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.
- Pot enthusiasts quiet in early days of legalization in Alexandria
- Alexandria sees 90 COVID cases in July, another death
- Local historians profile former slave in Alexandria who struggled to rescue his family
- Alexandria man caught with gun at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport checkpoint
- New Potomac Yard luxury condo community sells 30% of properties before construction starts
- Testing for Alexandria’s controversial stream restoration work starts next week
- Two years after massive flooding, city moves forward with Holmes Run trail restoration
- Del Ray licensed family counselor completely booked since launching in May
- Alexandria businesses advised to sharpen e-commerce as consumer patterns evolve
- Alexandria swimming pools operating with reduced hours, residents signing waitlists with capacity overload
- Without annual music festival, Del Ray is celebrating with a bar crawl
- Del Ray affordable housing completes long-awaited overhaul
- Woman claims she was roofied at Old Town restaurant
- Residents protest against conditions at West End apartment complex
- Developers eye Beauregard redevelopment with West End upgrades on the horizon
- Former chef at ‘The Alexandrian’ opening new restaurant in Arlandria on Monday
- No injuries after shots fired in Braddock area on Wednesday
- DASH takes lessons from D.C., Baltimore and Oregon in eliminating bus fares
- ‘Call Your Mother Deli’ signs lease in Old Town
- After last month’s Democratic primary, Republican Darryl Nirenberg tops campaign donation leaderboard
- New city health improvement plan aims to fix inequities
- Poll: Have you been to the Winkler Botanical Preserve?
- Lee-Fendall House to throw speakeasy party to finance building repairs
Have a safe weekend!
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
According to Maya Contreras, principal planner for Alexandria, plans are in the works to add new density to a stormwater pond near the Hilton (5000 Seminary Road) and to a site originally planned to be an office space, but will likely become something else.
“The request is for amendments to [Coordinated Development District] (CDD)#4 that would add density to both the Hilton site (5000 Seminary Road) and [Institute for Defense Analyses] (IDA) site (4880 Mark Center Drive) and add additional uses to the CDD, as the ownership of 4880 Mark Center Drive is interested in uses at their site not currently permitted,” Contreras said. “The applicant also requests a Master Plan Amendment (MPA) in connection with the project and a subdivision to allow creation of a new parcel to be carved out of the Hilton site.”
Contreras said in a meeting of the Beauregard Design Advisory Committee that Hilton is looking to develop the pond into a pad site — a parcel of land suitable for development — though Hilton is planning to sell the location rather than develop it for a hotel use.
Similarly, Contreras said the IDA site next door to the new Alexandria Health Department building could be developed as something other than office space.
“A pad site is a site where a building can be constructed,” Contreras said. “Right now IDA pad site is a legal lot: there could be a building built there. Right now on the Hilton site is where their stormwater pond is. There was no anticipation of a building going there, a lot has to be created for something to go there.”
As part of the new development, Contreras said the city hopes to make the Winkler Botanical Preserve more accessible to the public. The park featuring nature trails and a waterfall is tucked away and somewhat inaccessible at the moment.
The new development comes at the city is working through plans to establish some form of bus-rapid transit as the West End Transitway. The Transitway likely won’t have dedicated lanes throughout the corridor, but Contreras said the city is looking into priority signaling and other options to help increase reliability.
But some on the committee shared concerns that the planned consolidation of bus stops in Alexandria may have hurt the very area the city is trying to make more transit accessible.
“DASH has decreased its service at Seminary and Beauregard,” said Fatimah Mateen, a member of the Beauregard Design Advisory Committee. “There used to be the AT-9, but that’s been discontinued. And I’ve heard Metrobus is not going to bring back the 16-L. We have a lot of housing coming into that particular area but we’re losing [bus] service, and I think that’s going to be a big problem.”
Contreras said that some of the stops have been consolidated, but city planners are working with the Department of Transportation and Environmental Services to keep them appraised of how much residential is expected to develop in the area down the road.
The Planning Commission will discuss both matters on Sept. 9, and will review plans to convert The Strand Parking garage (101 Duke Street) to a series of townhouses.
According to the application:
The applicant proposes demolition of the current structure and the development and construction of six townhouses, each with a two-car garage.
Given that the project will be increasing the overall floor-area ratio, the project requires approval of a special use permit.
The three-level-garage was originally build in 1945 and has 72 spaces.
Via Google Maps
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. Bailey, Aloysius 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.”
As the Alexandria Housing Development Corporation (AHDC) moves forward with its plans to build a 482-unit affordable housing complex in Chirilagua-Arlandria, the local non-profit unveiled the first renderings for the site and stats that raised some eyebrows online.
