Alexandria, VA

Morning Notes

Fairlington UMC Warns Against Phishing Scam — “Remember the phrase ‘fishers of men?’ We have PHISHERS again. They are sending emails and TEXTS from ‘Janine Howard’ asking you to go out and buy ebay cards for them. Don’t do it. If you’d like to make charitable donations, call or go to our website.” [Facebook]

Burke & Herbert Bank Issues More Than 1,100 PPP Loans — “Today Burke & Herbert Bank, which has been serving the northern Virginia business community for more than 167 years, announced that nearly 1,100 Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans totaling approximately $136 million in aid for local businesses have been approved for the Bank’s customers.  As a result, an estimated 10,000 individuals in the local community will remain employed or return to the businesses’ payroll.” [Zebra]

Inova Alexandria Hospital Gets ‘A’ Safety Rating — “We are so proud Inova Alexandria Hospital was awarded an ‘A’ for The Leapfrog Group’s Hospital Safety Grade for the 4th consecutive time and we are thrilled that all five Inova hospitals were awarded an ‘A.’ Leapfrog’s Hospital Safety Grade is a national distinction which recognizes achievements in protecting patients from harm and providing safer healthcare.” [Facebook]

Rotary Club Awards $65K to Local Nonprofits — “The grants seek to improve the lives of children, youth, seniors and those with special needs in the Alexandria community. The grants are traditionally presented at the organization’s annual Contributions Day Luncheon in mid-June. Due to the current COVID-19 crisis, recipients were notified earlier this month and funds were dispersed in an effort to quickly support the needs of each nonprofit.” [Gazette]

ACPS Releases Info on Buying Graduation Caps and Gowns for Virtual Graduation — “Total cost for the cap, gown, and tassel (includes tax and shipping) is $44.47. The cap, gown, and tassel will then be delivered to your home. If you pre-ordered your cap and gown, Herff Jones will be shipping them out next week. You should receive it by May 15!” [Facebook]

Sheriff’s Office Recognizes National Nurses Week — “Today marks the start of National Nurses Week. We work closely together every day so we know how awesome our nurses are but this year, we really can’t say ‘thank you’ often enough!” [Facebook]

Historic Map Comparisons Reveal 18th Century Waterfront Expansion — “This 1749 map shows the minimally altered shoreline of the city running in a gentle arc from West’s Point to the north down to Point Lumley. This 1798 map shows dramatic changes to the shoreline. In 50 years, Alexandrians created several blocks of new land along the Potomac River, changing both the physical landscape and the City’s economic prospects.” [Facebook]

Alexandria Living Magazine Participating in Face Mask Contest — “Alexandria Living Magazine has teamed up with Mission Masks by KH Giving to encourage more Alexandria residents to wear masks while supporting local businesses and nonprofit organizations. Plus, purchasing a Mission Mask will earn you an entry into a raffle where you can win prizes valued at up to $15,000, including jewelry, local restaurant and retailer gift cards, wine from Sonoma Cellar and much more.” [Facebook]

New Job: Harris Teeter Hiring Customer Service Management Assistant — “Supervise up to 120 associates in the Customer Service Department [cashiers, baggers, customer service clerks] and accounting office. Is responsible for assisting the Department Manager with the overall direction, coordination, and evaluation of these departments. Carry out supervisory responsibilities in accordance with Harris Teeter’s policies and standards.” [Indeed]

It’s Hurricane Preparedness Week — “It’s Hurricane Preparedness Week, and @AlexandriaVAGov is urging the community to be prepared for a potential land-falling storm or hurricane. Making preparations now is the best way to protect yourself, your property and your loved ones.” [Twitter]

Virginia Theological Seminary Panel Discussion on Vacation Bible School at 3 p.m. — “Vacation Bible School is a flagship event for Christian formation and discipleship in many churches. As we live into the COVID-19 pandemic, folks are wondering how to move forward. Do we cancel altogether? Should we offer the full programming via Zoom? Would people use activity bags for pick-up at the church? We feel ourselves wondering, ‘NOW WHAT?'” [Eventbrite]

Alexandria Symphony Orchestra Trio Performing at Goodwin House at 4 p.m. — “Residents will open their windows at 4:00 p.m. to be treated to a 30-minute program performed by a trio of brass players led by ASO Music Director James Ross. Some residents will also enjoy the concert via limited seats on Goodwin House Alexandria’s rooftop. Thursday’s Courtyard Concert is just one activity Goodwin House Alexandria has planned to keep residents in high spirits, while maintaining social distancing. Many Goodwin House Alexandria residents are subscribers to the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra.” [ASO]

