Alexandria, VA

Old Town neighbors raised eyebrows at a proposed development at 1415 Princess Street that staff said would fit all the zoning requirements, but still puts nearby residents in a tight bind.

Viewed from the street, 1415 Princess Street appears to be a house-sized vacant lot on the largely residential street in the Parker-Gray neighborhood. But the empty space at 1415 Princess Street is actually part of a three lot segment, two of which came forward to the Board of Architectural Review as part of a proposed development that would rub right up against the front doors of neighboring homes.

Steve Davidson, in particular, told the BAR that the new development would be pressed up right against the front door of the house, located on the side of the building.

“If this building is built, it will cover the entire front of the house I am living in,” Davidson said. “That door is my front door. That building, the proposed structure, would be up against the property line which is only four feet two inches from the site of my house.”

Davidson said the proposed development would obliterate light access into the house and would turn the front door into an alley.

“That seems like a bad idea,” Davidson said. “I can’t understand why we’d put three properties in a little narrow strip like that.”

Other residents on the street expressed concerns that the new development could impact other nearby houses. Read More

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Affordable housing complex The Bloom is now scheduled to open sometime in December 2020 or January 2021.

The Alexandria Housing Development Corporation said in a press release that the 97-unit building at 930 N. Henry Street will open in the winter to locals at 50% or 60% of the area median income.

Waitlist applications are currently open for two-bedroom units that can fit households of 2, 3 or 4 people. Two of the units are wheelchair accessible.

“Applicants must apply by November 24 to be considered,” AHDC said. “Selected applicants will be contacted on or around November 25 to allow applicants to move in as soon as December 2020/January 2021.”

Image via City of Alexandria

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It was a historic week in Alexandria.

Alexandrians overwhelmingly helped reelect U.S. Senator Mark Warner and Congressman Don Beyer, and 80% of voters chose Democrat former Vice President Joe Biden for president over incumbent Republican President Donald Trump.

Out top story this week was election-related. It turns out that before election day several Alexandria households with Joe Biden signs were sent letters with a Northern Virginia postage mark stating that Biden is a pedophile. The Chair of the Alexandria Democratic Committee advised that anyone who receives such notes should call the police. The police, in turn, are sending along the information to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

Additionally, 91 people participated in our weekly poll. This week we asked about election night plans, and 65% of respondents said they were staying home to watch the results, 24% had no eleciton night plans, 10% planned to protest that evening, and 1% were going to an election night event.

School News

Alexandria City Public Schools were back in action this week — sort of. While the ACPS opened in-person classes on Thursday, fewer than 10 students made it to class. There were about 60 students eligible to go back to school, since only kids with kindergarten through second graders with disabilities were allowed to attend Jefferson-Houston PreK-8 IB School.

It was the first in-person public schooling in Alexandria since the pandemic shut down schools in March. ACPS plans to expand opening for all citywide special education students by December. Meanwhile, however, hundreds of parents want the school system to open and have started the #OpenACPS messaging campaign.

Also in school news, a two-year-long court battle was settled with the city and 15 Alexandria homeowners were settled regarding the addition of stadium lights to Parker-Gray Stadium at T.C. Williams High School.

The Week in Crime

The week started with news that there were two shootings in Alexandria over the weekend.

The was also the story of a 17-year-old on the run since last month after allegedly stealing a car in the West End. The juvenile, who later admitted stealing the car, was seen by the victim — a federal law enforcement officer — driving past his house, and the victim got into another of his cars and followed the suspect. The victim got the juvenile out of his car and held him at the scene until police arrived, and the juvenile left the area after being charged.

We also covered the story of the ‘Beltway Bank Bandit’. Freddie Lee McRae, 34, of Washington D.C., pleaded guilty to three counts of brandishing a firearm during a series of bank and shoe store robberies in and around Alexandria in 2018 and 2019. He will be sentenced on February 23, 2021, and faces up to life in prison and a mandatory minimum of 21 years in prison.

Health and Business

As of Friday there were 76 deaths attributed to the coronavirus in Alexandria, and the case count stands at 4,444, according to the Virginia Department of Health. Latino residents continue to lead the case count.

We also reported that longtime Del Ray staple, Al’s Steak House, is for sale since the owner passed away.

This week also saw fewer continued and initial unemployment claims in Alexandria.

