Newsletter

Shortly after the City Council approved overall plans for the new Oakville Triangle, developers are coming back to the city next Tuesday (Dec. 5) with specific development applications for various pieces of the development.

Developers have submitted three applications for sites in the development area, including the creation of development blocks and the medical facility. The first application would lay out a street grid and infrastructure for the new development. In total, four development blocks would be created.

In a report, staff recommended approval of the creation of four development blocks and easements to start laying out the road network.

“Staff recommends approval of the requested Development Site Plan (Infrastructure Plan) with a subdivision to create the development parcels, open spaces and the required streets and a vacation of portions of right-of-way on Oakville Street, subject to compliance with City codes, ordinances and staff recommendations,” city staff said.

The second application is for the Inova Healthplex — specifically to allow construction with a parking reduction and an illuminated sign higher than 35 feet above ground, modifications to the tree-canopy requirement, and an exception to height-to-setback requirements. Staff recommended approval of the development special use permit (DSUP).

The third permit request being heard at the Planning Commission meeting is for the creation of two multifamily units being built on the development parcels in the first application.

“The applicant requests approval of two Development Special Use Permits with site plans and modifications, and associated Special Use Permits,” staff said in a report, “including encroachments into the public right-of-way for building canopies, in order to construct two multifamily buildings at approximately 715,000 sf (square feet) with 577 units and 55,000 sf of ground floor retail, site-wide landscaping, streetscape and infrastructure improvements, as part of the Oakville Triangle Phase 1 redevelopment.”

If approved at the Planning Commission, the applications would move forward to the City Council at its Jan. 23 meeting and the applicant would have until Jan. 24, 2024 to start construction.

Image via City of Alexandria

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Two years after the city council approved the addition to stadium lights as part of the renovation of Parker-Gray Stadium at T.C. Williams High School, lawsuits have been settled with 15 Alexandria homeowners to allow the installation to happen.

“This is a historic settlement that ends decades of dispute relating to our City’s only high school,” Mayor Justin Wilson wrote on social media. “I am pleased that we will be able to move forward together as a community to support our students and our residents.”

Circuit Court Judge Thomas Horne approved the agreement between the homeowners, the Alexandria School Board and the city. It resolves four outstanding lawsuits against the city after ACPS allegedly made a verbal contract with homeowners that it would never light the field, after the land on which T.C. Williams High School was taken by eminent domain in the 1960s.

“I am delighted that our students will now have access to the modern facilities that will promote school spirit and enhance their social and athletic experience,”said ACPS Superintendent Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr. “This is a momentous day and I now look forward to moving on and focusing our attention on supporting our students in achieving the successes they have come to expect both on and off the field.”

According to ACPS:

  • The lights can be used for 50 game nights (which may include one or two games per night) per academic year, plus any postseason games. That limit does not apply to situations where lights are turned on during the day or afternoon for rain, overcast or fog
  • Lighted games can go as late as 9:45 p.m. on weekdays (Monday through Thursday) and 10:15 p.m. on weekends (Friday and Saturday). There are to be no lights on Sundays. Lights must be turned off within 15 minutes of the end of the game
  • Lights can be used for ACPS in-season athletic team practices to 7:45 p.m. every day except Sunday. Teams have previously scrambled for lighted practice space elsewhere in the city during the fall and early spring
  • Amplified sound is permitted only for varsity games, and limited to the current residential maximum under the Alexandria City code
  • Only ACPS athletic teams will have access to use the lights
  • A multi-step administrative dispute resolution process has been set up for any disagreements which occur with respect to compliance with the legal agreement or certain DSUP conditions
  • The term of the agreement is 40 years
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Temporary waivers granted to local businesses back in April will be extended — easing at least once concern while countless restaurants and retail locations struggle with low sales.

The extended waivers will allow local restaurants to operate delivery services, sidewalk vending, and more. These permits will now be valid until Nov. 22.

According to a press release:

These temporary waivers include Restaurant Deliveries and Pick-up, Hours of Operation, Sidewalk/Parking Lot Vending, Off-Premises Alcohol Sales, Outdoor Dining, and Curbside Pick-up Areas (originally approved for 90 days under City Code Section 10-2-24) with the potential for a further extension or shortened program upon a decision by the City Manager.

Certain land use approvals are also being extended by six months as the city gradually starts to restart its board and commission hearings.

