Newsletter

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

Our top story this week was on a plan to completely close off the 100 block of King Street as a pedestrian-only zone. The plan has been in the works since 2019, and was put into action last year. ALXnow’s poll on the subject had very one-sided results, showing 91% (791 votes) in favor of a permanent change.

There was a momentous groundbreaking this week, as city leaders converged for the $454.4 million RiverRenew Tunnel Project. The project is a major overhaul to replace Old Town’s combined sewer system and prevent 120 million gallons of combined sewage from flowing into the Potomac River.

School violence has become a major issue in Alexandria, as videos of fights at schools are surfacing on the internet, there have been arrests at Alexandria City Public Schools, and protests in front of City Hall on Monday and Tuesday this week.

As for the Alexandria juvenile who was shot in the upper body at the McDonald’s in the Bradlee Shopping Center last week, police say that there have been no arrests yet.

Important stories

Top stories

  1. City looks to permanently ‘pedestrianize’ a block of King Street
  2. UPDATE: Alexandria man charged with homicide after stabbing at BJ’s Wholesale Club in Landmark area
  3. Total Wine is taking shape in Potomac Yard
  4. ALXnow’s top stories this week in Alexandria
  5. Man buys luxury car with fake driver’s license at Lindsay Lexus of Alexandria
  6. Protestors rally to return police to Alexandria schools, but officials say behind-the-scenes talks have stalled
  7. Man arrested for posting lewd photos of Alexandria stepsister on Twitter
  8. Firecracker shuts down Alexandria City High School football game
  9. Adoptable Chihuahua Dory only weighs 3.5 pounds
  10. Mayor Wilson: Potomac Yard construction delay ‘could have nothing to do with Metro station’
  11. Police: Juvenile shot at shopping center near Alexandria City High School

Have a safe weekend!

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The sprawling Carlyle Crossing development that aims to completely transform Eisenhower East is inching closer to completion as the first of the apartment buildings starts pre-leasing.

The first of the properties to start pre-leasing at the property is Reese, a 161-residence tower at 2495 Mandeville Lane. The building will have a 3-acre, 60-foot-high elevated terrace park that connects to another residential building, Dylan. Reese opened for pre-leasing earlier this month, with residents starting move-in later this fall. A third apartment building, Easton, will open this winter and the Dylan is scheduled to open early next year.

Together, the three towers will have approximately 700 units.

Construction on Carlyle Crossing started in mid-2019 and is currently scheduled to be fully open by spring 2022. The development is part of a broader range of significant redevelopments underway near the east end of Eisenhower Avenue.

The overall Carlyle Crossing development from real estate development company Stonebridge is planned to have 1.7 million square feet of mixed-use development, with 210,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space. Perhaps most anticipated among the announced retail is Wegmans, which is scheduled to open in 2022.

The property is just north of the Eisenhower Metro station and next to the National Science Foundation.

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Morning Notes

Gun used in murder belonged to suspect’s bondsman — “The homicide of Alexandria resident Karla Dominguez last summer sparked widespread uproar because her alleged murderer, Ibrahim Bouaichi, had been released on bond in April despite having been indicted for allegedly raping and assaulting Dominguez in October 2019. Now, new information reveals that the bondsman who posted bail for Bouaichi knew him beforehand and that both the vehicle and weapon Bouaichi used to commit the murder belonged to the bondsman, Man Nguyen.” [Alex Times]

Twenty years later, residents recall the September 11 attacks — “Two residents had been on the plane that hit the Pentagon and many more residents had friends and other people from their lives who had been killed or impacted by the attacks on New York City and the Pentagon and the crash in Pennsylvania. On Friday, Sept. 14, the city held a candlelight vigil at Market Square, with residents filling the area in front of city hall and overflowing onto King, Cameron and Fairfax streets.” [Alex Times]

River Farm negotiations continue despite developer interest — “The Northern Virginia Conservation Trust is claiming that a developer has given a letter of intent to purchase River Farm. The American Horticultural Society, which listed River Farm for sale in 2020, said it continues to only consider an offer from NOVA Parks.” [Patch]

Wegmans announces May 2022 opening in Carlyle — “Wegmans is building an 81,000 square-foot store in Alexandria just west of Hoffman Town Center off of Eisenhower Avenue. The grocery store at Carlyle Crossing is part of a mixed-use project on a 5-acre site.” [Alexandria Living]

Patrick Henry Recreation Center offers co-ed pick-up indoor futsal —  “All games have a running 8-minute clock, three goals to win, or the team ahead after 8 minutes stays on the floor. This drop-in program is free for City of Alexandria residents.Teens ages 12 to 15 meet every Saturday from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. Adults ages 16 and up meet every Tuesday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.” [Facebook]

Today’s weather — “Mainly sunny. High 78F. Winds NNW at 10 to 20 mph… A mostly clear sky (in the evening). Low 56F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New job: Watch officer — “The Watch Officer oversees the Department of Emergency & Customer Communications (DECC) call center operations and provides supervision to the department’s Public Safety Communications Supervisors. This position is responsible for monitoring, analyzing and assessing the potential impact that local and national threats may have on City-wide systems and resources; maintains communication with stakeholders including departmental staff, local and regional emergency communications officials, and the public; manages the department’s quality assurance program and accreditation program; and serves as the notification point-of-contact for information responsible for managing the Employee and Public Alerting System utilized by the City.” [Indeed]

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Alexandria was spared from significant flooding this week after remnants of Hurricane Ida swept through the East Coast. The only flooding found was on lower King Street in Old Town, where businesses laid sandbags at windows and doorways.

