Inova Alexandria Hospital rezoned to allow Landmark project to move forward — “Inova’s Alexandria hospital campus is now zoned to allow for future residential development, after city council voted 7-0 to allow the rezoning to make it easier for Inova to sell the Seminary Hill hospital land to a developer.” [Alexandria Living]
New Harris Teeter grand opening set in Alexandria — “A new Harris Teeter grocery store in Alexandria is holding a grand opening on Wednesday, June 23 beginning at 8 a.m. at 4550 King St., in the West Alex development at the corner of King and Beauregard streets.” [Alexandria Living]
Little Theatre of Alexandria presents ‘Will Rogers’ USA’ at Fort Ward Park on July 3 — “Covid-19 is not keeping the Little Theatre of Alexandria down! LTA is coming back in 2021 even stronger than ever, and to prove it, they are presenting a delightful (and free!) evening of Will Rogers’ USA, in the Fort Ward Park Amphitheater off West Braddock Road, Alexandria, 7 pm, July 3.” [Zebra]
Today’s weather — “Mainly sunny (during the day). High 77F. Winds NE at 5 to 10 mph… Clear skies (in the evening). Low 57F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]
New job: Server at Cafe 44 — “Café 44 is a stylish American eatery situated along the Waterfront in Old Town Alexandria. We cater to a local crowd, attracting those who appreciate a spectacular view, quality food, great wine and craft cocktails. Whether you are a regular or a first-time guest, you are received with warmth and enthusiasm. Known as a hidden gem, we’re the ideal place to gather with family and friends.” [Indeed]
The Twig donates $150K to Inova Alexandria Hospital — “During their annual luncheon Tuesday morning, The Twig (Together We Ignite Giving), the junior auxiliary unit for Inova Alexandria Hospital, presented a $150,000 check to the institution as part of its $1 million pledge to renovate the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit.” [Zebra]
Amazon and Metro announce $125M plan to make 1,000 affordable housing units near Metro stations — “This represents another return on the region’s extraordinary investment in mass transit, as the partnership with Amazon will accelerate transit-oriented development, grow ridership, and keep our region competitive with other global economic centers,” said Metro Board Chair Paul Smedberg. “Amazon is stepping up to the plate with an unprecedented commitment to affordable housing in the National Capital Region.” [WMATA]
Sheriff’s deputies and police officers graduate from Northern Virginia Criminal Justice Training Academy — “The new law enforcement officers successfully completed 20 weeks of training, including emergency vehicle operations, firearms training, defensive and control tactics, crash investigation, basic legal training, and other important areas. Some Alexandria members of this class distinguished themselves, with Officer Stephen Weidman earning top honors in the Emergency Vehicle Operations Course and Officer Yadiel Nuñez having the second highest score in Firearms.” [Zebra]
Today’s weather — “Sunny skies. High near 80F. Winds NNW at 5 to 10 mph… Some clouds early will give way to generally clear conditions overnight. Low 58F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]
New job: Bartender/Server/Runner — “The Old Dominion Boat Club is looking to hire servers, bartenders, and food runners. We have competitive pay and participate in a very healthy and robust tip share.” [Indeed]
Alexandria Hospital President Dr. Rina Bansal asks residents to get vaccinated — “A healthy person can get COVID and survive, and if you have already had it, you may still have the antibodies to keep you safe for a period of time. But what about your community? It may not be readily apparent that a family member, friend or neighbor has an underlying health condition that puts them at higher risk for hospitalization or even death from COVID-19. Your choice to not be vaccinated isn’t just putting you at risk, it can impact so many others around you.” [ALXnow]
Historic Building that inspired ‘Mercy Street’ to be private residence, museum offices — “The building was converted into the Mansion House Hotel and served as a Union Hospital during the Civil War. Green and the hospital were depicted in the TV drama series “Mercy Street,” which aired on PBS from 2016-2017. NOVA Parks has owned the property since 1970, using it as office space and leasing the rest of the space to other companies. In 2019, NOVA Parks announced that it was marketing the sale or lease of the building.” [Alexandria Living]
Barkhaus expands outdoor play area for pets — “The new off-leash dog park attached to Barkhaus, at 529 E. Howell Ave., is more than twice as large as the old park and is furnished with umbrellas, lounge chairs, ice baths, mist and is partially turfed. This meant moving the parking to 516 E. Bellefonte Ave., behind the restaurant.” [Alexandria Living]
Today’s weather — “Some clouds in the morning will give way to mainly sunny skies for the afternoon. High 79F. Winds NW at 10 to 15 mph… Partly cloudy (in the evening). Low 57F. Winds NNW at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]
New job: Full-time assistant store manager at Aldi— “When you join our team as an Assistant Store Manager, you’ll take on key store management responsibilities including assisting with supervising day-to-day store activities, ensuring overall store performance, managing schedules, and developing operational action plans while identifying training opportunities to develop and grow the team.” [Indeed]
The controversy over the Seminary Road Diet has been front and center this election season, with a majority of City Council candidates saying they will vote to reverse it if elected.
