Newsletter
Streets Market & Cafe closing in Arlandria (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Streets Market & Cafe, a grocery store on the ground level of DelRay Tower (3108 Mount Vernon Avenue) between the Del Ray and Arlandria neighborhoods, is closing.

An employee at the location said the store will be completely closed in two weeks or mid/early July.

The market has been in DelRay Towers since at least 2016, not long after the building opened.

According to signs in a window, everything in the store is up to 30% off until the store closes.

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What two additional stories looks like on a 45-foot-tall structure. (Via City of Alexandria)

After public outcry over a rushed plan, the Alexandria Planning Commission deferred a city staff proposal to allow developers to build affordable housing into new apartment buildings up to 70 feet in height in areas where height limits are 45 feet or more.

There were more than 30 speakers at the meeting on Thursday, June 23, mostly residents of Del Ray.

Gayle Reuter has lived in Del Ray for 40 years, and said that the proposal would ruin her neighborhood’s small town feel.

“I understand the city is in need of and has promised increased affordable housing and endorsed the Washington COG Regional Housing Initiative,” Reuter told the Planning Commission. “If this is approved, developers will come to come in and the Avenue with its small town feel of mom-and-pop businesses where Main Street still exists will be gone forever.”

The proposal would allow developers bonus height of 25 feet in any zone or height district where the maximum allowable height is 45 feet.

Planning Commission Chair Nathan Macek asked city staff to present a refined proposal to the community before reintroducing it to the Commission for review again.

“I think it’s an important tool, and I think I think the actual impact would be very modest in terms of when it would choose to be enacted,” Macek said. “I don’t think you’re gonna end up seeing 70-foot buildings and this and that. That is sort of the extreme if every site were to redevelop, but I don’t think that that’s the reality of what would happen. But rather than speculate about that, I think we have a chance to step back and study it or provide some projections, some best guesses about what we’ll see so that we can inform the decision and possibly take it in steps with a pilot for a phased amount of density and we can revisit.”

Under the proposal, numerous areas of the city would be open for developers to move in and increase the height of 45-foot-tall buildings to a maximum of 70 feet in height — specifically along Mount Vernon Avenue in Del Ray, in Arlandria, Alexandria West, the Beauregard area, the Landmark area, Eisenhower West, Old Town North and Carlyle.

The proposal does not apply, however, to single family, two story and town home dwellings.

Areas of the city that would be impacted by the proposed change to height restrictions. (Via City of Alexandria)

Alexandria is currently experiencing an affordable housing crisis, and lost 14,300 (or 78%) affordable housing units between 2000 and 2022. 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.

“While approximately 800 market-rate and affordable units of housing are currently generated per year in Alexandria, meeting the RHI (Regional Housing Initiative) goal involves the production of an estimated additional 300 units per year, of which 75 percent are recommended to be affordable,” staff wrote. “This represents an estimated additional 2,250 affordable units over the 10-year period…”

Save Del Ray founder Nate Hurto said that the community needs time to understand the potential impact of such a move.

“I think we really need to look at the impact that it could have communities have to the existing housing stock, and to the very nature and character of our neighborhood,” Hurton said. “How will it affect the existing stock of apartments, rentals, condos that are affordable? How will it affect businesses, especially along Mount Vernon Avenue and governed by the small area plan?”

Commissioner Stephen Koenig said that he was swayed by the input of residents.

“I’m certainly persuaded by the sort of breadth and depth of the input that we’ve had tonight,” he said.

Commissioner David Brown said that the City needs to reevaluate its approach.

“We we have a process where we figure out what works in particular places,” Brown said. “It’s called planning. We haven’t done any planning here. We need to look at each one of these zones, figure out what the likely impact is going to be in that zone and figure out whether or not that zone should be considered a candidate for affordable housing.”

According to the City:

At the core of the Bonus Density and Height Program of Section 7-700 is the idea that the affordable housing gained through incremental increases in density and height is a positive exchange.

Additionally, by its nature and in alignment with the City’s All Alexandria Resolution, the initiative provides affordable housing opportunities in locations that might otherwise not receive them, and this specific proposal could increase the likelihood of affordable housing in projects that are more mid-scale. Moreover, each project approved through this proposal would be reviewed rigorously and through a public process to ensure that additional density and/or height is designed in a way that respects the neighborhood.

