Alexandria, VA

Updated 1 p.m. — The Dominion Energy outage map shows the situation at Potomac Yard has been resolved

Earlier: Dominion Energy is reporting a large power outage enveloping Potomac Yard and crossing into the Del Ray and Braddock neighborhoods, leaving 3,570 customers without power.

According to the outage map, crews have been dispatched to the scene but power restoration could be anywhere between 12-5 p.m. The cause of the outage is currently unknown, though there are also power outages throughout the area after last night’s storms.

Some Alexandrians on Twitter said they experienced periodic power outages throughout the morning, waking up with reset clocks or fridges full of spoiling food.

Map via Dominion Energy

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Morning Notes

Large Income Disparities in Alexandria — “White Alexandria is pulling in significantly more money than Hispanic workers and African Americans, according to numbers from the United States Census Bureau. A look at average income shows non-Hispanic whites make more than $85,000 a year. That’s more than three times the average income for Hispanic workers, $24,000, and more than twice the average income for black workers, $37,000.” [Gazette]

Water Taxi Returns to Old Town — “A face mask requirement and other safety measures are in place for the limited water taxi service.” [Patch]

Lee-Fendall House Museum & Garden Hosting Juneteenth Trivia Night — “It’s long been on our calendar to celebrate Juneteenth – marking the legal end of slavery in the United States on June 19th, 1865 – with a trivia night that explores African American culture. We hope you’ll join us on Zoom this Friday night for this special evening! Tickets are FREE, but an optional donation will be split between us, Carlyle House Historic Park, and ALIVE. Pre-registration at our Eventbrite page is required.” [Facebook]

NVTA Recommends Full Funding for Duke Street Transitway — “The Duke Street Transitway was the City of Alexandria’s only request to the NVTA and the cost is estimated at $87 million. Alexandria received $12 million already, so this funding request is for the remaining $75 million.” [Alexandria Living]

North Potomac Yard Virtual Meeting at 7 p.m. — “The Virginia Tech Foundation and JBG SMITH is hosting virtual community meetings to provide information on the design of the proposed buildings and site-wide updates.” [City of Alexandria]

Casa Chirilagua Hosting Fundraiser Sunday — “Casa Chirilagua is a local community nonprofit serving the Central American Latinx community in City of Alexandria zip code 22305 – a hot spot for COVID-19. Because of the health and economic conditions, demand for Casa Chirilagua’s services has become enormous.” [Facebook]

‘Ascend Cycle’ Hosting Virtual Pride Ride — “A $15 minimum donation is requested for this event. 100% of proceeds will be donated. Sign up for the ride online and we’ll text you the Zoom code before class!” [Facebook]

YMCA Reopens in Del Ray — “Your local YMCA at 420 East Monroe Avenue is back in business. It opened for the first time in months this past Monday, June 15, along with the Arlington location. The Y is following a phased approach to reopening so you will see differences when you visit.” [Zebra]

New Job: Assistant Center Manager — “Mathnasium is a highly dynamic and fast-paced and is known for the great care we take with our students and employees alike… We’re looking for an Assistant Center Manager to assist at both our Alexandria City and Mount Vernon centers. The pay range we’re offering is $16-$18/hour depending on center performance.” [Indeed]

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The City of Alexandria has agreed on a 15-year lease for a Mark Center office owned by the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA), the nonprofit announced today. The lease, which was signed on May 26, will go in effect when the city’s Department of Community and Human Services and Health Department moves into the property at 4850 Mark Center Drive in February 2023.

The city has an option to buy the property and are interested in exploring that option, city spokesman Craig Fifer told ALXnow.

IDA will move out of the property, which it has called home for nearly four decades, and into its new 370,000-square-foot headquarters at Potomac Yard in February 2022, according to a press release. The new facility will be blocks away from the new Potomac Yard Metro station and next door to the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus.

“This is a key milestone in our progress toward Potomac Yard occupancy and continued advancement of our work for our sponsors,” said IDA President and CEO Norton A. Schwartz in a statement. “Eight years ago, we committed to moving into a new building in Potomac Yard equipped with the latest technology and security requirements to better support our growing organization.”

IDA has the mission to “answer the most challenging U.S. security and science policy questions with objective analysis leveraging extraordinary scientific, technical, and analytic expertise,” according to its website.