The City Council approved a loan for the AHDC project in May as part of an ongoing effort combat gentrification likely incoming with Amazon’s arrival in nearby Crystal City. The new development will come at the intersection of Mount Vernon and Glebe Road.
Of the units proposed, a quarter of them will be deeply affordable — meaning available for those earning up to 40% of area median income (AMI) and the rest will be a mix of available at 50, 60 and 60%. Units will range from one-to-three bedrooms in size.
The primary concern, raised on the Bring Integrity Back to Alexandria Facebook group, is that the site will only have 382 parking spaces for cars — 100 fewer than there are units in the building. The building will also have 150 spaces of bicycle parking.
AHDC is scheduled to hold two virtual meetings on the project — one in English and one in Spanish — on Wednesday, July 21. The Spanish session will run from 6-7 p.m. and the English session will run from 7-8 p.m. An in-person open house is scheduled for Aug. 10.
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
The project, once described by some on the Board of Architectural Review (BAR) as “Lipstick on a Pig“, is comprised of three new apartment buildings in southeast Old Town along S Patrick and Washington Streets. Each of the buildings scale from three and four stories up to seven stories in parts.
Block 2 of the project, between S Columbus Street and S Alfred Street, is located entirely within the Old and Historic District boundary. Block 1 is half-inside the boundary. Block 4, and a potential future development site labeled Block 3, are entirely outside of the Old and Historic District.
In a presentation prepared for the BAR, the applicant said there were some redesigns to Block 1, including greater variation in heights and efforts to adjust windows and details to be more in keeping with Old Town’s historic feeling. Renderings show these alterations to be minor to the point of being almost indistinguishable.
The application noted similar alterations for Block 2 of the project: revised brick detailing and window types, added balconies, and some changes to building material coloration.
While the project was unanimously approved at the City Council, several on the Council expressed reservations about the building’s size and impact on the neighborhood density. But each member of the City Council ultimately said the promise of almost 200 affordable housing units was too much to pass up.
The project is scheduled to be reviewed at the Wednesday, July 21, BAR meeting.
It was a quick week in Alexandria. Here’s the rundown.
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.
- City Council to specify when local dogs are allowed to bark
- Woman shot in Landmark Area Monday night
- New mixed-use development headed to the heart of Chirilagua
- Alexandria’s unemployment rate has been cut in half since May 2020
- Alexandria’s Sportrock Climbing Center is packed with business after Biden visit
- Alexandria eyes bus rapid transit and bike lanes for Duke Street
- Alexandria Police looking for driver in fatal hit-and-run
- Basilica of St. Mary bridge and expansion designs move forward
- Military spouses ask Sen. Tim Kaine to help with childcare in Alexandria roundtable
- Alexandria Reggae band FeelFree gets political in latest single
- Alexandria teaching racial and social equity with 30 day challenge
- Visit Alexandria website gets most views ever as businesses slowly climb back
- King Street Trolley service to return next Monday
- Researchers call out shoddy craftsmanship in buried 18th century Alexandria ship
- Man suspected of raping 12-year-old stepdaughter in Landmark area flees to El Salvador
- Landmark Mall plan approved as Planning Commission demands better environmental considerations
- Alexandria leaders acknowledge serious security issues with elimination of school resource officer funding
- Shortened Alexandria Birthday celebration is still on for July 10
- Alexandria eyes bus rapid transit and bike lanes for Duke Street
- Parker-Gray tiny lot home moves forward with some unique challenges
- Alexandria woman dies after veering off road on Interstate 95
- City talks strategy on making Chirilagua/Arlandria neighborhood Amazon-proof
- UPDATE: Man taken into custody as West End apartment barricade situation ends peacefully
- BREAKING: California man arrested for West End murder, indicted with 16 others in massive racketeering conspiracy
Have a safe weekend!
Developer Mid-Atlantic Realty Partners is scheduled to host a meeting in two weeks to discuss a mixed-use development in the heart of Chirilagua/Arlandria.
According to a press release from the city of Alexandria, the meeting will discuss redevelopment plans for 3811-3825 Mount Vernon Avenue, currently the Mount Vernon Shopping Center. The new development, the press release said, will be a mixed-use project with multifamily residential market-rate and affordable units, along with ground floor retail including a grocery store and open space.
“With a live presentation format, representatives from the project team will present an overview of the redevelopment plans and will be available to answer questions from the community,” the city said.
A sign-up for the meeting is online. The meeting is scheduled to run from 6-7:30 p.m. on Monday, July 12. A Spanish-to-English translator will be available by calling 1-888-450-5996 and entering passcode: 519 309.