The proposed redevelopment of a pair of blue and white buildings, a former Burke & Herbert Bank and a former Walgreens, is heading back to city review next month.
The plan is to combine the two buildings into a single mixed-use development called The Mansley with ground-floor retail and three stories of residential space above.
The applicant, The Silverman Group, said the exterior will mostly resemble the buildings as they exist today, with the additional 24 multi-family units of residential development kept mostly away from the King Street frontage. According to the application:
The project includes the adaptive reuse and rehabilitation of two early 20th-century buildings. 615 and 621 King Street will be combined into a single building with ground-floor retail space and three stories of residential space above, as well as one level below grade to be utilized as commercial support space. The two distinct building typologies will be retained along the King Street frontage, and the building will step back by 12 feet on the upper two levels so that the buildings read as commercial with traditional window proportions.
The Silverman Group is heading to the Board of Architectural Review on Wednesday, April 19, for a concept review and a permit to demolish. The project won City Council approval for rezoning and development at a meeting in September last year.
A proposed extension of the King Street Trolley has reappeared in a new DASH transit plan.
The bus network’s FY 2023-2028 Transit Development Plan includes a look behind the curtain at what’s ahead for the bus network, including a plan to take the King Street Trolley down to the Eisenhower Avenue Metro station.
It’s not the first time the idea has come up. The idea was first raised back in 2020 as a longer-term goal, with hopes of implementation by 2030. Now, the Transit Development Plan says the hope is to get that extension going by FY 2026.
According to the plan:
For FY 2026, DASH proposes to extend the King Street Trolley from the King Street Metro to the Eisenhower Metro. This route extension will require up to three additional Trolley vehicles, which will be 100% electric as part of the larger effort to transition the Trolley fleet to electric buses. DASH will also seek to expand morning service hours for the Trolley and to find ways to integrate it more fully with the Old Town Circulator service. These trolley changes and any further changes to Trolley service will require additional funding, further coordination with city leadership, and approval by City Council.
The plan also includes the proposed replacement of the current hybrid trolleys with five fully electric ones, part of broader fleet electrification the bus network is struggling to find funding for.
The plan also notes that the King Street Trolley remains the most used route in the system.
Despite its post-pandemic ridership decreases, the King Street Trolley remains the most productive route with more than 20 boardings per revenue hour on weekdays and Sundays and more than 30 boardings per revenue hour on Saturdays.
Alexandria’s Board of Architectural Review can be infamously picky about urban design, but the board unanimously voted to approve a large new project in Old Town with significant enthusiasm.
Applicant City House Old Town, LLC is applying to have the office building at 1101 King Street — currently a mostly vacant office space called the Tycon Building — changed into a residential development with 210 units.
The current office building was built in 1983, predating new regulations for density in the area set in 1992. The new plans won’t add any density to the building, but still require a special use permit because they aren’t compliant with current limits.
While the interior is undergoing significant changes, the exterior changes are relatively minor. The developer is proposing new railings and balconies, along with some cosmetic changes to the coloring of the building’s exterior.
Old Town was packed on Saturday morning for Alexandria’s 40th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
Thousands of visitors lined King Street to watch a procession of more than 2,000 participants, including Irish dancers, historic reenactors and the City of Alexandria Pipes and Drums. The festivities also included a car show and a dog show at Market Square outside City Hall.
This year’s Grand Marshal was Charlotte Hall, managing director of Old Town Business. The parade was sponsored by the Ballyshaners, a nonprofit dedicated to Irish heritage. Ballyshaners is Gaelic for “Old Towners.”
Enjoy the photos!
It’s the 40th annual St. Patrick’s Day parade in old town Alexandria. @wtop pic.twitter.com/GALWNTcrJE
— Dick Uliano (@DickUliano) March 4, 2023
Get out of the way!!
Today, the Woodridge Showtime Marching Eagles Performed at the 2023 Ballyshaners St. Patrick's Day Parade held in Old Town Alexandria Virginia. #woodridgeeaglessoar💙💛💙🦅 #FriendshipProud #fpcswoodridge #dccharterproud #marchingband pic.twitter.com/0jpJoQ4U4F
— Friendship PCS (@FriendshipPCS) March 4, 2023
Some St. Patrick’s Day parade shots. #alexandriava #oldtownalexandria pic.twitter.com/l1Cx1kgLG2
— Old Town Dog Walks (@Oldtowndogwalks) March 4, 2023
A new restaurant focused on milkshakes in mason jars is coming to Old Town.
The Crazy Mason, a self-described milkshake bar, is planning to open at 716 King Street sometime this summer.
“The Crazy Mason Milkshake Bar offers sweet treats of all kinds, specializing in unique milkshakes and sundaes served in keepsake custom-designed mason jars,” the restaurant said in a release.
The Crazy Mason features a variety of types of milkshakes along with other desserts, like cookies and cheesecake. There are also a couple vegan options with non-dairy milk, according to the website.
