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(Updated 2 p.m.) The Alexandria Fire Department (AFD) has put out a fire in a home on the 200 block of South Fairfax Street.

AFD spokesperson Raytevia Evans said Alexandria units are responding to a single-family residential building fire. The 200 block of South Fairfax Street and some of the surrounding streets have been closed.

Evans said that one firefighter has been transported to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. One male resident was evacuated at the time of the incident and was not injured.

AFD was dispatched to the fire at 12:27 p.m. The fire was declared extinguished an hour later, with units remaining on the scene to investigate the cause of the fire.

Evans said that, given the intense winds today, the fire department is taking additional precautions to ensure it doesn’t spread.

Fire reported at the 200 block of S. Fairfax Street (image via Google Maps)

H/t to Alan Henney
Image via Google Maps

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The view from the Alexandria City Hall’s clock tower. (Staff photo by James Cullum)

Fights over historic preservation are nothing new in Alexandria, and a recent edition of the city’s This Week in Historic Alexandria offered a look back at one of the controversial projects from the 1960s that shaped Old Town as it’s known today.

This year marks 60 years since Alexandria’s City Council approved the “Gadsby Commercial Urban Renewal Plan” in 1963 — a project that saw the large-scale demolition of much of King Street’s older buildings once construction began in 1965.

“On March 10, 1965, construction began on the controversial Gadsby’s Urban Renewal Project in the heart of downtown Alexandria,” the Office of Historic Alexandria (OHA) wrote. “It had been approved by City Council in a close 4-3 vote.”

The Office of Historic Alexandria wrote that the trend at the time was demolition in downtown areas with less regard for the preservation of historic buildings.

“In the early 1960s, ‘urban renewal’ in the United States focused largely on the demolition and reconstruction of deteriorated downtown areas, rather than the restoration of historic buildings to revitalize city centers, a concept that emerged a decade later,” the Office of Historic Alexandria wrote. “In Alexandria, renewal was originally proposed for a twelve-block area further west along King Street but ultimately moved east, centered on the area around Gadsby’s Tavern, City Hall, and Market Square.”

The OHA wrote that the project would come to include the destruction of several blocks in the heart of Old Town. WETA wrote that several historic structures like the Belvoir hotel — which had elements dating back to 1792 — were demolished and the age of the building wasn’t understood until after it was torn down. Also lost was Arell’s Tavern, a local meeting place for George Washington and others, WETA wrote.

“Ultimately, the project involved the excavation of entire blocks at and near Market Square and the demolition of 18th- and 19th-century buildings considered at the time as contributing to blighted conditions in what would come to be known as ‘Old Town,'” The OHA wrote.

City Historian Dan Lee told ALXnow the project was particularly controversial given that the areas hit with demolition had already been placed in a historic district in 1946.

“The main aspect of the controversy is that Alexandria had created an Old and Historic District in 1946,” Lee said, “and then knocked down whole city blocks in that district in 1968.”

The project was carried out over multiple phases with the second phase completed in 1981, but by then public opinion had turned against the urban renewal project and a planned third phase never moved forward.

Tycon Building redesign plans (image via City of Alexandria)

Alexandria’s Board of Architectural Review can be infamously picky about urban design, but the board unanimously voted to approve a large new project in Old Town with significant enthusiasm.

Applicant City House Old Town, LLC is applying to have the office building at 1101 King Street — currently a mostly vacant office space called the Tycon Building — changed into a residential development with 210 units.

The current office building was built in 1983, predating new regulations for density in the area set in 1992. The new plans won’t add any density to the building, but still require a special use permit because they aren’t compliant with current limits.

While the interior is undergoing significant changes, the exterior changes are relatively minor. The developer is proposing new railings and balconies, along with some cosmetic changes to the coloring of the building’s exterior.

A Fairfax County man was charged with driving while intoxicated after allegedly crashing into a police cruiser in the area of S. Washington Street and Green Street in Old Town (via Google Maps)

A Fairfax County man goes to court this week for allegedly crashing his car into an Alexandria Police cruiser while driving drunk.

The incident occurred at around midnight on Sunday, Feb. 26, near the intersection of S. Washington Street and Green Street. There were two officers in the cruiser at the time of the crash. While the airbags were deployed, no one was injured in the crash, according to a recently released search warrant affidavit.

The suspect, a 33-year-old Fairfax County resident, was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and reckless driving. He was released that same day on a $5,000 unsecured bond and goes to court for the offenses tomorrow (Wednesday).

There have been 24 people charged with driving while intoxicated this year in Alexandria, compared to 47 during this same time period last year, 24 in the same time period in 2021, 47 in 2020 and 36 in 2019, according to Alexandria’s crime database.

Map via Google Maps


Old Town was packed on Saturday morning for Alexandria’s 40th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Thousands of visitors lined King Street to watch a procession of more than 2,000 participants, including Irish dancers, historic reenactors and the City of Alexandria Pipes and Drums. The festivities also included a car show and a dog show at Market Square outside City Hall.

This year’s Grand Marshal was Charlotte Hall, managing director of Old Town Business. The parade was sponsored by the Ballyshaners, a nonprofit dedicated to Irish heritage. Ballyshaners is Gaelic for “Old Towners.”

Enjoy the photos!

Bone-in ribeye steak at 1799 Prime Steak & Seafood in at 110 S. Pitt Street in Old Town. (Courtesy photo)

If you’ve tried to get a seat at 1799 Prime Steak & Seafood but couldn’t, you might have better luck in the future.

