What an unexpectedly busy summer week in Alexandria. Here’s the rundown.

Our top story was on an Alexandria woman who claims she was roofied at a restaurant on the waterfront on the evening of July 9. A police report has been filed, and no charges have been made.

This week we sat down with acting Police Chief Don Hayes, who said that he’s thrown his hat in the ring with City Manager Mark Jinks to keep the top job. Hayes, a 40-year veteran of the Alexandria Police Department took over after the sudden departure of Chief Michael Brown last month, and will have to contend against candidates in a national search.

The Tokyo Olympics also start this week, and the games will include three T.C. Williams High School graduates — sprinter Noah Lyles, high-jumper Tynita Butts-Townsend and boxer Troy Isley. In fact, Lyles just had a comic book biography published in the Washington Post. If you’re a fan of the Olympic games, check out this list of local restaurants celebrating with special events and meals.

Important stories

Top stories

  1. Woman claims she was roofied at Old Town restaurant
  2. Residents protest against conditions at West End apartment complex
  3. Developers eye Beauregard redevelopment with West End upgrades on the horizon
  4. Former chef at ‘The Alexandrian’ opening new restaurant in Arlandria on Monday
  5. No injuries after shots fired in Braddock area on Wednesday
  6. DASH takes lessons from D.C., Baltimore and Oregon in eliminating bus fares
  7. ‘Call Your Mother Deli’ signs lease in Old Town
  8. After last month’s Democratic primary, Republican Darryl Nirenberg tops campaign donation leaderboard
  9. New city health improvement plan aims to fix inequities
  10. Poll: Have you been to the Winkler Botanical Preserve?
  11. Lee-Fendall House to throw speakeasy party to finance building repairs

Have a safe weekend!

0 Comments

Where you live in Alexandria can determine your life expectancy, and a newly released City plan is focusing on removing the effects of decades of discriminatory practices.

The Community Health Improvement Plan 2025 (CHIP) is a blueprint to address poverty, mental health, and housing policies and systems in the city. For instance, the average life expectancy in the city’s heavily Hispanic Arlandria neighborhood is 78, while more affluent areas like Old Town have a life expectancy of 87.

“These differences are a result of decades of discriminatory policies and systems that are now built into City processes, our environment, and how community and organizational decisions are made,” notes the CHIP. ” The global pandemic, economic crisis, and racial and social injustice in 2020 only exacerbated these differences in health.”

Hundreds of city residents participated in the creation of the document, which includes numerous priorities highlighted in the 2019 Community Health Assessment, including housing, mental health, and poverty as areas needing improvement.

“Each priority area contains strategies, tactics, timelines, progress measures and tactic owners (the responsible organization or institution) to ensure accountability and effective implementation,” the city said.

Each priority area has an organization that has agreed to take it on.

As Alexandria contends with an affordable housing crisis, one goal would add affordable housing units to new city government and recreational buildings. The city’s Office of Housing is partnering with the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership to devise strategies, which include the conversion of hotels into affordable housing apartment complexes.

The development of the CHIP coincided with the revision of the “Alexandria City Public Schools’ 2025 Strategic Plan” and the “Children and Youth Master Plan 2025, and the city says a “Unified Planning Team” will work toward community engagement opportunities and shared outcomes.

0 Comments

Rodrigo Ferman, a former chef at the The Alexandrian hotel in Old Town, is opening “Ferman Bar and Grill” in Arlandria on Monday, July 19.

Ferman, who cooked at The Alexandrian and Hotel Monaco for 15 years, spent the last three months renovating the interior of 4112 Mount Vernon Avenue. The space was formerly occupied by Chirilagua Pollo & Steak, and the overhaul includes new flooring, the installation of three new booths and an extended counter.

“To cook good food you need passion, and if you do things with passion they work out,” Ferman said. “It’s going to be a happy, exciting place.”

Ferman has applied for a beer and wine license and plans on serving Latin American cuisine with high-end American breakfasts and brunches on the weekends. Rotisserie Peruvian chicken and fajitas with all the fixings are still on the menu, and entrees will range between $10 and $15, he said.

Ferman and his wife lost their jobs last year, and got a third piece of shocking news — they were going to have a baby. Now, with a 15-month-old daughter, he says the time is now to open his first restaurant. He’s also working on a website for the business, as well as linking up with Uber Eats, Grubhub and DoorDash.

“I’m really good,” he said. “People will come to this shopping center just to eat at Ferman Bar and Grill.”

The restaurant will be open for breakfast at 6 a.m. and close at 10 p.m. every Sunday to Wednesday, and from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday to Saturday.

2 Comment

As the Alexandria Housing Development Corporation (AHDC) moves forward with its plans to build a 482-unit affordable housing complex in Chirilagua-Arlandria, the local non-profit unveiled the first renderings for the site and stats that raised some eyebrows online.

