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More than 200 people have signed a petition against ABC Virginia opening a new location on S. Washington Street in Old Town. At the same time, another Change.org petition has gotten about 75 signatures in support of the new liquor store.

A Change.org petition from “Southwest Quadrant Neighbors” has garnered more than 200 signatures, with petitioners complaining that the location at 825 S. Washington Street is “ill-suited as it is located in the middle of a tight-knit residential neighborhood, close to several schools and family and child-oriented establishments, and is without dedicated parking for ABC to secure.”

Virginia ABC is considering the 3,000-square-foot building for a new store, and posted a notification for public comments for two weeks.

“We have received comments both in favor and against the proposed location,” Valerie D. Hubbard, a senior public relations specialist with Virginia ABC, told ALXnow. “We do not have a lease agreement currently.”

Hubbard said that Virginia ABC weighs a number of factors when determining the location for new stores and expanding customer access.

“These include a location’s demographics, traffic patterns, rental rate and population density,” she said. “It also considers the distance of a location to existing stores, sales at those stores, tenant mix at the shopping center, and the accessibility and deliverability to the location. This process has led to the creation of 398 stores throughout the Commonwealth, with 92% of Virginians living only 10 minutes from a Virginia ABC store.”

Those petitioning against ABC moving into the 3,000-square-foot property say that there are four other ABC stores located within two miles of 825 S. Washington Street. There are, in fact, three ABC stores within two miles of the proposed location.

The nearest ABC stores are at 501 Montgomery Street in Old Town North (1.4 miles away), at 3161 Duke Street (about 2.6 miles away), at 5940 Richmond Highway (about 1.4 miles away) in the Huntington area of Fairfax County, and at 1524 Belle View Boulevard in Fairfax County (about 2 miles away).

Opponents say that the new store will result in a crime increase, are “not neighborly,” and will result in decreased parking and increased traffic, but proponents say that there are no ABC stores on the southern section of Old Town.

“It’s a long walk to the north side store that is inconvenient and puts one at risk to other crimes,” states the pro-ABC store petition.

The store is the former home to the Queen Bee Designs pop-up, and is on the same block as Faccia Luna (823 S. Washington Street) and Southside 815 (815 S. Washington Street).

Vienna-based Rosenthal Properties is managing the leasing for the space, which is owned by Writ Limited Partnership.

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Police at the Bradlee Shopping Center where 18-year-old Luis Mejia Hernandez was fatally stabbed on May 24, 2022. (staff photo by James Cullum)

Seven months after Luis Mejia Hernandez was fatally stabbed in a brawl at the Bradlee Shopping Center McDonald’s, the city has made some progress on putting together a series of teen-led recommendations for preventing future violence.

Some of the initial suggestions coming out of those focus group meetings, though, are a little generalized. They include things like encouraging the city to listen to youth voices more and build better partnerships.

The city surveyed 125 local teens and children to put together a “Youth Safety and Resiliency concept” — a plan to help offer better services to local teens to help build positive relationships and understand more about the mental health of students in Alexandria City Public Schools.

In an initial update, the focus groups came back with suggestions that mainly involve better lines of communication and opportunities for local teens.

Mayor Justin Wilson, who chairs the committee along with Council member Alyia Gaskins, said in a newsletter released this morning:

What we learned in the focus groups should not surprise us. Students told us that policymakers should:

  • Offer creative, inclusive, flexible youth programs that foster social connection and a sense of belonging and promote youth behavioral health
  • Use a variety of methods and partnerships to creatively encourage young people and ensure that they are aware of the resources and programs available to them
  • Build effective Youth-Adult Partnerships by providing adults with ongoing trainings and technical assistance to promote positive youth development, and by providing youth with a strong foundation and opportunities to participate in decision and policy making with adults
  • When asking youth for their input and feedback, it is critical that adults listen, take their ideas seriously, and hold themselves accountable to respond to their concerns.

One of the ideas was for the city to hold a “Youth Summit” to address topics like mental health, the education system, and social change.

“Our youth have shouldered the worst of the challenges we have collectively faced over the past 3 years,” Wilson wrote in the newsletter. “Ensuring that every young person in our City is equipped to thrive during these challenging times remains a top priority in our community.”

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Updated at 3:15 p.m. Alexandria City High School’s campuses evacuated at 2:25 p.m. today after a bomb threat was made earlier by phone.

