Alexandria, VA

A water main break erupted like a geyser in the West End Wednesday morning , and Virginia American Water says that it will be repaired by 5 p.m.

The water main break was reported just after 4:30 a.m. in the 200 block of South Whiting Street, and police advised residents to steer clear of the area.

Alexandria Police reported via Twitter early this morning that Virginia American Water has taken control of the water main break. Repairs are expected to be finished at around 5 p.m.

Image via Alexandria Police/Twitter

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In the build up to the June 8th primary, the West End Business Association has announced that it will host a series of interviews with candidates to discuss how they plan to support the city’s West End.

The first in the series, an interview with incumbent City Council member Canek Aguirre, is scheduled for Thursday, March 4 from 1-2 p.m. The discussion will be hosted by Paul Friedman, WEBA government relations chair.

“WEBA wants to help you be informed as you prepare to attend the upcoming Primary on June 8th,” WEBA said in a press release. “We have asked Alexandria candidates to join us on several upcoming Thursdays to allow them to share how they would support Alexandria and Alexandria’s West End.”

The plan is to continue to host the interviews every Thursday via Zoom.

The event is free, but pre-registration is required.

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Morning Notes

Volunteers Needed to Unload 40K Pounds of Food for Five Food Pantries — “Getting this food is a huge opportunity and we are excited to provide love and security to families in our neighborhood. Thank you for your help!” [Zebra]

Juvenile Robbed of Phone in West End — “The Alexandria Police Dept is investigating a robbery from a person in the 1400 blk of N. Beauregard St. A juvenile female had her cellphone stolen by a group of juvenile males. No injuries reported. Expect police activity in the area.” [Twitter]

Northam Gets Legislation Eliminating Death Penalty — “Abolition of the Death Penalty is on the Governor’s Desk. Thank you to everyone who has worked towards this moment. Virginia can start to lead the world again on human rights and justice.” [Twitter]

City Seeks Feedback on Community Policing Review Board — “Options for establishing an Independent Community Policing Review Board will be considered by Alexandria City Council on March 9.” [Patch]

Bill Reagan Named Living Legend of Alexandria — “Recently our Director, Bill Reagan, was announced as a 2020 Living Legend of Alexandria! Read more about how Bill started the Alexandria SBDC and his 25 years of unwavering service to the Alexandria small business community.” [Facebook]

Wonder Woman 1984 Drum Will Be Up Until the End of the Month — “The seven-foot drum prop from #WonderWoman1984 will be on display in Old Town until February 28.” [Twitter]

Today’s Weather — “Partly cloudy skies (during the day). High 63F. Winds SSW at 10 to 20 mph… Partly cloudy skies (in the evening). Low 38F. Winds WNW at 10 to 15 mph.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Team Member at Barca Wine Bar and Pier — “We are seeking high volume , servers’, bartenders, hosts and support team members as we open Alexandria’s newest waterfront treasure.” [Indeed]

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The owner of a hookah lounge has filed a special use permit to operate a hookah lounge and restaurant in the West End.

Diko Bar and Lounge would take over at the former home of the all-vegan Chez Hareg Cafe at 5245 Duke Street. The 1,200-square-foot location is next door to Shooter McGee’s, across the street from the Canterbury Square Condominiums and near the Alexandria Fire Station 208.

The location can accommodate 47 people inside, 18 people outside and has a 145-space parking lot. The SUP was requested for a new use at the space, which is the former home to Sangeet Alexandria Halal Meat and Grocery and Chez Hareg Cafe.

Owner Diko Woldehawariate could not be reached for comment, and details are scarce. The business has no website or social media. Woldehawariate wants to run it from noon to 2 a.m. seven days a week, according to the application. The menu includes beef and chicken shwarma, kabobs, Ethiopian dishes and desserts.

Public comments on the application are open until March 4, 2021, after which the application goes before the Planning Commission and then City Council for final approval.

Photo via Google Maps

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Popular sandwich franchise Jersey Mike’s Subs has opened a new location at 360 S. Pickett Street in the West End Village.

The new location opened between Taste of Asia and Mediterranean Bakery and Cafe in the former location of Ace Wig and Hair, but has been empty since at least 2018.

The sandwich shop launched with a partnership with Together We Bake, a local nonprofit workforce training program, offering a free regular sub when guests display a coupon and make a $2 donation to the nonprofit.

“We’re excited to partner with the new Jersey Mike’s at 360 S. Pickett Street which opens Monday 2/15!” the nonprofit said on Facebook. “In addition to becoming one of our Employer Partners, Jersey Mike’s will be offering free regular subs when you donate a minimum of $2 to TWB at checkout from 2/15-2/19.”

