Alexandria, VA

The Alexandria Board of Architectural Review will consider a permit to demolish/capsulate 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 is part of Virginia Tech’s massive Innovation Campus development, and will handle sanitary sewer flows for Virginia Tech’s Sewer to Wastewater Energy Exchange system.

As previously reported, this and next month, the BAR and the Planning Commission will receive half a dozen plans for the 1.9 million square-foot mixed use North Potomac Yard development.

The area was a rail yard from 1906 until 1989, and the staff report stipulates that all eventual construction “will stop on the site if any buried structural remains (wall foundations, wells, privies, cisterns, etc.) or concentrations of artifacts are discovered during development,” and that a city archaeologist will need to record the finds.

The plan will go to City Council this fall for approval.

3 Comments

The Alexandria City Council has pushed a decision to add Virginia Tech’s initials to the Potomac Yard Metro Station.

Virginia Tech’s $1 billion Innovation Campus is promised to bring a massive redevelopment to the area, although no buildings have yet to be constructed and no students are on site. Consequently, some members of council were concerned that the school’s request to add the name to the Metro station would not meet Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority naming guidelines.

“I am nervous about christening this Virginia Tech station when we have not seen an actual building,” said City Councilman John Chapman.

The Metro station is planned to open by spring 2022 and the Virginia Tech Innovation campus is scheduled to open in the fall of 2024. This and next month, the Alexandria Board of Architectural Review and the Planning Commission will receive half a dozen plans for the 1.9 million square-foot mixed use North Potomac Yard development. The campus will accommodate 750 computer science master’s degree students per year and more than 100 doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows.

Yon Lambert, director of the city’s Department of Transportation and Environmental Services, said that making the name change now would save upward of $350,000 in rebranding should the decision to rename the station be made at a later date. He also said that WMATA would have to grant an exception for the name change, since a campus with 5,000 students is the usual baseline for a name change.

“What Metro has indicated to the city is that, assuming that we bring it forward to Metro before the end of this calendar year, it can be done without any additional costs incurred by the city,” Lambert said. “But if if the station name proposal is brought forward later, either in association with a map change or without a map change the cost can be significant, ranging from $350,000 on the low end to more than $1 million, and those numbers could increase significantly over time.”

Mayor Justin Wilson supported the name change.

“I just want to be crystal clear, in the future if anybody would like to invest a billion dollars next to one of our metro stations, I will lobby to put your name on the station,” Wilson said.

David Baker, a representative from Virginia Tech, said that there will be construction on site when the Potomac Yard station opens in 2022.

“When the station is open, there will be active construction happening,” Baker said. “We are on track as of today, and our obligation to the Commonwealth is to be open for classes and start having the student Innovation Campus in Potomac Yard by the fall of 2024.”

Photo via City of Alexandria

25 Comments

It’s the end of another work week in Alexandria!

There was a lot of crime this week, as police responded to multiple shots fired incidents in the Parker Gray area on September 2. There was also another carjacking in the West End — the latest in a recent uptick that prompted Mayor Justin Wilson to ask the public for help in reducing the number of vehicle-related thefts.

But there is also some good news to report, as businesses are opening in the city despite the daily pressures of the pandemic. This week we took a look inside The Company Of Books used book store in Del Ray, and we covered the city’s new Wellness District, which is providing a number of free programs and discounts for the recently expanded Wellness Month.

Also this week, Alexandria City Public Schools cut down a 150-year-old tree to make way for a concession stand. The move was criticized by activists and former Mayor Allison Silberberg. With the destruction of the tree, the renovation project for the Parker-Gray Stadium has now officially begun.

What stories impacted you this week? Let us know in the comments.

Here are our top stories this week in Alexandria.

  1. Alexandria Woman Uninjured in Tuesday Carjacking at Gunpoint in Potomac Yard
  2. Beatley Central Library Closed Until Further Notice Due to ‘Emergency Conditions’
  3. Police: Three Alexandria ABC Stores Broken Into, High-End Liquor Stolen
  4. Police Investigating Multiple Gunshots Fired in Parker Gray/Braddock
  5. Alexandria’s COVID Positive Testing Rate Lowest in Region
  6. Halal Slaughterhouse Construction Begins, Opening Reset to Mid-November
  7. Update: Chalk Graffiti Decrying Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf Sprayed In Front of Wrong House
  8. Braddock ‘Elizabeth’s Counter’ Last of Regional Chain After Bankruptcy Filing
  9. Police: Three Alexandria ABC Stores Broken Into, High-End Liquor Stolen
  10. North Potomac Yard Plans Going to Planning Commission, Board of Architectural Review
  11. ACPS Cuts Down 150-Year Old Tree to Make Way for Concession Stand

Have a safe weekend!

