Post Content
Former National Tire and Batter (image via Google Maps)

A former National Tire and Battery (NTB) in the West End could be transformed into a used car dealership if the repair shop next door can get approval.

Koons of Alexandria has filed an application for a special use permit to establish a used car dealership at the former NTB building at 5800 Edsall Road, just off S. Van Dorn Street.

Koons of Alexandria also operates the repair center and car rental agency next door, which will remain there under the new proposal.

The application said the project would come with extensive interior and exterior renovations to the NTB building. The dealership would have around 50-100 cars at any given time, with some light repairs ongoing inside the building.

“With this proposal, the Applicant proposes interior and exterior renovations of the existing building to upgrade the building’s appearance, as shown in the enclosed plans,” the application said. “A total of 359 parking spaces are located on the Property and the neighboring 5800 Edsall Road site and are shared between the two buildings. The provided parking is more than sufficient to meet the needs of both buildings.”

The NTB building was built in 1995 and mostly stayed as a tire sale facility until December 2020, when NTB relocated elsewhere in the West End. In 2017 there were plans to turn it into a Land Rover/Jaguar dealership, but those ultimately fell through.

The project is scheduled for review at the Nov. 1 Planning Commission meeting.

Image via Google Maps

3 Comments
Tentative location for Landmark pedestrian bridge (image via City of Alexandria)

The City of Alexandria is looking into building a pedestrian bridge over I-395 to connect the Landmark Mall site to neighborhoods west of the highway.

Last week, the Transportation Commission reviewed a potential grant application to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to provide funding to study the potential bridge.

The idea is to give West End residents better access to the large new development — including a new hospital and mixed-use district — currently under construction.

“The City is seeking technical assistance funding from the DOT to study the feasibility of a bicycle and pedestrian bridge over I-395 to connect the Landmark Mall site to the neighborhoods west of I-395,” a city memo said. “This will provide safe and direct access to jobs and amenities that will be available once West End Alexandria has been redeveloped.”

At the meeting, staff said without the bridge the only pedestrian access to the Landmark site for residents west of I-395 would be to either go down to Duke Street or cross on the Holmes Run Trail, which is currently still impassable following damage from a storm in 2019.

The bridge is recommended in several planning studies focused around the site, though members of the Transportation Commission said one of the challenges will be finding the right spot for the bridge in an area that’s a patchwork of private development. Transportation Commission member Melissa McMahon noted that the final bridge location could be more dependent on agreements with private land owners than any optimal connection.

The total cost of the study is $300,000, with a $240,000 grant request to the Department of Transportation and $60,000 in local matching funds. The Council is set to review the application at a meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 28. City staff said grant recipients are announced in early 2023 and, if approved, the study would start in 2024 and take about a year.

8 Comments

An Alexandria man is being held without bond for allegedly brandishing a handgun and destroying property near his West End apartment.

Jimmy Simms, 38, was charged with brandishing a firearm, destruction of property, driving on a revoked/suspended license and reckless driving.

The incident occurred just after midnight on Monday, August 22. The victim, a man driving west on West Braddock Road, reported to police that he was threatened by a man with a gun driving a silver GMC Arcadia.

The victim was at a red light behind the GMC, and when the light turned green, “the vehicle began driving approximately 10 miles per hour and slamming onto the breaks,” police said in a search warrant affidavit.

The affidavit continued, “(The victim) then passed the vehicle and turned left onto North Van Dorn Street. The (suspect’s) vehicle then drove on the wrong side of the road to get past him and began driving in front of him while slamming on his breaks several times again. The (suspect’s) vehicle pulled over into the bike lanes and as (the victim) was driving past, the suspect, later identified as Mr. Jimmy Simms, pointed a black handgun at him.”

The victim drove away to a parking lot in the 2600 block of N. Van Dorn Street, when he heard a car crash coming from a parking lot a block away in the 2500 block. The victim then confronted Simms with a can of pepper spray, and Simms ran into a nearby apartment building, according to the search warrant affidavit.

Witnesses told police that Simms had a black handgun in his waistband when he entered the building. He was arrested inside his fourth floor apartment, and allegedly told police that he had a gun, but that “you’ll never find it.”

