Post Content
Witter Place (Community Housing Partners (CHP))

Plans to convert a West End auto dealership into an affordable apartment complex are expected to be finished by late 2025, nonprofit Community Housing Partners tells ALXnow.

It’s been more than a year since plans were first released for Witter Place, the current location of Lindsay Cadillac at 2712 Duke Street. Once built, the four-to-five story building will be home to 94 units affordable for households earning 40% to 60% area median income.

“Witter Place is moving forward,” Kimberly Strahm, CHP’s vice president for strategic operations, told ALXnow. “We have begun working on site planning and are interviewing [general contractors] next week. However, we expect site plan approval could take up to a year and then we’ll need building permit approval before construction can start. The earliest we anticipate being done is late 2025.”

The new building will include a courtyard and rooftop terrace for residents.

City Council approved the project last November, and it includes enhanced 10-foot-wide tree-lined sidewalks and new bus shelter on the property frontage.

This is CHP’s first project in Alexandria.

Taylor Run (photo via City of Alexandria)

The first time the Taylor Run and Strawberry Run restoration projects went to City Council, some in the community were angry. The second time around, it’s city leaders that are angry.

The core of the problem seems that, in an effort to appease everyone involved, Alexandria ended up with a solution that accomplishes virtually nothing when it comes to Strawberry Run.

Years after the controversy first reared up about plans to make changes to Taylor Run and Strawberry Run, with the aim of reducing erosion, those plans came back to Alexandria’s City Council earlier this week and the elected officials were less than pleased with the results.

The stream restoration projects were paused after concerns were raised about the reliability of the data behind the project. The City Council voted to send the projects back for more study and to build more consensus. But, more than a year after the project was scheduled to come back to the City Council for further review, Mayor Justin Wilson criticized the new version of the stream restoration for being scaled down into irrelevance and still not gathering the needed consensus.

The main criticism was focused on plans for Strawberry Run, which involve spending $1.2 million on spot improvements rather than any significant, long-term improvements.

Wilson also criticized the report for saying the city should work with fluvial systems and stream restoration expert John Field on future stream projects, saying it is inappropriate for a report to write a private company into a city policy recommendation.

“What is the recommendation at Strawberry Run, besides ‘don’t cut down trees, don’t have roads, don’t remove the trash that is put in there unless we absolutely have to?'” Wilson said. “The recommendation seems to be that whatever we do, which hasn’t yet been determined, we hire this guy to do it.”

Jesse Maines, stormwater division chief, fielded most of the questions and criticism about the project.

“I think there’s some ambiguity there,” Maines said. “A lot of this is getting a designer onboard and starting to design ‘this is how it would look and this is the impacts.'”

“Is there not a consensus on what we’re going to do?” Wilson said. “I have to say I’m a little bit incredulous we spent two years building consensus and the recommendations appear to be: in the future we should run a bunch of things by a committee and hire a guy that everyone likes. What is the recommendation? What are we doing?”

City Council member Sarah Bagley and Wilson both expressed concern that the policy recommendation pushing the city toward contracting a private party skirted around the city’s typical procurement process.

“I have been involved or adjacent to public procurement for over two decades and I have never heard of anything like this; where a policy recommendation is approved specifically calling for a private firm,” Wilson said. “I’ve never heard anything like that and I’d love to be the one negotiating on behalf of Dr. Field after we would adopt that.”

Maines said the spot stabilization could help prevent further erosion on Strawberry Run, but the admittedly diminished scope of the project left Wilson and others on the Council wondering whether the cost justified the lackluster benefits.

“When we went into this process we were achieving a significant amount of public amenities,” Wilson said. “Excise that from the project, there isn’t the same [significance]… Why would we do anything here? Why is there any reason we would do anything on Strawberry Run? Reading these recommendations, my conclusion is we should do absolutely nothing on Strawberry Run. Period. Someone explain to me why that shouldn’t be the conclusion I draw here.”

