New Compost Station Opens — “On Sunday, July 17, the Old Town North Sunday Farmers Market officially opened its Compost Cab compost station. The new compost station will be a permanent fixture at this year-round market, every Sunday from 10am-2pm.” [Zebra]
City Ranks as One of the Top U.S. Cities — “Readers of Travel + Leisure appear to have a favorable opinion of Alexandria, because the city made the top 10 of the magazine’s 15 Best Cities in the United States list… Alexandria was ranked eighth among big cities like New York City, New Orleans and Chicago on the national list.” [Patch]
Film Festival Submissions Open — “Calling all #artists and #filmmakers–Join us this November in @AlexandriaVA for the 4th Annual STEM Art & Film Festival at #IFoRE22. Now accepting submissions http://experienceIFoRE.org/stem-art-film-rt-film-festival #art #artstudent #artfestival #filmfestival #scienceart” [Twitter]
It’s Monday — Rain in the evening. High of 87 and low of 75. Sunrise at 5:59 am and sunset at 8:33 pm. [Weather.gov]
BARCA Ranks Among Best in Nation — “An Alexandria restaurant has been lauded for its outdoor dining space and is among the top 100 places to dine al fresco, according to OpenTable’s new ranking. The ranking is based on diner reviews on OpenTable. BARCA Pier & Wine Bar made the 100 Best Outdoor Dining Restaurants in America for 2022, which was released by OpenTable on Wednesday.” [Patch]
Construction Begins on Old Town West Senior Living Project — “The multimillion-dollar development will feature a six-story building with underground parking, studio, 1- and 2-bedroom living options, and high-end amenities such as a 4,550-square-foot restaurant, 24-hour fitness center, club lounge, business center and media room.” [BusinessWire]
A Last Look Inside Landmark Mall — “YouTubers ‘The Proper People’ entered Landmark Mall just days before demolition started.” [Alexandria Living]
It’s Friday — Clear throughout the day. High of 84 and low of 71. Sunrise at 5:57 am and sunset at 8:34 pm. [Weather.gov]
The ranking looks both at where dog-owners are registered on the dog boarding and walking site Rover and where there are the most page views of pet-friendly single-family home rental listings on real estate marketplace site Zillow.
In their writeup about Alexandria, Zillow said:
It seems that more dog owners are sniffing out Alexandria. Its average daily page views of pet-friendly single-family home rental listings on Zillow are up 70.1% over last year. This D.C. commuter town is home to several dog runs, off-leash areas and plenty of family-owned pet supply stores. Take a look at rentals currently listed on Zillow and you just may find your dog’s next home here.
Boiling Alexandria down to a D.C. commuter town might get some locals barking mad, but overall it’s good news for local dog owners.
Nearby Baltimore was number 2 on the ranking, with Antioch, Tennessee taking the number one spot.
Alexandria is reclaimed its third-place ranking in this year’s Condé Nast survey of best small cities in the United States after being bumped down to fifth.
The publication’s description of the city seems to be almost identical to previous years but adds a few new notes like suggesting a tour of the Torpedo Factory Art Center and visiting Gadsby’s Tavern:
Washingtonians are all in on the secret, but it’s no surprise the rest of the world is catching up: Alexandria, Virginia, the charming, historic city just across the Potomac River from our nation’s capital, draws travelers and would-be residents alike. Most folks start to imagine moving there just after setting foot in Old Town, once they’ve strolled the red-brick sidewalks, clocking street after street of perfectly preserved rowhouses from the 18th and 19th centuries. When you visit, scope out King Street, packed with boutiques, restaurants, and specialty shops; then land at the waterfront, where you can watch the boats bobbing on the water before touring the Torpedo Factory Art Center, a collective of galleries and artists’ studios. End the day at Gadsby’s Tavern, where some of our founding fathers used to drink–don’t mind the actors in colonial garb.
As in previous years, the city still lingers behind Charleston, South Carolina, in the number two spot. This year’s number one spot went to Aspen, Colorado, citing primarily the city’s access to ski slopes and fine cuisine.
