Alexandria, VA

This week, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority is asking the public whether or not they’d want to see Virginia Tech added to the name of the new Potomac Yard Metro station.

The name would be associated with Virginia Tech’s Innovation Campus, which is promised to bring a massive redevelopment to the area.

Several Metro stations in the system have other locations included, like Vienna/Fairfax-GMU. The additional names can pose a challenge though, like requiring removal if the facility closes — as is the case with West Falls Church Metro station, which has University of Virginia in the name despite UVA no longer operating a school near the station.

In September, the City Council unanimously approved the potential change, but final approval of the change still rests with WMATA.

Rendering via City of Alexandria

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The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact every aspect of modern-day life, from the way consumers buy their groceries to how employees connect to corporate systems. Learning is no exception.

Since the outbreak, online learning has become more central to people’s lives. And many plan to continue the trend: More than half of American adults who expect to need more education or training post-pandemic say they would do it online, according to an August 2020 survey by the Strada Education Network.

Yet not all online education is created equal — and IT pros looking to invest in a program should compare and contrast options carefully.

Whether pursuing a full-time master’s degree to deepen IT expertise or seeking a certificate to boost content knowledge in a specific area, there are many reasons why Virginia Tech’s 100% online Master of Information Technology program (VT-MIT) is a superior choice for IT leaders.

The U.S. News & World Report’s Best Online Programs report ranks Virginia Tech’s MIT degree the nation’s fourth best. The program blends coursework and offers twelve areas of specialized study for a diverse education.

Courses are taught by world-class faculty experienced in translating a robust academic experience to an effective online format. For nearly 20 years, the VT-MIT program has relied on a two-tiered system of master faculty and distance learning instructors who together deliver a superior online classroom experience that encourages peer-to-peer support, faculty-to-student mentoring and real-time engagement, making VT-MIT a leader in the online education space long before COVID-19 forced other programs to go virtual.

Students can also expect to reap these advantages:

  • Increased Flexibility  Students can choose their own timeline and toggle between full- and part-time schedules, depending on employment status and current workload.
  • Greater Convenience –– A combination of synchronous and asynchronous online classes allows students to learn anywhere, anytime — ideal for remote workers unsure of when they may return to the office.
  • Enhanced Value Students can earn a VT-MIT degree at a universal tuition rate (no residency required) from a well-respected public institution.

Today’s IT professionals must act fast to keep pace with a rapidly evolving IT environment. Experience and specialized IT skills are critical to making the right technology decisions, at the right time. With the flexibility of an online VT-MIT degree or graduate certificate, IT leaders can strike the perfect balance: earn a respected credential that will help them confront the technological challenges of the 21st century while accommodating new realities.

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As the COVID-19 pandemic extends, many professionals are taking this time to prepare for the future by investing in graduate education. And there might not be a better time to do so.

Whether it’s the increased flexibility in classroom formats, frozen tuition rates, relaxed admission requirements, or reduced interest rates on student loans, there are plenty of reasons why students feel like this time period is a unique opportunity for them to build the skills and professional network they need to advance their career.

While fall classes have already started, there are still options for individuals who want to take advantage of graduate study opportunities before next year’s back-to-school season. Virginia Tech’s local Evening MBA program offers a spring entry term with classes starting January 19.

The Evening MBA is a top 20 nationally ranked program designed with maximum flexibility for working professionals.

Students choose their own course load each semester, so those dealing with job uncertainty or working parents with new childcare demands can find the right workload for them and even easily switch between full- and part-time status.

While classes typically take place in-person on weekday evenings at Virginia Tech’s conveniently located Falls Church center, the current environment shifted instruction mode to primarily online, with some classes still offering an in-person option.

The flexible program format contributed to what associate director of MBA recruiting Rebecca McGill described as a “significant increase in applications and enrollments for the fall term.” She added that many also chose this time to apply because they can “take advantage of relaxed GMAT/GRE test score requirements that have never been offered before.”

For spring applicants, the Evening MBA reduced the number of years of work experience required for a test score waiver from ten years to five.

