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Chase Bank cut the ribbon on its new location in the heart of Old Town this morning.

Chase Bank bought 628 King Street for $11 million in December 2022, more than double its assessed value ($5.2 million last year), according to Alexandria property records. The building was previously a Banana Republic for decades, and closed along with The Gap at 622 King Street in January 2022.

“It is an honor for us to be a part of the Old Town community,” said branch manager Wendy Turner at the ribbon cutting. “It is such a privilege to be a part of this charming and historic community of Old Town residents and business owners, and we;’re so excited to be here.”

Chase Bank first moved to Alexandria in 2019, across the street at 106 N. Washington Street. The New York-based company has 114 locations in the D.C. metro area and plans on having 140 locations by the end of 2025.

A permanent sign will be erected within the next several weeks, staff told ALXnow.

“When we look at our locations we really want to make sure they’re visible and accessible,” said Chase Bank regional manager Alfonzo Guzman. “We’re going to be here in Old Town for a long time.”

The building at 628 and 622 King Street was constructed as a 600-seat theatre in 1854. During the Civil War, the building was named Washington Hall General Hospital, and contained 100 beds for Union soldiers. The building was later a laundromat and an insurance firm before it burned down and was rebuilt.

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A 34-year-old Alexandria man has been charged with allegedly attempting to abduct a woman in Old Town earlier this month.

At around 11 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 1, a 30-year-old woman flagged down an APD officer just outside the Firehook Bakery at 430 S. Washington Street to report she was the victim of an attempted abduction and assault, according to the police scanner.

Xavier Cooper, 34, was arrested on Sept. 29 and charged with abduction with intent to defile. Cooper is being held without bond in the William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center, according to APD.

On Sept. 15, the Alexandria Police Department said that it was aware of social media reports regarding the incident. APD did not refute anything that was reported below on NextDoor:

On sept 1, 2023, Friday of Labor Day weekend, a woman was walking across Wilkes Street and South Washington (Street) toward Firehook Bakery and a man following her grabbed her from behind and violently threw her to the ground, then put her in a choke hold and dragged her behind the bakery into the alley. A man in a car at the light turned down Wilkes (Street) and confronted the assailant and (the) woman ran to his car until police arrived. This was reported by police as a robbery and a kidnapping abduction. The gas station across the intersection got it on camera. The assailant has not been arrested.

The investigation is active, and anyone with information can call Detective Michel Matteson at 703-746-6721 or by email at [email protected]. Digital media can be uploaded here. Tipters can remain anonymous.

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Chase Bank is renovating the former Banana Republic location at 628 King Street, and hopes to have construction completed by November, contractors and bank representatives told ALXnow.

The Chase Bank at 106 N. Washington Street will be moving to the new location, according to Caroline Evert, Chase Bank’s executive director of external communications.

The interior of the former Banana Republic has been gutted and will resemble the interior of other Chase Banks.

“We’ve been looking for a larger location,” Evert said. “It’s going to look like the old bank (at 106 N. Washington Street), just bigger.”

Evert said that the bank wants to hold a ribbon cutting for the new bank in January.

The building at 628 and 622 King Street was constructed as a 600-seat theatre in 1854. During the Civil War, the building was named Washington Hall General Hospital, and contained 100 beds for Union soldiers. The building would become a laundromat and insurance firm before burning down.

Banana Republic and The Gap rented both spaces for decades until early last year, when Gap Inc. closed both locations. The spaces are now being individually rented.

Renderings of the new bank were not available by ALXnow’s deadline.

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Construction of a Holiday Inn Express at 802 N. Washington Street has been suspended (via Architecture, Inc.)

(Updated at 5 p.m.) Development of a Holiday Inn Express in the former Towne Motel property in Old Town North has been suspended, the city tells ALXnow.

It appears the cost of construction was getting too great and the owner was not able to secure financing for the project at 802 N. Washington Street.

The property owner reported to City staff that progress on the project has been suspended,” City spokesperson Camila Olivares said. “Among the challenges are construction pricing and financing availability.”

The news comes years after a historic townhouse at the site was lifted and moved to make way for the hotel. The townhouse, which was built in 1910, was supposed to be moved back to be integrated into the new hotel, according to Architecture Incorporated.

