If Alexandria’s tentative deal to see a sports arena and entertainment district built in north Potomac Yard, it must include a rehabilitation and renovation fund, Mayor Justin Wilson said Monday night.
Wilson told the Alexandria Democratic Committee that the agreement, which is still in its initial planning stages with Monumental Sports, needs a funding source to account for the wear and tear that time and throngs of annual visitors will have on the arena and numerous planned amenities. The renovation fund is included in Alexandria’s deal with Monumental Sports.
Wilson said that no such rehabilitation and renovation fund was included in D.C.’s deal with Monumental Sports when the Capital One Arena in D.C. opened in 1997. He also said that it was no accident that D.C. recently approved a fund to maintain Nationals Park.
“I’ve gotten a lot of emails about a lot of bad sports deals around the country, and I think we have tried to use those as a lesson,” Wilson said. “One of the things that I think we’ve tried to learn really from some sports deals here in this region is first of all, obviously having a long term lease, having relocation provisions that prevent the team from going away.”
Wilson said one of the lessons is not repeating the Capital One Arena mistake.
“What happened in Capital One, which open the year I graduated high school, and I’m not that old, was that there was never any funding source or funding plan for how to renovate and rehabilitate an arena over time,” Wilson said.
On transportation, Wilson said congestion at the arena will be lessened by patrons using thousands of available parking spaces at neighboring Metro station parking lots and arriving via Metro and shuttle buses.
The deal is projected to generate 30,000 jobs in Alexandria, as well as bring in the Monumental Sports headquarters with about 600 professional employees, the arena itself that would house the Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals, a practice facility, concert venue, television studios, hotels and apartments.
“A big part of the vision is how to use those spaces as a way to get people into the area and then use transit in different ways to get people on to the site for events,” he said. “We’ll have a lot more planning to go as we as we determine whether this use is compatible.”
Wilson also said that one of the advantages of the arena property being owned by the Virginia Stadium Authority is that if the teams decide to relocate at the end of the 40-year lease, the facility would be owned by the city.
“We could knock down and build something else,” Wilson said. “We would have the resources as well as the ownership and control of the property to be able to do what the community would like to do.”
Large Income Disparities in Alexandria — “White Alexandria is pulling in significantly more money than Hispanic workers and African Americans, according to numbers from the United States Census Bureau. A look at average income shows non-Hispanic whites make more than $85,000 a year. That’s more than three times the average income for Hispanic workers, $24,000, and more than twice the average income for black workers, $37,000.” [Gazette]
Water Taxi Returns to Old Town — “A face mask requirement and other safety measures are in place for the limited water taxi service.” [Patch]
Lee-Fendall House Museum & Garden Hosting Juneteenth Trivia Night — “It’s long been on our calendar to celebrate Juneteenth – marking the legal end of slavery in the United States on June 19th, 1865 – with a trivia night that explores African American culture. We hope you’ll join us on Zoom this Friday night for this special evening! Tickets are FREE, but an optional donation will be split between us, Carlyle House Historic Park, and ALIVE. Pre-registration at our Eventbrite page is required.” [Facebook]
NVTA Recommends Full Funding for Duke Street Transitway — “The Duke Street Transitway was the City of Alexandria’s only request to the NVTA and the cost is estimated at $87 million. Alexandria received $12 million already, so this funding request is for the remaining $75 million.” [Alexandria Living]
North Potomac Yard Virtual Meeting at 7 p.m. — “The Virginia Tech Foundation and JBG SMITH is hosting virtual community meetings to provide information on the design of the proposed buildings and site-wide updates.” [City of Alexandria]
Casa Chirilagua Hosting Fundraiser Sunday — “Casa Chirilagua is a local community nonprofit serving the Central American Latinx community in City of Alexandria zip code 22305 – a hot spot for COVID-19. Because of the health and economic conditions, demand for Casa Chirilagua’s services has become enormous.” [Facebook]
‘Ascend Cycle’ Hosting Virtual Pride Ride — “A $15 minimum donation is requested for this event. 100% of proceeds will be donated. Sign up for the ride online and we’ll text you the Zoom code before class!” [Facebook]
YMCA Reopens in Del Ray — “Your local YMCA at 420 East Monroe Avenue is back in business. It opened for the first time in months this past Monday, June 15, along with the Arlington location. The Y is following a phased approach to reopening so you will see differences when you visit.” [Zebra]
New Job: Assistant Center Manager — “Mathnasium is a highly dynamic and fast-paced and is known for the great care we take with our students and employees alike… We’re looking for an Assistant Center Manager to assist at both our Alexandria City and Mount Vernon centers. The pay range we’re offering is $16-$18/hour depending on center performance.” [Indeed]
City Helps World Central Kitchen Give Out 1,250 Meals — “On May 14, City staff and volunteers distributed 1,250 hot meals to 350 families in the third food distribution organized in Alexandria by World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit food distribution organization founded by chef José Andrés. Local nonprofit ALIVE! also distributed 800 pounds of food at the event. This food distribution will take place again at Casa Chirilagua on May 21 and Ramsay Elementary School on May 28.” [City of Alexandria]
10,000 Maniacs Show at The Birchmere Rescheduled to November — “his show has been RESCHEDULED AGAIN, now for Friday November 20, 2020! All 3/20/20 & 5/31/20 tickets will be honored on the new date. Refunds available through Ticketmaster if you cannot attend the new date. If you purchased at The Birchmere Box Office, please hold on to your tickets until we reopen. Tickets for 11/20/20 on sale now!” [Birchmere]
Old Town Books Raising Funds to Stay Afloat — “I never thought I would be turning to crowd funding to keep the store open. This fundraiser is to cover payroll, rent, and fixed costs during the shut down. It will keep the store open through the next very uncertain year while we adapt our business model to continue operating through the COVID-19 outbreak. I want Old Town Books to be here when the clouds part, and I hope you do, too.” [GoFundMe]