“We’re open inside, but if you want to eat you’re probably going to have to come barefoot,” a hostess at Mai Thai told ALXnow on Wednesday.

Our top story this week was, for the second week in a row, on the recent brawl inside Alexandria City High School.

It’s a three-day weekend, and on Sunday the annual Old Town Festival of Speed & Style will bring crowds to marvel at classic and beautiful rides along King Street. Monday is Labor Day, and the city will operate on a holiday schedule.

In this week’s poll we asked how satisfied readers are with Alexandria City Public Schools since reopening on August 24. A majority (31%) reported being extremely unsatisfied with the school system, while 29% said ACPS has done a good job, 25% are extremely satisfied and 14% are unhappy overall.

Important stories

Top stories

  1. BREAKING: Video shows brawl at Alexandria City High School cafeteria just two days after school starts
  2. 13-year-old hit by car while walking home from school in Del Ray
  3. Fox put George Washington Middle School into a lock-in today
  4. Man arrested for spending spree after finding wallet in Bradlee Shopping Center parking lot
  5. No injuries or arrests after shots fired on Duke Street
  6. ACPS Superintendent Hutchings asks community to hit the brakes on email campaigns
  7. Alexandria man arrested for beating up ex-girlfriend in Old Town North
  8. Alexandria sees cases rise in August and warns of COVID-19 in schools
  9. Alexandria man convicted for possessing child porn and violating parole
  10. Historic Black cemetery under threat of being washed away in Old Town
  11. Man swallows two bags of drugs and runs from police in Old Town

Have a safe weekend!

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A male suspected of breaking into a locker at a gym in the Carlyle area and going on a spending spree has been on the run for more than a year-and-a-half.

The incident at OneLife Fitness occurred on December 1, 2019. The victim told police that he locked his belongings with a Swiss turnstile lock, and returned 40 minutes later to find the lock gone and the locker empty. Among the items stolen were a $100 duffel bag, a sterling silver money clip, cash, credit cards, his driver’s license, and car and house keys, according to police.

Just 20 minutes after he found the empty locker, the victim was notified that someone tried to buy something worth $2,500 at the Pentagon City Fashion Center. That payment was declined, and the suspect then used another credit card, which went through. The suspect then used another card to make a $1,900 purchase at an Apple Store, and then tried to spend more than $800 at a Footlocker store, but that payment was declined.

The suspect checked into OneLife Fitness using the name David Thomas, which was also the name the suspect gave to Footlocker employees, according to police.

Police secured warrants for the suspect on December 15, 2020, which is more than a year after the incident. Using phone records, police determined that the suspect made outgoing calls from the gym as well as in Pentagon City, and that the suspect also made multiple calls to his mother.

Police have made contact with the suspect three times via phone, but he “was not compliant with the option to turn himself in for the warrants,” according to a search warrant affidavit. “The whereabout of (the suspect) are unknown at this time.”

The most recent contact was made with the suspect last month, according to a search warrant affidavit.

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Morning Notes

Carlyle Community Survey is open until July 15 — “Do you live, work or occupy a building in Carlyle? Then make sure to take the 2021 Carlyle Commuter survey! Your feedback helps improve our Transportation Management Program, and how we as a community get to and from Carlyle. Survey closes on 7/15. ” [Twitter]

Old Town blood drive on July 26 — “On July 26, Inova Blood Donor Services will be hosting an Old Town Blood Drive at Market Square, 301 King St. As a thank you, donors will receive an exclusive Olympic themed t-shirt. The need for blood is constant and blood banks are anticipating an increase in the need for blood due to the resumption of elective surgeries.” [City of Alexandria]

Recognition of burial grounds at Fort Ward Park to be discussed — “Those attending the July 31 meeting should meet city staff in the parking lot behind Fort Ward Museum. Attendees will walk to the four major burial sites.” [Patch]

Today’s weather — “Partial cloudiness early, with scattered showers and thunderstorms in the afternoon. Storms may contain strong gusty winds. High 92F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 30%… Clear to partly cloudy. Low 72F. Winds WSW at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New job: Temporary enrichment and fitness instructor — “In pursuit of service excellence the Enrichment and Fitness Instructor provides youth, adult, and senior leisure classes at various recreation centers through the City of Alexandria. In this role, you will have the opportunity to ensure that the goals are met to provide a safe, fun, structured and engaging atmosphere for all our customers. Enthusiasm, flexibility and excellent communication skills are needed to be successful in this position.” [Indeed]

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The Alexandria City Council unanimously approved a massive high-rise apartment building project near the Eisenhower Metro Station in Carlyle, and none of the 1,414 units will be dedicated to affordable housing.

