Alexandria Police are still looking for the driver of a dark colored Toyota RAV-4 that killed a 72-year-old man crossing the intersection of Duke and S. Pickett Streets in the West End.

The incident occurred on New Year’s Day at around 6:30 p.m.

Harold Reubin was transported to Inova Alexandria Hospital, and was treated for a hip injury and then released. Two weeks later, on Jan. 14, he returned to the hospital and said he was having issues breathing, according to police.

Reubin died five days later, on January 19. An autopsy determined that the cause of death was complications from blunt force trauma.

A witness driving behind the RAV-4 told police that he honked his horn to alert the driver that Reubin was crossing the intersection.

“The RAV-4 continued into the intersection, striking Mr. Reubin and knocking him to the ground,” police said in a search warrant affidavit. “The RAV-4 pulled over briefly after the crash, then immediately sped away without the driver exiting the vehicle or providing any identifying information.”

The incident is a block away from where another fatal hit and run crash occurred in February 2020.

The investigation is being led by the APD Crash Reconstruction Team, and anyone who witnessed it is asked to call Officer Alex Trapero at 571-215-0320, or the APD non-emergency number at 703-746-4444.

Callers can remain anonymous.

Courtesy APD

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Morning Notes

Animal Welfare League of Alexandria turns 75 — “Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson and several City Council members were among the attendees milling about, chatting with friends, reviewing the dozens of items up for auction, and touring the facility as well as the AWLA’s new surgical and event vehicle, Waggin’ Wheels.” [Zebra]

Former Steak & Ale building demolished — “Long-time residents of Alexandria may remember the old Steak and Ale restaurant at the intersection of Kenmore Avenue and Seminary Road. The 6,800 square foot Tudor-style building has been abandoned for more than a decade, since the restaurant chain declared bankruptcy.” [Alexandria Living]

Summer Sidewalk Sale dates announced — “Visit Alexandria has announced the return of Alexandria’s 12th Annual Sidewalk Sale Aug. 14-15, 2021. During this weekend-long event, shoppers can find deeply discounted summer merchandise at dozens of boutiques around Old Town and Del Ray.” [Alexandria Living]

Today’s weather — “Plentiful sunshine (during the day). Hot. High 97F. Winds SW at 10 to 15 mph… Partly cloudy (in the evening). A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible. Low 74F. Winds WSW at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New job: Craft beer bartender — “Now hiring experienced bartenders and Servers at Hops N Shine! We are looking for bartenders with a strong passion for the craft beer industry and a commitment to providing an outstanding guest experiences at our location.” [Indeed]

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An adult woman suffered non-life threatening injuries after being shot in the 400 block of S. Reynolds Street in the West End on Monday night.

Alexandria Police tweeted that the incident occurred at around 11 p.m., and that there is no known threat in the area.

The shooting occurred near the intersection of S. Reynolds Street and Edsall Road, which is near S. Van Dorn Street.

Police released no other details, and will not answer any of ALXnow’s questions on the incident.

Courtesy Google Maps

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Landmark Mall rendering (image via City of Alexandria)

The plans to redevelop Landmark Mall are moving forward — but with a corollary added at the Planning Commission last week that requires the developer to step up their green energy policies and caused some tension on the Commission.

Dissatisfaction with the developer’s green energy plans were first expressed by Commissioner Stephen Koenig. He acknowledged that the developers hit the bare minimums required, but suggested the city should wield its power of approval for greater density to push for more.

“I am disconcerted this does not propose, and the city does not yet require, an explicit vision… carbon neutrality,” Koenig said. “If this is 2.4 million square feet of new buildings, creating a dozen new blocks, were animated by such a vision it would make an exemplary contribution to our efforts.”

Koenig’s amendment calls on the developers to prepare an energy and resilience plan to the satisfaction of the Director of Planning and Zoning to be included as part of the application to the City Council.

Koenig said he generally supported the project, but said he thought the environmental protections should go further.

The suggestion caught flack from the developers like Jay Kelly, vice president of development at Foulger-Pratt. Kelly said the Landmark Mall developers have gone above and beyond existing city policy and the additional requirement would be harmfully vague.

Planning Commission members Nathan Macek and Mindy Lyle also spoke out against Koenig’s amendment.

“I think this expectation goes beyond anything we’ve specified in policy to date,” Macek said. “I think we have to lay out our specific policy expectations — we haven’t drawn that line yet… I’m not comfortable making that extra leap with this specific case when we haven’t laid that expectation out there.”

