Alexandria, VA

It was a cold and snowy week in Alexandria.

Our top story this week was on plans to redevelop the GenOn power plant in Old Town North. It looks like deconstruction of the plant will start in 2023 and developers are looking at converting it into an urban, mixed-use property with housing.

The short work week started with news that Alexandria reached 10,000 cases of COVID-19. The latest figures show that there are 10,113 cases and 104 total deaths in the city, according to the Virginia Department of Health. The city’s seven-day moving average is now 35.1 cases.

A 49-year-old homeless woman was found dead in Arlandria on Tuesday morning, and the mayor told us that homelessness is on the rise in the city. ALXnow is following up with the city on the issue.

Tuesday morning also brought news that Alexandria City Councilman Mo Seifeldein abandoned his run for mayor and will not seek reelection to council. Seifeldein was hired as a trial lawyer by the U.S. Department of Labor in Jan. 2020, and while he can finish out his term on council, he can not run unless he files as an independent candidate.

In other election news, the race for city council is starting to get crowded, as Bill Rossello, a co-founder of the Bring Integrity Back to Alexandria Facebook Group, just threw his hat into the ring.

On the vaccine front, the waiting list has surpassed 45,000 and it may be until late summer that the vaccine is widely available in the city. On Thursday, Mayor Justin Wilson also asked the governor to open vaccine eligibility for restaurant, personal care and retail workers.

More than 200 people responded to this week’s poll on power outages. There have been a number of outages over tha last year, and 73% of respondents reported experiencing an outage, while 26% report that their homes haven’t been impacted.

In case you missed them, here are some other important stories this week:

Here are our top stories of the week in Alexandria:

  1. Developers Lay Out Multi-Year Timeline for GenOn Plant Redevelopment
  2. BREAKING: Homeless Woman Found Dead on Mount Vernon Avenue
  3. Alexandria Boxer Troy Isley Goes Pro With Big Fight Next Week
  4. Seifeldein Not Running for Mayor, Leaving Alexandria City Council
  5. ALXnow’s Top Stories this Week in Alexandria
  6. Director of Finance: Alexandria’s Real Estate Assessments Are a ‘Tale of Two Markets’
  7. Local Business Owner Robbed of Car While Pumping Gas at Old Town Gas Station
  8. Torpedo Factory Overhaul Heads to City Council Next Month
  9. Snow: Up to 6 Inches of Snow and Ice Expected in Alexandria
  10. BREAKING: Alexandria Police Investigate Second Car Stolen While Owner Pumps Gas
  11. Local Facebook Watchdog Group Founder Bill Rossello Announces Run for City Council

Have a safe weekend!

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Beloved local Del Ray coffee shop St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub has opened a new North Old Town location (529 Montgomery Street) to help anchor a budding new community.

The new coffee house opened on Saturday, Jan. 9. St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub joins Wooboi Hot Chicken and Hinata Sushi Bar and Grill on the ground floor of Gables Old Town North, a new residential development at the north end of Old Town.

According to the website, the North Old Town branch of St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub offers fresh baked goods, soups and sandwiches — with an ABC permit pending for craft beer and wine.

“We really like being in neighborhoods,” Larry Ponzi, owner of the pub, said on the website. “We love to get visitors from out of town, and we do, but we really want the base of customers to be from the neighborhood.”

Photo via St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub/Facebook

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No injuries have been reported after another shooting in Old Town North, this time on Monday night (Dec. 28) near the intersection of North Henry and Montgomery Streets.

“There were multiple shell casings recovered,” Alexandria Police spokesperson Amanda Paga told ALXnow. “A building was hit, but no injuries were reported. It is an ongoing investigation at this time.”

No suspect information was available. The shots were reported at around 6 p.m.

The incident comes on the heels of a Dec. 20 shooting in the area of North Patrick and Montgomery Streets, which is one block away. The earlier shooting also took place at around 6 p.m.

