Alexandria, VA

Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson is one of six mayors who are making a difference and “shaping urban America,” at least according to The Hill newspaper.

Wilson made the list, which was published Wednesday, alongside the mayors of Kansas City (M0.), Tampa, Brooklyn Park (Minn.), Minneapolis and Phoenix.

In its write-up, the paper lauded Wilson and the city for helping to bring the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus to Potomac Yard, in conjunction with Amazon’s HQ2 coming to Arlington.

More from The Hill:

…when two local governments just outside of Washington put together their bid for Amazon’s HQ2 project, they decided on a different approach, one that would provide a lasting benefit to the city of Alexandria and Arlington County even if Amazon’s tax revenues didn’t fill the gap. To prove to Amazon that its residents would be qualified for the estimated 25,000 high-tech jobs the company would bring, the cities helped bring a new Virginia Tech campus to their region.

“There was very much a feeling that the benefits of the [Amazon] investment were going to accrue to a very small percentage of the residents,” said Justin Wilson, the Democratic mayor of Alexandria. “We felt like there was an opportunity to chart a different course.”

Working together across their shared border, Alexandria’s government and the Arlington County Board… are planning for new housing growth, workforce development, collaboration with the new Virginia Tech campus and area schools. They plan special outreach to minority- and women-owned businesses, and they hope to protect low-income housing in minority-heavy communities near Amazon’s coming Crystal City hub.

“We looked at every opportunity that we thought would be able to seize the benefits of this investment and make sure it benefitted everyone in the community,” Wilson said. “We’re still fleshing this all out. The good news is there’s real excitement in the community.”

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Morning Notes

New Office to Residential Conversion — “A Mark Center office building in Alexandria is now set to be converted into apartments. D.C. real estate investment firm PRP LLC plans to convert 4900 Seminary Road, a 12-story, 209,000 square foot building, into residential… PRP wants to put 213 market-rate units into the building, which also has room for about 4,100 square feet of ground-floor retail.” [Washington Business Journal]

Mayor Reacts to Retrocession Suggestion — “With Democrats now in control of the Virginia Statehouse, Republican Delegate Dave LaRock says he is concerned that liberal values are taking over so he’s calling for Arlington and Alexandria to be split off and given to D.C… Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson calls LaRock’s statements a ‘comical clown move.'” [Fox 5, Twitter]

Send-off For Historic Fire Apparatus — “The Friendship Fire Company purchased an ornate hose reel carriage in 1858. Now, thanks to the support of the Friendship Veterans Fire Engine Association, community donors, and its win as the No. 1 Virginia Endangered Artifact of 2019, Historic Alexandria is sending the hose carriage off for much-needed conservation.” [Zebra]

Lawmakers Considering Shopping Cart Bill — “Senate Bill 631 would make it so that the cost of removal, including disposal, of an abandoned shopping cart will be charged to the cart’s owner. The ordinance originally applied just to Fairfax County, but Surovell said Arlington and Alexandria asked to be included in the new legislation.” [ARLnow]

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(Updated at 9:10 p.m.) A serious crash blocked N. Van Dorn Street just west of Seminary Road Wednesday morning.

The two-vehicle crash happened at the intersection of Van Dorn and Kenmore Avenue around 7:20 a.m. One person was trapped in a vehicle after the wreck but was later freed and brought to a local hospital, according to the Alexandria fire union.

In all, three people suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

Traffic was detoured around the crash scene, leading to major delays on eastbound N. Van Dorn Street, starting around Landmark Mall.

DASH says its AT5 bus was affected by the detour. A second crash was also reported on Van Dorn, to the west of the crash with entrapment.

As of 9:30 a.m. first responders were working to reopen portions of the roadway.