The deal has been in the works since at least 2018. According to a city memo, it will cost approximately $1.9 million in annual building operating expenses and the city would need nearly $14 million in “upfront tenant fit-out costs.”

Courtesy photo

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Alexandria had quite a week, and it’s time to look back as it comes to a close.

In addition to moving into the second phase of its economic recovery, there were a number of important events of interest, including the city council’s passage of an ordinance prohibiting firearms on city property, approved the creation of a police review boardcontinued expressions of support for the black community in the wake of the George Floyd Murder, and a renewed effort to rename T.C. Williams High School.

Here are the top 11 most-read articles this week in Alexandria.

  1. BREAKING: Barricade Situation, Suspect Firing on Police on Main Line Boulevard
  2. What Changes When Alexandria Moves Into Phase 2 of Reopening
  3. T.C. Williams High School Renaming Question Resurfaces in Alexandria
  4. Man Wounded in Late Night Old Town Shooting, No Arrests
  5. Photos: Vigils and Protests Against Police Brutality Held in Alexandria
  6. Protests and Vigils for Racial Justice Planned in Alexandria
  7. Old Town Property Once Owned by George Washington For Sale at $4.1 Million
  8. Mayor: Alexandria Could Move into Phase 2 of Reopening Next Week
  9. Morning Notes
  10. Goodies Frozen Custard & Treats Plans to Open Late This Summer in Old Town
  11. Just In: Alexandria Tow Truck Driver Killed on I-495

Feel free to discuss those or other topics in the comments. Have a safe weekend!

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Morning Notes

Regal Potomac Yard Movie Theater Closed for Good — “Regal Cinemas has scrubbed the 16-theater multiplex at 3575 Potomac Ave. from its list of Virginia locations on its website. Couple that with the fact Virginia Tech and JBG Smith Properties (NYSE: JBGS) plan to redevelop the North Potomac Yard site on an accelerated timeline, it’s likely the theater showed its last film months ago — when Disney’s “Onward” was No. 1 at the box office.” [Washington Business Journal]

Governor Releases ‘Forward Virginia’ Phase Two Guidelines — “Most of the state will enter phase two on Friday, June 5. Northern Virginia, including the City of Alexandria and Fairfax County, might enter about a week later — but only if local coronavirus and health metrics indicate it is safe to do so. The governor has not given Northern Virginia a projected date for entering the second phase.” [Alexandria Living]

Group Raises Thousands for Alexandria Families — “We are helping more than 30 families every week with food, toiletries, cleaning supplies, and baby supplies during the COVID 19 pandemic.  Many of these families are unemployed and not eligible for benefits.” [GoFundMe]

Virtual Job Fair Today — “The city of Alexandria Workforce Development Center is hosting a free “Meet the Employer” event tomorrow! Learn more about immediate employment opportunities in Virginia.” [Facebook]

Food Drive Replaces First Thursday in Del Ray — “On Thursday, June 4 (by 4 p.m.), plastic tubs or boxes will be placed on Mount Vernon Avenue at the intersection of all streets from Hume to Braddock; in front of the Mount Vernon Recreation Center; and at the intersection of Commonwealth Avenue and the following streets: Braddock, Monroe, Alexandria Ave., Windsor, Del Ray, and Ashby. Items will be picked up by 7:30 p.m.” [Facebook]

Teens Plan Peace Walk for Saturday — “The public is invited to the Alexandria Peace Walk and encouraged to wear blue, the color for peace. Walkers are asked to bring posters, wear masks and stay six feet apart for the walk, cha-cha slide, and prayer.” [Zebra]

Hyatt Centric Old Town Welcomes Back Customers With Video — “We at the Hyatt Centric Old Town Alexandria are ready to welcome you back with the highest safety and cleaning procedures for your peace of mind when you travel.” [Youtube]

New Job: Shopkeeper Apprentice at Ice Cream Shop — “Shopkeeper Apprentices are full-time employees sharing the same responsibilities as the Shopkeeper including accounting, scheduling, inventory/ordering, and all HR functions (hiring, training, development, and performance management of all team members).” [Indeed]

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When construction on the $1 billion Virginia Tech Innovation Campus is completed, it will be a mostly walkable campus with underground parking and significant open space, according to a presentation Tuesday by the Virginia Tech Foundation and developer JBG SMITH.

The first phase of development will occur at the current location of the Regal Potomac Yard movie theatre, which is closed due to the pandemic. It is unknown if it will open again before construction begins.

