Alexandria, VA

New York-based multinational investment firm JPMorgan Chase & Co. has taken over financial management of the massive Potomac Yard redevelopment from Texas-based Lionstone Investments.

But even though the Washington Business Journal broke the story on Feb. 11, sources familiar with the 20-acre project say that the transition was made more than a year ago and will have no impact on development, which includes Virginia Tech’s $1 billion Innovation Campus that is slated for completion in 2024.

“Not sure why the article is coming out now as the change happened over a year ago and has had no impact on the project,” Cathy Puskar, an attorney with property developer JBG Smith, told ALXnow. “…(E)verything proceeded on time and according to plan.”

JBG Smith and JPMorgan Chase broke ground on the Virginia Tech development last month with the demolition of the Regal Potomac Yard movie theater.

Representatives from Lionstone and JPMorgan Chase could not be reached for comment.

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Morning Notes

Carjacking at Gunpoint Near Potomac Yard — “The Alexandria Police Dept. is investigating a carjacking in the 400 block of Calvert Ave. It happened just before 5pm. Victim’s vehicle stolen at gunpoint. No injuries were reported. Expect police activity in the area.” [Twitter]

Port City Brewing Co. Turns 10 — “We can’t celebrate 10 years of PCBC w/ a big in-person event so we’ve put together a Virtual Event to celebrate 10 years. The Anniversary video includes a message from our Founder, a Tasting Room update, 2021 beers, & a Colossal X tasting w/ a brewer!” [Twitter]

Dozens of Trees Planted at Four Mile Run Park — “55 trees were installed along the eastern edge of Four Mile Run Park. At maturity, the tree buffer will improve sightlines, expand habitat fauna, and create shady areas for park and trail users to enjoy. We look forward to seeing this project continue to grow!” [Twitter]

Snow Sculpture in Oronoco Bay Park Honors Disappeared Duck — “Thus, when the snow came down in Alexandria Monday, February 1, Robert decided to pay homage to Lex by sculpting the Snow Duck, which he named Lex Jr.” [Zebra]

Today’s Weather — “Sunshine and some clouds (during the day). High 38F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph… Partly cloudy skies during the evening will give way to cloudy skies overnight. Low 28F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Tennis Instructor — ” We are looking for positive coaches with communicative, motivated, life-experienced/educated, and relevant qualifications. We value diversity. Your work here is both independent and team collaborative. You will be a key valued team member.” [Indeed]

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What a news-filled week in Alexandria.

Things got off to a snowy start on Monday and Tuesday, as the city was under a winter weather advisory.

Our top post was a poll regarding the proposed Heritage Development in Old Town. Nearly 1,500 people voted, and 52% don’t have a problem with it. The development was approved unanimously by the Planning Commission and now goes to City Council for consideration.

One of the most important stories of the week was the decision announced Thursday to resume in-person classes at Alexandria City Public Schools on March 16.

On the coronavirus front, there has been an additional death since Monday’s weekly COVID-19 update. The death toll from the virus now stands at 105, and the number of cases is 9,630. That’s more than 500 cases since Monday. The city’s seven-day moving average is now at 41.1 cases, which is down 14 cases since Monday. Additionally, there are more than 30,000 city residents on the waiting list to get the vaccine.

This week, Alexandria Police mourned the loss of parking enforcement officer Edward Bonds to COVID-19. This is the department’s first death due to complications from the virus.

In case you missed them, here are some important stories from the week:

  1. Alexandria Boxer Troy Isley Goes Pro With Big Fight Next Week
  2. Psychologist Lauren Fisher Elected Del Ray Business Association President
  3. Overhaul of Eisenhower Baseball Field Up to Bat at Planning Commission
  4. From Layoff to Liquorice: West End Business Owner Creates Candy Store Amid Pandemic
  5. Just In: James Lewis Files Paperwork to Enter City Council Race

Here are our top stories this week in Alexandria:

  1. Poll: What Do You Think of the Proposed Heritage Development in Old Town
  2. New West End Residential Development Headed to Planning Commission
  3. Heritage Project Now Goes to City Council After Unanimous Planning Commission Approval
  4. BREAKING: Councilman Mo Seifeldein Running for Alexandria Mayor, Hatch Act Conflict in Question
  5. Poll: Should the City’s Taylor Run Stream Restoration Project Go Forward?
  6. Revamped ‘ESP’ on King Street Ditches Old Ownership and Controversies
  7. Stream Restoration in Alexandria Attracts a Deluge of Controversy
  8. ACPS: Community is Generally Opposed to Affordable Housing at T.C. Expansion
  9. Just In: ‘QAnon Shaman’ from Capitol Siege Transferred to Alexandria Jail
  10. Weather Alert: Up to Eight Inches of Snow Expected in Alexandria
  11. Photos: The Regal Potomac Yard Movie Theater is Being Torn Down

Have a safe weekend!

Image via City of Alexandria

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It was a cold and news-filled week in Alexandria.

It all started with the report of two public safety incidents over the weekend — a serious car crash in Old Town and another shooting in the West End.