— Visit Alexandria VA (@AlexandriaVA) October 5, 2021
Alexandria is a good place to weather a recession — potentially good news on a day in which the Dow plummeted more 2,000 points at one point.
“The Great Recession wreaked havoc on the U.S. economy, with unemployment peaking at 10.1% in October 2009,” a SmartAsset spokesperson said, in introducing the rankings. “Not all cities, however, were hit equally by this economic crisis and some are better equipped to weather the next downturn.”
Federal employment and growth spurred by Amazon’s HQ2 should help cushion blows from a new recession in Alexandria, though the last major downturn — the Great Recession of the late aughts — did have negative impacts on small local businesses and nonprofits.
Suggestion of Affordable Housing at School Sets Listserv Ablaze — “A contractor for Alexandria’s public schools set off an online firestorm by accidentally including a rendering of an apartment building with affordable units in a presentation about modernization plans for an elementary school… the mistake occasioned a ‘3 day+ rager‘ about affordable housing, racism, and–because this is Alexandria–dockless scooters, the halal chicken slaughterhouse, and a ‘road diet’ imposed on a different leafy neighborhood.” [Washingtonian]
Pushback on (Actual) Affordable Housing at School Proposal — “Members of the MacArthur Advisory Committee and the community were left scrambling last week after the city indicated it would be exploring affordable housing on the Douglas MacArthur Elementary School site. The announcement that the city would not only be exploring co-location options, but also providing funding to Alexandria City Public Schools for an architectural exploration of potential housing options, surprised members of the advisory committee.” [Alexandria Times]
Neighbors Decry Church Expansion Plans — Nearby residents are speaking out against and appealing Alexandria Presbyterian Church’s expansion plan, expressing concerns about the size of the planned building and the possibility of increased traffic. The proposal, however, does not go beyond what standard zoning allows for the site and thus is unlikely to be nixed on appeal. [Patch, Alexandria Times]
Alexandria Glass Drop-off Deemed a Success — “Fairfax County said this month that the glass coming from dedicated collection bins in Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax County and elsewhere in Northern Virginia has been of sufficiently high quality that, in addition to being crushed and used as construction materials, some is now going to a processing facility and is being recycled into new glass products, like bottles and fiberglass.” [ARLnow, Fairfax County]
Child Car Seat Inspections This Weekend — “Come this Saturday’s (Jan 25) FREE APD Child Car Seat Safety Inspection (from 8AM-12PM). Make sure your child’s car seat is installed properly! Open to everyone–you don’t need to be a Alexandria City resident. There will be covered parking in case it rains.” [Twitter]
Old Town Restaurant Makes Mag’s Top 20 — Nasime, at 1209 King Street, is No. 13 on Washingtonian’s 100 Very Best Restaurants list. The magazine wrote: “This sliver of a Japanese dining room in Old Town serves a single five-course menu — a great value — each night.” [Washingtonian]
Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson is one of six mayors who are making a difference and “shaping urban America,” at least according to The Hill newspaper.
Wilson made the list, which was published Wednesday, alongside the mayors of Kansas City (M0.), Tampa, Brooklyn Park (Minn.), Minneapolis and Phoenix.
More from The Hill:
…when two local governments just outside of Washington put together their bid for Amazon’s HQ2 project, they decided on a different approach, one that would provide a lasting benefit to the city of Alexandria and Arlington County even if Amazon’s tax revenues didn’t fill the gap. To prove to Amazon that its residents would be qualified for the estimated 25,000 high-tech jobs the company would bring, the cities helped bring a new Virginia Tech campus to their region.
“There was very much a feeling that the benefits of the [Amazon] investment were going to accrue to a very small percentage of the residents,” said Justin Wilson, the Democratic mayor of Alexandria. “We felt like there was an opportunity to chart a different course.”
Working together across their shared border, Alexandria’s government and the Arlington County Board… are planning for new housing growth, workforce development, collaboration with the new Virginia Tech campus and area schools. They plan special outreach to minority- and women-owned businesses, and they hope to protect low-income housing in minority-heavy communities near Amazon’s coming Crystal City hub.