Del Ray Conducting Community Porch Party at 6 p.m. — “The Del Ray Business Association is proud to present the first-ever First Thursday: Porch Party from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, May 7. In the spirit of Del Ray’s summer street festivals, the event features a wide range of activities that promote community while maintaining social distancing standards. Wear your mask, keep proper social distancing, and participate in these community activities.” [Facebook]

Oakville Triangle Virtual Meeting at 6 p.m. — “The third online engagement opportunity will include a live presentation by the applicant via a Zoom meeting on Thursday, May 7 beginning at 6 p.m. where the community may ask questions directly in the online forum. A link to the virtual meeting can be found below and will also be posted to the project website with accompanying materials prior to May 7. A recording of the meeting and an online feedback portal for community comments will be posted to the project website following the live presentation.” [City of Alexandria]

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Waterfront restaurant Virtue Feed and Grain (106 S. Union Street) reopened Friday for takeout only.

A new menu is compiled from staff favorites with featured entrees including quesadillas, enchiladas, and short ribs with prices around $15. Family meals are also available with options serving three or six.

The menu also includes wine and beer sales for takeout, something recently allowed during the pandemic.

Sales at the store can only be made with credit cards. Takeout is available between 11 a.m.-8 p.m. every day.

https://www.facebook.com/virtuefeedgrain/photos/a.817521448263404/3683442535004600/?type=3&theater

Orders can also only be placed over the phone for the time being, but the restaurant website says online ordering is coming soon.

Virtue Feed and Grain is the latest in a series of restaurants across the city that have gradually reopened with limited takeout and delivery options.

Photo via Virtue Feed and Grain/Facebook

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Former Virginia Senator John W. Warner has agreed to let the Tall Ship Providence Foundation to use his name for its recently approved visitor center complex.

“As the only Secretary of the Navy to serve in the Navy and Marine Corps, combined with his 30-years of service in the Senate, we are thrilled to recognize his contributions to our country,” Clair S. Sassin, the foundation’s executive director, said in an email.

While the naming of the visitor’s center is a positive development, the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted the foundation. The programs/communications director and the marketing director were recently let go and the capital campaign for the project will have to be pushed to the end of the year, Sassin said.

City Council approved the L-shaped, 5,300 square-foot floating pier on March 14. The pier will be home to two 17-foot-tall cottages, both 768 square feet, to accommodate visitors with a theater area for historical presentations, a gift shop, restrooms and a ticket office. The new complex will open on a floating pier at Waterfront Park in 2022, and in the meantime will operate at its current location at Founders Park.

In the meantime, Sassin is working on creating online content to tell the stories of the Providence, and is participating in the upcoming Spring2ACTion fundraiser on Wednesday.

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After seven years on the Alexandria waterfront, Vola’s Dockside Grill is set for an expansion. On Tuesday, City Council will consider adding 30 outside seats for the restaurant’s outdoor seating area.

The location at 101 N. Union Street is notable since it is a highly traveled area of the waterfront and is next door to the Torpedo Factory Art Center and Waterfront Park. The restaurant currently has 87 outdoor seats, and the proposal calls on 114 outdoor seats.

Vola’s is owned by Alexandria Restaurant Partners, which also owns Mia’s Italian Kitchen and The Majestic.

Upon approval, the license would be in effect from April 1, 2020, and end on March 31, 2023. The annual fee to be paid would be $50,386.09 in the first year, $51,895.90 in the second year and $53,457.78 for the third year.

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Don’t worry. Even though Hal Hardaway just closed on a house in Williamsburg, he’ll still be around half the time.

If you don’t know the 70-year-old Hardaway by sight, you might know his famous garage, or the emails the Old Town resident sends to more than 1,000 people on a daily basis railing about the Alexandria waterfront or videos he shares of electric scooter violators.

“I see four-year-old kids on scooters,” Hardaway told ALXnow. “Multiple kids on scooters, fathers with their little toddlers, you know, hanging on, going full speed down the street without helmets. I mean, that is just wrong. And then you get to the point, and we could talk about this for three hours, of how are we going to enforce the law?”