On the coronavirus front, Alexandria is now at 104 fatalities and 9,342 cases. Mayor Justin Wilson said that there is a vaccine shortage in the city, as the waitlist to get inoculated is at more than 25,000. The Alexandria Health Department reported to the Alexandria Times that about 2,000 doses are being distributed weekly.

Our top story this week was on the body that was found last Friday in the water at Holmes Run Trail by Cameron Run Regional Park. In an update, police told us that the death was not suspicious in nature.

Additionally, 630 people responded to our weekly poll. This week, we asked about the proposed Heritage development in Old Town. About 67% of respondents don’t think it’s appropriate for the neighborhood and 33% don’t have a problem with it.

In case you missed it, here are some important stories:

  1. New Flood Warning Signs Installed in Del Ray
  2. Initial and Continued Unemployment Claims Go Down in Alexandria
  3. Despite COVID-19 Contractor Impacts, Potomac Yard Metro Station on Track for Spring 2022 Opening
  4. City Council Accepts Plan to Double Stormwater Utility Fees
  5. Victory Center’s Condominium Redevelopment Headed to Planning Commission

Here are our top stories of the week:

  1. BREAKING: Body Found in the Water Near Cameron Station
  2. Photos: The Regal Potomac Yard Movie Theater is Being Torn Down
  3. Citizens Group Vilifies Heritage High Rise Project in Old Town
  4. Atlantis Pizzeria and Family Restaurant Closing on Jan. 24
  5. Alexandrians with Joe Biden Yard Signs Get Anonymous Letters Saying Biden is a Pedophile
  6. Police: Shots Fired in West End, Car Crash in Old Town Over Weekend
  7. Snow in Alexandria: Winter Weather Advisory in Effect Until 9 A.M. Tuesday
  8. BREAKING: Woman Gets Arm Amputated, Police Investigate if She Was Thrown From Car in West End
  9. Local Business in Hot Water with City Architects After Unauthorized Paint Job
  10. Alexandria Mayor Formally Requests Dominion Energy Step Their Game Up
  11. JUST IN: ACPS Announces No In-Person Schooling For Week of Feb. 1

Have a safe weekend!

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Alexandria is on schedule to see the Potomac Yard Metro station open in spring 2022, despite letters sent to the city from the contractor that work has been impacted by COVID-19.

“The contractor does continue to submit letters stating that there have been some impacts due to COVID-19,” Daphne Kott, the city’s Design Division Chief, reported to City Council on Tuesday night. “They have not made any formal requests for any time extensions, but again these are letters with potential delays and we’re just trying to be transparent that these are occurring.”

Contractors will be erecting the pedestrian bridge span over the WMATA tracks over the President’s Day weekend, during which time Metro access between the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport station and Braddock Road station will be shut down on the blue and yellow lines from Friday, Feb. 12 until Tuesday Feb. 16.

“It’s just been really great to see, even with the weather in the middle of pandemic, that we’ve still been able to move along and stay on schedule,” Councilman Canek Aguirre said. “Knock on wood, and we’re targeting spring 2022.”

Image via City of Alexandria

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The first phase of Virginia Tech’s massive Innovation Campus development is underway with the demolition of the Regal Potomac Yard movie theater, which closed in March due to the pandemic and never reopened.

The one-story theater first opened in 1998, and “is an example of a typical multi-screen movie theater built during the late 1990’s throughout the region,” according to a city staff report.

In its place will go a pump station that will handle sanitary sewer flows for Virginia Tech’s Sewer to Wastewater Energy Exchange system for the 1.9 million square-foot mixed use development. The pump station will be owned and maintained by AlexRenew.

Demolition of the theater started more than a week ago. A construction worker at the site said that the front section of the theater, which included the box office and concession stands, will likely be torn down by the end of the week.

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What a week in Alexandria.

With the region still reeling from the Jan. 6 siege on the U.S. Capitol, Alexandria Police are mobilized and prepared to respond to security threats in the run up to the inauguration in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 20. At this time it is not likely that a 6 p.m. curfew will be imposed on the city.

On the coronavirus front, the death toll in Alexandria now stands at 94, and the number of cases is 8,448 as of today, according to the Virginia Department of Health. This week, Governor Ralph Northam expanded eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine for anyone 65 years of age and older, in addition to anyone 16 and older with preexisting conditions.

Northam was in town on Tuesday in a vaccination event for Alexandria City Public Schools staff, and many called the event a turning point against the virus.

ACPS also postponed its partial reopening on Jan. 19 due to the virus, and School Board member Margaret Lorber took heat from the community (and later apologized) for supporting a cautious reopening by asking in a board meeting whether parents wanted their children alive or educated.

There was also a COVID-19 outbreak at the office of the Alexandria Clerk of the Court, leaving just four out of 22 employees working at the office.

