Alexandria, VA

It was a busy week in Alexandria, and there is plenty to talk about.

The city is moving forward with phase three of reopening its economy on July 1, and the news comes as the death toll from the coronavirus moved up to 50 and the number of cases steadily rise.

It also looks like the upcoming Alexandria City Public School school year and city services will continue to be impacted until the virus is held at bay, and school and city staff are developing plans to stagger teleworking and in-person schedules for students and staff alike.

Restaurants are reopening like never before, which is to say that customers are cautiously welcomed as Health Department restrictions are slowly lifted and many establishments have expanded their outdoor seating.

Here are the top 11 most-read articles this week in Alexandria.

  1. Del Ray Pizza Restaurant Converts Parking Deck Into Tropical Oasis Themed Bar
  2. COVID-19 Cases Steadily Increase as Alexandria Releases Phase Three Reopening Guidelines
  3. Large Residential Development in Braddock Goes to Planning Commission Tomorrow
  4. Alexandria Now Has 50 COVID-19 Deaths, Cases Climbing by Double Digits Daily
  5. East Eisenhower Avenue Project Returns With A New Senior Living Component
  6. Students Likely to Rotate School Attendance When ACPS Reopens
  7. Alexandria Preps for Phase 3 Reopening on July 1
  8. Lights On: Two Nineteen Restaurant Reopening Today in Old Town
  9. Developers Take Another Crack at Converting North Old Town Office to Housing
  10. Housing Affordability and Cost of Living Get Low Rating in Community Livability Report
  11. Inova Alexandria Hospital Now Treating 20+ Coronavirus Patients

Feel free to discuss these or other topics in the comments. Have a safe weekend!

Staff photo by James Cullum

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After securing an endorsement at the Board of Architectural Review last month, the plan to turn 701 N. Henry Street into a 94 unit residential complex is headed to the Planning Commission tomorrow (Thursday).

The project will replace Alexandria Lighting and Supply with 94 unit residential building, 87 of which would be market-rate housing and 7 committed as affordable units.

The proposed building will have a 2,600 square foot area on the ground floor currently used as a lobby, but set aside for potential conversion to retail if other nearby developments move forward — similar to how another nearby proposed development scaled back its ground-floor retail offerings.

Development attorney Cathy Puskar said at the Board of Architectural Review that the developer decided “it’s not really a good spot” for retail, but that if a post office caddy-corner to the development is eventually redeveloped, the lobby space could be converted to retail.

A staff report on the project recommended approval of the development.

“This area is recommended to encourage development of mixed-use buildings between Patrick and Henry streets to improve pedestrian accessibility and activity along these high traffic corridors,” staff said in a report. “The proposed development is consistent with the goals and guidelines set forth in the Braddock Metro Neighborhood Plan.”

Several nearby developments are going through the approval pipeline and will add hundreds of new residential units to Braddock and North Old Town, including:

Photo via City of Alexandria

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Morning Notes

New Residential Building Promises Daycare and Retail in Braddock Area — “Right now, that property is primarily garage and warehouse space for a variety of auto and other businesses.” [Alexandria Living]

Van Dorn, Eisenhower Metro Stations Reopening June 28 — “Several stations and stops were closed in March, in an effort to conserve cleaning supplies during the early stages of the pandemic.” [Zebra]

Residential Proposal Made for Old Town North Building — “The project, at 801 N. Fairfax St., goes before the City of Alexandria Planning Commission this Thursday and may go before the City Council on July 7.” [Alexandria Living]

Nectar Coffee & Wine Bistro Closes For Good — “Susan and I have made the extremely difficult decision to close Nectar permanently. We have loved our business, awesome staff, customers and neighbors and are truly grateful for your business over the past 3 years. See you in the neighborhood!” [Facebook]

The Water Taxi is Back — “On June 22 the Potomac Water Taxi resumed service between Alexandria, National Harbor, and the District. Dining cruises resume on Saturday, June 27. To ensure the safety of all on board, a number of procedures are in place. The safety measures include requiring face coverings for all guests (ages 3 and up), physical distancing, touchless entry boarding and ticketing, and reduced capacity onboard.” [Zebra]

TEDxOronocoBayPark Cancels All 2020 Events — “We are excited to be bringing the TED content to the community virtually through the TED Circles program – save the date July 20 7 p.m.” [Facebook]

Alexandria Symphony Premiers Virtual Concert — “Welcome to Alexandria Symphony’s Garden Sounds! Enjoy music from ASO musicians and appearances from special guests Paula Poundstone, Alan Gilbert and more!” [Youtube]

New Job: Bartender — “Be a part the Silver Diner Family! We are hiring full-time Bartenders for all shifts for our Grand Opening in Alexandria! Full-time Bartenders at our established locations can make $400-$700 in tips per week!” [Indeed]

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(Updated 6/24) A new mixed-use development featuring a ground-floor daycare facility is scheduled to go to the City Council for approval this Saturday (June 20).

There’s extensive redevelopment underway at the northern end of the Braddock neighborhood just south of Potomac Yard. A seven-story residential building with ground-floor retail and the aforementioned daycare is planned for the very northern point of that neighborhood on a triangular lot at 1200 N. Henry Street.