The developers unveiled plans for the first phase of development, which includes the construction of a 9-10 story structure will be located along E. Reed Avenue, Potomac Avenue and a campus green space. The building, as well as the other Virginia Tech buildings, will be built to reach LEED Silver certification and the areas immediately around it will include lawns and walking paths.

There will also be a slope of less than 5%, meaning that there will be no steps or handrails on the campus.

“The overall illustrative plan shows the project’s contiguous an interconnected network of open spaces that stretch between Potomac Avenue and George Washington Memorial Parkway,” said Simon Beer, a landscape architect with design firm OJB. “All of the design of these spaces at this point are conceptual in nature, as we present them today. Our team is going to continue to work with the city with you and with each individual building’s architect as we continue the process.”

The open spaces include Potomac Yard Park, a Metro plaza, a market lawn and a pedestrian plaza. Virginia Tech will take up four acres of the northern end near the Alexandria border with Arlington, and the underground parking will be available once the buildings are finished.

The development will also see the construction of three academic buildings dedicated to computer science research and development programs. The permanent campus is currently planned to be operational by fall 2024, and will accommodate 750 computer science master’s degree students per year and more than 100 doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows.

The city will undergo the approval process for the project’s preliminary infrastructure plan this June, in addition to an approval for a pump station to handle sanitary sewer flows from the proposed project and other off-site properties so that construction can begin in the fall.

Images via JBG SMITH

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Morning Notes

City Helps World Central Kitchen Give Out 1,250 Meals — “On May 14, City staff and volunteers distributed 1,250 hot meals to 350 families in the third food distribution organized in Alexandria by World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit food distribution organization founded by chef José Andrés. Local nonprofit ALIVE! also distributed 800 pounds of food at the event. This food distribution will take place again at Casa Chirilagua on May 21 and Ramsay Elementary School on May 28.” [City of Alexandria]

10,000 Maniacs Show at The Birchmere Rescheduled to November — “his show has been RESCHEDULED AGAIN, now for Friday November 20, 2020! All 3/20/20 & 5/31/20 tickets will be honored on the new date. Refunds available through Ticketmaster if you cannot attend the new date. If you purchased at The Birchmere Box Office, please hold on to your tickets until we reopen. Tickets for 11/20/20 on sale now!” [Birchmere]

Old Town Books Raising Funds to Stay Afloat — “I never thought I would be turning to crowd funding to keep the store open. This fundraiser is to cover payroll, rent, and fixed costs during the shut down. It will keep the store open through the next very uncertain year while we adapt our business model to continue operating through the COVID-19 outbreak. I want Old Town Books to be here when the clouds part, and I hope you do, too.” [GoFundMe]

Here’s the Latest from the Old Town Boutique District — “The Old Town Boutique District kindly asks for you to continue to hold hands with us and support us little guys any way that you can. We love our loyal shop local community and we still need you.” [OTBD]

Tall Ship Providence Hosting Virtual Tours on Tuesdays — “Every week, historic re-enactors talk about Providence, life aboard the ship and much more in a series of videos, online discussion and other virtual features.” [Alexandria Living]

North Potomac Yard Virtual Community Meeting at 7 p.m. — “The Virginia Tech Foundation and JBG SMITH will host a virtual community meeting to provide information regarding transportation, open space, sustainability and community benefits.” [City of Alexandria]

Sixth Grader Leaves Colorful Rocks in Neighborhood — “Sophie Richardson, a 6th grade student at St. Stephens/St. Agnes School, is brightening up the Vauxcleuse neighborhood near Inova Alexandria Hospital with rocks painted with uplifting messages for her neighbors to find.” [Gazette]

Virtue Feed and Grain Donates Meals to D.C. Nonprofit — “We are grateful for the partnership & hope to continue giving back to our community.” [Facebook]

Pedego Electric Bikes Gets Colorful Shipment of Helmets — “We just received a shipment of new Thousand helmets! Refilling some favorites and adding a few new awesome colors. Come and get them while they last!” [Facebook]

The Art League is Offering Online Courses — “Check out our new online classes to help keep you connected to each other and your creativity. Connect to online classes using Zoom, a video-conferencing platform that is simple and easy to use. And stay in touch with your classmates and teacher with Google classroom.” [Art League]

New Job: Alexandria Health Department Communications Officer — “The AHD Communications Officer is a key member of AHD’s Population Health team comprised of the Population Health Manager, Health Planner, and HIV/AIDS Prevention Coordinator. The Communications Officer reports directly to the Population Health Manager, is AHD’s principal communications subject matter expert, and provides oversight of AHD’s internal and external communications.” [Indeed]

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A planned senior care facility called The Landing in Potomac Yard is returning to the city for approval of some changes to reflect new city guidelines.