Principal Peter Balas wrote that the bomb threat was made while the schools were under a “Secure the Building” status.

“The Alexandria Police Department and Alexandria Fire Department are on site and working with ACHS administration, ACPS leadership and the ACPS Office of Safety and Security Services,” Balas wrote.

Balas said that students were evacuated to designated outdoor areas and that buses were sent early to speed up dismissal.

“At 2:45 p.m., the ‘Secure the Building’ status was lifted at the Minnie Howard Campus,” Balas wrote. “As a result, students may be able to leave both campuses early, depending on the arrival of the buses, while others may have a delayed departure from school, as the safety protocol allows.”

ACPS is asking parents follow directions from the Alexandria Police Department once they arrive to pick up their child from the school.

Additionally, all after school and evening activities scheduled today at the ACHS King Street and Minnie Howard campuses are canceled, including:

  • All athletics, although some away games are still occurring. Instructions on pick-up for away games will be communicated at a later time
  • All student clubs, theatrical, musical or other activities
  • Any community activities scheduled at these ACHS facilities.

In a release, Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) said the buildings were put in secure status at 11:45 a.m. after a threat was received by phone.

According to the release:

The threat is being investigated by the Alexandria City High School administration, Alexandria City Public Schools Office of Safety and Security Services and the Alexandria Police Department.

“Secure the building” means that the school day continues on a normal schedule inside the school but no one is allowed to enter or leave the school while the building remains secured. The decision to secure the ACHS King Street and Minnie Howard campuses was taken out of an abundance of caution to allow the investigation to proceed.

The safety and security of our students and staff are of utmost priority. We will continue to communicate via text, email and the school website to provide the most up-to-date information.

This is the second time in a little over a week that ACPS put schools into secure the building mode. Last Tuesday, ACPS said Francis C. Hammond Middle School, James K. Polk Elementary School, Patrick Henry PreK-8 School and James K. Polk Elementary Schools were put in a secure mode after police investigated a shots fired call nearby — though what this meant for the still under-reconstruction Douglas Macarthur Elementary School is unclear.

James Cullum contributed to this article

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The Alexandria Police Department and Sheriff’s Office shared statements condemning the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols in Memphis earlier this month.

Five police officers were fired and charged with second-degree murder. The recent release of the video showing the assault has sparked a wave of protests in Memphis.

While Alexandria is around 880 miles removed from Memphis, police deaths elsewhere have still impacted the local community in the past. Alexandrians hosted vigils and protests against police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

The full statement from Don Hayes, Chief of Police with the Alexandria Police Department is below:

In the aftermath of the recent Memphis police incident, the Alexandria Police Department wants to acknowledge the importance of law enforcement agencies denouncing such horrific behavior at the hands of sworn officers.

“The men and women of the Alexandria Police Department are deeply disturbed by the released footage of actions from five police officers in Memphis that led to the death of Tyre Nichols. The violence displayed in this video has impacted both members of our community and the police department, with many experiencing feelings of shock, anger, disgust, and outrage. The deplorable actions of these officers not only illustrate a complete disregard for the sanctity of human life but violate the fundamental values of the law enforcement profession as a whole.

The impact of excessive force is visceral and is an exceptionally painful reminder of the importance of continued accountability within policing. While the justice system has begun the process of investigating this tragedy, the community is just now beginning to process the pain of yet another life lost at the hands of the police. The inhumane actions of these officers will inevitably undermine the efforts APD has made to strengthen our community relationships, shattering trust and police legitimacy.

The Alexandria Police Department strongly condemns the actions evident in the footage, but condemnation is not justice. Mr. Nichols’ family deserves a thorough, expedited, and transparent investigation into the conduct of these officers. We share in their grief and in the heartache the community feels. We also want to assure our community these actions are the antithesis of APD’s values. Every member of our department is dedicated to serving the Alexandria community with integrity and empathy. Our department values the sanctity of life and appreciates the trust the community places in us.”

Donald C. Hayes

Chief of Police

The full statement from Sheriff Sean Casey is below:

Like other law enforcement leaders, I am extremely disturbed by the horrific attack on Tyre Nichols by Memphis police officers. Their actions are not only counter to police training and acceptable law enforcement practices, they are in complete opposition to the sworn oath we take to protect life.

Following George Floyd’s murder less than three years ago, the Alexandria Sheriff’s Office adopted a policy of active bystandership that requires employees to intervene when they witness another engaging in unacceptable conduct. ASO was one of the first agencies accepted for the Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement (ABLE) Project with Georgetown University’s Law Center and all our deputies received training on peer intervention to prevent harm.

