Attention Del Ray dog owners: The Eugene Simpson Park will reopen to the public in the beginning of next year at the end of more than a year of redevelopment.
The formerly dusty, not-grassy park at 521 E. Monroe Avenue will be closed for the last three months of the year to allow for a “sod establishment period,” according to the city.
“Construction at the dog park continues with grading and site preparation for tree installation and sod installation this month as the start of the fall planting season approaches,” the city told ALXnow in an email.
“The developer has been working with staff on a few options to address the drainage issues within the dog run and will be submitting a revised site plan,” city parks planner Judy Lo told ALXnow. “We anticipate the northern section of the dog run will be re-graded with possibly additional inlets and/or bioretention and plantings. This type of work is best done in the fall when the temperatures start to cool.”
Photos via Facebook and City of Alexandria
Ideally, the Four Mile Run Park Trail would connect the two sides of the Arlandria park. Since 2021 the bridge at the center of that trail has been shut down, but work is starting this month to change that.
An inspection in summer 2021 found a hole in the bridge and the city determined the bridge was not suitable for use. The bridge was closed in August 2021. A daytime detour runs just north of the bridge along the Four Mile Run Wetland Trail. The nighttime detour runs down to Reed Avenue
The City of Alexandria is starting work this month on a replacement bridge. Construction is scheduled to run until July 2024.
The city is also hosting an open house tonight (Wednesday) at the Leonard “Chick” Armstrong Recreation Center (25 W. Reed Avenue) from 7-8 p.m. to share more information about the bridge replacement project.
#ICYMI: Starting this month, construction work will begin on the Four Mile Park Trail bridge that connects Commonwealth Avenue to the main park.
— AlexandriaVAGov (@AlexandriaVAGov) September 18, 2023
T.J. Maxx is planning on moving to a sectioned-off portion of the former Shoppers Food Warehouse in Potomac Yard next month.
T.J. Maxx staff told ALXnow that the store will move from its current location at 3451 Richmond Highway and reopen at 3875 Richmond Highway on Thursday, Oct. 19.
Now with those plans scrapped, T.J. Maxx will take up more than half of the 50,000 square foot former grocery store, which was divided into two properties (3875 and 3801 Richmond Highway).
“The sign is up and we’re moving,” a T.J. Maxx employee said. “We’re reopening on Oct. 19. It’s very exciting, after being here all these years.”
Potomac Yard is managed by JBG Smith Properties and JPMorgan Chase & Co., which are both overseeing a massive mixed-use development of the area.
The Alexandria Fire Department wants to replace a 42-year-old burn building used for training in Old Town.
AFD’s proposal to demolish the three-story, 4,600-square-foot building with a new four-story, 6,400-square-foot building goes before the Planning Commission on Tuesday, Oct. 3 and City Council on October 14.
According to the special use permit application:
The building does not have HVAC systems, interior lighting, domestic plumbing, nor a dedicated sprinkler system. Defined as a ‘prop’ by the State of Virginia Department of Fire Programs, the purpose of the structure is to replicate built conditions and spatial arrangements fire fighters encounter in real life, local, fire fighting scenarios. This structure is intended for use solely by supervised training exercises of professional fire fighters and AFD trainees and is closed to the general public…
The frequency of training and the level of disturbance (smoke, sound, visibility) on the surrounding area are not expected to increase in the new facility. The additional fourth story will not host live fire drills and the added height should not incur an increased line of sight to the surrounding area.
Most training sessions are for up to 10 trainees, however there are instances where they can include up to 100 firefighting personnel, according to a special use permit application
AFD reports there have been no complaints from residents or neighboring AlexRenew for more than 40 years.
Residents and neighbors of the Ladrey Senior High-Rise in Old Town North will get a chance later this month to chime in its proposed redevelopment.
The Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority (ARHA) wants to demolish the existing 11-story, 170-unit affordable public housing apartment building at 300 Wythe Street and the former ARHA headquarters at 600 N. Fairfax Street and replace them with an L-shaped 270-unit, six-story affordable building at Fairfax and Wythe Streets. It is also proposed to be further reduced to five stories at Fairfax and Pendleton Streets and have an underground parking garage with 120 spaces.
The new building will house seniors and residents with disabilities on the two-acre property.
“Some of the design features in the new building will include, green design, ground level and rooftop open space, modern and energy efficient appliances, larger average units, underground parking, and sustainable landscaping,” according to ARHA. “All current Ladrey residents will be relocated at the expense of the developer and will have the right to return at the same rent level when the building is complete.”
ARHA and its partners Winn Companies and IBF Development are in the public comment phase of the project, and want to submit plans and relocate residents in the second quarter of 2024, with construction starting by the second quarter of 2025. If all goes as planned, the project would wrap by the first quarter of 2028, according to a June presentation.
ARHA will host a hybrid meeting on the project on Tuesday, Sept. 19, from 6 to 8 p.m. The event will in-person at ARHA headquarters (401 Wythe Street) and virtually via Zoom.
Nearly half the 52-acre West End Alexandria development is devoted to the Inova at Landmark (the eventual home of Alexandria Hospital), and the rest of the property has been divvied into a multi-block town center. The redevelopment will include new apartment buildings, pavilions, restaurants, rooftop open space and more.