Here are ALXnow’s top stories of the week in Alexandria:

  1. Alexandrians with Joe Biden Yard Signs Get Anonymous Letters Saying Biden is a Pedophile
  2. Del Ray Staple Al’s Steak House for Sale After Owner’s Death
  3. Republican Jeff Jordan Running Uphill Battle Against Incumbent Rep. Don Beyer
  4. Braddock West Project Headed to Planning Commission Later This Year
  5. Identity Released of Old Town North Suspect Killed in Shootout
  6. Soft Opening for New Chicken Joint in North Old Town Today
  7. Alexandria Parents Start #OpenACPS Sign Campaign as School System Begins Partial Reopening
  8. Juvenile Allegedly Steals Car and is Tracked Down by Victim in the West End
  9. BREAKING: Massive Power Outage Reported in Alexandria
  10. The Alexandria Drive-In Just Kicked Off an Encore Series on Halloween
  11. Did You Know: The Tall Ship Providence Encountered a Ghost Ship in 1777

Have a safe weekend!

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What an intense week in Alexandria.

Our top story was on the massive power outages that affected tens of thousands of residents on Friday, October 23. Without providing specifics, Dominion Energy told City Council this week that outages in Alexandria and Arlington were “unique,” and caused by a piece of equipment that failed at its Glebe Road substation. City Councilors responded that there have been at least eight outages since May.

Monday started with news that an Alexandria Police officer was shot in Old Town and that the 27-year-old suspect was found shot to death near a construction site.

Police were called to the Holiday Inn & Suites in Old Town North after reports that shots were fired in the lobby of the hotel. Police chased two suspects on foot and a shootout ensued. The officer was shot in the lower body and was later released, and the other suspect later turned himself in to police.

On the coronavirus front, there are now 74 deaths in Alexandria and there are now or have been more than 4,200 cases since the pandemic began in March. Latino residents continue to lead the case count. This week the Alexandria Health Department reported that majority of recent coronavirus cases in Alexandria might be the result of contacts at home, indoor gatherings and eating out.

Restaurant-wise, we reported the soft opening of a new chicken joint in North Old Town.

Additionally, the Wrought, Knit, Labors, Legacies art installation at Waterfront Park will be taken down next month at Waterfront Park, and the installation will temporarily be moved outside of Old Town Pool (1609 Cameron Street).

We also reported that more than 50% of Alexandria voters have already cast their ballots.

Additionally, more than 240 people participated in our weekly poll. With Halloween on Saturday, this week we asked about trick-or-treating plans, and 38% of respondents are not celebrating Halloween this year, 31% are not trick-or-treating but have other plans, 17% plan to trick-or-treat with modifications, and 14% plan to trick-or-treat as usual.

Here are ALXnow’s top stories of the week in Alexandria:

  1. BREAKING: Massive Power Outage Reported in Alexandria
  2. BREAKING: Virginia State Police Seek Alexandria Man After Police Shootout
  3. School Board Shelves Plan to Reopen Schools in 2021, Students with Disabilities Transitioning Back Next Month
  4. Republican Jeff Jordan Running Uphill Battle Against Incumbent Rep. Don Beyer
  5. Here’s Where Alexandria Residents Might be Getting COVID-19
  6. BREAKING: Shooting Suspect In Custody, Police Announce
  7. Police: Man Killed in Car Crash on N. Van Dorn Street
  8. Identity Released of Old Town North Suspect Killed in Shootout
  9. Police: Shots Fired in Braddock Area on Monday Night
  10. The Chewish Deli Opens New Location in Old Town
  11. Police Assist Man With Psychotic Episode in West End

Happy Halloween!

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Months after it was first announced, a new mixed use development called Braddock West is headed to the Planning Commission later this year.

The proposal includes new plans unveiled earlier this fall, showing the seven-story building planned to be located directly east of the Braddock Metro station.

According to the application, the project will be a 180-unit facility with ground floor retail. Between 8-12 units are slotted to be committed affordable housing in exchange for the added density.

The project is adjacent to the Andrew Adkins housing, which is also slated for eventual redevelopment despite ongoing delays.

The ground floor of the project is planned to be a series of flexible retail spaces. The application includes a note that the project will likely seek ABC license approval, meaning some of the ground floor space could be used as a restaurant.

Image via City of Alexandria

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No one was injured after shots were fired near the Braddock Road metro station on Monday night (October 26), according to the Alexandria Police Department.

