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Samuel Madden redevelopment rendering (image via Torti Gallas + Partners/City of Alexandria)

The Samuel Madden redevelopment project at the north end of the Braddock neighborhood is heading back to the community review process after a significant redesign.

The Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority (ARHA) is planning on tearing down a dozen aging townhomes at the north end of the Braddock Neighborhood, where Patrick and Henry streets reform into Route 1. They will be replaced with a new 500-unit multifamily residential development that would act — as it was called in some of the earlier meetings — as a gateway into Old Town.

The project had previously been lambasted by the Board of Architectural Review (BAR) for the neglect of the previous townhouse units, which were allowed to significantly deteriorate, and for seemingly giving little care to the architectural character of the townhomes the new development would be replacing.

The new version of the project doesn’t quite emulate the WWII-era design of the townhomes currently on the site, nor does it retroactively fix the years of neglect for the buildings by ARHA, but it did receive a more positive reception by staff and the BAR with inclusions like a new northern courtyard and more significant setbacks at the southern end of the site where it sits across from much lower-elevation development.

The new community meeting is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 24, at 7 p.m. It will be both in-person and virtual, with the in-person side held at the Charles Houston Recreation Center (901 Wythe Street).

A release from the City of Alexandria said the development team will be available to offer updates on the project and explain some of the new uses coming in, including mixed-income rental housing, community services, and early childhood education programs.

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Current state of Landmark Mall (image via City of Alexandria)

Except for the shots fired in the Braddock neighborhood, it’s been a relatively quiet week in Alexandria.

The water was still settling on Monday after the big drop on Friday: the Potomac Yard Metro station was going to be delayed until sometime in 2023 and the shutdown affecting Alexandria would be continued into November.

Beyond that, the top stories this week were a revisit of some of the old hits: Landmark Mall development, on-street dining, speed cameras and flooding.

Top stories

  1. Developer opens up about next steps for Landmark Mall redevelopment
  2. Alexandria woman caught with gun at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport checkpoint
  3. No injuries or arrest after shots fired in Braddock area
  4. Alexandria looking to loosen up a little for on-street dining
  5. Alexandria’s first speed cameras headed to City Council review this month
  6. BREAKING: Potomac Yard Metro station opening pushed back to 2023
  7. New change to Alexandria manholes could help combat some stormwater flooding
  8. For fifth straight year, Alexandria makes Best Small City list by Condé Nast Traveler
  9. New e-bikes launch in Alexandria with $5 coupon
  10. Poll: Were you surprised by the Potomac Yard Metro station delay?
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The scene of a crash outside Jefferson Houston Elementary School, March 29, 2022. (staff photo by James Cullum)

Things are about to slow down in school zones.

The Alexandria School Board on Thursday (October 6) unanimously approved a resolution requesting a reduction from 25 miles per hour to 15 mph in school zones.

“We are really making our students and our community safe,” said Board Member Abdel Elnoubi, who wrote the resolution. “We’re helping save lives here.”

The resolution now goes to City Council for approval.

The following school zones have 25 mph speed limits:

  • N. Beauregard Street — Outside the John Adams Elementary School, William Ramsay Elementary School and Ferdinand T. Day Elementary School zones
  • Braddock Road from N. Beauregard Street to Quaker Lane — Outside Alexandria City High School’s Minnie Howard Campus school zone
  • Seminary Road (Kenmore Avenue to N. Pickett Street) — In the Francis C. Hammond Middle School zone
  • King Street — Alexandria City High School’s school zone

City Council will also review a plan to install Alexandria’s first speed cameras in school zones later this month.

The conversation over a speed limit reduction and cameras installation began after a nine-year-old girl was hit by a car and seriously injured just outside Jefferson-Houston Elementary School in March.

The scene of a crash outside Jefferson Houston Elementary School, March 29, 2022. (staff photo by James Cullum)
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Metro work vehicle struck on Oronoco Street at N Henry Street (staff photo by James Cullum)

It’s been a rough week for Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), and to top things off: someone hit a Metro work vehicle in the Braddock neighborhood this afternoon.

The crash occurred around 2:30 p.m. on Oronoco Street near the intersection with N Henry Street.