In December, City Council approved Foulger-Pratt’s plan to build three new apartment buildings with 1,117 total units, and tonight’s meeting will focus on the following proposals:
- A development special use permit to build a central plaza (on blocks F and N), a paseo (on block R) and a terrace park (on block P)
- Plans to build two retail/restaurant pavilions with outdoor dining, a playground, seasonal ice-skating rink, and areas for passive recreation
- Plans to extend commercial space and add new rooftop open space to block E
- Plans to modify the layout of the block E residential building by infilling the ground floor courtyard with a one-story commercial space
- Development of 4.4 acres of open space on four blocks, including a tennis/pickleball court, basketball court
The first pavilion, a two-story 4,610-square-foot structure, would be located in a central plaza on block F. The second pavilion, a two-story 978-square-foot building on block N, would include a 270-square-foot seasonal ice-skating shop and a public restroom.
The Planning Commission meeting starts at 7 p.m.
More beautification efforts are underway at Hotel AKA Alexandria in Old Town North.
Now, the hotel is asking the Board of Architectural Review for approval of a permit to demolish and a certificate of appropriateness for the “limited demolition” of a wall facing N. Pitt Street.
The windows would provide “visibility into ground floor spaces within the building in which the Applicant intends to establish community serving retail uses,” according to AKA’s application.
While the request doesn’t result in any major changes, Hotel AKA Alexandria says the payoff will be big.
“The Applicant’s proposed renovation and enhancement of the existing hotel will increase the value of the Property, create new jobs, and generate additional economic activity in the neighborhood by attracting tourist and hotel patrons to the area,” AKA said in its application. “The exterior alterations represent improvements to the existing façade that will result in a more attractive and aesthetically pleasing appearance.”
The hotel was previously a red-brick Holiday Inn Express, and the new owners completed an extensive interior renovation and painted the exterior black. The building is on the border of the Old Town Historic District, was built in the 1970s and isn’t considered historic.
(Updated at 7:30 p.m.) An Old Town property owner wants to tear down an office building in Old Town Historic District and replace it with a four-story multifamily apartment building.
The new development will include underground parking and a rooftop terrace.
The building owners, William Thomas Gordon III and his son William Thomas Gordon IV, bought the property for $4.6 million in 2014 from an office product and furniture dealer, according to city records.
The developer, 301 N. Fairfax Project Owner LLC, wants to demolish the existing three-story office building on the property that was built in 1977 and replace it with a 50-foot-tall building with one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom apartments, a 67-space below-grade parking lot and a rooftop terrace.
The concept plan for the 25,000-square-foot property will go before the Board of Architectural Review on Wednesday, Sept. 6.
As for the height, the applicant provided examples of what four-story buildings look like in Old Town.
“The block, within which the property is located, is occupied by four-story brick structures with a combination of surface parking, structured parking at the ground floor and above grade parking,” the applicant said in the concept plan.
According to the concept plan submitted to the city:
The proposed building is set up as two massings, each facing the street and composed of three stories with a fourth-floor setback. While the four-story façade will be predominantly red brick, the three-story portions will take on the character appropriate to the context of the street frontage.
For the massing of the three-story portion facing Queen Street, the applicant is proposing a ‘Palazzo’ inspired architectural character with larger scale detailing in the width of the brick pier and windows. The entry of the building will be located at the Queen Street façade. For the massing of three-story portion facing N. Fairfax Street, the Applicant proposes to break down the width of the building to be appropriate to the townhouse width across the street. Stoops will be provided for the ground floor residential units to activate the sidewalk.
After years in development, Alexandria leaders and students cut a blue ribbon and toured the rebuilt Douglas MacArthur Elementary School today.
“It feels like I’m floating through the school and marveling at each and every new feature that has been brought from design to full construction,” Principal Penny Hairston said at the ribbon cutting. “The only thing that’s missing are all of our students, and they will be here soon to enjoy this modern and welcoming school building.”
There remains work to be done, including the installation of a turf field and a courtyard playground for young kids, but the school will open for the first day of classes on August 21.
It took three years to rebuild the 154,000-square-foot school at 1101 Janneys Lane. MacArthur first opened 80 years ago, and during construction its students used the old Patrick Henry Elementary School as swing space. The project was initially planned to wrap in January.
“The 1943 building only had eight classrooms and one common area,” said Superintendent Melanie Kay-Wyatt. “Very different than this new three-story, very innovative space where there’s natural lighting coming into each classroom, there are restrooms accessible to the classrooms that give students more privacy, I think we’ve come a long way.”
MacArthur’s three-level “Forest” plan sets the school back from Janneys Lane, putting classrooms at the rear of the building and providing a view of nearby Forest Park.
“This new school building represents our city’s commitment to educating and empowering all of our students to thrive in this diverse and ever- changing world that we live in,” said School Board Chair Michelle Rief. “I know that this new school building is going to positively impact the lives of children and families in this community for generations to come.”
The new school has an 840-student capacity, and the current student population is at around 650, according to ACPS. Those numbers are expected to change as the School Board will engage in a redistricting process over the next year.
The new school has one set of boys and girls restrooms, and a number of individual restrooms to accommodate gender fluid students — directly going against the recommended policies of Governor Glenn Youngkin’s administration.
“Amazing things are gonna happen in this building,” said Mayor Justin Wilson. “Kids are going to come out of this building prepared to take on the world, and that is through an investment that we all made as a community.”
Changes are coming to Chart House, the popular restaurant with panoramic views of the Alexandria Waterfront.
The restaurant at 1 Cameron Street filed a special use permit request to modestly increase the footprint of the outdoor dining terrace and install a motorized retractable pergola.
Per the application, Chart House serves an average of 3,000 customers weekly, and the construction would increase the square footage of the property from 41,422 square feet to 43,213 square feet.
The application was received by the city on July 24 and the last day of public comments on the proposal was August 8. It will now go before the Planning Commission and then City Council for final approval.
The restaurant is owned by Texas-based Landry’s Inc., and there are 24 Chart House restaurants located along waterfronts across the country.