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Dreams of the long-planned Yates Pizza Palace (3000 Duke Street) are likely dead as the owner of the stalled development has filed a permit to sign the location over to be used as a hub for food delivery, the Washington Business Journal reported.

The Business Journal reported that a change of ownership permit indicates that the pizza restaurant — formerly Generous George’s Positive Pizza & Pasta Place — will be owned by a company affiliated with Reef Technology, a firm that converts spaces into neighborhood kitchens.

Yates Pizza Palace had been in the works since 2014 when Jeffrey Yates Sr., owner of Yates Car Wash and Table Talk, purchased the space. Those plans came unraveled in 2018 when Yates Sr. died after a battle with bladder cancer. In 2019, his son, Jeffrey Yates Jr., said he planned to open the restaurant with his wife Kelly Yates in 2020 — which proved to be a singularly unfortunate timing in terms of opening a new restaurant.

The Busieness Journal noted that the permit indicated that the new space will be used for making and delivering goods, like ice cream or bakery items, but that there will be no seating.

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New data from tax collection over the summer shows a minor rebound for sales and meals in Alexandria, but while it’s a positive sign, Mayor Justin Wilson cautioned that they don’t quite tell the full picture.

In March, local sales tax revenue reached a high of nearly $3 million. Since the start of the year, sales tax revenue has been higher than it was in those respective months the last two years, but the fact that COVID-19 seemed to have a negligible impact on sales last summer indicates that most of that is driven by online sales rather than local business, which Wilson confirmed.

“Sales tax strong,” Wilson wrote on Facebook, “but driven by online sales.”

The brighter news was for the restaurant industry, where meals tax revenue overshot even 2019’s numbers in both June and July. As of the end of August, the city had collected $2.6 million in meals tax revenue as compared to $2.3 last year, which had been boosted by a strong start to the year before those figures tanked in March and April.

But transient lodging tax figures remain abysmal: $776,805 total as compared to $312,598 last year. Regionally, hotels have faced an uphill battle toward recovery, with hotels around the region estimated to lose $2.3 billion in revenue this year.

Last year, Kendel Taylor, the city’s director of finance, warned that full economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic could be at least two years away. While the numbers are promising, Wilson warned there is still more work to do to get the city’s businesses back on track.

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Morning Notes

Metro running at 40% today — “As part of the investigation into the Blue Line derailment, Metro is holding out of service all of its 7000-series railcars, which is about 60% of its rail fleet. Without these rail cars, Metro will operate about 40 trains tomorrow.” [Metro]

Alexandria’s Communications Director Appointed To New Position With Governor’s Office — “The city’s longtime Director of Communications and Public Information, Craig Fifer, has been appointed to a new position. He has been selected by Gov. Northam to serve as Director of Intergovernmental Affairs for the Commonwealth of Virginia, effective Oct. 25.” [Zebra]

3rd Annual Taste of Ethiopia Festival celebrated in Old Town — “After hitting the doors, here enjoying the 3rd Annual Taste of Ethiopia Festival at Oronoco Bay Park.” [Twitter]

Bennett-Parker and Maddox face off in race to House of Delegates — “With the Nov. 2 general election only a few weeks away, the race for the 45th District seat in the Virginia House of Delegates is heating up between Democrat Elizabeth Bennett-Parker and Republican Justin David Maddox.” [Alexandria Times]

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This week saw possibly the most contentious meeting between the City Council and School Board in years for a debate over School Resources Officers that ultimately culminated in the Council voting to temporarily restore the program. The reversal has been advocated by school officials and some parents, but was lamented by advocacy group Tenants and Workers United that saw it as a step-backward for racial justice.

The following day, ACPS was also hit with lockdowns at Alexandria City High School’s King Street and Minnie Howard campuses and Hammond Middle School, though police later said initial calls about a school shooting were unfounded. At the same time, a gas leak near Potomac Yard led to two homes being evacuated and the temporary closure of Richmond Highway.

Here are this week’s most-read stories.

Top Stories

  1. Man injured and juvenile arrested after fight at the McDonald’s in Bradlee Shopping Center
  2. In dramatic reversal, City Council brings back school resource officers to Alexandria City Public Schools
  3. Planned bus rapid transit route from Alexandria to Tysons rolls ahead
  4. Alexandria City High School on lockdown after anonymous threat
  5. Police: Call about shooting at Hammond Middle School unfounded
  6. City rethinks waterfront flood mitigation plans after seeing the price tag
  7. Tenants and Workers United upset by City Council restoration of school resource officer program
  8. City Council to consider swapping parking for ‘parklets’
  9. Man attempts to steal $1,850 in merchandise from Restaurant Depot with discarded receipt
  10. Project crowdsourcing Alexandria history aims to go nationwide next year
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Months after the majority of Alexandria residents were fully vaccinated, coronavirus precautions now turn toward booster shots aimed at keeping those vaccinations effective.

A Pfizer vaccine booster has already been approved and yesterday a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel authorized booster shots for Moderna’s vaccine.

In general, the boosters are being considered for those who received their second dose at least six months ago. The Pfizer booster is currently available for those 65 or older and those at heightened risk of COVID-19. The Moderna booster is being considered on similar guidelines.

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StepALIVE! walkers in 2019 (photo via ALIVE!/Facebook)

For those that want to move around and raise money for a good cause but aren’t too keen on long runs: local non-profit ALIVE! is hosting an annual five-mile group walk through Old Town this Sunday (Oct. 17).