The 115 unit multifamily residential apartment building was initially approved in 2018, but the applicant — 1200 N. Henry LLC — is coming back to the City Council for approval of changes that include placing the daycare entirely on the first floor of the building at the cost of some of the planned retail development. The project was initially approved with 17,000 square feet of retail development, but that has dropped to 6,423 square feet. The change will raise the number of units to 119.

The change is emblematic of some hesitation on the part of Braddock developers to focus ground-floor space on retail. A nearby development at 701 N. Henry Street also prioritized lobby space on the ground floor, saying the area is “not really a good spot” for retail.

“Since the 2018 approval, the applicant discussed the daycare and retail configuration with providers and leasing brokers,” the applicant said. “Through these conversations, there was a strong preference for the daycare to be located entirely on the ground level with an adjacent playground to improve access and appeal to more age groups. Additionally, the retail space was considered too large and disjointed, with the space too dark to engage pedestrians.”

The building is described in the application as a “gateway” to the Braddock Neighborhood for those traveling south along Route 1.

A signature gateway feature at the northern corner of the building marks the entrance to the plan area with a tower element. The base of the tower contains diagonal columns that form an abstraction of the letters “AV” to represent Alexandria, Virginia, welcoming those headed southbound on Route 1 to the Braddock neighborhood. These columns face onto a publicly accessible park/plaza. The northern tip of the park/plaza is a potential location for public art, drawing pedestrians into the space and offering respite to those heading south from Slater’s Lane and Route 1 to the nearby Braddock Metro.

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The 1200 block of Wythe Street is closed as police are responding to a shots fired call, with one person reported injured with non-life threatening wounds.

Police Spokesperson Lt. Courtney Ballantine said officers have closed the street after responding to a call around 2:30 p.m.

A male was reportedly taken to a local hospital by a family member with a gunshot wound to his upper-body, but Ballantine said the injuries are believed to be non-life threatening.

A suspect in the shooting was last seen driving away, though Ballantine said there was no description or other information available.

The shooting is one block away from a shots fired call on Saturday night and less than a mile from where a teenager was shot on April 2.

Image via Google Maps

 

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A proposed development at 701 N. Henry Street in the Braddock neighborhood could replace a longtime lighting store with a 94 unit residential complex.

The current occupant, Alexandria Lighting and Supply has been in business in Braddock for 55 years, and the developer is scouting for a new storefront to relocate the shop.

“It’s still operating today and it’s been there a really long time,” development attorney Cathy Puskar said at a presentation to the Braddock Implementation Advisory Group last month. “As part of this proposal, [the developer] is contemplating relocating that use so it will still exist within the city of Alexandria.”

In its stead, the new development at 701 N. Henry Street would be a 94 unit residential building, 87 of which would be market-rate housing and 7 committed as affordable units — part of a trade for bonus density.

Along with a development at 1200 N. Henry and a new mixed-use complex across from the Braddock Road Metro station, the 701 N. Henry Street project is part of a suite of new projects adding residential units and density to Braddock.

Puskar said the developer decided “it’s not really a good spot” for retail, but that if a post office caddy-corner to the development is eventually redeveloped, the lobby space could be converted to retail.

The project is scheduled to go to a public hearing in June.

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A new development called Braddock West could replace the row of small homes just east of the Braddock Metro station.

Real estate firm CRC Cos. LLC — Arlington-based Clark Realty Capital — is pitching a mixed-use development that would fill the low-density block between Madison and Wythe streets, the Washington Business Journal first reported.

Designs submitted to the City of Alexandria show flexible space on the Madison and Wythe street, with at least one area set aside for retail on the south side of the project. The building would have access to a 105-space underground parking garage on the north side with lobby access from N. West Street.

CRC is proposing 177 units for the site, from studio units to three-bedroom units.

The change would involve rezoning the property from single-family detached to a coordinated development district with mixed multi-family residential and retail.

Braddock West borders the stalled Andrew Adkins redevelopment project to the east, which was to be a joint effort between Alexandria’s housing authority and CRC.

Image via City of Alexandria

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Morning Notes

Presidential Primary Day in Alexandria — Today is Super Tuesday, the presidential primary day in Virginia and 13 other states across the U.S. Here in Alexandria, polls are open from 6 a.m.-7 p.m. [City of Alexandria]

New Development Near Braddock Road Metro — “CRC Cos. LLC is pitching a plan to redevelop several single-family homes across from the Braddock Road Metro station into a new mixed-use building. The Arlington-based real estate firm submitted plans to Alexandria officials last week for a seven-story, 177-unit building along North West Street, bounded by Madison Street and Wythe Street. The proposal also calls for a small space set aside for ground-floor retail.” [Washington Business Journal]