We will be reinforcing this by immediately conducting mandatory refresher training for all deputies on peer intervention as well as on our use of force policies.

I remain committed to working toward a more just society and ensuring that our profession does all we can to prevent abuse of power.

Sheriff Sean Casey

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Park Vue of Alexandria at 511 Four Mile Road in Arlandria has been renamed as The Square at 511. (staff photo by James Cullum)

The Alexandria Housing Development Corporation has been rebranded as “Housing Alexandria.”

No official word on the name change has yet to be released on AHDC’s website, but residents at its numerous properties were notified via email. Additionally, Housing Alexandria’s 14-story Park Vue apartment complex (511 Four Mile Road) in Arlandria has been renamed “The Square at 511.”

Housing Alexandria says that the strategic rebranding will mean a rollout of new logos.

“Along with this change in the company name, we will also adopt new logos to fully express our initiative of continued improvement,” Housing Alexandria told residents. “The re-branding, however, shall not affect the manner in which we operate our business, as well as the organizational structures of the company.”

The new logo for Housing Alexandria, formerly the Alexandria Housing Development Corporation (via Housing Alexandria)

The City of Alexandria website has also recognized the new name in its listing of affordable housing partners.

The rebranding is part of the organization’s 2021-2025 strategic plan, as it pursues “a brand that differentiates us from our peers and helps us more clearly express our values.”

“AHDC residents and community members will be able to identify our brand and work more efficiently,” the nonprofit said in the plan. “Increased presence will yield more community advocates, resident voices, and financial support for AHDC.”

Housing Alexandria is developing a 500-unit affordable housing complex at the intersection of Mount Vernon Avenue and Glebe Road in Arlandria as well as an affordable homeowner development on Seminary Road.

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Good Wednesday morning, Alexandria!

Today’s weather: Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 42 and low of 31.
Tomorrow: Mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 41 and low of 30. Sunrise at 7:15 am and sunset at 5:31 pm.

🚨 You need to know

An accounting error by the Virginia Department of Education means local schools around Virginia will receive $201 million less in state aid than expected, the Richmond Times-Dispatch first reported.

Additionally, that error hit for $58 million less for the current K-12 year. State officials clarified that the error meant those funds were never received by school divisions.

The error emerged when the state failed to account for funding changes relating to the elimination of the state’s portion of the grocery sales tax. The elimination of the grocery sales tax was part of a broader tax cut package.

State funds accounted for 19.7% of Alexandria City Public School’s (ACPS) operating fund for Fiscal Year 2023’s operating budget — a not insignificant amount, but the majority of ACPS funding comes from the city appropriation — 79.9% of the budget. The state’s error will have a bigger impact on school districts where more of the budget is reliant on the state.

“State revenues are projected to increase mainly in the area of basic aid, sales tax, supplemental lottery per pupil allocation, and at-risk,” the ACPS budget said. “This is slightly offset by decreases in other funding categories.”

📈 Tuesday’s most read

The following are the most-read ALXnow articles for Jan 31, 2023.

  1. Old Town residents and business owners cry foul over new George Washington Birthday Parade route (1885 views)
  2. Lorton man charged with DWI after multi-vehicle crash in Old Town (1071 views)
  3. Inside Alexandria’s race to install new floodwater mitigation projects before the next big storm (166 views)
  4. Notes: Law firm in minority-owned business grant lawsuit has ties to Trump (123 views)

🗞 Other local coverage

🐦 Tweets of note

https://twitter.com/AlexandriaNow/status/1620397808644669440

📅 Upcoming events

Here is what’s going on today in Alexandria, from our event calendar.

  • No events today. Have one to promote? Submit it to the calendar.
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Updated at 6 p.m. Old Town residents and business owners are up in arms for not being officially notified of a route change for the George Washington Birthday Parade on Feb. 20 (President’s Day).

The parade will shut down large sections of Old Town North and Old Town near the King Street-Old Town Metro station, restricting parking and vehicular access for residents and businesses. The parade will start at 1 p.m. at the intersection of Pendleton Street and Fayette Street, and marchers will walk south down Fayette Street, hang a right on King Street and then end at the foot of the George Washington National Masonic Memorial at King Street and Commonwealth Avenue.

