Alexandria, VA

Morning Notes

Beyer: We Must Protect the U.S. Postal Service —  “I have been in touch with local postal officials, who express their commitment to ensuring the timely delivery and return of all ballots. This could be an issue in many parts of the country, however, and I will be working with my colleagues to exercise constant vigilance and ensure that elections are fair and safe. My Northern Virginia colleague, U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly, serves as the chair of the Oversight Subcommittee on Government Operations, and with his tireless leadership the House will do all it can to fix these problems and restore operations and service at USPS.” [Gazette]

Three City Parks Scheduled for Improvements — “Projects at or near Powhatan, Hooffs Run, and Brenman Parks to occur over next two months.” [Zebra]

City Holding Virtual 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony Online — “Alexandria’s ceremony is prerecorded and virtual to avoid a large gathering during the pandemic. It will include remarks from Mayor Justin Wilson, City Manager Mark Jinks, and representatives from the Alexandria Fire Department, Police Department, and Sheriff’s Office. There will also be a “Return to Quarters” bell-ringing ceremony.” [Patch]

Alexandria Wedding Showcase Goes Virtual — “Tune in virtually on Sunday, Sept. 13 to hear from a variety of vendors on trends, wedding industry changes, and what you need to know while planning your wedding during a pandemic.” [Alexandria Living]

Carlyle Concert Series Starts Friday — “Enjoy the Carlyle Farmers Market while you attend the Concert! Alcohol is available for purchase at select vendor stands and bar as well BYOB-Bring Your Own Beverage will be observed in designated area.” [Facebook]

Harvest Moon Yoga Tonight in Del Ray — “Shine on Harvest Moon! Free outdoor yoga in Del Ray returns every Wed. Sept. 9 – Oct. 14, 6:00 – 7:00 pm at the Del Ray Psych & Wellness lot, 1900 Mt. Vernon Avenue (Corner of E. Bellefonte) in the Heart of Del Ray.” [Facebook]

Today’s Weather — “Cloudy early. Scattered thunderstorms developing later in the day. High 81F. Winds ENE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 50%. Scattered thunderstorms in the evening, then mainly cloudy overnight with thunderstorms likely. Heavy and torrential downpours at times. Low 72F. Winds ENE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 80%.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Dog Walker and Pet Sitter — “Are you a veterinary technician who has been pet-sitting under the table to supplement your income? Have you worried about your lack of insurance or back-up plan if you got sick? If so, then joining Cat Nanny Jess might be the answer to all your worries!” [Indeed]

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In years past, the Alexandria Old Town Art Festival has packed King Street full of art vendors. This year, that changes with a new venue to allow for some extra pandemic precautions.

The Old Town festival will be moving a little west to 300 John Carlyle Street in the Carlyle neighborhood on Saturday, September 12 and Sunday, September 13.

The festival will run from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on both days.

“Carlyle is a mixed-use community within the Eisenhower East area of Alexandria and includes high-rise residential complexes, hotels and retail establishments,” the festival organizers said on the website. “The strong support we receive from the Alexandria Convention and Visitors Bureau contributes to the local crowd, and that support continues to its new location. All artwork is juried, which provides a higher level of quality, diversity and creativity of art on display, exemplifying the gifted artists in regions from all over the country.”

Art Festival is coming soon to John Carlyle Square Park! Mark your calendars for September 12th and 13th! Admission is free, masks are required. Stay tuned for more details as we get closer to the event dates.

Posted by Carlyle Council on Thursday, August 27, 2020

The porous movement in and out of the King Street festival that defined it in the past has also been replaced by the necessity of reserved time slots. Visitors will be required to reserve a time slot online to limit the number of attendees. Entrances and exits will also be monitored for one-way traffic, the site said.

According to the website, other pandemic restrictions include

• All attendees are asked to wear a mask upon entering the Festival, with the exception of children aged 2 and under.
• Social distancing is required between artists and patrons, and patron groups.
• Patrons are asked to stay home if they have been diagnosed with COVID-19, awaiting test results for COVID-19, or show any symptoms of the virus.
• Guests are also asked to utilize hand-washing and sanitizing stations on a regular basis and avoid casual touching.

A list of exhibiting artists is available online, including painters, jewelers, and mixed-media artists.