It’s the 40th annual StepALIVE!, a group walk for charity that starts and finishes at First Christian Church (2723 King Street). Registration and t-shirt pickup starts at 1:15 p.m. with music from the Alexandria Citizen Band. There’s a post-walk celebration from 3:30-4:30 p.m. with live bluegrass music.

“This year’s StepALIVE! fundraising goal of $65,000 will benefit all ALIVE! programs which have worked extremely hard to respond to increased demand during the ongoing COVID-19  pandemic,” the non-profit said in a press release. “The funds raised by StepALIVE! will allow ALIVE! to continue providing food,  shelter, emergency financial assistance, and eviction prevention to thousands of Alexandrians struggling with poverty and hunger.

Like with charity runs, the idea is that individuals and teams can raise money from supporters on a fundraising page, where people can donate in support of their walker or just to the non-profit in general. There will be prizes for the team with the most walkers and the most money raised.

“StepALIVE! supporters can also walk in solidarity with ALIVE! on their own or in a small group with their congregation, family, or community members in neighborhoods, places of worship,  local parks, or other locations of their choice,” the non-profit said in a press release. “All are asked to maintain safety and health guidelines.”

Photo via ALIVE!/Facebook

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Morning Notes

Mayoral candidates engage in public forum — “Alexandria’s mayoral candidates gathered in a virtual forum on Saturday, kicking into high gear to get their message out ahead of the Nov. 2 general election.” [Alexandria Times]

Amazon backs grant program to spur affordable development near D.C.-area transit — “Amazon will fund a new grant program to help local governments and nonprofit developers pursue affordable projects near transit stations, directing $500,000 of its recently announced $2 billion Housing Equity Fund to this effort.” [Washington Business Journal]

Local group plans Four Mile Run clean-up — “Join us Sat., Oct. 23 for cleanup at Four Mile Run Park from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. to celebrate the Clean Virginia Waterways and Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup.” [Twitter]

Alexandria kid goes viral for love of fire department — “Alotta yuck these days… Please enjoy the delight of my three year old spotting a fire truck. @AlexandriaVAFD, meet your biggest fan!” [Twitter]

D.C. didn’t ask Northam and Hogan to help crack down on ticket scofflaws, despite initial claims it did — “D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser never reached out to the governors of Virginia and Maryland to negotiate reciprocity for automated traffic camera tickets, despite a District government report — signed by the mayor and submitted to the D.C. Council last week — saying that said she did.” [DCist]

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Metro’s Yellow Line, which runs through Arlington and Alexandria, could see some closures next year as the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) works to repair the Yellow Line Bridge between Virginia and D.C. and bring the Potomac Yard Metro station online.

Yellow Line Bridge and tunnel rehabilitation project will include repairs to the bridge and fix water-caused erosion in the tunnels.

The bridge was built in the 1970s and WMATA’s project website said it’s now showing “excessive wear and corrosion” while the tunnel has been subject to “decades of water infiltration and underground moisture [which] have eroded the steel-lined tunnels.” WMATA warned that long-term repairs are necessary to avoid structural failure.

The project will also upgrade the fire suppression system on the bridge, which is currently past its useful life according to WMATa, and remediation work in the tunnel to repair cracks.

Schedule of Metro station work, including Yellow Line shutdowns, photo via WMATA

The exact timeline for the project is still unclear. Andrew Off, Vice President of Project Implementation and Construction, said a shutdown is expected sometime in fall 2022.  The shutdown would close the bridge between the Pentagon and L’Enfant stations.

“We expect to start sometime at the end of the next calendar year,” Off said. “We’re still working through with our general contractor on the specific construction duration for the Yellow Line Bridge closure.”

Meanwhile, further south on the Yellow Line, Off said a two-week closure is likely as WMATA connects the new Potomac Yard Metro station to the network.

“We’ll have a scheduled two-week or 16-day shutdown in late summer or early fall in support of connecting the new Potomac Yard infill station to our existing system,” Off said.

The station had been scheduled to open next spring but was pushed back to September 2022 after an error was found in the project’s design. Alexandria leaders are still hopeful the project could be moved up to earlier in the year.

https://twitter.com/JWPascale/status/1448671495056670725

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(Updated 1 p.m.) The Alexandria Fire Department evacuated homes near a construction site after an apparent gas leak at the 400 block of Calvert Avenue.

AFD Senior Public Information Officer Raytevia Evans said that had been closed Richmond Highway to northbound traffic at E. Glebe, but has since reopened. Calvert Avenue is closed, though the gas leak has been fixed.

Evans said two addresses with approximately 25-40 people were evacuated near the gas leak.

Photo via Google Maps

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(Updated 11:30 a.m.) Francis C. Hammond Middle School was locked down this morning after a call about a shooting at the school, but the Alexandria Police Department said the call was unfounded.

According to the Alexandria Police Department:

UPDATE: APD received a call around 9:30am about a shooting at Francis C. Hammond MS on Seminary Road. Officers searched the school and determined the call was unfounded. A student was taken to the hospital after suffering a medical event while officers were searching the school.

Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) said that Hammond Middle School has since resumed normal operations.

“In the event that your student is feeling anxious about school, please remind them that the school counselors, psychologists and social workers are present to support them in any way that they need support,” ACPS said in a Facebook post.

The school, like Alexandria City High School, was on lockdown this morning after the anonymous threat. Alexandria City Public Schools and the Alexandria Police Department could not be reached to confirm that the lockdowns were related.

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