Silverstone Healthcare Co. is applying to the City of Alexandria to increase the size of a project at 2602 Main Line Blvd., originally approved in 2018, from 150 units up to 190 units in one building but with an overall decrease in units.

The plan had been to build two buildings with 336 units, but changes in the designs and in local ordinances have led to a series of changes to that plan to make some of the spaces more flexible, leaving the project with a new total of 313 units.

“Since the original approvals, the applicant has refined the unit mix for Building 1 to replace the assisted living units on the 7th through 9th floors with 40 independent living units that can be converted back and forth to assisted living units,” Silverstone Health Co. said in the application. “89 assisted living units and 34 memory care units will continue to be provided on the 2nd through 6th floors and will remain assisted living units. The Applicant will be commencing the construction of Building 1 in the near future. The Applicant is now requesting an increase in the number of independent living units within the project to maintain the units originally contemplated and approved for Building 2 and allow the final site plan and building permits to proceed for that building.”

After the initial approval of the project. Alexandria changed a zoning definition from “home for the elderly” to “continuum of care facility” and the new application reflects a similar revision in the project.

Concept rendering via Silverstone Senior Living

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There are now 1,193 cases of COVID-19 in Alexandria, an increase of 51 new or probable case since yesterday.

No new deaths have been announced and there have been 30 fatalities due to the virus in the city. Additionally, the city’s Hispanic population now leads with positive cases at 515 and four reported deaths.

The most recent fatality was a woman in her 70s, whose death was announced yesterday by the Virginia Department of Health.

There are nearly 400 new or probable cases in the city in the month of May alone. VDH also reported that there are 139 COVID-19-related hospitalizations in Alexandria.

Meanwhile, Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson and other regional leaders are asking Governor Ralph Northam to stall his phased reopening of the economy in Northern Virginia. It is not clear how many people have recovered from the virus, and an accurate count on the number of cases is difficult to maintain in Alexandria since the highest infection rates are in the city’s poorest areas.

For the second straight day, the area of the city with the leading number of cases is in the 22305 ZIP code, with 20 new cases since yesterday. The ZIP code, which includes the Arlandria, Potomac Yard and Potomac West neighborhoods, now has the largest number of reported cases at 360, with an estimated population of 16,095 residents.

There were also only 27 news test results from 22305 since yesterday, and local groups are demanding that Virginia Governor Ralph Northam authorize supplying 10,000 testing kits to the Arlandria area, and providing housing for poor COVID-positive patients living in jam-packed housing.

The ZIP code with the second highest number of infections is 22304, with 14 new cases since yesterday. That area, which includes Landmark, the Duke Street corridor and the Cameron Station community now has 341 cases out of an estimated population of 54,003, and has 14 new cases with 59 new test results.

People under the age of 50 have been getting infected at a steady rate, while there were relatively few numbers of new cases for residents above the age of 70. A large percentage of deaths have occurred at long-term care facilities, and there has been one death of a person in their 20s. There have been 13 reported deaths of residents in their 80s.

There are now reportedly 618 females with the virus (with 16 deaths and 65 hospitalizations) and 572 males (with 14 deaths and 74 hospitalizations) who tested positive for COVID-19 in the city. The sex of three cases was not reported.

The age breakdown of deaths and new cases:

  • 80+     — 13 Deaths, 47 cases, 19 hospitalizations (Two new cases)
  • 70-79 — Eight deaths, 70 cases, 28 hospitalizations (Three new cases)
  • 60-69 — One death, 103 cases, 21 hospitalizations (Five new cases, one new hospitalization)
  • 50-59 — Seven deaths, 149 cases, 27 hospitalizations (Two new cases)
  • 40-49 — Zero deaths, 238 cases, 20 hospitalizations (Seven new cases)
  • 30-39 — Zero deaths, 279 cases, 17 hospitalizations (10 new cases)
  • 20-29 — One death, 171 cases, four hospitalizations (11 new cases)
  • 10-19  — Zero deaths, 74 cases, one hospitalization (nine new cases, one new hospitalization)
  • 0-9     — Zero deaths, 45 cases, two hospitalizations (Two new cases)

Statewide, there have been 839 reported deaths, which is an increase of 12 deaths since yesterday, and 813 of those deaths are confirmed to have been COVID-19-related, according to VDH. There are now 24,081 cases (22,962 confirmed, 1,119 probable) and 3,211 hospitalizations (including 21 probable cases). Additionally, 157,957 tests have been administered in Virginia.

