Right at the heart of the Hoffman Center, near the National Science Foundation and the AMC theater, is a street that bears the unglamorous name Swamp Fox Road. Now, the real estate company is in the final stages of having the name changed to honor the Hoffman Company founder Hubert N. Hoffman, Jr.
The proposal to rename Swamp Fox Road to Hoffman Street is scheduled to go to the Planning Commission on Jan. 5, then to the City Council on Jan. 23.
The Hoffman Company claimed in the application that the new street would honor a man who spent his life working to develop and improve Eisenhower East.
Mr. Hubert N. Hoffman, Jr. (“Hoffman Jr.”), a life-long- Alexandria supporter, dedicated to his family business and put his resources into transforming Eisenhower East into the vibrant mixed-use area that now surrounds the Eisenhower Metro Station and Eisenhower Valley. In 1958, Hoffman Jr. purchased nearly 80 acres of land in the Eisenhower Valley (See Figure 3). At that time, this area of the City was largely unimproved and overlooked by the rest of Alexandria. This would soon change as Alexandria continued to grow in the latter half of the 20th century.
The federal government acquired a portion of Hoffman’s land in the early 1960’s for the new Capital Beltway. In 1966, the Hoffman Company was founded by Hoffman Jr. to implement his vision for the Eisenhower Valley. Soon after in 1966, the Holiday Inn was constructed and opened for guests. In 1968, the Hoffman Company built Hoffman Building 1 and, in 1971, the company built Hoffman Building 2. The construction of these two commercial buildings and subsequent lease to the federal government was a major [economic] development success for the City of Alexandria. The Department of Defense was the original tenant of both buildings.
There is little remaining evidence to what “Swamp Fox” originally commemorated. Pre-development, the area was largely marshlands flowing down to nearby Hunting Creek — one theory of the street’s name. Another is that it celebrates Francis Marion, a leader in the Revolutionary War nicknamed Swamp Fox (and largely fictionalized for the 2000 film The Patriot).
According to the staff report:
Aside from this explanation, the origin is unknown although the Office of Historic Alexandria finds that it could be a reference to Francis Marion, a South Carolinian Revolutionary War officer nicknamed the “Swamp Fox”. As noted in an article from the Smithsonian Magazine, “Francis Marion was a man of his times: he owned slaves, and he fought in a brutal campaign against the Cherokee Indians.”
The report noted that the Naming Commission was unanimously in favor of changing the name.
Map via Google Maps
Say your farewells to the traffic circle at the end of Eisenhower Avenue, because later this month work is scheduled to start on a widening and roadway improvement project that will replace it with a T-intersection.
A construction open house is scheduled for Tuesday, December 15, at 7 p.m. via Zoom.
“Join us to learn about the improvements planned for East Eisenhower Avenue and plans for mitigating impacts during construction,” the city said. “Staff will also be on hand to answer your questions.”
The project was approved earlier this year, though with some frustration from the City Council that the project was primarily moving forward because it was too expensive to cancel.
During construction, city said access to nearby businesses will be unimpeded, but traffic along Eisenhower Avenue and Holland Lane could experience slightly longer travel times.
According to the city website, planned improvements include:
- Adding an additional left turn lane at the Eisenhower/Mill Road intersection on westbound Eisenhower Ave.
- Upgrading the receiving lanes on Mill Road to accept the dual left turns from Eisenhower Ave.
- Convert the traffic circle at Eisenhower and Holland to a “T” intersection from John Carlyle Street to Holland Lane.
- Upgrading the street lighting and sidewalks on the north side between Mill Road and Elizabeth Lane, and both sides between John Carlyle Street and Holland Lane.
- Full width resurfacing of Eisenhower Avenue between Holland Lane and Mill Road.
Photo via Google Maps, map via City of Alexandria
A fall in late November at indoor climbing gym Sportrock (5308 Eisenhower Avenue) led to a hospitalization for one climber.
On Nov. 29, a climber lost control during a climb and fell, at which point the belayer lost control of the rope and was unable to stop the fall, according to Sportrock. Fire Department spokesperson Raytevia Evans confirmed the department responded to a medical call at the facility for a fall.
The climber suffered a non-life threatening injury, is in stable condition and recovering.
While injuries aren’t particularly common, there are still risks associated with the sport and climbers have to sign a waiver at the Alexandria location before ascending any walls. Sportrock has been located at its current Eisenhower Avenue since 1996 and is partially an anchor for a small community of startup businesses in the surrounding area — though the gym has struggled through a slow pandemic recovery.
Below is a statement from Sean Taft-Morales, director of the Alexandria location:
The incident involved a pair of climbers, who have both passed the Sportrock Toprope Belay Test, which allows them to use our climbing walls on their own, and who had belayed without incident on numerous prior visits to Sportrock. They were not participating in a Sportrock program or working with a Sportrock instructor, but rather climbing on their own and entirely at their own risk. The climber lost control and fell, at which point the belayer lost control of the brake strand of the rope, which resulted in the belayer being unable to arrest the fall of the climber. The climber subsequently fell to the ground, resulting in injury. He is currently stable, and recovering from his injuries.
