The Potomac Yard Metro station opening has been pushed back from spring to September next year .

After months of insisting that production was on schedule, WMATA announced today that the Potomac Yard Metro station’s opening will be pushed back five months.

“Metro engineers determined that the original design of the Automatic Train Control (ATC) systems, which was based upon specifications written by WMATA, did not meet all of the important safety requirements to ensure the safe operation of trains,” WMATA said in a statement. “The ATC system prevents trains from getting too close to one another and ensures trains always maintain a safe distance. The need to redesign the ATC system is the result of project management decisions for which WMATA is accountable.”

WMATA said it is working with the contractor to reduce delays in the project schedule, and that construction at the station will continue on the earlier timeline, but that track-related construction work will be delayed by the ATC design issue.

“The station, originally expected to open in April 2022, is now anticipated to open in or around Fall 2022 in order to complete the design and implementation of this safety critical system,” WMATA said. “Metro will work with its contractor to seek ways to prioritize completion of the ATC elements of this project.”

Mayor Justin Wilson called the delay resulting from an error in contract language “inexcusable”.

“Due to a contract language decision related to Automatic Train Control specifications, Metro and its contractor have indicated to the City that a delay in the station opening until the Fall will likely occur,” Mayor Justin Wilson said in a press release. “While we appreciate Metro’s acceptance of accountability and recent diligence in addressing this issue, the contract language mistake is inexcusable.”

Wilson continued, “With the large investment of $370 million being made by the City and other governmental and private partners to fund the station construction, internal systems should have caught the error. The City intends to have its own expert construction consultant review the schedule to determine if there is a way to safely open this station earlier than September of 2022.”

The revised timeline does account, in part, for why an earlier announcement of reduced travel lanes on Potomac Avenue until September 2022.

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A new luxury condominium community in Potomac Yard has reportedly sold 30% of its properties — without any of its 138 units yet built.

The FORTIS Companies of Washington, D.C. owns the Dylan property, and is selling one-to-three bedroom condos for between $600,000 and $1.2 million. The condos have been designed by Lessard Design International of Vienna and Akseizer Design Group in Alexandria, and will be built next year. In the meantime, interested buyers can see a fully-sized model at their sales gallery at 2316 Richmond Highway.

Over the next several years, Potomac Yard will completely transform into a bustling commercial district home to a new Metro station, the massive Virginia Tech Innovation Campus, and a revamped shopping center — all next door to Amazon’s HQ2 development in Crystal City.

The new Dylan development will be located adjacent to Potomac Yard Park.

“As we anticipated, the excitement around Amazon’s HQ2 and Virginia Tech is generating strong interest in Dylan,” said FORTIS Vice President Matt Bunch. “Dylan’s convenient, walkable location is a big draw. It is just a five-minute walk to the new Potomac Yard Metro Station opening early next year, which will connect residents to Regan National Airport just one stop away. Residents also will have walkable access to a variety of new shops, restaurants, employment centers, and recreational options within Potomac Yard and on Virginia Tech’s Innovation Campus.”

Bunch continued, “We recognize that many residents will appreciate the option of working from home, so we ensured that 80 percent of Dylan’s plans include generously sized dens or home offices. Dylan also will feature an onsite business center for those residents who want to meet clients, take calls privately, or just get some work done outside of their homes.”

Courtesy The FORTIS Companies 

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Morning Notes

The Twig donates $150K to Inova Alexandria Hospital — “During their annual luncheon Tuesday morning, The Twig (Together We Ignite Giving), the junior auxiliary unit for Inova Alexandria Hospital, presented a $150,000 check to the institution as part of its $1 million pledge to renovate the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit.” [Zebra]

Amazon and Metro announce $125M plan to make 1,000 affordable housing units near Metro stations — “This represents another return on the region’s extraordinary investment in mass transit, as the partnership with Amazon will accelerate transit-oriented development, grow ridership, and keep our region competitive with other global economic centers,” said Metro Board Chair Paul Smedberg. “Amazon is stepping up to the plate with an unprecedented commitment to affordable housing in the National Capital Region.” [WMATA]

