(Updated 10:20 a.m.) Starting today, much of Potomac Avenue where it runs through the Potomac Yard neighborhood will be cut down from four lanes to two for over a year as construction continues on the Potomac Yard Metro Station.

The closures will run from E. Glebe Road, near the National Industries for the Blind, up to the city border with Arlington County.

“The reduction in travel lanes will assist and allow for a safe separation for the public from the active construction activities that will be within the roadway as associated with the North Potomac Yards Project,” the city said in a press release.

The lanes closures are scheduled to run from today to Sept. 2, 2022, several months after the station itself is scheduled to open.

The release notes that construction will begin in the northbound travel lanes, then construction activities will be relocated to the southbound travel lanes. Throughout construction, bus stops will remain open and accessible, and the closures will not affect the Potomac Yard Trail.

Via Google Maps

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What an unexpectedly busy summer week in Alexandria. Here’s the rundown.

Our top story was on an Alexandria woman who claims she was roofied at a restaurant on the waterfront on the evening of July 9. A police report has been filed, and no charges have been made.

This week we sat down with acting Police Chief Don Hayes, who said that he’s thrown his hat in the ring with City Manager Mark Jinks to keep the top job. Hayes, a 40-year veteran of the Alexandria Police Department took over after the sudden departure of Chief Michael Brown last month, and will have to contend against candidates in a national search.

The Tokyo Olympics also start this week, and the games will include three T.C. Williams High School graduates — sprinter Noah Lyles, high-jumper Tynita Butts-Townsend and boxer Troy Isley. In fact, Lyles just had a comic book biography published in the Washington Post. If you’re a fan of the Olympic games, check out this list of local restaurants celebrating with special events and meals.

Important stories

Top stories

  1. Woman claims she was roofied at Old Town restaurant
  2. Residents protest against conditions at West End apartment complex
  3. Developers eye Beauregard redevelopment with West End upgrades on the horizon
  4. Former chef at ‘The Alexandrian’ opening new restaurant in Arlandria on Monday
  5. No injuries after shots fired in Braddock area on Wednesday
  6. DASH takes lessons from D.C., Baltimore and Oregon in eliminating bus fares
  7. ‘Call Your Mother Deli’ signs lease in Old Town
  8. After last month’s Democratic primary, Republican Darryl Nirenberg tops campaign donation leaderboard
  9. New city health improvement plan aims to fix inequities
  10. Poll: Have you been to the Winkler Botanical Preserve?
  11. Lee-Fendall House to throw speakeasy party to finance building repairs

Have a safe weekend!

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A new luxury condominium community in Potomac Yard has reportedly sold 30% of its properties — without any of its 138 units yet built.

The FORTIS Companies of Washington, D.C. owns the Dylan property, and is selling one-to-three bedroom condos for between $600,000 and $1.2 million. The condos have been designed by Lessard Design International of Vienna and Akseizer Design Group in Alexandria, and will be built next year. In the meantime, interested buyers can see a fully-sized model at their sales gallery at 2316 Richmond Highway.

Over the next several years, Potomac Yard will completely transform into a bustling commercial district home to a new Metro station, the massive Virginia Tech Innovation Campus, and a revamped shopping center — all next door to Amazon’s HQ2 development in Crystal City.

The new Dylan development will be located adjacent to Potomac Yard Park.

“As we anticipated, the excitement around Amazon’s HQ2 and Virginia Tech is generating strong interest in Dylan,” said FORTIS Vice President Matt Bunch. “Dylan’s convenient, walkable location is a big draw. It is just a five-minute walk to the new Potomac Yard Metro Station opening early next year, which will connect residents to Regan National Airport just one stop away. Residents also will have walkable access to a variety of new shops, restaurants, employment centers, and recreational options within Potomac Yard and on Virginia Tech’s Innovation Campus.”

Bunch continued, “We recognize that many residents will appreciate the option of working from home, so we ensured that 80 percent of Dylan’s plans include generously sized dens or home offices. Dylan also will feature an onsite business center for those residents who want to meet clients, take calls privately, or just get some work done outside of their homes.”

