Alexandria, VA

Morning Notes

New Residential Building Promises Daycare and Retail in Braddock Area — “Right now, that property is primarily garage and warehouse space for a variety of auto and other businesses.” [Alexandria Living]

Van Dorn, Eisenhower Metro Stations Reopening June 28 — “Several stations and stops were closed in March, in an effort to conserve cleaning supplies during the early stages of the pandemic.” [Zebra]

Residential Proposal Made for Old Town North Building — “The project, at 801 N. Fairfax St., goes before the City of Alexandria Planning Commission this Thursday and may go before the City Council on July 7.” [Alexandria Living]

Nectar Coffee & Wine Bistro Closes For Good — “Susan and I have made the extremely difficult decision to close Nectar permanently. We have loved our business, awesome staff, customers and neighbors and are truly grateful for your business over the past 3 years. See you in the neighborhood!” [Facebook]

The Water Taxi is Back — “On June 22 the Potomac Water Taxi resumed service between Alexandria, National Harbor, and the District. Dining cruises resume on Saturday, June 27. To ensure the safety of all on board, a number of procedures are in place. The safety measures include requiring face coverings for all guests (ages 3 and up), physical distancing, touchless entry boarding and ticketing, and reduced capacity onboard.” [Zebra]

TEDxOronocoBayPark Cancels All 2020 Events — “We are excited to be bringing the TED content to the community virtually through the TED Circles program – save the date July 20 7 p.m.” [Facebook]

Alexandria Symphony Premiers Virtual Concert — “Welcome to Alexandria Symphony’s Garden Sounds! Enjoy music from ASO musicians and appearances from special guests Paula Poundstone, Alan Gilbert and more!” [Youtube]

New Job: Bartender — “Be a part the Silver Diner Family! We are hiring full-time Bartenders for all shifts for our Grand Opening in Alexandria! Full-time Bartenders at our established locations can make $400-$700 in tips per week!” [Indeed]

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Morning Notes

Metro Closing Eisenhower and Van Dorn Stations — “Metro’s Pandemic Task Force today announced the strategic closing of 17 additional stations, effective Thursday, March 26, 2020, in an effort to conserve critical resources and protect the health and safety of Metro employees and the public. This follows drastic measures already taken to reduce travel on Metro to essential trips only, leading to a Metrorail ridership decline of 90 percent.” [WMATA]

Inova Blood Services Needs Donors — “COVID-19 has heightened awareness of the necessity to be continuously diligent in protecting our donors both in our donor centers and while we are out in the community.  Inova Blood Donor Services is fully committed to the health and safety of our blood donors and the patients who benefit from the generous blood, plasma, and platelet donations.” [Inova]

Locals Support Alexandria Police — “We would like to thank Starbucks for providing our officers with coffee, and Jackson 20 for providing our officers with fruit, and granola bars. We truly appreciate your support!” [Twitter]

Rotary Club of Alexandria Donates $10K to City’s COVID-19 Fund — “Recognizing many Alexandrians are already on the financial edge, the Rotary knows the grant will immediately be available to help meet the demand for emergency health and mental services, food, rent, utility, and childcare assistance.” [Zebra]

Court Appointed Special Advocate Training Goes Online — “Please say hello to this INCREDIBLE class of CASA Volunteers-in-Training! Our team has quickly moved training online so that we can continue to prepare these adults to advocate for children in our community who have been abused or neglected. We are so grateful for their commitment and flexibility as we move forward in these times.” [Facebook]

Del Ray Pizzeria Accepting Donations For Staff — “When you’re picking up your takeout, drop off donations of household products & nonperishable food items at Del Ray Pizzeria to help restaurant workers in Del Ray that are going through a very difficult time right now.” [Visit Del Ray]

School of Rock Alexandria Launches Remote Program — “School of Rock Remote allows us to provide the same level of instruction that we’re known for, but in a way that prioritizes health and safety.” [Zebra]

Del Ray Artisans Makes Schedule Updates — “ALL INDOOR PROGRAMS ARE CANCELLED from now through the end of April. Our two outdoor programs will have fewer than 10 people and remain on schedule.” [Facebook]

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(Updated at 12 p.m.) A bald eagle rescued on Metro tracks has died — but not before revealing something interesting.