McGill expects the increased application trend to continue for the spring term “as more and more individuals use this time to invest in themselves and their future.”

Applications for the spring semester are due December 1. Learn more at evening.mba.vt.edu.

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Morning Notes

Beyer says New White House Science Report is Misinformation — “This kind of ridiculous misinformation is something you would expect to see from the government of North Korea.” [Twitter]

Senator Amy Klobuchar Attends GOTV Event in Alexandria — “Glad to join @AlexVADems, @C_Herring, @AmyJacksonVA and Councilwoman Del Pepper at an early voting event in Alexandria, Virginia for Sen. Mark Warner and VA candidates up and down the ballot. Everyone, please make a plan and go vote!” [Twitter]

New Luxury Condos Near Amazon HQ2 and Virginia Tech in Alexandria — “Just minutes from Amazon’s new HQ2 complex in Northern Virginia, The FORTIS Companies of Washington, DC has broken ground on a 138-unit luxury condominium community called Dylan. Its planned 2022 delivery coincides with the highly anticipated opening of the new Potomac Yard Metro Station, a five-minute walk from Dylan’s front door. Dylan’s spacious one- to three-bedroom condos will average 1,200 square feet and will be priced from the $600,000’s to over $1 million.” [Zebra]

Upland Park Development Gets BDAC Approval — “On Monday evening, the Beauregard Design Advisory Committee (BDAC) hosted its the final meeting to discuss Phase 1 of the Upland Park development project, giving approval to the plans to build a new townhome community.” [Alexandria Living]

Fire Department Recommends Battery-Operated Candles this Halloween — “If you have fall/Halloween decorations, use battery-operated candles in jack-o-lanterns & keep all decorations away from open flames to prevent home fires. Read more about celebrating safely & preventing the spread of COVID-19 during your festivities.” [Twitter]

Today’s Weather — “Cloudy (during the day). High 73F. Winds light and variable. Rain showers in the evening will evolve into a more steady rain overnight. Low 59F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 100%. Rainfall near a half an inch.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Document Control Specialist — “Use knowledge of the legal process and legal terms to analyze the content of legal documents and determine the status of investigative or court proceedings; recognize documents that are missing; and work with attorneys, paralegals, and legal assistants to obtain and organize documents for filing.” [Indeed]

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This was a big week for Alexandria.

Our top story this week was the Alexandria School Board’s decision to reopen schools for students with disabilities, while the future reopening of school for elementary, middle and high schoolers remains in doubt.

Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr. said that the only feasible option for reopening schools — based on distancing and staffing constraints — would be for students to rotate to in-person schooling only one day per week. Hutchings also appeared on CNN and said that ACPS is not likely to fully reopen until there is a vaccine for the coronavirus.

We also reported that the Alexandria City Council approved plans for Virginia Tech’s Innovation Campus and the North Potomac Yard development plan, virtually paving the way for the college to open its doors to hundreds of students by 2024.

“This is a very significant set of decisions for the city, and is really going to shape, not just a portion of our city, but really the entirety of our city for a long period of time to come,” said Mayor Justin Wilson.

On the coronavirus front, there are now 75 deaths in Alexandria and there are now or have been more than 4,100 cases since the pandemic began in March. Latino residents continue to lead the case count.

Governor Ralph Northam and Virginia Transportation Secretary Shannon Valentine were in the city on Monday to unveil a team of new zero emission DASH electric buses.

We also reported that the City Council unanimously approved naming the 1000 block of Montgomery Street in Old Town “Earl F. Lloyd Way” in honor of the first Black man to ever play in the National Basketball Association.

Restaurant-wise, we spoke with one of the owners of a pizza and burger joint that is taking over the former location of Pizzeria Paradiso on lower King Street. The Chewish Deli is also now open in Old Town, and the owner of Del Ray Boccato says that his gelato shop will soon open.

Additionally, more than 175 people participated in our weekly poll. With the November 3 election around the corner, this week we asked about voting plans, and 65% of respondents voted by mail/absentee, 31% plan to vote on election day, and 4% are not voting.