The area where the shots were fired is near the Braddock Road Metro Station, Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority properties and the Charles Houston Recreation Center. It is also less than a half mile from a police shootout in October that left one man dead.

Police have asked for the public’s help and increased their presence after an uptick in shootings, many of which have occurred in Old Town North and the West End.

Map via Google Maps

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The old Robinson Terminal North, once the abrupt northern end to the Old Town waterfront, is no more.

Demolition was mostly wrapped up this weekend after a quick tear-down, and the plan is to make the location part of the broader effort to reform Old Town’s sewer system called the RiverRenew program.

“Behind me is the Robinson Terminal North warehouse,” said Kelvin Coles, deputy design manager for the RiverRenew program, in a video. “Many residents and visitors will recognize this large steel building as the dividing landmark between Oronoco Bay park and Founders Park.”

The property a coal storage facility, along with other industrial uses, and ultimately a Washington Post shipping hub before it was decommissioned in 2013.

The property is adjacent to outfall 1, one of four sewer outfalls in Old Town that is the subject of the combined sewer system overhaul. On average, there are around 30 overflow events at outfall 1 alone. The plan is to build a diversion facility to direct the outflow into a tunnel.

Construction on the new project is expected to begin in spring 2021 and continue through winter 2024. The facility will be mainly below ground once complete.

Above ground, the plan is to extend Pendleton Street into a promenade. The program is planned to feature benches and potential space for programming.

Pendleton Street Extension image via RiverRenew

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Eight years after the GenOn power plant closed, a developer has purchased the property and is planning to redevelop the site.

Hilco Redevelopment Partners, based out of Illinois, announced the purchase of the 20-acre site today, the Washington Business Journal first reported.

“We’re excited for the opportunity to redevelop the old Potomac River Generating Station site,” said Roberto Perez, Chief Executive Officer of Hilco Redevelopment Partners, in a press release. “Hilco Redevelopment Partners is committed to remediating this extraordinary site to the most current environmental standards and transforming it into a new and exciting development that will best serve the community and create economic growth and opportunity for all stakeholders.”

The site has been a large part of the city’s Old Town North ambitions, included a plan earlier this year that involved splitting the lot into three smaller parcels. The city hopes to have the site converted into a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood.

“For two decades, we’ve been seeking to change use of that site,” said Mayor Justin Wilson. “[We’ve been] trying to move away from antiquated coal fire to productive use. It was dogged community activism that we were able to get that plant closed. Now, we have a new owner who is ready to achieve that vision. I think we’re pretty excited to see that all come to fruition.”

Wilson emphasized that a significant portion of the lot will remain open space alongside new mixed-use development.

“This is a great step forward for the city,” said Wilson. “Unused power plants are better than operating ones, but neither are particularly good uses. We envision this to be a sustainable area, with some cutting edge sustainability practices.”

Wilson also noted that Hilco Redevelopment Partners has a background in working with industrial sites.

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It was a historic week in Alexandria.

Alexandrians overwhelmingly helped reelect U.S. Senator Mark Warner and Congressman Don Beyer, and 80% of voters chose Democrat former Vice President Joe Biden for president over incumbent Republican President Donald Trump.

Out top story this week was election-related. It turns out that before election day several Alexandria households with Joe Biden signs were sent letters with a Northern Virginia postage mark stating that Biden is a pedophile. The Chair of the Alexandria Democratic Committee advised that anyone who receives such notes should call the police. The police, in turn, are sending along the information to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

Additionally, 91 people participated in our weekly poll. This week we asked about election night plans, and 65% of respondents said they were staying home to watch the results, 24% had no eleciton night plans, 10% planned to protest that evening, and 1% were going to an election night event.

School News

Alexandria City Public Schools were back in action this week — sort of. While the ACPS opened in-person classes on Thursday, fewer than 10 students made it to class. There were about 60 students eligible to go back to school, since only kids with kindergarten through second graders with disabilities were allowed to attend Jefferson-Houston PreK-8 IB School.