Below are our top stories of the week in Alexandria:

  1. Alexandria Police Ask ATF to Help Stem 49% Surge in Gunfire Incidents
  2. American Physical Therapy Association to Open Next Week at Potomac Yard
  3. Alexandrians with Joe Biden Yard Signs Get Anonymous Letters Saying Biden is a Pedophile
  4. St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub Opens in North Old Town
  5. St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School Submits Plans for New Expansion
  6. Superintendent Says Reopening Plan Uncertain, School Board Member Lorber Takes Fire for Comments
  7. New Boarding House Planned Over Old Town Barber Shop
  8. Police Investigating Carjacking and Shooting
  9. Alexandria City Councilman Seifeldein Calls for Closure of Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center
  10. Alexandria Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker Announces Candidacy for 45th District Seat
  11. “Lipstick on a Pig” Heritage Development in Old Town Headed to Planning Commission

Have a safe weekend!

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(Updated 4:50 p.m.) The American Physical Therapy Association‘s (APTA) move to Potomac Yard is scheduled to be completed next week with a ribbon-cutting and grand opening.

The new headquarters at 3030 Potomac Avenue has been in the works since 2018 and was one of the early moves to relocate closer to the Potomac Yard Metro station. The ribbon cutting is scheduled — virtually — for Friday, Jan. 15 at 9:30-10:30 a.m and can be viewed on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

The APTA represents 100,0000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants and students, according to their website. The planned APTA opening was one of the bright spots for local business leaders to look forward to amid a difficult year.

The move isn’t too far from their old headquarters in Old Town, at 1111 N. Fairfax Street, which developers are now planning to convert into a mixed-use development.

Photo via APTA/Facebook

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Morning Notes

Virginia Tech Initials Officially Added to Potomac Yard — “The Metro board on Thursday unanimously approved a plan to add Virginia Tech’s initials to the future Potomac Yard station and remove the University of Virginia’s initials from the West Falls Church station.” [Washington Business Journal]

City Advises Preparation for Wednesday Winter Storm — “While Wednesday’s winter storm forecast evolves, we encourage you to make time now to ensure you & your family are prepared.” [Twitter]

Mitigation Mandates Go Into Effect — “Effective today, new statewide mitigation mandates include a stay-home order between midnight and 5 a.m., with some exceptions.” [Virginia.gov]

Washington Post Profiles Zero-Waste Old Town Store — “Enter Mason & Greens, the Washington region’s first zero-waste store. The couple flung open the shop’s French doors in Old Town Alexandria in March, just as the coronavirus was exploding across the country.” [Washington Post]

ACPS Superintendent Fields Questions About Reopening — “ACPS has decided to use “concurrent teaching” when in-person learning starts in late January. Watch this video to learn more.” [Twitter]

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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While a poll showed most ALXnow readers don’t need convincing, Virginia Tech is still pulling out all the stops as it works to get its name added to the Potomac Yard Metro station.

Virginia Tech is in the process of creating Innovation Campus, a new 1 million-square-foot campus at the northern end of Potomac Yard planned to have planned to have around 750 students by the time its completed in ten years. The school has pushed to have the nearby Metro station named “Potomac Yard — VT” to highlight the campus.

Adding Virginia Tech to the primary part of the station name was approved by the City Council and is currently pending review by WMATA.

David Baker, assistant director of Government and Community Relations at Virginia Tech, spoke with ALXnow about the proposal to add VT to the station’s name.

ALXnow: What would you say about the name to those who might be wary of adding Virginia Tech’s initials to the Metro station in the way they might be concerned about adding a corporation’s name?

Baker: As you may know, Metro doesn’t allow corporate entities. What they do allow is universities to have their names included on Metro stations. There are ten universities across the region included on the Metro map.

Our new campus will be less than half a mile — less than a quarter of a mile — from the station. It will be our flagship campus on Northern Virginia. Our obligation to the commonwealth is that we graduate 750 masters students annually

For us to do that, ti’s going to take thousands of students in the pipeline. This is not some sideshow satellite campus, this is a big deal. The state has invested substantial money into this project. It was a key driver for Amazon’s decision, but it’s also a symbol of how the District, Maryland and Virginia came together for the first time to pursue one of these huge economic windfall opportunities. The Innovation Campus is a core component of that.

We’re hearing from leaders that it’s access to talent that’s going to attract the next Amazon.

ALXnow: What about the concern about wanting some permanence for the name? After all, Metro is also now having to remove UVA’s name from the West Falls Church Metro station.

Baker: Virginia Tech has actually bought out UVAs. We are simultaneously going through a process called PPEA with Hick Construction to build a large new facility at the West Falls Church Metro station, focused on smart construction and architecture.

Virginia Tech is investing in that campus as well. UVA was there for 25 years, it made sense at the time. The thing about universities: we talk in centuries, not decades. When universities make investments in campuses, it’s a much longer time frame. That’s why there’s an understanding of that commitment, that’s why the City of Alexandria endorsed adding the name to the station. They see a long term benefit. Looking at the other universities on the Metro stations… that’s as rock solid as we can get

George Mason is the only university in the system that has their name on two stations — as primary on Virginia Square and as a secondary name on Vienna. Their main campus is nowhere close, certainly not within a half-mile. The names already on there are being grandfathered. What we’re saying is “use the George Mason model, keep our name as secondary [at West Falls Church] — but because this is our flagship that’s worthy of the primary name Potomac Yard-VT.

Rendering via City of Alexandria

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