Alexandria, VA

Old Town neighbors raised eyebrows at a proposed development at 1415 Princess Street that staff said would fit all the zoning requirements, but still puts nearby residents in a tight bind.

Viewed from the street, 1415 Princess Street appears to be a house-sized vacant lot on the largely residential street in the Parker-Gray neighborhood. But the empty space at 1415 Princess Street is actually part of a three lot segment, two of which came forward to the Board of Architectural Review as part of a proposed development that would rub right up against the front doors of neighboring homes.

Steve Davidson, in particular, told the BAR that the new development would be pressed up right against the front door of the house, located on the side of the building.

“If this building is built, it will cover the entire front of the house I am living in,” Davidson said. “That door is my front door. That building, the proposed structure, would be up against the property line which is only four feet two inches from the site of my house.”

Davidson said the proposed development would obliterate light access into the house and would turn the front door into an alley.

“That seems like a bad idea,” Davidson said. “I can’t understand why we’d put three properties in a little narrow strip like that.”

Other residents on the street expressed concerns that the new development could impact other nearby houses. Read More

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Eight years after the GenOn power plant closed, a developer has purchased the property and is planning to redevelop the site.

Hilco Redevelopment Partners, based out of Illinois, announced the purchase of the 20-acre site today, the Washington Business Journal first reported.

“We’re excited for the opportunity to redevelop the old Potomac River Generating Station site,” said Roberto Perez, Chief Executive Officer of Hilco Redevelopment Partners, in a press release. “Hilco Redevelopment Partners is committed to remediating this extraordinary site to the most current environmental standards and transforming it into a new and exciting development that will best serve the community and create economic growth and opportunity for all stakeholders.”

The site has been a large part of the city’s Old Town North ambitions, included a plan earlier this year that involved splitting the lot into three smaller parcels. The city hopes to have the site converted into a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood.

“For two decades, we’ve been seeking to change use of that site,” said Mayor Justin Wilson. “[We’ve been] trying to move away from antiquated coal fire to productive use. It was dogged community activism that we were able to get that plant closed. Now, we have a new owner who is ready to achieve that vision. I think we’re pretty excited to see that all come to fruition.”

Wilson emphasized that a significant portion of the lot will remain open space alongside new mixed-use development.

“This is a great step forward for the city,” said Wilson. “Unused power plants are better than operating ones, but neither are particularly good uses. We envision this to be a sustainable area, with some cutting edge sustainability practices.”

Wilson also noted that Hilco Redevelopment Partners has a background in working with industrial sites.

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What a week full of news in Alexandria.

With city offices closed due to Veterans Day on Wednesday, there were still a number of big stories.

For the second week in a row, our top story was on a fraudulent mailer that was sent out to a number of residents before election day. In the story, households with Joe Biden signs posted in front yards were sent letters with a Northern Virginia postage mark stating that Biden is a pedophile.

On Monday, we reported the third murder in the city this year. Yousef Tarek Omar, a 23-year-old Texas man, was shot to death in the West End on the afternoon of Saturday, Nov. 7. Police have released few details of the incident, except the victim’s name, the general time of the incident and that it occurred in the 4800 block of W. Braddock Road.

City Councilwoman Del Pepper announced on Tuesday that she will not seek reelection. Pepper has been on the Alexandria City Council since 1985.

“There’s really not much to say,” Pepper told ALXnow. “There’s a time for everything, and I just felt this was my time. I have enjoyed every minute that I’ve served on the City Council.”

We also covered the city’s recovery plan for parts of the city devastated by the pandemic, and it lists a number of programs and strategies for impacted residents and businesses.

On the coronavirus front, Alexandria surpassed 4,500 cases since the beginning of the pandemic in March. The number of fatalities is still 76, and Latino residents have the highest number of infections.

Additionally, our weekly poll got a lot of attention this week. This week we asked about Thanksgiving plans, and 60% of respondents said they were eating at home with their household, 30% are planning a small gathering with at least one guest, and 10% are planning a large gathering of family/friends.