The new route was chosen by the volunteer-led the George Washington Birthday Parade Committee to recognize the 100th anniversary of the parade, which is the biggest annual parade celebrating George Washington in the world. The parade is traditionally held east of Washington Street near City Hall in the Old Town Historic District, but this year’s event will commemorate the construction of the Memorial in 1923, which saw then-President Calvin Coolidge, Chief Justice William Howard Taft and Virginia Governor E. L.Trinkle laying the cornerstone.

In November, the Committee submitted a request to the city to change the route. That request was approved on Jan. 24, and two days later parade organizers publicly announced that the parade will happen on Feb. 20, and that a number of side streets will also be closed.

“As with any large-scale event of this magnitude, a months-long process was necessary to assess the best approach,” Ebony Fleming, the city’s director of the Office of Communications and Public Information, told ALXnow. “While we are honored our city is home to such notable celebrations, we recognize how changes, and even temporary road closures, can be an inconvenience to our residents and business owners, especially on a holiday weekend. We will continue promoting the new parade route and ask impacted Alexandrians for their grace and flexibility as we prepare to welcome excited visitors for this historic occasion.”

The parade will be held between 1 and 3 p.m., and parking restrictions and access will be lifted no later than 5 p.m.

“If it’s such a big deal — the 100th anniversary — don’t you want to let people know?” said an Old Town resident who will be affected by the parking. “I haven’t heard anything about this parade at all.”

Parade spokesperson Bud Jackson said that the new route is a one-time experience, and acknowledged the inconvenience for residents and businesses. Jackson said that parade volunteers will soon be going door-to-door to inform those affected about the change.

“Like most parades, the George Washington Birthday Parade has always included portions of residential neighborhoods and inconvenienced some businesses,” Jackson told ALXnow. “We acknowledge that this year’s one-time only parade route change will inconvenience some residents and businesses.”

But many residents and business owners are either unhappy about the late notice or unaware of changes to the route.

“Certainly the organizers knew it was the 100 anniversary of this event for quite some time,” a business owner told ALXnow. “Perhaps even for the last 100 years. Why did the City allow them to change the route well after event permits were submitted and approved? Why were impacted residents and businesses not notified? Would a for profit organization like Pacers be given the same leniency? I don’t think so.”

The parade will also restrict vehicular access to a number of housing complexes, including The Asher (620 N. Fayette Street), The Henry (525 N. Fayette Street), The Prescott (1115 Cameron Street), 1111 Belle Pre Apartments (111 Belle Pre Way), as well as Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority properties.

“I didn’t know about (the new parade route) and none of the residents that I spoke with knew about it either but I haven’t heard any complaints,” said Kevin Harris, president of the ARHA Resident Association.

Another Old Town business owner said they will be losing up to $7,000 in business.

“We already have events and staff scheduled for February,” the business owner said. “Federal holidays are typically huge retail sales days. This will be a $5,000-to-$7,000 hit on our business. This is why notifying impacted businesses is required in the permitting process.”

Parade traffic and parking restrictions

While the parade starts at Pendleton and N. Fayette Streets, all parking on nearby side streets will be cleared by 9 a.m., according to organizers.

  • The bridge at King Street and Commonwealth Avenue will be cleared by 5 a.m.
  • All vehicles parked on the street will be towed between the 100 and 900 blocks of N. Fayette Streets (at the intersection with Braddock Place)
  • All vehicles parked on N. Payne Street will be towed
  • All vehicles parked on N. West Street from the intersection at King Street to Princess Street will be towed
  • All vehicles parked on Queen Street and N. Fayette Street
  • All vehicles parked on Princess Street, starting at the intersection with N. Fayette Street and going down to the intersection with King Street
  • Traffic will be shut down (except for residents) on King Street to Janneys Lane
  • Traffic will be shut down on Callahan Drive (except Amtrak station traffic and buses)
  • Traffic will be shut down on Diagonal Road and portions of Daingerfield Road (except buses and local traffic)
  • Traffic will be shut down on Sunset Street, Russell Road and Cedar Street near the intersection of King Street and Commonwealth Avenue
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As rainfall travels down the hills of the Parkfairfax neighborhood, the momentum sweeps it past the slim gutters meant to catch the water, propelling it further downhill to devastating effect. But fortunately, with a surge of political and financial interest being poured into flood mitigation over the last few years, stormwater isn’t the only thing gaining momentum.

Among the larger flooding infrastructure projects going around the city are a handful of smaller “spot improvements” that could play a big role when the next major storm hits.