Here’s the Latest from the Old Town Boutique District — “The Old Town Boutique District kindly asks for you to continue to hold hands with us and support us little guys any way that you can. We love our loyal shop local community and we still need you.” [OTBD]
Tall Ship Providence Hosting Virtual Tours on Tuesdays — “Every week, historic re-enactors talk about Providence, life aboard the ship and much more in a series of videos, online discussion and other virtual features.” [Alexandria Living]
North Potomac Yard Virtual Community Meeting at 7 p.m. — “The Virginia Tech Foundation and JBG SMITH will host a virtual community meeting to provide information regarding transportation, open space, sustainability and community benefits.” [City of Alexandria]
Sixth Grader Leaves Colorful Rocks in Neighborhood — “Sophie Richardson, a 6th grade student at St. Stephens/St. Agnes School, is brightening up the Vauxcleuse neighborhood near Inova Alexandria Hospital with rocks painted with uplifting messages for her neighbors to find.” [Gazette]
Virtue Feed and Grain Donates Meals to D.C. Nonprofit — “We are grateful for the partnership & hope to continue giving back to our community.” [Facebook]
Pedego Electric Bikes Gets Colorful Shipment of Helmets — “We just received a shipment of new Thousand helmets! Refilling some favorites and adding a few new awesome colors. Come and get them while they last!” [Facebook]
The Art League is Offering Online Courses — “Check out our new online classes to help keep you connected to each other and your creativity. Connect to online classes using Zoom, a video-conferencing platform that is simple and easy to use. And stay in touch with your classmates and teacher with Google classroom.” [Art League]
New Job: Alexandria Health Department Communications Officer — “The AHD Communications Officer is a key member of AHD’s Population Health team comprised of the Population Health Manager, Health Planner, and HIV/AIDS Prevention Coordinator. The Communications Officer reports directly to the Population Health Manager, is AHD’s principal communications subject matter expert, and provides oversight of AHD’s internal and external communications.” [Indeed]
(Updated at 4:55 p.m.) Virginia Tech has to hit 750 master’s degree graduates per year by the end of the decade in a school that hasn’t even been built yet if it wants to hold onto state funding for the project.
During a panel discussion at Agenda Alexandria last night, some of the local leaders working on Virginia Tech’s Innovation Campus in Potomac Yard opened up about the slew of opportunities and challenges the school will face over the next few years.
David Baker, assistant director of government and community relations for Virginia Tech, said the 750 master’s degrees target was a condition of the funding Virginia Tech got from the state to support the school’s development.
The first challenge will be getting the project built by 2024, which the panelists said is their deadline to give Virginia Tech enough time to get the school up and running to hit its deadlines. The project is currently in the design review process, which started in November and is expected to run through fall 2020.
“We’re focused on the area east of Potomac Avenue in phase one to hit the 2024 timeline,” said Bailey Edelson, development senior vice president for JBG Smith. “In terms of planning and construction, that’s lightning-fast. We’re working quickly to make sure they can meet their obligations.”
Once the project finishes construction in 2024, Baker said the school plans to start hosting classes that fall. It will offer master’s and PhD programs with a focus on computer science and engineering, Baker said, with no undergraduate program planned.
(A temporary campus utilizing vacant retail space at the Potomac Yard shopping center will host about 400 students before the opening of the permanent campus.)
While housing is set to be constructed as part of the larger redevelopment of Potomac Yard, no residential areas are set aside as student housing.
“But when we bring multifamily units online, those often serve as housing for graduate students and anyone else who wants to live here,” Bailey said.
She said JBG Smith was committed to co-locating affordable housing at the site. City regulation requires developers seeking bonus density — density beyond what is allowed by local zoning — to supply affordable housing, but some developers instead offer a financial contribution to Alexandria’s Housing Trust Fund and the housing is built elsewhere. Bailey said bringing a supply of housing affordable at all levels to “National Landing” was crucial for the project.
The panel also featured Ryan Touhill, chief of staff for the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership and Amol Vaidya from the Potomac Yards Civic Association. As they look at the new development coming online, many residents have already been vocal about their disappointment with the process.
Vaidya said it’s important for local residents to take an active part in the discussion about development.
“We want development to be something that happens with us and not to us,” Vaidya said. “We’re a pro-development community, like to see opportunities, jobs and whatnot, but throughout this dynamic process the partnership is key.”
The next Potomac Yard meeting is an advisory committee meeting on Sunday, Feb. 5, at City Hall.
Just a few days after submitting plans for the Virginia Tech site near the North Potomac Yard Metro station, JBG Smith has submitted early concept designs for the development that will replace Target and the other Potomac Yard stores.
While the area is known today as a big-box shopping center and surface parking lot, the majority of the new development will be office and residential spaces in a large grid, the Washington Business Journal first reported. Ten of the buildings will be required to have retail, with optional retail at the southern end of the site.
Other features of the plan include a hotel at the north end of the site and school or community facility at the southern end. The site was one of the locations considered for a second high school, but while the School Board ultimately voted to stick with an expanded T.C. Williams High School, administrators still expressed interest in putting some kind of educational facility at Potomac Yard.
Several of the properties closest to the North Potomac Yard Metro station are classified in plans as a flexible neighborhood zone. Current plans show the majority of that space — including the Target, as offices.
A public meeting to discuss the North Potomac Yard development is scheduled for next Thursday, Nov. 14, from 7-9 p.m. in the National Industries for the Blind (3000 Potomac Avenue).
In all, the two redevelopment plans total more than 8 million square feet of space.
Photo courtesy Streetsense