Alexandria, VA

Morning Notes

Today’s the First Day of School for ACPS — “Let’s focus on getting connected this week! Make sure you have access to technology and have completed your back-to-school forms.” [ACPS]

West End Development Could Add Hundreds of Affordable Housing Units — “Wesley Housing is requesting a pre-development loan of $400,000 to start the development process on ParcView II, a new affordable rental project on Holmes Run Parkway in Alexandria’s West End.” [Alexandria Living]

Child Abuse Reports Go Down 40% — “Typically, Alexandria Child Protective Services receives more case reports in the spring than any other time of the year. However, this spring reports were down 40 percent from the average in recent years.” [Alexandria Living]

Gong Meditation Today in Del Ray — “Join us each Tuesday from 6-7pm, September 1 through October 20. Relax and support your body, mind and spirit through sound, yoga and meditation. Take a break from today’s hectic and stressful environment and see how you can benefit from sound therapy.” [Facebook]

Volunteers Needed for Food Distribution This Thursday — “Help serve meals and groceries this Thursday, September 10 at the Charles Houston Recreation Center. A project from the Washington Street UMC, ALIVE!, ARHA, and Charles Houston Recreation Center – this event generally serves more than 150 families!” [Facebook]

Alexandria Drive-In Shows ‘Back To The Future’ —  “Remembering you have one of the sold out spots for Back to the Future this Saturday …  ” [Facebook]

Today’s Weather — “During the day, mainly sunny. High 88F. Winds ESE at 5 to 10 mph. At night, partly to mostly cloudy. Low 69F. Winds E at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Keyholder at FatFace — “Our Alexandria store is looking for a passionate supervisor to lead the team and establish the brand in the local area.” [Indeed]

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Hundreds of captivated Alexandrians watched a T-Rex scream on the big screen on Eisenhower Avenue on Saturday night, as a sold-out viewing of Jurassic Park kicked off the first show of the Alexandria Drive-In Theatre.

“We are over the moon,” Kelly Grant, Chief Operating Officer for ALX Community, told ALXnow on Saturday night. “The movie is playing, we’ve got over 215 cars all going and the food trucks are running.”

Sadly, all of the next five shows in the theatre’s first season are sold out. Next weekend is Back to the Future, followed a week after that by Trolls, then Field of Dreams, ET and Mamma Mia. The shows are held in the parking lot of the Victory Center at 5001 Eisenhower Avenue and food truck deliveries from Curbside Kitchen were made by couriers from Pedego Electric Bikes.

Grant said there is a waitlist of 600 people signed up for future shows. Proceeds (1,250 tickets sold at $30 apiece) will go to ACT for Alexandria and Athena Rapid Response.

“The funds are going to support everything from the racial equity work that we’re doing to COVID support work to the initiatives that we have right now to support arts organizations,” said ACT for Alexandria President and CEO Heather Peeler, who wants to see Black Panther next season in honor of its late star Chadwick Boseman.

Sally Tran watched the movie in the bed of her truck with her friends and family. The truck was outfitted with a mattress, cushions and blankets.

“I ordered tickets for every single weekend,” Tran said. “We got really lucky.”

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Alexandria has put another summer work week to rest.

As the City Council enjoys a legislative break, the School Board conducted a virtual meeting to discuss the renaming process for T.C. Williams High School. Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr., and the board advocate a public engagement process that could result in the board voting to change the name this December, followed by a vote on a specific name next spring. A group of community activists, however, believe that the name should be taken off immediately, since ACPS acknowledged Williams was an avowed racist and segregationist.

This week, readers also responded to stories about public safety, local businesses, entertainment, real estate listings and an update on absentee ballot requests.

Not included in this week’s list is Friday’s story about an increased police presence in Old Town after an uptick in violent crime.

What stories impacted you this week? Let us know in the comments.

Here are our top stories this week in Alexandria.