The City Council approved a loan for the AHDC project in May as part of an ongoing effort combat gentrification likely incoming with Amazon’s arrival in nearby Crystal City. The new development will come at the intersection of Mount Vernon and Glebe Road.

Of the units proposed, a quarter of them will be deeply affordable — meaning available for those earning up to 40% of area median income (AMI) and the rest will be a mix of available at 50, 60 and 60%. Units will range from one-to-three bedrooms in size.

The primary concern, raised on the Bring Integrity Back to Alexandria Facebook group, is that the site will only have 382 parking spaces for cars — 100 fewer than there are units in the building. The building will also have 150 spaces of bicycle parking.

AHDC is scheduled to hold two virtual meetings on the project — one in English and one in Spanish — on Wednesday, July 21. The Spanish session will run from 6-7 p.m. and the English session will run from 7-8 p.m. An in-person open house is scheduled for Aug. 10.

42 Comments

It was a quick week in Alexandria. Here’s the rundown.

With summer in full swing, three Alexandria athletes have made it on the U.S. Olympic Team — sprinter Noah Lyles, high-jumper Tynita Butts-Townsend and boxer Troy Isley.

In other sporting news, Old Town businesses beat Del Ray in a controversial softball game Wednesday, adding fuel to the fire of an intense rivalry.

It’s been super hot out lately, and the City urged caution and reminded residents to take advantage of special cooling centers.

On the COVID front, the city’s DASH bus service announced that one of its drivers passed away from complications from the virus.

Meanwhile, Mayor Justin Wilson believes that the city has met its 80% vaccination threshold, while Virginia Department of Health data says about 65% of residents over the age of 16 are partially vaccinated. The Alexandria Health Department, which just launched a COVID-19 test and vaccine pilot at T.C. Williams High School, says the data does not take into account city residents vaccinated in Washington, D.C., and Maryland.

It’s also July 4 weekend, and in this week’s poll we asked whether readers plan on traveling, with 67% of respondents voting to stay home, 27% opting to travel by car and just 6% traveling by air.

Important stories

Top stories

  1. Researchers call out shoddy craftsmanship in buried 18th century Alexandria ship
  2. Man suspected of raping 12-year-old stepdaughter in Landmark area flees to El Salvador
  3. Landmark Mall plan approved as Planning Commission demands better environmental considerations
  4. Alexandria leaders acknowledge serious security issues with elimination of school resource officer funding
  5. Shortened Alexandria Birthday celebration is still on for July 10
  6. Alexandria eyes bus rapid transit and bike lanes for Duke Street
  7. Parker-Gray tiny lot home moves forward with some unique challenges
  8. Alexandria woman dies after veering off road on Interstate 95
  9. City talks strategy on making Chirilagua/Arlandria neighborhood Amazon-proof
  10. UPDATE: Man taken into custody as West End apartment barricade situation ends peacefully
  11. BREAKING: California man arrested for West End murder, indicted with 16 others in massive racketeering conspiracy

Have a safe weekend!

6 Comments

Developer Mid-Atlantic Realty Partners is scheduled to host a meeting in two weeks to discuss a mixed-use development in the heart of Chirilagua/Arlandria.

According to a press release from the city of Alexandria, the meeting will discuss redevelopment plans for 3811-3825 Mount Vernon Avenue, currently the Mount Vernon Shopping Center. The new development, the press release said, will be a mixed-use project with multifamily residential market-rate and affordable units, along with ground floor retail including a grocery store and open space.

“With a live presentation format, representatives from the project team will present an overview of the redevelopment plans and will be available to answer questions from the community,” the city said.

A sign-up for the meeting is online. The meeting is scheduled to run from 6-7:30 p.m. on Monday, July 12. A Spanish-to-English translator will be available by calling 1-888-450-5996 and entering passcode: 519 309.

2 Comment

Residents of the Chirilagua/Arlandria neighborhood been besieged over the last year.

As a largely Latino community disproportionately impacted by job loss during the pandemic, local residents have pushed back against rent payments. But even as Alexandria starts to pull out of the pandemic with an eye toward job recovery, the city is working through efforts to build a plan to save Chirilagua — less than a mile from Potomac Yard and Crystal City — from the gentrifying effects of Amazon.

“Many Arlandria residents have been candid in expressing fears about displacement and gentrification, anxiety over losing their community and the culture of their neighborhood over time,” said City housing planner Tamara Jovovic in a public forum earlier this week. “Addressing this will require an all-hands-on-deck approach.”