The incident occurred at around 9 p.m. in the 700 block of North West Street. The area is near public housing, the Braddock Road Metro station and a number of local businesses.

A parked car was struck and no suspects were arrested, police spokesman Lt. Courtney Ballantine told ALXnow.

Earlier this month, police asked the public for help in identifying suspects after a surge in gun-related incidents. There have been a number of violent incidents in the city over the last several days, including a shootout that left a suspect dead and an officer injured on Monday. Two people were also shot last week and there were two robberies.

Map via Google Maps

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Just hours after the Ford F-150 was stolen in front of a Del Ray office, the victim’s mother received a call from the thief telling her not to call the police.

The incident occurred at around 2 p.m. on August 25 in the 500 block of E. Braddock Road near the Braddock Road Metro station.

The victim was getting measurements on a ladder when he saw a Black male with a thin build, about 5-foot-8 with long braided hair, drive away in his truck. Inside the truck was a handgun valued at over $1,000, according to police.

Later that night, the victim’s mother received a phone call from the male suspect, who “stated that he had information about the stolen truck and that he did not want to involve the police,” according to a search warrant affidavit. “The phone call was received only a few hours after the vehicle was stolen.”

The victim’s mother said that the suspect must have found a business card in the truck belonging to an employee that works with the victim’s family, and that the number the suspect called was linked to her home phone.

The truck was found 12 days later on September 6, just after 4 a.m. in southeast D.C. It was found near the home of a woman where police traced the call from the suspect to the victim’s mother.

The gun was not found in the truck and the case is ongoing.

Map via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Beyer Says Trump Supported Murder of Portland Protestor — “In televised comments yesterday Donald Trump called for extrajudicial murder and later expressed his desire to remain in office past term limits imposed by the Constitution. Today members of the party that supposedly backs ‘limited government’ pretend not to know what he said.” [Twitter]

Second Round of Business Grants Available — “Applications for a second round of Alexandria Back to Business grants will begin Sept. 30 for qualifying small businesses and nonprofits to offset costs related to reopening or rescaling.” [Twitter]

Free COVID-19 Testing Today in Alexandria — “Free COVID-19 testing in Alexandria,VA on September 16, 2020.Please read flyer for more details. [Twitter]

Braddock West Developers Seek Community Input — “During their presentation, the team behind Braddock West provided details of their proposed plan for the lot located at 727 N. West St. directly across the street from the Braddock Road Metro Station. They intend to tear down 10 existing single-family homes and replace them with a 7 story residential building with retail space on the ground level and an underground parking garage.” [Alexandria Living]

Lena’s Wood Fired Pizza and Tap Selling Kits for National Pizza Day — “On Sept. 20 only, Lena’s will offer their Family DIY Pepperoni Pizza Kit for families to make together at home to celebrate the holiday commemorating this crowd-pleasing favorite food. The kit is available for take-out or delivery via LenasWoodfire.com.” [LenasWoodFire.com]

Today’s Weather — “During the day, a mainly sunny sky. High 77F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph. At night, a few clouds from time to time. Low 62F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Police Officer — “It’s your lucky day! APD has added new dates for police tests: 9/22 at 5 PM, 9/26 at 9AM, and 9/26 at 12PM. You must register in advance Bring your drivers license and a second original ID- US passport, social security card or birth certificate.” [Twitter]

New Job: Part Time Office Assistant — “Del Ray Artisans nonprofit is seeking an Office Assistant. This is a paid position for 12 hours per week, with a set schedule (Thursday and Friday 12-6pm). Position entails assisting the Office Manager with general office work with emphasis on organizational skills. Working knowledge of Microsoft Office / Google Docs required in an all-Mac OS environment. Del Ray Artisans strictly follows the ALX Promise Program, keeping visitors and staff safe during this pandemic.” [Facebook]

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It’s the end of another work week in Alexandria!

There was a lot of crime this week, as police responded to multiple shots fired incidents in the Parker Gray area on September 2. There was also another carjacking in the West End — the latest in a recent uptick that prompted Mayor Justin Wilson to ask the public for help in reducing the number of vehicle-related thefts.

But there is also some good news to report, as businesses are opening in the city despite the daily pressures of the pandemic. This week we took a look inside The Company Of Books used book store in Del Ray, and we covered the city’s new Wellness District, which is providing a number of free programs and discounts for the recently expanded Wellness Month.