  1. Fire Department Says $1 Million in Damages and 21 People Displaced in West End Fire
  2. Lena’s in Del Ray Applies for Large Second-Floor Expansion and To-Go Alcohol Sales
  3. New Convenience Store ‘Old Town Mini Mart’ Coming to King Street
  4. Police Investigating ‘Shots Fired’ Report in West End
  5. Man Arrested for Forging Over $10,000 in Checks from Alexandria Dentist
  6. Del Ray Shell Station Robbed on Saturday
  7. ACPS Still Cutting Down 150-Year-Old Tree, Preparing for Parker-Gray Stadium Renovation
  8. Drive-In Movies Coming to Alexandria on August 29
  9. Truck Lit on Fire, Stripped of Identification at City Impound Lot
  10. Listing of the Day: 428 N Washington Street
  11. Alexandria Sees Record High Absentee Ballot Requests

Have a safe weekend!

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Just four days after announcing the launch of the Alexandria Drive-In Theatre, all six shows are sold out.

Now, with a waitlist of sponsors wanting to get involved, organizers are thinking about expanding the offerings, but only after they’ve ironed out the wrinkles from these first shows.

Kelly Grant, Chief Operating Officer for ALX Community, is managing the project and came up with the idea of offering safe entertainment for residents. She partnered with The Garden and will show a classic film every Saturday starting August 29 through the beginning of October in the parking lot of the Victory Center at 5001 Eisenhower Avenue.

“We what we wanted to really do is to be able to provide some safe family entertainment in a way that no one had to be concerned about their personal safety in the middle of a pandemic,” Grant told ALXnow. “We are thinking about expanding, but we want to do this right first.”

The proceeds of the shows (1,250 tickets sold at $30 apiece) will go to ACT for Alexandria and Athena Rapid Response.

Jurassic Park will start things off, followed by Back to the Future, Trolls, Field of Dreams, ET and Mamma Mia. Moviegoers will not be allowed to leave their cars, and food truck deliveries from Curbside Kitchen will be made by couriers from Pedego Electric Bikes.

Image via Alexandria Drive-In/Facebook

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These summer weeks are flying by, and another one is in the books in Alexandria.

This week, readers responded to a number of issues in the city, including the tragic story behind the city’s first murder, crime in Arlandria and another protest outside of the acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary’s home.

There was some fun news, too, like the official announcement that drive-in movies will make their way to the city at the end of the month, and that Holy Cow Del Ray made a new burger of the moment, “The Alexandria HS,” in an effort to add its two cents in a community discussion on what to rename T.C. Williams High School.

What stories impacted you this week? Let us know in the comments.

Here are our top stories this week in Alexandria.

  1. BREAKING: Murder Suspect Was Released After COVID-19 Court Delay, Allegedly Kills Former Girlfriend Before Trial
  2. Friends and Neighbors Seek to Name Alley After Retired Judge Nolan Dawkins
  3. Man Arrested for Attempted Rape Behind Arlandria 7-Eleven
  4. Drive-In Movies Coming to Alexandria on August 29
  5. Protestors Promise to Keep Demonstrating at Acting DHS Secretary’s Alexandria Home
  6. Alexandria Summer Camp Closed Early Due to Coronavirus Exposure
  7. BREAKING: Alexandria Police Ask for Public Help in Finding Man Wanted for Murder
  8. Here’s the Latest on Development Projects on Beauregard Street in the West End
  9. Another Protest Planned This Weekend Outside DHS Secretary’s Home
  10. West End Development Returns to City with Scaled Down Density and More Open Space
  11. Alexandria’s COVID-19 Death Count at 60, Hospital Concerned About Rising Cases
  12. Holy Cow Del Ray Wades Into Another Local Controversy With Another Burger

Have a safe weekend!

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Want some entertainment away from home? Local business owners from ALX Community and The Garden are launching the Alexandria Drive-In Theatre, and starting August 29, one of six classic films will run every Saturday through the beginning of October in the parking lot of the Victory Center on Eisenhower Avenue.