More via social media:

Map via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Seminary Road Saga Continues — Despite suggestions “that the Alexandria Fire Department had significant input into the Complete Streets Design Guidelines and whether to narrow Seminary Road, documents obtained by city residents under the Freedom of Information Act reveal this was not the case.” [Alexandria Times]

Sushi Restaurant Coming to ‘West Alex’ — “Sushi Jin Next Door, which opened its first restaurant in Silver Spring in 2006 and now has a second location in Woodbridge, is opening a third location in Alexandria, Virginia. The new location will be part of the West Alex mixed-use development at King Street and North Beauregard Street.” [WTOP]

New Glass Recycling Bin Now Open — “Alexandria residents wanting to recycle glass now have a fifth bin as an option. MOM’s Organic Market at 3831 Mt. Vernon Avenue is the location of the new purple recycling bin. The city ended curbside glass recycling on Jan. 15, citing increasing recycling costs and the lack of glass-sorting facilities in the region.” [Patch]

ACPS To Buy Five Electric School Buses — “Under the terms of the grant, Dominion Energy will pay the additional costs towards each of the five buses that ACPS was already scheduled to buy this summer, allowing ACPS to upgrade them to electric vehicles. The goal is to have the new electric buses on the roads in time for the start of the 2020-21 school year in September.” [ACPS]

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If someone calls and claims to be from the Alexandria Sheriff’s Office while demanding money, it’s a scam.

That’s the message local law enforcement is trying to get out, as more city residents report receiving phone calls from scammers. It’s not a new scam, but it’s pervasive, leading officials to continue to spread the word.

The advice from the Sheriff’s Office: just hang up if you get a call like this.

More from the city:

If you receive a call from someone saying they are from the Alexandria Sheriff’s Office (or any other Sheriff’s Office) and that you have to pay them money, hang up. Scammers will try a variety of approaches to intimidate and coerce people into giving them money. But actual sheriffs’ offices in Virginia will never call you and demand money.

Don’t be a victim! The callers may identify themselves as law enforcement officers and even use an official sounding title. They may state that you missed jury duty, have an outstanding warrant, failed to pay a fine, or did not appear in court on a summons, and as a result, you must pay them immediately. They may even threaten to have you arrested or send an officer or deputy to take you into custody, unless you give them money or provide them credit card or gift card information.

Do not pay them or disclose any financial or personal information. Simply hang up!

If you have been the victim of a scam, report it to your local police department. The Alexandria Police Department can be reached at 703.746.4444.

If you have any questions about this, please contact Lieutenant Sean Casey at 703.746.5116.

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Morning Notes

Lead in Soil Near Oronoco Bay Park — “Research for the Combined Sewer Overflow remediation project uncovered a mysterious cache of lead along the waterfront… It was during exploration at CSO-001, the outfall near Oronoco Bay Park, that RiverRenew came across the lead… RiverRenew is taking extra precautions to remove the impacted soil.” [Alexandria Times]

T.C. Teacher Goes Extra Mile — T.C. Williams 11th grade English teacher Corrina Reamer, who teaches immigrant and international students with limited English proficiency, has raised money for a library of 1,000 books “so her students would learn to love reading.” [Washington Post]

Mag Lists Alexandria Traffic Concerns — “In the past month, we asked Alexandria residents to answer this question: ‘What is your biggest concern about transportation and/or commuting in the Alexandria area, and what do you think should be done to make it better?’ Here are the responses we received.” [Alexandria Living]

Local Robotics Team Advances to State Tourney — “The St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School Upper School robotics team Thunderstone advances to states! They competed January 11-12 at the Salem Qualifier and finished the day as the top-ranked team and captained the winning alliance.” [Zebra]

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Morning Notes

New Environmental Academy in Alexandria — “‘It’s that time of year again – Academy Time and there is a brand new Academy this Spring, the Eco-City Academy (promoting sustainability in the City), bringing the total to seven academies,’ exclaims Elaine Scott, Senior Community Liaison in the City’s Office of Communications and Public Relations.” [Zebra]