Here are ALXnow’s top stories this week in Alexandria:

  1. School Board Shelves Plan to Reopen Schools in 2021, Students with Disabilities Transitioning Back Next Month
  2. City Releasing Torpedo Factory Draft Action Plan Today
  3. City Council Approves Virginia Tech Innovation Campus and North Potomac Yard Development Plan
  4. Alexandria Student Called N-Word in Online Forum, and Not By Another Student
  5. Republican Jeff Jordan Running Uphill Battle Against Incumbent Rep. Don Beyer
  6. The Chewish Deli Opens New Location in Old Town
  7. One Arrested After Attempted Armed Robbery in Alexandria’s West End
  8. Report: ACPS Superintendent Sends Child to Bishop Ireton High School
  9. Female Suspect Flees, Nothing Taken in Attempted Old Town Bank Robbery
  10. Alexandria and Arlington Want a New Future for the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center
  11. Alexandria Courthouse Deep Cleaned After Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19

Have a safe weekend!

Photo via ACPS/Facebook

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The Alexandria City Council unanimously approved plans for the first phase of the massive North Potomac Yard redevelopment on Saturday.

Those plans include three academic buildings with significant open space dedicated to computer science research and development programs for the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus, open space and a mix of six residential and office buildings.

“This is a very significant set of decisions for the city, and is really going to shape, not just a portion of our city, but really the entirety of our city for a long period of time to come,” said Mayor Justin Wilson.

Saturday’s approval was necessary for Virginia Tech to meet its timeline of being operational at Potomac Yard by fall 2024.

The first phase of the $1 billion campus will see construction of three academic buildings dedicated to computer science research and development programs at Alexandria’s border with Arlington. The permanent campus will take up four acres and will accommodate 750 computer science master’s degree students per year and more than 100 doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows.

“We made a commitment, the city made a commitment to do what he can do to get that campus and academic building open by the fall of 2024,” said land use attorney Cathy Puskar, who represents landowner JBG Smith. “And despite a pandemic and other interruptions, everybody has held to that schedule. So, it really has been a Herculean effort, and we’re really excited to be here today.”

The master plan amendment includes increasing building heights near the proposed Potomac Yard Metro station. Buildings in Block 15 would increase in height from 85 feet to 90 feet, and from 90 feet to 115 feet on Block 18.

Council is expected to approve the design of a pump station in the northern section of the property this winter. The property reserved for the pump station will be a temporary home for outdoor parking lots until the underground lots for the buildings under construction are ready.

Images via City of Alexandria

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Not everyone has the time or financial resources to commit to a full master’s degree program. Some may already have a master’s and are just looking for a narrow update on a current skillset. For these reasons, Virginia Tech’s 100% online Master of Information Technology program now offers IT professionals the option to earn a graduate certificate in 10 specialized IT subject areas.

“IT leaders can find a certificate that speaks exactly to their professional needs without having to commit several years to pursuing a master’s degree,” says Barbara Hoopes, Associate Professor of Business Information Technology at Virginia Tech. In fact, students can earn a certificate in as little as 12 months as a part-time student.

Whether looking to simply enhance existing skills or prepare for a major career transition, students can expect to reap these rewards:

Enhanced Marketability — Both experienced and aspiring IT professionals can enhance their expertise through thoughtfully designed certificates that allow students to develop skills in areas where a current dearth of talent is driving competitive salaries and prime opportunities for career advancement.

Explore High-Demand Areas — Earning a certificate offers a relatively quick opportunity to explore a high-demand content area, like Cybersecurity, Business Data Analytics, or Health Information Technology, to boost marketability and stay abreast of IT trends. Employers can also use a certificate “to contribute to the skill sets and the knowledge base of employees without having to release them to earn a degree as a full-time student,” says Hoopes.