There were no injuries in the crash and Oronoco Street was not closed, though the lane closure did cause a significant backup — though at least this time WMATA isn’t to blame for the delay.

James Cullum contributed to this story

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Alexandria Police are investigating a report of shots fired last Thursday night in the 700 block of N. West Street in the Braddock area.

No arrests have been made, and police said that evidence was found that multiple shots were fired at around 8:30 p.m. There were no injuries and a suspect description is not available.

The incident occurred near Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority properties.

Anyone with information on this incident can contact the Alexandria Police Department’s non-emergency number at 703-746-4444. Callers can remain anonymous.

Via Google Maps

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Alexandria Lighting + Design (courtesy photo)

After relocating from the Braddock neighborhood, Alexandria Lighting + Design is hosting a grand opening in the West End today.

The opening is the debut of the shop’s new showroom and coffee shop at 444 S. Picket Street.

The store had been located at 701 N. Henry Street for around 60 years before being displaced by a new development.

The ribbon cutting for the new showroom is scheduled to start at 1 p.m.

“Having served customers and design professionals for over 60 years, Alexandria Lighting + Design is excited to introduce ourselves to the next generation of Virginians and to usher in a new era for our existing clientele,” the shop owners said in a release. “The expanded fixture showroom will have display ceiling fans, chandeliers, wall lights and multi-systems, exterior and landscape lighting, table and floor laps, furniture and home accents.”

The release said the showroom fill feature displays from various styles, from contemporary/modern to nautical and rustic.

The new location will also have its own cafe with macarons and caviar on the menu.

“The new showroom will also be home to Electric Cafe,” the release said. “A cafe inside Alexandria Lighting serves as the perfect meeting place for architects, interior designers, builders, contractors and their clients to meet while having a European-style cafe experience, complete with Compass coffee & espresso, baguette sandwiches, macarons, beer, wine champagne and caviar.”

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In 2015, former Virginia state Del. Rob Krupicka left state politics to focus on running a donut shop in Alexandria. Seven years later, a combination of economic factors is forcing Krupicka to give up the dream and leave a donut hole in the Braddock neighborhood.

Krupicka announced on Twitter that Elizabeth’s Counter (formerly Sugar Shack), will close on Sunday, August 28. Krupicka is planning on shutting down the store and reopening with a new restaurant called Railbird Kitchen later this year.

Railbird Kitchen will focus on comfort food and cocktails, Krupicka said, while continuing Elizabeth’s Counter’s emphasis on offering good vegan options. Gone, however, are the handmade donuts that made Sugar Shack a local icon.

“We will have a number of vegan options to build on the customer base,” Krupicka said. “We’ll have more vegan options than a normal restaurant has, but more traditional options as well… Vegan options aren’t going away, but vegans have non-vegan friends, so we want something for them, too.”

The comfort food selection will include fried chicken, chicken sandwiches, and the sides that go with it.

Krupicka launched the Northern Virginia branch of Richmond-based Sugar Shack in 2015 to great local acclaim. The little Braddock shop’s hand-made donuts with a wild array of flavors were popular enough that Krupicka was able to expand into Arlington and D.C.

As the franchise further south started to get embroiled in infighting, Krupicka relaunched the Northern Virginia franchise as an independent chain called Elizabeth’s Counter. Elizabeth’s Counter continued producing handmade donuts but added more traditional restaurant fare with an emphasis on vegan options.

Around the same time, Krupicka launched Captain Gregory’s, a speakeasy adjacent to the main restaurant.

But that relaunch hit in March 2020, right as the COVID-19 pandemic started shutting down restaurants — many of which would never reopen. Elizabeth’s Counter remained open in Braddock, but the other locations closed within a year. Two years later, Krupicka said rising costs coupled with an office market that never fully returned has made handmade donuts unfeasible.

“The restaurant industry has changed a lot since the pandemic,” Krupicka said. “We have rising labor and ingredient costs. It got to a point where the labor and ingredient costs didn’t make sense for a handmade donut. We never used machinery in our kitchen, we made everything by hand, but it contributed to a higher-cost product.”

Krupicka said one of the big markets for donuts were local offices, but offices haven’t filled up the way they did pre-pandemic.