When not fixing up classic sports cars (he has five), Hardaway, a retired U.S. Navy captain, can routinely be spotted walking around lower King Street in his baseball cap, jeans and Navy jacket. He’s a historian at heart and wants to keep the city’s historic appearance in tact, and jokingly refers to last year’s Mirror-Mirror art display on the waterfront as “Technicolor Stonehenge.”

He also once unsuccessfully sued the city for what he viewed as height violations in the Robinson Terminal South development. Recently, he made a Freedom of Information Act request for information related to scooter companies operating in Alexandria. He found that there have been no fines levied against the companies since their introduction in Alexandria last year.

Lately, Hardaway’s been impressed with the Alexandrians Against The Seminary Road Diet Facebook group, and has commented on a few posts.

“This Seminary Road page is the most organized group I’ve seen on going after the city on these kinds of issues, and a kind of fun thing,” Hardaway said. “It’s really interesting, because people have got their their broad swords out now about City Hall… I wish I could have done something like this, and so I’ve made a couple comments this morning. I hope it expands into something greater, something beyond just Seminary Road.”

An only child, Hardaway grew up with an affinity for fixing things in his father’s machine and welding shop in the small town of Crewe, which is about 45 miles southwest of Richmond. After graduating with a physics degree from The College of William & Mary, he spent 30 years in the Navy and lived all over the world as a cryptologist (code breaking), even working a three-year stint as inspector general of the Naval Security Group Command under the Chief of Naval Operations.

Hardaway moved to the area in the late 1990s for his final naval tour at the Pentagon, and never left. He retired from the Navy in 2002 and then worked for eight years in the private sector before officially retiring in 2010. That was around the time that he got interested in local politics.

“I started attending waterfront meetings,” Hardaway said. “The entire reason the city is here is because of the waterfront, and there isn’t any signage or historical markers telling tourists why it’s so important.”

Hardaway is a member of the Environmental Council of Alexandria and sits on the organizing committee for the Old Town Festival of Speed and Style classic car show, the latter of which he co-founded. He recently bought a house in Williamsburg that will be able to accommodate four of his cars, and will soon be spending about half of his time there.

Like classic cars in need of repairs, he looks at Alexandria as a beautiful but broken machine, and he wants to help fix it.

“I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to be here for years,” he said. “I think some progress is being made mainly because lots more people are engaged. Look at the development of the wetlands at Potomac Yard. That’s another one. The city is driven by money, and I like it here, but it’s hurt the quality of life, which is going downhill.”

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Nobody knows where the styrofoam that washed up on Alexandria’s shore came from, but it was one part of the haul of debris that got swept up in a recent deep clean of Alexandria’s waterfront.

“We have a debris problem on the river,” said Jack Browand, division chief of Parks and Cultural Activities.

Alexandria is no stranger to flooding, but the city frequently struggles with debris not just from floods, but the common currents and tides that make Alexandria’s waterfront the region’s dumping ground.

Browand said the Potomac River’s flow pushes materials up into the city’s waterfront areas. High tides push those up into pools or riprap and they get stuck.

Browand said the city recently allocated $50,000 in funding to clean the waterfront, which paid for an initial cleaning from late December to Jan. 10. There’s enough funding for another major cleaning in the spring, likely around May, he said.

There are some areas that Browand said didn’t get the same level of treatment. If Alexandrians notice more debris in the northern portion of Windmill Hill Park, for instance, Browand said there is a contract to do planting there in the spring as part of a park renovation; it wouldn’t have been efficient to take the debris out just to re-clean that area after the planting.

“It just takes one strong storm with a northwest wind and we get a large accumulation overnight,” Browand said. “It’s consistently inconsistent with where debris lands.”

The city does implement some measures to try to cut down on debris. In the marina, Browand said there are “bubblers” that are partially submerged and create turbulence that keeps debris from becoming stuck. Even those solutions have their own problems, though, and Browand said the bubblers have to be adjusted regularly and are useless if there’s a low tide. There are also booms that keep debris out, but they’re not foolproof — they get breached and have to be manually cleared.

On a larger scale, there are several flood mitigation measures included in the city’s multi-year capital program for the waterfront. A study released last year included a review of plans for new bulkheads, a rehabilitated local storm sewer, and pumping stations.

“There’s no shortage of potential solutions, but they all cost money, time, and have environmental impacts,” Browand said. “The city’s waterfront is three miles long. That’s a lot of waterfront.”

