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Amazon has given $200,000 to ACT for Alexandria’s COVID-19 response fund as part of a $1 million donation that the company is making to the region.
“The funds received by ACT will be used to support the nonprofits providing services to Alexandrian’s who are hardest hit by the COVID-19 outbreak,” ACT CEO Heather Peeler told ALXnow.
“The human service needs, economic impact and strains on our critical services will be with us long into the future,” Mayor Justin Wilson said. “We have a resilient community and this contribution will help bring our City and our resident back stronger than ever.”
On Saturday, the Alexandria City Council allocated $100,000 in matching emergency funds to the ACT Now COVD-19 Response Fund with a goal of raising $200,000 so that nonprofits in the city can apply for and receive grants.
Council also approved an allocation of $20,000 to ALIVE! to buy bulk food equivalent to 17,000 meals. ALIVE! is currently working with the city and buying food to support the city should deliveries need to be made to people under quarantine without food reserves at home.
Amazon is contributing $1M to the DMV to support our community during the COVID-19 crisis. ACT is pleased to…
Thanks to Amazon.com for providing critical financial support to the ACT for Alexandria COVID-19 Response fund. Please contribute today to support the many in need in our community due to this crisis.
The full press release is below the jump:
There are nearly half as many homes available for sale in Alexandria as the year before, according to city officials.
A complicated mix of reasons is behind the decline, but one reason looms above others: Amazon.
“Amazon announced its arrival one year ago,” said David Howell, executive vice president for McEnearney Associates. “Since then, we’ve seen 46% fewer listings in Alexandria and 44% in Arlington… The inventory began to shrink literally the day after the announcement.”
At a City Council retreat on Saturday, marking the launch of the budget cycle, City Manager Mark Jinks highlighted the scarcity of homes for sale in Alexandria.
“Active listings a year ago were 450,” Jinks said. “There are only 208 active listings in June 2019. There’s not a lot of inventory on the market for people to purchase. There’s a lot of speculation about what that means. Are people not selling because they think they’ll be able to get more? Are people not purchasing because they can’t? There’s so much uncertainty.”
Jinks explained to the Council that many homeowners who might otherwise be selling their properties are holding out in hopes that Amazon will increase the home value.
“Do I sell my home now or wait another couple years with Amazon coming will I get ten percent more or 20 percent more?” Jinks asked, hypothetically. “It’s a lot of speculation for what may or may not happen. There is not a lot of property for sale and a lot of speculation about why.”
Both Howell and Jinks said there are other factors at play both nationally and locally.
“Interest rates are low and the region is growing,” Jinks said. “There’s a demand for residential, as we’ve seen, but we’re not seeing price appreciation. At almost any other time like this, we would have seen single-family homes and townhomes move up appreciably, and we haven’t seen it. Some of the speculation is that people with student loan debt [make it] harder for people to afford the ownership market.”
While student loan debt could keep people from buying homes, Howell said he doubted that would impact the sellers. More likely, Howell said it’s a result of some after-effects of the housing bubble burst a decade ago.
“The big lesson is people aren’t selling for speculative reasons after the bust,” Howell said. “Appreciation is more modest and sustained because people are buying where they want to live rather than using the home as an ATM. People are staying put.”
Howell also said many of those homeowners were able to lock in low mortgage rates.
“We will see a sustained low inventory over time,” Howell. “That’s true nationally, but in Arlington and Alexandria especially.”
This fall, the city is launching its community engagement for plans to update the 2005 Mount Vernon Avenue Business Plan and the 2003 Long-Term Vision and Action Plan for the Arlandria Neighborhood. The city cites the nearby arrival of Amazon, the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus, and the North Potomac Yard Metro station as looming developments that could start to change the character of the residential and commercial communities to the west.
Neighbors and organizations in and around the area are invited to offer feedback to help identify the most important community issues and start to build a framework for the new plans — which will start taking shape next year.
At a joint meeting of Arlington and Alexandria, city officials recognized that there was frequent difficulty in getting responses from communities most prone to the effects of gentrification, so several of the outreach events are focused on going out into the community and interviewing residents rather than relying on those residents and business leaders to come to meetings.