Instead, the applicant Carlyle Plaza, LLC, will contribute $6.1 million to the city’s Housing Trust Fund.

Jonathan P. Rak, an attorney for the applicant, told Council that the city will get more bang for its buck by spending the $6.1 million on “wood construction, which is a less expensive type of construction to actually produce more high-quality affordable units within the city, than if we were to just take that money and apply it to these high-rise concrete construction units.”

Alexandria is currently experiencing an affordable housing crisis, and lost 90% of its affordable housing stock between 2000 and 2017. Consequently, the city has pledged to produce or develop thousands of units to meet 2030 regional housing goal set by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. With land scarce, controversy erupted last year when City Council asked the School Board to consider colocating affordable housing on public school grounds in future development plans.

City Councilman Mo Seifeldein was the only member of Council to criticize the 1.4 million-square-foot Carlyle Plaza II project, which will ultimately add four new 30-story and 28-story apartment buildings, including 15,000 square feet of ground floor retail, above-grade parking, five acres of open space and public art.

“Contributing money alone, while helpful, it also creates those inequities and an intended separation of certain segments of our populations, and also denies them the opportunity to be in this area,” said Seifeldein before voting for the project. “We hope that in the future this applicant or other applicants look at what we’re doing here today and really try to work with us, because this is a monumental project that could have been greater, but an opportunity has been lost.”

Via City of Alexandria

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A stretch of the Carlyle neighborhood that’s been mostly empty fields could see its mixed-use development transformation approved over the next month.

The sweeping redevelopment of the east end of Eisenhower Avenue is headed to the Planning Commission next Thursday (June 24) before going to the City Council on Tuesday, July 6.

The plan is to construct four residential tower buildings with around 1,414 units and up to 15,000 square feet of retail. The site will also have a four or five story parking garage and 5 acres of open space.

A permit was originally approved for the project in 2012 as a primarily office-complex, but in 2014 concerns about finding a sizable enough office tenant led to the project being redesigned as residential and retail. The office space was halved and that, along with a potential hotel-use, are being considered as potential uses.

The latest version of the project was submitted for review last July. The project also features a visually distinct garden-design, with the urban greenery sloping down into a recreational field.

Courtesy City of Alexandria

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A man was struck by a vehicle in the 2100 block of Jamieson Avenue this afternoon and taken to the hospital, though his injuries are not considered life-threatening.

“We had a male pedestrian struck on Jamieson,” said Alexandria Police Department senior communication officer Amanda Paga. “[He] was taken to the hospital due to his age, but he had non-life-threatening injuries.”

The incident occurred in the Carlyle neighobrhood a block away from the Federal Courthouse and The Westin hotel.

Initial reports indicated that the man was conscious, but bleeding from the head when first responders arrived on scene.

Paga said the driver of the vehicle stayed on-scene after the incident.

Via Google Maps

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The building blocks for what will become a sweeping mixed-use development replacing Landmark Mall are almost in place. A small discussion about street ownership could also have big implications for the future of the site’s identity.

The Eisenhower West Landmark Van Dorn Implementation Advisory Group met on Monday to put some of the finishing touches on some of the initial framework discussed over the last few months. One of the major points of discussion is over who will own the roads.

While The Wharf is cited as an inspiration behind some of the development concepts at the former Landmark Mall site, some at the advisory group meeting pointed to the city’s Carlyle neighborhood for inspiration.

“If it’s a private street, we would require public access easements so everyone has access, making sure it’s open and available to everyone,” said Jeff Farner, Deputy Director of Planning and Zoning for the City of Alexandria

Jonathan Rak, a partner at law firm McGuireWoods, said his leading preference would be for privately owned streets with public easements.

“All of these framework streets will have public access easements so that they function with the same types of access as any dedicated street,” Rak said. “As a comparison, all streets in Carlyle are privately owned but have public access easement and look, smell, and feel like any other public street.”

Rak said privately owned streets with public access easements can help give more flexibility with how the street is built and how it operates.

“In terms of why we’ve been asking for some private streets… one of the things we want to be able to do is enhance paving materials in those areas,” Rak said. “Having a private street gives us more flexibility in terms of paving materials. [If we] want to have the ability to close down some portions of those streets to make them into farmers markets, street festivals, those kinds of activating type uses, private street with public easement lets us do that.”

There are other questions and concerns moving forward that will need to be addressed down the road by the City Council and Planning Commission. Agnes Artemel said there are still lingering questions about sustainability and building heights — particularly minimum heights, as some developers have come back to the city saying they aren’t planning to go as high as some earlier estimates.

The Planning Commission is scheduled to review the early plans for Landmark Mall at the June 24 meeting, with those plans headed to the City Council on July 6.

Image via City of Alexandria

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