Alexandria, VA

A new Montessori school program could be opening just off Duke Street if its special use permit gets approved.

The new Heritage Montessori Day and Preschool would be located at 3649 Wheeler Avenue, near the Spicer’s Upholstery that closed last year and across the street from the Alexandria Police Department.

Montessori education is a method of teaching developed by Maria Montessori that emphasizes independent learning by children and giving students more independence in their learning methods.

According to the permit, the school would serve families with children ranging from 20 months to 12 years old, and will run from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

The program will be designed to host 150 children at the school, with 70 preschoolers and 80 children in grades K-6.

The school is currently opening enrollment for the 2021/2022 school year. According to the school website, essential workers and military members also receive discounts.

“If you’re an essential worker, Heritage Montessori is pleased to offer you a 20% discount on the registration and activity fees,” The school said on the website. “If you’re a proud member of the military, we’re offering a 10% discount on tuition.”

The school’s special use permit is scheduled for review at the May 4 Planning Commission meeting.

Photo via Google Maps

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M&B Auto Sales has reportedly been a difficult neighbor, and it could cost the used car dealership at 26 S. Dove Street its special use permit.

At an upcoming March 2 meeting, the Planning Commission will consider revoting the dealership’s automobile sales and repair special use permit after what staff called repeated violations.

The dealership has been repeatedly cited for violating its permits by parking in the public right of way, loading and unloading vehicles from delivery trucks, and exceeding the total number of cars permitted on the lot. Complains from neighbors resulted in an in-person meeting with the Department of Planning and Zoning on July 23, where staff said the dealership agreed to abide by conditions and take more action to ensure compliance.

But that didn’t happen. In the report, staff included a catalogue of seven warnings and notices filed against the dealership between June 2020 and this month, along with 37 calls for service to the police department.

An email from a neighboring business owner included in the report detailed some of the day-to-day problems at the site:

Yesterday afternoon, there were at least eight Alexandria Police officers responding to an out-of-control couple who felt cheated on an auto purchase. The street was essentially closed down for half an hour. Today at 4:30, I drove around the bend and almost hit one of the six cars that were illegally parked on both sides of the street. Those were in addition to the six or seven that remain parked for days and weeks on Dove Street south of their lot. Some have temporary tags and some don’t. I called for an parking enforcement officer today but usually by the time they arrive the scenario has totally changed.

Four of those notices resulted in penalties, which have culminated in $700 of unpaid fines as of January and a $500 notice of violation issued this month.

Now, staff is recommending the City Council revoke M&B Auto Sales’ permit.

“Staff recommends revocation of SUP#2020-00041 effective March 27, 2021,” staff said in the report. “Should City Council revoke the SUP, operation of the existing permitted automobile sales and repair business located at 26 Dove Street would no longer be authorized.”

Photo via Google Maps

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The owner of a hookah lounge has filed a special use permit to operate a hookah lounge and restaurant in the West End.

Diko Bar and Lounge would take over at the former home of the all-vegan Chez Hareg Cafe at 5245 Duke Street. The 1,200-square-foot location is next door to Shooter McGee’s, across the street from the Canterbury Square Condominiums and near the Alexandria Fire Station 208.

The location can accommodate 47 people inside, 18 people outside and has a 145-space parking lot. The SUP was requested for a new use at the space, which is the former home to Sangeet Alexandria Halal Meat and Grocery and Chez Hareg Cafe.

Owner Diko Woldehawariate could not be reached for comment, and details are scarce. The business has no website or social media. Woldehawariate wants to run it from noon to 2 a.m. seven days a week, according to the application. The menu includes beef and chicken shwarma, kabobs, Ethiopian dishes and desserts.

Public comments on the application are open until March 4, 2021, after which the application goes before the Planning Commission and then City Council for final approval.

Photo via Google Maps

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A person had their vehicle and phone stolen in a morning carjacking on Sunday outside Giant on Duke Street.

According to Amanda Paga, Public Information Officer for the Alexandria Police Department, the carjacking took place on Sunday around 7 a.m. on the 3000 block of Duke Street, where Giant is located.

Paga said the victim was loading groceries when they were approached by two suspects who brandished handguns. They took the victim’s phone and stole the vehicle.

The carjacking took place just a few blocks away from the Alexandria Police Department headquarters. There have been several carjackings throughout Alexandria over the last few months.

Criminal activity has increased in 2020, with vehicle thefts in particular increasing.

Paga said no description of the suspects is available at this time.

Image via Google Maps

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Police say a man was robbed in Alexandria on Duke Street last night (Tuesday) just east of Ewald Park.

“The victim, male, reported that while walking in the 4300 block of Duke Street, an unknown, male suspect approached them from behind, and took property from their person at gunpoint,” said Lt. Courtney Ballantine, a spokesperson for the police department.

Ballantine said the incident occurred around 11 p.m. and there is no suspect information available.

“We always encourage folks that want to help to call the non-emergency phone number and ask to speak to an officer with any information,” Ballantine said.

The police non-emergency number is (703) 746-4444.

Image via Google Maps

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Construction has started in Fairfax County at the new home of Beyer Automotive Group’s Land Rover Alexandria.

After more than 20 years at 2712 Duke Street, the dealership plans to move into its new home on a 5.9-acre lot at 5636 S. Van Dorn Street in 2022.