Courtesy The FORTIS Companies 

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RiverRenew Tunnel Project Map, courtesy AlexRenew

Massive infrastructure project RiverRenew has laid out a rough timeline for the ambitious three-pronged work throughout Old Town later this year.

The project is part of compliance with a 2017 Virginia law that requires Alexandria to overhaul the city’s combined sewer system, which has been dumping 130 million gallons of raw sewage into the Potomac River every year. The city is required to complete the overhaul by July 1, 2025.

In an email to ALXnow, RiverRenew Outreach Program Manager Sheeva Noshirvan outlined the schedule of the project moving forward.

Work at the AlexRenew site started the earliest, in May this year, and will be the last part of the project to finish — in July 2025.

The first community work for the RiverRenew project will be in October, when work starts on Royal Street for Outfall 2.

The full schedule is:

  • Royal Street (Outfall 2) — starting October 2021, ending June 2024
  • Pendleton Street (Outfall 1) — starting November 2021, ending October 2024
  • Hooffs Run Interceptor (Outfalls 3 and 4) — starting December 2021, ending May 2023
  • AlexRenew — started May 2021, ending July 2025.

RiverRenew is planning to host a series of virtual community listening sessions, where project staff meet with locals to discuss issues surrounding construction. The next meeting will be held Thursday, July 15, at 6 p.m., to discuss construction of a facility on Pendleton Street near Oronoco Bay Park.  A meeting the next Thursday, July 22, will discuss a similar facility on Royal Street near Jones Point Park.

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School Board Member Jacinta Greene thinks the history of race relations should be taught in Alexandria City Public Schools.

“Systemic racism and race relations should be taught in schools,” Greene told ALXnow. “What has happened to Black people and minorities in our country has been deplorable and when you don’t teach history, that’s when it repeats itself.”

Greene doesn’t necessarily think Critical Race Theory should be taught, but says ACPS students should get a primer on history that hasn’t been whitewashed.

After a grueling three year term beset by controversy and the steady deterioration in the relationship between the Board and City Council, Greene is one of three incumbents running for election this November. She said she is not opposed to the idea of taking a leadership position, since Vice Chair Veronica Nolan is not seeking another term, and that she’s running so that the Board maintains a semblance of institutional stability.

“I’m running for our kids,” Greene said. “I’m doing it for teachers because they deserve strong leadership. The pandemic has been hard on all of us. I’m sure that did play a part in some [other members not running for reelection]. I’m a strong believer of running for at least two terms. I don’t think one term on the School Board does justice to our school system.”

After a term that included the slow easing of COVID restrictions, the renaming of T.C. Williams High School and recent elimination of the School Resource Officer program by City Council, Greene faces a contentious election.

Greene is running in District A along with Board Member Michelle Rief, while one seat is being vacated by Christopher Suarez. The two incumbents will face off against former City Councilman Willie F. BaileyAloysius Boyle and D. Ohlandt.

Greene said that her heart sinks when thinking of the past year-and-a-half. She’s a marketing consultant for her day job and lost all but one of her overseas clients, which helped keep her afloat, all while the school system shifted to a virtual format for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year and then a hybrid model in 2021.

“It’s overwhelming,” she said. “Something comes over you when you think about all of what we’ve been through. Everything was totally turned around and upside down. I’m very proud of our School Board and school system on being able to pivot and to be able to provide free food to families across the city and provide the access to the online schooling.”

But, she said, ACPS wasn’t creative enough in reopening its in-person instruction to kindergarten-to-second graders and students with the greatest needs.

“I just think we needed to bring them back faster,” she said. “It needed it needed to be more creative in doing it, with out of more out-of-the-box thinking.”

Greene has a goal of knocking on 6,000 doors before election day, and said that learning loss recovery will be her top issue.

“Students need to be assessed to make sure priorities are in place for them to recover,” she said.

She also said that ACPS land should not be used for affordable housing, and that the Board’s relationship with City Council will need to be mended after a number of contentious votes, including Council’s elimination of School Resource Officer funding.