Plans for the 72,000-square-foot, 98-room hotel were released in 2020 and the project was initially scheduled for completion by 2022, according to 2021 Old Town North Small Area Plan.

The property owner did not return calls for comment.

via Architecture Incorporated

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Amber + Slate is open at 123 N. Washington Street (courtesy photo)

There’s a new salon in Old Town.

Amber + Slate soft opened — a quieter trial run compared to the more bombastic “grand opening” — in January at 123 N. Washington Street in the former Circe Salon and Spa.

It’s an Aveda concept salon and only uses vegan, cruelty free, plant-powered products.

This is the second salon for owners Sally Frank and her partner Tricia Fisher, who opened their first location in Newport News in 2019. Frank signed a 10-year lease for the Old Town property.

“It’s definitely been a soft opening,” Frank said. “We wanted to be able to ease into it, and as we slowly grow we’re opening this spot up more.”

Amber + Slate is currently open Thursday to Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and hours will expand as its operation grows. The salon has a grand opening planned for Saturday, May 20.

“We’re capable of handling all textures of skin and hair, for women and men,” Frank said. “It’s really nice for people to come back and get that experience being back in a salon. Having that self care again, being around other people is very disarming for a lot of this anxiety that’s been piled on us over the last few years.”

The salon will unveil its spa this weekend, and will offer facials, waxing, and body scrubs, Frank said. Massages are coming in May.

Frank says she had no plans to expand to Old Town when she opened in Newport News. She’s been a stylist since 2009, when she worked at the former Circe Salon and Spa.

“I wasn’t intending on expanding really, ever,” she said. “I just saw that there was an opportunity for me to either stop working in Alexandria and let go of my clients, or to take a great opportunity with a salon that I had formerly worked for the last several years. So, I talked to the landlord and one thing led to another and now here I am.”

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A Fairfax County man was charged with driving while intoxicated after allegedly crashing into a police cruiser in the area of S. Washington Street and Green Street in Old Town (via Google Maps)

A Fairfax County man goes to court this week for allegedly crashing his car into an Alexandria Police cruiser while driving drunk.

The incident occurred at around midnight on Sunday, Feb. 26, near the intersection of S. Washington Street and Green Street. There were two officers in the cruiser at the time of the crash. While the airbags were deployed, no one was injured in the crash, according to a recently released search warrant affidavit.

The suspect, a 33-year-old Fairfax County resident, was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and reckless driving. He was released that same day on a $5,000 unsecured bond and goes to court for the offenses tomorrow (Wednesday).

There have been 24 people charged with driving while intoxicated this year in Alexandria, compared to 47 during this same time period last year, 24 in the same time period in 2021, 47 in 2020 and 36 in 2019, according to Alexandria’s crime database.

Map via Google Maps

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More than 200 people have signed a petition against ABC Virginia opening a new location on S. Washington Street in Old Town. At the same time, another Change.org petition has gotten about 75 signatures in support of the new liquor store.

A Change.org petition from “Southwest Quadrant Neighbors” has garnered more than 200 signatures, with petitioners complaining that the location at 825 S. Washington Street is “ill-suited as it is located in the middle of a tight-knit residential neighborhood, close to several schools and family and child-oriented establishments, and is without dedicated parking for ABC to secure.”

Virginia ABC is considering the 3,000-square-foot building for a new store, and posted a notification for public comments for two weeks.

“We have received comments both in favor and against the proposed location,” Valerie D. Hubbard, a senior public relations specialist with Virginia ABC, told ALXnow. “We do not have a lease agreement currently.”

Hubbard said that Virginia ABC weighs a number of factors when determining the location for new stores and expanding customer access.

“These include a location’s demographics, traffic patterns, rental rate and population density,” she said. “It also considers the distance of a location to existing stores, sales at those stores, tenant mix at the shopping center, and the accessibility and deliverability to the location. This process has led to the creation of 398 stores throughout the Commonwealth, with 92% of Virginians living only 10 minutes from a Virginia ABC store.”

Those petitioning against ABC moving into the 3,000-square-foot property say that there are four other ABC stores located within two miles of 825 S. Washington Street. There are, in fact, three ABC stores within two miles of the proposed location.