The requirement that a project using this provision obtain a Special Use Permit means that all impacts of the project are thoroughly reviewed and mitigated as a condition of approval.

As for outreach, City staff noted:

The City undertook the following outreach: established a Bonus Height Webpage; developed and posted Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) in English, Spanish and Amharic; conducted two virtual community meetings–on April 12 (130 attendees) and May 19 (90 attendees); addressed questions during the meetings and posted Questions/Comments/Responses subsequent to the meetings; and advertised engagement opportunities through eNews and directly to Civic Associations and to those who contacted the City by email or other communication.

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Executive Avenue in Del Ray (image via Google Maps)

Alexandria’s street resurfacing program is heating up over the next few months, with Del Ray and some surrounding neighborhoods getting the lion’s share.

The current round of street resurfacing is scheduled to run from June 27 (yesterday) and Friday, July 8.

In addition to street resurfacing, the city said it will be performing some much-needed sidewalk maintenance for King Street along Taylor Run (just north of the George Washington Masonic Memorial) and Quaker Lane.

“Residents whose streets are scheduled for resurfacing receive advance notice of paving work — typically by displayed project signs and/or letters,” the release said. “Temporary ‘No Parking’ signs will be also posted before work begins. Please be sure to observe these signs to avoid tickets and potential towing of vehicles.”

The streets scheduled for resurfacing are:

  • Montrose Avenue (from East Raymond Avenue to Richmond Highway)
  • Terrett Avenue (from East Mt Ida to East Randolph Avenue)
  • Stewart Avenue (from Mount Vernon Avenue to East Randolph Avenue)
  • Executive Avenue (from Kentucky Avenue to Mount Vernon Avenue)
  • Alabama Avenue (from Kentucky Avenue to Carolina Place)
  • Holly Street (from Aspen Street to West Mt Ida Avenue)
  • Aspen Street (from Landover Street to Russell Road – exclude Service Road)
  • Burgess Avenue (entire length – exclude Service Road)
  • Guthrie Avenue (from Landover Street to Mosby Street – exclude Service Road)
  • Birch Street (from Holly Street to Russell Road)
  • Pine Street (from Holly Street to Russell Road)
  • Allison Street (from Valley Drive to Old Dominion Boulevard)

The sidewalks scheduled for maintenance are:

  • King Street (Russell Road to Janneys Lane)
  • West Braddock Road (King Street to Russell Road)
  • North Quaker Lane (Duke Street to Janneys Lane)
  • Second Street Restoration (North Pitt Street to North Royal Street)

The city will also be performing some maintenance to alleyways and will be repairing the guardrails at eastbound Duke Street and Van Dorn Street.

Image via Google Maps

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The results are in, and Bella Napoli‘s lobster ravioli has taken the top prize in this year’s Taste Of Del Ray on the Avenue.

Starting last Friday (June 1) and running through the weekend, 14 Del Ray restaurants competed for the 13th annual honor by offering three new $5 specials.

“This is the first time we’ve ever won,” Bella Napoli’s owner Oscar Bermudez said.

A team of judges awarded second place to Matt and Tony’s All-Day Kitchen + Bar for their cornflake French toast with pecan syrup; and Pork Barrel BBQ’s nachos were deemed messy but worth it enough to take third place.

“Bella Napoli is like a quiet gem on the Avenue,” said Del Ray Business Association President Lauren Fisher. “The owner, Oscar, provides a warm and welcoming atmosphere and great food. He has been a great supporter of Del Ray community events and we are thrilled that he won this year.”

The event officially kicked off at a VIP reception last Thursday at Jack Taylor’s Alexandria Toyota.

Over the weekend, Diners were also encouraged to chime in on their favorite dishes during the three-day dining experience. The top People’s Choice Award was given to Spice Kraft Indian Bistro-Delray for their avocado banana and beet chaat, followed by Bella Napoli’s lobster ravioli taking second and Pork Barrel’s nachos bringing home another third place.