The parking lot can hold up to 215 cars per screening, and the movies are:

  • Jurassic Park, Saturday, August 29
  • Back to the Future, Saturday, September 5
  • Trolls, Saturday, September 12
  • Field of Dreams, September 19
  • ET, September 26
  • Mamma Mia, October 3

“Our fall series of movies will hopefully lighten your heart and any worries you have while you and your neighbors enjoy a few hours together, apart,” said Kelly Grant, Chief Operating Officer for the ALX Community coworking office.

Tickets will cost $30 per car, and proceeds will go to ACT for Alexandria and Athena Rapid Response. Face masks will be required for patrons who leave their cars. The gates will open at 7:30 p.m. and the movies will start an hour later.

There will also be food trucks from Curbside Kitchen at the property, which was purchased by Stonebridge earlier this year. Vendors include The Chewish Deli, Gemma Gelato, Capital Chicken & Waffles and Bangkok House Food Truck.

“I love movies,” said Allen Brooks, Chief Operating Officer of The Garden. “During this pandemic, we want to be able to bring an opportunity to gather again and experience the joy of watching some of the classics and contemporary favorites.”

ALXnow first reported the rumblings of the drive-in theatre last month in our interview with critic Arch Campbell

Image via Alexandria Drive-In/Facebook

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Morning Notes

Beyer Says Unemployment Lapse Inevitable — “We are out of time to extend enhanced unemployment benefits that tens of millions of Americans are depending on. Senate Republicans and the White House still can’t even start negotiating a compromise because they’re arguing with each other. A lapse looks unavoidable now. Ugh.” [Twitter]

COVID-19 Cases Increase by 21 — “The latest update from the City on COVID-19: Positive tests up 21 to 2,639 in the City; 7-day Positivity Rate is 6.7%; 0 new hospitalizations. Still safer at home, wash hands, wear masks and support our essential workers.” [Twitter]

Woodbine Tot Lot Renovated by Make-A-Wish Foundation — “Whitaker selflessly wanted one wish: the renovation of the Woodbine Tot Lot in his ‘hood.‬ ‪With leadership from Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic, partnership from the City and donations from individuals and business, it happened!” [Facebook]

AMC Hoffman Theater Reopening Delayed — “The company previously set its reopening date for July 15 and then delayed it to July 30. The theater chain now plans to open locations in “mid to late August,” according to multiple reports.” [Patch]

Alexandria Summer Camps Go Virtual — “For many families, instead of lathering up with sunscreen and packing a lunch, getting ready for summer camp is as easy as turning on a computer.” [AlexTimes]

Today’s Weather in Alexandria — Scattered thunderstorms likely throughout the day and cloudy — “[Weather.com]

New Job: Grocery Shopper — “Shipt is a membership-based marketplace that helps people get the things they need, like fresh produce and household essentials, from stores they trust. Help people save time and have fun while you’re at it – there’s never been a better time to join Shipt.” [Indeed]

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The last movie Arch Campbell saw in the theater was Emma, and that was back in March. The last time the eight-time Emmy award-winning movie critic stayed away from a movie theater for so long was at least 60 years ago, Campbell told ALXnow in a recent interview.

With Alexandria’s movie theaters dramatically adjusted to the pandemic, audiences are forced to watch movies and shows on their phones and at home. With the recent shuttering of the Regal Potomac Yard and the AMC Hoffman Center 22 remaining temporarily closed, pickings are slim for Alexandria movie lovers.

Still, ALXnow has found that developments are currently underway regarding a drive-in movie theater in Alexandria, although details are just starting to emerge. Campbell, a native of San Antonio, Texas, moved to the D.C. area in the early 1970s. He spent nearly four decades covering cinema at NBC, NBC4, WJLA-TV News and News Channel 8.

He’s currently thinking about writing his life story, but doesn’t want it to be 300 pages of name-dropping. After all, Campbell has interviewed some of the world’s most famous movie stars over the years, from Robin Williams to Elizabeth Taylor.