“All school land should be used for schools, and I do not believe in putting housing on school land,” Greene said. “We’re going to have to get very creative, because we’re going to need schools in the near future as we continue to grow and deal with capacity issues.”

via Facebook

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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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In the wake of the condominium collapse in Surfside, Florida, Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson says that Virginia needs to update its building safety regulations.

While calling the June 24 collapse of the 40-year-old building a rarity, Wilson tweeted that it has raised safety concerns since Alexandria has “most of the older high-rise residential buildings in Virginia.”

“There are millions of commercial and residential high-rise buildings in the United States and catastrophic structural failures like the recent catastrophe are, thankfully, quite rare,” Wilson said. “However, this is an opportunity for us to consider and revisit the issue of building safety, and identify ways to review and potentially enhance building safety.”

In Virginia, building owners are not required to have inspections on structural integrity after buildings get a certificate of occupancy when construction is complete. They are only inspected if there is a change in occupancy or alterations that require inspection.

“Currently, there are no requirements to proactively or regularly inspect building structure,” City staff said in a release.

Wilson told ALXnow that he will soon send Governor Ralph Northam a letter asking his office to look into the matter.

For now, residents with concerns about the structural integrity of a building can contact the Department of Code Administration.

“The City is committed to the safety of our residents and I look forward to working with City staff, my City Council colleagues, other localities, members of the General Assembly, members of the Administration and other key stakeholders to identify ways to ensure the safety of buildings and structures in our community and in those across the Commonwealth,” Wilson said.

According to the City:

Virginia’s building code requires multiple layers of inspections, reviews and monitoring, particularly related to building structure and integrity, that initially take place during building construction. The inspections are performed by professionally licensed architects, engineers, municipal inspectors, special inspectors, senior engineers, certified technical experts, certified laboratories and certified testing agencies. Once these inspections have been passed, the building will receive a certificate of occupancy.

Building owners are then required to have periodic inspections of certain systems, such as elevators, fire protection and fire alarm systems. Currently, there are no requirements to proactively or regularly inspect building structure. A building that has received a certificate of occupancy is only inspected again if there is a change in occupancy or alterations that require inspection. As part of this inspection process, the statewide building code contains provisions for identifying and correcting unsafe buildings and structures. If a building is identified during an inspection as being structurally unstable or unsafe, there are provisions to handle that situation.

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

With summer in full swing, three Alexandria athletes have made it on the U.S. Olympic Team — sprinter Noah Lyles, high-jumper Tynita Butts-Townsend and boxer Troy Isley.

In other sporting news, Old Town businesses beat Del Ray in a controversial softball game Wednesday, adding fuel to the fire of an intense rivalry.

It’s been super hot out lately, and the City urged caution and reminded residents to take advantage of special cooling centers.

On the COVID front, the city’s DASH bus service announced that one of its drivers passed away from complications from the virus.

Meanwhile, Mayor Justin Wilson believes that the city has met its 80% vaccination threshold, while Virginia Department of Health data says about 65% of residents over the age of 16 are partially vaccinated. The Alexandria Health Department, which just launched a COVID-19 test and vaccine pilot at T.C. Williams High School, says the data does not take into account city residents vaccinated in Washington, D.C., and Maryland.

It’s also July 4 weekend, and in this week’s poll we asked whether readers plan on traveling, with 67% of respondents voting to stay home, 27% opting to travel by car and just 6% traveling by air.

Important stories

Top stories

  1. Researchers call out shoddy craftsmanship in buried 18th century Alexandria ship
  2. Man suspected of raping 12-year-old stepdaughter in Landmark area flees to El Salvador
  3. Landmark Mall plan approved as Planning Commission demands better environmental considerations
  4. Alexandria leaders acknowledge serious security issues with elimination of school resource officer funding
  5. Shortened Alexandria Birthday celebration is still on for July 10
  6. Alexandria eyes bus rapid transit and bike lanes for Duke Street
  7. Parker-Gray tiny lot home moves forward with some unique challenges
  8. Alexandria woman dies after veering off road on Interstate 95
  9. City talks strategy on making Chirilagua/Arlandria neighborhood Amazon-proof
  10. UPDATE: Man taken into custody as West End apartment barricade situation ends peacefully
  11. BREAKING: California man arrested for West End murder, indicted with 16 others in massive racketeering conspiracy

Have a safe weekend!