Meeting Planned for Tot Lot Renovations — Alexandria’s parks department “will renovate Woodbine Tot Lot  in partnership with the Make-A-Wish Foundation mid-March through mid-April. A community pre-construction meeting with City staff and the contractor is scheduled for Saturday, March 7 at 10 a.m. at Woodbine Tot Lot (1509 Woodbine St.). Make-A-Wish Foundation America approached the City of Alexandria with a wish from Whitaker, a local four-year-old undergoing cancer treatment.” [City of Alexandria]

A Tale of Two Kindnesses — A man who stopped to help a family in need in Alexandria was, soon thereafter, helped by the same family when it turned out that he was in need of assistance, too. [Alexandria Living]

Trampoline Park Opens in West End — “Get Air, an indoor trampoline park with a variety of activities, has opened at 340 South Pickett Street in Alexandria. The venue has thousands of square feet of trampolines, including vertical trampolines, a trampoline dodgeball area, trampoline lanes for slamball, tightrope walking challenge, and a foam pit.” [Patch, Alexandria Living]

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Move over ice cream for breakfast, there’s a new morning cuisine coming to Alexandria.

Chop Shop Taco at 1008 Madison Street in the Braddock neighborhood is launching all-day tacos starting today (Friday).

“We’re running a ‘buy one, try one’ promo for the first 25 people in line at 8 a.m.,” owner Doug Rashid said in an email. “These are not just egg & cheese tacos. Chop Shop Taco has launched a breakfast menu full of tacos, burritos, a delicious avocado tostada and more.”

Rashid said Chop Shop will offer brisket, chorizo, ground beef, pork, chili, tater tots or Beyond Meat in the tacos. Each is filled with cheese, salsa and scallions.

The avocado tostada, meanwhile, will feature scallions, chipotle, salsa, ancho, chile, pumpkin seeds, radish and fresh herbs with an option to add a fried egg.

The new breakfast is available Monday through Friday, from 8-11 a.m.

Image courtesy Chop Shop Taco

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An auto garage near Braddock could be converted into a new 133-unit residential building for seniors.

The applicant, BRG Tony’s Gulf, LLC, is proposing a 70-foot tall structure called Aspire Alexandria at 1112 First Street, where Tony’s Auto Service is today. The new development would also include a 4,550 square-foot restaurant on the ground floor. The restaurant would be operated by the same management company but would be open to the public.

Aspire Alexandria is scheduled to go to the Alexandria Planning Commission in February for a Development Special Use Permit.

In one form or another, the space has been a garage since 1942. The Tony’s Auto Service website said the business started in 1967 and moved to the current location in 1979. Along with the under-construction Carpenter Shelter building, the redevelopment of the garage is in keeping with the Braddock Metro Neighborhood Plan approved in 2008.

The development application says the units will only be available to residents who are 62 years or older.

Aspire Alexandria would include additional amenities, according to the application, like a driver to transport residents to events, a fitness center, hair and nail salon, art studio, theater and library. One level of below-ground parking is also planned for the development.

Photo (2) via Google Maps/Tony’s Auto Service

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(Updated at 2:15 p.m.) A new bubble tea joint near the Braddock Road Metro station called Spill the Tea could start serving next month.

The restaurant will be located at 515 Braddock Road, in the space once occupied by the now-shuttered Aveda. The exact opening date for Spill the Tea is still TBD, however.

According to co-owner Natalie Hilunmonkul, the restaurant is finishing up some construction but plans to open sometime in December.

“We haven’t really found any other place that has a full bubble tea bar,” Hilunmonkul said of potential local competition.

The shop will focus on bubble tea, but Hilunmonkul said it will also serve food.

“For the most part, the menu will be small and simple,” Hilunmonkul said. “We’ll have classic milk teas and fruit teas, maybe seasonal items. For food, we’re keeping it simple: soups, salads, and Vietnamese summer rolls.”

Vernon Miles and Airey contributed to this story

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A brick home built around 1940 in the Braddock neighborhood could be torn down and replaced with a pair of new townhouses.

The pair of townhouses at 603 N. Alfred Street are scheduled for review at the Board of Architectural (BAR) tonight (Wednesday) at 7 p.m.

Currently, the lot is occupied by a one-and-a-half story building most records date to 1940. The report notes that there is a possibility the land was used as a campsite during the Civil War, and the developer will be required to call Alexandria Archaeology if any buries structures or artifacts are found.

But while the building is old, the city staff say it’s not necessarily historically or architecturally significant.

“The circa 1940 detached single-family dwelling is not of an unusual or uncommon design and could easily be reproduced due to its extremely simple design and use of mass-produced, mid-20th-century materials,” staff said in a report on the project. “While it is unusual to find this style dwelling in the Parker-Gray district, they were common in the rest of Alexandria in this period and ubiquitous the throughout the United States following the Second World War.”

Staff also noted that retention of the home would not maintain the scale and character of the neighborhood, where numerous other new homes are under construction. While many of the other properties in the Braddock neighborhood are smaller, single-family homes, the area has also seen extensive redevelopment and gentrification in recent years.

The new homes incorporate a modern interpretation of early 20th-century art deco styles, according to the staff report. The building would be three stories tall with rooftop access on the third floor and a fenced back yard.

Concept rendering via City of Alexandria. Street photo via Google Maps

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