Newsletter

(Updated at 4:25 p.m.)

Henock Seyoum Pastoor, a 27-year-old Alexandria man, was arrested by Metro Transit Police on Thursday and charged with threats to bomb or damage buildings or means of transportation.

Pastoor’s arrest was made after approximately 200 of his neighbors were evacuated from their homes in the 1700 block of Dogwood Drive. Hundreds of residents in the area were briefly evacuated.

“MTPD apprehended Pastoor at his home, where he made references to explosive devices on the property,” MTPD said in a release. “Nothing dangerous to the community was found.”

Alexandria Police assisted in the investigation.

There were also suspicious packages investigated today in the 400 block of Dulany Street near the U.S. Patent and Trademark office in Carlyle.

The area reopened just before 4 p.m. after being closed down for three hours.

The latter incident is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

Additionally, a suspicious package in the 5500 block of North Morgan Street only contained salt and pepper shakers, according to police.

Dulany Street and Dogwood Drive maps via Google Maps

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What a week in Alexandria.

Our top story this week was on a plan to install hanging gardens in the Carlyle neighborhood.

Still, a lot of other stuff happened. While Alexandria City Public Schools opened their doors to hybrid learning, City Council made headway on a collective bargaining ordinance and rejected the Braddock West development.

Here are some other important stories this week:

Here are this week’s top stories:

  1. The Caryle neighborhood could be getting its own Hanging Gardens
  2. Residential neighborhood with 139 townhomes approved for Victory Center site
  3. Police Chief updates Del Ray community on recent crime incidents
  4. City Council takes rare step and strips local business of special use permits
  5. City passes ordinance limiting large trucks from parking in business zones
  6. Just Sold in Alexandria: March 16, 2021
  7. Alexandria looking for feedback on proposed North Beauregard Street repaving
  8. Local vaccination efforts accelerated with new vaccine supply, city preps for phase 1c
  9. Waterfront Commission tries to avert ‘Disneyland-like’ development in Old Town
  10. Poll: Do you agree with the City Council’s rejection of the Braddock West project?
  11. Alexandria’s initial and continued unemployment claims just jumped by double percentage points

Have a safe weekend!

Image via City of Alexandria

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The recreation of the Lighthouse of Alexandria might not be the city’s only ancient wonder soon.

The Carlyle neighborhood could be home to Alexandria’s own elevated park with what seems to be a Hanging Gardens of Babylon aesthetic.

Alexandria’s Park & Recreation Commission has docketed a public hearing at their Tuesday, March 18 meeting for the large park planned for the Carlyle neighborhood alongside a planned multi-family residential development. Community feedback on the proposal can be submitted via email until Wednesday, March 17, or at the public hearing.

Plans submitted to the city show the highest portion of the park at the western end, flowing on a 5% downward slope to a playground, amphitheater and an athletic field at the Alexandria Rewnew site.

A press release noted that the project will eliminate Eisenhower Circle, a proposal the City Council reluctantly agreed to move forward because at it became too expensive to cancel despite the negligible benefit.

According to a press release:

The Carlyle Plaza II / Carlyle Park Towers  development approval includes four tower buildings with a four-to-five story, above-grade parking garage that will provide parking for all the buildings and is designed to accommodate a green roof which will be open to the public as open space. The rooftop open space will connect the development properties with the athletic field on the Alexandria Renew site (Limerick Field), creating more than 5 acres of integrated open space. The developer will also design and construct the parks created by the elimination of the Eisenhower Circle, referred to as North-Circle Park and South-Circle Park. The extensive rooftop public open space is connected to grade via a “transition zone” — a landscaped assemblage of overlooks, terraces and stairs that leads down to the South-Circle Park.

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Say your farewells to the traffic circle at the end of Eisenhower Avenue, because later this month work is scheduled to start on a widening and roadway improvement project that will replace it with a T-intersection.

A construction open house is scheduled for Tuesday, December 15, at 7 p.m. via Zoom.

“Join us to learn about the improvements planned for East Eisenhower Avenue and plans for mitigating impacts during construction,” the city said. “Staff will also be on hand to answer your questions.”

The project was approved earlier this year, though with some frustration from the City Council that the project was primarily moving forward because it was too expensive to cancel.

During construction, city said access to nearby businesses will be unimpeded, but traffic along Eisenhower Avenue and Holland Lane could experience slightly longer travel times.

