Alexandria, VA

A 42-year-old Alexandria man was arrested for a hit and run and driving under the influence after allegedly smashing his Land Rover into a telephone pole in the West End on Monday, March 9.

At around 11:30 p.m., an Alexandria Police officer was on mobile patrol when he reported finding vehicle debris and a snapped telephone pole in the area of Lincolnia Road and Quantrell Avenue.

The officer then heard “what sounded a lot like an explosion and saw what appeared to be a large flash of light from the area of Van Dorn/Duke Street intersection,” according to a police search warrant affidavit. “The pole was shattered at the base and laying parallel to the roadway, partially on the sidewalk. There was extensive vehicle debris to include a portion of the front fender.”

The officer reportedly got into his cruiser and was flagged down by staff from BMW of Alexandria, who reported that the power went out after a loud banging sound. The officer was then told over the radio that more debris was found at Stevenson Avenue and South Whiting Street.

A white Land Rover with front damage and flat passenger-side tires was soon located parked at the 7-Eleven at 331 S. Whiting Street.

Police arrested Christian Belandres at the 7-Eleven after he took a preliminary breath test police said registered a 0.192 reading, which is 2.4 times the legal limit. Belandres declined to perform a standard field sobriety test, according to police.

A witness also reportedly tried to pull Belandres out of the car at a Sunoco gas station at 190 S. Whiting Street.

“The witness attempted to pull Mr. Belandres from the vehicle to check on him, telling him that he was ‘not fit to drive,’ before Mr. Belandres and the Land Rover pulled away before coming to a stop at 331 S. Whiting,” noted the affidavit.

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A crash has closed a section of Van Dorn Street near Landmark Mall, according to police.

The crash damaged a power pole and prompted the closure of Van Dorn Street between Duke Street and Holmes Run Parkway.

Police spokesman Lt. Courtney Ballantine said it was a single-car accident that resulted in minor injuries to the driver, who was taken to a local hospital. The power company is on the scene, Ballantine said, but that it would be several hours before the pole was repaired. Drivers should expect the road to be closed for the duration of those repairs.

Police said on Twitter that people should avoid the area.

Image via Google Maps

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A new Nepalese restaurant and market is coming to the ground floor of a West End condominium complex.

Gorkha Nepal is a new location that will replace a previous restaurant and market in Watergate at Landmark, according to staff at the condo building. Like the old location, staff said the new Gorkha Nepal will give residents of the gated community a new place to eat and shop for some essential goods.

The former market had pretty standard fare, like breakfast sandwiches, burgers and pizza. The new location is applying for permits to serve beer and wine, but food options remain a mystery.

The space is currently undergoing renovations, but staff said it should be ready to open sometime next month.

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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A 22-year-old man is in critical condition after being struck by a driver on North Van Dorn Street last night.

The crash happened near the intersection with Taney Avenue around 6:15 p.m. Police say the victim was rushed to the local hospital, while the driver remained on scene.

APD is investigating the crash and asking any witnesses to step forward. More from a press release:

The Alexandria Police Department is investigating a traffic crash that occurred on Wednesday, February 12, in the vicinity of North Van Dorn Street and Taney Avenue.

At approximately 6:15 p.m., police responded to the area for a pedestrian struck in the intersection of North Van Dorn Street and Taney Avenue. Initial investigation indicates Mr. Erick Berrios Revello, a 22-year-old Bolivian resident, was crossing North Van Dorn Street when he was struck by a motor vehicle. Mr. Berrios Revello is in critical condition from his injuries at a local hospital. The driver of the vehicle remained on the scene.

Members of the Crash Reconstruction Team and Criminal Investigations Section are investigating the crash. The investigation is ongoing. Alexandria Police ask that witnesses with information regarding this incident contact Officer Charles Gardiner at 703.408.6375.

Map via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Robbery in Landmark Area — “The Alexandria Police Department is investigating a robbery from person in the unit block of South Reynolds Street. Victim had items taken and received a minor injury. Expect police activity in the area.” [Twitter]

Alexandria’s Mobility Priorities — “The top four priorities for the future of transportation according to Alexandria residents are congestion management, safe and comfortable places to bike and walk, reliable and efficient transit and maintaining infrastructure. The Alexandria Mobility Plan team revealed those results from their community outreach meetings at seven locations in Alexandria and an online survey last fall.” [Alexandria Living]

VT Names Innovation Campus Director — “The new leader of Virginia Tech’s billion-dollar tech campus project in Alexandria is laying out his vision for it. Lance Collins comes from Cornell University, for which he helped open a tech campus in New York City. The Virginia Tech Innovation Campus is being built in the Potomac Yard area.” [Virginia Tech, WTOP]

Crash Near Hospital Yesterday Morning — “Police, medics on scene of a car that reported[ly] crashed into a tree on the 800 block of N. Howard Street, near the hospital. Road may be temporarily closed.” [Twitter]

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(Updated at 9 a.m.) There are no reported victims of a Tuesday afternoon shooting in a parking lot in the Landmark area, according to Alexandria Police Chief Michael Brown.