It was the first in-person public schooling in Alexandria since the pandemic shut down schools in March. ACPS plans to expand opening for all citywide special education students by December. Meanwhile, however, hundreds of parents want the school system to open and have started the #OpenACPS messaging campaign.

Also in school news, a two-year-long court battle was settled with the city and 15 Alexandria homeowners were settled regarding the addition of stadium lights to Parker-Gray Stadium at T.C. Williams High School.

The Week in Crime

The week started with news that there were two shootings in Alexandria over the weekend.

The was also the story of a 17-year-old on the run since last month after allegedly stealing a car in the West End. The juvenile, who later admitted stealing the car, was seen by the victim — a federal law enforcement officer — driving past his house, and the victim got into another of his cars and followed the suspect. The victim got the juvenile out of his car and held him at the scene until police arrived, and the juvenile left the area after being charged.

We also covered the story of the ‘Beltway Bank Bandit’. Freddie Lee McRae, 34, of Washington D.C., pleaded guilty to three counts of brandishing a firearm during a series of bank and shoe store robberies in and around Alexandria in 2018 and 2019. He will be sentenced on February 23, 2021, and faces up to life in prison and a mandatory minimum of 21 years in prison.

Health and Business

As of Friday there were 76 deaths attributed to the coronavirus in Alexandria, and the case count stands at 4,444, according to the Virginia Department of Health. Latino residents continue to lead the case count.

We also reported that longtime Del Ray staple, Al’s Steak House, is for sale since the owner passed away.

This week also saw fewer continued and initial unemployment claims in Alexandria.

Here are ALXnow’s top stories of the week in Alexandria:

  1. Alexandrians with Joe Biden Yard Signs Get Anonymous Letters Saying Biden is a Pedophile
  2. Del Ray Staple Al’s Steak House for Sale After Owner’s Death
  3. Republican Jeff Jordan Running Uphill Battle Against Incumbent Rep. Don Beyer
  4. Braddock West Project Headed to Planning Commission Later This Year
  5. Identity Released of Old Town North Suspect Killed in Shootout
  6. Soft Opening for New Chicken Joint in North Old Town Today
  7. Alexandria Parents Start #OpenACPS Sign Campaign as School System Begins Partial Reopening
  8. Juvenile Allegedly Steals Car and is Tracked Down by Victim in the West End
  9. BREAKING: Massive Power Outage Reported in Alexandria
  10. The Alexandria Drive-In Just Kicked Off an Encore Series on Halloween
  11. Did You Know: The Tall Ship Providence Encountered a Ghost Ship in 1777

Have a safe weekend!

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What an intense week in Alexandria.

Our top story was on the massive power outages that affected tens of thousands of residents on Friday, October 23. Without providing specifics, Dominion Energy told City Council this week that outages in Alexandria and Arlington were “unique,” and caused by a piece of equipment that failed at its Glebe Road substation. City Councilors responded that there have been at least eight outages since May.

Monday started with news that an Alexandria Police officer was shot in Old Town and that the 27-year-old suspect was found shot to death near a construction site.

Police were called to the Holiday Inn & Suites in Old Town North after reports that shots were fired in the lobby of the hotel. Police chased two suspects on foot and a shootout ensued. The officer was shot in the lower body and was later released, and the other suspect later turned himself in to police.

On the coronavirus front, there are now 74 deaths in Alexandria and there are now or have been more than 4,200 cases since the pandemic began in March. Latino residents continue to lead the case count. This week the Alexandria Health Department reported that majority of recent coronavirus cases in Alexandria might be the result of contacts at home, indoor gatherings and eating out.

Restaurant-wise, we reported the soft opening of a new chicken joint in North Old Town.

Additionally, the Wrought, Knit, Labors, Legacies art installation at Waterfront Park will be taken down next month at Waterfront Park, and the installation will temporarily be moved outside of Old Town Pool (1609 Cameron Street).