Maines said a “no-build” option was presented to the consensus-building group

What’s more, for all the work around building consensus, Bagley said she still had concerns that the improvements are reliant on access to the easements with no clear evidence that the City of Alexandria could get the access it needs.

“It’s absolutely a fair concern,” Deputy Director for Infrastructure and Environmental Quality Bill Skrabak said.

City Council member Kirk McPike suggested tabling any further consideration of improvements to Strawberry Run until that can be compared with other projects. With some help from retiring City Attorney Joanna Anderson, City Council member Kirk McPike moved to accept recommendations on Taylor Run — with an amendment to use the standard procurement policies — and tabling any further work on Strawberry Run.

Taylor Run (Photo via City of Alexandria)

Alexandria is sending $3 million in grant funding back to the state after controversial stream restoration projects fell through.

When the stream restoration projects return later this year, city leadership made it candidly clear that Alexandria taxpayers will likely shoulder more of the cost thanks to the lost grant funding.

Mayor Justin Wilson noted that an ordinance approved in the City Council meeting last night (Tuesday) starts the process of rescinding two grants received for the Taylor Run and Strawberry Run stream restoration projects, totaling $2.2 million and $800,000 respectively.

Back in 2021, the City of Alexandria was in the final stages of a plan to replace the existing Taylor Run stream with a “natural channel design” that would make the creek more shallow and cut back on erosion.

But the project faced opposition from a wide array of sources across the local political spectrum, from groups like Bring Integrity Back to Alexandria to the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia.

Some local activists criticized the plan for clearing out existing foliage and noted that the city relied on pollution estimates rather than taking measurements, but city staff likewise said activists were using inaccurate data and, in trying to preserve some foliage rather than improving the local environment, were missing the forest for the trees.

The City Council ultimately voted to send the projects back for more study, but Wilson said the decision to return the funding to the state caught him off guard.

“I will say: when we had that discussion last time, I will be honest, I did not expect this to take as long as it did and I did not expect that was a final decision to forego the grants and I did not see it as that at the time,” Wilson said. “I’m a little concerned from a process perspective that we essentially made a decision to return the grants without making a decision to return the grants.”

Wilson said one source of frustration is that the city deferring the project to build consensus resulted in the project — as it had been developed up to that point — being quietly killed off.

“From the overall process perspective here… the concern I have is one that this is ultimately not just a $3 million decision, it’s potentially [much] more,” Wilson said. “This is a significant decision that we kind of made by happenstance, if you will.”

Beyond just being improvements to Taylor Run and Strawberry Run, the stream restoration projects were designed to help fulfill the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) cleanup mandates — a requirement to decrease the amount of nitrogen and phosphorous Alexandria is putting into the Chesapeake Bay.

Per the City’s Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit, the city is still on the hook for decreasing those pollutants somehow. City staff earlier warned various alternatives to stream restoration could be more expensive, and now the city could have to handle that without state support.

“Nevertheless, we’ve made that decision and we’re returning $3 million worth of grants and that whatever ends up coming out of the process that we’ve had underway now, as it relates to these two sites, is probably going to entirely fall on the taxpayers of the City of Alexandria,” Wilson said. “I think that’s an important point and one that should be abundantly transparent to the residents.”

Jesse Mains, stormwater division chief, said city staff will head back to the City Council in June with more plans about what’s next for Taylor Run and Strawberry Run.

“We would need to go get a designer,” Mains said. “We need to go through the procurement process, which will take six to nine months. [Add] another seven to nine months to procure construction services, and about seven months to build it, roughly.”

Mains said the city is looking at Fall/Winter 2026 for a new stream restoration project to be finalized. Mains said that project would likely be in next year’s Capital Improvement Program.

“We’re pretty positive it would not be eligible for any kind of further grants,” Mains said.


Over a year after City Council paused its controversial stream rehabilitation projects, the City of Alexandria is hosting community meetings next week to restart that process.