These days the 74-year-old Campbell can be found in his D.C. home with his wife, Gina Gilland Campbell, and watching a number of long-form TV shows on Netflix.

Will he ever go to the movies again, or for that matter will anyone?

ALXnow: When was the last time you went so long without going to a movie theater?

Campbell: That’s interesting. It must have been when I was a young teenager. It’s been about 60 years.

ALXnow: Have you ever been starstruck?

Campbell: No. If you’re starstruck you’re not going to get anywhere. I would never ask for a picture or an autograph, because that changes the exchange between me and them. I try to be as professional as possible. Over the years I became less and less starstruck.

I think that the last time it happened was when I interviewed Walter Cronkite, who was the biggest star on television at the time. One of the questions I asked him was, “What would you ask you if you were me?” He thought that was funny.

ALXnow: Any plans to go back to the movies anytime soon?

Campbell: I’m 74. I’ve got asthma. I’m having to really be careful with this virus going around. So I have really tuned into Netflix and HBO.

ALXnow: What what was that first movie you ever reviewed?

Campbell: American Graffiti. I’ve watched it several times and it’s still holds up.

ALXnow: What are you watching these days?

Campbell: I’m watching this show, “A French Village.” It’s told through the eyes of the people in this village during World War II. It’s fascinating. You’re glued to the set because you have to read the subtitles.

The character development in these long-form TV shows is so much better that I find it really hard to watch a new, two-hour movie. You will have exceptions, like Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” which I just loved.

ALXnow: Then what is the future of movies, if a movie man like yourself doesn’t watch them like he used to? When was the last time you went and saw a good romance or a western at the movie theater?

Campbell: It’s a good question. This is just a guess, and this is from talking to people who are like me trying to figure out what’s going on. Blockbuster Video changed everything and we’ve been dealing with that for nearly a half-century. So, bringing movies home is not a new issue.

I have a feeling that all that’s going to be left is the big, giant movies, like “Tenet,” or “The Avengers” and “Wonder Woman 1984” (which was partially filmed in Alexandria). And then you’re going to have on the other side some very, very small movies showing in indy theaters. You’re never going to see movies like “Being There,” which is one of my favorites, in theaters again.

The other thing that’s going on is that nobody can make any movies right now because of the virus. Nothing is in production. You can’t put a group of people into the studio or even outside next to each other talking.

ALXnow: Did movies used to mean something different? If you were just starting out in your career right now, would you be able to make it today? 

Campbell: No, I don’t think so. The world is different. If I was starting today I’d have to do something else, like write for television. Or I might have gone into real estate in San Antonio or stand-up comedy.

For people of my generation, in the late 1960s, particularly with “The Graduate,” movies were the coolest thing you could do at that time. And they only played in theaters. Once it left the theater, you weren’t going to get to see it again. If you wanted to be cool you went to the movies, because they were the cool, perishable thing.

ALXnow: Look into your crystal ball. What will the moviegoing experience look like in 50 years? 

Campbell: I would say the moviegoing experience is going to be some kind of device at your home, or some kind of mobile device that can be easily handled. It boggles the mind.

Courtesy photo

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Morning Notes

Regal Potomac Yard Movie Theater Closed for Good — “Regal Cinemas has scrubbed the 16-theater multiplex at 3575 Potomac Ave. from its list of Virginia locations on its website. Couple that with the fact Virginia Tech and JBG Smith Properties (NYSE: JBGS) plan to redevelop the North Potomac Yard site on an accelerated timeline, it’s likely the theater showed its last film months ago — when Disney’s “Onward” was No. 1 at the box office.” [Washington Business Journal]

Governor Releases ‘Forward Virginia’ Phase Two Guidelines — “Most of the state will enter phase two on Friday, June 5. Northern Virginia, including the City of Alexandria and Fairfax County, might enter about a week later — but only if local coronavirus and health metrics indicate it is safe to do so. The governor has not given Northern Virginia a projected date for entering the second phase.” [Alexandria Living]