“It appears that nobody was hit,” Brown told ALXnow on Tuesday night. “There may be a vehicle involved, but we’re still investigating,”

Shortly after 4 p.m., police received numerous 911 calls reporting shots fired. Investigators found shell casings in a parking lot on S. Reynolds Street near Duke Street, and there was reportedly one bullet hole found on a vehicle.

The shooting occurred near a number of apartment and condo buildings, as well as some businesses, including a 7-Eleven, Landmark Auto Group and a Sunoco Ultra Service Center.

George Alexis, the bartender at Reynolds Street Bar and Grill (34 S Reynolds St.), arrived at work to find police combing the area. He said that the shooting occurred outside an apartment building.

“I actually rolled up after all the cops showed up. A few customers couldn’t get into the building where the shooting was — they lived there,” Alexis said. “We saw cops digging through dumpsters and stuff. I saw a guy walk out of the woods, but he didn’t look suspicious.”

Image via Google Maps

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(Updated at 9:10 p.m.) A serious crash blocked N. Van Dorn Street just west of Seminary Road Wednesday morning.

The two-vehicle crash happened at the intersection of Van Dorn and Kenmore Avenue around 7:20 a.m. One person was trapped in a vehicle after the wreck but was later freed and brought to a local hospital, according to the Alexandria fire union.

In all, three people suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

Traffic was detoured around the crash scene, leading to major delays on eastbound N. Van Dorn Street, starting around Landmark Mall.

DASH says its AT5 bus was affected by the detour. A second crash was also reported on Van Dorn, to the west of the crash with entrapment.

As of 9:30 a.m. first responders were working to reopen portions of the roadway.

More via social media:

https://twitter.com/DASHBus/status/1219982019419103233

Map via Google Maps

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A GoFundMe campaign has been launched to help a 31-year-old Alexandria man in serious condition after being struck by a driver in the 300 block of Yoakum Parkway on the afternoon of Monday, Jan. 6.

Jahid Shahbazov, who suffered spinal fractures and had his right leg amputated after the crash, remains unconscious in Georgetown University Hospital, according to his friend and campaign organizer Heydar Allahverdi. Shahbazov, who lives near the scene of the incident, was stopped along the curb and taking something from the trunk of his car when he was struck around 4:30 p.m. and wedged between the two vehicles.

The driver of the car called police, stayed at the scene and has not been charged. The crash is still under investigation, according to the Alexandria Police Department.

“He’s still unconscious. The doctors say they don’t want to wake him up because of the pain,” Allahverdi told ALXnow. “Right now we are just sitting and waiting for him to come back to life. He’s had four surgeries so far. His left leg is in bad condition, too, and they are worried about there being no circulation in it.”

To date, just over $28,000 of a $100,000 goal has been raised through 571 donations to help Shahbazov, a native of Azerbaijan, who has lived with his wife in Alexandria for four years. He’s a part-time Uber driver and has been taking quality assurance automation courses for the last six months, said Allahverdi.

He also doesn’t have health insurance.

“Jahid is a very kind person. I’ve known him for many years,” said Allahverdi, who is roommates with Shahbazov’s twin brother. “I’ve never seen Jahid hurt anyone. He’s a calm person. He never says bad things about people. He just handles his business. I never thought he would go through something like this. His wife, she is devastated. She’s having a hard time and is staying at the hospital the whole time.”

Most of the donations have been raised by friends and family.

“We are from a different country, and we don’t know many people,” Allahverdi said. “He’s going to face a lot of problems after he gets out of the hospital. He’s going to have psychological trauma, he will be suffering from not having a leg and we don’t know how long it is going to take or what the driver’s insurance is going to cover.”

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Morning Notes

Temporary Parking Change for Rec Center — “Due to the closure of Chinquapin Road, parking for Chinquapin Park Recreation Center and Aquatics Facility and Chinquapin Park is being redirected to the parking garage at T. C. Williams High School (3330 King St.) on Thursday, December 26. Chinquapin Park Recreation Center and Aquatics Facility is open until 9 p.m. on Thursday, December 26 and all programs will take place as scheduled.” [City of Alexandria]

Assault Investigation in Landmark Area — “The Alexandria Police Department is investigating a felonious assault in the unit block of South Reynolds Street. The victim was transported to a local hospital. Expect police activity in the area.” [Twitter]

Local Real Estate ‘Hits Pause’ in Nov. — “The number of sales in Alexandria dropped significantly from year-ago levels, down 25.8%, with the median selling price down 2.5% to $539,000.” [WTOP]

Alexandria Drug Dealer Sentenced — “An Alexandria man was sentenced in federal court to 20 years in prison for drug dealing that caused at least one overdose death. George Addae, 26, was sentenced for conspiring to distribute more than a kilogram of heroin related to heroin trafficking from 2016 to September 2018. Addae was also ordered to forfeit $100,000.” [Patch]

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(Updated at 11:55 a.m.) A two-alarm apartment fire at 250 S. Van Dorn Street drew a large emergency response Thursday morning.