Simms goes to court for the offenses on Wednesday, September 14.

Via Google Maps

2 Comments

A 28-year-old man is behind bars after allegedly assaulting and robbing a man of his phone behind the Plaza at Landmark shopping center on Saturday (August 27).

The incident occurred in the 200 block of N. Breckinridge Place.

Victor Palomo-Munoz, of no fixed address, was arrested shortly after the incident and charged with robbery by using force and drunk in public.

At around 6:30 p.m., the 50-year-old man victim was hit by the suspect and robbed of his phone. The victim declined to go to the hospital, according to the Alexandria Police Department.

“The victim had his personal cell phone taken,” APD spokesman Marcel Bassett said. “After the arrest all missing items were returned to their rightful owner.”

Palomo-Munoz was released on $5,000 bond on August 29 and goes to court on October 14.

Anyone with information on this incident is asked to call the APD non-emergency number, 703-746-4444. Callers can remain anonymous.

Via Google Maps

3 Comments
Landmark-area sports bar Alley Cat (image via Alley Cat)

Landmark neighborhood sports bar Alley Cat is closing early next month, local news site Annandale Today first reported.

The bar first opened in 2009 and, according to the bar’s website, the last day of business will be Sunday, Sept. 4.

“We regret to inform you that Ally Cat has decided to close down its business,” the bar’s website said. “Our last day of business will be on 9/4. Stay tuned since we will reopen at the new location. We are forever grateful for all of the great friends and customers we’ve had over the years.”

Alley Cat’s Facebook page said the band Chapter 11 will be playing a “Farewell to Alley Cat” show on Saturday, Sept. 3.

Annandale Today reported that the bar is planning to reopen at 5247 Wisconsin Avenue in Friendship Heights later this year. The bar’s current location is planned as the site of the mixed-use Landmark Overlook development

2 Comments
S. Van Dorn Street bridge (photo via Google Maps)

Two projects in Alexandria will receive $5 million apiece from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA).

The NVTA awarded the amounts as part of its six-year budget adopted on Thursday (July 14). The two projects are: to make S. Van Dorn Street and its bridge more transit and pedestrian-friendly for the West End Transitway, and replacement of a fair-weather crossing on the Holmes Run Trail, just behind William Ramsay Elementary School (5700 Sanger Avenue).

The West End Transitway project is needed as significant redevelopment and a new bus rapid transit route are planned for the area.

The South Van Dorn Street bridge near the Van Dorn Metro station is a four-lane crossing that connects the Van Dorn neighborhood with Landmark just to the north. The project will design dedicated transit lanes for the future West End Transitway on S. Van Dorn Street and the Van Dorn bridges between Metro Road and McConnell Avenue, a report states.

This project will also improve non-motorized facilities along the bridges for better connections between new developments and the Van Dorn Metrorail station. The existing Van Dorn Street bridge has a narrow sidewalk along the east side and no bicycle facilities.

The Holmes Run Trail crossing will be replaced with a prefabricated pedestrian and bicycle bridge.

“The project will allow trail users continuous, safe and reliable access to the City’s off-street trail facilities, as well as other regional trails, and the future West End Transitway,” according to the report.

NVTA gave out about $625 million to 20 projects total across the region with its latest program, with more than half the money going to projects in Fairfax County.

Photo via Google Maps

4 Comments
What two additional stories looks like on a 45-foot-tall structure. (Via City of Alexandria)

After public outcry over a rushed plan, the Alexandria Planning Commission deferred a city staff proposal to allow developers to build affordable housing into new apartment buildings up to 70 feet in height in areas where height limits are 45 feet or more.

There were more than 30 speakers at the meeting on Thursday, June 23, mostly residents of Del Ray.

Gayle Reuter has lived in Del Ray for 40 years, and said that the proposal would ruin her neighborhood’s small town feel.

“I understand the city is in need of and has promised increased affordable housing and endorsed the Washington COG Regional Housing Initiative,” Reuter told the Planning Commission. “If this is approved, developers will come to come in and the Avenue with its small town feel of mom-and-pop businesses where Main Street still exists will be gone forever.”