0 Comments

This and next month, the Alexandria Board of Architectural Review and the Planning Commission will receive half a dozen plans for the 1.9 million square-foot mixed use North Potomac Yard development.

“This application… represents the culmination of an extensive planning process for North Potomac Yard,” according to a master plan amendment filed with the Planning Commission to increase building heights near the proposed Potomac Yard Metro Station. Buildings in Block 15 would increase in height from 85 feet to 90 feet, and increase from 90 feet to 115 feet on Block 18 — both of which are near the developing Potomac Yard Metro Station.

The massive development includes construction of three academic buildings dedicated to computer science research and development programs for the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus, which the city is considering as an “integrated whole” instead of multiple standalone projects.

The plans will need to be approved for the development to meet its timeline. The Virginia Tech 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.

Tomorrow, the BAR will consider a Certificate of Appropriateness for a pump station to handle sanitary sewer flows with Virginia Tech’s Sewer to Wastewater Energy Exchange (SWEE) system. The system will be transferred to the management of AlexRenew Enterprises once constructed is completed.

The Planning Commission meeting is scheduled for October 6, and the plans will go to City Council this fall for approval.

Images via City of Alexandria

0 Comments

The City Council approved the second entrance for the Potomac Yard Metro station back in April, but now the design of the proposed bridge is headed back through the city process for final approval.

The proposal is something of a compromise attempted to alleviate anger from southern residents who remain outraged that original plans for a full second entrance were cut behind closed doors while residents were told it was still planned.

The design approved by the City Council is not the full southern access initially promised, but is instead a bridge over wetlands that residents to the south can take up to the north entrance rather than walking around the sizable pond.

The City Council wound up choosing a bridge to a stairwell and elevator rather than a long ramp. The design places the southern entrance at the east side of the Potomac Avenue and E. Glebe Road.

The proposal is scheduled to the Board of Architectural Review (BAR) on Wednesday, Sept. 2.

2 Comment

Virginia Tech’s Innovation Campus could bring a wealth of economic sustainability to Alexandria, and now the school has requested that the future Potomac Yard Metro station include “VT” in its name.

If approved, the name of the station would be “Potomac Yard-VT.”

Virginia Tech plans to open its doors at Potomac Yard in 2024, and construction is slated to begin this fall. When all is said and done more than 3,000 students will attend classes at the campus in 2028.

The city anticipates no new costs or adjustments to the construction schedule of the metro station due to a potential name change, and the station is scheduled to open in spring 2022. City Council will have to approve the resolution for the name change request, and it will then go to the board of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority for final approval, according to a city release. Additionally, WMATA will have to approve an exception to its rules for the name change, since there needs to be a “significant classroom presence” in order to meet specific criteria, and Virginia Tech won’t be there at that time, according to the city.

“This issue is currently anticipated to be docketed for consideration at the City Council Legislative Session on Tuesday, September 8, 2020,” according to the city. “The City has conducted outreach to stakeholder groups comprised of residents, businesses, and Potomac Yard advisory groups within a half-mile radius of the station to solicit feedback on the potential name change.”

Image via City of Alexandria

5 Comments

If the vision presented to the Parks and Recreation Commission last Thursday remains through the development, Potomac Yard could be rife with flexible open space.

At the commission meeting, representatives of developer JBG SMITH and Virginia Tech outlined plans for flexibles spaces that could be used equally for casual strolls or busy markets.

Robert Brant, the developers, described the development’s centerpiece “market lawn” as a flexible open area designed with markets and seasonal pop-ups in mind. Brant said part of the plans include flexibility to expand those events into adjacent streets to create larger market or event spaces.

Brant said the plaza near the Potomac Yard Metro station is planned as a mix of tree cover and public art around a kiss and ride for the station.

A brief overview of the Virginia Tech campus open space detailed walking paths through a green open space in a traditional college campus format.

The park plans are scheduled to go to the Planning Commission and the City Council over the course of this fall and winter. So far, the plans for the open space at Potomac Yard were met with praise by commissioners.

“I’m excited about it,” said Gina Baum, chair of the commission. “I’m sure the rest of the commission is excited about it.”

0 Comments

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

0 Comments

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]

5 Comments

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

5 Comments

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!

4 Comments

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]

4 Comments
×

Subscribe to our mailing list