The first event will be this Saturday, Nov. 9, from 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at Simpson Field (500 E. Monroe Avenue). City staff will be out at the field talking with local residents and will move up and down Mount Vernon Avenue to speak with people in stores and markets, according to the city’s website.
Additional outreach events are planned throughout November and December.
A community conversation for Arlandria is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 21, from 6-8 p.m. at Cora Kelly Elementary School (3600 Commonwealth Avenue). The meeting will be held in Spanish with English translation available.
A similar meeting for Del Ray is scheduled for Dec. 12 from 6:30 p.m.-8 p.m. at Mount Vernon Community School (2601 Commonwealth Avenue), this one in English with Spanish translation available.
Staff photo by Jay Westcott
This week’s Q&A column is sponsored and written by Jillian Keck Hogan of Jillian Keck Hogan Real Estate Group and McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant Alexandria market news, contact Jillian at 703-951-7655 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.
Question: We have been reading all the headlines, but what really is the “Amazon Effect”?
Answer: The buzz of Amazon is something we have all been hearing and there is some truth to the stories being published, BUT as it relates to real estate, the effects are very situational with price point, condition and location.
We have been reading all the same publications, and we completely understand if all the news is making you a bit nervous as to when the best time will be to purchase or sell your home. Home prices have been increasing, but that is true of every year since 2010. There is a good chance you might be competing on a listing against another buyer, but that has been a possibility over the last 9 years, as well.
Here is a bit of advice from our COO, David Howell, at McEnearney Associates, Inc.: “Sell when you are ready to sell, and buy when you are ready to buy.”
The Most Competitive Markets
Now, competing as a purchaser is always a possibility in any price point. This is driven by a seller’s strategy. Some sellers can choose to market their home under the going market price in order to move a home sooner versus later. This does not mean the sellers are in distress or the property is falling apart. Sellers do this at times just to make their move easier and faster.
The Amazon Effect — in this case, the comparatively low number of homes on the market — has been the most notable in Alexandria and Arlington in price points under $900,000.
What Does That Mean?
Virginia selling tactics and competition have been progressively picking up, following the trend we see with the D.C. market having grown hotter and hotter over the last 5-7 years with increased new construction. With many agents in our area being licensed in D.C. and Virginia, the strategies to win out on a competing situation used in Virginia began to mimic what D.C. licensed agents had been doing for years: Escalating in price, waiving inspections (or completing them before the offer was submitted), and taking on more risk during the appraisal contingencies.
Sellers have a bit more control in negotiations and receiving multiple bids on their home over list price. As a buyer, this could mean that you write a few more offers, but do know that this does not mean you have to “overpay” for a home.
The Amazon Effect is nothing that our DMV has not seen before. If you are looking to purchase under the $900,000 price point, be assured that it is very possible to buy a great home at a great price when going in with a strong strategic offer. And sellers in this same price point, be sure to still give your home all the best finishing touches to show well and review your neighborhood comparable sales before selecting your final price.
No, home prices have not doubled — but you are in a very fortunate position to be getting some of the highest prices ever in your neighborhood and you can receive offers with less contingencies which otherwise could have cost you more money.
If you would like a question answered in our weekly column or to set up an appointment with one of our Associates, please email: [email protected] or call 703-549-9292.
McEnearney Associates Realtors®, 109 S. Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. www.McEnearney.com Equal Housing Opportunity. #WeAreAlexandria
In a rare joint meeting of top Alexandria and Arlington officials, the two communities laid the foundation for a closer collaboration on affordable housing.
Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson and the City Council met with the Arlington County Board last night (Tuesday) at Arlington’s Gunston Community Center after Wilson’s proposal to meet on a flotilla of lashed-together kayaks in Four Mile Run was shot down. There was very little set in stone at the meeting, but the gathering allowed both organizations to set priorities for policy goals as they prepare for Amazon’s HQ2, the new Virginia Tech Innovation Campus, and a new George Mason University School of Computing.
“The work around Potomac Yard is different and groundbreaking,” Wilson said. “If we’re not intentional and deliberate, things will just happen to us. We have a chance to get ahead of things. I’m hoping to set a course that our staff can get to work on all of these policy areas.”
