Newsletter

Alexandria Police are investigating a bullet that struck the door of a 7-Eleven near the Braddock Road Metro station.

No one was injured in the incident, which occurred at around 8:30 p.m., according to police. A bullet hit the door of the business at 421 E. Braddock Road.

The 7-Eleven is next door to Lena’s Wood-Fired Pizza & Tap and across the street from George Washington Middle School. It is also a half mile from where shots were fired in Old Town last week that led to a chase, four arrests and a suspect death.

Map via Google Maps

2 Comment

(Updated at 12:35 a.m.) Alexandria Police shut down northbound Route 1 around Madison Street on Wednesday night after multiple buildings were struck by bullets.

The shooting occurred at around 8:40 p.m. and ended in a car chase in D.C.

“We’re investigating a call for shots fired in the 800 block of North Patrick street happened around 8:40 p.m.,” Alexandria Police Senior Public Information Officer Amanda Paga told ALXnow. “We had multiple buildings struck. Officers located a suspect vehicle and initiated a pursuit, which ended in Southeast D.C.”

The incident occurred in the Braddock area near Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority properties, where a number of calls for shots fired have occurred over the last year.

No one was reported to have been injured in the shootings. Police could not immediately confirm reports that the suspects attempted to bail out on Interstate 295, but later confirmed that three people had been taken into custody in the District.

Map via Google Maps

3 Comments

After mostly smooth sailing, the City Council’s 4-3 denial of the Braddock West project came as a bit of a surprise.

The plan was to replace a series of townhomes just east of the Braddock Road Metro station with a towering new mixed-use development, containing 174 residential units and ground floor retail and restaurant uses.

The project faced some concerns from nearby residents — primarily concerning the stormwater impact from the project and the scale — but far less than the controversial Heritage project the City Council unanimously approved. The project had a seal of approval from the neighboring residential association and the Alexandria Redevelopment Housing Authority, which had baffled one member of the Planning Commission who had noted the project would dramatically overshadow the Andrew Adkins development.

Those concerns that had been in the background at the Planning Commission came to the forefront, with City Council members Amy Jackson, Canek Aguirre, John Chapman and Mo Seifeldein voting against the project. Aguirre raised the issue that the outreach done by the project was years ago when the development was part of a larger development with ARMA, but those plans have since fallen apart after the ARHA redevelopment was delayed.

“I was at that first meeting they did for the bigger project, interesting meeting that took people by surprise,” Chapman said. “I would share the concern that Mr. Aguirre has shared. The community has changed over the years and it is a different project. To try to act like the community outreach done for the full block with ARMA is the same as a separate project is not the way we should operate.”

Pepper also slammed the project for what she argued was disappointing 10-year-storm-focused stormwater sewage improvements, despite staff arguing that the project shouldn’t be saddled with fixing the neighborhood’s woefully inadequate stormwater protections.

“Ten year storms?” Pepper said. “We don’t even have them. That’s a sprinkle. We don’t have ten year storms, we’re up there in the 100s. They’re the ones that bother us. They’re the ones that flood the basements and ruin’s people’s carpets and furniture.”

27 Comments

Morning Notes

Usain Bolt compliments Alexandria’s running phenom Noah Lyles — “He talks the talk, but I’m looking forward to seeing how he’s going to match up – because he’s proven that he has the speed, just throughout the circuit and the way he’s running.” [USA Today]

City Council votes against Braddock West development — “A request by West Street Acquisitions, LLC to build a large multifamily residential building across the street from the Braddock Road Metro Station were denied in a 4-3 vote by City Council on Saturday.” [Alexandria Living]

Goodwin House residents recall activism — “As a college student, Dr. Drue Shropshire Guy was immediately inspired when he heard the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. They drove him to take part in campus sit-ins while studying at Ohio St. University. These demonstrations were meant to shed light on segregation in the local community.” [Zebra]

City collecting mulch orders for April delivery — “Remember all those Christmas Trees collected in January and the leaves collected in the fall? Orders for wood and leaf mulch are being accepted for April delivery. Visit alexandriava.gov/Mulch to place your order.” [Twitter]

Today’s weather — “Rain (during the day). High near 60F. Winds SE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 90%. Rainfall around a half an inch… Thunderstorms during the evening giving way to periods of light rain overnight. Low 42F. Winds NNE at 15 to 25 mph. Chance of rain 90%.” [Weather.com]

New job: Server — “HomeGrown Restaurant Group is a family-owned group and initially established its roots in Alexandria in the early 1990s. We currently have six locations spanning five different concepts. We are looking for servers to join our team that are well organized, customer service oriented, and have an overall positive attitude.” [Indeed]

10 Comments

What an eventful week in Alexandria.