Photo via Howard Alan Events/Facebook

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Morning Notes

(Updated 8/7) Upcoming Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend Canceled — “The coronavirus has canceled one of Alexandria’s most beloved traditions this winter.” [Alexandria Living]

Beyer Blames Trump for Coronavirus Response Failures — “The White House is simultaneously blaming state governments for Trump’s failed pandemic response and blocking federal assistance to support state and local governments.” [Twitter]

Fire Department: Use Flashlight, Not Candle if Power Goes Out — “Tropical Storm #Isaias is expected to bring heavy rain and wind gusts that may cause power outages. If you experience an outage, use a flashlight for emergency lighting instead of candles to prevent a possible fire. Be prepared. Be informed. Be ready.” [Twitter]

City Suspends Trash and Recycling Today — “Due to expected impacts from Tropical Storm Isaias, the City of Alexandria has suspended its curbside trash and recycling collection for Tuesday, August 4.” [Zebra]

Ebbin Pledges to Fight for Marijuana Legalization in 2021 — “In 2020, six years of hard work paid off in major reform to our criminal justice system by decriminalizing possession of marijuana. In 2021, I’m ready to do the hard work to legalize cannabis in Virginia the right way.” [Facebook]

Silver Diner to Open August 12 — “The 6,500-square foot restaurant is part of West Alex, a new $185 million mixed-use community at the corner of King and North Beauregard streets, anchored by an in-the-works Harris Teeter grocery store and Array, a 278-unit apartment building.” [Alexandria Living]

New Farmers Market in Carlyle Starts Friday — “The Carlyle Vitality Initiative is hosting a new Farmer’s Market at John Carlyle Square Park, starting on August 7th! We can’t wait to see you this weekend!” [Facebook]

Today’s Weather — “Thunderstorms. Potential for heavy rainfall. Low 71F. Winds SE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 100%.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Activities and Volunteer Coordinator — “At Sunrise, our Activities & Volunteer Coordinator is responsible for leading the day to day activities and programs for a Sunrise Senior Living community.” [Indeed]

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Catholic University of America (CUA) is planning to open up a new branch in Alexandria’s Carlyle neighborhood.

According to an application headed to the Planning Commission in September, CUA is hoping to renovate the second floor of 2050 Ballenger Avenue to create a new location specifically for students in Alexandria, Arlington, and other Northern Virginia locations.

The building is currently home to the Carlyle Club and Atlantic Union Bank on the ground floor.

“The premises will be renovated into a space including six classrooms that can each accommodate between 15 to 30 students, a computer laboratory and ancillary breakout rooms,” CUA said in its application. “The space will also include offices for a small number of staff and faculty to meet with students or prepare for class. The space will not include any laboratory, research or library facilities.”

According to the application, most programs would be offered on weekday evenings and occasional daytime events, such as small academic conferences.

“Courses would be taugtht by part-time, adjunct faculty members from the community, who would not have a full=time presence at the subject site outside of class meeting times,” CUA said.

The application is scheduled to be reviewed at the Sept. 1 Planning Commission meeting.

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Over 13 years since it was originally proposed, a plan to turn the quiet southeastern corner of the Eisenhower corridor into a pair of mixed-use towers is coming back with some new proposed uses.

A project called 765 John Carlyle proposes turning the empty grass lot near what is still Eisenhower Circle — for now — into “two mixed-use towers conjoined by the common podium” according to an application by Carlyle Plaza, LLC.

While the original plan was for both towers to be office buildings, the new application says the southern tower will have 15 levels of senior living. The number of units, and price range, aren’t listed in the application. The northern tower will remain an office building in the new plans.

“The project will also include ground-floor retail to activate the adjacent streets,” the developer said. “The towers are conjoined at the base by an above-grade parking structure that ascends approximately four stories above the ground floor retail and lobby space.”

The new building is part of a broader plan to turn Eisenhower Avenue into a hub of commercial and residential activity, with a particular focus on the eastern end of that corridor to take full advantage of the nearby Patent and Trademark Office and relatively new National Science Foundation building.

The project is scheduled for review at the Carlyle/Eisenhower East Design Review Board on Monday, June 22.

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Alexandria formally moved into the second phase of its economic recovery today (Friday), and while some businesses are embracing the easing of restrictions, others are taking a slower approach.

Even though there was only one new reported case of coronavirus in the city today, Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson said that phase 2 does not mean that the city is out of the woods just yet.

“We need our residents and visitors to continue to socially distance, wear masks and stay home when ill,” Wilson told ALXnow. “We are able to ease restrictions because everyone played their part over the past few months. We have more work to do to keep our community safe.”

Under the loosened restrictions, Alexandria restaurants can offer indoor dining at 50% capacity; fitness centers can operate at 30% capacity and pools can operate for exercise.