Sportrock staff witnessed the fall, immediately responded to the scene, followed first aid and emergency response protocols, and called 911. We have taken statements from all parties involved in the incident, as well as from staff and bystanders who witnessed the incident, all of which were in agreement on the facts of the matter, as conveyed in the paragraph above. Subsequent inspection of all ropes, harnesses, carabiners, belay devices, and other equipment involved in the incident shows that all equipment functioned properly, and there were no breakages or equipment failures. Unfortunately, we must conclude that the incident was the result of belayer error, something that can happen even with the most experienced and highly trained climbers. Our sympathies go out to the injured climber, and we wish him a speedy recovery.
We have thoroughly reviewed the incident, both to ensure that all Sportrock policies and industry standards were followed, and so that we may all learn from it to better prevent further incidents. We have also undertaken a review of our policies and practices to ensure that they continue to exceed industry standards and best practices. Climbing is inherently dangerous, and we encourage anyone interested in the sport to seek qualified instruction.
Sportrock considers safety and education to be absolutely central to our mission. We are a member of the Climbing Wall Association (CWA), and exceed standards set by the industry and the organization. We were one of the first-round gyms to participate in the Universal Belay Standard (UBS) program developed by the American Alpine Club, the first national program designed to standardize and elevate the standard for belaying in the US. Our curriculum and testing criteria are stricter than, and exceed the standards of, the UBS program, and all belay instructors at Sportrock Alexandria are trained in the UBS standard, as well as our own internal standards and requirements. We consistently fail belayers from other gyms who are unable to pass our belay tests. On the educational side of things, I am a American Mountain Guides Association certified Rock Instructor and Single Pitch Program Provider, among most highly-qualified Climbing Instructors in the region, and I personally train every instructor before they can teach belaying at Sportrock Alexandria.
A new restaurant could be coming to the west end of Carlyle
Developers are looking for anew restaurant to fill between 1,708-9,600 rentable square feet of space in the new Shops at Carlyle Tower development along Eisenhower.
A flyer put out by the developer noted that the site could also feature outdoor seating near the busy intersection.
The corner is a prime location, located at the corner of Eisenhower Avenue and Stovall Street off the exit to I-495. The location is also directly across from the Eisenhower Metro Station — a claim that could be less prestigious if Metro plans to move forward with closing the station. The corner is also close to the National Science Foundation and the Patent and Trademark Office a little further down Eisenhower Avenue.
The corner is planned as a new Shops at Carlyle Tower rebranding of what locals know as the Hoffman Town Center. The planned restaurant is neighbored by Starbucks and a recently sold Cold Stone Creamery.
Rendering via Carlyle Tower.
Big changes are coming to the Eisenhower corridor, with two new developments approved at the City Council meeting last Saturday that put some of the final puzzle pieces together.
One of the more visible changes will be the approved development of Block P in Carlyle — referred to by staff as the last block in Carlyle. The project was originally approved in 2007 as a pair of office towers, but the project was recently redesigned with the northern tower becoming a hotel while the southern tower would be residential.
Changes included a slight increase in height to the project and an increase to the total square footage permitted for Block P.
The proposal was unanimously approved and praised as locationally appropriate for the growing Carlyle neighborhood.
“This is a really tall building, which is what we always envisioned for Eisenhower Avenue,” said Councilwoman Del Pepper. “We do not want buildings of this size in historic Alexandria or some other places, but here in Eisenhower Valley it’s most important. I always like to think about people who are driving east or west on the highway there that they are looking over that will see that Alexandria is on the move… that we’re happening.”
The City Council also approved a new addition to the Victory Center lot — the first of several changes ahead for the large lot. The new building will be a one-story retail development in the southwest corner of the lot. The location would include outdoor seating and a drive-thru window.
The proposal was unanimously approved with little discussion.
Images via City of Alexandria
The Alexandria Planning Commission will consider a proposal next month that would replace the name of Swamp Fox Road with Hoffman Drive in the Eisenhower Valley.
Hoffman Family LLC made the application in honor of the company’s founder, Hubert N. Hoffman, Jr., who bought and developed nearly 80 acres of land near the Eisenhower Metro Station. The real estate company has spent decades in what was once a neglected part of the city.
“The Hoffman Company also delivered the first mixed use project in the Eisenhower Valley with the development of the Hoffman Town Center which constructed the first meaningful retail presence along Eisenhower along with the movie theater and parking garage,” notes the application. “The Hoffman family land was so important to the family that Hoffman Jr. and his wife were interred in a mausoleum on the Holiday Inn property. The mausoleum was recently relocated to a cemetery three years ago when the property was sold.”
The Hoffman buildings — commercial properties built in the 1960s and 1970s — sit along Swamp Fox Road between Eisenhower Avenue and Mandeville Lane.