Also this week, Alexandria City Public Schools cut down a 150-year-old tree to make way for a concession stand. The move was criticized by activists and former Mayor Allison Silberberg. With the destruction of the tree, the renovation project for the Parker-Gray Stadium has now officially begun.

What stories impacted you this week? Let us know in the comments.

Here are our top stories this week in Alexandria.

  1. Alexandria Woman Uninjured in Tuesday Carjacking at Gunpoint in Potomac Yard
  2. Beatley Central Library Closed Until Further Notice Due to ‘Emergency Conditions’
  3. Police: Three Alexandria ABC Stores Broken Into, High-End Liquor Stolen
  4. Police Investigating Multiple Gunshots Fired in Parker Gray/Braddock
  5. Alexandria’s COVID Positive Testing Rate Lowest in Region
  6. Halal Slaughterhouse Construction Begins, Opening Reset to Mid-November
  7. Update: Chalk Graffiti Decrying Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf Sprayed In Front of Wrong House
  8. Braddock ‘Elizabeth’s Counter’ Last of Regional Chain After Bankruptcy Filing
  9. Police: Three Alexandria ABC Stores Broken Into, High-End Liquor Stolen
  10. North Potomac Yard Plans Going to Planning Commission, Board of Architectural Review
  11. ACPS Cuts Down 150-Year Old Tree to Make Way for Concession Stand

Have a safe weekend!

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A 27-year-old Alexandria man has been charged with illegally shooting a handgun in the Parker Gray neighborhood of Old Town, Alexandria.

The incident in the 1200 block of Madison Street was one of two shootings that occurred in the area on September 2, and police are not releasing the identity of the suspect on the grounds that it will impede their ongoing investigation. Police responded to calls for service of multiple shots fired at around 5:40 p.m.

Police also responded to another call for shots fired at around the same time that day in the 700 block of North Fayette Street, which is right around the block from the 1200 block of Madison. No one was reportedly injured in both incidents, and police said that the shootings are part of an ongoing investigation.

There was also a shooting in the 1200 block of Madison in late July.

There have now been multiple reports of shootings in Old Town since July 9. There was also a stabbing in the area on July 17 and a violent carjacking on Euille Street on July 14One suspect was arrested after a July 11 shooting, but their identity was not released.

The shootings have largely occurred in and around Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority public housing properties near the Braddock Road Metro station, and ARHA is now installing security cameras, according to sources. Police have also increased their uniformed and non-uniformed presence in the area.

Map via Google Maps

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Alexandria Police are investigating reports of multiple gunshots fired in the 700 block of N. Fayette Street in the Parker Gray/Braddock neighborhood early on Wednesday evening.

There were no reported injuries, no one was arrested and a number of shell casings were found at the scene. It is unclear if anything was hit, police spokesman Lt. Courtney Ballantine told ALXnow.

The incident occurred blocks from the Braddock Road Metro station and near Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority public housing properties, the latter of which is installing security cameras, according to sources.

There has been one murder in Alexandria this year, and the incident occurred outside an apartment complex in the West End.

There have now been seven reports of shootings in Old Town since July 9 and nine total reports of shots fired around the city. There was also a stabbing in the area on July 17 and a violent carjacking on Euille Street on July 14One suspect was arrested after a July 11 shooting, but their identity has not been released.

Map via Google Maps

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A Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing has left Elizabeth’s Counter in Alexandria as the last vestige of the once powerful ring of regional Sugar Shack locations, according to the Washington Business Journal.

Months after Sugar Shack owner Rob Krupicka unveiled ambitious plans to convert the Northern Virginia and D.C. locations from donut shop Sugar Shack into a new restaurant called Elizabeth’s Counter, Krupicka told WBJ that the pandemic drove down sales and forced him to close locations in Arlington and Washington D.C.

The Alexandria location at 804 N. Henry Street was the only location to be converted to Elizabeth’s Counter before the closures, though many locals refer to it by the old name out of habit and much of the interior decorations kept the same donut shop glaze.

Sales at Elizabeth’s Counter have rebounded somewhat since the worst of the pandemic, WBJ reported, boosted somewhat by speakeasy Captain Gregory’s.

The Northern Virginia branch isn’t the only part of the Sugar Shack franchise that’s faced financial troubles, the Richmond-based chains had to shut down other locations after lawsuits between the company’s founders.

Photo via Elizabeth’s Counter

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