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Alexandria City Council Candidate Kevin Harris, a professional basketball trainer who is also president of the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority resident association (staff photo by James Cullum)

Kevin Harris didn’t like the way the 2021 City Council primary went down and now he’s taking another shot.

Harris was edged out by just 750 votes, with Council Member Kirk McPike taking the sixth and last available Council spot. Now he faces 11 opponents in the upcoming June primary.

“This truly is a family affair for us,” Harris said. “Obviously some tears were flowing from my wife and children… It’s a commitment to be up here, and it’s a privilege to have been working on all the things I’ve been doing in the city of Alexandria.”

Harris has been president of the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority (ARHA) Resident Association for more than a decade. He’s a lifelong city resident and lives in Old Town with his wife and four children in an ARHA property near to where a rash of shooting incidents have occurred.

ARHA and the police erected video cameras in the area and patrols have increased over the years. Harris says that when the city hires a new police chief that community policing and officers on foot patrols need to be brought back to the area.

“I’m talking about community policing in terms of having a real relationship, real connection with your residents,” Harris said. “Where people can identify the officers, they know their names, they don’t feel threatened when they see an officer coming towards them.”

Harris got his Bachelor’s Degree in business from Alabama State University, where he got a full athletic scholarship and was named captain of the basketball team. He later played professionally for the Dakota Wizards. In 2003, he founded Hoop Life Inc. and has since taught basketball camps, clinics, classes and after-school programs throughout the region. He’s also an ordained Minister at the Love of Christ Church in Del Ray, where he teaches Sunday school.

On the failed Potomac Yard arena deal, Harris said that it’s better that the Washington Wizards and Capitals are staying in D.C.

“Aside from the huge fact that the deal could have caused displacement for marginalized communities, partially sidelined labor unions, and created a complex traffic situation, it was clear from my talks with community members from various sects of the city that the vast majority of Alexandrians didn’t want it or were indifferent towards it,” Harris said. “Regardless, this situation has sparked a unique opportunity for our city to continue in dialogue on the real issue, how to boost our commercial tax base.”

Harris has gotten endorsements from NOVA Labor, former City Council Member Willie Bailey, as well as the ARHA Resident Association and other labor groups.

Harris said that outgoing Mayor Justin Wilson will be missed, and needs to be replaced with “someone who listens.”

“Before you get into the technicalities of what it takes to run a city, you got to first really care,” Harris said.

Harris would like to see a free trolley, like the King Street Trolley, drop visitors at the city’s historic spots. He also said that the city should look for creative solutions before deciding on a tax increase and needs to favor a more welcoming small business environment.

“I always say that a budget is a moral document,” he said. “That’s my key thing, and understanding that our children are really important. But running the city is not not too much different than running a household. A lot of times you know, you have to make sacrifices.”

Harris also grew up homeless, living with his single mom at the homes of family friends. Consequently, he says that he’s been a lifelong advocate for affordable housing.

“Basketball has been a tool that has taught me so much in my life,” Harris told ALXnow. “You have to learn how to deal with adverse situations and push through them by using your fundamentals you’ve learned so hard to master. Basketball allows you a better understanding of who you are, and how to leverage your strengths and weaknesses.”

Harris said that Michael Jordan was his idol growing up.

“It was his mindset,” Harris said of Jordan. “He was determined to win, to be competitive and understood what was needed to win.”

The Democratic primary is on June 18.

Karla Berospi fits glasses on her three-year-old son, Dylan, as her daughter Arianna, 8, looks at the eclipse on her own, April 8, 2024, at Ben Brenman Park. (staff photo by James Cullum)

It was quite a week in Alexandria.

It seems that nearly all of Monday’s news was overshadowed by the eclipse. Hundreds of bespectacled residents turned out at Ben Brenaman Park to witness the cosmic event.