“I’m very excited for this step,” Wilson continued. “This is the start of a journey for us and there are a lot of folks rooting for us.”
There was some early discussion of new governing bodies being established to facilitate collaborative efforts across local boundaries. Arlington County Board Chair Christian Dorsey raised the possibility of establishing a community development corporation — a 501c3 with he described as being capable of a great deal of flexibility. The idea, however, was tabled for the time being.
“There are a few different concepts that have been tried elsewhere and have been put in place in our respective communities,” said Dorsey. “We can have a variety of governance models with a broad representation of stakeholders. There is an endless number of configurations we can use and get all the benefits of an independent nonprofit.”
For the most part, the two governing bodies mingled seamlessly — though frequent, joking barbs were traded back and forth, with Arlington at one point threatening to annex Del Ray. Both organizations shared almost identical concerns about the upcoming arrival of Amazon, particularly on the headquarters’ impact on local affordable housing.
Councilwoman Redella “Del” Pepper said many of Alexandria’s most vulnerable populations feel that the loss of affordable housing in the region is a foregone conclusion and some were starting to flee Alexandria before rising costs pushed them out.
It’s a tough time for many businesses around the city, but there are also opportunities.
We a look through Alexandria listings of the website BizBuySell and found a number of businesses for sale. Many of the businesses are restaurants, which have taken a significant hit in the last several months due to the pandemic.
The website aggregates numerous business sale listings. The names of the businesses and their locations are generally left out of the listing.
Reasons for selling, when provided, typically do not mention economic hardship, but more often involve the owner retiring or not having time to actively manage the business.
Here are some that are currently listed in Alexandria:
- Fitness Center/Personal Training Gym — “This is a franchised 24 hour fitness center, located in one of the most lucrative areas of the country. Just down the road from the new Amazon HQ, this business has been profitable for more than 10 years. If you’ve ever wanted to get into the fitness business, this will be your best opportunity. Second nearby location also available.”
- Absentee-Owner Gourmet Pizza & Italian With Loyal Following — “This high-visibility restaurant has long been a destination and neighborhood favorite with locals – it continues to enjoy a following as a gourmet take-out option for pizza and all Italian cuisine favorites. Purchased in 2019 as a decades-old chef-owned establishment, the new owner invested in a complete turn around, nearly doubling sales and converting the business model to absentee ownership. Owner has refrained from applying for PPP or other SBA loans so that new owner might be able to take advantage of those opportunities.”
- Beautiful Hair & Nail Spa for Sale/ Price reduced — “Great opportunity!!! Serious Inquiries only. Beautiful and well established Hair & Nail Spa for Sale in a very busy shopping center. Seller is retiring after many successful years in the business. Beautiful & Very efficiently designed. 6 years old Spa. Established, loyal customers. Reasonable rent & excellent location. 10 Hair stations, 5 Dryers, 3 Shampoo stations, 8 Manicure Tables, 8 Pedicure chairs, 3 Waxing rooms, 2 Facial Rooms, 1 Body scrub. There is plenty of room to expand. Room to grow by improving social media and other marketing and adding massage service.”
- Restaurant & Bar Approved for Hookah MRB VA 943 — “HOOKAH CAN BE ADDED. APPROVED BY LANDLORD. Profitable restaurant, bar & lounge for sale in Alexandria. Hookah will drastically increase sales and profits. Currently patrons can enjoy live bands, dancing, DJs and karaoke nightly. With a capacity of 370, this 2 level establishment is perfect for private events, birthdays or work outings. The first floor is separated into two rooms with a dining area, bar and dance floor with stage/DJ booth while the 2nd room has a large bar, DJ booth and dance floor. The top floor is used for the current owners office, as well as storage, bathrooms and employee lounge.”