Thursday, March 11, marked the one-year anniversary of the coronavirus pandemic in Alexandria. As the vaccine rollout slowly improves, the most recent news is the allowance of restaurant workers to get the vaccine. Just over 38,000 doses have been administered in the city, and of that 14,661 residents have been fully vaccinated. The city also wants 80% of residents vaccinated by July 31.

Alexandria Sheriff Dana Lawhorne also announced that he will not seek reelection this fall, bringing an end to his 43-year law enforcement career. Lawhorne’s protege Sean Casey is now running for the seat in the June 8 Democratic primary.

Criticism against the proposed renovation of the Taylor Run Stream continued this week, and even City Councilwoman Amy Jackson has decided to join residents in opposition.

More than 220 people participated in our poll this week on school resource officers. More than half of respondents said that ACPS should hire more SROs, 30% said the program should be eliminated and 11% believe SROs should only work part time.

In case you missed them, here are some other important stories:

Our top stories this week:

  1. Inova to Launch New Vaccine Clinic Inside Revamped Victory Center
  2. Battle Royale: Princess Street Development Duel Returns to City This Month
  3. Just In: Captain Sean Casey is Running for Alexandria Sheriff
  4. Alexandria Police Arrest Seven People and Seize Drugs, Guns and Cash
  5. Development Questions Remain for New Braddock West Project Headed to City Council
  6. City Could Help Turn Hotels Emptied by Coronavirus Into Affordable Housing
  7. Just Listed in Alexandria
  8. Do You Like the Suggested Names for T.C. Williams and Matthew Maury?
  9. A Year Late, Contractor Eyes Spring Completion for King Street Metro Access Improvement Project
  10. Superintendent Proposes New Names for T.C. Williams High School and Matthew Maury Elementary
  11. Councilwoman Amy Jackson Argues With School Board Over MacArthur Elementary Construction Schedule

Have a safe weekend!

2 Comments

Braddock West will transform the view of Alexandria from the Braddock Road Metro station, but some of the specifics of that arrangement and the impact on neighbors is unclear as the project heads to City Council review on Saturday, March 13.

Unlike some developments in Alexandria, Braddock West is moving forward with support from neighborhood organizations like the Braddock Implementation Advisory Group and the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority (ARHA). The Planning Commission also recommended approval, though with some lingering questions about who will pay for the sewer work required by the city.

The applicant requested reimbursement from the city for required stormwater work at the project. That work had initially been planned to be coordinated with block-wide redevelopment that would have mitigated that cost, but with ARHA’s redevelopment of the Andrew Adkins development delayed, the burden of the cost was shifted entirely to the developer of Braddock West.

Members of the Planning Commission said it was not within their power to create exceptions or grant reimbursement, but said the issue could resurface when the project goes to the City Council.

The discussion also raised concerns from Planning Commissioner David Brown, who was the lone vote against the project, who said he was uncomfortable with the city disregarding its own master plan for a site without clear explanation of why.

According to Brown:

I have no hesitancy in saying I can’t support it. I’ve made clear in my past my reservations on a situation like this, where a development is accompanied by a master plan amendment and rezoning. This development application is everything the Oakville Triangle Project is not. That project had a careful amendment and analysis of how the land needed to be adjusted  — before we got to the problem of developing conditions for approval for a single property.

Not in this case, we’re torn over issues related to financial responsibilities for the development of a single property when what the master plan said — which this project is not consistent with — was for [development] on this property along with the Adkins site for four acres

My standard for approval of a change of master plan is you need to explain to me why the master plan recommendation was wrong int he first place or why circumstances have changed so significantly that those circumstances are no longer viable.

Brown said he only got vague responses from the staff for why the ARHA project fell through, and he is concerned the new project will fully eclipse the Andrew Adkins neighbors despite a letter of endorsement for the project from ARHA CEO Keith Pettigrew.

“What I see today are garden style low-level apartments where all the light and air will be completely blocked by a building seven stories high and a football field long from all of the western sun that comes streaming in over Braddock metro site in the afternoon,” Brown said. “If I were representing ARHA I’d be screaming about that, not saying it’s a wonderful project.”

Then-Chair Nathan Macek said that the city has to allow flexibility around master plans to adapt for market conditions.

“Market conditions are subject to change,” Macek said, “and what was envisioned, when it doesn’t materialize to the extent in this case where redevelopment of the full city block was not possible, we need to look for next most consistent approach with small area plan.”

Image via CRC

10 Comments

In a Board of Architectural Review meeting earlier this week, local historic preservation consultant John Sprinkle shared some research from an upcoming book about the intersection — and sometimes fiery conflict — between the city’s efforts at historic preservation and the Civil Rights movement.

“From Historic Preservation to Neighborhood Conservation: Displacement, Urban Violence, and Architectural Survey in Alexandria, Virginia” details how, over the last fifty years, the city’s efforts at historic preservation have sometimes been at odds with efforts at preserving affordable housing in and around Black neighborhoods.