Out top story this week was on the four-year-old autistic student at Jefferson-Houston Elementary School who walked away from the school and was found barefoot in a tunnel near the King Street Metro station. The head of school and academic principal were subsequently placed on administrative leave, and the child’s mother told us that she was thankful for her daughter’s safe return, but that she won’t be returning her to Jefferson-Houston.

On Tuesday, we also reported about a new seven-story residential development proposal in the Landmark area. A developer filed a permit to redevelop 6101 and 6125 Stevenson Avenue, which is currently an office building and parking lot, into a seven-story residential apartment building with 270 units, a 340-space parking garage and amenity space.

City Council has a full docket at their meeting this Saturday, and will vote on raising fees for ambulances, stormwater utilities and late car tax payments. Council will also consider the proposed residential redevelopment of the Vulcan Materials site in the West End.

The most-read stories this week were:

  1. Jefferson-Houston Elementary School administrators put on leave after autistic 4-year-old walked away from school (14934 views)
  2. Notes: City cancels eclipse viewing party in Old Town, but there’s another party at Ben Brenman Park (12016 views)
  3. JUST IN: 23-year-old Alexandria motorcyclist identified after fatal crash on Duke Street (9870 views)
  4. Motorcyclist dies after crash with DASH bus on Duke Street (6063 views)
  5. New seven-story residential development pitched for Landmark neighborhood (4766 views)
  6. Amazon Fresh in the Potomac Yard Shopping Center is still happening (4676 views)
  7. Police: Man released after getting stuck in harness on Seminary Road Bridge over I-395 (4258 views)
  8. Alexandria man charged with forcible sodomy and attempted rape in Old Town (3519 views)
  9. Del Ray bar Hops N Shine wants live outdoor music 10+ hours a day (3201 views)
  10. Alexandria’s Planet Fitness evacuated after emailed bomb threat (2930 views)

Have a safe weekend!

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Good Friday morning, Alexandria!

⛈️ Today’s weather: Expect scattered showers and thunderstorms, partly sunny skies, and a high around 68. Breezy conditions will prevail, featuring a west wind at 14-24 mph and gusts up to 43 mph; there’s a 40% chance of precipitation. Friday night will see scattered showers, mainly before 2am, with mostly cloudy skies and a low near 52. The breeze will continue with a west wind at 21 mph and gusts reaching 39 mph, accompanied by a 30% chance of precipitation.

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Rep. Don Beyer, of Virginia’s 8th District, speaks to supporters on election night at Pork Barrel BBQ in Del Ray, Nov. 8, 2022 (staff photo by James Cullum)

Like Rodney Dangerfield, U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-8) is going back to school.

Patch reported that the 73-year-old Congressman enrolled at George Mason University to get a Master’s Degree in artificial intelligence.

Does it pose an existential threat? Beyer says no.

“I tend to be an AI optimist,” Beyer said after taking a recent class. “We can’t even imagine how different our lives will be in five years, 10 years, 20 years, because of AI. … There won’t be robots with red eyes coming after us any time soon. But there are other deeper existential risks that we need to pay attention to.”

📈 Thursday’s most read

The following are the most-read ALXnow articles for Apr 11, 2024.

  1. Mayoral candidates say Alexandrians lost trust in public officials because of failed Potomac Yard arena deal (1023 views)
  2. Alexandria police investigating white supremacist fliers posted in Potomac Yard (923 views)
  3. What’s Up in Alexandria This Weekend: Del Ray Dog Fest, Spring Garden Market, Spring Oysterfest, and more! (460 views)

📅 Upcoming events

Here is what’s going on today and this weekend in Alexandria, from our event calendar.


Updated at 8:45 p.m. The Alexandria Police Department is investigating the posting of racist fliers in the Potomac Yard neighborhood of the city.

Four fliers were discovered posted in the 2100 block of Potomac Avenue on March 15, according to a resident who provided photos and information to ALXnow.

The resident notified the city of the “graffiti” via Alex311, and the fliers were subsequently removed from a light post and electrical box near Potomac Yard Park.