Via Bella Napoli/Facebook

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2213 Mount Vernon Avenue (image via Google Maps)

New French restaurant Gostov Boulangerie & Brasserie could be moving into Del Ray.

A new special use permit has been filed for 2213 Mount Vernon Avenue, Patch first reported.

The location is just across East Del Ray Avenue from The Dog Store and catty-corner to St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub.

The permit describes the new restaurant as a “French cafe bistro offering French cuisine and beverages in a casual dining atmosphere.”

The restaurant will be open 7 a.m.-10 p.m. every day. The owner listed in the permit could not be reached for comment.

Photo via Google Maps

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Getting hungry?

On Friday (June 3), the 13th annual Taste of Del Ray on the Avenue returns, and all weekend 14 restaurants along Mount Vernon Avenue will feature brand new offerings at $5 a pop.

Instead of a single event in the parking lot across from Pat Miller Square — as the event was done before the pandemic — dishes will once again be served at the participating restaurants, which will each make three new dishes for $5 apiece.

“This year’s Taste of Del Ray is an incredible opportunity to highlight the culinary talent in our community,” said Del Ray Business Association President Lauren Fisher. “We’re thrilled to combine our traditional Taste of Del Ray event with the success of our modified event in 2021.”

The event officially kicks off tonight (Thursday, June 2) at a sold-out VIP reception at Jack Taylor’s Alexandria Toyota. Tickets for the 100-person event were $50 apiece.

“We’re excited to ease back to an in-person event with a smaller VIP event that will kick off a full weekend of tastes,” said Taste of Del Ray chair Karen Johnson. “The pandemic forced us to pivot last year, and ask Taste of Del Ray participants to visit individual restaurants for their ‘taste.’ We heard from restaurants and attendees that they really liked this new aspect of our event. Especially popular was the weekend long time-frame, which created a delicious three-day dining experience around Del Ray.”

Diners at participating restaurants will also get a chance to chime in online on their favorite dishes, which will be recognized with a People’s Choice Award. Last year’s People’s Choice Award was presented to Stomping Ground for their cheddar blue corn grits with a pork ragu, and the Judges Choice was given to Evening Star Cafe, for their local coffee custard.

Participating restaurants

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Jack Kilby is nearly out of fliers. There’s been a stack of them sitting on a barstool in front of his home recording studio in Del Ray for the last couple weeks promoting an upcoming outdoor concert in his back yard this Saturday night.

On Saturday, June 4, Crab Shack Live at 211 E Oxford Avenue is offering dinner, drinks and live music from 6 to 10 p.m. There will be three 45 minute sets featuring Sam C. Jones and the Sinners, Eliza Harrison Smith and Micah Robinson. There’s a $20 cover for music lovers ages 21 and over, and it’s $15 for everyone else.

This will be Kilby’s third backyard concert since moving into De Ray in 2017.

“I just feel so lucky to live in this neighborhood to have like a house with a deck where I can feature these folks,” Kilby told ALXnow. “So often during the pandemic musicians have been reduced to trying to promote things through social media, whether it’s doing live streams, or just promoting the music that they already have. It can feel like shouting into a void sometimes.”

Kilby, an award-winning bandleader, arranger and musician (he plays plays piano, drums and trumpet) has spent the last two years teaching privately at Rock of Ages Music and producing new acts at home. He’s also put his six-piece jazz band, Jack Kilby and the Front Line, on hold. He’s a lifelong Alexandrian and grad of T.C. Williams High School, and says that he will release a new record with Casey Shannon of Peyote Pilgrim this fall.

As for the noise, Kilby got a noise permit and alerted his neighbors that the music will be family friendly and will stop before 10 p.m.

“Luckily my next door neighbors to the right of me are some of the most wonderful people I’ve ever met,” Kilby said. “My neighbors to the left are cool, and they seem to enjoy the music, too. Really, I just told the folks who live behind me — since my speakers will be facing the back of their house — I was just like, ‘Hey, we’re going to be done before 10, and if it’s a problem, here’s my cell number before you call the police.'”

Below is a sampling of the music that will be played Saturday night.