The fire was reported on the top floor of a four-story apartment building in the Landmark area, across from the Van Dorn Plaza shopping center, around 10:30 a.m. Smoke could be seen coming from the roof area, according to initial reports.

Firefighters from Alexandria, Fairfax County and Arlington responded to the scene. The fire was extinguished shortly before 11 a.m.

Thus far no injuries have been reported, but residents of several apartments are expected to be displaced due to fire, water and smoke damage.

Amid the Van Dorn Street fire response, AFD alo responded to a small fire at a school in Old Town. The two simultaneous structure fire calls required some Arlington fire units to help fill in at Alexandria fire stations.

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(Updated 5:35 p.m.) Watch out, Red Lobster, there’s another crustacean crawling into town across Van Dorn Street.

According to a city permit application, the national seafood chain Crafty Crab is planning on moving into the shell of Portner Brewhouse (5770 Dow Avenue) in the Modera Tempo mixed-use development. A representative of the applicant confirmed the new location was part of the national chain.

Crafty Crab offers a wide selection of seafood focused primarily around the eponymous crab, along with sides like fries and corn on the cob.

The company has locations in Maryland, including one across the Potomac in Prince George’s County, but the Alexandria location would be the franchise’s first in Virginia.

Portner Brewhouse was a brewery from the great-great granddaughters of Alexandrian brewer Robert Portner. It closed in 2018, one year after it opened. In the wake of the closure, city staff identified a chronic shortage of parking for retail as the cause of several closures in the shopping center.

On Saturday, the City Council authorized Modera Tempo to allow retail parking in the unused residential space of its garage.

Photo 1, 2 via Jay Westcott. Photo 3 via Crafty Crab Seafood

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A long-planned bus rapid transit network (BRT) that would run through Alexandria’s West End is moving forward early next year, though the dedicated bus lanes featured prominently in the conceptual stage might not make it into the initial designs.

The city’s vision for the West End Transitway is a series of transit improvements to create a reliable, accessible bus line that would run from the Van Dorn Metro station to the Pentagon, hitting West End destinations that aren’t accessible by Metro, like the Mark Center, Southern Towers, and the perhaps soon-to-be-redeveloped Landmark Mall.

The goal is to make mass transit more accessible and more appealing to the car-heavy West End. After years of studies and securing funding, Steve Sindiong, project manager for the West End Transitway, says the design phase for the project is scheduled to start in early 2020.

Sindiong said the designs will include new traffic signal priority, pedestrian and bicycle-friendly streetscaping, and queue jump lanes — a short stretch of bus lane that allows a bus to easily pass through intersections.

But dedicated bus lanes, like those on the Crystal City-Potomac Yard Transitway and one of the earliest identified goals for the West End Transitway, are unlikely to make the cut in the initial phase of improvements.

“The reason we’re not proceeding with dedicated lanes at this time is a lack of funding,” Sindiong said. “We don’t have funds to do the full improvements. It would require a lot of rights-of-way which we try to get as development occurs, which hasn’t been occurring on Van Dorn as early as was anticipated.”

Some redevelopment has been occurring in the Van Dorn area, however, like the Vulcan Materials site approved for redevelopment in October. The city has also been working to push industrial uses out of the area — as in the case of the Virginia Paving Company being told to clear out — to make room for more residential and commercial uses.

With $70 million collected for the design and construction of the transitway, Sindiong said staff is ready to start moving forward with initial improvements for the West End Transitway and incorporate dedicated bus lanes later.

“The dedicated lanes are important and we are planning to eventually do the full build,” Sindiong said. “We will have to continue seeking funding and acquiring right-of-way through development. Putting in other improvements, like queue jump lanes and new bus stations — will improve the transit speed and reliability [in the meantime].”

The new transit improvements will also coincide with DASH’s plans to shift to a bus network that with a smaller coverage are but improved bus frequency in high-density areas. As a sort of proof-of-concept, Sindiong said the city has been working on improving service on AT1, a bus route that hits roughly the same areas as the eventual West End Transitway.

“We’re improving that service so people can expect ten-minute frequency during peak hours, and twenty for off-peak,” Sindiong said. “We’ve extended the service hours and added real-time bus information. This is the first step towards the West End Transitway… we want to track that to make sure the route is being productive.”

The West End Transitway also features into the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission’s plans to build a new BRT line along Route 7. The Transitway overlaps with a planned bus route that would connect Alexandria to Tysons, Pimmit Hills, Seven Corners and Bailey’s Crossroads, according to WTOP.

“The design would tie in at the Mark Center Transit Center and would use part of the city’s West End Transitway improvements,” said Sindiong. “It would turn onto Beauregard [Street] and stop at the city stops. For a small portion, there would be two overlapping transitways.”

Images via City of Alexandria

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