Bill Blackburn, co-owner of the Homegrown Restaurant Group, is opening the inside of Whiskey & Oyster and Tequila & Taco in Caryle and will continue curbside pickup at Sweet Fire Donna’s, Pork Barrel BBQ and Holy Cow Del Ray.

“Our number one priority is the safety of our employees and customers,” Blackburn told ALXnow. “Every concept is different with layout and footprint, we have to make different decisions for different properties.”

The pandemic closed about half of the city’s 860 permitted food establishments. More than 100 retail and restaurant businesses have received the new ALX Promise accreditation decal, which launched three weeks ago and requires business owners and staff to undergo a training session and sign a pledge to maintain safe and sanitary practices.

Natalie Talis, a population health manager with the Alexandria Health Department, said that 289 businesses have expressed interest in participating in the ALX Promise initiative, which is a partnership with Visit Alexandria, the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce.

“Just because these new phases are happening and businesses are reopening, it doesn’t mean that we can be any less vigilant about washing our hands really frequently, wearing a face-covering in public settings, and also not crowding together,” she said. “We have to keep messaging about that and banging the drum that COVID hasn’t disappeared.”

As Northern Virginia moves into Phase Two today, we at Port City still do not feel that it is time to reopen our Tasting…

Posted by Port City Brewing Company on Friday, June 12, 2020

We want to THANK ALL OF YOU for sticking with us. We're celebrating our 3000th follower this June. By now offering…

Posted by Virtue Feed & Grain on Friday, June 12, 2020

Staff photo by James Cullum

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Alexandria is putting many of the city’s homeless in hotel rooms for the foreseeable future.

“While many of our hotels are suffering significant losses of their own, they have been willing to partner with the City to assist in the response,” Mayor Justin Wilson told ALXnow. “To ensure that our homeless populations can maintain safe social distancing, these hotel partnerships have been critical.”

On April 1, the city made a contract with the Residence Inn Old Town Alexandria South at Carlyle, to house up to 46 households experiencing homelessness, city spokesman Craig Fifer said.

“Since the situation is evolving, there is no specific end date for this sheltering option at this time,” Fifer said.

The individuals and families being housed are equipped with kitchens, and rooms are attended by hotel housekeeping staff.

Some households are receiving food through ALIVE! and the City’s Frozen Meals Delivery Program, Fifer said.

“Individuals and families experiencing homelessness are often more vulnerable because it may be harder for them to access public health information, food and medicine, shelter, running water and hand sanitizer, face coverings, heath care and other basic needs,” Fifer said. “They are also more likely to have underlying medical conditions due to past difficulty accessing health care.”

The total cost if all rooms are used for the maximum times they’re under contract through June 10 is $143,986.44, according to the city. The monies can come from the City’s fund balance for emergency and disaster response, and may be reimbursable with federal COVID-19 funding.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted a number of the city’s vulnerable groups, and sheltering options are also available via Carpenter’s Shelter at the Charles Houston Recreation Center in Old Town and Alexandria Community Shelter at 2355-B Mill Road.

Photo via Residence Inn Old Town Alexandria South at Carlyle/Facebook

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Morning Notes

Governor Declares State of Emergency — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said he is watching how other states are handling COVID-19 testing and that drive-thru testing may be an option. [NBC 4]

ALIVE! Might Shutter Programs, Needs Donations — “We continue to operate as normal, but anticipate that at some point we may advise volunteers to stay home and close programs.  We are doing our best to ensure food supplies are adequate and are increasing deliveries to our regular drop off sites while we are able. Donations to support our food reserves are critically important at this time, as we are sending out everything to our regular clients to help them prepare while we are still able to do so.” [ALIVE!]

Fundrise Acquires Carlyle Site For Development — “Fundrise acquired the 14-acre site at 2000 Carlyle Ave. from a joint venture of Perseus Realty and ELV Associates for $75 million… The online platform allows private investors to pool money into a series of funds that invest in residential and commercial properties.” [Bisnow]

Port City Brewing Co. Releases Statement on Coronavirus — “We understand that the recent outbreak of COVID-19 requires extra precautions in public spaces like ours… We strongly encourage friends across our community to use caution when deciding where to visit and what to attend during this pandemic.” [Port City]

Gas Station Offering “White Glove” Full Service — In response to the coronavirus, Yates Service, Inc. on Thursday announced the launch of complimentary white glove vehicle pickup and delivery service and complimentary full-service gas pump attendants at its gas station at Yates Automotive’s Sunoco station in Del Ray/Old Town. [Zebra]

Virginia Young Democrats Convention Postponed — “This is an unprecedented step taken in response to the increasingly concerning developments with COVID-19 here within the Commonwealth and the country. The convention planning committee did not make this decision lightly, but the safety of our members comes above all else.” [Facebook]

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Carlyle barbecue joint Sweet Fire Donna’s is celebrating its six-year anniversary with a ’60s throwback party.