The restaurant is open every day from 10 a.m.-9 p.m.

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What a news-filled week in Alexandria.

Things got off to a snowy start on Monday and Tuesday, as the city was under a winter weather advisory.

Our top post was a poll regarding the proposed Heritage Development in Old Town. Nearly 1,500 people voted, and 52% don’t have a problem with it. The development was approved unanimously by the Planning Commission and now goes to City Council for consideration.

One of the most important stories of the week was the decision announced Thursday to resume in-person classes at Alexandria City Public Schools on March 16.

On the coronavirus front, there has been an additional death since Monday’s weekly COVID-19 update. The death toll from the virus now stands at 105, and the number of cases is 9,630. That’s more than 500 cases since Monday. The city’s seven-day moving average is now at 41.1 cases, which is down 14 cases since Monday. Additionally, there are more than 30,000 city residents on the waiting list to get the vaccine.

This week, Alexandria Police mourned the loss of parking enforcement officer Edward Bonds to COVID-19. This is the department’s first death due to complications from the virus.

In case you missed them, here are some important stories from the week:

  1. Alexandria Boxer Troy Isley Goes Pro With Big Fight Next Week
  2. Psychologist Lauren Fisher Elected Del Ray Business Association President
  3. Overhaul of Eisenhower Baseball Field Up to Bat at Planning Commission
  4. From Layoff to Liquorice: West End Business Owner Creates Candy Store Amid Pandemic
  5. Just In: James Lewis Files Paperwork to Enter City Council Race

Here are our top stories this week in Alexandria:

  1. Poll: What Do You Think of the Proposed Heritage Development in Old Town
  2. New West End Residential Development Headed to Planning Commission
  3. Heritage Project Now Goes to City Council After Unanimous Planning Commission Approval
  4. BREAKING: Councilman Mo Seifeldein Running for Alexandria Mayor, Hatch Act Conflict in Question
  5. Poll: Should the City’s Taylor Run Stream Restoration Project Go Forward?
  6. Revamped ‘ESP’ on King Street Ditches Old Ownership and Controversies
  7. Stream Restoration in Alexandria Attracts a Deluge of Controversy
  8. ACPS: Community is Generally Opposed to Affordable Housing at T.C. Expansion
  9. Just In: ‘QAnon Shaman’ from Capitol Siege Transferred to Alexandria Jail
  10. Weather Alert: Up to Eight Inches of Snow Expected in Alexandria
  11. Photos: The Regal Potomac Yard Movie Theater is Being Torn Down

Have a safe weekend!

Image via City of Alexandria

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Like many Alexandrians, Tonya Kemp faced a difficult 2020 early on when she lost her job in May. But out of that loss came a new project that became a new business: West End candy shop Rocket Fizz (1721 Centre Plaza).

Alexandria’s Rocket Fizz is a locally-owned franchise of the mostly-America based soda pop and candy shop chain.

“It’s been going well so far,” Kemp said. “Everyone’s been happy to have us here. It’s exciting to have a candy store in the area.”

Kemp said she lost her job on May 1 and wanted to work close to home. Kemp said she opened Rocket Fizz in her neighborhood on Dec. 11.

“So far most customers are from the area, but once news spreads we’re likely to get people from D.C. and other areas,” Kemps aid. “Most people are really excited, just really happy. We don’t get many cranky people in here, and that’s a good thing these days.”

In addition to candy, the store sells other novelties and trinkets. Kemp said the item that gets the most attention is the unique novelty signs.

Now, the store is gearing up for Valentine’s Day and Easter.

“We do have a cart especially set up with unique items for Valentine’s Day or could be themed for Valentine’s Day,” Kemp said. “Christmas is big for us, big for stocking stuffers, and Easter baskets are a big one as well. But in general I hope for more of a day to day business than just special occasions.”

Kemp said Rocket Fizz has given her a new passion to keep her busy as the pandemic goes on.

“It’s given me new motivations, definitely,” Kemp said. “I miss my job and I miss my collegues, but everyone does. This gets me out of the house and I’m not behind a computer all day.”

Photo via Rocket Fizz/Facebook

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It was a cold and news-filled week in Alexandria.

It all started with the report of two public safety incidents over the weekend — a serious car crash in Old Town and another shooting in the West End.

On the coronavirus front, Alexandria is now at 104 fatalities and 9,342 cases. Mayor Justin Wilson said that there is a vaccine shortage in the city, as the waitlist to get inoculated is at more than 25,000. The Alexandria Health Department reported to the Alexandria Times that about 2,000 doses are being distributed weekly.