The City Council paused stream rehabilitation projects for Taylor Run and Strawberry Run after local civic and environmental activists argued the projects could end up damaging the quality of the streams they were trying to help. City staff reviewed the concerns and said many were unfounded, but the debate raised sufficient uncertainty that the City Council sent the projects back to the drawing board for review.

One of the main criticisms of the city’s projects was that there was no water quality testing in the streams. The project was based on state models, and environmental activists estimated the model’s numbers were different from the actual situation on the ground.

In a newsletter, Mayor Justin Wilson said those activists were correct:

The measurements were conducted and were received by the City and our Environmental Policy Commission at the end of last year. These measurements show that the default formula provided by the Commonwealth’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to estimate pollutant reductions, over-estimates the pollutant reduction for these three projects, as expected. In the case of Taylor Run, our estimated pollutant reduction rate of $15,000 per pound, will rise to $50,000 per pound. For Lucky Run, it goes from $7,000 per pound to $72,000 and for Strawberry Run it goes from $5,000 to $20,000. If the City seeks to claim to obtain the same pollution credits, using this method, it will now cost more.

Now, a city release said the public is invited to a “consensus-building workshop” to discuss alternative approaches for the stream projects.

“The workshop will be held at Alexandria Renew Education Center & Meeting Space, 1800 Limerick Street on Saturday, Sept. 10 from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and a hybrid option is also available via Zoom link,” the city said in a release. “The workshop format will include presentations in the morning on the different alternatives, a lunch break and breakout discussions around community goals on improving the two streams.”

The workshop will be led by the Institute for Engagement and Negotiation (IEN) at the University of Virginia and co-hosted by the City of Alexandria’s Transportation and Environmental Services, Stormwater Management Division, and the Department of Project Implementation.

The release said the workshop will give the public a space to weigh in on the project.

“This workshop and subsequent meetings are an opportunity for stakeholders to provide feedback and comments on alternative approaches to restore and improve the health of the streams,” the release said. “It’s one of the multiple workshops set up with the goal of reaching a consensus. “

A report prepared by IEN is scheduled to be presented to the City Council in December.

Wilson said the city brought in IEN to serve as a neutral third party to help facilitate further discussion.

“The City has important obligations to improve the quality of the water in the waterways of our region,” Wilson wrote. “These investments are intended to maintain our commitment to the future of the Chesapeake Bay and address human-caused damage in these natural areas. We will continue to work to determine the best approach as we move forward.”


A 23-year-old Prince William County man was arrested on July 23 (Saturday) after police found him asleep in his car on the wrong side of the road on Yale Drive.

The incident occurred at around 4:15 p.m. The investigating officer found a silver Toyota facing the wrong way on Yale Drive in the oncoming traffic lane. The driver was unconscious but breathing in the driver’s seat, police said in a search warrant affidavit.

“The vehicle was in drive, the engine running, with lights on, and (the suspect’s) foot (was) on the break and the break lights illuminated,” police said in a search warrant affidavit. “While at the window, I observed the driver with a light blue circular pill on his lap, a dollar bill and a credit/debit card. There also appeared to be a white powdery substance sprinkled on his lap.”

The officer activated a personal red/blue emergency light on his uniform and announced himself.

The officer reported that the driver woke up in a panic and lethargically grabbed at items in the vehicle. The driver refused commands to lower the window or unlock the car door.

“He then grabbed a phone and yelled, ‘I need to call my mom,'” police reported in the search warrant affidavit. “I announced ‘Police,’ several times and ordered him to open the door. He continued to refuse all commands given to him and never opened his door. I then informed him he was under arrest for obstruction and he continued to refuse commands.”

The rear driver’s side door to the suspect’s car was broken, and back-up officers popped the lock on the door. The suspect refused to get out of the car and was removed by multiple officers.

The driver was released on $2500 unsecured bond the same day. He was charged with driving while intoxicated, resisting arrest, possession of Schedule I drugs and possession of Schedule IV drugs.

Via Google Maps

West Taylor Run Parkway and Janneys Lane (image via Google Maps)

A woman was critically injured after being struck by a driver this morning in Taylor Run.