One of the worst offenders for flooding is the riprap — man-placed stone obstacles meant to reinforce the shore and break up waves. Browand said the riprap has a tendency to collect and hold onto the debris pushed up by the tides. On the bright side, however, Browand said sometimes flooding during high tides pushes the trapped debris up onto the parks, which is unsightly but easier to clean up.

As for the styrofoam, Browand said the city doesn’t know where it came from and may never know.

“It was kind of odd,” Browand said. “It was a large concentration of it. Since then, we haven’t had that problem. Usually, there are things based on the weather, like tiny pieces of things will show up.”

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Morning Notes

Alexandria Dog Featured in Puppy Bowl — “The Puppy Bowl features dogs from shelters and rescue groups like Alexandria-based dog rescue Operation Paws for Homes. The rescue group is holding a watch party Sunday, Feb. 2 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Wag & Brew, 614 S Pickett Street, Alexandria.” [Patch]

Crash Snarls Rush Hour Traffic — Just before 5:30 p.m. last night a crash, reportedly involving a car and a motorcycle, shut down portions of Sanger Avenue and Beauregard Street, snarling rush hour traffic. [Twitter]

Apartment Building Purchase Complete — “The purchase of an Alexandria apartment building that will provide affordable housing units is complete, the Alexandria Housing Development Corporation announced Thursday. Avana Apartments, a 326-unit apartment complex at 3001 Park Center Drive in the West End, will have some units available at lower costs for households that meet income requirements. It will be renamed Parkstone Alexandria.” [Patch]

Waterfront is Highlight for Local Visitors — “Another standout in the data was attraction to the waterfront. In a portion of the survey where respondents were shown photos of scenes around Alexandria – which included shops along King Street, cobblestone roads and historic sites like Mount Vernon – the photos that performed the best were those with water. ‘Our historic character is really important but showing a place that’s on the water is very inspirational to people as a place that they want to visit,’ Vito Fiore, director of marketing and research for Visit Alexandria.” [Alexandria Times]

No Anniversary Beer for Port City — “Each year for our anniversary we craft a unique style of beer. Sadly, after monitoring the brewing process we have decided COLOSSAL IX does not represent our dedication to great quality beer, and we will not be releasing an anniversary beer in 2020.” [Twitter]

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(Updated at 9:30 a.m.) Construction is complete at the second ALX Community coworking office in Old Town, and there is room for new tenants who need an office away from home.

The 25,000 square-foot, two-level office at 201 N. Union Street is the only dog-friendly coworking space in town. It recently opened after signing a 15-year lease for the space.

ALX Community co-owner and Chief Operating Officer Kelly Grant said that people need smaller, more flexible places to work, especially in light of large developments in and around the port city, including Amazon’s HQ2 in Arlington, Virginia Tech’s Innovation Campus at Potomac Yard and the expansion of the waterfront.

When asked possible future expansion plans, Grant said the company will stick with its two locations for the time being.

“We’re very fortunate to be able to provide them a place where they can grow with us,” Grant said. “We have enough right now to be able to serve this community. We don’t have plans immediately to go anywhere else but Alexandria. It’s our hometown. All my partners live here. It’s what we love and we’re hyper-local.”

The second floor at ALX Community opened first, in October, and the ground floor was unveiled at the beginning of the year.

The company launched last spring with the ALX Community location at Founders Hall (106 N. Lee Street), which has since been completely rented out by Compass Realty. Grant describes the new N. Union Street location as mid-century modern-meets-industrial. The building is the former home to administrative offices for the Torpedo Factory Art Center from the days when it made the Mark 14 submarine torpedo in World War II.

On most workdays, Grant arrives early in the morning and leaves well after 5 p.m.

“I don’t think about the minutes or hours I’m spending here,” Grant told ALXnow. “I think about how lucky I am to be able to meet and work with such great people.”

The coworking office currently accommodates more than 100 small businesses and 250 members — including ALXnow, which has a similar name but no relation to ALX Community. It offers flex offices, conference rooms named after notable city locations like Jones Point, phone booths and free coffee and tea and kitchen facilities. The office also hosts monthly meet-ups and discussions on professional development, health and wellness, and “community activation.”

ALX Community will hold a private grand opening event the evening of Thursday, Feb. 6.