According to the city website, planned improvements include:

  • Adding an additional left turn lane at the Eisenhower/Mill Road intersection on westbound Eisenhower Ave.
  • Upgrading the receiving lanes on Mill Road to accept the dual left turns from Eisenhower Ave.
  • Convert the traffic circle at Eisenhower and Holland to a “T” intersection from John Carlyle Street to Holland Lane.
  • Upgrading the street lighting and sidewalks on the north side between Mill Road and Elizabeth Lane, and both sides between John Carlyle Street and Holland Lane.
  • Full width resurfacing of Eisenhower Avenue between Holland Lane and Mill Road.

Photo via Google Maps, map via City of Alexandria

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A new restaurant could be coming to the west end of Carlyle

Developers are looking for  anew restaurant to fill between 1,708-9,600 rentable square feet of space in the new Shops at Carlyle Tower development along Eisenhower.

A flyer put out by the developer noted that the site could also feature outdoor seating near the busy intersection.

The corner is a prime location, located at the corner of Eisenhower Avenue and Stovall Street off the exit to I-495. The location is also directly across from the Eisenhower Metro Station — a claim that could be less prestigious if Metro plans to move forward with closing the station. The corner is also close to the National Science Foundation and the Patent and Trademark Office a little further down Eisenhower Avenue.

The corner is planned as a new Shops at Carlyle Tower rebranding of what locals know as the Hoffman Town Center. The planned restaurant is neighbored by Starbucks and a recently sold Cold Stone Creamery.

Rendering via Carlyle Tower.

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Big changes are coming to the Eisenhower corridor, with two new developments approved at the City Council meeting last Saturday that put some of the final puzzle pieces together.

One of the more visible changes will be the approved development of Block P in Carlyle — referred to by staff as the last block in Carlyle. The project was originally approved in 2007 as a pair of office towers, but the project was recently redesigned with the northern tower becoming a hotel while the southern tower would be residential.

Changes included a slight increase in height to the project and an increase to the total square footage permitted for Block P.

The proposal was unanimously approved and praised as locationally appropriate for the growing Carlyle neighborhood.

“This is a really tall building, which is what we always envisioned for Eisenhower Avenue,” said Councilwoman Del Pepper. “We do not want buildings of this size in historic Alexandria or some other places, but here in Eisenhower Valley it’s most important. I always like to think about people who are driving east or west on the highway there that they are looking over that will see that Alexandria is on the move… that we’re happening.”

The City Council also approved a new addition to the Victory Center lot — the first of several changes ahead for the large lot. The new building will be a one-story retail development in the southwest corner of the lot. The location would include outdoor seating and a drive-thru window.

The proposal was unanimously approved with little discussion.

Images via City of Alexandria

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As the first-ever Old Town Oyster Week draws to a close in Alexandria, an oyster eating contest with Del Ray and Old Town business owners resulted in a tie.

Bill Blackburn, of Pork Barrel BBQ in Del Ray and Trae Lamond of Chadwicks in Old Town tied by both eating 103 sea stone oysters in the Pearl of Alexandria Oyster Eating Contest held at Whiskey & Oyster on Thursday, October 15. The competition ended when the restaurant ran out of oysters.

“It’s the best day of my life,” Lamond said during the competition. “I’m loving it.”

Competition between Blackburn and Lamond is fierce, as both respectively captain the Del Ray and Old Town Restaurant softball teams. Del Ray won the first softball game in 2018, followed by Old Town last year, but this year’s game was called off due to the pandemic.

The contest was live streamed by The Zebra, and ALXnow’s James Cullum was the emcee.

103 oysters apiece. Nice work Bill Blackburn and Trae Lamond in eating all the oysters at Whiskey & Oyster. No winner of…

Posted by James Cullum on Thursday, October 15, 2020

“Be sure that next year… this competition will be expanded in some way to include more restaurants, more restaurateurs and more charities,” Blackburn said.

“I could have easily eaten 30 more,” Lamond said after the end of the contest.

“I could have eaten 100 more,” Blackburn countered.

Both contestants now have to pay $5 per oyster eaten to the others’ charity of choice. Blackburn chose Casa Chirilagua in Arlandria and Lamond chose Children’s National Hospital.

A dozen restaurants participated in Oyster Week, which ran from October 12-17. The event was created by the Old Town Business Association and Guinness Beer.

Photo and Video via Taylor Brown

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There are few sweeter traditions in Old town than trick-or-treating on Halloween night, but this year’s celebration will undoubtedly be unlike any other.

The pandemic has threatened the health and safety of residents, which has us wondering: Are you going to hand out Halloween candy this year?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list traditional trick-or treating as a “higher risk” activity, along with having a haunted house. The CDC recommends virtual costume contests, home and pumpkin decorating and maybe having a Halloween-themed movie night instead.

Incidentally, the Carlyle House in Old Town will be handing out candy in individual bags. Check out all that is available in the city for Halloween Night on Visit Alexandria’s website.

