Alexandria, VA

Morning Notes

Biden Wins Virginia — “Virginia voters have overwhelmingly given former Vice President Joe Biden a sizable win over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in Tuesday’s primary election. According to unofficial state election returns, Biden has been called the winner of the state with 53.3 percent of what was a record primary turnout, and will capture the largest share of its 99 delegates.” [Patch, Washington Post]

City Holding Coronavirus Info Session — “The City of Alexandria, the Alexandria Health Department, Inova Health System, and the Alexandria City Public Schools will hold an online virtual information session on Thursday, March 12, from 8 to 9 p.m., to provide information and answer questions about the COVID-19 coronavirus. The session will be accessible at alexandriava.gov/Health.” [City of Alexandria, Alexandria Living]

North Old Town Quickly Developing — “Old Town North has been witnessing metamorphic change evolving before our eyes over the last two decades. Residential and mixed-use developments, including rental apartments, townhouses, condos, and retail spaces scattered throughout. Among notable additions are the Harris Teeter at The Kingsley, the Gables Old Town North with apartments, restaurants and retail built on the old Giant/ABC Store site. Redevelopment of the abandoned Bus Barn site has just commenced.” [Zebra]

Nearby: Redevelopment Floated for Shopping Center — “One developer is proposing putting 900 apartments where the Belle View Shopping Center — recently ravaged by a fire — now stands.” [Alexandria Living, Covering the Corridor]

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Morning Notes

T.C. Football Coach Steps Down — “James Longerbeam stepped down as head coach of the T.C. Williams High School football team on Feb. 3. Longerbeam has served as head coach since 2016, when he moved from Panama City, Florida to Alexandria to take the position. He cited his father’s recent passing and his mother’s dementia as reasons for his decision in a Facebook post.” [Alexandria Times]

Local Doctor Helps the Homeless — “Dr. William Mazzella has a message for the homeless living on the streets of Alexandria, Virginia. ‘I have the medicines,’ Mazzella said. ‘I have the bandages, the training, and I’m here to help you if you will have me…’ He has formed a nonprofit called MedStreet, which is accepting donations and seeking volunteers to help continue his work and help more people.” [WTOP]

Old Town Chocolate Shop Reveals Shape Secrets — “The owners of a Northern Virginia chocolate shop are urging customers to be aware of what’s in a box of chocolates before making a purchase this Valentine’s Day. If the customer’s preference is chewy over gooey caramels, it might be wise to consider rectangular-shaped versus square candy from a heart-shaped holiday box… said Robert Ludlow, who co-owns Alexandria, Virginia, shop Fleurir Chocolates.” [WTOP]

Investigators Reveal Massive Fire’s Cause, Cost — The massive fire at the South Alex development along Route 1 “started in the second-floor trash chute of the residential portion of a multi-use complex. The cause of the fire was improperly discarded smoking materials. Damage figures include the total loss of the main buildings under construction, 14 townhouses, and one trailer. The amount also includes damage to five apartment buildings, 14 additional townhouses, four single family homes, 29 vehicles, and multiple pieces of construction equipment. Damage total as a result of the fire is $48,171,075.” [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue]

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Morning Notes

Bar Owner to Lead St. Pat’s Parade — “The Ballyshaners have selected John Brennan, owner of Daniel O’Connell’s Restaurant and Bar as Grand Marshal of the 2020 Alexandria St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Brennan, of Kilkenny, Ireland and an Old Town homeowner has been an active member of Alexandria’s business community since opening Daniel O’Connell’s in 2006.” [Zebra]

Recycling Collection Still Delayed — “City recycling collection remains delayed due to winter weather earlier this week. Residents that did not receive collection service on their normal day will receive service on the following day.” [Twitter]

Old Town Store Expands to Tysons — “A new Tysons Corner Center store is selling hand-crafted furniture and accessories for people decorating in a French Regency-style. Tradition de France opened in November on the first level of the mall by Lord & Taylor and is the second location for the Alexandria-based, family-owned business.” [Tysons Reporter]

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The confusion over what constitutes Alexandria continues as news outlets continue identifying areas of Mount Vernon, Fairfax County, as Alexandria.

The Washington Post tweeted about a fatal shooting on Dec. 20 that took place on Sausalito Place in the Mount Vernon area of Fairfax. In the tweet, the Washington Post said the person was fatally shot in Alexandria, Virginia, reigniting an old debate over whether or not to refer to the area south of the borders of the City of Alexandria as “Alexandria.”