  1. Alexandrians with Joe Biden Yard Signs Get Anonymous Letters Saying Biden is a Pedophile
  2. BREAKING: 23-Year-Old Shot to Death in City’s Third Murder of the Year
  3. ‘Clyde’s at Mark Center’ and Other Businesses for Sale in Alexandria
  4. Del Ray Staple Al’s Steak House for Sale After Owner’s Death
  5. The Waypoint at Fairlington to Break Ground Next Month
  6. Councilwoman Del Pepper Announces She’s Not Running for Reelection
  7. City Council to Consider Publishing Names of Delinquent Real Estate Taxpayers
  8. Upcoming Signage Plan Could Subtly Shape New Potomac Yard Skyline
  9. One Person Injured in West End Carjacking
  10. Alexandria Parents Start #OpenACPS Sign Campaign as School System Begins Partial Reopening
  11. Alexandria Surpasses 4,500 Cases of COVID-19, Counts Now Rising at Summer Pace

Have a safe weekend!

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The future of Potomac Yard’s building signage may seem overly technical, but the upcoming discussion at the Dec. 1 Planning Commission meeting could shape the future of the neighborhood’s new skyline.

The goal of the signage program, put together by Elkus Manfredi Architects and Roll Barresi & Associates, is to ensure the design of signage throughout Potomac Yard is consistent as new developments are brought forward.

“Phase 1 of the North Potomac Yard redevelopment will establish the Innovation District, a transit-oriented mixed use development characterized by activated streetscapes, a network of open spaces and a vibrant mix of retail, office, residential and academic uses,” a report on the program said. “Consistent with the North Potomac Yard Design Excellence Prerequisites and Criteria, this Coordinated Sign Program views signage from a district-wide perspective, and outlines a cohesive framework for unique and identifiable signage through the use of high quality graphics and a variety of signage styles that are integrated into architectural elements and streetscape throughout the district.”

The program provides a guidelines for the type, size and location of signs throughout Potomac Yard, along with placement and illumination guidelines. Similar sign programs exist in other parts of the city.

“This Coordinated Sign Program establishes a plan for the types, sizes and locations of signage throughout the district and establishes guidelines for sign materials, placement, and method of illumination,” the report said. “This Coordinated Sign Program does not prescribe a formula for the design of individual signs or sign elements, rather, it provides flexibility for individual tenants and users to design creative, unique signs that are integrated with the quality of the buildings and site design, thereby enhancing the visual experience of individuals throughout the district.”

Out, for instance, are the large flat-box style signs, signs with letters mounted above the roof, or signs with internally illuminated backgrounds.

According to the coordinated sign program, the plan is also for pedestrian and vehicle wayfinding signs to be located throughout Potomac Yard. The signs will have maps and other visual guides to help people navigating the new district find their way. Other signs will direct bicycle and pedestrian traffic to North Potomac Yard Park.

Vehicle wayfinding will direct traffic towards parking or to public destinations.

Image via City of Alexandria

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Morning Notes


Senators Kaine and Warner Urge GSA to Begin Transition Process
— “An orderly and peaceful transition process is critical as the country continues to grapple with the loss and far-reaching impacts brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.'” [Twitter]

Beyer Asks Residents to Stay Home — “Being tired of the pandemic won’t make it stop, we need to be as careful as possible right now.” [Twitter]

Virtual Restaurant Touchdown Wings & Burgers Opens — “Touchdown Wings & Burgers runs out of Joe Theismann’s Restaurant. In mid-October, ARP opened Touchdown Wings & Burgers, a new brand for the organization.” [Alexandria Living]

Alexandria Library Gets Grant for Climate Change Programming — “By receiving the grant, Alexandria Library has committed to becoming a Climate Resilience Hub.” [Zebra]

Casa Chirilagua 5K Extended to November 11 — “GREAT NEWS! Christ the King Church has extended the Casa Virtual 5K to November 11! You now have 2.5 more weeks to register and participate. This is one way you can support the Chirilagua families that face so much adversity with strength and courage. Can you help us reach our 1,000 km goal?” [Facebook]

Today’s Weather — “Rain early…then remaining cloudy with showers in the afternoon. Morning high of 65F with temps falling to near 55. Winds N at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 90%. Rainfall near a quarter of an inch. Cloudy skies. Low 48F. Winds N at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Dog Trainer/Instructor — “Olde Towne School for Dogs, the premiere dog training company located in Alexandria, VA serving the D.C. metropolitan area, is looking to hire new full-time trainers to our high energy team in a fast-paced and dog-filled environment!” [Indeed]

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After a lengthy approval process dating back to 2018, The Waypoint at Fairlington is scheduled to break ground before the end of the year.

The project is a partnership between Wesley Housing and Fairlington Presbyterian Church to redevelop the underutilized church parking lot into an 81-unit multifamily development. A groundbreaking is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 9, though because of coronavirus the ceremony will be kept to limited attendance.