Photo via Jack Kilby/Facebook

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Outages in Del Ray on May 23, image via Dominion Energy

Around 982 customers are currently without power across Alexandria as Dominion Energy scrambles to fix damage from a Sunday night storm.

Power outages already pushed two Alexandria City Public Schools to virtual classes. The Dominion Power website said the outages may not be fixed until 9 p.m. tonight (Monday) or 2 a.m. tomorrow.

Peggy Fox, a spokesperson for Dominion Energy, said the estimate represents hopes for the latest it may be restored.

“The [time of restoration] on there are the extended ranges, that’s as far out as it may take,” Fox said. “There’s a lot of damage.”

Fox said crews working in Arlington, for instance, are clearing away damage from fallen trees — which may take at least eight hours.

“We have to get out here and get our eyes on the damage,” Fox said. “It takes a little time. I know people are upset.”

This morning, Fox said Dominion Energy had 92 power outage projects it was working on.

Most of those outages are centered in Del Ray and Arlandria, which together account for 592 outages.  There are also 133 customers without power in the Taylor Run neighborhood.

The outages brought to mind old concerns about Dominion Energy’s local utility grid. While Dominion had previously tried to claim power outages were a fluke, in March, Dominion Energy said it would invest $17 million in the city to improve reliability. Those improvements could take up to three years, however, while outages continue.

Image via Dominion Energy

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Alexandria’s Homegrown Restaurant Group just stumbled across a proverbial goldmine of infant baby formula, and on Friday morning (May 20) they donated 10 cases of Similac Advance to ALIVE!.

It could take months before Alexandria grocery store shelves are stocked with infant formula, as communities around the country are struggling through the shortage.

HRG’s Bill Blackburn was inspired to find the formula after reading a Washington Post article about a restaurant owner who found a stash through his commercial food supply chain.

Blackburn made a call and found that his distributor had 10 cases of Similac Advance. It cost $1,000, which was paid for by HRG, Alexandria Celebrates Women and the Del Ray Business Association.

“Homegrown Restaurant Group is proud to partner with these organizations to provide this much-needed baby formula to ALIVE! during this crisis,” Blackburn said.

ALIVE! Executive Director Jennifer Ayers said that the nonprofit needed the formula and is grateful.

“Once again neighbors have demonstrated that if there’s a need in this community that we can work together to help other neighbors,” Ayers said.

Courtesy photo

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Alexandria Hyundai has been taking up space on three blocks of Mount Vernon Avenue for 21 years, and owner Kevin Reilly is submitting a plan to be able to stay on the Avenue for at least 20 more.

Hyundai wants upgrades at their dealerships, Reilly says, and that means he has to build a service drive-thru lane and service reception areas.

“What I’m asking for is to continue on the avenue essentially, that’s what it comes down to,” Reilly said at a recent Del Ray Business Association meeting.

The issue is that Reilly’s dealership runs against the city’s Mount Vernon Avenue Business Area Plan, which calls for a more walkable community with more mixed use retail and housing.

“(Automobile dealership) uses are inconsistent with the Potomac West Small Area Plan and with the existing zoning that does not allow automobile-oriented uses such as automobile dealerships. Although it is unlikely that either dealership property will redevelop in the foreseeable future, mixed-use buildings, with ground floor retail and residences or offices above would be compatible with adjacent residences and would complement the Historic Core and the nearby retail area at Mt. Vernon and Monroe Avenues.”

The plan includes:

  • A 770 square foot canopy to a 1,730 square foot service reception addition
  • A 1,500 square foot service reception area to their showroom lot in the 1800 block of Mount Vernon Avenue
  • The addition of four New Electrify America electric vehicle spaces with fast chargers for public access

Reilly, who is a former Del Ray Business Association president, says that the four New Electrify America electric vehicle chargers are a gift to the community.

“It takes 30 minutes or so to charge your vehicle,” Reilly said. “What do you do with 30 minutes? You’re walking up and down the Avenue and availing yourself of all the wonderful businesses here.”

Alexandria Hyundai’s plan goes before the Planning Commission on June 7 and City Council on June 18. If approved, Reilly anticipates six-to-eight months for construction.

Via Google Maps

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