Sheriff’s deputies and police officers graduate from Northern Virginia Criminal Justice Training Academy — “The new law enforcement officers successfully completed 20 weeks of training, including emergency vehicle operations, firearms training, defensive and control tactics, crash investigation, basic legal training, and other important areas. Some Alexandria members of this class distinguished themselves, with Officer Stephen Weidman earning top honors in the Emergency Vehicle Operations Course and Officer Yadiel Nuñez having the second highest score in Firearms.” [Zebra]

Today’s weather — “Sunny skies. High near 80F. Winds NNW at 5 to 10 mph… Some clouds early will give way to generally clear conditions overnight. Low 58F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New job: Bartender/Server/Runner — “The Old Dominion Boat Club is looking to hire servers, bartenders, and food runners. We have competitive pay and participate in a very healthy and robust tip share.” [Indeed]

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Photos have been released on the latest construction update for the Potomac Yard Metro station, which the contractor says is 55% complete.

City Council will receive an update on the next Tuesday, May 25. The update will include efforts to mitigate wetlands impacts.

The station is scheduled to open in spring 2022.

Photos via City of Alexandria

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Within the rather obscure confines of the Board and Architectural Review staff report this week resurfaced a long-simmering discussion: what is the cultural identity of the Parker-Gray neighborhood in 2021.

For years a historically Black neighborhood, Parker-Gray draws its name from the the Parker-Gray School that educated the city’s Black children when the the city’s school system was still divided by segregation.

But another identity for the area has slipped into colloquial use over the last few decades: the Braddock neighborhood, or sometimes the Braddock Metro neighborhood after the nearby Metro station and the adjacent, eponymous road. With the Metro station as a common point of reference, rather than a school over 40-years demolished, Braddock has also become a more popular name for the area for developers.

But as noted in the Board of Architectural Review report, there’s a risk that new development can erase more than just the name Parker-Gray, but the distinct cultural legacy of the neighborhood, particularly with developments capitalizing on the more common red brick appeal of Old Town to the south. “Braddock” is increasingly worked into the names of local developments, like the controversial (for other, non-name reasons) Braddock West development.

While much of the district is still listed as Parker-Gray in city documents — officially called the Parker-Gray Historic District — city records also refer to the area as the Braddock Metro neighborhood, specifically in regards to the Braddock Metro Neighborhood Plan. Outlets like the Washington Post have referred to the area as both the Braddock neighborhood and Parker-Gray neighborhood as well. ALXnow is likewise guilty of using both.

Are the names interchangeable to you or do they refer to different places/contexts within the area? Vote below and sound off in the comments.

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The final touches are being made on the King Street-Old Town Metro Access Improvement Project.

On-site bus route testing will begin later this month, and bus service to new shelters will start in early June, according to the city. Contractor Fort Myer Construction Corporation was supposed to have finished the project last spring.

“There is no date for a ribbon cutting yet, but we are making progress,” Camila Olivares, a communications associate with the city’s Department of Transportation & Environmental Services, told ALXnow. “Staff is increasingly confident the project will be substantially complete this summer.”

Olivares said that the city will provide additional updates on the project this week.

Rendering via City of Alexandria

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What a week in Alexandria.

Our top story this week is on Gregory Elliott, a special education teacher at T.C. Williams High School. Elliot also goes by the name of “Sugar Bear” for the D.C.-based go-go band Experience Unlimited, and their song “Da’ Butt” from the Spike Lee movie “School Daze” was featured at the Oscars, along with actress Glenn Close dancing to it.

This week was full of news.

City Manager Mark Jinks hinted at retiring, there was a chlorine spill at Lake Cook and the Alexandria Fire Department is contending with reports of racism, sexism and favoritism.

Additionally, a cyberattack on a gas pipeline resulted in a state of emergency throughout Virginia. We asked readers about it in our weekly poll, and out of 250 responses only 31% (78 votes) considered making alternate travel plans.