The nearest ABC stores are at 501 Montgomery Street in Old Town North (1.4 miles away), at 3161 Duke Street (about 2.6 miles away), at 5940 Richmond Highway (about 1.4 miles away) in the Huntington area of Fairfax County, and at 1524 Belle View Boulevard in Fairfax County (about 2 miles away).

Opponents say that the new store will result in a crime increase, are “not neighborly,” and will result in decreased parking and increased traffic, but proponents say that there are no ABC stores on the southern section of Old Town.

“It’s a long walk to the north side store that is inconvenient and puts one at risk to other crimes,” states the pro-ABC store petition.

The store is the former home to the Queen Bee Designs pop-up, and is on the same block as Faccia Luna (823 S. Washington Street) and Southside 815 (815 S. Washington Street).

Vienna-based Rosenthal Properties is managing the leasing for the space, which is owned by Writ Limited Partnership.

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A new permit filed with the City of Alexandria indicates that some changes could be underway for the Campagna Center at 418 South Washington Street.

The building, constructed in 1888, was once part of the Alexandria City Public Schools system as a school and later as administrative offices. It was converted into office space in 1981 and was purchased by local child education nonprofit Campagna Center in 1993.

The application lists a series of changes that make for a pretty extensive overhaul to the building. The Campagna Center is looking to replace all windows and sill around the building, replace the several brick walls and gates, create a new entrance at the main doorway on the west side (facing S. Washington Street) and create a new eastern entrance that will bring the building into code compliance.

Campagna Center entrance changes, image via City of Alexandria

Overall, a staff report on the proposed changes recommended approval.

“After careful review of the existing structure to identify existing historic fabric, staff supports the proposed alterations to the historic structure at 418 South Washington Street and recommends approval of the Certificate of Appropriateness [with conditions],” the report said.

The application is scheduled for review at the Board of Architectural Review on Wednesday, Feb. 2.

The full list of proposed changes are listed below the jump.

Read More

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Longtime Alexandrians may remember when Farrah Olivia at 700 S. Washington Street featured outdoor dining under a canopy. Well Farrah Olivia is gone for good, but the outdoor canopy that was once a feature of the Old Town restaurant could be making a comeback.

In 2013, after Farrah Olivia closed, the building’s owner got a permit to destroy the canopy. Seven years later, they’re back and hoping to put it up again to provide a covered seating for customers at the Balducci’s grocery store.

“Similar to the previously approved canopy structure, the proposed addition will provide an enclosed seating area for patrons of the Balducci’s grocery store on the ground floor of the building,” the applicant said. “The one-story addition is compatible with the existing building and surrounding buildings in terms of height, mass and scale, and the architectural style is compatible with structures throughout Old Town.”

Balducci’s isn’t the only Old Town location that’s been turning toward outdoor solutions for pandemic-induced indoor capacity problems. Lena’s Wood-Fired Pizza & Tap converted an outdoor parking deck to a tropical oasis and restaurants along King Streep bumped their dining out into the sidewalk areas to add capacity.

The proposal is scheduled to go to the Board of Architectural Review on Wednesday, Sept. 2.

Image via District Architecture Studio

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There were years of debate and lobbying, Alexandria finally has state authorization to move the Appomattox statue in the middle of the S. Washington Street and Prince Street.

The statue has defenders who say that the statue should not be moved at all. The placement in the center of the street represents the spot where Alexandrians gathered to leave the Union-occupied Alexandria and join the Confederacy. The statue also, pointedly, faces away from Washington D.C. and to the south. While many of the statues being removed across the south glamorize the southern cause, defenders of the statue note that the pose was more solemn.

Opponents of the statue’s location argue that it presents both a traffic hazard and is part of a broader legacy of celebrating both the slavery-supporting Confederate States of America and the lost cause mythos that frequently comprised the bulwark of opposition to the Civil Rights Movement.

Plans approved in 2016 suggested moving the statue to the lawn of the Lyceum, a historical museum that sits at the same intersection. The city lacked the authority to move the statue at that time, but Mayor Justin Wilson said those plans for the statue still stand.

Still others have suggested that the public display of the statue still honors the Confederacy, with suggested alternative locations including the bottom of the Potomac River.

So with the statue’s future currently uncertain, do you think the statue should be moved? If so, where?

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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