“We looked at every opportunity that we thought would be able to seize the benefits of this investment and make sure it benefitted everyone in the community,” Wilson said. “We’re still fleshing this all out. The good news is there’s real excitement in the community.”
Alexandria Among Most Festive Xmas Cities — Thanks in part of the Scottish Christmas Walk Parade and the annual boat parade, Alexandria has made Wall Street 24/7’s list of the Most Festive Christmas Cities in the U.S. [24/7 Wall Street]
City Warns of PCP Overdoses — “The City of Alexandria has responded to eight overdoses related to suspected phencyclidine (PCP) use in the past two months, one of which was fatal. City officials are concerned about the potency and deadly nature of the PCP being distributed and used in the region.” [City of Alexandria]
Confederate Statue Struck — “The Appomattox statue in Old Town commemorating Alexandria’s Confederate troops was struck by a vehicle last night. Its base looks like it was moved quite a bit by the impact.” [Twitter/@Drubaru]
Local Doctor Honored — “For Dr. Jennifer Lightfoot of Alexandria, hearing loss hasn’t held her back. In fact, it shaped her life’s work and recently won her a 2019 Oticon Focus on People Award… Winning the award in the practitioner category solidified the belief in her work with hearing impaired children.” [Patch]
Alexandria has ranked highly on the 2019 Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) Municipal Equality Index of cities, with a 90/100 score, but it also highlighted where there’s room to improve.
Alexandria’s lowest category is in non-discrimination laws, where HRC gave Alexandria 15 of 30 possible points. Of localities in Virginia, Alexandria ranked third behind Richmond and Arlington. Where Alexandria loses is in its protections for gender identity, where there are no protections in employment, housing, or public accommodations from discrimination.
Mayor Justin Wilson said that much of this goes back to the Dillon Rule, which means that localities like Alexandria can only exercise powers expressly granted by the state. But Wilson, and others in city leadership, have said they’re hopeful that the new Democratic majority in the Virginia legislature will mean loosening some of those local restrictions.
“The remaining points that we’re missing have to do with areas where some of the state law limits us,” Wilson said. “There’s some ambiguity for what we can do and can’t do. I suspect we’re also about to see some state laws change in that regard [concerning] laws on gender identity and gender equality.”
Wilson said the biggest current issue is that, depending on how it’s interpreted, state law forbids localities from including protections against discrimination for gender identity and expression the way localities can for other protected classes. Wilson says this extends to city government, where some benefits have been extended for transgender employees.
There is still more work to be done for offering protections, Wilson said.
Today @HRC has announced their 2019 Municipal Equality Index ratings for jurisdictions around the nation.
We have again increased our score.
We have more work to do, but this is an important validation of our efforts to ensure equality for all!https://t.co/u8HvSpZ86z
— Justin Wilson (@justindotnet) November 19, 2019
While Richmond and Arlington face the same Dillon Rule restrictions, where Arlington rates higher is in services it provides to support LGBTQ youth, homeless, and the elderly, none of which HRC said was available in Alexandria.
Photo via Human Rights Campaign
Carpenter’s Shelter Getting Amazon Donation — “A nonprofit that is building a $2 million facility for the homeless in Old Town Alexandria says it has reached its fundraising goal after receiving $300,000 from Amazon, Inc… The donation from Amazon is the latest example of how the retail giant is trying to be a good corporate citizen in Northern Virginia.” [Washington Post, Patch]
Digital Plaudits for City — “Alexandria has been ranked the fourth top digital city of its size in the United States, according to the 2019 Digital Cities Survey… This is the 15th consecutive year Alexandria has been ranked in the top 10, including two years in first place.” [City of Alexandria]
MacArthur Students to Relocate to Henry — “Alexandria City Council has given the green light to Alexandria City Public Schools to use the old Patrick Henry Elementary School facility as temporary swing space for Douglas MacArthur Elementary School students, potentially reallocating $60 million dollars and speeding up the delivery of the new school.” [ACPS]
Closures Planned for Thanksgiving — “All City of Alexandria government offices will be closed on Thursday, November 28, and Friday, November 29, in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday.” [City of Alexandria]