- Unique Restaurant for Sale in VA — “Unique Restaurant- 9,970 SF. Price Reduction. This business must be visited to be appreciated. It offers 9,970 sf with 2 full dining rooms (70 seats in each dining room) and 3 bars (100 bar seats in total). It is one of the few locations in the area that can accommodate multiple, large, separate dining events (private parties, fundraisers, etc. There is a huge kitchen with new compressors on all refrigeration, 3 walk-ins and a large basement for storage. They are currently open 6 days. This year sales are averaging 48-51K/wk with consistent growth ($2.7 mil. in gross sales projected for this year) with a net profit of approx. $265,000.00.”
- Sandwich Shop/Deli Alexandria Va — “I have a client who is ready to retire and has a sandwich shop/deli ready to sell. NO BROKERS. Substantial net positive cash flow after 31 years in business. Excellent old town location. Extended Lease. Business currently operates 6 days per week for breakfast and lunch until 6 so opportunity to extend hours and days under current SUP. No alcohol but license possible. Delivery and growing catering business add to profits. Accountant attested books. Must have a friendly personality to be successful. Employees likely to stay. NDA required for confidentiality. Great opportunity for hard working entrepreneur.”
- Mexican Restaurant and Bar — “This Profitable Mexican Restaurant for Sale has been open and operating profitably for eight years. The location is on a high traffic road and surrounded by residential. This is a turnkey situation on a restaurant that has been grossing in excess of $840,000 annually with profits to an absentee owner of $80,000 annually. Nice full service bar. Outdoor Seating!! Great opportunity for a new on hand owner/operator to take this business to the next level. “
- 5 Days Open Deli in office Complex — “Italian gourmet deli sandwich shop running 5 days (7AM ~9PM). Nestled in a well known office and residential complex.”
- Established & Well-Known Hair Salon in Old Town Alexandria — “Great opportunity to own a well-known hair salon that has been established for over 30 years in Old Town Alexandria. The business is ideally located on a prominent thoroughfare with excellent street visibility. The salon owners have done an excellent job building a successful salon with reliable revenue and cash flow over the years. There is a stable client base, but there is also plenty of room to grow and expand the business.”
- Asian Restaurant and Sushi Bar for Sale — “Established Business for Sale. Owner is looking to retire from business. All equipment is owned and in good condition, except the dishwasher is leased. Asking price is negotiable, send your offers!”
- Specialty Gift & Souvenir Boutique in the Heart of Old Town Alexandria — “Unique opportunity to own a specialty gift and souvenir shop in the heart of the Old Town Alexandria. The boutique is located in a high traffic part of Old Town and has been a destination shopping destination to both locals and tourists for decades.”
See more Alexandria listings here.
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®.
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 $103 million in 2019.
This week, our Just Listed property is a little different. We’re giving you a sneak peek look at one of the hottest properties in Alexandria soon to hit the market. This home has the space, detail and location you have been looking for. Ideally situated in a quiet cul-de-sac on a popular, tree-lined street in the eagerly sought-after Beverley Hills. It is truly a family sanctuary and an entertainer’s dream. This enchanting four-bedroom home has been wonderfully renovated and maintained. A dramatic two-story foyer greets you upon entering the home.
The main floor features include a spectacular, natural light-filled, open-concept chef’s kitchen with custom cabinetry, granite countertops and high-end GE Monogram stainless-steel appliances. 48″ range (6-burners, double ovens with convection, indoor grill, professional range hood, infrared warming lamps), additional built-in oven with Advantium speedcook halogen light technology, 42″ built-in counter depth refrigerator and silent Bosch low decibel level dishwasher.
The kitchen opens up to the bright family room lined with large windows and multiple French door direct access to the expansive main deck and adjoining eat-in kitchen nook. A large bank of cabinets and storage off the kitchen is anchored by an additional prep sink, work area, and 56-bottle wine refrigerator, perfect for all of your favorite reds and whites. The banquet-sized dining room easily seats 10+ guests for an amazing dinner party prepared in the gourmet kitchen. The main level also includes a separate den/office with custom bookcases.
A sunroom with a ceiling of skylights connected to the first-floor bedroom offers a sun-soaked relaxation area. It includes an adjoining full bath and can easily serve as an in-law/nanny suite or even be sealed off for a private Airbnb or income-producing retreat. The main level also includes recessed and custom lighting (with dimmers) throughout and the house is wired for sound with integrated Bowers & Wilkins speakers.
