With the clock running down on a rushed timeline, Old Town Business (OTB) is conducting more outreach sessions today, Friday, on its proposed business improvement district.
The group conducted information sessions yesterday (Thursday) and scheduled one for this morning and another for 1 p.m. along the ALX Community Waterfront at 201 N. Union Street.
“We’re running into a deadline for this year’s tax calendar,” Scott Shaw, a managing partner of Alexandria Restaurant Partners, previously told ALXnow. “We’re compressing this more than we want to, we’re aware of that.”
The group of local business owners are trying to gather 60% support from hundreds of Old Town restaurants, shops and other retailers by mid-March. Organizers are operating on a crunched timeline to get their proposal on the City Council docket this month, before the city sets the tax rate for the upcoming budget, which must be approved in May.
OTB wants the effort to be funded by a 10-cent addition to real property tax rates for businesses within the proposed district.
“For example, a parcel that has a taxable value of $700,000 that currently pays $7,770 in annual property taxes would be billed an additional $700 for a new total of $8,470,” OTB explains in its petition. “Parcels of real property which are either exempt from real property taxes or strictly residential in use, as determined by the City on an annual basis, shall not be billed the annual BISD tax.”
Those funds would then go toward events, marketing, business support services, advocacy and more.
Per the proposal, the Business Improvement Service District (BISD) would be overseen by 13-to-15 board members, all of whom would be approved by City Council. Board meetings would also be open to the public.
(Updated 9/30) Alexandria’s incumbents running for re-election managed to hold on through the Democratic primary, but they face Republican and Independent challengers in the upcoming November election.
The Seminary Ridge Civic Association recently announced that it will be hosting two election forums throughout October, one for the City Council candidates and one for Mayoral candidates.
“The Seminary Ridge Civic Association (SRCA) is hosting two candidate forums in October to raise awareness of the candidates running in the November Alexandria elections,” the organization said in an email. “The first forum will be on Wednesday, October 6 (7-9 p.m.) for the nine candidates seeking to be on Alexandria’s City Council.”
Both events will be live-streamed on Zoom, with a link already available for the first forum. The SRCA said another email will be sent closer to the date with a link to the Mayoral debate.
The Democratic City Council candidates are:
- John Taylor Chapman
- Alyia Smith-Parker Gaskins
- Amy Jackson
- Canek Aguirre
- Sarah Bagley
- Kirk McPike
Incumbent Mayor Justin Wilson, who fended off a challenge from former Mayor Allison Silberberg, will face Republican Annetta Catchings. Their debate with the SRCA will be held on Tuesday, October 19, from 7:30-8:30 p.m.
The Alexandria Council of PTAs (PTAC) is also planning a meet-and-greet and forum for School Board candidates. The meet-and-greet will be at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 2, on the tennis courts at William Ramsay Elementary (5650 Sanger Avenue). The virtual forum will be on Wednesday, Oct. 13, at 7 p.m.
T.C. Williams High School is known around the world for the 2000 movie Remember the Titans, which focused on its 1971 state championship-winning varsity football team that found greatness by working through racial adversity. Coach Boone and his assistant coach Yoast remained best friends throughout their lives and continued coaching and teaching at T.C. for decades.
Boone’s daughter Sharon Henderson spoke on behalf of both families.
“Now, we all know that the blockbuster movie ‘Remember the Titans’ put T.C. Williams High School in many households around the country, while it forever carved our fathers’ names in the history books of the world,” Henderson said. “But I wanted to be known that these two men did things far greater for the community of Alexandria than what was portrayed in that movie. You see, both men share the history of being relentless advocates for students toward social justice and equality. Because of their determination to make a difference many young people benefited from their leadership on and off the football field, and today are hugely successful in their own lives.”
Henderson made the comments in a public hearing with the School Board on whether it should vote to rename T.C. Williams High School and Matthew Maury Elementary School.
“It will certainly be one of the greatest honors that the legacies of both men could receive from the city that they both loved so much. I believe it would also communicate the city’s commitment to inclusion for all of the extremely diverse student and community demographics of Alexandria, Virginia,” Henderson said.
The Board did not comment during the public hearing, and only received public testimony. Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr. will present a report with recommendations with new names to the School Board in the spring of 2021, according to ACPS.
Thomas Chambliss Williams was the superintendent of ACPS for 30 years. He required that all Black students wanting admission to previously all-white schools to go through an application process. Only 75 Black students (about 3%) were allowed to transfer to formerly white schools by the time Williams announced his retirement in 1962, and that was three years after the city officially desegregated schools.