Old Town restaurant 1799 Prime Steak & Seafood (110 S. Pitt Street) is heading to the Planning Commission to get permission to better use its outdoor patio space.

According to the application, the restaurant is currently only allowed to seat 40 patrons in the patio — roughly a third of the restaurant’s capacity. A map in the planning documents suggests the owners are aiming to create a 104-seat patio space.

“The patio area is currently restricted to seating only 40 patrons,” the restaurant owner said in the application. “The full floor plan for 1799 Prime consists of 120 seats. The space allows for ample spacing between tables and chairs. The patio also contains a bar area with 10 seats, included in 120 seats stated previously.”

Map of the proposed Old Town Business Improvement Service District (via Old Town Business)

With the clock running down on a rushed timeline, Old Town Business (OTB) is conducting more outreach sessions today, Friday, on its proposed business improvement district.

The group conducted information sessions yesterday (Thursday) and scheduled one for this morning and another for 1 p.m. along the ALX Community Waterfront at 201 N. Union Street.

“We’re running into a deadline for this year’s tax calendar,” Scott Shaw, a managing partner of Alexandria Restaurant Partners, previously told ALXnow. “We’re compressing this more than we want to, we’re aware of that.”

The group of local business owners are trying to gather 60% support from hundreds of Old Town restaurants, shops and other retailers by mid-March. Organizers are operating on a crunched timeline to get their proposal on the City Council docket this month, before the city sets the tax rate for the upcoming budget, which must be approved in May.

OTB wants the effort to be funded by a 10-cent addition to real property tax rates for businesses within the proposed district.

“For example, a parcel that has a taxable value of $700,000 that currently pays $7,770 in annual property taxes would be billed an additional $700 for a new total of $8,470,” OTB explains in its petition. “Parcels of real property which are either exempt from real property taxes or strictly residential in use, as determined by the City on an annual basis, shall not be billed the annual BISD tax.”

Those funds would then go toward events, marketing, business support services, advocacy and more.

Per the proposal, the Business Improvement Service District (BISD) would be overseen by 13-to-15 board members, all of whom would be approved by City Council. Board meetings would also be open to the public.

A message from Old Town Business on its BISD efforts (via Old Town Business)

via Old Town Business

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Milkshakes at The Crazy Mason (image via The Crazy Mason Milkshake Bar Old Town Alexandria/Facebook)

A new restaurant focused on milkshakes in mason jars is coming to Old Town.

The Crazy Mason, a self-described milkshake bar, is planning to open at 716 King Street sometime this summer.

“The Crazy Mason Milkshake Bar offers sweet treats of all kinds, specializing in unique milkshakes and sundaes served in keepsake custom-designed mason jars,” the restaurant said in a release.

The Crazy Mason features a variety of types of milkshakes along with other desserts, like cookies and cheesecake. There are also a couple vegan options with non-dairy milk, according to the website.

The new location is set to open this summer, The Crazy Mason said in a release, with a more specific date to be announced closer to opening.

The chain started out in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, in 2020. The Alexandria store will be the 10th location in the swiftly growing chain.

“We fell in love with the Crazy Mason brand while on a family vacation in Myrtle Beach in 2021 and we opened our first location in 2022 in Ellicott City, Maryland,” franchisees Erin and Robert Studer said in a release. “We wanted to bring our crazy treats to the DC metro area and Old Town Alexandria is one of our favorite places. With the waterfront, the cosmopolitan feel and the walkable nature of the town, we are so excited to announce our next location on King Street.”

The Crazy Mason enters a neighborhood with some stiff frozen dairy competition, with five ice cream shops along or just off King Street in Old Town.

Image via The Crazy Mason Milkshake Bar/Facebook


A main roadway into Alexandria will likely soon have a new mini-mart. On Saturday, City Council will vote on an addition to the Liberty service station at 700 S. Patrick Street (Route 1), and the owner says that construction could be wrapped by the beginning of the summer.

Per the plan, the 1,136-square-foot service station would be expanded by the addition of a 24-hour mini-mart. The 438-square-foot structure would include two restrooms, and the two existing service bays would be completely removed and remodeled into a retail shop with food and household supplies.

“We’re so excited to get this project started,” owner Hager Cherif-Benkahla told ALXnow. “We’ve owned the gas station for six years, and we’re ready to go with this.”

There has been a service station on the 20,300-square-foot property at the corner of S. patrick and Franklin Streets since at least 1957, according to the city.

The Planning Commission unanimously approved the proposal earlier this month. City staff also backed the plan, provided that the owners replace the entrance apron at the corner of Franklin Street with a curb, gutter and sidewalk.

“This will encourage safer pedestrian movement along the Franklin Street sidewalk, reducing the number of cars using the curb cut, and providing safer pedestrian access to the ice machine and ATM,” a staff report said.

Staff also said there is a potential during construction that historic artifacts could be found on-site, as the property is located near to where African American settlements were established in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. If artifacts are found, then construction must cease and the City’s Archaeology department must be contacted for further study.

Callahan Drive (image via Google Maps)

The Alexandria Police Department has responded to a single-vehicle motorcycle crash on Callahan Drive between King and Duke Streets, resulting in the temporary closure of the road.

The driver of the motorcycle appears to have sustained serious injuries and has been transported to the hospital. APD is currently investigating the incident.

Image via Google Maps


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