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105 N. Alfred Street (photo via Google Maps)

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

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(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

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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.

Arlington county launched a similar digital permitting system earlier this fall after piloting it over the summer — though the system hasn’t rolled out without problems.

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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