Even Mayor Justin Wilson seems open to tweaking the plan, while his opponent, former Mayor Allison Silberberg is for fully returning the four travel lanes on the one mile of roadway next to Inova Alexandria Hospital.
Currently, the City has no plans to widen Seminary Road nor any estimates on how to do so, according to an email from the Alexandria Department of Transportation and Environmental Services. The stretch between N. Quaker Lane and Howard Street was reduced from four to two lanes, and a center turn lane, bike lanes, crosswalks and medians were added. Sidewalks were also installed on both sides of the street.
The City received thousands of emails and messages against the plan. Shortly after its approval in 2019, City Councilwoman Amy Jackson even tried to get it reversed, although her motion failed for lack of a gaining a second.
City staff estimated after the road diet’s implementation that fully reverting it back to its former self would cost up to $700,000, according to a Feb. 2020 presentation to Council. Replacing the two standard islands with mountable islands would cost $40,000, and it would also cost $300,000 to erase the roadway markings and re-patch the areas with asphalt. Additionally, it is estimated that micro-surfacing the roadway would also cost $500,000.
Shortly before the road diet’s 4-3 Council passage, however, city staff also presented a $150,000 alternative.
“Staff provided this estimate before a conceptual alternative was adopted and before the City’s interdisciplinary team developed detailed design plans,” City staff told ALXnow. “The $300,000 to $700,000 range of estimates were developed post-construction with current (at that time) costs and design plans that were implemented to reflect what would need to be demolished and removed to revert to a four-lane cross section. Further estimating and actual quotes will need to be developed based off the specific Council direction.”
While much attention is being paid to Inova Health System’s plans for Landmark Mall, the hospital is also slowly moving forward with plans to convert the existing hospital space to houses.
At the June 1 Planning Commission meeting, Inova is seeking to have the land use designation for the hospital at 4320 Seminary Road changed from industrial to medium residential — in keeping with the housing type throughout much of the surrounding Seminary Hill neighborhood.
“The proposed ‘Residential Medium’ land use designation is in character with the predominant residential land uses in the Seminary Hill/Strawberry Hill Small Area Plan,” staff said in a report. “As the hospital is planning to relocate to Landmark Mall, changing the land use designation from ‘Institutional’ to ‘Residential Medium’ will benefit the surrounding properties by reducing the impacts of the existing hospital use.”
The report also said that changing the use will reduce the overall impact of the site on local traffic and on the sanitary sewer capacity.
“Future redevelopment consistent with the RB zoning will be designed to meet current stormwater management requirements, which are much more stringent than when the hospital and subsequent additions were built,” the report said. “New streets, parking, and fire access will be provided with any future redevelopment plan and will be designed to meet all applicable City standards.”
The report noted, however, that any development at the site is still at least seven years off.
“The hospital will remain on the Property until approximately 2028 when the new hospital at Landmark Mall is completed,” the report said. “As such, any additional student generation would not be realized until the construction of the new residential development is complete (approximately two years after 2028) and can be accommodated at that time through renovated and planned school facilities in the West End.”