The upper level has three spacious bedrooms and two full bathrooms. Vaulted ceilings highlight the master suite and the master bath includes a skylight, luxurious steam shower and Jacuzzi tub. French doors off the master lead to a large deck overlooking the tree-lined back yard and Monticello Park. The house size is doubled by expansive outdoor relaxing and entertainment spaces in both front and back.
Real estate investment company CIM Group recently purchased large apartment community Southern Towers, Costar first reported, but what’s unclear now is what that means for affordable housing in the city’s West End.
Southern Towers is a 2,261-unit apartment complex that is one of the city’s last large bastions of market-rate affordable and committed affordable units — units that are required to remain at a certain affordability. Helen McIlvaine, director of the city’s Office of Housing, said Southern Towers has 105 committed affordable units that were mostly established in the mid-2010s.
“They are ten-year units,” McIlvaine said. “Even at that time, property ownership had shifted to the next generation, and they didn’t feel in a position to make a longer term commitment… They’re pretty far into that life span. They have a number of start and end dates, but the last of them expires early 2028.”
Some of those were rented out in 2015 and 2016 and their committed affordable status could disappear in the next couple years.
McIlvaine said the city is maintaining discussions with the CIM Group, but that nothing has been set into stone yet for the property’s committed affordable units.
The city has had a working relationship with the company, which also owns the Mason at Van Dorn units near Landmark Mall. McIlvaine said the CIM Group has been a cooperative partner in earlier discussions about establishing rent relief for local residents during the pandemic.
“We said our desire was to work with CIM group and continue to support Southern Towers residents that are experiencing income loss,” McIlvaine said.
McIlvaine said the discussion about rent relief is still ongoing. The City of Alexandria is offering rental assistance up to $1,800 for those who lost their income due to COVID-19. Those interested in rent relief can contact the city during business hours at 703-746-3100. Qualifying residents must live in Alexandria, have a documented loss of income, have been current on their rent through March, and fall within income eligibility guidelines. (more…)
This week’s Q&A column is written by David Howell, Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer, of McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant market news, contact David at 703-738-9513 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.
Question: How did the real estate market for the first half of 2020 compare to 2019 in the City of Alexandria?
Answer: As was true across the globe, the COVID-19 pandemic had significant impact on Alexandria’s real estate market. From January 1 to March 15 of this year when the COVID-induced shut down orders began, total new contract activity in Alexandria was almost identical to that of the equivalent time period of 2019. The market was off to a solid start and would have been even stronger had there been a greater inventory of available homes. More on that in just a moment.
Beginning in mid-March it became more challenging to physically show homes, and consumers were correctly concerned about going out. The chart below shows the significant drop in showing activity (2020’s activity is the green line) that reached the bottom of the trough in mid-April and began to reach “normal” levels by mid-May as phased re-openings began.
In June, reflecting the pent-up demand, showing activity eclipsed last year’s activity. And contract activity unsurprisingly reflected the drop in showing activity. From mid-March through the end of June, there was a 13% drop in the number of newly ratified contracts in Alexandria. Condos — almost half of Alexandria’s market — were hit a little harder with a 14% drop, while attached and detached homes were off 11%.
The other big story in Alexandria is the shortage of inventory. In the first half of 2017, there was an average of 412 available homes on the market at the end of the month. In the first half of 2018 that had dropped to 378 and after the Amazon HQ2 announcement inventory plummeted to an average of just 178.
Inventory has not rebounded, as the average month-end inventory is now just 173. That means the market has essentially half of “normal” inventory levels, and buyers are returning to the market more rapidly than sellers.
Despite the market contraction brought on by COVID-19, we expect to see very tight supply for the foreseeable future, which is great for sellers and a bit challenging for buyers. That tight supply will keep upward pressure on home prices.
For more in-depth, local real estate news and to search for your next home, please visit our website.
If you would like a question answered in our weekly column or to set up an appointment with one of our Associates, please email: [email protected] or call 703-549-9292.
