Alexandria, VA

The Wrought, Knit, Labors, Legacies art installation at Waterfront Park will be taken down next month at Waterfront Park, and the public is being asked to weigh in on a proposal to temporarily move the installation outside of Old Town Pool (1609 Cameron Street).

The four figurative sculptures by Olalekan Jeyifous are meant to convey Alexandria’s history with African American quilting and textile designs, and was unveiled in March. The installation is the second to occupy the public art space at Waterfront Park, after the Mirror Mirror installation in 2019.

A community meeting on the topic will be held on Thursday, October 29, from 7-8 p.m.

No replacement installation has yet been made public.

The full message from the city on the move is below the jump.

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Alexandria will release a draft action plan for revitalizing the Torpedo Factory Art Center today (October 16), and the proposal on the table includes a front entrance on the waterfront and a more interactive experience for families.

The city took over operations of the Torpedo Factory in 2016, and the art center traditionally sees more than a half a million visitors every year. But Diane Ruggiero, the city’s deputy director for recreation, parks and cultural activities, says that it doesn’t have a family-friendly atmosphere.

“A lot of the focus of the plan is about activating the first floor, kind of changing that initial experience that people have when they come into the art center,” Ruggiero told ALXnow. “We do know that folks want a more engaging and interactive experience from an arts perspective.”

There are more than 80 studios in the building, and artist studios take up 70% of the building. The largest tenant, The Art League school, art supply store, gallery and offices takes up 12% of occupancy. Its next largest occupant is The Alexandria Archeology Museum.

“I think the liveliness of the Art Center has always been something that has come back as a criticism of the Art Center, even pre-COVID,” Ruggiero said. “Some of the feedback that we had from the community is that there’s not a lot going on there that’s family friendly.”

The draft plan was developed by two consultants and Ruggiero says it will be on the city’s website later today.

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Alexandria’s Black residents have lived and worked along the Alexandria waterfront years before the city was founded in 1749, and a new African American Waterfront Heritage Trail helps to tell their stories.

The self-guided tour of the trail, which is a community initiative supported by the the city’s African American Heritage Trail Committee and the Office of Historic Alexandria, should take folks about 45 minutes to complete at a leisurely pace.

“In the 1820s, Alexandria became home to the largest domestic slave trading firm, which specialized in the sale and trafficking of enslaved African Americans from the Chesapeake to the Deep South,” according to the African American Waterfront Heritage Trail website. “The Civil War revolutionized social and economic relations, and newly freed African Americans found new job opportunities as a result of the waterfront’s industrialization. The Potomac River played an important role in leisure activities too, including picnicking, boating, and fishing, much as it does for Alexandrians and visitors today.”

The trail takes visitors to the waterfront at the foot of King Street and then to the corner of North Royal and Montgomery Streets.

“An amazing committee of community historians have put this amazing history trail together!” wrote City Councilman John Taylor Chapman on Facebook. “Who’s going to check out on the next sunny day?”

Participants can check out the 11 stops with a StoryMap.

An amazing committee of community historians have put this amazing history trail together!!! Who’s going to check out on the next sunny day?

Posted by John T. Chapman on Monday, October 5, 2020

Image via African American Waterfront Heritage Trail

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The Old Dominion Boat Club (ODBC) will present the Alexandria Planning Commission in November (Nov. 5) with a plan to build a floating wharf and pier outside its clubhouse at 0 Prince Street.

“The floating pier will provide facilities for transient boat mooring for larger boats due to the water depth along its expanse and for rowing crew shells and chase boats either for planned events/regattas or emergency needs,” according to an application for the special use permit.

The application continues, “The ODBC also proposes to add a floating wharf over the shallow water in its riparian rights to allow and support current and new uses that include small boat mooring and launch and retrieval of crew shells and kayaks to support increased recreational use of the Potomac River.”

The total square footage for the project is 2,688 square feet, and the club noted in its application that it will remove the floating structures if the city needs the space for flood mitigation infrastructure improvements.

“The proposed new floating wharf at the site would encourage increased recreation use of the site and support ODBC water dependent uses,” notes the application.