T.C. Williams completes comeback to win school’s first volleyball state championship — “For a moment, T.C. Williams sophomore Milan Rex was scared. The Titans were trailing Kellam two sets to one in the Virginia Class 6 championship Friday in Alexandria, and the chance at a perfect season seemed to be fading. Coach A.J. DeSain reminded the Titans they belonged in this moment, enabling Rex to lock in. She then powered T.C. Williams to a 23-25, 25-19, 18-25, 25-19, 17-15 victory — the program’s first state title. [Washington Post]
Mayor Wilson defends donation from Planning Commission Chair — “Planning Commission Chair Nathan Macek gave Wilson a donation the day after Wilson voted with the majority of council to reappoint Macek to his post. Macek’s employer, the engineering firm WSP, has played a leading role in numerous large projects in Alexandria, including the under-construction Potomac Yard Metro.” [Alex Times]
ACPS shifting to three-foot distancing in classrooms — “With our work to reconfigure our classrooms to three feet of physical distance between students, we will have all classrooms reconfigured and our strategy to accommodate lunch by April 26 which will allow us to transition more students after April 27. Read more about the planning and implementation process below.” [ACPS]
Alexandria Police hang out with ARHA residents — “We had a great time spending time with the Princess Square community this morning. Our officers had fun on the playground with the kids. Thank you ARHA for inviting us to stop by.” [Twitter]
Inova Landmark named ‘Deal of 2020’ by Washington Business Journal — “I constantly hear ‘I’ll believe it when I see it.’ … But the hard part is done. It was about assembling the right players and having the will to get it done.” [Washington Business Journal]
Wilson, Chapman, Aguirre, McPike and Gaskins gets rush of endorsements — “The decisions to be made are tough and require bold, consensus-building leadership. We are encouraged by the number of candidates stepping forward to run for City Council and Mayor this year. We think there are some in particular that stand out as ready to lead us through the recovery.” [Alexandria Forward]
Handgun and animal bones found in Potomac River cleanup — “There was an interesting discovery during an Earth Day river clean-up along the Alexandria waterfront today. A handgun and what were determined to be animal bones were found. The weapon was determined to be many years old. Thank you for calling APD!” [Facebook]
Today’s weather — “Sunny skies (during the day). High 67F. Winds NW at 10 to 15 mph… Clear to partly cloudy (in the evening). Low 47F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]
New job: Worship producer — “The Worship Producer supports the communications ministry at Aldersgate United Methodist Church (AUMC). As part of the staff team, the Producer will design and create video and media content for in-person and online worship (which may also be used for marketing and promotional purposes) and will be responsible for online streaming of Sunday morning worship. The Producer, assisted by other church leaders, will build a video ministry volunteer team to assist them in designing, creating, and sharing content video content for the church.” [Indeed]
Alexandria sixth most diverse midsize city in U.S. — “To determine the places in the U.S. with the most mixed demographics, WalletHub compared the profiles of more than 500 of the largest cities across five major diversity categories: socioeconomic, cultural, economic, household and religious. Alexandria ranks 18th overall but 6th among midsize cities.” [Alexandria Living]
Inova hosting virtual meeting on rezoning proposal — “Inova Health System will hold a third virtual community information meeting on May 3, from 6 – 7 p.m. to discuss the proposed master plan amendment and rezoning of the Inova Alexandria Hospital property at 4320 and 4250 Seminary Road. In order to facilitate the relocation of the hospital from its current location on Seminary Road to Landmark Mall, Inova will request to rezone the existing hospital site to allow for single family, duplex, and townhome residential uses.” [City of Alexandria]
City hosting meeting on redevelopment of Potomac River Generating Station property — “On Thursday, April 29 at 6 p.m., the City will host the second in a series of virtual community meetings regarding the transformation of the Potomac River Generating Site (PRGS) in the Old Town North. The meeting will focus on reviewing the 2017 Old Town North Small Area Plan (OTN SAP), which includes a framework for redevelopment on the site. Staff will also provide an update on implementation efforts since the Plan’s adoption.” [City of Alexandria]
Today’s weather — “Sunshine (during the day). High near 75F. Winds SW at 10 to 15 mph… Clear skies with a few passing clouds (in the evening). Low 56F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]
New job: Commercial and residential painter — “Tech Painting Company is seeking full-time painters. We offer competitive pay plus benefits. Though having painting experience is a plus, it is not required. We are looking for people who work hard, have a positive attitude, and are eager to learn. You must also be a team player, follow direction well, and be reliable.” [Indeed]
The new center is the end result of what officials described as a “Herculean effort” at collaboration between Fairfax County, the City of Alexandria and Inova.
“There is palpable hope and excitement,” said Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson, echoing earlier comments from the first vaccination event at ACPS. “The beginning of the end is here.”
The long vacant, unfinished interior office of the Victory Center was reconfigured and redesigned to support the mass-vaccination usage, with rows and rows of stations between the unfinished furnishings that are a reminder of the building’s former disuse.
Dr. Stephen Jones, President and CEO of Inova, said the facility will open by the end of the month with the expectation of dispensing 6,000 vaccines per day, provided those vaccines are available. That could double if the supply of doses increase, though Jones said he is wary of making predictions on vaccine availability.
While the project is a major boost to the region’s capacity, leaders recognized that the choke point remains supply.
“Supply continues to be our greatest limiting factor,” said Jones.
Wilson said earlier that the city is receiving roughly 3,000 doses weekly, which includes second doses for those who already had their first. This is an increase over the 2,000 weekly doses the city had been receiving, but still means that it could be late summer before many residents get vaccinated at the current rate. Many teachers are still struggling to get access to vaccines even as they’re expected to return to school, and the city just opened the current phase of vaccination to restaurant workers.