McEnearney Associates Realtors®, 109 S. Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. www.McEnearney.com Equal Housing Opportunity. #WeAreAlexandria
The former Pines of Florence and Aftertime Comics buildings at 1300 and 1304 King Street may not stand out much to the casual Old Town visitor, but faded brick buildings have a historic legacy that a new development hopes to bring out again.
The property at 1300 King Street is being redeveloped with an L-shaped building that will have 33 multifamily units over ground-floor retail, Washington Business Journal reported. Though it’s just one building, the project’s design is aimed to appear like two: with a red brick building facing King Street and a grey brick one facing S. Payne Street.
Part of the development will include some restoration of the historic buildings at 1300 King Street. According to the staff report:
Ethelyn Cox states in Historic Alexandria, Street by Street, that the building at 1300 King Street was built in 1813 and that the building at 1304 King Street was constructed between 1800-1805. Material details observed on site visits by staff confirm that construction period. Both masonry buildings are two-stories in height with three bays and metal-clad gable roofs. The corner property has had several one and two-story rear additions over the years, with commercial uses fronting on King Street and service and automobile related uses on the South Payne Street elevation.
However, before there was area was protected as part of the Old & Historic Alexandria District, permits show in 1957 the building was covered with a faux stone attached with stucco. The staff report says that the bondstone — the brand name for the faux stone used in the ’50s — should be removed with the original brickwork exposed. The stucco damaged the original brick finish, however, so the masonry will need to be repainted and repaired during the redevelopment.
The new designs for the residential building west of the historic property also include a distinctive balcony with metal tracery reminiscent of the New Orleans French Quarter.
The project is scheduled to go to the Board of Architectural Review tomorrow (Wednesday).
The ACT Now COVID-19 Response Fund has raised more than $777,000 from 780 donors, and has given away $619,000 to 67 nonprofits in and around Alexandria.
“There is nothing like the power of collective action, when we all take a small step that can add up to something really big,”ACT for Alexandria Executive Director Heather Peeler told ALXnow.
Peeler and her staff of four employees and two interns have been busy in recent weeks. In addition to the ACT Now COVID-19 Response Fund, they also organized and managed the Spring2ACTion fundraiser on April 15, which broke the city’s one-day giving record by raising $2.45 million for Alexandria nonprofits.
“We have an incredible team. Everybody is really focused on doing what we can to support the community,” she said.
The city donated $200,000 to the fund, Amazon donated $200,ooo and $76,000 was raised by Spring2ACTion.
The fund awards $10,000 grants, and nonprofits can apply for more than one grant. Some organizations have received as many as three separate ACT Now COVID-19 Response Fund grants.
“We intentionally wanted to make the grant process flexible, because needs are evolving in the community,” Peeler said. “But we didn’t want to award out all the money all at once. That’s why we set the $10,000 limit, but organizations can ask every week, essentially, for more funding.”
Peeler has set a personal goal of raising $1 million by the end of the summer.
“We are asking community members to continue to keep the fund in mind as they think about ways to support Alexandria at this time,” she said.
Social distancing got you feeling a little stir crazy? A few Alexandria businesses are hosting quarantine-friendly online activities to help keep you connected to your neighbors and favorite local establishments.
Hops N Shine, a Del Ray bar with an ongoing fundraiser for laid-off employees, is hosting a virtual beer tasting on Thursday (April 30). The tasting, hosted by Hops N Shine on Facebook live, will feature the Ashburn-based Old Ox Brewing Company and four beers — the Festival, Hoppy Place, and two more yet to be named.
To participate, Hops N Shine encourages viewers to join in by buying their own selection.
Lost Boy Cider is hosting a similar happy hour discussion every Wednesday at 4 p.m. with industry insiders discussing the state and taste of all things cider. This week Jay Brandish, retired Navy veteran and founder of Red Clay Ciderworks in North Carolina, is the featured guest.
For those with children, there are other youth-friendly activities sponsored by the city. The Animal Welfare League of Alexandria is hosting a weekly animal talk on Saturday mornings, from 9:30-10 a.m. The series is aimed at elementary school-aged children and helps teach them about crafts and careers related to caring for animals.
Image via Lost Boy Cider/Facebook