“Land use approvals such as special use permits, development special use permits, BAR certificates of appropriateness and permits to demolish, require the applicant to take an action within a prescribed time frame (commence construction, open the business, etc.),” the city said. “Because many applicants are not able to make the normal progress on their projects during the COVID-19 emergency, the City will not count the period of the emergency against these time limits.”

Special Use Permits and other construction have timelines attached to approval with a deadline of when construction has to start or applicants are forced to file for permits again. The city said those timelines will be given an automatic six-month extension.

“Applications approved prior to the declaration of the emergency in mid-March will receive an automatic six-month extension on the time of validity of their DSP, SUP, DSUP, or BAR Certificate of Appropriateness/Permit-to-Demolish,” the city said. “Applications approved during the emergency will receive a pro-rata extension. The six-month extension is based on an assumption that the emergency will end on September 30, 2020. If the emergency continues, the validity period extension will be expanded automatically until the emergency does conclude.”

Staff photo by James Cullum

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Along with a new phase of reopening, several new laws the City Council had pushed for in November will be taking effect starting tomorrow (Wednesday).

One of the biggest new changes will be that possession of under one ounce of marijuana will be a $25 civil fine without any jail time or a criminal conviction. Simple possession records will be sealed and employers and schools cannot ask about prior simple possession convictions.

Mayor Justin Wilson said new laws going into effect on July 1 will add more equity to arrests made.

“Those are changes that relate to marijuana, those are changes as it relates to shoplifting that really add more equity and will change the way that public safety addresses these crimes,” Wilson said in a Zoom meeting on racial equity on Monday night. “I think these are long overdue changes and will help address in some ways some of the disparities that we see.”

Other items requested by the City of Alexandria in its legislative package include:

The main Confederate statue in question was removed before the new law allowing its removal took effect.

The legislative package pushed for an increase of the minimum wage to $15 per hour. The General Assembly instead approved a $12 minimum wage with the potential to increase to $15 by 2026.

Councilman Mohamed “Mo” Seifeldein earlier described legislative proposals with a Democratic majority in the General Assembly as “playing with house money.” To that end, online sports betting was also legalized statewide.

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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There are 10 more cases of COVID-19 in Alexandria, bringing the total number of cases to 2,125, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

No new fatalities were reported and the number of deaths remains at 47. The most recent deaths were a man and woman in their 70s and 80s.

It is not clear how many residents have fully recovered from the virus.

The news comes as Governor Ralph Northam’s stay at home order expired today after nearly two months. Alexandria is also anticipating soon entering into the second phase of reopening its economy.

As the city reopens, it recently shared its Coping with Uncertainty and Fear and Multicultural Resources: Race Based Trauma and Support in Times of Civil Strife web pages.

COVID-19 Age and Sex Breakdown

Senior citizens have been severely affected by the virus, and residents above the age of 50 make up all but one of the fatalities.

Statewide, there have been 1,514 reported deaths (18 since yesterday), and 1,408 of those deaths are confirmed to have been COVID-related, according to VDH. There are now 52,177 cases (49,785 confirmed) and 5,272 hospitalizations (including 32 probable cases).

There are 1,084 females with the virus (with 25 deaths and 95 hospitalizations) and 1,033 males (with 21 deaths and 121 hospitalizations) who tested positive for COVID-19 in the city. The sex of eight cases was not reported.

  • 80+     — 21 deaths, 83 cases, 26 hospitalizations
  • 70-79 — 15 deaths, 98 cases, 35 hospitalizations
  • 60-69 — One deaths, 183 cases, 40 hospitalizations
  • 50-59 — Nine deaths, 281 cases, 42 hospitalizations
  • 40-49 — Zero deaths, 395 cases, 33 hospitalizations
  • 30-39 — Zero deaths, 493 cases, 28 hospitalizations
  • 20-29 — One death, 323 cases, six hospitalizations
  • 10-19  — Zero deaths, 139 cases, two hospitalizations
  • 0-9     — Zero deaths, 117 cases, two hospitalizations
  • Missing — 12 cases not listed by age

Hispanic and Latino residents make up 17% of the population and lead with the highest number of cases in the city with six deaths, 1,177 cases, 97 total hospitalizations and a 61.2% positivity rate of residents tested.

There are also 154 positive cases associated with 12 outbreaks in the city, and health care workers make up 159 cases. Nine of the outbreaks occurred at long-term care facilities, and at least 15 deaths have occurred at such facilities, although that number has not been updated since the city’s release on May 2. The other outbreaks occurred at “congregate” settings and an educational setting.