One of the fliers read in bold letters, “Strong families make strong nations,” a slogan used in fliers attributed to the white nationalist group Patriot Front.

Another flier is more explicit, reading: “Reclaim America: Patriot Front.”

ALXnow received word of more fliers and stickers posted around the area in February and March, and they were taken down by a longtime resident.

The group was formed after the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which found that more than 1,600 fliers attributed to the group have been found in Virginia alone.

APD said that no suspects have been identified, and posting hate speech and fliers is not a crime in Virginia.

According to the Anti-Defamation League:

  • Patriot Front is a white supremacist group whose members maintain that their ancestors conquered America and bequeathed it to them, and no one else.
  • Patriot Front justifies its ideology of hate and intolerance under the guise of preserving the ethnic and cultural origins of its members’ European ancestors.
  • Patriot Front spreads its hateful propaganda via the internet and by distributing banners, fliers, posters, and stickers.
  • Since 2019, Patriot Front has been responsible for the vast majority of white supremacist propaganda distributed in the United States.
  • One of the United States’ most visible white supremacist groups, Patriot Front participates in localized “flash demonstrations” across the nation.
  • While claiming loyalty to America as a nation, Patriot Front seeks to form a new state, one that advocates for the “descendants of its creators,” namely white men.

Alexandria’s Old Town and Del Ray neighborhoods were last peppered with racist fliers in 2017.

Map via Google Maps

The Virginia Tech Innovation Campus, as seen from the Potomac Yard Metro station (staff photo by James Cullum)

Crown Castle Fiber wants to expand its fiber optic cable plans for Potomac Yard.

While Crown Castle Fiber hasn’t been in the headlines as much as rival Ting, it has been positioning itself to take the lead in providing new fiber optic cable for the Virginia Tech campus in Potomac Yard.

A prior agreement back in 2022 let Crown Castle Fiber lay some groundwork in Potomac Yard and the West End. An updated agreement in 2023 allowed Crown Castle to install 400 feet of fiber at 1737 King Street.

Now, Crown Castle wants to add an additional 600-foot conduit and fiber optic cable at 3625 Potomac Avenue for the new Virginia Tech campus. Crown Castle is also filing to build infrastructure there and along Commonwealth Avenue near Lynhaven.

The additional fiber route is scheduled for review at the Saturday, April 13 meeting of the City Council.


It’s not as exciting as the Washington Wizards and Capitals, but Amazon Fresh in the Potomac Yard Shopping Center is still moving forward.

The Washington Business Journal first reported that Amazon is gearing up to open at 3801 Richmond Highway.

A peek through a window at the former Shoppers Food Warehouse reveals a large grocery store with empty shelves and counters. A Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control license application is also posted on the front door showing that the retail giant applied in February to sell gourmet wine and beer.

The Washington Business Journal also found recent permit applications for the installation of refrigeration cases.

Property owner JBG Smith lists the property as a “Future Grocer.” As a policy, Amazon does not comment on its “future store roadmap.”

Amazon Fresh closed earlier this month in Crystal City, ARLnow reported. The store was open for less than two years. The company also abandoned plans to open locations in Columbia Pike and Bailey’s Crossroads after a fourth quarter earnings call in February put a halt to expansion plans.

The Shoppers in Potomac Yard closed at the end of 2019 and Amazon Fresh was announced to go into the space in 2021. It’s located in the northern section of Potomac Yard near the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus and less than two miles from Amazon’s HQ2 development in Crystal City.


The Potomac Yard arena’s demise has been met by mixed emotions from public officials, and even landowner JBG Smith.

Now that the Washington Wizards and Capitals are definitely not coming to Alexandria and will stay in D.C., a proverbial question mark looms over the 12-acre property.