Greater Convenience — Exclusively online, a VT-MIT master’s degree or graduate certificate satisfies an increasing demand among IT workers for greater flexibility. Students can easily switch between full or part-time status and shift their course loads to match their personal and professional demands. An online VT-MIT degree or graduate certificate offers students the skills they need while at the same time balancing today’s personal, professional and academic demands.

Learn more about Virginia Tech’s 100% online Master of Information Technology and graduate certificate options at vtmit.vt.edu.

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Alexandria was dominated by violent crime events this week.

The second murder of 2020 occurred on Sept. 30, and ALXnow identified the victim as 57-year-old John Harding Pope. Mayor Justin Wilson and members of the City Council offered their condolences and said that justice will be served.

Our poll asking residents if they feel safe in Alexandria received more than 500 votes, and 60% feel somewhat safe, 29% feel very safe and 12% feel not safe at all.

Old Town regulars will also be sad to learn that Miegs Hodge, a 1982 graduate of T.C. Williams High School, died in a car crash on N. Washington Street on Tuesday, Sept. 29.

Not on this week’s list is Friday’s breaking news story that Jesse Bjerke, a former nurse at Inova Alexandria Hospital, was sentenced to 65 years in prison for raping two lifeguards at gunpoint.

There was some positive news. A new gym will be opening in the West End later this month, a local chef won on the ‘Chopped’ reality show, and the city’s unemployment rate continues to trend downward.

Here are ALXnow’s top stories this week in Alexandria:

  1. Homeowner Shot in Targeted Del Ray Home Invasion
  2. UPDATED: Driver Seriously Injured in Old Town Crash
  3. Police Investigate Violent Early Morning Crimes in Alexandria
  4. West End Shootout Wounds Two and Hits Buildings and Cars
  5. Alexandria Wants to Make Affordable Housing Contributions Mandatory for Developers
  6. Man Dies After Crash on N. Washington Street in Old Town
  7. Avanti Holdings to Build New West End Home for ‘Alexandria Lighting Supply’ Store
  8. Man Shot on Quantrell Avenue in City’s Second Murder of 2020
  9. Poll: How Safe Do You Feel in Alexandria?
  10. Republican Jeff Jordan Running Uphill Battle Against Incumbent Rep. Don Beyer
  11. Virginia Tech Pump Station Approval Paves Way for 4.5 Extra Acres at Potomac Yard Park

Have a safe weekend!

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In an uncertain economy, professionals may find that returning to school for an MBA can be a productive way to sharpen skills and add credentials while working to launch the next stage of their careers.

Virginia Tech’s Evening MBA program, based in the university’s Northern Virginia Center in Falls Church, has attracted many new students this fall for several reasons, said MBA programs director Dana Hansson. These include its stellar reputation and top 20 national ranking; dedicated faculty, many with industry experience; extensive alumni network; and great value.

Those who majored in science, engineering and other nonbusiness disciplines as undergraduates — such as Ryan Feber, a 2003 Virginia Tech graduate in computer science, and Bryan Gassenmeyer, who earned a degree in industrial and systems engineering at Virginia Tech in 2006 — have found that not only is a prior business education not needed to enroll or excel in an MBA program, but that technical backgrounds can be a basis for diversifying or rounding out knowledge and skills for managing or leading change in today’s data economy.

Others like Cody Neder, a 2014 finance alumnus, and Alexis Monahan, a 2006 graduate in communications and psychology, have lauded the program for the business and management knowledge and skills they’ve gained and the rich contributions to their learning from faculty and classmates with diverse professional backgrounds.

And, because life circumstances can change, a program that offers flexibility and affordability — students can shift between full-time and part-time status and apply for paid graduate assistantships — are two more pluses.

Maryann Romero’s experience reflects both these benefits. A stay-at-home mom at the time with an undergraduate degree in communications and rhetorical studies from Syracuse University, Romero finished up in two-and-a-half years and credits the program for opening the door to a new career as a client insights analyst at a media analytics company.