Group Raises Thousands for Alexandria Families — “We are helping more than 30 families every week with food, toiletries, cleaning supplies, and baby supplies during the COVID 19 pandemic.  Many of these families are unemployed and not eligible for benefits.” [GoFundMe]

Virtual Job Fair Today — “The city of Alexandria Workforce Development Center is hosting a free “Meet the Employer” event tomorrow! Learn more about immediate employment opportunities in Virginia.” [Facebook]

Food Drive Replaces First Thursday in Del Ray — “On Thursday, June 4 (by 4 p.m.), plastic tubs or boxes will be placed on Mount Vernon Avenue at the intersection of all streets from Hume to Braddock; in front of the Mount Vernon Recreation Center; and at the intersection of Commonwealth Avenue and the following streets: Braddock, Monroe, Alexandria Ave., Windsor, Del Ray, and Ashby. Items will be picked up by 7:30 p.m.” [Facebook]

Teens Plan Peace Walk for Saturday — “The public is invited to the Alexandria Peace Walk and encouraged to wear blue, the color for peace. Walkers are asked to bring posters, wear masks and stay six feet apart for the walk, cha-cha slide, and prayer.” [Zebra]

Hyatt Centric Old Town Welcomes Back Customers With Video — “We at the Hyatt Centric Old Town Alexandria are ready to welcome you back with the highest safety and cleaning procedures for your peace of mind when you travel.” [Youtube]

New Job: Shopkeeper Apprentice at Ice Cream Shop — “Shopkeeper Apprentices are full-time employees sharing the same responsibilities as the Shopkeeper including accounting, scheduling, inventory/ordering, and all HR functions (hiring, training, development, and performance management of all team members).” [Indeed]

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Morning Notes

Local Donut Shop Donating to Charity — “Sugar Shack Donuts & Coffee of Alexandria, 804 N. Henry Street, is celebrating five years of yummy donuts, smiles and positive community engagement in January by donating five cents for every donut sold to ACT for Alexandria, the community foundation.” [Zebra]

History Museum Hosting Documentary Screening — “On Sunday, January 12, 2020, the Alexandria Black History Museum will premiere a free screening at 3 p.m. of the new documentary exploring Alexandria segregation. A very special collection of dollhouses depict Alexandria segregation in ‘Our Alexandria’ the new documentary by Emmy award-winning local filmmaker, Robin Hamilton.” [Zebra]

Women in Alexandria’s History — “This year marks the centennial of women’s right to vote thanks to the ratification of the 19th Constitutional Amendment, and two Alexandrians have plans to localize the milestone. Gayle Converse and Pat Miller are researching suffragists tied to Alexandria and partnering with various organizations to highlight influential women throughout the city’s history. They are considering special events in March for Women’s History Month.” [Alexandria Times]

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Landmark Mall may be all but dead, but a trailer for the upcoming Wonder Woman 1984 revives the Alexandria landmark to its full ’80s glory.

Wonder Woman filmed in Alexandria and D.C. in 2018. The film will see Gal Gadot as Diana Prince — aka Wonder Woman — face off against Cheetah (Kristen Wiig) and Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal).

“WW84” was directed by Patty Jenkins, who also directed the first Wonder Woman film.

While the Sears remains open, most of the mall died a slow death until the handful of remaining shops closed in 2017. Towards the end, the mall was primarily long stretches of empty halls and food courts.

The city has been struggling for years with plans to redevelop the mall and revitalize the area. The City Council approved an ambitious master plan in April — which envisions a mix of residential properties, retail space and a transportation hub — and city staff are currently working through the details of implementing that plan.

While the movie trailer does show Waldenbooks, which did have a location in the mall, if the film is meant to take place in the mall and not as a stand-in for another location, the enclosed ceiling glimpsed in the trailer is a slight historical inaccuracy — the mall was not enclosed until the late 1980s.

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