The party is scheduled tomorrow (Saturday) from 6 p.m.-midnight at Sweet Fire Donna’s (510 John Carlyle Street).

“We’re turning back time to celebrate our 6th year anniversary!” the restaurant said on an event post. “Pull out your swankiest sixties garb and get ready to groove. We’ll also be featuring a Tap Takeover with Two Roads Brewery!

Sweet Fire Donna’s is a barbecue restaurant that offers a selection of BBQ meat along with classic southern sides like cornbread and key lime pie.

The posting also noted that prizes will be awarded for the best ’60s costumes.

Photo via Sweet Fire Donna’s/Facebook

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Morning Notes

City Faces Dozens of Lawsuits — “Between 2014 and 2019, 101 lawsuits were filed against the city, and 20 of those cases are still active, according to data the Alexandria Times acquired through the city… Over the last six years, the city has faced 37 claims cases, 20 land-use cases, 15 civil rights cases, 12 employment cases, 11 real estate assessment cases, two FOIA cases, two mandamus cases and two procurement cases.” [Alexandria Times]

Restaurants That Locals Still Miss — “When you talk with locals about restaurants they miss, there’s usually at least one place they can name… We’ve received nearly 40 responses covering Old Town and other areas of the city. Places mentioned by multiple people included Austin Grill, Overwood, Mango Mike’s, Flying Fish and Geranio.” [Patch]

New Bank Branch Opens in Carlyle — “Bank of America celebrated its latest Alexandria location with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday morning inside the newly opened financial center in the heart of Alexandria’s Carlyle neighborhood. The location, at 415 John Carlyle St., is Bank of America’s 10th financial center in the Alexandria/Springfield market and fourth in Alexandria proper.” [Alexandria Living]

GW Middle Students Try Meditation — “Middle school can be a stressful environment, so… at George Washington Middle School, some teachers are starting class with meditation. The lights are dimmed, soothing music is turned on and teachers guide the kids to breathe, settle in and focus on something positive.” [WTOP]

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The annual Alexandria Warehouse Sale is set to return next Saturday, Feb. 8 in Carlyle.

The sale brings boutiques from across the region to the Westin Hotel (400 Courthouse Square). It’s free to attend and is scheduled to run from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

In addition to the boutiques, several promotional activities are scheduled throughout the morning. A complimentary pilates class is scheduled to run from 8-9 a.m., while a workshop letting attendees make their own mini wooden sign will run from 8-10 a.m. Additionally, Salon DeZen will offer a complimentary glitter and mini braid bar from 8-10 a.m.

Deals on items at the boutique are expected to go up to 80 percent off retail prices, according to a press release.

Street parking is available and there is $5 parking at garages around the hotel. A shuttle to the King Street Metro is scheduled to start at 7 a.m.

According to the press release, participating stores include:

Clothing

Jewelry/Accessories/Beauty

Home

Kids

Shoes

Photo courtesy Old Town Boutique District

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The Carlyle Diner is set for a soft opening at the end of this month.

The new restaurant is part of The Carlyle Club (2050 Ballenger Ave.), a nightclub featuring jazz and comedy shows and serving alcohol and classic American cuisine for dinner. The retro-style diner promises to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner in the form of pancakes, shakes, burgers and an assortment of pies.

News of the restaurant’s opening was revealed by Visit Alexandria, the city’s tourism bureau, at its “What’s New in Alexandria 2020” event, which was held at the Carlyle Club last Friday. The restaurant does yet appear to have its own website and social media pages; it is also not mentioned on the Carlyle Club’s website.

The Carlyle Club did not respond to calls for comment.

Joe Haggerty, president and CEO of the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce, said that the Carlyle area — between the King Street and Eisenhower Avenue Metro stations — has been booming with development in recent years.

“It’s going like crazy,” Haggerty said. “Nearby on Eisenhower Avenue there’s a lot going on and it’s really going to take off.”

Carlyle Diner is not the only diner planning to open within the city limits. A new Silver Diner location at 4610 King Street, in a new West End development at the corner of King and North Beauregard streets, will open this summer, event attendees were told.

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