The city issued a certificate of occupancy for the ODBC Clubhouse at 0 Prince Street in 2017. The club was previously located at the foot of King Street. That property was exchanged with the city for a number of nearby lots downriver in order to build a public walkway and make flood mitigation improvements.

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Morning Notes

Beyer Condemns Trump for Coronavirus Statement on Blue States— “This is quite simply one of the most appalling and inhuman statements ever uttered by an American President.” [Twitter]

Chewish Deli Set to Open First Permanent Location — “When Linzey stumbled upon the Pendleton Carryout Co. space for sale this summer at 807 Pendleton St., he wasn’t exactly looking for a store location. But, Linzey knew that if a spot in Old Town ever opened up, he would want to take it.” [Alexandria Living]

Alexandria EMS Captain Appointed to State Board — “EMS Captain Lisa Simba was recently appointed to the State EMS Advisory Board by Gov. Ralph Northam. Capt. Simba has been with AFD for more than 30 years.” [Twitter]

Art League Offering Online Classes — “All skill levels are welcome. Select from more than 50 classes.and workshops. They range from basic painting and drawing instruction to computer-based digital illustration and GIF creation. Classes meet via Zoom. In between sessions, students can stay in touch through Google Classroom or by email. And because classes are virtual, students do not have to be in the Alexandria area to participate.” [Zebra]

Today’s Weather — During the day, cloudy with occasional showers. High 74F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 70%. At night, periods of rain. Low 63F. Winds ENE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 90%. Rainfall near a half an inch.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Foundation Relations Manager — “Supports the National Military Family Association Development department in the development and implementation of a comprehensive foundation grants development program.” [Indeed]

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Morning Notes

New Virginia Majority Wants to Suspend Evictions to April 2021 — “Do you live in SD-39 (parts of Alexandria, southern Fairfax County & northern Prince William County)? Your community needs YOU to urge Senator George Barker to support legislation to stop evictions in Virginia through April 30, 2021.” [Facebook]

Beyer Continues Daily Stream of Anti-Republican/Trump Social Messaging — “Still thinking about when Trump wanted to inject people with bleach.” [Twitter]

ACPS Looking for Volunteer Athletic Coaches — “T.C. Athletic Dept is working with coaches who would like to volunteer their time to start outside conditioning days for our athletes. We are polling parents of athletes to gather info so that it can be used to make our final decision.” [Twitter]

Alexandria Fire Department Hiring This Fall — “The next recruitment process for the Alexandria Fire Department is scheduled to begin this Fall!” [Twitter]

City Recognizes ‘Be Kind to Humankind Week’ — “Social support is exceptionally important for maintaining good physical and mental health.” [Facebook]

Flu Shots Available at Giant Food Stores — “Standard flu shots as well as high dose flu vaccines for customers over the age of 64 are available.” [Patch]

Today’s Weather — In the morning: “Sunny, along with a few afternoon clouds. A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible. High 94F. Winds W at 10 to 15 mph.” At night: “Partly to mostly cloudy. A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible. Low 69F. Winds NW at 10 to 15 mph.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Floral Manager — “Designs and fashions live, cut, dried, and artificial floral and foliage arrangements for events such as holidays, anniversaries, weddings, parties, and funerals. Responsible for processing/ packaging/ stocking/ maintaining floral products according to standards, cleaning work areas, providing customer service unloading stock, and reloading salvage.” [Indeed]

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Morning Notes

Beyer Says House Democrats Working to Protect Postal Service — “So many of you are writing, calling, and urging us to act to protect the US Postal Service. We share your anger and frustration about what Trump is doing and your alarm about what it could mean for the election. And we ARE working to stop him.” [Twitter]

Noah and Josephus Lyles Win First and Second in 200 Meter Race in Monaco — “Lyles raised a black, fingerless-gloved right fist before getting into the blocks to win a 200m in his first international race of the season, conjuring memories of the famous 1968 Olympic podium gesture. He clocked 19.76 seconds, leading a one-two with younger brother Josephus.” [NBC Sports]