Matthew Maury was the first Superintendent of the U.S. Naval Observatory and the first hydrographer of the U.S. Navy. He was also special agent for the Confederacy during the Civil War and has a statue in Richmond.
As previously reported, Williams required that all Black students wanting admission to previously all-white schools to go through an application process. Only 75 Black students (about 3%) were allowed to transfer to formerly white schools by the time Williams announced his retirement in 1962, and that was three years after the city officially desegregated schools. Williams was also investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice for firing Blois Hundley, a cook at Lyles Crouch Elementary School. Hundley joined the lawsuit seeking to desegregate ACPS, and Williams was “outraged” when he found out about her participation.
Michele Chapman, a 1974 graduate of T.C., is the mother of City Councilman John Taylor Chapman, and her three siblings also graduated from Alexandria’s only high school. She said that T.C. Williams was not the kind of man that children should emulate.
“It is never too late to right a wrong,” said Chapman. “I want to thank you for affording us the opportunity to express our feelings to, to remind you that we as a community should never reward bad behavior.”
Photo via Living Legends of Alexandria
Affordable housing is the focus of the first-ever Alexandria Housing Summit this weekend.
The full day of activities, which will be held Saturday from 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Nanny J. Lee Recreation Center (1108 Jefferson St.), will feature bus tours of potential development areas, panel discussions with experts and city leadership and a keynote speech by Andrea Brennan, the director of Housing Policy & Development in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Alexandria has been challenged to significantly increase its own affordable housing stock over the next decade. The city’s low cost, market-affordable (non-subsidized) rental housing fell 88 percent between 2000-2018, and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments has set a goal for the region to produce 320,000 affordable housing units from 2020 to 2030.
Helen McIlvane, the City’s director of housing, said that Alexandria is on track to meet its goal of producing or developing 2,000 affordable housing units by 2025, and an additional 1,950 units by 2030.
“We’re looking at ways to make sure that we are doing big and small things to ensure that we have opportunities to create housing where we’re not doing that now,” McIlvane told ALXnow.
The event will also provide an update on the progress and implementation of the city’s 2013 Housing Master Plan, which will be updated in 2025.
Additionally, Audrey Davis, executive director of the Alexandria Black History Museum, will speak about the city’s housing history.
Registration for the event is free.
Amazon Presence on Innovation Campus? — “Virginia Tech leaders and Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) executives are working toward a partnership that could give the company’s cloud computing arm a home at the $1 billion innovation campus at Potomac Yard.” [Washington Business Journal]
Underage Drinking Prevention Town Hall — “On Dec. 10, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., at the Charles Houston Recreation Center (901 Wythe St.), the Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition of Alexandria will host a town hall discussion titled, ‘Healthy Youth, Healthy Families: Promoting Alcohol-Free Holidays.'” [Zebra]
Boat Parade Winners Named — “A record number of 60 boats competed for prizes in ten categories at the 20th Anniversary Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights on Saturday… Best of Alexandria Show was awarded to Anamchara and Captain Steve Preda who presented the theme ‘Peace’ featuring a rotating lighted globe, glowing doves and a peace sign.” [Press Release]
City ‘Open for Solar Business’ — “The City of Alexandria has received a Silver designation from the national SolSmart program for making it faster, easier, and more affordable for homes and businesses to go solar… For companies looking to expand, a SolSmart Silver designation is a signal that Alexandria is ‘open for solar business.'” [City of Alexandria]
T.C. Teacher Wins National Award — “When T.C.Williams High School teacher Kimberley Wilson stepped on stage on Wednesday to collect the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) National Teacher of the Year award, her first thought was for her students.” [ACPS]
Snow Likely Overnight — “Temperatures are poised to leap to near 60 degrees Tuesday, and it won’t feel at all like it could snow. But, in a flash, that will change. An Arctic front charging to the East Coast will switch our weather from fall-like to winterlike in a matter of hours, setting the stage for possible wet snow overnight Tuesday into early Wednesday morning.” [Capital Weather Gang, Twitter]
Meeting About Detention Center Held Last Night — “Should a youth detention center in Northern Virginia stay open? That question spurred passionate debate at a series of public meetings this month, as the operators of the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center make decisions about the future of the facility… ‘I would like to see the facility stay open because it helps youth,’ said Bill Cleveland, former vice mayor of Alexandria.” [WTOP, Twitter/@AmyJacksonVA]