JBG Smith released a scathing message after Alexandria backed out of the deal on March 27, and then lightened up in a recent interview with the Washington Business Journal. Now CEO Matt Kelly says that the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus will be the anchor for the area, and that with Amazon HQ2 nearby in Crystal City, Potomac Yard will become a tech corridor.

Mayor Justin Wilson said that the economic benefits of the arena and entertainment district could have funded a number of city priorities, including a potential reduction of personal property taxes for residents. He wasn’t so optimistic on the future of the property, and called the city leaving the deal  “perhaps the most negative financial event for our schools, public safety and human services in recent history.”

“Regardless of your perspective on the North Potomac Yard proposal, it held the potential to dramatically reshape Alexandria’s economy, easing the burden on our residential taxpayers and enabling expanded investment in critical services to our residents, as well as yielding new land for a school, open space and committed affordable housing,” Wilson wrote in his April newsletter.

The initial agreement was hailed by Republican Governor Glen Youngkin as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and it was vigorously supported by Wilson and Ted Leonsis, the billionaire owner of both teams.

News of the proposal broke on Dec. 13, surprising even D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, who was in the midst of negotiating with Leonsis to keep both teams at the Capital One Arena. Youngkin proudly announced the deal onstage at Potomac Yard, flanked by U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D), Leonsis, Kelly, Stephanie Landrum of the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership and the entire City Council.

But the sudden nature of the deal, as well as a short, three-month public relations campaign by the city and Monumental Sports, had little effect in Richmond. A House of Delegates bill establishing a stadium authority to issue $1.5 billion in taxpayer-funded bonds was stopped in the Senate Appropriations Committee by Sen. Louis Lucas (D-18), and the city left the negotiating table on March 27.

Leonsis has since turned back to D.C., where both teams will likely remain for decades.

The Coalition to Stop the Arena at Potomac Yard loudly protested the project.

“Economic development that benefits all residents of Alexandria and the Commonwealth can only happen with transparent input from the citizens who will be affected,” said Andrew Macdonald, a former Alexandria vice mayor and co-founder of the Coalition. “Backroom deals negotiated in secret and sprung on the citizens at the last minute must not be standard operating procedure in Alexandria or anywhere else ever again.”


Happy Thursday, Alexandria!

⛈️ Today’s weather: Expect isolated showers between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., followed by scattered showers and thunderstorms that could produce small hail. The day should be partly sunny with a high temperature near 57. Tonight, there’s a 30% chance of isolated showers between 8 and 11 p.m., with a low temperature of 39.

🚨 You need to know

Rendering of outdoor plaza at Monumental Arena development (image courtesy of JBG SMITH)

What’s going to happen with the 12-acre property at Potomac Yard since the arena and entertainment district plans evaporated?

In an exclusive interview with the Washington Business Journal, Matt Kelly, the CEO for landowner JBG Smith, said that he doesn’t know exactly what will go into the space now, but that the arena deal highlighted the “attractiveness” of the property, which is next door to the Potomac Yard Metro station.

Kelly’s statements follow a scathing condemnation from the company immediately after the deal officially died.

Kelly said that JBG Smith’s 2020 plans to build six office buildings with ground floor retail on the arena will likely be scrapped due to a dwindling office market. He also said that Virginia Tech’s Innovation Campus and Amazon’s HQ2 in Crystal City will open opportunities for “tech uses” in the space.

The statement contradicts a more dire message from Mayor Justin Wilson, who recently wrote in his April newsletter that the arena failure will likely result in a period of stagnation for the property.

Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson speaks at the announcement of a new arena for the Washington Wizards and Capitals in Potomac Yard in Alexandria, Dec. 13, 2023 (staff photo by James Cullum)

In the wake of Alexandria backing out of the $2 billion Potomac Yard arena deal, Mayor Justin Wilson says that “very little will likely change in North Potomac Yard for quite some time.”

In his April newsletter, Wilson said that last week’s announcement that the city was leaving the negotiating table signaled “perhaps the most negative financial event for our schools, public safety and human services in recent history.”