Jovovic said Chirilagua already faces a misalignment in housing needs and rent availability, with local families spending too much on rent and utilities. She said the city’s goal is to create housing affordable to individuals and families at roughly 40% of area median income (AMI). For individuals or small households, that ranges from $36,000 to $60,000 per year.

The city has started working on facilitating public-private partnerships to push for affordable housing development in the area, with Jovovic saying the city is looking at how to turn city-owned areas like a parking lot on Mount Vernon avenue into use for affordable housing.

“The deeper the level of affordability of units, the greater number of tools needed,” Jovovic said.

One of the questions raised by residents in the forum was whether the city would expand height and density restrictions. City staff said the plan is not to increase those restrictions, and that developers wanting expanded height or density will consequently be required to offer a maximum number of affordable housing units.

“We’re moving forward with the same heights,” said Jose Ayala, a city planner. “[W]e want to make sure anything proposed in neighborhood related to an increase in heights is related to affordable housing.”

Late last year, the city codified a long-standing trade in Alexandria development: You can get more height and density than is typically allowed in an area, but only if you add affordable housing proportional to that expansion.

“Development applications could request through [Development Special Use Permit], that’s an optional zoning tool,” Jovovic said. “[They can request] up to 25 feet of additional height in exchange for one-third of density associated as affordable housing

Jack Browand, division chief of Parks and Cultural Activities, said other feedback the city has received so far highlights the need for the city to make better use of parks as meeting spaces.

“Community feedback emphasized the need for social areas and to increase park facilities,” Browand said. “Including having picnic areas and established grilling locations. We don’t have a lot of public restrooms throughout, so [that means] being able to extend outdoor experience by having public restrooms for the public.”

Jovovic emphasized the importance of getting a plan into place before the area starts to feel the effects of Amazon.

“While affordable home ownership may not seem like a pressing need now, the plan will be recommending we expand home ownership training and counseling to make it geographically to make it more accessible and linguistically,” Jovovic said.

The plan is scheduled to go to the Planning Commission and City Council late this fall or in early winter.

15 Comments

What a week in Alexandria.

Our top story this week is on Gregory Elliott, a special education teacher at T.C. Williams High School. Elliot also goes by the name of “Sugar Bear” for the D.C.-based go-go band Experience Unlimited, and their song “Da’ Butt” from the Spike Lee movie “School Daze” was featured at the Oscars, along with actress Glenn Close dancing to it.

This week was full of news.

City Manager Mark Jinks hinted at retiring, there was a chlorine spill at Lake Cook and the Alexandria Fire Department is contending with reports of racism, sexism and favoritism.

Additionally, a cyberattack on a gas pipeline resulted in a state of emergency throughout Virginia. We asked readers about it in our weekly poll, and out of 250 responses only 31% (78 votes) considered making alternate travel plans.

Election stories

Important stories

Top stories

  1. Go-go music star-turned Alexandria teacher ‘Sugar Bear’ in the spotlight after Oscars shoutout
  2. Landmark Mall developers to field public question in forum this week
  3. UPDATE: Woman arrested for firing gun near Alexandria Courthouse in Old Town
  4. AHDC proposes nearly 500 units of affordable housing for Arlandria
  5. ALXnow’s top stories this week in Alexandria
  6. Here’s which City Council candidates signed the new ‘Alexandria Constituents’ Bill of Rights’ pledge
  7. Girlfriend of murder suspect arrested for breaking into home and beating up witness
  8. Election: Stark differences as Wilson and Silberberg face off in mayoral debate
  9. Racism, sexism and favoritism reported within the Alexandria Fire Department
  10. Here’s the order that City Council candidates will appear on the ballot for the June 8 democratic primary
  11. Wilson and Silberberg clash over new challenges, old wounds, and The Golden Girls

Have a safe weekend!

8 Comments

(Updated 5:30 p.m.) Most of Alexandria’s City Council candidates met in person for the first time in Arlandria on Thursday night, and affordable housing, school resource officers and access to health care led the bilingual discussion to a mostly Spanish-speaking audience.

The forum was hosted outside by Tenants and Workers United and Grassroots Alexandria.

“The pandemic really showed us that we need to work to ensure that if we want low income people of color to continue being a part of our community, we have to work on that,” Evelin Urrutia, the executive director of Tenants & Workers United, told ALXnow. “We have lost a lot of affordable housing units in the past two decades. They need to change a lot of policies and they have to start investing more money in affordable housing, something that was not done in previous years.”

Councilman Canek Aguirre, the first elected Latino to Council in Alexandria, said he’s worked to get more health care resources to the immigrant population in Arlandria.

“I will say the health department, we did add four community health workers,” Aguirre said. “Three speak Spanish, one speaks Amharic. This is all on purpose. I have been working with health population managers, the last three of them, talking about how we do outreach and where we need people, making sure we meet them where they are.”