Jeff McKay, Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, said Fairfax also recently increased its vaccine supply and expects more in the coming weeks. McKay noted that the new facility is designed to meet a potential increase in supply to prevent vaccines from going unused.
“Roughly half of Fairfax County residents are currently eligible for the vaccine,” said McKay. “We get 19,000 doses every week, which is up from 13,000 weeks ago. We were told by the [state] to expect a major increase in doses in the coming weeks. We want to have the infrastructure to take care of those doses. We can’t control the dosage, but what is in our control is capacity.”
“We’ve seen areas where the vaccine has sat unused, but that’s not true in Northern Virginia,” Jones added. “We want to be sure that doesn’t happen.”
Jones said the Victory Center was ideal not only for the available interior space, but for its proximity to the Beltway and transit options — there’s a Metrobus stop out front and the Van Dorn Street Metro station is just a short walk to the west.
Jones thanked Alexandria for simplifying a potentially several-month development process down to a few weeks.
Jones clarified that queuing for the vaccine doesn’t require a credit check or insurance — though the latter is optional — but will require patients to provide the last four digits of their social security number. The requirement provides a hurdle for undocumented residents of the region, many whom live in some of the city’s most vulnerable populations, but Jones said it’s necessary to verify the identity of those who receive the vaccine.
“We do require the last four of the social security number to confirm people’s identity,” Jones said. “It’s been heartbreaking to be at the front door when people come up and we don’t have a way to verify who they are.”
McKay said Fairfax County has partnered with organizations like Neighborhood Health to provide access to the vaccine for those who might not otherwise have the required documentation, and Alexandria has similar partnerships that have solidified over the course of the pandemic.
“If someone is not a citizen we have ways to refer them to [resources],” McKay said. “A lot of these people are in high risk situations… We want every person who can be vaccinated to get the vaccine.”
Jones also noted that Inova has been running a program called Inova Cares Clinics designed specifically to cater towards underserved communities.
Hospital workers are on the front line of the pandemic in the city, and the DRBA campaign is just the latest of numerous efforts to show appreciation.
“Here’s the important thing to know — every dollar that you contribute will go directly for a meal for a local hero,” according to DRBA. “To show our gratitude and support, our community is undertaking two initaitives. One is a letter writing campaign that will be delivered to Inova Hospital workers for Valentine’s Day and the second is a fundraiser to fund meals provided by our local Del Ray restaurants.”
Here’s how it works:
- Contribute funds to provide a meal or meals to healthcare workers and their essential teams – every $15 purchases a meal! Our goal is to raise $3,750 to purchase 250 meals for the workers
- Write a thank you letter or make a card, to be presented to workers at INOVA Alexandria Hospital on Saturday, February 6 from 8am to 12pm, or leave them in the basket on the porch at 110 E. Del Ray Avenue
Beyer: Trump Must Be Removed — Rep. Don Beyer: “Donald Trump is a danger to our democracy. I continue to support his impeachment and removal from office, and am looking carefully at new articles of impeachment being drafted and offered by my colleagues… Congress must ensure Trump’s removal from office by the swiftest and surest method available: confirmation of the American people’s will as expressed in the 2020 election.” [Press Release]
Current Inova Site to Become Residential Development — “At an online community meeting Wednesday evening, attorney Cathy Puskar said the hospital will be requesting a rezoning of its current Seminary Road/Howard Street property to allow a future developer to build single family detached homes and townhomes. The current hospital is surrounded by single family homes and multifamily units.” [Alexandria Living Magazine]
Local Experts Suggest Gentle New Year’s Resolutions — “For 2021, local mental health professionals advise being gentle with yourself when creating the daily schedules and resolutions that often come with the beginning of the New Year. As many are feeling drained and defeated after a tumultuous 2020, making tiny, downsized resolutions can offer reassurance and hope as we embark on a new year.” [Alexandria Gazette]
Local Historian to Host Lecture on Washington Presidency — “Alexandria resident Dr. Lindsay M. Chervinsky will host the virtual lecture “George Washington and France” on Thursday, Jan. 7. Chervinsky, who is a former White House Historian at the White House Historical Association, wrote about Washington and his cabinet for a recent book.” [Zebra]
The Unofficial History of the Hard Times Horse — “The horse and 1941 Chevy pick-up truck is another one of the legacies left by Fred Parker, who died in April after a battle with cancer. The horse and truck have stood proudly in front of the restaurant and have been featured in local parades.” [Alexandria Living Magazine]
Staff photo by Jay Westcott