We also reported that more than 50% of Alexandria voters have already cast their ballots.

Additionally, more than 240 people participated in our weekly poll. With Halloween on Saturday, this week we asked about trick-or-treating plans, and 38% of respondents are not celebrating Halloween this year, 31% are not trick-or-treating but have other plans, 17% plan to trick-or-treat with modifications, and 14% plan to trick-or-treat as usual.

Here are ALXnow’s top stories of the week in Alexandria:

  1. BREAKING: Massive Power Outage Reported in Alexandria
  2. BREAKING: Virginia State Police Seek Alexandria Man After Police Shootout
  3. School Board Shelves Plan to Reopen Schools in 2021, Students with Disabilities Transitioning Back Next Month
  4. Republican Jeff Jordan Running Uphill Battle Against Incumbent Rep. Don Beyer
  5. Here’s Where Alexandria Residents Might be Getting COVID-19
  6. BREAKING: Shooting Suspect In Custody, Police Announce
  7. Police: Man Killed in Car Crash on N. Van Dorn Street
  8. Identity Released of Old Town North Suspect Killed in Shootout
  9. Police: Shots Fired in Braddock Area on Monday Night
  10. The Chewish Deli Opens New Location in Old Town
  11. Police Assist Man With Psychotic Episode in West End

Happy Halloween!

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Herndon-based Wooboi Hot Chicken is hosting a small “soft opening” today at a new location opening in North Old Town (531 Montgomery Street).

The soft opening is scheduled to run from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. though those who want to try the chicken should lean towards the earlier side, as Wooboi Hot Chicken said there is a limited supply today.

“We have 100 chicken breasts and 400 tenders to sell!” the restaurant said.

Today and tomorrow, the location is cash-only. The restaurant said on Facebook that at the grand opening on Monday, they will accept cards, cash, and apple pay.

Sandwiches or a basket of chicken tenders are $8.99 ($10 with tax included, for purposes of planning how much cash to bring) and sides are $3.99 ($4.50 with tax).

Photo via Wooboi Hot Chicken/Facebook

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Virginia State Police have identified the 27-year-old suspect who died in a shootout with Alexandria police in Old Town North on Monday, October 26.

Michael K. Nelson of Fairfax County was found dead with a stolen firearm near the intersection of Montgomery Street and North Fairfax Street, according to Virginia State Police. His alleged accomplice, 26-year-old Mitchell Thompson, later turned himself in and was charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

“Nelson’s remains were transported to the Office of the Medical Examiner in Manassas for examination and autopsy, which remain ongoing,” according to VSP.

At around 5 a.m. that day, police responded to a call for shots fired inside the Holiday Inn & Suites (625 First Street) in Old Town North, according to police. Witnesses reported that a robbery occurred in the lobby of the hotel and that multiple shots were fired. Police established a perimeter and two suspects were spotted at around 5:50 a.m. and engaged in a shootout with police.

“When the officer and the two adult males reached the intersection of North Royal Street and Second Street, the officer and one of the two suspects exchanged fire,” according to VSP. “The officer was shot and both suspects fled the scene again on foot. The officer has been treated and released for non-life threatening injuries sustained in the shooting.”

Police expanded the search at 6:24 a.m. and police K9 teams found Nelson near the intersection of Montgomery Street and North Fairfax Street, according to VSP.

“As Alexandria police officers engaged with Nelson, shots were fired by both Nelson and officers on scene,” VSP reported. “Nelson died at the scene. A stolen firearm was recovered in his possession.”

VSP said the investigation is ongoing. Three Alexandria police officers are on routine administrative since the incident.

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(Updated at 11:10 p.m.) At least three Alexandria Police officers are on routine administrative leave after a shootout that left one suspect dead near the intersection of N. Fairfax and Montgomery Streets.