The development will have housing affordable to low and moderate income families and individuals at 30%, 50% and 60% of area median income.

There have been some concerns from neighbors, however, who think that the project would add traffic to an existing crowded intersection and take away parking for local residents.

Units in the building are scheduled to run from small studio apartments to three bedroom units.

“Residents will enjoy highly anticipated amenities such as free WiFi, a community room, enhanced public transport accessibility, and access to a playground and park space,” the developer said in a press release.

Image via Wesley Housing

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Developers are planning to host an online meeting next week to update the public on plans to build a large new health center at the heart of the redeveloping Oakville Triangle.

Stonebridge and Inova Health Systems held meetings earlier this year discussing proposed plans to build a “Inova HealthPlex” — which will have emergency room services, an outpatient care center and medical offices. The developers gathered community feedback and submitted concept development applications.

Now Inova and Stonebridge are coming back with new designs for public consideration.

“The community is invited to participate in the applicants’ next virtual engagement opportunity on Tuesday, November 10th at 6 p.m.,” the city said on its website. “The live presentation will be held via Zoom where the community may ask questions directly in the online forum. Meeting topics include an update to the project schedule in preparation for upcoming public hearings, updated conceptual renderings of building and site designs, updates to the Block C open space design, among others.”

The call in number for the meeting is 301-715-8592 and the passcode is 287000.

The project is planned for review by the Planning Commission and City Council this fall and development special use permits in early 2021.

Images via City of Alexandria

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Morning Notes

Virtual Opening Thursday for New Alexandria Townhomes — “Winchester Homes will host a virtual grand opening Thursday, Nov. 5, for Bren Pointe, a new 97-unit townhome community opening in Alexandria.” [Alexandria Living]

Indoor Sports Leagues Cancelled for 2021 Winter Season — “All indoor leagues organized by the Department of Recreation, Parks, and Cultural Activities (RPCA) are cancelled, including youth and adult basketball, adult volleyball, youth sports affiliate Alexandria Soccer Association’s indoor futsal league, and social sport gymnasium rentals. Small group sports classes, which are lower risk activities, will continue and will follow federal, state, and local guidelines for the safety of participants and staff. ” [City of Alexandria]

City Council to Hold Virtual Budget and Planning Retreat — “The Alexandria City Council will hold a virtual retreat meeting on November 7, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., to discuss the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Operating Budget process and develop the City Council Work Program for calendar year 2021.” [City of Alexandria]

Alexandrian Gets His 70-year-old Mom to Vote for the First Time –“I want [Joe] Biden because he cares about the people. Trump doesn’t care about us. He thinks this virus is just going to go away. This world is chaos. This world is nuts.” [Washington Post]

Free Flu Shots Available — “Now is the time to get a flu shot! Get info on Inova Cares Clinic for Families FREE flu shot clinics for uninsured people this month (first Alexandria clinic is Nov. 4) and low-cost shots to eligible residents at the Alexandria Health Department at alexandriava.gov/115055.” [Twitter]

Today’s Weather — “Sunny skies (during the day). High 67F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph. Mostly clear (in the evening). Low 46F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Member Service Representative — “The Member Service Representative position plays a key role in support of the YMCA mission by ensuring the reliable and consistent delivery of outstanding customer service to members and guests at the front desk at YMCA Alexandria, located at 420 E. Monroe Ave. Alexandria, VA. This is a great part time position with a varied work schedule.” [Indeed]

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Morning Notes

Beyer says New White House Science Report is Misinformation — “This kind of ridiculous misinformation is something you would expect to see from the government of North Korea.” [Twitter]

Senator Amy Klobuchar Attends GOTV Event in Alexandria — “Glad to join @AlexVADems, @C_Herring, @AmyJacksonVA and Councilwoman Del Pepper at an early voting event in Alexandria, Virginia for Sen. Mark Warner and VA candidates up and down the ballot. Everyone, please make a plan and go vote!” [Twitter]

New Luxury Condos Near Amazon HQ2 and Virginia Tech in Alexandria — “Just minutes from Amazon’s new HQ2 complex in Northern Virginia, The FORTIS Companies of Washington, DC has broken ground on a 138-unit luxury condominium community called Dylan. Its planned 2022 delivery coincides with the highly anticipated opening of the new Potomac Yard Metro Station, a five-minute walk from Dylan’s front door. Dylan’s spacious one- to three-bedroom condos will average 1,200 square feet and will be priced from the $600,000’s to over $1 million.” [Zebra]