Election stories

Important stories

Top stories

  1. Go-go music star-turned Alexandria teacher ‘Sugar Bear’ in the spotlight after Oscars shoutout
  2. Landmark Mall developers to field public question in forum this week
  3. UPDATE: Woman arrested for firing gun near Alexandria Courthouse in Old Town
  4. AHDC proposes nearly 500 units of affordable housing for Arlandria
  5. ALXnow’s top stories this week in Alexandria
  6. Here’s which City Council candidates signed the new ‘Alexandria Constituents’ Bill of Rights’ pledge
  7. Girlfriend of murder suspect arrested for breaking into home and beating up witness
  8. Election: Stark differences as Wilson and Silberberg face off in mayoral debate
  9. Racism, sexism and favoritism reported within the Alexandria Fire Department
  10. Here’s the order that City Council candidates will appear on the ballot for the June 8 democratic primary
  11. Wilson and Silberberg clash over new challenges, old wounds, and The Golden Girls

Have a safe weekend!

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(Updated 5:30 p.m.) Most of Alexandria’s City Council candidates met in person for the first time in Arlandria on Thursday night, and affordable housing, school resource officers and access to health care led the bilingual discussion to a mostly Spanish-speaking audience.

The forum was hosted outside by Tenants and Workers United and Grassroots Alexandria.

“The pandemic really showed us that we need to work to ensure that if we want low income people of color to continue being a part of our community, we have to work on that,” Evelin Urrutia, the executive director of Tenants & Workers United, told ALXnow. “We have lost a lot of affordable housing units in the past two decades. They need to change a lot of policies and they have to start investing more money in affordable housing, something that was not done in previous years.”

Councilman Canek Aguirre, the first elected Latino to Council in Alexandria, said he’s worked to get more health care resources to the immigrant population in Arlandria.

“I will say the health department, we did add four community health workers,” Aguirre said. “Three speak Spanish, one speaks Amharic. This is all on purpose. I have been working with health population managers, the last three of them, talking about how we do outreach and where we need people, making sure we meet them where they are.”

Councilman John Taylor Chapman said that Chapman said that the city needs to give more resources to Neighborhood Health, which provides health care services to low-income residents without insurance.

“The Alexandria Health Department needs to become a better partner with the folks that are doing the work in the community,” Chapman said. “Because it’s really about you and your health.”

Candidate Bill Campbell agreed, and said that many of the city’s woes can be solved with more diversity.

“”To me, this is easy,” Campbell said. “Neighborhood Health, I’m sure, has more nurses and doctors and look like you and me. And so we got to make sure that we increase our diversity everywhere — in our health department, on Council, everywhere in this city the more voices that we can get, and the places where things are needed, the better this city is going to be. That’s the key to it, is adding diversity everywhere.”

Candidate Alyia Gaskins said that the city needs to expand health care access by expanding the operations of the mobile health van, as well as increase resources for health care pop-ups in low income areas.

“I think that expanding health care services begins with expanding access,” Gaskins said.

There are seven candidates of color and five women running for Council — out of the 15 candidates running, including an independent and a Republican candidate. That means that there is a chance, depending on the outcome of the November election, that the newly elected City Council could have a majority of Black members — a first in history.

“As a black man in America, I’m probably the most endangered human species out here, right?” Campbell said. “I raised three kids through the Alexandria school system, two boys of color. I also helped start the Family and Community Engagement Center in ACPS. All of my work will be focused around equity, and trying to eliminate systems that we know have been racist and have institutionalized biases in them. And that’s what I want to continue doing for Alexandria.”

Candidate Kevin Harris said that his work creating a safety committee for the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority community set him apart.

“The chief of police has already highlighted that this is an effective measure that he wants to duplicate across the city,” Harris said. “We shouldn’t have to wait once we get on Council to start doing those things you want to be able to get started.”

Candidate Patrick Moran is against the elimination of school resource officers from ACPS, and candidate Bill Rossello said the issue needs more public discussion.