City Council Approves Waterfront Restaurant — “The Mill, a southern kitchen and market, gained approval to open in a historic Alexandria warehouse at 10 Duke Street on the waterfront. City Council voted on Nov. 16 to approve the special use permit and encroachment into the public right-of-way on Duke Street for a balcony, steps and signage.” [Patch]
Xmas Tree Selected for Dec. 8 Tree Lighting — “After scouting for the Del Ray Christmas tree by air over the Naughty Pines tree farm in Dickerson, Md., the perfect specimen has been identified. They found it in Anderson’s single engine Cirrus airplane, and all they have to do now is inspect it on the ground, cut it down, lift it onto a trailer, and haul it over to Mount Vernon Avenue.” [Zebra]
NORAD Exercises Planned Tonight — “Don’t be frightened if you see and hear military aircraft speeding overhead… The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is expected to conduct air exercises over the Washington area from Thursday night into early Friday morning. Flights are scheduled between midnight and 5:30 a.m.” [WTOP]
Virginia Tech Holding Community Forums — “Community engagement in Alexandria, Virginia, took on an exciting form last month with the debut of Tech on Tap at Port City Brewing Company’s headquarters. The free event on Oct. 17 was the first in a regular speaker series intended to engage the local community in the types of issues and problems Virginia Tech’s Innovation Campus in Potomac Yard will explore.” [Virginia Tech]
City Hosting Opioid Abuse Discussion — “On November 18, the City of Alexandria will host ‘A Community Conversation: Strategic Plan to Eliminate Opioid Misuse and Its Harmful Effects in Alexandria.’ Residents are invited to learn more about the local effects of the national opioid crisis and the City’s strategy to address it. The event will be held from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. in the cafeteria of T.C. Williams High School at 3330 King Street.” [City of Alexandria]
Small Business Saturday Coming Up — “On Alexandria’s Small Business Saturday, Nov. 30, shoppers will be treated to free parking at parking meters and special in-store activities at more than 40 independent boutiques in Old Town and Del Ray… New this year to Small Business Saturday is Caroling & Candy Canes, presented by the Alexandria Arts Alliance at the Alexandria Visitor Center from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., and a Small Business Saturday Scavenger Hunt.” [Alexandria Living]
(Updated 11 a.m.) Alexandria’s congressman is planning to talk impeachment at a town hall meeting later this month.
Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) announced today that he will be holding the event on Thursday, Nov. 21, from 7-8:30 p.m., at the T.C. Williams High School auditorium.
“This month I will hold a town hall in Alexandria on the impeachment investigation,” Beyer said via Twitter. “I will be joined by legal and national security experts to help me answer your questions. See you there!”
The event is free and open to the public but attendees are asked to register online.
Beyer, an outspoken advocate of impeaching President Donald Trump, voted last week with his Democratic colleagues to set “procedures for open hearings as part of the impeachment investigation.”
“Today the House voted to let the American people hear directly from witnesses who saw President Trump engage in some of the worst abuses of power in the history of this country,” the Congressman said in a statement on Oct. 31. “Like my colleagues, I did not come to Congress to impeach anyone, but every one of us swore to defend the Constitution against enemies foreign and domestic. We do not honor that oath by turning a blind eye to the President’s betrayal of our country.”
Trump has called the investigation a “witch hunt” and “just another Democrat hoax.”
St. Elmo’s Coffee Coming to Old Town North — “St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub could be getting a second location. The Del Ray coffee shop submitted an application to open at the Gables Old Town North mixed-use development.” [Patch]
City Refuses to Pay for Damaged Fence — “Have you ever heard of something called sovereign immunity? Basically, it lets local governments off the hook if they damage your personal property. It’s what an Alexandria man learned the hard way after he caught a city trash truck damaging his iron fence.” [Fox 5]
City Wants Ideas for Solving Problems — “The City of Alexandria invites the public to attend brainstorming sessions on approaches to mental health, affordable housing and poverty challenges in the community. Community members selected these three topics during a recent public meeting on the development of a five-year Community Health Improvement Plan.” [City of Alexandria]
City Council Holding Budget Retreat — “The Alexandria City Council will hold a retreat meeting on November 2, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., at Alexandria Renew Enterprises (1800 Limerick St.), to discuss the Fiscal Year 2021 General Fund Operating Budget planning process and develop City Council’s Calendar Year 2020 Work Program… The retreat is open to the public, but will not include public comment.” [City of Alexandria]