Preservation efforts as they’re known today in the city generally took shape in the 1960s, but were influenced by cultural and political movements of the 1970s. Things came to a head in 1970 when a 7-Eleven shopkeeper shot and killed 19-year-old Robin Gibson and tried to frame him for a robbery by planting a knife on his body. Riots erupted across the city.

“Alexandria marched along in a very traditional way up to 1970,” Sprinkle said. “Then something happens in 1970 with a period of experimentation in the mid-70s specifically dealing with what becomes Parker-Gray.”

Also in 1970, a city report ranked buildings throughout the city on a 1-4 scale, listed what was most-to-least in need of preserving. It was a common practice in the United Kingdom at the time, but was controversial in the United States. In Alexandria, it provided land owners with an idea of what was really important and what could be replaced with modern development, Sprinkle said.

The report also included a proposed 30-block expansion of Old Town to the north, though the city eventually settled on a smaller 13 block expansion.

“Alexandria faced a conundrum,” Sprinkle said. “[They] recognized that expansion of Old and Historic District would lead to displacement of lower income families, but they also saw expanding the district would increase property values and the residential tax base within the district.”

Sprinkle said, with the economy in shambles in the early 1970s, that expanding the Old and Historic District must have been a tempting prospect. The move was opposed by local Black community leaders at the time, who noted that increased property values would force Black families and communities from their homes. Black leaders subsequently promoted “neighborhood conservation” as an alternative to historic preservation.

“Displaced from Old Town neighborhoods, African-Americans integrated formerly all-white working class communities in Del Ray and Arlandria,” Sprinkle said. “Despite the heroic narrative in Remember the Titans… the dual path of desegregation and displacement was indeed contentious.”

Sprinkle noted that conflicts between equal justice movements and Lost Cause celebration were as active in the 1970s as they are today. Rioters targeted a building adjacent to Robert E. Lee’s home — which had been recently turned into a museum — with a molotov cocktail and flames gutted much of the interior. A carriage house undergoing rehabilitation was firebombed with most of the building’s architectural elements destroyed.

Sprinkle said the riots had a profound impact on the city’s planning efforts. The historic preservation at the time started to shift toward neighborhood conservation. The city pursued grants from National Endowment for the Humanities that focused on conservation as part of  “an experiment designed to address forecasted displacement of African Americans in the north-western quadrant.”

In 1973, the City Council rejected the expansion of the Old and Historic District to cover the area known as Parker-Gray after an outpouring of opposition from the area’s predominately Black citizens. The Parker-Gray District was established in 1984 to protect the neighborhood from incoming development. The Old and Historic District and Parker-Gray District remain distinct historic districts, though as of 2019 both are reviewed by the same Board of Architectural Review.

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

2 Comment

Carpenter’s Shelter has invited the community to a ribbon-cutting on Thursday (Dec. 10) for the new shelter for people experiencing homelessness.

“This ribbon-cutting will be held in conjunction with with the Alexandria Housing Development Corporation, who will be celebrating the opening of 97 affordable apartment units named The Bloom at Braddock,” the nonprofit said in a press release.

The new facility will have 60 beds available and ten of the homes in The Bloom will be available for chronically homeless adults. Those saying in the supportive housing units above will have case managers to assist with chronic issues like health, employment and education.

“It’s with pride that we open the doors on this purpose-built space to help Alexandria’s population that is homeless,” said Shannon Steene, executive director of Carpenter Shelter. “But more importantly to be able to work with a great organization in AHDC to also increase the city’s affordable housing supply. It’s great to be a part of this dynamic collaboration and we are looking forward to working together.”

Image via AHDC

2 Comment

Alexandria Lighting & Supply, a feature of the Braddock neighborhood for the last 50 years, could be making the move to the West End of Alexandria if approved at a Planning Commission meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) and a City Council meeting after that.

After moving away from its current location at 701 N. Henry St, the store is planning to open in a new building called Avanti 550 at 550 South Pickett Street.

Applicant Avanti Holdings described the lot as a triangular-shaped vacant lot measuring 32,987 square feet. The store would be next to the Cameron Park industrial complex and near the Van Dorn Station shopping center.

The new building would be triangular shaped to fit the lot and would contain both a retail showroom and storage for lighting equipment.

“A portion of the building would be used as a retail showroom and the remaining portion would consist of warehouse/storage primarily for the lighting business,” a staff report said. “The proposed new building would be modern in design and urban in form and include underground parking. The underground parking would be accessed from a new private street along the southern property line.”

The staff report on the proposed new development recommended approval.

The current location in Braddock is eventually slated to be replaced with a new 94-unit residential development with potential to add retail on the ground floor a little further down the road.

Images via City of Alexandria

7 Comments

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

7 Comments
×

Subscribe to our mailing list