“We need public safety professionals in our schools to protect our kids,” Moran said. “I’m a straight white male. I’ve experienced privilege my entire life. Throughout that I’ve fought to serve, to give and to work hard for my community. Otherwise, I don’t know what it means and feels like to be intimidated in school from police officers because I feel as though I’m being discriminated against. I appreciate the efforts that have been made to counteract that, and I appreciate the funding that has gone into our mental health services and wellness services.”

Candidate James Lewis said that the city should have more diversity in its police department.

“I think it starts with ensuring that the current law enforcement practices in the city don’t over-criminalize or over-police communities of color,” Lewis said. “We’ve taken some good steps in that direction and need to continue to do them. But really, the way you solve the problem on term is making opportunities for people in communities of color to become law enforcement.”

Aguirre said the elimination of SROs was a first step.

“How do you want officers to interact with our community?” Aguirre said. “We need to continue working on that a lot. There’s going to be more conversations to be had as we move forward.”

Candidate Meronne E. Teklu said that police need to stay out of schools.

“How we implement that is the real question,” Teklu said. “Working with community organizers will be critical. Folks like Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Daunte Wright, Breonna Taylor have not seen justice. We need to ensure common sense gun safety and data transparency.”

On affordable housing, Aguirre said that he supported raising the city’s meals tax to 5% to pay for the effort, and Chapman said that the city hasn’t pressed developers hard enough to contribute more. Gaskins said the city needs to expand tools, such as the right of first refusal, and .

“We haven’t pressed that button enough [with developers], haven’t pressed that issue enough,” Chapman said. “And that’s what we need to do.”

The Democratic primary for City Council is June 8.

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What a week in Alexandria. Here are some of the highlights.

The Alexandria City Council on Wednesday approved its Fiscal Year 2022 $770.7 million budget on Wednesday, and it includes a 2 cent real estate tax reduction. It’s the first time that’s happened in 15 years, and the budget also fully funds Alexandria City Public Schools’ request and includes a 1% raise for city and state employees.

But perhaps the biggest news of the week came with City Councilman Mo Seifeldein’s proposal to eliminate School Resource Officer funding from the budget. The effort was supported along by Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker, Councilman Canek Aguirre and Councilman John Taylor Chapman, who voted along with the group after failing to save the program in a last-minute effort.

Crime stories dominated many headlines, and Police Chief Michael Brown spoke with us this week about his department’s efforts to reduce destructive elements throughout the city. More from that interview will be published next week.

In this week’s poll, we asked about the importance of political endorsements for local candidates. Out of 222 responses, 48% (107 votes) don’t consider endorsements while voting; 39% (86 votes) said endorsements influence their decision; and 14% (29 votes) feel that endorsements hold a lot of sway.

Election stories

Important stories

Top stories

  1. Parking issues plague Potomac Yard, city looks to create residential parking district
  2. Knife pulled on woman who chases would-be thieves in Old Town
  3. D.C. man arrested after 130 mph chase leads to crash on Interstate 495
  4. Police: Armed robberies occur minutes apart in Del Ray and Arlandria
  5. Two injured in hit-and-run in Old Town, driver leaves car and flees on foot
  6. Too noisy? City Council is considering revising Alexandria’s noise ordinance
  7. Alexandria City Council to end School Resource Officer program at Alexandria City Public Schools
  8. Alexandria man arrested for firing gun at 7-Eleven door near Braddock Road Metro station
  9. Here’s the order that City Council candidates will appear on the ballot for the June 8 democratic primary
  10. JUST IN: Power outages across Alexandria as strong winds hit the city
  11. What’s next for GenOn and the rest of Old Town North?

Have a safe weekend!

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Updated at 3:20 p.m. — An adult woman suffered minor injuries after an altercation with another woman on the platform of the King Street-Old Town Metro station in Old Town on Friday.

Alexandria Police and the Metro Transit Police Department responded to the incident at around noon.

According to MTP, the victim was struck with a cane or a pole and was transported to the hospital.

The suspect was identified as 41-year-old Jessica Williamson, 41, of Round Rock, Texas. Police said she was carrying a round metal object when she was arrested, and was charged with assault and battery.

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