The proposal would allow developers bonus height of 25 feet in any zone or height district where the maximum allowable height is 45 feet.

Planning Commission Chair Nathan Macek asked city staff to present a refined proposal to the community before reintroducing it to the Commission for review again.

“I think it’s an important tool, and I think I think the actual impact would be very modest in terms of when it would choose to be enacted,” Macek said. “I don’t think you’re gonna end up seeing 70-foot buildings and this and that. That is sort of the extreme if every site were to redevelop, but I don’t think that that’s the reality of what would happen. But rather than speculate about that, I think we have a chance to step back and study it or provide some projections, some best guesses about what we’ll see so that we can inform the decision and possibly take it in steps with a pilot for a phased amount of density and we can revisit.”

Under the proposal, numerous areas of the city would be open for developers to move in and increase the height of 45-foot-tall buildings to a maximum of 70 feet in height — specifically along Mount Vernon Avenue in Del Ray, in Arlandria, Alexandria West, the Beauregard area, the Landmark area, Eisenhower West, Old Town North and Carlyle.

The proposal does not apply, however, to single family, two story and town home dwellings.

Areas of the city that would be impacted by the proposed change to height restrictions. (Via City of Alexandria)

Alexandria is currently experiencing an affordable housing crisis, and lost 14,300 (or 78%) affordable housing units between 2000 and 2022. Consequently, the city has pledged to produce or develop thousands of units to meet 2030 regional housing goal set by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.

“While approximately 800 market-rate and affordable units of housing are currently generated per year in Alexandria, meeting the RHI (Regional Housing Initiative) goal involves the production of an estimated additional 300 units per year, of which 75 percent are recommended to be affordable,” staff wrote. “This represents an estimated additional 2,250 affordable units over the 10-year period…”

Save Del Ray founder Nate Hurto said that the community needs time to understand the potential impact of such a move.

“I think we really need to look at the impact that it could have communities have to the existing housing stock, and to the very nature and character of our neighborhood,” Hurton said. “How will it affect the existing stock of apartments, rentals, condos that are affordable? How will it affect businesses, especially along Mount Vernon Avenue and governed by the small area plan?”

Commissioner Stephen Koenig said that he was swayed by the input of residents.

“I’m certainly persuaded by the sort of breadth and depth of the input that we’ve had tonight,” he said.

Commissioner David Brown said that the City needs to reevaluate its approach.

“We we have a process where we figure out what works in particular places,” Brown said. “It’s called planning. We haven’t done any planning here. We need to look at each one of these zones, figure out what the likely impact is going to be in that zone and figure out whether or not that zone should be considered a candidate for affordable housing.”

According to the City:

At the core of the Bonus Density and Height Program of Section 7-700 is the idea that the affordable housing gained through incremental increases in density and height is a positive exchange.

Additionally, by its nature and in alignment with the City’s All Alexandria Resolution, the initiative provides affordable housing opportunities in locations that might otherwise not receive them, and this specific proposal could increase the likelihood of affordable housing in projects that are more mid-scale. Moreover, each project approved through this proposal would be reviewed rigorously and through a public process to ensure that additional density and/or height is designed in a way that respects the neighborhood.

The requirement that a project using this provision obtain a Special Use Permit means that all impacts of the project are thoroughly reviewed and mitigated as a condition of approval.

As for outreach, City staff noted:

The City undertook the following outreach: established a Bonus Height Webpage; developed and posted Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) in English, Spanish and Amharic; conducted two virtual community meetings–on April 12 (130 attendees) and May 19 (90 attendees); addressed questions during the meetings and posted Questions/Comments/Responses subsequent to the meetings; and advertised engagement opportunities through eNews and directly to Civic Associations and to those who contacted the City by email or other communication.

103 Comments

The topic of Business Improvement Districts (BID) is back at Alexandria’s City Council and five years after one proposal was crushed, there are signs BIDs could be seen more favorably by a new Council.

BIDs are self-taxing districts established by property owners that aim to boost the economic vitality of the commercial area. There are a handful of BIDs in Arlington in areas like Crystal City, Rosslyn and Ballston. The BIDs organize activities and events in those districts, as well as handle amenities above and beyond what the city (or county, in Arlington’s case) would typically provide. The possibility of a BID in Old Town proved unpopular among many local businesses, however, who were concerned about the additional tax.