Upland Park Development Gets BDAC Approval — “On Monday evening, the Beauregard Design Advisory Committee (BDAC) hosted its the final meeting to discuss Phase 1 of the Upland Park development project, giving approval to the plans to build a new townhome community.” [Alexandria Living]

Fire Department Recommends Battery-Operated Candles this Halloween — “If you have fall/Halloween decorations, use battery-operated candles in jack-o-lanterns & keep all decorations away from open flames to prevent home fires. Read more about celebrating safely & preventing the spread of COVID-19 during your festivities.” [Twitter]

Today’s Weather — “Cloudy (during the day). High 73F. Winds light and variable. Rain showers in the evening will evolve into a more steady rain overnight. Low 59F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 100%. Rainfall near a half an inch.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Document Control Specialist — “Use knowledge of the legal process and legal terms to analyze the content of legal documents and determine the status of investigative or court proceedings; recognize documents that are missing; and work with attorneys, paralegals, and legal assistants to obtain and organize documents for filing.” [Indeed]

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The Alexandria City Council unanimously approved plans for the first phase of the massive North Potomac Yard redevelopment on Saturday.

Those plans include three academic buildings with significant open space dedicated to computer science research and development programs for the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus, open space and a mix of six residential and office buildings.

“This is a very significant set of decisions for the city, and is really going to shape, not just a portion of our city, but really the entirety of our city for a long period of time to come,” said Mayor Justin Wilson.

Saturday’s approval was necessary for Virginia Tech to meet its timeline of being operational at Potomac Yard by fall 2024.

The first phase of the $1 billion campus will see construction of three academic buildings dedicated to computer science research and development programs at Alexandria’s border with Arlington. The permanent campus will take up four acres and will accommodate 750 computer science master’s degree students per year and more than 100 doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows.

“We made a commitment, the city made a commitment to do what he can do to get that campus and academic building open by the fall of 2024,” said land use attorney Cathy Puskar, who represents landowner JBG Smith. “And despite a pandemic and other interruptions, everybody has held to that schedule. So, it really has been a Herculean effort, and we’re really excited to be here today.”

The master plan amendment includes increasing building heights near the proposed Potomac Yard Metro station. Buildings in Block 15 would increase in height from 85 feet to 90 feet, and from 90 feet to 115 feet on Block 18.

Council is expected to approve the design of a pump station in the northern section of the property this winter. The property reserved for the pump station will be a temporary home for outdoor parking lots until the underground lots for the buildings under construction are ready.

Images via City of Alexandria

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The Alexandria City Council on Tuesday approved a proposal to allow for more density at public schools under development.

Schools are still limited to six stories, as the height restriction of 60 feet remains unchanged, although floor acceptable area ratios of 0.60 have been increased to 0.75. In other words, schools might not be taller but they will take up more space.

Council unanimously approved the action without discussion.

According to the ordinance, “Notwithstanding any contrary provision of this ordinance, a public elementary or secondary school, located in a residential or mixed use zone, may be constructed, expanded or reconstructed to a size which exceeds the density and height otherwise permitted by the regulations in such zone; provided, that a special use permit is approved, and, provided further, that no increase in floor area ratio greater than 0.75, and no increase in height greater than 60 feet, shall be approved.”

The city maintains that the ordinance change has nothing to do with co-locating affordable housing on school sites, which the city and ACPS have discussed over the last year.

“It is a relatively simple change to an existing ordinance that should not have broader policy implications except to account for the fact that replacement schools may need to be a little larger than anticipated 30 years ago when that ordinance was last changed,” City spokesman Craig Fifer previously told ALXnow.

Image via ACPS

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Construction of the Potomac Yard Metro station is track as the City Council prepares to approve the final southern entrance site plan for the project this December.

“Right now we are both on time and on budget,” Daphne Kott, a project manager in the Department of Project Implementation, told City Council in a legislative meeting on Tuesday night. “Every day there’s three active construction areas… Working on the foundation of the platform, in the mezzanine and continuing to work on the north pavilion.”

The city has also been reimbursed most of $70 million worth of grants for the project, which is estimated to cost $320 million. Last month, Council approved a proposal adding Virginia Tech’s initials to the station, and the name change has yet to be approved by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

“It’s amazing to see something that we talked about for a quarter of a century finally start to come to reality,” Mayor Justin Wilson said.

The Metro station is planned to open by spring 2022.

Images via City of Alexandria

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