The call for a pedestrian struck went out around 6:40 a.m. this morning (Wednesday). Alexandria Police spokesman Marcel Bassett said a female pedestrian was struck by a vehicle at the intersection of West Taylor Run Parkway and Janneys Lane. She suffered a serious but non-life-threatening injury.

Bassett said the car driver remained on the scene and the victim was transported to the hospital.

The intersection and the stretch of West Taylor Run Parkway just south of the intersection have had several serious collisions in recent with local residents frequently expressing concerns about safety.

Taylor Run (photo via City of Alexandria)

One of the biggest points of contention in the stream restoration debate was that models, and not actual testing of the streams in question, were being considered in policy discussions. Next week, the city is moving to rectify that.

The city announced in a press release that a consultant will be performing soil collection, sampling, and analysis tests at Taylor Run, Strawberry Run and Lucky Run — three streams being considered for restoration work.

“The field work for all three steams is anticipated to take place the week of July 25, 2021,” the city said in the release. “Additionally, a consultant will be inspecting the previous stream project completed on the downstream portion of Strawberry Run during the Taft Avenue development to document issues that have occurred.”

The city’s plans to reshape the three streams were derailed in April when criticism from civic groups and some environmental experts compelled the City Council to take the plans back to the drawing board and do more testing to get a better idea of pollutant levels in the streams. The outcry centered primarily on Taylor Run, where some like Natural Resources Manager Rod Simmons said preliminary testing of the stream indicated that the phosphate levels in the water were likely significantly lower than models based on out-of-state data.

“The work that will be performed is consistent with direction received from City Council at the April 27, 2021 legislative meeting for staff to perform soil sampling and analysis and collaborate with the Environmental Policy Commission (EPC) on alternatives to natural channel design,” the city said. ”Council instructed staff to pause the planned stream restoration projects at Taylor Run and Strawberry Run for further evaluation, but proceed with Lucky Run while the soil sampling and analysis occurs. This process includes collection and analysis of soil samples to determine soil nutrient concentrations (total nitrogen and total phosphorus) and the bulk density and development of a report describing the effort and potentially recalculating the nutrient reductions using these data.”

The tests are slated to be completed between October and December. Once the information is finalized as a report, the city said that will be available on the city website.


Last night was a rout for a vocal contingent of Alexandrians pushing for a change in city leadership, but both top dogs in the local Democratic party and their opposition say the fight isn’t over.

At Los Tios Grill in Del Ray, former Alexandria Mayor Allison Silberberg told enthusiastic supporters that conversations over issues like the Seminary Road Diet and Taylor Run Stream restoration project would continue, although the candidates who put those issues at the forefronts of their campaigns lost.

Silberberg said that her supporters should join boards and commissions and join their civic associations, continue speaking out and working on changing the city from within.

“This is a democracy,” Silberberg said. “All voices need to be heard. I remain dedicated to those causes and getting things done, and I encourage people to stay involved.”

On the Bring Integrity Back to Alexandria Facebook group, a page that had been a social gathering place for locals frustrated with city leadership, the reaction was dour, with members calling the results “depressing” or blaming the outcome on outside influences in local politics.

In terms of voting precincts, Silberberg won City Hall and a handful of the more residential areas in the center of the city, like around Seminary Hill, but Wilson won the more densely urban West End, Old Town, and Del Ray.

The election saw 23% of registered voters show up to the polls — a relatively high voter turnout rate for a non-Presidential election year.

Clarence Tong, chair of the Alexandria Democratic Committee, said the high number of candidates — 13 candidates in the Democratic primary for six seats — was likely one of the reasons for the high turnout, and that last night’s results were an endorsement for the leadership of Wilson and the incumbent City Council.

“Yesterday we experienced high primary turnout in Alexandria. this was a reflection of the high quality of the democratic statewide and local candidates on the ballot, likely the largest number in our history,” Tong said. “The great thing about the Democratic Party is the broad range of experiences and perspective from our candidates.”

