At a meeting on Saturday, Diane Ruggiero, deputy director of the Alexandria Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities, talked the City Council through some of the changes. Among the changes to the special events policy are allowing large events (500+ people) on consecutive weekends and a requirement to file a notice of intent with the City Special Events Committee at least 180 days prior to the event.
Ruggiero said her office frequently is told that people didn’t know they needed a permit to hold an event and that the city is chasing people after the fact to get permits approved.
Special event permits are required when:
- Use of a city park is involved
- More than 500 people are expected to attend throughout the event
- Coordination between two or more permitting agencies is required
- Food is being sold/served to the public
- Public safety may be at risk
Those permits must be filed 180 days prior to the event, though that can be waived in “special and unusual circumstances” by the city manager, and then permits are sent to the City Special Events Committee for review and approval.
But City Council member John Chapman noted that some of the new changes could create as many headaches at they solve. Chapman, who hosted parties for screenings of both Black Panther and its slightly underrated sequel Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, said the change from notice of intent going from 90 days to 180 days is not feasible for many events.
“I’m concerned about the long lead time needed,” Chapman said. “We had over 500 people [at the screening] and at no time did I think, ‘I need to come to see our city to get a special event application and come before your committee.’ How do we get regular citizens, let alone policy-makers, to understand exactly what we want to see?”
In general, Chapman said he was a little underwhelmed by the outreach done for the new policy, saying there’s still confusion about the new policy and the city needs to do more to make the new policies understood by the general public.
“I’m a little underwhelmed,” Chapman said. “this does not show that the city is getting out there to spaces or for people who own facilities and saying ‘this is what you need to do.’ I don’t want us to rely on hopeful word of mouth.”
Despite some concerns, the City Council voted to approve the new policies.
Inova has filed concept plans for the 10-acre site that will relocate the Alexandria hospital to the former Landmark Mall property and is expected to start construction in 2024.
Phase I of the campus construction proposal includes a 565,525-square-foot level 2 trauma hospital with below-grade and structured parking, a 107,239-square-foot cancer center and a 88,085-square-foot specialty care building, according to the development concept plan filed with the city last week. The existing parking garage will remain, adding 550 parking spaces for the campus to the additional 950 spaces to be constructed.
The construction timeline would start with the hospital in 2024, and the cancer center and specialty care center in 2026. Construction and opening for the campus is targeted for 2028.
The development concept plan states 1.66 acres of open space is required and is incorporated into the plan’s document.
Phase 2 includes the potential for hospital expansion, Inova spokesperson Tracy Connell said.
Inova Health System will host a virtual community meeting on Wednesday (March 30) at 6 p.m. about the development proposal for the new hospital campus. Representatives from Inova and their design consultants will present an overview of the proposed development and answer questions, according to Inova’s website.
When the city initially announced the relocation of the hospital from the Seminary Hill location, it said that it would expand to over 2,000 health care workers.
“The hospital would be one of only three Level II trauma centers in Northern Virginia, seven statewide, and 270 nationwide, providing 24-hour specialty services for brain injuries, complex fractures, and other trauma care,” the hospital system’s website states. “The addition of a medical office building would allow an estimated 50 specialty physicians to see patients on the same campus as the new hospital.”
The proposal lists the companies involved in the project as Urban, LTD, as the civil engineer, Gorove Slade as the traffic engineer, Ballinger as the architect, Walsh Colucci Lubeley & Walsh as the attorney and Davis Utility Consulting, LLC, as the utility engineer.
A historic Old Town home that had most recently been an art gallery could undergo a conversion into a small hotel.
Bruce and Thelma MacGregor, owners of 105 North Alfred, are requesting a special use permit to turn a current commercial and apartment building into a hotel. The home was originally built in 1790, and the permit notes that the property was recently used as an art gallery with eight apartment units on the floors above.
The shift to the hotel business is not as big as it might seem on paper, though. The permit notes that for roughly ten years, all of the apartment units had been used as short-term rentals through Airbnb. The change is notable, though, as hotel revenue remains low in Alexandria.
According to the permit request, the changes will involve adding a new front-desk area and other amenities, with guests being able to book rooms and check-in remotely.
The MacGregors are also hoping to make a two-story addition to the property to the north, adding new bedroom units.
The permit request is scheduled for review at the Planning Commission meeting on Dec. 7.
Photo via Google Maps
(Updated at 3 p.m.) Micro-mobility company Helbiz is poised to be the first company in Alexandria offering both e-scooters and e-bikes in Alexandria.
“Helbiz… has been awarded a permit to operate both its innovative e-bikes and e-scooters in Alexandria, Virginia, making it the only company to offer both transportation solutions in the market,” the company said in a press release. “This permit follows the launch of the company’s fleet of e-bikes in neighboring Washington, D.C. and highlights Helbiz’s continued commitment to offering eco-friendly micro-mobility solutions in the area.”
Gian Luca Spriano, a spokesperson for the Italian-American company, said it would be partnering with Alexandria’s Department of Transportation to ensure safety is prioritized and the company has met all the regulatory standards.
The press release noted that the company plans to operate 200 e-scooters and 200 e-bikes in Alexandria, deployed at some point “in the coming weeks.”
The e-scooters and e-bikes are accessible through the Helbiz app, in which users can locate, rent, and unlock the devices.
Photo via Helbiz/Twitter
The City of Alexandria announced today that it will be launching APEX, a loftily-named new permitting and land use application system, early next month.
The goal of the new system is to take the complicated application system — which currently requires a trip to City Hall — and make it simpler and entirely digital. APEX is designed to handle everything from permits to add a new deck to a home to land use applications for larger projects, according to a promotional video for the new system.
“APEX will allow customers to apply for permits and development plan reviews, attach supporting documents and submit payment from computers or mobile devices, eliminating the need to make a trip to City Hall,” the city said in a press release. “City staff have worked to identify application and review processes that could be improved with the implementation of the new system.”
In addition to submitting applications, documents and drawings online, applicants will also be able to track the progress of their paperwork. Staff in the field will be able to access plans and process approvals on-site.
According to the press release, new features of the system include:
- Electronic application, plan submission and review for permits and land use applications.
- Improved communication between staff and customers.
- Real-time status tracking for permit and land use applications.
- Advanced search capabilities.
- Online inspection scheduling, tracking and updates.
- Online payments.
The system is scheduled to launch next Monday, Nov. 4, but until then there will be several service interruptions as the city switches over to the new system. This week, online permits will not be accepted, but paper applications can still be submitted at City Hall. The permit center will be closed, however, on Thursday, Oct. 31 and Friday, Nov. 1. The Department of Planning and Zoning will remain open.
During the first week of launch, the Permit Center will close at 2 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 4 and 3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, Nov. 5-8. Normal hours of 8 a.m.-5 p.m.will resume the week of Monday, Nov. 11.
Staff photo by Jay Westcott