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Morning Notes

Absentee Voting Starts Today — “Absentee voting for Virginia’s March 3 Democratic Party Presidential Primary Election begins on Thursday, January 16. Many Alexandria voters are eligible to vote absentee.” [City of Alexandria]

Opening Nears for New Waterfront Coffee Shop — “According to Misha’s General Manager Graham McCulloch, the coffee roaster hopes to open their new waterfront location in April, weather and construction permitting. Misha’s new waterfront coffee shop, the company’s second location, will be at 6 Prince St., the former home of Olde Town Gemstones.” [Alexandria Living]

Amazon Funds Used for City Apartment Purchase — “Investing to benefit existing & future business growth was the foundation for @amazon HQ2 package — very excited that 1st affordable housing funds allocated will be used in ALX!” [Twitter, ALXnow, Washington Business Journal]

City Looking for Top Parking Meter Enforcer — “Hiring Announcement: The Alexandria Police Department is currently looking to fill the position of Parking Enforcement Officer Supervisor.” [City of Alexandria, Twitter]

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When Riverside Taco comes back to the Alexandria waterfront this spring, it could be expanded into a new music venue.

The eatery currently consists of the Airstream trailer that dispenses tacos, soft drinks, and beer — seasonally — as well as a 90-seat picnic table area. A new special use permit (SUP) requested for Riverside Taco would allow the market to host live acoustic entertainment.

“The outdoor market will continue current operations, but would feature live acoustic musicians and/or amplified background music for market patrons and passerby during the hours of operations,” the permit said. “This change is consistent with other approvals along the Waterfront, and aligns with the goals of the Waterfront Small Area Plan which calls for a variety of creative, dynamic, and inclusive uses at the Waterfront to create ‘better public spaces.'”

The permit says the added music would enhance and activate the waterfront, citing proximity to the Torpedo Factory Arts Center and the bevy of artists working on the waterfront as compatible local arts uses.

The permit is scheduled to go to the City Council for review on March 3.

Photo via Riverside Taco Company/Facebook

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Morning Notes

Water Skiing Santa to Return — “A little cold weather doesn’t stop one of Alexandria’s Christmas traditions: a waterskiing show on the waterfront. Santa and his helpers will return for the 34th year at 1 p.m. on Christmas Eve, Tuesday, Dec. 24.” [Patch]

Alexandria Sets Holiday Closures — “All City government offices, libraries and recreation centers will be closed Dec 24 and 25. Regular trash/recycling collection on Dec 24, but not on Dec 25. Collection normally scheduled for Dec 25-26 will be delayed by one day.” [City of Alexandria, Twitter]

Residents Weigh in on Appomattox Statue — “People in Alexandria have long discussed what to do with a Confederate statue standing smack in the middle of an Old Town intersection. Over the weekend, a driver crashed into the statue, knocking it off its axis. Some residents are worried it’s a safety hazard.” [NBC 4]

Environmentally-Friendly Local Gift Guide — “This week, we are featuring environmentally responsible gifts available around Alexandria… With so many green gift options at your fingertips, there is no reason not to take advantage of them. After all, it is the only way to ensure future generations have an abundance of Christmas trees and don’t see Frosty melt away for good.” [Alexandria Times]

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Alexandria is seeking public input for what to do with a prime piece of waterfront property currently occupied by eight parking spaces.

The lot at 2 King Street is currently owned by the City of Alexandria, a byproduct of its acquisition of the Old Dominion Boat Club building that was once across the street. But the city received an unsolicited proposal from the owner of the adjacent development to develop the property.

If the sale is approved, the section of the Fitzgerald Warehouse building that currently houses Mai Thai would be torn down and replaced with a new building.

The Alexandria Waterfront Commission is scheduled to hold a meeting in City Hall on Thursday, Dec. 19, from 6:30-8 p.m. to discuss the future of the site. According to the city website:

The property to be discussed at the community meeting is not the park area, but the remaining portion with eight parking spaces located across Strand Street, which is currently leased for private parking. The City has not decided on the future use of these eight parking spaces and is interested in hearing from the public about what kinds of public or private uses would be desirable.

While the site will likely be sold to the adjacent property owner, City Councilman Mo Seifeldein said in an earlier meeting that he believed it could be put to better public use.

At a Waterfront Commission meeting, staff said whether the site is sold to a developer or stays with the city, some kind of change is likely. Waterfront Commission members said that public uses, like the inclusion of public restrooms, should be a requirement if the site is sold.

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