Our top story this week was on the body that was found last Friday in the water at Holmes Run Trail by Cameron Run Regional Park. In an update, police told us that the death was not suspicious in nature.

Additionally, 630 people responded to our weekly poll. This week, we asked about the proposed Heritage development in Old Town. About 67% of respondents don’t think it’s appropriate for the neighborhood and 33% don’t have a problem with it.

In case you missed it, here are some important stories:

  1. New Flood Warning Signs Installed in Del Ray
  2. Initial and Continued Unemployment Claims Go Down in Alexandria
  3. Despite COVID-19 Contractor Impacts, Potomac Yard Metro Station on Track for Spring 2022 Opening
  4. City Council Accepts Plan to Double Stormwater Utility Fees
  5. Victory Center’s Condominium Redevelopment Headed to Planning Commission

Here are our top stories of the week:

  1. BREAKING: Body Found in the Water Near Cameron Station
  2. Photos: The Regal Potomac Yard Movie Theater is Being Torn Down
  3. Citizens Group Vilifies Heritage High Rise Project in Old Town
  4. Atlantis Pizzeria and Family Restaurant Closing on Jan. 24
  5. Alexandrians with Joe Biden Yard Signs Get Anonymous Letters Saying Biden is a Pedophile
  6. Police: Shots Fired in West End, Car Crash in Old Town Over Weekend
  7. Snow in Alexandria: Winter Weather Advisory in Effect Until 9 A.M. Tuesday
  8. BREAKING: Woman Gets Arm Amputated, Police Investigate if She Was Thrown From Car in West End
  9. Local Business in Hot Water with City Architects After Unauthorized Paint Job
  10. Alexandria Mayor Formally Requests Dominion Energy Step Their Game Up
  11. JUST IN: ACPS Announces No In-Person Schooling For Week of Feb. 1

Have a safe weekend!

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The Newport Village development is hoping to demolish two garden-style apartment buildings at the intersection of W. Braddock Road and N. Beauregard Street near Northern Virginia Community College and replace them with a 383-unit residential development.

The developer is asking for a rezoning permit that would nearly double the allowed building height at the site from 45 feet to 92 feet, which staff expressed support for — citing the 120-foot maximum height approved for the Array at West Alex development on King Street.

“The request for increased building height at the project site has been reviewed for consistency with both the allowable and actual building heights in the surrounding area,” staff said. “The current request to increase allowable height to 92 feet therefore compares favorably to the allowable heights in the area given that it falls within the lower end of the range of building heights at properties immediately nearby.”

The added density would net a total of 12 affordable housing units, which drew some frustration from the Alexandria Housing Affordability Advisory Committee. The plans for the building were originally submitted in 2018, meaning the development got in before new changes last year would have required to developer to contribute 18 units.

“Members expressed disappointment with the number of proposed affordable units being provided in light of the magnitude of the increase in density, while acknowledging that the application was not subject to the December 2020 policy update,” the report noted. “Members also requested the number of committed affordable units be finalized to no lower than 12, as well as proportional to the overall unit mix.”

The new development would consist of studio apartments, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units, with options on the ground floor to add additional retail later and parking in a garage.

In a report, staff supported the redevelopment as part of an overall plan to add density along bus rapid transit lanes planned for Beauregard Street.

“Consistent with recommendations in its Transportation Master Plan, the City is implementing a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system known as the West End Transitway to provide high-capacity transit service using a combination of dedicated and shared lanes and enhanced stations with rider amenities,” staff said. “The future transit corridor includes the portion of North Beauregard Street directly in front of the project site and one of its stations is anticipated directly along the project site’s frontage, just to the east/southeast of the corner of North Beauregard Street and West Braddock Road.”

The project is scheduled for review at the Tuesday, Feb. 2 Planning Commission meeting.

Image via City of Alexandria

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Alexandria Police reported another shots fired call for service over the weekend in the West End, and there was also a serious crash with four cars in Old Town that sent two men to the hospital.

The shooting is the third in Alexandria this month, and occurred at around 5 a.m. on Sunday morning in the 200 block of Century Place in the West End near Holmes Run. Multiple shell casings were found at the scene, but no one was reported injured.

The recent string of shots fired calls remain under investigation, with police increasing patrols in an effort at curbing the 2020 uptick. Anyone with information about the incidents is asked to contact Sgt. Taylor at 703-746-6271.

There was also a four-car accident at the intersection of Duke and S. Patrick Streets in Old Town. The accident occurred at around 9 p.m. on Saturday night, and while police initially reported that there were life-threatening injuries, an update later proved that two men involved in the crash were injured but that their lives were not in danger.

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