Seaport Foundation Looking to Expand — “The small, timber-frame building along Alexandria’s waterfront is noticeable — and it may be joined by another building as the Alexandria Seaport Foundation looks at expanding its space and services… The foundation wants to build a second waterfront building on the north side of the pier near their current location, allowing it to serve more youth and have space for larger projects.” [Alexandria Living]

Community Fire Academy Applications Open — “Apply to participate in our Spring 2020 Community Fire Academy program and get an inside look at how your fire department operates. Applications are now open through Friday, Jan. 31.” [City of Alexandria, Twitter]

Port City Hiring Local Sales Rep — “This is a unique opportunity to work for a dynamic, entrepreneurial company to maintain and expand our market presence to more locations in Northern Virginia. The Northern Virginia Territory Manager is responsible for sales of Port City Brewing Company’s products in Northern Virginia for on/off premise accounts. We have over 1000 existing accounts in the Northern Virginia area and with your help, will see this number grow exponentially.” [Brewbound]

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Morning Notes

Absentee Voting Starts Today — “Absentee voting for Virginia’s March 3 Democratic Party Presidential Primary Election begins on Thursday, January 16. Many Alexandria voters are eligible to vote absentee.” [City of Alexandria]

Opening Nears for New Waterfront Coffee Shop — “According to Misha’s General Manager Graham McCulloch, the coffee roaster hopes to open their new waterfront location in April, weather and construction permitting. Misha’s new waterfront coffee shop, the company’s second location, will be at 6 Prince St., the former home of Olde Town Gemstones.” [Alexandria Living]

Amazon Funds Used for City Apartment Purchase — “Investing to benefit existing & future business growth was the foundation for @amazon HQ2 package — very excited that 1st affordable housing funds allocated will be used in ALX!” [Twitter, ALXnow, Washington Business Journal]

City Looking for Top Parking Meter Enforcer — “Hiring Announcement: The Alexandria Police Department is currently looking to fill the position of Parking Enforcement Officer Supervisor.” [City of Alexandria, Twitter]

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A roofer fell through the roof of a building along King Street this morning.

The incident happened around 10:45 a.m. at King Dry Cleaners (3425 King Street) on the corner of King Street and N. Quaker Lane, near Fairlington.

The worker reportedly suffered non-life-threatening injuries after the nearly 12-foot fall into the dry cleaning business below.

“Around 10:41 a.m. on Jan. 15, AFD responded to a call for a male who fell through the roof of a commercial building,” fire department spokeswoman Ray Evans tells ALXnow. “While working, he stepped in a soft area of an adjoining business where renovations were being done and fell through. Patient was injured, but didn’t lose consciousness at the time of the incident. AFD transported the patient to GW Hospital for treatment.”

The building, which was recently renovated after a Radio Shack store closed, also houses a Mattress Warehouse store.

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Alexandria firefighters and the city’s fire boat, along with vessels from the D.C. fire department and the U.S. Coast Guard, conducted searches below the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Tuesday afternoon after reports of a person in the water.

Initial reports suggested that a woman had jumped off the bridge, on the southern end of the Beltway, into the water below. Rescuers, however, did not find anyone in the river.

Later, a woman matching description given to rescuers was found alive and well on Maryland side of bridge, but it was determined that no further assistance was necessary, according to Petty Officer Andy Kendrick, a Coast Guard spokesman.

Police in Prince George’s County also conducted a welfare check on the woman, we’re told.

An Alexandria Fire Department spokeswoman said it was the department’s understanding that the woman had been in the water. It’s unclear whether she jumped.

Though incredibly dangerous, it wouldn’t be the first time someone has jumped from the Wilson bridge and survived. Famously, in 1998, an Alexandria man stood on the bridge for five hours, blocking traffic on the Beltway, before leaping off; he survived with “no obvious injuries.” In 2017, a man and a woman jumped off the bridge in separate incidents, and both survived.