Tong said that many of the issues debated during the campaign will likely continue to be debated after the election.

“I would fully expect the policy issues that were debated during the Council primary to continue in other public forums,” he said.

Photo via Alexandria Democratic Committee/Facebook


Last year, T.C. Williams High School senior Nikki Harris broke an exclusive, significant story. Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr. was sending one of his children to an in-person private school at a time when ACPS was heavily in the midst of hybrid learning.

It was a shining example of the kind of independent, investigative journalism at Theogony, the high school’s student newspaper.

Harris and a team of five other student journalists will be taking the lead at the news organization next school year — a transitional period both for the newspaper and the school it covers.

The school’s name will change from T.C. Williams High School to Alexandria City High School. While the name change has been getting headlines, Theogony editors — like their peers at the renamed Washington-Liberty High School in Arlington — say the issue has been a bigger deal for adults than the student body.

“At least among people I talk to, very few people interested,” Harris said. “More were [interested] in June 2020, but [now] it’s kind of a distraction from structural issues.”

Ethan Gotsch, an incoming editor of Theogony whose column Titan Underground profiled local musicians, said the name change is just one of the big changes coming to the school.

“We’re also going to have our first Friday night lights and we’re going back to in-person instruction,” he said.

Editors at Theogony said the bigger issues within the student body — more than the name of the school — is the ongoing struggle to close the achievement gaps and the push for punishment reform within the school.

“[Outgoing editor] Bridgette [Adu-Wadier] wrote a lot about the suspension to prison pipeline, especially for students of color, and about whether teachers reflect student body,” Harris said.

Harris said while there was a relatively proportionate number of Black teachers to Black students, that was not at all the case for Latino or Hispanic students, who comprise around 40% of the student body.

Harris said the torch will be passed to the new class of editors to follow up on that and other issues of school equity.

Jacqueline Lutz, another incoming editor for Theogony, said that T.C. students are also frequently tuned in to city-wide issues.

“A lot of times what I’ve found is the issues that T.C. students face are basically local issues as well,” Lutz said. “We always try to find our T.C. angle, but also the local angle as well.”

Last November, Theogony wrote about the Taylor Run controversy, which has since become one of the talking points in the 2021 Mayoral and City Council elections. Gotsch said the local primary is another issue that’s been talked about within the school.

“As students, there is probably a limited amount of things we can do to tackle these issues,” Gotsch said, “but we do write about the Democratic primary.”

Beyond the changes coming to the school, there are also changes incoming for Theogony. The student news organization’s main readership has traditionally been its print edition, distributed through the school, but with the school shut down Theogony had to transition this past year to a more online-focused model. Now, the student news group is looking at how that balance carries over into the 2021-2022 school year.

“We’ve been thinking a lot about how we transitioned entirely to online,” said Harris. “Previously, print was our main source of readership. Now, we’re thinking a lot about how to balance that out or whether we should keep online as our main thing.” Read More


With no more mayoral debates, now it all boils down to the Democratic primary on June 8.

Like the main event at a boxing match, Mayor Justin Wilson and former Mayor Allison Silberberg on Thursday night maneuvered through a series of questions in the final of four Seminary Ridge Civic Association candidate forums.

This is the final debate or forum for the two candidates until the June 8 Democratic primary.

Wilson is leading in fundraising and endorsements, while underdog Silberberg has gotten support from groups like the Bring Integrity Back to Alexandria Facebook page for agreeing on a number of its pet issues, including government transparency, reversing the Seminary Road Diet, and curbing developments.

Fifteen City Council candidates participated in the Seminary Ridge conversations, opining on density, affordable housing, government transparency, flooding, and, their opinions on making changes to the controversial Seminary Road Diet.

After a 4-3 Council vote in 2019, the road, which is next to Inova Alexandria Hospital, was reduced from four to two lanes in exchange for a center turn lane, bike lanes and sidewalks on both sides of the street, crosswalks and medians. A majority of Council candidates are now in favor of taking a look at bringing travel lanes back from two to four lanes on the 0.9 mile stretch of roadway between N. Quaker Lane and Howard Street.