ALIVE! Gives Food to 900+ Households — “916 households received food at today’s Truck to Trunk food distribution. Thanks to everyone who made this possible- donors, volunteers, Department of Community & Human Services, City of Alexandria, VA; Volunteer Alexandria; Alexandria Sheriff’s Office, City of Alexandria, Virginia; Police Department, City of Alexandria, Virginia; Transportation & Environmental Services, City of Alexandria, Virginia and ALIVE! Staff!” [Facebook]

Monte Durham’s Salon Opening at Waterfront Next Month — “The chic boutique salon, located next door to Hotel Indigo, will feature Durham, who got his start as a hair stylist before heading down the bridal path to a hit reality TV show, TLC’s ‘Say Yes to the Dress – Atlanta.'” [Alexandria Living]

Chris Daughtry of American Idol to Play Virtual Concert for Birchmere — “Next week, Chris Daughtry presents his virtual “Live from Home Tour” on Aug. 18 to benefit 19 venues across the country, including The Birchmere in Alexandria, Virginia.” [WTOP]

Today’s Weather — “Partly cloudy early. Scattered thunderstorms developing in the afternoon. High 83F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 50%.” [Weather.com]

New Job: K-8 Teacher — “SchoolHouse is a new, innovative education startup that helps families to form Learning Pods, and matches excellent teachers with those Pods. A Pod is a group of approximately 4 – 8 students, of the same or similar grade level, who are learning, growing, and socializing together.” [Indeed]

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If it has air in the tires, Charles Bennett Moore — owner of the Alexandria location for Big Wheel Bikes — has been selling it.

While businesses across Alexandria have been struggling to pull out of the pandemic, the last few months have been an unusual windfall for Old Town waterfront business Big Wheel Bikes (2 Prince Street).

“It was gangbusters in May and June,” Moore said. “We had quadruple our usual demand. The supply has dwindled to pretty much nothing. If you walk in, we have maybe a half a dozen bikes.”

It hasn’t just been bike sales, either. Moore said service requests have been increasing quicker than the shop can keep up.

“Service has increased tenfold,” Moore said. “We are just going crazy with service still. People are constantly dropping off bikes. That’s been sustaining us. I sold anything that had air in the tires.”

Outdoor bicycling, especially alone, has been cited as one of the healthier exercise activities — especially compared to the risks of an indoor gym.

The business stayed open through the pandemic and Moore said May was particularly busy. Moore said the store has sold half its collection of vintage bikes, usually just items of interest for collectors. Now there’s a waiting list for new bikes coming in.

“People don’t want to be cooped up indoors,” Moore said. “The season hit at the same time as COVID. People feel they can keep six-feet of distance on the bicycle. And with [many] gyms closed… it’s a perfect storm for the bike business”

It’s particularly a boon to the Alexandria Big Wheel Bikes location, which sits on a waterfront spot virtually surrounded by new development and density.

“With all this development and things changing, [this] probably helps to get a lease extension,” Moore said. “A lot of businesses aren’t staying open. So it’s been a good thing for us.”

Staff photo by Vernon Miles

 

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The July 4 holiday weekend is here, and it’s hard to believe that 2020 is more than halfway over. Not only has the year flown by, but so has the last week.

Alexandria joined the rest of Virginia in entering into the third phase of its reopening, the oldest resident in the city turned 109, a police officer was charged with assault and battery for a January arrest

Here are some of the top stories in Alexandria this week:

  1. Margaret Chisley Celebrates 109 Years in Alexandria
  2. Alexandria Police Officer Charged With Assault and Battery for Unjustified Use of Force
  3. New State Laws Pushed by Alexandria Take Effect Tomorrow
  4. Old Dominion Boat Club’s Waterfront Revival Plans Resurface
  5. Alexandria Renters Ask Governor to Extend Moratorium on Evictions
  6. Businesses Face Tough Recovery as Alexandria Lags Behind Neighbors in Consumer Spending
  7. New Catholic University Location Coming to Carlyle
  8. Old Town Garden-Style Apartments to Be Replaced by Multifamily Apartment Complex
  9. City Recommends Riding E-Scooters for Errands and Social Distancing
  10. Reminder: Next Phase of Reopening Starts Tomorrow but Indoor Mask Requirement Still In Effect

Be safe this weekend, and feel free to add to the discussion in the comments.