Testing Update

There have been 10,938 PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests administered in Alexandria so far, and the city’s seven-day positivity rate shows an 8.5% infection rate of those tested. There have also been 1,539 antibody tests in Alexandria. Across Virginia, there have been 395,972 PCR tests administered with a seven-day positivity rate of 9% (and 47,514 antibody tests).

Cases By ZIP Code

VDH did not update ZIP code data since Saturday.

The areas of the city with the leading number of cases are the 22304 and 22305 ZIP codes, which include the West End and Arlandria, Potomac Yard and Potomac West neighborhoods.

Some of the areas share jurisdictions between Alexandria and Arlington and Fairfax Counties:

  • 22301 — 69 cases, 698 people tested (Estimated population 15,171)
  • 22302 — 223 cases, 1,380 people tested (Estimated population 20,238)
  • 22304 — 615 cases, 3,462 people tested (Estimated population 54,003)
  • 22305 — 575 cases, 1,914 people tested (Estimated population 16,095)
  • 22311 — 416 cases, 1,948 people tested (Estimated population 16,898)
  • 22312 — 530 cases, 2,072 people tested (Estimated population 6,901)
  • 22314 — 187 cases, 1,669 people tested (Estimated population 47,826)

The City acknowledged that VDH and the Alexandria Health Department have “significant gaps in non-reporting of racial and ethnic demographics in this data.”

  • Hispanic or Latino — Six Deaths, 1,177 cases, 101 hospitalizations
  • White, non-Hispanic residents — 27 deaths, 891 cases, 78 hospitalizations
  • Black/African American residents — 12 deaths, 320 cases, 56 hospitalizations
  • Not Hispanic or Latino — 38 deaths, 747 cases, 110 hospitalizations
  • Not reported — Six deaths, 416 cases, 18 hospitalizations
  • Other — Two deaths, 498 cases, 64 hospitalizations

Staff photo by James Cullum

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Morning Notes

Beyer Supports Justice In Policing Act — “George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and too many others should still be alive today, and the fact that they are not is a deep injustice that should outrage us all. We need reform now. I’m an original cosponsor of the #JusticeInPolicing Act, and look forward to helping pass it soon.” [Twitter]

Mayors and Chairs in Northern Virginia Decry Systemic Racism — “As the Mayors and Chairs of Northern Virginia, we raise our collective voices on behalf of the more than 2.5 million residents of our region to express our sorrow for the decades of injustices that have befallen the African American community in America.” [Gazette]

With Pools Closed, City Advises Against Swimming in Natural Waters — “As temperatures climb and many pools remain closed, a dip in a river, lake, or stream may be tempting, but risky, as shown by the recent drowning of a Loudoun County teen in a local creek. In addition to the potential for drowning, natural waterways may contain harmful bacteria and organisms, particularly after heavy rains or storms. Avoid swimming in natural waters for a few days after a heavy rain event; avoid swimming in muddy water of lakes, ponds and rivers; and avoid swimming in unfamiliar ponds, streams, creeks, ditches and canals.” [City of Alexandria]

City Provides Resources for Coping with Coronavirus and Social Change — “The City’s Coping with Uncertainty and Fear and Multicultural Resources: Race Based Trauma and Support in Times of Civil Strife web pages provide information and resources to help during this difficult time.” [City of Alexandria]

Former Police Chief Cook Opines on Race Relations — “We have not progressed to the point where we’ve changed our institutions. They are exactly at the place they were when I was a teenager.” [WJLA]

Trinity United Methodist Church Thanks Community for Donations — “On behalf of Trinity Church, we want to extend our gratitude to all of you who contribute to the Rising Hope Mission Church food drive!  We started this food drive shortly after COVID-19 hit to try to meet some of the growing needs for food and personal hygiene items for our friends at Rising Hope Mission Church, a mission that serves communities living in poverty south of Alexandria, along the Route 1 Corridor… As of last week, we have donated 2,869 lbs. of food and donated over $1,500 of community contributions! …We will continue this food drive each Wednesday from 4-7 PM through the end of the July.” [Trinity UMC]

Board of Zoning Appeals Denies Seminary Road Sign Appeal — The BZA voted 5-1 on Monday to order the removal of the “Take Back Seminary Road #JustinsTrafficJam” sign. [City of Alexandria]

New Job: Event and Promotions Assistant — “Local event firm is currently seeking an Event & Promotions Assistant to join a rapidly growing team! This firm identifies and develops new streams of revenue for clients through on-site promotions, innovative marketing strategies and advertising campaigns with a personal touch. This is an entry-level position with fully paid training and the opportunity for growth into an executive management role after completion of training program.”
[Indeed]

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The City of Alexandria will go another few months before the members of its numerous boards and commissions will set eyes on each other.