The implosion of the arena deal marked the end of more than three months of negotiations between Washington Wizards and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, Governor Glenn Youngkin, the Virginia General Assembly and the city. A House of Delegates bill creating a Virginia Stadium Authority to own the arena and issue bonds never got out of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and was never included in the legislature’s budget.

Now, with the city out of the deal, Leonsis is back in D.C. with a deal that will keep his teams playing at the Capital One Arena until at least 2050.

Wilson said that, if property taxes are to be lowered for residents in the future, the city needs to look elsewhere for large-scale developments.

“Regardless of your perspective on the North Potomac Yard proposal, it held the potential to dramatically reshape Alexandria’s economy, easing the burden on our residential taxpayers and enabling expanded investment in critical services to our residents, as well as yielding new land for a school, open space and committed affordable housing,” Wilson wrote.

Wilson’s full message is below:

Read More

Matt Kelly, CEO of JBG Smith, speaks at the announcement of a new arena for the Washington Wizards and Capitals in Potomac Yard in Alexandria, Dec. 13, 2023 (staff photo by James Cullum)

While there’s no shortage of finger-pointing in the aftermath of the collapsed Potomac Yard arena deal, one that flew a little under the radar in the news yesterday was developer JBG Smith laying the blame squarely on a conspiracy involving the Fairfax casino project.

The statement from JBG Smith was noted by the Washington Business Journal as being unusually blunt.

The first accusation is that the project was derailed by “partisan politics and, most troubling, the influence of special interests and potential pay-to-play influences within the Virginia legislature.”

JBG Smith elaborates on the other two later in the release, but the first one is likely a shot at Virginia State Sen. Louise Lucas. While the arena project made it through the House of Delegates mostly unscathed, Lucas used her position as chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee to keep the project out of the State Senate’s budget discussions.

Lucas said her opposition was primarily around the deal financing. While no upfront state taxpayer dollars would go to the project, new tax revenue from the project would have been diverted to pay down the bonds.

JBG Smith said the proposal was denied “a fair hearing” by never going to the Senate floor.

“Despite our best efforts, this project was unable to get a fair hearing on its merits with the Virginia Senate,” JBG Smith said.

Though the release stops just short of naming developer Comstock, JBG Smith pointed fingers at the “special interests” behind the Tysons casino deal.

It is now clear that our efforts may have been complicated and ultimately blocked, in part, by special interests seeking to move the Monumental arena to Tysons Corner and to combine it with a casino. The Washington Post and other outlets have reported on this scheme and the hundreds of thousands of dollars, enormous sums in Virginia politics, of political contributions associated with it – a large portion of which were directed to key senate leaders.  When one follows the money, the implications are deeply troubling for Virginia and for the future of transparency in economic development pursuits, especially those that seek certainty through the now damaged MEI legislative process.

The Washington Post reported that a group had formed to shift the arena to Tysons rather than Alexandria. The post reported that Christopher Clemente, chief executive of Comstock — the developer behind the casino project in Fairfax — had been pitching a casino-arena deal with Fairfax political consultant Ben Tribbett and Senate Majority Leader Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax).

One item of concern raised in the Washington Post story is that Tribbett, part of the casino group, also advised Lucas. Tribbett told the Washington Post that consulting for multiple parties involved in the arena debate was “politics.”

The proposal was apparently immediately shot down by Youngkin and Monumental Sports and Entertainment, with Monumental owner Ted Leonsis apparently voicing “disgust” at perceived pressure to link the arena to the casino. Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson also expressed disappointment at the backroom dealing.

The Alexandria Economic Development Partnership, a city-funded organization that aims to bolster Alexandria’s economy, also hired lobbyists to advocate for the project in Richmond.

While JBG Smith accused inter-developer sabotage of killing the deal, the project also faced a host of other issues, from concerns over the financing plan to uncertainty about transportation to the arena development.

The full release from JBG Smith is below the jump:

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