Former Alexandria Fire Chief Robert Dubé responded that the shooting took place six miles away from the City of Alexandria in an area that is safely considered “Mount Vernon” both colloquially, on maps, and in Fairfax County documents. Dave Statter, a former reporter and volunteer firefighter who has a long-running gripe against outlets calling this area Alexandria, responded to the Post’s tweet with his own tweetstorm.

Statter also called on Fairfax County Police to stop calling the area in question the “Alexandria section of Fairfax County.”

The confusion comes from a reliance on postal service designations, which gives some Fairfax residents and businesses in the area an Alexandria mailing addresses. The postal service designations can often be unreliable, with some parts of the City of Alexandria being labelled as Arlington.

The dividing line between Alexandria and Fairfax County was established as Cameron Run by 1871 and then the part of the West End north of the Beltway in the mid-20th century.

City Councilman John Chapman weighed in on the conversation and identified it as a “pet peeve.” In the past, city officials have said the lack of clarity over what is Alexandria and what is Fairfax County has resulted in errors like a Target inadvertently sending $1 million in sales tax to the City of Alexandria instead of Fairfax.

The pre-New Year’s spat might be responsible for some changes. The Washington Post’s story was updated to refer to Fairfax County’s “Mount Vernon area” and yesterday, when police announced an arrest in the case, it referred to the “Mt. Vernon homicide suspect” being arrested.

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Morning Notes

Alexandria Declares Climate Emergency — “On October 22, the Alexandria City Council unanimously adopted a resolution declaring a climate emergency, recognizing that climate change poses a grave threat to everyone in Alexandria and around the world.” [City of Alexandria]

City Council Passes Refugee Resolution — “The Alexandria City Council unanimously approved a resolution to notify the federal government of its continued support for resettling refugees in Alexandria. The action was taken in response to Executive Order 13888, issued on September 26, which provides that the federal government ‘should resettle refugees only in those jurisdictions in which both the State and local governments have consented to receive refugees.'” [City of Alexandria]

Next Weekend: Event for Little Historians — “Bring your little learners to the Alexandria Black History Museum for cultural stories and creative craft activities that introduce world history and folklore… All ages are welcome, but most suitable for children 3-5 years old.” [City of Alexandria]

Nearby: Belle View Fire Costs Millions — “Monday morning’s six-alarm fire at the Belle View Shopping Center began in the kitchen of one of the businesses in the center, the Fairfax Fire and Rescue Department said in a Tuesday press release… The fire caused more than $5.8 million in damages.” [Covering the Corridor, Fairfax County Fire]

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Morning Notes

‘Say Yes’ Star Opening Alexandria Salon — “The star of ‘Say Yes to the Dress Atlanta,’ Monte Durham, plans to open a hair salon in Old Town Alexandria, he announced this week. Durham, a resident of Alexandria, plans to call the salon ‘Monte.’ No word yet on an opening date.” [Alexandria Living]

APD Investigates Weekend Crashes — Alexandra police investigated a number of crashes over the weekend, including on the ramp to Telegraph Road from eastbound Duke Street, the intersection of North Beauregard Street and Seminary Road, the intersection of North Patrick Street and Madison Street, and the 500 block of North Columbus Street.

New Waterfront Cafe Under Construction — “Misha’s is moving forward on renovating the space for a second coffeehouse at 6 Prince St., near the waterfront, and that location is expected to have rooftop dining. A total renovation of the property is underway with the roof, floor and some walls being torn down.” [Alexandria Living]

Local Theater Staging Spooky Story — “The Little Theatre of Alexandria (LTA) is staging ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ from Oct. 19 – Nov. 9, 2019. Director Maggie Mumford said she is an absolute nerd about all things Shirley Jackson (novelist), and the novel upon which this play is based is what started that fandom.” [Gazette Packet]

Overheard on the Alexandria Police Scanner — “Scanner: APD responding to S. Pickett Street for a report of a man walking down the road, dribbling a basketball while wearing nothing but a jock strap.” [Twitter]

Nearby: Fire at Belle View Shopping Center — “More than 20 businesses were damaged overnight Sunday into Monday by a four-alarm fire at a shopping center in Fairfax County, Virginia. The fire broke out about midnight in the Belle View Shopping Center, located south of Old Town Alexandria and the Capital Beltway.” [NBC 4, WTOP]

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Morning Notes

Land Rover Alexandria Is Moving — A developer “has filed plans with Fairfax County to build [an] auto dealership and service center, on a 5.6-acre parcel fronting Van Dorn Street between the Capital Beltway and McGuin Drive, just outside the city of Alexandria… Beyer Auto Group will uproot its Land Rover dealership from its 22-year home at 2712 Duke St. in Alexandria to this new location, while establishing Jaguar sales on the property as well.” [Washington Business Journal]