Councilman John Taylor Chapman said that Chapman said that the city needs to give more resources to Neighborhood Health, which provides health care services to low-income residents without insurance.

“The Alexandria Health Department needs to become a better partner with the folks that are doing the work in the community,” Chapman said. “Because it’s really about you and your health.”

Candidate Bill Campbell agreed, and said that many of the city’s woes can be solved with more diversity.

“”To me, this is easy,” Campbell said. “Neighborhood Health, I’m sure, has more nurses and doctors and look like you and me. And so we got to make sure that we increase our diversity everywhere — in our health department, on Council, everywhere in this city the more voices that we can get, and the places where things are needed, the better this city is going to be. That’s the key to it, is adding diversity everywhere.”

Candidate Alyia Gaskins said that the city needs to expand health care access by expanding the operations of the mobile health van, as well as increase resources for health care pop-ups in low income areas.

“I think that expanding health care services begins with expanding access,” Gaskins said.

There are seven candidates of color and five women running for Council — out of the 15 candidates running, including an independent and a Republican candidate. That means that there is a chance, depending on the outcome of the November election, that the newly elected City Council could have a majority of Black members — a first in history.

“As a black man in America, I’m probably the most endangered human species out here, right?” Campbell said. “I raised three kids through the Alexandria school system, two boys of color. I also helped start the Family and Community Engagement Center in ACPS. All of my work will be focused around equity, and trying to eliminate systems that we know have been racist and have institutionalized biases in them. And that’s what I want to continue doing for Alexandria.”

Candidate Kevin Harris said that his work creating a safety committee for the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority community set him apart.

“The chief of police has already highlighted that this is an effective measure that he wants to duplicate across the city,” Harris said. “We shouldn’t have to wait once we get on Council to start doing those things you want to be able to get started.”

Candidate Patrick Moran is against the elimination of school resource officers from ACPS, and candidate Bill Rossello said the issue needs more public discussion.

“We need public safety professionals in our schools to protect our kids,” Moran said. “I’m a straight white male. I’ve experienced privilege my entire life. Throughout that I’ve fought to serve, to give and to work hard for my community. Otherwise, I don’t know what it means and feels like to be intimidated in school from police officers because I feel as though I’m being discriminated against. I appreciate the efforts that have been made to counteract that, and I appreciate the funding that has gone into our mental health services and wellness services.”

Candidate James Lewis said that the city should have more diversity in its police department.

“I think it starts with ensuring that the current law enforcement practices in the city don’t over-criminalize or over-police communities of color,” Lewis said. “We’ve taken some good steps in that direction and need to continue to do them. But really, the way you solve the problem on term is making opportunities for people in communities of color to become law enforcement.”

Aguirre said the elimination of SROs was a first step.

“How do you want officers to interact with our community?” Aguirre said. “We need to continue working on that a lot. There’s going to be more conversations to be had as we move forward.”

Candidate Meronne E. Teklu said that police need to stay out of schools.

“How we implement that is the real question,” Teklu said. “Working with community organizers will be critical. Folks like Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Daunte Wright, Breonna Taylor have not seen justice. We need to ensure common sense gun safety and data transparency.”

On affordable housing, Aguirre said that he supported raising the city’s meals tax to 5% to pay for the effort, and Chapman said that the city hasn’t pressed developers hard enough to contribute more. Gaskins said the city needs to expand tools, such as the right of first refusal, and .

“We haven’t pressed that button enough [with developers], haven’t pressed that issue enough,” Chapman said. “And that’s what we need to do.”

The Democratic primary for City Council is June 8.

0 Comments

The City Council unanimously approved a $500,000 loan to get a new affordable housing development for the Arlandria neighborhood off the ground.

As part of an effort to preemptively combat gentrification likely incoming with Amazon’s arrival, the Alexandria Housing Development Corporation (AHDC) has put together plans to build a new affordable housing complex at 221 W. Glebe Road, former location for Safeway.

According to a presentation, the new development will be 460-480 units of affordable housing, around 380 parking spaces, and 38,000 square feet of non-residential space at the former Safeway.

The units will be spread across two buildings on the site, one ten-stories tall and another at seven-stories tall.

According to AHDC, the focus will be on units built for families, with 65% of total units either two bedroom or three bedroom units.

For the non-residential space, AHDC said it plans to bring in:

  • Healthcare services providers
  • Shared office space for nonprofit/mission driven organizations
  • City agencies satellite office space
  • Childcare and/or child education services
  • Retail space for locally-owned businesses

The project is scheduled to come back to the City Council for review later this year, with construction starting in 2023 if approved. The pre-leasing phase is scheduled to start in the 2024-2026 timeframe.

Images via City of Alexandria

11 Comments
×

Subscribe to our mailing list