The new location is set to open this summer, The Crazy Mason said in a release, with a more specific date to be announced closer to opening.
The chain started out in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, in 2020. The Alexandria store will be the 10th location in the swiftly growing chain.
“We fell in love with the Crazy Mason brand while on a family vacation in Myrtle Beach in 2021 and we opened our first location in 2022 in Ellicott City, Maryland,” franchisees Erin and Robert Studer said in a release. “We wanted to bring our crazy treats to the DC metro area and Old Town Alexandria is one of our favorite places. With the waterfront, the cosmopolitan feel and the walkable nature of the town, we are so excited to announce our next location on King Street.”
The Crazy Mason enters a neighborhood with some stiff frozen dairy competition, with five ice cream shops along or just off King Street in Old Town.
Image via The Crazy Mason Milkshake Bar/Facebook
Old Town was packed on Monday, as thousands of revelers and marchers celebrated the George Washington Birthday Parade.
More than 2,000 freemasons from all over the country marched in the 100th annual parade, which is the largest annual celebration of Washington in the world.
This year’s event saw a rare route change for the parade, which is traditionally held east of Washington Street near City Hall in the Old Town Historic District. This year, the parade made its way from Old Town North to King Street and near the George Washington Masonic National Memorial at King Street and Commonwealth Avenue.
This event commemorated the construction of the Memorial in 1923, which saw then-President Calvin Coolidge, Chief Justice William Howard Taft and Virginia Governor E. L.Trinkle lay the cornerstone.
Alexandria’s next parade is the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Old Town on Saturday, March 4.
Time and time again, a group of business owners has pushed the Old Town Business Improvement District (BID) boulder up the hill, only to have it roll back down again.
Now, a group called Old Town Business is trying — again — to get the boulder to the top.
“Old Town’s oldest business organization, Old Town Business (OTB) is leading the renewed efforts to establish a business improvement service district in Old Town Alexandria,” the group said in a release. “The organization, which has been advocating and hosting programs and events that benefit the community and independent businesses for over 40 years, has been preparing a detailed plan for the business improvement service district, including the district’s boundaries, the service offerings and the governance mechanisms.”
There are multiple BIDs in Arlington and Washington, D.C. There have been repeated efforts to get a BID launched in Old Town. The most recent — and the closest to success — was in 2017, but after the proposal was met with vocal opposition, city leaders voted to send the plan back to the drawing board where it ultimately withered away.
To Old Town Business’ credit, there are some signs that this time may be different. Approval of a BID concept was slipped into American Rescue Plan Act funding and basic guidelines to put together a BID were approved at the City Council in 2022. The City Council has also seen significant turnover since 2017, with only Mayor Justin Wilson and City Council member John Chapman remaining from the original vote.
But to get a BID approved, it still needs approval from 60% of businesses within the boundary of the proposed BID. This is, historically, where past BID efforts have floundered. Many brick-and-mortar business owners, already feeling a strain from competition against online sales, have been roiled by the idea of an additional tax.
The Old Town Business website said the new BID would be funded by a $0.10 service district tax added onto the real property tax — currently $1.11.
“For example, a parcel that has a taxable value of $700,000 that currently pays $7,770 in annual property taxes would be billed an additional $700 for a new total of $8,470,” the website said.
While the BID offers improvements such as enhancements to public spaces and activities — during the last BID campaign, many local businesses pushed back and said those are roles that groups like the city-funded Visit Alexandria should be filling. The Old Town Business website said the BID would help run events and do marketing for Old Town, among other services.
Now, Old Town Business is launching a marketing campaign for the BID to try to drum up support. According to the release:
The proposed BISD (to be named the Old Town Business – Business Improvement Service District, or OTB-BISD) aims to focus on improving the experience for employees, visitors and residents within the boundaries of the OTB-BISD and to protect and grow the economy of the OTB-BISD for the benefit of business owners, property owners and residents.
The proposed boundaries of the OTB-BISD create a limited district area running from the “river to the rails,” which would include parcels that (i) have frontage along King Street between the Potomac River and the King Street Metro; (ii) are east of Union Street, between Queen Street and Wolfe Street; (iii) have frontage on the west side of Union Street between Queen Street and Duke Street; (iv) have frontage along Diagonal Street between King Street and Duke Street or (v) have frontage along the streets which intersect with King Street, between Prince Street and Cameron Street (the north/south component of Cameron Street, at its western end, shall be considered a side street).
The group has launched a petition that can be signed by local property owners and a forum for non-property owners to offer support.
Old Town Businesses is hosting a series of outreach meetings this month, including:
- Wednesday, Feb. 15 — In Person, 8:30-9:30 a.m.