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Morning Notes

Council defers on School Resource Officer funding reallocation — “On Tuesday, Alexandria City Council deferred a decision on releasing funding for school resource officers for other positions at Alexandria City Public Schools. The decision is scheduled for a July 6 public hearing.” [Patch]

Levine agrees to pay for primary mailer on House letterhead — “Levine, who lost both his primary contests, said in an interview he saw the mailing as an “informational letter” explaining the unique circumstances of why he was appearing on the ballot twice. He said he still doesn’t think it clearly qualified as campaign advertising, but agreed to reimburse the clerk’s office to clear up the matter after others complained.” [Virginia Mercury]

Paving wrapping up on Commonwealth Avenue — “Commonwealth Ave should be finished by the end of the week (striping and speed cushions to follow) Paving continues on West Glebe Rd.” [Twitter]

Injured Titan soccer player makes $5,000 GoFundMe goal — “Mahmoud is a goalie and was playing a soccer game when he collided with someone, he got 2 fractures in the lower jaw, dislocated TM joint, and he lost 2 teeth with damaged gums. The surgical procedure required 6 screws and wiring to hold the jaw together, he won’t be able to eat or talk for 6 weeks to heal. The donation would help a lot with the medical bills.” [GoFundMe]

Alexandria Aces return — “The COVID-19 pandemic may have resulted in empty stands and untouched uniforms last year, but the Alexandria Aces are finally back for their 13th season in the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League – with a few adjustments.” [Alex Times]

Today’s weather — “Intervals of clouds and sunshine (during the day). High 83F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph… Partly cloudy skies during the evening will give way to cloudy skies overnight. Low 71F. Winds SSE at 10 to 15 mph.” [Weather.com]

New job: Multiple positions available at the Chart House — “$500 Sign-On Bonus – $100 once training is complete and $100 every 30 days for 4 months. This isn’t just your next job – it’s your opportunity to be part of an amazing team that delivers on our promise to meet and exceed our guest’s experience the moment they walk through our doors!” [Indeed]

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Morning Notes

Inova Alexandria Hospital rezoned to allow Landmark project to move forward — “Inova’s Alexandria hospital campus is now zoned to allow for future residential development, after city council voted 7-0 to allow the rezoning to make it easier for Inova to sell the Seminary Hill hospital land to a developer.” [Alexandria Living]

New Harris Teeter grand opening set in Alexandria — “A new Harris Teeter grocery store in Alexandria is holding a grand opening on Wednesday, June 23 beginning at 8 a.m. at 4550 King St., in the West Alex development at the corner of King and Beauregard streets.” [Alexandria Living]

Little Theatre of Alexandria presents ‘Will Rogers’ USA’ at Fort Ward Park on July 3 — “Covid-19 is not keeping the Little Theatre of Alexandria down! LTA is coming back in 2021 even stronger than ever, and to prove it, they are presenting a delightful (and free!) evening of Will Rogers’ USA, in the Fort Ward Park Amphitheater off West Braddock Road, Alexandria, 7 pm, July 3.” [Zebra]

Today’s weather — “Mainly sunny (during the day). High 77F. Winds NE at 5 to 10 mph… Clear skies (in the evening). Low 57F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New job: Server at Cafe 44 — “Café 44 is a stylish American eatery situated along the Waterfront in Old Town Alexandria. We cater to a local crowd, attracting those who appreciate a spectacular view, quality food, great wine and craft cocktails. Whether you are a regular or a first-time guest, you are received with warmth and enthusiasm. Known as a hidden gem, we’re the ideal place to gather with family and friends.” [Indeed]

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