Water Main Break Near Hospital — An extended, partial road closure was reported near Inova Alexandria Hospital yesterday (Tuesday) evening after a water main broke at the intersection of N. Jordan and Howard streets. [Twitter]

Women’s Halfway House Opens at New Location — “Friends of Guest House, the transitional organization for formerly incarcerated women, has some new digs. Twenty women moved into Friends of Guest House’s newly opened residential six month re-entry program at 120 S. Payne Street.” [Zebra]

New Insight into Severance Case — “Years after serial killer Charles Severance terrorized Alexandria, Virginia, and was convicted in three murders, the lead prosecutor is sharing key insights into the case… ‘He wanted it to be terrifying,’ [Commonwealth’s Attorney for Alexandria Bryan] Porter said of Severance’s crimes.” [WTOP]

APD Officer Saves Man from Overdose — “An Alexandria police officer saved the life of a man who had overdosed on opioids. Read his story, and learn how you too can save a life.” [City of Alexandria, Twitter]

Tonight: Beautification Awards Ceremony — “The 2019 Alexandria Beautification Awards ceremony will recognize residents, organizations, and businesses and community groups for their efforts in contributing to the beautification of the City of Alexandria. Awards will be presented in six categories.” [City of Alexandria]

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Metro is moving forward with plans to develop the areas around the Huntington station in Fairfax County, just south of Alexandria.

The transit agency announced it would tap Stout & Teague as the property’s “master developer” by preparing and dividing the 12-acre site into parcels that could be then sold or leased to other developers.

Christian Dorsey, who chairs the WMATA Board of Directors and the Arlington County Board, called this developer stewardship system of the land long destined for redevelopment an “innovative approach” during the agency’s meeting late last week, during which members unanimously approved the contract.

Back in June, WMATA invited companies to bid for the chance to develop 12 of the 30 acres of land around the Metro station which recently re-opened after a lengthy closure to rebuild its deteriorating station platform.

The transit agency’s plan called for taking down the garage on the south side of the property and replacing the north garage with two mixed-use buildings — one building to the north of the Metro station, and one to the south.

With the Board’s blessing, Stout & Teague has the green light to prepare the hilly land for buildings, and work with Fairfax County to re-zone the land for mixed-use development, Metro’s Vice President of Real Estate Nina Albert said during the meeting.

“They have agreed to not participate in any future development, but instead to work with us to market and sell these properties,” she said, referring to the developer.

Metro previously contracted with Fairfax-based Stout & Teague in 2002 to develop a section of the agency’s land into the apartment complex The Courts at Huntington Station, along with several townhouses the developer finished in 2011.

A few years later, Metro tried to interest developers in another, 1.15-acre part of the land to no success.

Now, Albert says the time to develop the rest of the land is right considering the station’s rail connections to Amazon’s second headquarters and the its eventual connection with Richmond Highway’s bus rapid transit line.

“There’s a lot of dynamic activity occurring and we should be planning now for what the station could be, and envisioning that,” she said.

Because re-zoning is typically an 18-month process in Fairfax County, efforts to re-level and prepare the sights for sale are expected to finish by 2023.

Maps via Metro

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If there’s one thing that will annoy many Alexandrians more than all else, it’s calling the southeastern area of Fairfax County across Cameron Run “Alexandria.”

Dave Statter, a former reporter and volunteer firefighter who runs a fire and EMS news website, went on a rant this week about the distinction after Fairfax County Police, and later news outlets, referred to the controversy over a police officer detaining a driver to be handed over to ICE as having taken place in Alexandria.

The area from the Huntington Metro area to Mount Vernon is often referred to as Alexandria. City of Alexandria (the real Alexandria) spokesman Craig Fifer said Fairfax County does not officially refer to any portion of the county as Alexandria, though the term “Alexandria section of the county” appeared in a Fairfax County Police Department press release about the ICE incident.

The source of the confusion is that the U.S. Postal Service gives some Fairfax residents and businesses in the area Alexandria mailing addresses. In the late 1800s there were attempts by Alexandria to annex these parts of Fairfax, but they withdrew back across Cameron Run. By 1871, the dividing line was established as Cameron Run.

City pride aside, the distinction can also have fiscal implications. In 2009, an audit found a Target store in Fairfax was inadvertently sending $1 million in sales tax to the City of Alexandria instead of Fairfax, according to the Washington Post.

“It’s important for residents, businesses, the news media and the Postal Service to accurately identify locations,” Fifer said. “When an area is referred to as ‘Alexandria’ that is not actually in the City of Alexandria, people become confused about which government agencies serve them, which services are available, where to get involved in civic affairs, and even where to pay taxes.”

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