Lorien Hotel & Spa, 1600 King Street, Alexandria
- Wednesday, Feb. 15 — Virtual Zoom Meeting, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
- Wednesday, Feb. 22 — In Person Meetings, 8:30-9:30 a.m., Noon-1:00 p.m., 4-5 p.m
Lorien Hotel & Spa, 1600 King Street, Alexandria
- Wednesday, Feb. 22 — Virtual Zoom Meeting, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Landini Brothers (115 King Street) plans on converting a neighboring property at 113 King Street into an exclusive three-story members-only area by the end of spring/beginning of summer, the restaurant’s owner tells ALXnow.
Noe Landini says that the final permit approvals with the City are pending but to expect an 18-week construction schedule. The property at 113 King Street is the former longtime home of The Silver Parrot jewelry shop, which closed in 2021, and the America! shop.
“For the members-only club and Landini’s, we will now be able to do 100% private events,” Landini told ALXnow. “That, for us, is going to be a game-changer. I’m very excited about the plan: the space. I’m anxious to get it going.”
The expansion means that Landini Brothers will have to go through thick walls that are more than 200 years old.
“We are going to break through the foundation wall between Landini’s and the old Silver Parrot space,” Landini said. “We’re going to break through that four-foot-thick stone wall to connect the Landini dining room to the new space.”
The Italian restaurant has increased its footprint numerous times since opening on the first floor of 115 King Street in 1979. In 1983, the city approved a special use permit (SUP) request for the restaurant to operate on the second floor of 115 King Street, and it expanded to the first floor of 117 King Street in 1999, and then to the second floor of 117 King Street in 2002. In 2009, the restaurant opened up the third floor of 115 King Street — as well as the second and third floors of 113 King Street for the first iteration of the members-only club, which now boasts more than 350 members.
Landini recently signed a 40-year lease on the new 2,267-square-foot space, and that it will have a mahogany bar, custom-made leather “Sinatra” booths, a record player with a record library and antiques from around the world.
“We have a lot of very cool museum-quality exhibits and artifacts that I want to remain kind of a secret just to create a little curiosity,” Landini said. “I have some pieces from Mexico, from Italy, and also some Americana exhibit pieces that I’ve been collecting for this purpose.”
Via Google Maps
(Updated 1/31) The City of Alexandria is looking to extend the duration of King Street Outdoor Dining (KSOD) permits after an unusual circumstance in scheduling meant the permits issued by the city would only be valid for a couple of months.
After the Covid emergency status expired in September 2022, the City of Alexandria began issuing permits for businesses along King Street to operate in the sidewalks. The program is a continuation of a more flexible approach to outdoor dining brought on by the pandemic.
The problem is: the city’s annual sidewalk permits were effective from April 1 to March 31 of the following year. The permits Alexandria was issuing last year were based on that system, meaning permits granted after the change in September would only be valid until the end of March — just five months after they were issued.
As the city gets its ducks in a row to streamline the whole process, city staff have suggested that the city push the expiration of those permits back to next fall.
According to a staff report:
In the meantime, the KSOD permits granted after October 1, 2022 will expire on March 31, 2023… Staff proposes a text amendment to Section 6-804(F) to allow time for the development of a new one-application process, which aligns with the existing annual September 30 deadline of the parklet program, and also eliminates the need for restaurant operators to reapply for a new sidewalk dining permit before the existing March 31 deadline, less than six months after their most recent approvals.
The permit extension (item 2) is heading to the Planning Commission on Tuesday, Feb. 7.
After 15 years, Bloomers (924 King Street) is moving to a new location on King Street in the first week of March, it’s owner tells ALXnow.
Bloomers owner Nicole White says knew that the lease her shop at 924 King Street was expiring in 2023 when she bought the business in 2018.
The 1,500-square-foot space at 706 King Street is the former longtime home of Crown Wigs, which closed last year. It’s located next door to Village Brauhaus (710 King Street) and directly across the street from Murphy’s Grand Irish Pub (713 King Street).
“We’re more than doubling our footprint,” White told ALXnow. “We’re excited to have more space, expand our bra lines and brands and provide a great experience for people.”
Bloomers was founded by Kim Putens in 2008. By 2013, she had locations in Old Town, Shirlington and Georgetown, but the growth was short-lived. In 2014, Putens announced she was closing the Georgetown shop from lack of business, did not renew the lease on the Shirlington location and consolidated everything into the Old Town shop.
White says customers are tired of being comfortable, and that strapless bras and shapewear are selling out, reversing a years-long trend of customers working from home and needing loungewear.
“We had a crazy run on strapless bras this summer, because everyone was going to events,” she said. ” We didn’t sell a single strapless bra during the pandemic. It’s funny how things have turned back around.”
White is reopening the shop sometime in the first week of March, and said that customers should follow the Bloomers Instagram page for updates.
As for her long-term aspirations, White said she hopes to continue running a business that personally fits women with bras.
“I just want to be able to continue being a brick-and-mortar store in a digital world,” she said. “To really get a proper bra that fits, you need to come in person, so we hope to be able to do that for a long time.”