Lastly, Virginia Tech’s caring and supportive community of faculty and staff left a lasting impression on Nicholle Clinton, who received a marketing degree in 2007 and currently expects to complete her MBA in December 2020. Clinton coped with a series of serious family illnesses and losses during her senior year as well as early in her MBA studies. She is grateful for the compassion and assistance she received during both periods from the teaching faculty and program staff.

Learn more about how Virginia Tech can support your career goals at mba.vt.edu.

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The Alexandria City Council on Tuesday night unanimously approved a proposal adding Virginia Tech’s initials to the Potomac Yard Metro Station.

Council approved the name to be the Potomac Yard – VT station. Now the name change goes before the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority for final approval.

Virginia Tech’s $1 billion Innovation Campus is promised to bring a massive redevelopment to the area. Earlier this month, Council deferred the name change after expressing concerns that the site would not meet Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority naming guidelines.

The Metro station is planned to open by spring 2022 and the Innovation Campus is scheduled to open in the fall of 2024. The campus will accommodate 750 computer science master’s degree students per year and more than 100 doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows.

Councilman John Taylor Chapman met with Virginia Tech on the matter.

“This is going to be a partnership, one that’s going to last as long as the station,” Chapman said at the meeting.

Photo via City of Alexandria

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Morning Notes

Virginia Tech Announces Advisory Board for Innovation Campus — “The board consists of company leaders along with several tech pioneers. Members include Sanju Bansal, founder and CEO of Hunch Analytics; Dave Calhoun, president and CEO of Boeing; Ted Colbert, executive vice president of Boeing; Joe DeSimone, professor at Stanford University and executive chairman and co-founder of Carbon; Lynne Doughtie, former chairman and CEO of KPMG; Regina Dugan, CEO of Wellcome Leap; Steve Mollenkopf, CEO of Qualcomm; Russ Ramsey, board chair of Greater Washington Partnership; Kathy Warden, CEO, of Northrop Grumman Corporation; Glenn Youngkin, co-chief executive officer of The Carlyle Group.” [Patch]

Beyer: Trump and Republicans Should Feel Same Urgency With COVID-19 as Ginsburg Replacement — “Imagine if Donald Trump and Senate Republicans felt this urgency about responding to a pandemic that has now killed over 200,000 Americans. 4 months ago the House passed a bill to help American families and boost the economy. Mitch McConnell said he didn’t feel any ‘urgency.'” [Twitter]

Volunteers Honored in Virtual Ceremony — “On Saturday, August 29, New Hope Housing (NHH) – an Alexandria nonprofit that helps homeless families and individuals – recognized a group of volunteers at its Annual Volunteer Appreciation Breakfast.” [Zebra]

Little Theatre of Alexandria Auditioning for ‘A Christmas Carol’ — “LTA’s A Christmas Carol for 2020 will be the most unique ever. It will feature live, virtual, and animated elements. We are looking for a family who can portray Mr. Cratchit, Mrs. Cratchit, and Tiny Tim. Tiny Tim will also portray Turkey Boy and Boy Scrooge. These three characters will participate in Zoom rehearsals in October and three rehearsals at LTA in early November, with a taping date of Saturday, November 15.” [Facebook]

Tall Ship Providence Gets Repaired — “Our Providence team has had a very busy weekend! While in the boat yard, they have sanded the hull to prepare it for a new coat of paint and performed other routine maintenance in preparation for the scheduled Coast Guard inspection.” [Facebook]

Today’s Weather — “Sunny skies (during the day). High 72F. Winds NW at 5 to 10 mph. Clear skies (at night). Low 54F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Global Trade Group Command Media Manager — “Manage of Global Trade Group (GTG) Command Media throughout the lifecycle of drafting to final posting in the corporate electronic library. Reviews draft policies and procedures submitted by corporate trade segments/functions and non-trade functions to ensure alignment with corporate GTG trade-related command media. Recommends changes to ensure alignment with GTG trade policies and procedures. Maintains GTG
records relating to trade policies and procedures, tracks status of all command media submitted to GTG by the Policy Review Board (PRB) and ensures suspense deadlines are met.” [Indeed]

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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.

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