road — if it can get the money.

Much of the Complete Streets project on Seminary Road has been completed but the city is still hoping to add a new sidewalk next to the seminary from which the road draws its name.

“It’s still ridiculous that in 2019 that there are places in Alexandria where we don’t have sidewalks,” Mayor Justin Wilson said. “For me, priority was not about bike lanes, it was about pedestrians. It was about completing the sidewalk network.”

Wilson said the sidewalk would go from just west of Quaker Lane, where an existing sidewalk currently ends, up to the Virginia Theological Seminary.

The sidewalk has been in the plans for the road since the concept stage, according to Sarah Godfrey, a spokesperson for the Department of Transportation and Environmental Services. Construction will require the approval of a grant request to VDOT made by the City Council in September.

As of December, city staff said work from road resurfacing and roadway markings to new median islands has been completed. Wilson met earlier this week during the morning rush hour with local residents, many of whom expressed frustrations with traffic caused by the narrowed street and the lack of cyclists using the new bicycle lanes.

“It was a good session,” Wilson said. “Probably better to have these discussions in person rather than social media.”

Wilson said he understood the concerns of the local residents, who have labeled it #JustinsTrafficJam in the nearly 1,000-member Facebook group Alexandria Residents Against the Seminary Road Diet. Wilson is, ironically, listed as a member.

“There’s always an adjustment whenever you make a traffic change as people get used to it. I think we expected that going in,” Wilson said. “There’s kind of a rush on both sides to draw conclusions very quickly, but the full story of this will be told over time. We’ve committed to being data-driven — looking at this when it’s done and making sure we’ve achieved the goals of the project.”

Godfrey noted that the city will continue to post weekly updates on the Seminary Road Complete Streets page and update the FAQ.

Photo via Google Maps

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Whether you’re actively searching for your new home or are just beginning to consider making a move, open houses are the perfect way to start your search.

Open houses allow you to get a feel for things such as neighborhood, how far your budget will go, must-haves in your new home, and some design inspiration.

As the #4 expansion team in the country, HergGroup Greater Washington’s website has a comprehensive list of open houses and homes for sale in Alexandria and beyond.

Here’s a sampling of the local open houses this week:

The preceding feature was sponsored by HergGroup Greater Washington.

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