At 5 a.m., police responded to a call for shots fired inside the Holiday Inn & Suites (625 First Street) in north Old Town, according to police spokesman Lt. Courtney Ballantine. Once at the scene, police were told by witnesses that a robbery occurred in the lobby of the hotel and that multiple shots were fired.

Police established a perimeter and located a possible suspect and a chase ensued on foot, Ballantine said. The suspect allegedly shot an officer in the lower body at N. Royal and 2nd Street. The officer sustained a non-life threatening wound and has since been released from the hospital.

The male suspect then ran to the area of N. Fairfax and Montgomery Streets and more gunfire was exchanged.

“Officers shot toward the suspect and the suspect shot toward the officers,” Ballantine said. “The suspect was found deceased in the bushes when the sun came up.”

Ballantine did not confirm whether police shot the suspect.

Heavily-armed officers could still be seen searching the area after the suspect was found dead.

“Alexandria police officers and K9s, including some with tactical gear, are walking through North Old Town to search for additional evidence as part of the ongoing investigation into this morning’s shootings,” according to police. “The public should not be alarmed at this police activity, but please avoid the area today if possible.”

This afternoon, Virginia State Police identified a 26-year-old Alexandria man, Michael David Thompson, as a person of interest in the shootings. He has since turned himself in, state police announced Monday night.

VSP provided additional information about the investigation:

The Virginia State Police, at the request of the City of Alexandria Police Chief, is investigating a series of shooting incidents that occurred Monday morning (Oct. 26, 2020). State and local police are still working to locate Mitchell D. Thompson, 26, of Alexandria, Va. He is now wanted on one felony count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and is believed to be currently armed. The public is encouraged to call the Virginia State Police at 703-803-0026 or email at [email protected] with any information related to his whereabouts. Thompson is a white male with brown eyes and long, brown hair he was last seen wearing in a “man-bun.” He is 6’8 in height and weighs 245 lbs.

The incident began Monday at approximately 5:01 a.m. when the Alexandria Police Department received a 911 call for shots being fired at a hotel in the 600 block of First Street in Old Town Alexandria. As officers were responding to the scene, two individuals involved in the shooting had fled the hotel on foot. A perimeter was immediately established and search efforts were underway. Further investigation at the hotel determined that an armed robbery had taken place inside the hotel. No one inside the hotel was injured.

At approximately 5:50 a.m., an Alexandria Police Officer located two suspects – one of them Thompson – and a foot pursuit was initiated. When the officer and the two adult males reached the intersection of North Royal Street and Second Street, the officer and one of the two suspects exchanged fire. The officer was shot and both suspects fled the scene again on foot. The officer has been treated and released for non-life threatening injuries sustained in the shooting.

The search perimeter was expanded and police K9 teams located, at approximately 6:24 a.m., one of the suspects near the intersection of Montgomery Street and North Fairfax Street. As Alexandria police officers engaged with the adult male suspect, shots were fired by both the suspect and officers on scene. The male suspect died at the scene. A stolen firearm was recovered in the male suspect’s possession. No law enforcement at this location were injured.

The man’s remains have been transported to the Office of the Medical Examiner in Manassas for examination and autopsy. Next of kin notification is still pending.

The investigation remains ongoing at this time into all three incidents by state police, with the assistance of the Alexandria Police Department and the ATF.

Mayor Justin Wilson said that he appreciated APD’s quick response in finding the suspect, getting the word out to the public and protecting the public from harm.

“My concern right now is with our officer who was injured,” Wilson said. “I know the entire community joins me in wishing for a quick recovery for the officer and expressing our gratitude for their service to our community in a very dangerous situation this morning.”

During the incident, North Old Town was on lockdown as residents were urged to seek shelter while police searched for the suspects. Residents from Washington Street to the river were urged to stay indoors with the doors and windows locked until notified otherwise by police.

More from social media:

James Cullum contributed to this story

Photo and video via Taylor Brown / Map Via Google Maps

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