“People haven’t been going back to the office, and we’ve lost our going to the office donut business and it hasn’t come back,” Krupicka said. “I love donuts. My kids love donuts. This is entirely a business decision. I don’t have any regrets. I’ve loved the last seven and a half years doing donuts [and] we’re excited about the new business that’s coming.”

Krupicka said throughout September and October, he’ll be testing Railbird Kitchen menu items at Captain Gregory’s. Meanwhile, Elizabeth’s Counter will close for a couple months for cosmetic interior changes. Krupicka says he hopes to reopen in late fall or early winter.

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There was a crash in the area of N. patrick and Montgomery Streets in the Braddock area on July 29, 2022. (Via Google Maps)

A 27-year-old Washington, D.C. man is being held without bond after allegedly crashing his car into a Metro Bus in the Braddock area and ditching a “ghost gun.”

The incident occurred at around 4:45 p.m. on July 29 (Friday) in the area of N. Patrick and Montgomery Streets — just a few blocks from the Braddock Road Metro station. No one was injured in the crash.

The Metro Bus Driver told police that the driver of a black Nissan was driving “extremely fast” westbound on Montgomery Street and “blew through an intersection hitting the Metro Bus,” according to a search warrant affidavit.

“”There was significant damage done to the Nissan showing a crash at a dangerous speed,” police said in the search warrant affidavit. “(The driver) admitted to driving the vehicle when it crashed at a dangerous speed… consuming alcohol, and smoking marijuana approximately 30 minutes before operating the vehicle. (The driver) stated he was coming from D.C. to go to his girlfriend’s house.”

A witness then told police that the driver of the Nissan took a gun from his glove compartment and threw it in a bush in the 900 block of N. Patrick Street.

“I was able to recover that firearm, which is not serialized,” police said in the search warrant affidavit. “(The driver) denied knowledge of the firearm, but admitted to me he is on probation for firearms.”

The driver was charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, driving without a license, intent to distribute marijuana and driving while intoxicated. He goes to court on August 31.

Via Google Maps

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Rendering of new proposed Samuel Madden development (image courtesy ARHA)

After a contentious Board of Architectural Review (BAR) meeting, plans for the redevelopment of Samuel Madden Homes in the Braddock neighborhood are headed back to public review at a meeting next week.

The City of Alexandria said in a release that a community meeting for the proposed redevelopment is scheduled for Tuesday, July 26, at 6 p.m. in the Charles Houston Recreation Center (901 Wythe Street).

The BAR recommended approval of a plan to demolish the buildings in a 4-1 vote, but during the discussion BAR members has stern comments about the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority’s (ARHA) history of neglect that necessitated the redevelopment.

BAR member John Sprinkle also lamented the demolition of the homes as eroding part of the Parker-Gray historical district.

The plan is currently to turn the buildings into a larger mixed-use development that will replace the current 66-units across 13 buildings with 500 residential units.

“Representatives from the development team will discuss the current iteration of the development concept and timeline, and invite general public comment on the project,” a release from the City of Alexandria said.

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Developer Bonaventure broke ground last week on a six-story senior housing project just a few blocks away from the Braddock Road Metro station.

The project at 1112 First Street was formerly known as Aspire Alexandria, and was approved by the City in February 2020. It includes 133 one- and two-bedroom units, a 4,500-square-foot restaurant, underground parking and other “resort-style” amenities.

“Our housing portfolio may span multiple demographics, but our Bonaventure standard of excellence is the same — every property is purposely designed with excellence and the needs of the community in mind,” Dwight Dunton, Bonaventure’s CEO, said in a statement. “The future residents of this community will enjoy top-of-the-line and have unparalleled access to the best of Alexandria, helping to create a highly attractive destination that appeals to our target demographic.”

Bonaventure doesn’t have a name for the Old Town West property, which was previously home to Tony’s Auto Service for seven decades.

“The unnamed property will be situated within walking distance of the Braddock Road Metro Station, as well as I-495, King Street and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport,” Bonaventure said.

Bonaventure received a $50 million construction loan for the project in March, and said it expects apartments available to rent in late 2023. Units will only be available to residents who are 62 and older.

Photo via Bonaventure

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