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger of self-harm, call 911. If you’re having thoughts of suicide, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or text CONNECT to 85511.

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Morning Notes

Whole Foods Donating to Local Nonprofit — “Now through the June 1, 2020, you can support The Child & Family Network Centers (CFNC) in Alexandria when you bring your own bag at Whole Foods at 1700 Duke Street. By bringing your own bag, you’ll save on the five-cent bag fee, which will automatically be donated to CFNC.” [Zebra]

Art Program for Residents in Recovery — “This fall, the Alexandria Residential Treatment Center (ARTC) partnered with Heard, a local nonprofit, to offer art workshops for individuals in recovery. An Alexandria-based creative arts initiative, Heard partners with nonprofits and local governments to provide marginalized and at-risk adults the opportunity to be heard through art and creativity with workshops in creative writing, visual arts, poetry, dance, etiquette and improvisation.” [City of Alexandria]

Interview With Alexandria’s Celebrity Salon Owner — “Picture this: Monte Durham, the debonair fashion director of TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta, strolls through Old Town Alexandria, his adopted home. Folks pass him on the street, and his keen eye for a chic coiffure assesses every ‘do. Finally, he spots his subject. ‘You need to come into my shop,’ he says in his charming drawl.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]

Reminder: MLK Commemoration Tonight — “The City of Alexandria planning to host a commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. [on] Wednesday, Jan. 15. The ceremony is scheduled for 7:30-9:30 p.m. at Beth El Hebrew Congregation (3850 Seminary Road).” [ALXnow]

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Three months after a portion of Seminary Road was re-paved and re-striped to reduce it from two vehicular lanes in each direction to one lane, a turn lane and bike lanes, the debate over the “road diet” still rages on.

On the now-private Alexandria Residents Against the Seminary Road Diet Facebook group, numerous posts per day bemoan the state of rush hour traffic along Seminary Road, report on cut-through traffic on nearby roads, and rip Mayor Justin Wilson for his support of the project. (Wilson, a member of the group, often politely replies to the invective.)

No one is denying that the road diet is causing some level of increased traffic during certain times. Earlier this month Wilson wrote in his Council Connection newsletter that there were still increased delays for drivers on Seminary Road, but they were largely confined to narrow peak rush hour periods and were improving over time:

During the evening rush, the peak travel period has been 5:15 PM to 5:30 PM. Prior to the change, the average travel time from the intersection of Quaker Lane and Seminary Road to Jordan Street and Seminary Road was 3.5 minutes. In November, after the changes were implemented, we saw a 40% increase in this travel time, with an average of 4.9 minutes. In December (excluding holidays and days when school is not in session), the average travel time was down to 3.9 minutes, an increase of 24 seconds from before the changes.

During the morning rush, the peak travel period has been 8:15 AM to 8:30 AM. Prior to the change, the average travel time from the intersection of Quaker Lane and Seminary Road to Jordan Street and Seminary Road was 3.6 minutes. In November, after the changes were implemented, we saw a 98% increase in this travel time, with an average of 7.1 minutes. In December (excluding holidays and days when school is not in session), the average travel time was down to 4.7 minutes, an increase of a bit over a minute from before the changes.

This morning, a review of traffic conditions via Google Maps showed mostly clear sailing as of 8:45 a.m. The city’s traffic monitoring service similarly showed a 25 mph average speed on Seminary and Janneys Lane, between N. Beauregard Street and King Street, from 8-9 a.m. this morning.

Google Maps reports higher levels of “typical traffic” and delays around 8 a.m. on most weekdays.

Ultimately, the Seminary Road question is one of priorities. Should the city’s priority be to reduce rush hour delays for drivers? (And, potentially, emergency vehicles — though no issues have been reported so far.)

Or should the city stick to its guns and sacrifice some commute times in the name of pedestrian safety and encouraging other forms of transportation, like bikes and scooters?

Let us know what you think in the poll and the comments.

Map via Google Maps

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