Land Rover Alexandria is co-owned by 8th District Congressman Don Beyer, who is a partner in the Falls Church-based group that owns eight dealerships throughout the region.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the plan in April.

John Altman, Beyer Automotive Group’s chief operating officer, told WTOP that the company outgrew its Alexandria location and that it’s new location will be the largest Jaguar Land Rover dealership in the Mid-Atlantic.

The two-story, 50,000-square-foot building will include up to 28 service bays and an expanded vehicle showroom, according to Fairfax County. It will also be able to hold up to 326 parking spaces and be open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. About 60 employees are expected to work at the site at any one time.

Chesapeake Contracting won the contract to build the dealership at the site, which is near the Van Dorn Metro station. It is currently “undeveloped and is wooded with upland forest and open field, and features steep grades rising from South Van Dorn Street,” according to a Fairfax County staff report.

Map via Google Maps

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Updated 2:50 p.m. — Police said the suspects have been apprehended. An earlier version of this article listed an incorrect address.

For those curious about a police helicopter is sweeping over the 2300 block of Duke Street around 1:30 p.m., police say the helicopter is assisting in the search for suspects who fled a vehicle that was flagged as stolen.

Lt. Courtney Ballantine, a spokesperson for the Alexandria Police Department, said the nature of the area meant a helicopter was called in to assist with the search.

Ballantine said that no suspect descriptions are available and there is no reason to believe the suspects are armed and dangerous.

Photo via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Historic Old Town Home Uprooted and Relocated — “If you were driving down Washington Street Wednesday, you may have noticed a historic brick townhouse being moved on beams and dollies.” [Alexandria Living Magazine]

Duke Street’s Transit Focused Redesign Starts — “In early 2021, city staff will begin collecting community input for the future of the Duke Street Corridor from Landmark Mall to the King Street Metro Station.” [Alexandria Times]

Best Places for Christmas Lights Around Alexandria — “An increasing number of cars are driving around with Christmas trees on top and slowly but surely, homeowners are decking their homes with lights and holiday displays. Here are a few places to see the region’s best holiday displays.” [Alexandria Living Magazine]

Local Salvation Army Handles Decreased Giving but Increased Demand — “At the same time, the organization is seeing an increase in demand. Already serving more than 23 million Americans each year, the Salvation Army expects to help an additional 6.5 million people this holiday season.” [Alexandria Gazette]

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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Morning Notes

Alexandria Voted 80% for Joe Biden — “The vote total in Alexandria, as of Wednesday morning, was 65,201 or 80.4 percent for Biden, the former Vice President; 14,251 voted for Trump.” [Alexandria Living]

Alexandria Reaches Complete Count in 2020 U.S. Census — ” The Bureau’s Crystal City Area Census Office, which includes all of Alexandria, was the only such office in the Washington, D.C. metro region to count 100% of households by the time data collection ended on October 15. Because almost 74% of Alexandria households completed the census questionnaire by mail or online, census workers had to visit fewer households in person.” [City of Alexandria]

Here’s Updated COVID-19 Guidance from Alexandria — “Everyone has a role in stopping the spread of COVID-19. Take immediate action by wearing a mask, reducing unnecessary travel, maintaining at least 6 feet of physical distance from others and staying home when sick. Below are specific guidance and resources based on setting or need.” [City of Alexandria]

Vegan PLNT Burger Restaurant Opens Inside Whole Foods — “Co-founder and chief culinary director for PLNT Burger, Spike Mendelsohn (of ‘Top Chef’ fame) was in town recently to open the hip new vegan burger joint inside the Whole Foods store at 1700 Duke Street and on opening day gave away 100 free burgers to the first people in line.” [Zebra]

Waterskiing Santa Going Virtual This Year — “The show was originally scheduled to run on Christmas Eve this year but organizers announced that they decided to cancel the live event for safety reasons. Instead, a recording will be available for viewing on Dec. 20 so families can “stay home, get some hot chocolate and popcorn and cozy up while watching the Waterskiing Santa,” organizers said on the event’s Facebook page.” [Alexandria Living]

Today’s Weather — “Except for a few afternoon clouds, mainly sunny. High 69F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph. Partly to mostly cloudy (at night). Low 48F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Scholarship Program Assistant — “The Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, a national nonprofit in Alexandria, Virginia, seeks a Scholarship Program Assistant to become part of the Scholarship Program team. The Scholarship Program Assistant works closely with the Assistant Director, Scholarship Programs to support the needs of the department and the \Foundation and its various stakeholders. S/he is responsible for supporting the Department in an overall administrative capacity and to provide support in the day-to-day functions of the Department and team.” [Indeed]

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The Alexandria Police Department is investigating more shots fired at night in the city.

There were two more reports of shots fired over the weekend. The first incident occurred on Friday night in the 1100 block of Queen Street in Old Town. Multiple shots were fired and buildings were struck, but no one was injured. No arrest was made.

The second incident occurred on Sunday night in the West End in a residential neighborhood in the 4300 block of Duke Street. No one was injured in this incident. Again, no arrest was made.

Alexandria Police are expected to provide an update this week on Part I crime a well as the recent spat of evening shootings.

There were numerous incidents of shots fired last week, and there were many similar incidents in Old Town over the summer.

Maps via Google Maps

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