Feel free to expand on your thoughts in the comments section.

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Morning Notes

Kamala Harris’ Husband Douglas Emhoff Ecourages Voters in Alexandria — “Excited to welcome @DouglasEmhoff to Alexandria as he works to encourage voters to turn out and make his wife our next Vice President!34K+ ballots have been mailed.Nearly 8K in-person early voters….and we are just getting started!” [Twitter]

Councilman Chapman Takes Tour of Potomac Yard Metro Station Construction –“Some pictures from my tour this morning of the construction site of the Potomac Yard Metro!” [Facebook]

Art on the Avenue Goes Virtual This Weekend — “Happy October! While this year’s festival is different, we’re still working overtime to support local artists and maintain the creativity and spirit of this community festival that we all love. Our 25th anniversary festival kicks off online Saturday at artontheavenue.org!” [Facebook]

Casa Chirilagua Chosen for Pandemic Street Design Grant — “Very grateful for Casa Chirilagua to have been selected!” [Facebook]

Carlyle Council Showing ‘Jumanji’ Saturday Night — “Join us this weekend for our Saturday Cinema Series showing of Jumanji: The Next Level! Grab a movie bag special from Sweet Fire Donna’s, bring a chair or a blanket and enjoy the film!” [Facebook]

Michael’s Little Italy Calls For Unity Through Italian Food — “Maybe we’re all from different families, countries, political parties. But that doesn’t matter at Sunday dinner. As we approach this weekend, I have an idea: come together folks. We have pizza, pasta, wine, and each other. That is really all we need.” [Facebook]

Sheriff Reads Kids’ Story Online — “Sheriff Dana Lawhorne shares a new book with a very important message — Speak Up! When something really matters, one voice can indeed make a difference.” [Facebook]

Today’s Weather — “Some clouds in the morning will give way to mainly sunny skies for the afternoon. High 68F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph. Clear (in the evening). Low 47F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Fitness Operations Manager — “The Operations Managers are dedicated to making the fitness experience at our clubs an exceptional one. They create a clean, fun and friendly environment by training and motivating their staff. They also generate revenue, keep a clean and well maintained club, all while providing great customer service.” [Indeed]

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Morning Notes

Beyer Says Trump Should Not Reject Strict FDA Guidelines for COVID Vaccines — “Political interference with vaccine development and an open feud with FDA can only further damage the public’s already growing safety concerns. Once again, lives may depend on Trump shutting his mouth and letting scientists do their jobs.” [Twitter]

Pizzeria Paradiso Closing in Old Town — “Like many restaurants in Old Town, Pizzeria Paradiso closed when the coronavirus pandemic reached Alexandria. Unfortunately, the beloved pizza restaurant will not be reopening, the owner announced this week.” [Alexandria Living]

Carlyle Farmers’ Market Today from 3-7 P.M. — “Free to the Public; Produce, Meats, Food, and Beverage sales are welcomed. What to Bring? Face Mask and your Social Distancing Etiquette.” [Facebook]

Lee-Fendall House Hosting Virtual Speakeasy Fundraiser — “Enjoy a night of speakeasy-style fun , without leaving your living room! Join us for this special night to support the Lee-Fendall House Museum’s vital work in historic preservation and education – one where you can keep on dancing, break out the booze, and have a ball.” [Visit Alexandria]

Alexandria Sheriff’s Deputy Reads ‘Lost And Found’ — “Chief Deputy Candra Callicott offers her encouragement to young students and the sweet story “Lost and Found” about a boy and a penguin.” [Facebook]

Alexandria Country Day School Hosting Virtual Open House — “ACDS’s small-size and ability to adapt quickly allowed us to open in September with in-person learning under a hybrid model. Join our Head of School, Division Heads, current parents and middle school students to learn more about our student-centered program.” [Patch]

Free Drive-Thru Flu Shot Clinic on Saturday — “This clinic will be open to adults and adolescents age 12 and over, with a maximum of four people per vehicle.” [City of Alexandria]

Today’s Weather — “Overcast (during the day). High 74F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph.Rain showers in the evening will evolve into a more steady rain overnight. Low 63F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 70%.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Alexandria Assistant City Manager for Public Private Partnerships — “As a member of the City Manager’s Senior Leadership Team, the Assistant City Manager for Public Private Partnerships reports to the City Manager and a Deputy City Manager and is responsible for leading the overall public private partnership (P3) initiatives for the City primarily via capital project planning and financing, leveraging of City assets and resources to implement City infrastructure and facilities, economic development related public sector and private sector projects, as well as facilitating the development and implementation of alternative service delivery strategies.” [Indeed]

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