Staff photo by James Cullum

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The Old Dominion Boat Club’s (ODBC) plans to reform the waterfront portion of its Old Town headquarters last fall, but after being lost at sea amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the plans are finally headed back to harbor at the Planning Commission in September.

The ODBC has used its various waterfront headquarters since 1880 as launching points for aquatic activities. The pier outside the current location — which the ODBC was more-or-less forced into in 2014 under threat of eminent domain — is a ramshackle bundle of pillars that only vaguely resembles the L-shaped pier that local commercial vessel The Dandy was docked at for a number of years.

The ODBC plan is to replace this pier with a combination fixed pier jutting eastward and a floating pier extending south. Smaller transient boats will be moored at the floating pier while the larger ships will be docked on the opposite side of the new pier.

The new dock would also keep less debris trapped along the shoreline — a frequent problem along Alexandria’s waterfront.

“The proposed new floating wharf at the site would encourage increased recreation use of the site and support ODBC water-dependent uses,” the ODBC said in its application. “The Prince Street site will be configured to support transient boat mooring and other daily marine uses.”

While the new pier would be private, the ODBC offers the use of its facilities for activities like programs for children with special needs and Christmas events that would benefit from the new pier.

Staff photo by Vernon Miles

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An Alexandria Living Legend and longtime advocate for public access to the waterfront died last Wednesday in his Old Town.

Engin Artemel served in the City of Alexandria Department of Planning for ten years and was Planning Director from 1997-1984. He was 81 years old.

“One of his most notable contributions to the City of Alexandria was the opening of the Alexandria waterfront to residents and the general public, planned through careful attention to historical precedent and in close collaboration with community leaders,” said his daughter, Deniz Artemel. “He also led the revitalization of lower King Street.”

According to his Living Legends profile, Artemel played a key role in the establishing which areas of the cohesive waterfront belonged to whom, and working on advocating on the city’s behalf for opening up public access to previously inaccessible portions of the waterfront.

Artemel’s vision is clear in the city’s Waterfront Plan, an ongoing process of establishing a walkable waterfront along the eastern edge of Old Town.

After serving as the planning director, Artemel founded Artemel International which exported his experience in urban planning — particularly on waterfronts — to the Middle East and the former Soviet Union.

Artemel was named a Living Legend of Alexandria in 2009. His funeral was officiated by former Mayor Bill Euille and Bud Hart at Ivy Hill Cemetery on June 19th.

Deniz Artemel said that in lieu of flowers, her father would have wanted to be remembered by taking a stroll and “enjoy his beloved Old Town Alexandria waterfront.”

Photo courtesy Deniz Artemel

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Morning Notes

Alfred Street Baptist Church Leaders March on Washington — “Reverend Dr. Howard-John Wesley, pastor of the Alfred Street Baptist Church, welcomed hundreds of marchers, including regional and local ecumenical believers and leaders, along with national faith leaders.” [WTOP]

Nonprofit Used Book Store Planned for Del Ray — “Don Alexander, a resident, posted on the web platform Nextdoor that he is collecting used books and plans to open a used bookstore at 1712 Mt Vernon Ave., which is near Alexandria Hyundai and R&B Plumbing.” [Alexandria Living]

City Reports 17 New COVID-19 Cases Sunday — “These new cases come as Northern Virginia is in Phase Two of reopening.” [WJLA]

Office of Historic Alexandria Documenting Protests — “Recognizing the importance of this moment in history, the Office of Historic Alexandria invites the community to share signs, t-shirts, flyers, photographs, journals, personal stories, and artifacts that document local vigils and protests surrounding the murders of black and brown victims at the hands of police.” [Facebook]

New Job: The Fish Market is Hiring — “We are back open and in need of some help! Positions available include Host, Server, Cook, Dishwasher, Busser, Food Runner, and BarBack. Stop by TODAY and fill out an application!” [Facebook]

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