The policy recommendation exposed a rift on the issue between those on the Planning Commission who believed the city should flex its authority to get more from the project and those who were concerned demanding too much could kill the long-awaited plans to “fix” the Landmark Mall site.

“This is sending a message that we think this kind of information needs to be there, and in the context of an application that is not only logically related to what is going to happen in the future but is not unduly burdensome on developer,” Planning Commissioner Dave Brown said. “One hand washes the other. We are not asking for much.”

But for Lyle, the threat of losing forward movement on Landmark Mall was a dire one after years of false starts.

“The entire West End is asking to have this property move forward,” Lyle said. “If you look at all of the letters we’ve received, this property has been a blight for as long as I can remember. The city stepping in to work with property owners to move this forward is a win-win on all fronts. This has been needed since 2003.”

Koenig’s amendment carried 3-2, with Lyle and Macek voting against it, and was incorporated into the main Landmark Mall package, which was unanimously approved despite Lyle’s and Macek’s misgivings about Koenig’s addition.

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What was an intense week in Alexandria. Here is the rundown.

History was made, as the new marquees at Alexandria City High School and Naomi L. Brooks Elementary Schools were unveiled this week, and the name changes to T.C. Williams High School and Matthew Maury Elementary School will go into effect July 1. It’s a victory for civil rights, as the namesakes of both old schools had backgrounds steeped in racism. Maury was a Confederate leader and Williams was an ACPS superintendent who worked intently against racial integration.

City Manager Mark Jinks on Tuesday also announced his intention to retire at the end of the year. Jinks, who made the announcement to City Council, hinted to ALXnow last month that he was seeking retirement. Today (Friday, June 25) is also the last day for retiring Alexandria Police Chief Michael Brown, who will be moving to the West Coast to deal with family matters. Assistant Chief Don Hayes is taking over as acting chief until a national search narrows down a preferred candidate for the job.

Law enforcement events also dominated this week’s coverage. On Tuesday, first responders saved a woman experiencing a mental health crisis who was dangling perilously off the Monroe Avenue Bridge, followed by news Wednesday that a suspect was arrested for a West End murder along with 16 others in a massive racketeering conspiracy. On Thursday, a barricade situation in the West End ended peacefully.

In this week’s poll, when asked whether transit improvements would make residents more likely to take the bus, 48% said they don’t take the bus often and won’t likely change their habits; 38% said they don’t often take the bus, although transit improvements might change that; and 14% said that they already frequent the Metro and DASH bus systems.

Important stories

Top stories

  1. Alexandria woman dies after veering off road on Interstate 95
  2. Man suspected of raping 12-year-old stepdaughter in Landmark area flees to El Salvador
  3. JUST IN: Thieves break into more than 60 vehicles in West End
  4. JUST IN: Rarity as American Viper Rattlesnake found in Old Town
  5. Massive redevelopment of West End apartment building has neighbors worried about street parking impact
  6. UPDATE: Alexandria first responders save suicidal woman on Monroe Avenue Bridge
  7. City Council emphasizes marketing funding for Alexandria’s ‘Hot Girl Summer’
  8. Mother and boyfriend allegedly beaten by knife-wielding ex in Old Town North
  9. With eviction moratorium expiring, city pushes renters and landlords toward rental assistance
  10. Shortened Alexandria Birthday celebration is still on for July 10
  11. BREAKING: California man arrested for West End murder, indicted with 16 others in massive racketeering conspiracy

Have a safe weekend!

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A 32-year-old Alexandria man fled to his native county of El Salvador last month, after allegedly raping his 12-year-old stepdaughter in the Landmark area.

The girl gave birth to a boy on June 10.

Her mother told police that the last time she spoke with her husband was on May 8, when he called and said that he was going fishing. The stepfather never returned, and his wife later received a text from his brother showing her husband with his sister in El Salvador, according to a police search warrant affidavit.

The girl told police that her stepfather raped her three times — twice in their apartment in the 200 block of S. Reynolds Street in the Landmark area and once at their previous apartment in Manassas. She said that he threatened to kill her mother if she told her about the incidents, and forced her to say that she got pregnant by another student, according to police.

Alexandria Police later found that the suspect deactivated his Facebook account, and that he flew on an early morning Avianca Airlines flight to El Salvador.

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The proposed conversion of a West End apartment building into a three-building complex has neighbors concerned of potential parking issues.