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The Potomac Yard development process is moving forward, with the in-person meetings now switched to virtual sessions with the city hosting a second town hall planned tomorrow (Wednesday).

At a meeting Wednesday from 7-8:30 p.m., the Virginia Tech Foundation and JBG SMITH are scheduled to give a public update on the project and describe plans for the southern group of buildings. Those are the office and residential buildings closest to the Potomac Yard Metro station.

The public can join the meeting at 7 p.m. and submit questions or comments to [email protected]

Designs for buildings in Potomac Yard have been trickling out over the last few weeks as designs for the new district near the Potomac Yard Metro station is finalized.

Further developments about the project, including the Coordinated Development District plan and the infrastructure site plan, are planned to go to a city council public hearing in June.

Rendering via City of Alexandria

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There will be no tax increase on the city manager’s proposed fiscal year 2021 budget, as the City Council swept through its budget public hearing on Saturday, paving the way for approval next Wednesday, April 29.

Council also unanimously approved the plan for the construction of the southern access to the Potomac Yard Metro station. The access will be a bridge that connects to the northern entrance, and will open at the same time as the station in March 2022.

The remote meeting took an hour and a half, and had only a handful of public speakers tuning in on Zoom.

In February, the Council approved a 2.5 cent real estate tax ceiling, giving themselves some wiggle room for the addition of services and other budget additions. That was an increase from the City Manager Mark Jinks’ initial 2 cent tax increase proposal, but the coronavirus pandemic has since wiped out those plans.

Instead, Jinks released a substantially cut-back $753.3 million fiscal year 2021 operating budget, and on Saturday the Council bypassed its traditional add/delete process without any recommendations. In other words, council members did not add anything to the budget or make additional cuts — a timely process that requires staff to reconfigure the budget proposal before another council review.

“The city manager did revise his budget proposal, and removed his proposed 2 cent tax increase,” Mayor Justin Wilson said in the meeting. “Certainly Council, when we adopt our budget on April 29 could adopt a 2-and-a-half cent increase, which is the level we gave ourselves. We have now completed the add/delete process and there were no proposals for any changes in the proposed budget.”

The budget is 5.8% lower than the $800 million operating budget Jinks proposed before the COVID-19 pandemic, and includes $46.6 million in cuts to the operating budget and $140.6 million in the capital budget. It closes a nearly $100 million shortfall by implementing a city staff hiring freeze, and holding off on a number of capital projects.

Jinks also proposes reducing the transfer to the Alexandria City Public Schools system by $7 million, equating to a 2% staff bonus, merit step increases and a 1.5% decrease in the employee contribution to the ACPS supplemental retirement plan. The proposed Capital Improvement Project budget has been sharply reduced from $2.1 billion, and while the T.C. expansion at the Minnie Howard campus is delayed, the in-progress plans to renovate MacArthur Elementary School will proceed.

Staff photo by James Cullum

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While city business has mostly been limited to pandemic related emergencies, the Alexandria City Council is moving forward with time-sensitive decisions about southwest access to the new Potomac Yard Metro station.

Southern access to Potomac Yard was a selling point for businesses and organizations moving into the parts of that area, but was cut back to save money on the project. The new plan does not include the full southern entrance as originally envisioned, and instead replaces it with a bridge that connects to the northern entrance.

Staff told council that it’s a solution staff said will fit within the project budget.

“Today, we are also letting council and the mayor know that the total cost will be covered within the $50 million of state funding along with the credit from the original ramp,” Daphne Kott, a project manager in the Department of Project Implementation, told council on Tuesday night. “[It] will be completed within the construction duration of the overall station.”

There was debate between the city and Metro contractors that a southern access could be built within the $50 million in funding provided by the state, and late last month both parties agreed the project could be accomplished under that amount.

The city’s plan for southwest access is docketed for a public hearing on Saturday, April 18.

Image via City of Alexandria

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