After several heated public debates, the City Council ultimately voted against the creation of a BID in Old Town.

“For those who have been up here for a little while, some of us have some scars from this,” said Mayor Justin Wilson, “but it’s good to be back talking about it.”

The new guidelines aim to make the creation of a BID a more structured process.

“The goal for creating these guidelines [is that] during the previous effort it was realized by the community that the lack of guidelines in the city was problematic,” Julian Gonsalves, assistant city manager for public-private partnerships, told the City Council at a meeting last night (Tuesday). “The idea behind adopting these guidelines is to create a framework first before any of these applications come in later on.”

The new guidelines include stipulations like requiring the support of at least 60% of businesses within the commercial district and an outline of ten steps from a letter of intent to final approval.

The goal for the new BIDs would be to turn commercial areas into hotspots of in-person commercial activity.

“Property owners might say: we want to have events for foot traffic here,” Gonsalves said. “Because of that foot traffic, it will be more beneficial for property owners to have restaurants or retails, it will make those more lucrative.

Gonsalves said the focus of a potential BID has shifted away from Old Town to parts of the West End that aren’t currently major attractions but are working through redevelopment plans.

“One of the examples being planned is Landmark or the West End,” Gonsalves said. “Right now there’s nothing there. In order to make sure that’s a hub for the city, they want to have a Business Improvement District so that you have foot traffic coming to a completely new hub that is competing with other districts around the region.”

City Manager James Parajon said BIDs can provide enhanced trash collection, enhanced amenities, and higher quality of lighting compared to what the city typically provides.

Vice Mayor Amy Jackson said she wasn’t on the dais for the earlier BID debates, but said she was generally supportive of the idea.

“I know I don’t have the scars from the dais like a couple other council members do here, but some of us that were running to be up here at that time also heard a lot from community members; both pros and cons,” Jackson said. “I was always in the pro-bid section or a lot of reasons… I hope a lot of businesses around Alexandria will continue to follow this form. I know a lot in the playbook continues to be tweaked and structured.”

Wilson said there’s potential for a BID to do good for the city’s lagging commercial sector.

“I’ve long supported the kind of collectivism that a BID can enable,” Wilson said. “A BID is what members make of it. Ultimately it will be what the collective property owners proposing a BID decide what is beneficial to them… We will see how this plays out and where we get them. They’re in use all over this planet, and there’s a reason they’re in use all over this planet.”

0 Comments
Inventory at a West End consignment shop (image via Evolution Home/Facebook)

A vintage market is celebrating its reopening this weekend in the Landmark neighborhood (861 S. Pickett Street) with a week of door prizes and refreshments.

Evolution Home is a consignment shop that moved into the Landmark neighborhood earlier this year but has been at various locations around Alexandria since 1999.

“Evolution Home’s Grand Reopening at 861 S. Pickett St. in Alexandria’s West End is the next step upward for the small business,” the shop said in a release. “Part vintage market, part antique mall, and part home goods consigner, Evolution Home is proud to build on 23 years of bringing Northern Virginia customers one-of-a-kind furniture, décor, and gifts.”

The grand reopening event will run from Saturday, June 18, to Friday, June 24, and will feature refreshments, door prizes and a prize wheel while supplies last.

“As our customers and sales have grown, so has our need for space,” owner Susan Driscoll said in the release. “This is our fourth move in 23 years, each move to a larger and better space.”

Image via Evolution Home/Facebook

0 Comments

Alexandria Police are investigating an aggravated assault that occurred in the Landmark area of the West End on Sunday night (April 17).

The 32-year-old victim was did not seek medical attention and there have been no arrests, police said. The incident occurred at around 3 a.m. in the 500 block of S. Van Dorn Street.

Police said that the incident began inside an apartment building and then ended outside.

No suspect information was available, and the investigation is ongoing, according to police.

Anyone with information is urged to call APD Officer Philip Hetzner at 703-746-6809. Callers can remain anonymous.

Via Google Maps

0 Comments
×

Subscribe to our mailing list