The eagle died earlier this week after being rescued near the Van Dorn Metro station tracks and rushed to the Blue Ridge Wildlife Center in Boyce, Virginia. His broken wing was a deep fracture down to the bone, and it was located too close to his elbow to ever heal properly, said service providers at the wildlife hospital.

But Blue Ridge staff said blood tests from the bird were a surprise.

“It’s actually our first eagle in three years not to have lead in its system,” said Dr. Jen Riley, the hospital’s director of veterinary services. “We test every single bald eagle that comes in because they tend to have very high lead levels.”

Riley told ALXnow that eagles are primarily scavengers and often absorb lead by eating dead animals shot with lead bullets. “There are huge amounts of lead in Virginia because we have such a huge hunting population,” she noted.

In the past, some eagles rescued in the area have had faced long recoveries from lead poisoning, among other injuries. Riley said finding an eagle with no lead in his body probably meant he was frequently fishing in the Potomac River.

“There’s definitely an awesome population of eagles near the Potomac, but that implies they have pretty good food there,” she said of the lead test.

D.C. has sunk billions into cleaning up its long-polluted waterways, and there are signs it may be paying off: scientists are spotting more dolphins downstream, and some hope it will be clean enough for humans to swim in soon. An eagle being able to regularly fish from the water may be another good sign — but Riley cautioned that a fish shortage might then have driven the bird to seek other prey.

“They probably just have a good amount of dead mice or rats along Metro tracks,” she said of her guess why two eagles this year have been found near the tracks. “Raptors in general are on our roads for that reason.” 

Both raptors were transported to the National Eagle Repository, which collects deceased eagles for Native American ceremonies. The program is part of the Bald Eagle Protection Act, dating back to the 1940s, that restricts who can and cannot care for eagles and keep parts, like feathers. Although the eagle populations have rebounded since the country stopped using the notoriously deadly pesticide DDT, the federal protections remain in place today.

Riley said anyone who finds an eagle should contact their local animal control, and if they’re not sure who that is, they can contact state wildlife hospitals like Blue Ridge, which will help them find the right person to help.

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After a rocky start, new plans are coming forward to redevelop an industrial site near the Van Dorn Metro

Two years ago, plans to redevelop an industrial property belonging to Vulcan Materials — a company that creates gravel, asphalt, concrete and other construction materials — near the Van Dorn Metro went cold. But Potomac Land Group II, LLC and developer Lennar are taking another crack at the property to develop townhomes, condo units and a commercial building.

“I’ve stood here with six different developers who have tried to make this work,” said Ken Wire, an attorney for the developers, at a Sept. 11 meeting of the Eisenhower West/Landmark Van Dorn Implementation Group. “Vulcan has done the dance with three or four purchasers over the years.”

The new plans call for townhomes on two blocks on the north side of the property along Courtney Avenue, with residential condominiums backing up against a railroad on the south side of the property. A hotel would sit at the corner of Courtney Avenue and S. Van Dorn Street.

Wire said the residences at the site would be considered “middle-market housing,” affordable to a broader array of potential residents than pricier projects elsewhere in the city.

“We don’t have a lot of middle-market housing,” Wire said. “What we’re thinking about here is delivering a variety of product types so that we can serve many different residents.”

The property at 701 S. Van Dorn Street is paradoxically a prime location for development and a challenge. The property is very close to the Van Dorn Metro station and along the Van Dorn Street corridor eyed for redevelopment over the next few years. But Wire said the property itself has some steep slopes and backs up close to the train tracks.

“It’s close to the Metro, but it’s a million miles away,” Wire noted near end of the meeting. “How do we make Backlick Run more than a trash heap?”

As part of the development proposal, the applicants are also offering 6.9 acres of the property as open space.

“It’s not [acres] of ball fields, though,” Wire cautioned. “It’s challenging open space on a grade.”

The site is currently used by Vulcan as a storage space for construction materials, mulch and trucks. Without a sufficient amount of density that will make a profit at that location, Wire said it will continue to operate as storage space.

“Without a certain amount of development rights, it’s highest and best use is what it is today,” Wire said. “If you put two townhomes there, guess what, it stays industrial. You need just enough development to make the new development worthwhile. Two townhouses here is not going to make it worth a sale.”

Wire said the fastest the development could come back for city approval would be next spring or summer.

“It’s a 2020 end of first quarter, second quarter-ish [item],” Wire said. “It will be after the new year that we come back with designs.”

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