Photos via City of Alexandria / Map via Google Maps
The Victory Center has been an anchor along Eisenhower Avenue for years; a towering, empty complex on a massive, vacant parking lot. But that could change this week as plans move forward to subdivide the lot and prepare for future development.
“The applicants propose to subdivide the one existing lot into two lots,” staff said in a report. “Proposed Lot 601 would measure 267,459 square feet (6.1 acres) and have lot frontage/width of 704.2 feet. Proposed Lot 602 would measure 33,055 square feet and have a lot frontage/width of 91.8 feet. The purpose of the subdivision is to ensure continued land ownership over the area (Proposed Lot 602) immediately east of the Victory Center office building, through which that office building is accessed, given the siting of the future Winchester Homes townhouse project on the majority of the existing lot.”
A staff report on the proposed subdivision expressed support for the change, saying the change would allow the Victory Center to continue being marketed to federal tenants while other development can proceed on other parts of the lot.
The Alexandria Drive-In returned to Eisenhower Avenue with a double feature on Halloween night, and there will be a dozen movies running this weekend until Dec. 5.
The drive-in showed “The Mummy” and “Casper” on Halloween.
“Our second series of movies will hopefully provide some humor on Halloween, especially with the absence of trick or treating, lighten your heart and any worries you have while you and your neighbors enjoy a few hours together, apart from celebrating the winter season,” said Kelly Grant, Chief Operating Officer for ALX Community, who came up with the idea.
The drive-in launched in August and the first six shows sold out in four days. The shows can hold 215 cars in the Victory Center parking lot at 5001 Eisenhower Avenue, and tickets cost $35 apiece. Proceeds from the events go to ACT for Alexandria and Athena Rapid Response.
“It’s so incredible to see the city come out and celebrate movies, togetherness, and charity during a time when going to the movies and being together is nearly impossible,” said Allen Brooks, Chief Operating Officer of The Garden, which partners with ALX Community. “Not to mention that we’ve already given $30,000 to a local charity that is already being used to provide desks for free to kids in the city through Athena response.”
The food trucks at the drive-in include DC Slices, Chix N Stix, Lattimore’s Funnel Cakes, and Popped Republic.
- Saturday, Nov. 7 — “Nanny McPhee” & “The Race” (Double Feature)
- Sunday, Nov. 8 — “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw”
- Saturday, Nov. 14 — “The Secret Life of Pets” and “Pitch Perfect” (Double Feature)
- Friday, Nov. 20 — “Sea Biscuit”
- Saturday, Nov. 21 — “How to Train Your Dragon” and “42” (Double Feature)
- Friday, Dec. 4 — “The Bourne Identity”
- Saturday, Dec. 5 — “The Grinch” and “Love Actually” (Double Feature)
Photos via ALX Community
Hundreds of captivated Alexandrians watched a T-Rex scream on the big screen on Eisenhower Avenue on Saturday night, as a sold-out viewing of Jurassic Park kicked off the first show of the Alexandria Drive-In Theatre.
“We are over the moon,” Kelly Grant, Chief Operating Officer for ALX Community, told ALXnow on Saturday night. “The movie is playing, we’ve got over 215 cars all going and the food trucks are running.”
Sadly, all of the next five shows in the theatre’s first season are sold out. Next weekend is Back to the Future, followed a week after that by Trolls, then Field of Dreams, ET and Mamma Mia. The shows are held in the parking lot of the Victory Center at 5001 Eisenhower Avenue and food truck deliveries from Curbside Kitchen were made by couriers from Pedego Electric Bikes.
“The funds are going to support everything from the racial equity work that we’re doing to COVID support work to the initiatives that we have right now to support arts organizations,” said ACT for Alexandria President and CEO Heather Peeler, who wants to see Black Panther next season in honor of its late star Chadwick Boseman.
Sally Tran watched the movie in the bed of her truck with her friends and family. The truck was outfitted with a mattress, cushions and blankets.
“I ordered tickets for every single weekend,” Tran said. “We got really lucky.”
Now, with a waitlist of sponsors wanting to get involved, organizers are thinking about expanding the offerings, but only after they’ve ironed out the wrinkles from these first shows.
Kelly Grant, Chief Operating Officer for ALX Community, is managing the project and came up with the idea of offering safe entertainment for residents. She partnered with The Garden and will show a classic film every Saturday starting August 29 through the beginning of October in the parking lot of the Victory Center at 5001 Eisenhower Avenue.
“We what we wanted to really do is to be able to provide some safe family entertainment in a way that no one had to be concerned about their personal safety in the middle of a pandemic,” Grant told ALXnow. “We are thinking about expanding, but we want to do this right first.”
Jurassic Park will start things off, followed by Back to the Future, Trolls, Field of Dreams, ET and Mamma Mia. Moviegoers will not be allowed to leave their cars, and food truck deliveries from Curbside Kitchen will be made by couriers from Pedego Electric Bikes.
Image via Alexandria Drive-In/Facebook