Wilson said that he is in favor of tweaking the plan, although has been accused of ignoring the opposition of 13 civic associations.

“It’s unfortunately we couldn’t get everyone in the community on the same page on this issue,” Wilson said. “I believe the improvements that we made were good ones. I’m hopeful that in the future we can continue to tweak as necessary.”

Silberberg said she would restore the four lanes.

“This is a major arterial road that leads to our only hospital,” she said. “I’ve seen it and many residents have seen it and told me about it that they’ve seen ambulances stuck. I think we have a chance to right this wrong, and, of course, keep the pedestrian improvements, but I wouldn’t have voted for it and I will restore the travel lanes if I can get everyone together on that.”


Silberberg said she’s been saddened to hear reports of residents not trusting their government, and defended recently pledging herself to an accountability pledge labeled the Alexandria Constituents’ Bill of Rights. Silberberg lost to Wilson in the Democratic primary in 2018, and says that she worked 16 hours a day, seven days a week during her single term.

“I think they [City staff] should sign the pledge as well,” she said.

Silberberg also criticized the performance and six-figure salary of City Manager Mark Jinks.

“It is a lot of money, frankly. I brought this up (when mayor) but nobody agreed with me, but for the City Manager to have a car allowance. It sounds minor, but I don’t think we should have that for him. I think we should revise that.”

Wilson said that Jinks’ salary was in the middle of the pack when compared to the salaries of neighboring jurisdictions, and that he is appropriately paid given the organization that he runs.

Colocation of affordable housing

Wilson said he does not want to colocate affordable housing on the grounds of Alexandria City Public Schools, a position echoed by Silberberg on another controversial issue.

I don’t support putting affordable housing on our existing school properties,” he said. “We need more instructional space.”

Silberberg said that the school system is bursting at the seams as it is.

“I would certainly support an ordinance to say no to putting housing on our limited school properties,” she said.

Stream restoration

Wilson said that the city’s Environmental Policy Commission is full of “good science minds” that can look into the city’s stream restoration projects, including at Taylor Run, Strawberry Run and Lucky Run. Last month, Council opted to send aspects of the projects back to the drawing board in light of widespread public criticism.

Silberberg says that Alexandria has few forests left, and that she has long been opposed to the plans, as well as Wilson’s “unending pursuit of overbuilding”.

Transit lanes on Duke Street

Speaking of road diets, Wilson and Silberberg agreed that the Duke Street Transitway project should not result in fewer traffic lanes between Landmark Mall and the King Street-Old Town Metro station.

I personally don’t think the volumes on Duke street would allow us to remove any traffic lanes on Duke Street,” Wilson said. “We’re gonna have a lot of community engagement to figure out the best alignment, as well as looking at the intersections to try to reduce some of the cut-through traffic that we see in a lot of our neighborhoods.”

The city is embarking on the public engagement part of the project next month.

On $60 million in federal COVID funding

Silberberg said that the nearly $60 million in COVID relief funds coming to the city should be handled carefully, and after all of last year’s flooding that the funds should be spent on stormwater infrastructure.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime investment from the federal government, and we need to be extremely careful and good stewards of this money,” she said. “Think about what is mission critical. First and foremost, I think we clearly have to focus like a laser beam on this flooding, the sewage and stormwater flooding that’s attacking, and stalking, really, our residents every time it rains.”

Wilson said he’s proud to have led the city through the most significant public health crisis in a century, and that the city needs to invest more in the social, emotional and academic losses experienced by Alexandria children.

“We have an opportunity to make generational investments in our community around our infrastructure, around our facilities, around some of the systems around workforce development and things that are going to ultimately benefit our community for generations,” he said. “We got 1,300 suggestions from the community, and we’re going to be working in June and July to apply those suggestions in figuring out how to use that first tranche of money.”

Image via Seminary Ridge Civic Association/Zoom


Subscribe to our mailing list