At a City Council meeting on Tuesday, City Manager Mark Jinks laid out a calendar that partially pushes back in-person meetings to June or later. While the Council will continue to meet in May, Jinks encouraged most other boards and advisory committees to cancel their meetings.

Mayor Justin Wilson said moving to online meetings has opened up new avenues for populations that don’t typically come to City Council meetings to raise their voice in city discussions.

“I hope the new virtual ways to weigh in becomes permanent for meetings,” Wilson said.

The sole exception, Jinks said, is the Board of Architectural Review, which is scheduled to meet online next Wednesday, May 6. The only items on the docket are the installation of several new small cell facilities, and Jinks said those issues are time-sensitive.

Once the city meetings start back up, Jinks said the priority will be sorting through the large land-use issues that have pile up over two months of the city focusing predominately on COVID-19 issues.

“We will be continuing with land-use projects,” Jinks said. “There are big projects coming up, like Potomac Yard, to keep on track.”

Jinks said other city business, like appointments, will resume during June, but many commissions will remain on hold.

“Other boards and commissions are also encouraged to cancel June meetings,” he said. “[We will have] non-electronic meetings in June for things like City Council and the Planning Commission, with the option to dial in.”

The announcement of the city schedule follows a loosening of restrictions on what localities can discuss and decide in virtual meetings.

The City Council is also currently mulling over the possibility of having meetings during August, when the Council is traditionally in recess.

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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The Potomac Yard development process is moving forward, with the in-person meetings now switched to virtual sessions with the city hosting a second town hall planned tomorrow (Wednesday).

At a meeting Wednesday from 7-8:30 p.m., the Virginia Tech Foundation and JBG SMITH are scheduled to give a public update on the project and describe plans for the southern group of buildings. Those are the office and residential buildings closest to the Potomac Yard Metro station.

The public can join the meeting at 7 p.m. and submit questions or comments to [email protected]

Designs for buildings in Potomac Yard have been trickling out over the last few weeks as designs for the new district near the Potomac Yard Metro station is finalized.

Further developments about the project, including the Coordinated Development District plan and the infrastructure site plan, are planned to go to a city council public hearing in June.

Rendering via City of Alexandria

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(Updated at 10:50 a.m.) Plans are starting to take shape for North Potomac Yard.

Virginia Tech has submitted its first concept plan, showing what its Innovation Campus will look like just as the design of the Potomac Yard Metro station nears its final design phase.

Virginia’s Tech’s campus — which will offer master’s and doctoral level programs — is part of a vision for a completely revitalized North Potomac Yard around the new Metro station. The plans were accompanied by related proposals by real estate investment companies JBG Smith and Lionstone.

Plans submitted on Friday, Nov. 1, show an open grid of nine buildings, with 600,000 square feet of academic use split over three buildings centered at the north end of the site. (The university had a special use permit for a temporary space in the existing Potomac Yard shopping center approved in September.)

Retail would take 120,900 square feet of space along the main stretch of road between the campus and the Metro station, with 630,400 square feet of office space and 554,200 square feet of residential primarily located above the retail.

Missing from the plans: the Regal movie theater on the North Potomac Yard plan, which is expected to be demolished. It’s unclear when the theater will close, nor whether it would reopen elsewhere.

Height assumptions for the area show most buildings will be an average of 90 feet tall, with the academic Block 7W towering over the others at 180 feet.

Some astute Twitter users noted that the plans also show an extension of the Potomac Yard Trail to Four Mile Run, though others questioned whether the trail will connect to the one along Four Mile Run without crossing four lanes of traffic.

Meanwhile, infrastructure work is currently underway on the switchgear building for the station, while work on installing utilities and laying the foundation for the Metro station will begin sometime over the next few months, according to an Oct. 29 update from city staff.

The station’s design is scheduled to be finished by the end of the year.

Image (1) via City of Alexandria. Image (2) via Google Maps.

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