In the Parkfairfax neighborhood, the Department of Transportation and Environmental Services has been installing 13 inlets that the city hopes will help catch some of the stormwater the current storm drains aren’t getting.

Last week, civil engineers Brian Rahal and Ehsanullah Hayat were overseeing the inlet project, the largest of the stormwater spot improvements in the city to date.

“The biggest problem with this area is it’s steep,” said Rahal. “The inlets were put in decades ago and are small, so the gutters get filled with runoff quickly.”

Every flooding issue needs its own diagnosis and in Parkfairfax — unlike Old Town’s massive stormwater infrastructure project — Rahal said the issue isn’t one of capacity.

“There’s capacity here, but we need to get [the water] in,” Rahal said.

The city is installing 13 inlets: nine are redone inlets designed to make the current storm drains significantly larger and four are completely new inlets. The larger inlets are designed to divert more of the stormwater that momentum currently carries past the antiquated ones built decades ago in Parkfairfax. Last year, the city worked on around seven inlet projects across the city.

“That should capture most of it,” Rahal said. “That should drastically reduce the impact.”

Stormwater also tends to have a snowballing effect, where water can flow down to the same locations from different locations and the problems can quickly escalate. The intersection of Holmes Lane and Martha Custis Drive, where a few of the new inlets are being installed, is one such confluence of watersheds.

Rahal has worked in stormwater management in Alexandria for 12 years and said the increase in flooding problems has been gradual but increasingly noticeable.

“It increase really started in rainfall around 2010, but we started noticing it in 2015,'” Rahal said. “It was spotty, then we had record rainfall in 2018 and in 2019 we had the big storms.”

There was torrential flooding across the region in 2019, but Alexandria’s seen continued heavy rainfall every year since. New rainfall records were set in Alexandria last July.

The battering of the city from back-to-back flooding caused intense public scrutiny of the city’s stormwater mitigation, drawing backlash from sources ranging from the former sheriff to a locally popular Twitter account. The city worked to fast-track flood mitigation projects, but the speed of progress was limited by the design process.

Rahal said the stormwater utility fee helped give the city the resources it needed to move more quickly on some of these projects.

“That really changed the narrative,” Rahal said. “In 2014 we were concerned about the water quality mandate and focused more on water quality, then the narrative shifted to a higher priority for flood mitigation.”

Now, Rahal said the city is juggling larger and longer-term infrastructure projects with shorter-term spot improvements.

“We’ve taken a two-pronged approach,” Rahal said. “There are big projects that take time and we’re busy designing them, but at the same time we’re making spot improvements as much as we can in the time we have to affect change.”

Looking at the slim inlets they’re replacing, Rahal says he thinks back to their initial installation and has to remember how much the rainfall levels have changed since they were installed.

‘They had no way of knowing the stormwater issues we’d face,” Rahal said, “so it’s up to us to mitigate them.”

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Cloud is a 10-year-old black and brown medium-haired cat searching for her forever home.

Currently up for adoption at the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria, she has a decade of best friend experience and has learned so much as a housecat, according to AWLA spokesperson Gina Hardter.

“Cloud isn’t a crazy kitten who will be climbing your curtains,” said Hardter. “She enjoys the calmer things in life, from a warm comfy bed to the lap of her human best friend.”

This lovely lady also enjoys bird and squirrel watching, so a home with a window perch would be especially appreciated.

Cloud’s adoption fees have been paid and she’s ready for her forever home!

Interested in learning more about Cloud and meeting her? Schedule at time to see her by emailing [email protected] or call 703-746-4774.

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A Lorton man was arrested on DWI charges after allegedly crashing into four cars at the intersection of S. Patrick Street and Gibbon Streets on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023 (via Google Maps)

A 23-year-old Lorton man was charged with driving while intoxicated after allegedly crashing into four cars in Old Town.

The crash occurred near the intersection of S. Patrick Street and Gibbon Street at around 5:30 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 21. Three people suffered minor injuries and went to the hospital, and the driver was released later that day.

The driver failed a field sobriety test, refused medical attention and admitted to police that he drank four Modello beers before the crash, according to a recently released search warrant affidavit.

“I shouldn’t have driven tonight,” the suspect allegedly told police, according to the search warrant affidavit.

The suspect was charged with driving while intoxicated (first offense) and goes to court on Feb. 2.

Map via Google Maps

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