The current surface level parking lot would be moved underground and expanded to 313 spaces, but neighbors are concerned that on-street parking will become a problem. The plans call for . With 385 units, that provides .81 spaces per unit, which property owner Wesley Housing says falls within the city’s parameters.

“The Cameron Station Civic Association is very concerned about traffic congestion on Holmes Run Parkway as well as the very few parking spaces that will be made available (well below one per unit),” said Association President Sash Impastato.

The plan would take five years to complete, as the 14-story ParcView Apartments building at 5380 Holmes Run Parkway would be completely renovated and joined by two adjoining nine-story buildings and an enclosed courtyard.

Wesley Housing, which owns the property and is managing its redevelopment, wants to do it in four phases, beginning with the construction of the underground parking garage, and followed by the construction of the two new buildings, the relocation of residents from the existing building to the new buildings, and then the renovation of the original 14-story building.

The project would add hundreds of affordable one and two bedroom units to the three acre property, increasing the total number of apartments from 149 to 385, with 267 units for residents making 60% of the area median income (AMI) and 69 units for residents making 40% AMI.

“Our current plan is to… go to the Planning Commission and City Council at the beginning of 2022,” said Wesley Housing’s attorney Cathy Puskar in a Zoom presentation on Tuesday night. “Then we would have to do our final site planning or building permit financing and start construction hopefully in 2023.”

Courtesy Wesley Housing 

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Alexandria Police are investigating thefts from more than 60 vehicles that were made between June 14 and 15 in the West End.

The thefts from 11 areas occurred in the overnight hours, and the suspects broke car windows, and stole wallets, keys, money, and other personal items.

No one has been arrested in connection to the incidents and no suspect descriptions are available, according to APD senior public information officer Amanda Paga.

“This investigation is ongoing,” Paga said in a press release. “Anyone with information or video of these break-ins should call the Alexandria Police Department’s non-emergency number at 703-746-4444. No detail is too small.”

The Arbors on Duke apartment complex on Duke Street was one of the areas that was hit, and a resident told ALXnow that numerous complaints that their parking garage is routinely left unsecured have been ignored by property management.

Police are asking residents to take personal items from their vehicles, not to park them in the same spot for extended periods and to keep them locked.

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This fall, a little space just off Little River Turnpike will become the latest spot for small regional chain Taco Bamba. For the restaurant owner, the restaurant will also be a full-circle return to where his culinary career got started.

The Landmark neighborhood will be the seventh Taco Bamba, Chef Victor Albisu said in a press release. The Taco Bamba will open at 6259 Little River Turnpike. The restaurant will feature and indoor/outdoor bar and a seasonal patio area.

The site is significant for Albisu, who grew up in nearby Annandale and worked in his mother’s market in the Landmark neighborhood.

“”I haven’t been this excited about opening a Taco Bamba since we debuted our first location eight years ago this month,” Albisu said. “I worked at my mother’s Latin market in Landmark while growing up in nearby Annandale where I graduated from high school. I got an early education in global cuisine between my mom’s store and the area’s delicious Italian, West African, Korean, and Middle Eastern restaurants. And I have fond memories of spots like Generous George’s, Starvin Marvin, and H I Ribsters. It’s a community that is close to my heart and I can’t wait for Taco Bamba to be a part of it.”

The restaurant will feature the usual mix of tacos and tostadas, but the Landmark location will have an exclusive empanada on its menu. Albisu said the restaurant will also have specific types of tacos for the Landmark location that honor other nearby local restaurants and some old favorites that have since closed.

The Taco Bamba bar will have cocktails with a focus on agave drinks.

Albisu said he hopes the restaurant will draw from other surrounding neighborhoods, like Bailey’s Crossroads, Lake Barcroft, Cameron Station and other parts of Alexandria when it opens sometime this fall.

Courtesy Google Maps

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Doyle’s Outpost just expanded their hours to midnight on Friday and Saturday.

The West End’s 16,000-square-foot family-friendly gaming spot at 4620A Kenmore Avenue has eased all of its COVID restrictions, expanded their hours, and is hiring. There’s a two-level laser tag course with a take-back-D.C.-from-the-zombie-apocalypse vibe, video games and more than 25 high definition TVs behind the full bar.

They’re also hiring.

“We need more servers and bartenders, gaming techs and laser tag techs,” owner Kevin Fagan told ALXnow. “Gaming techs start at $13 an hour. This is definitely a good summer job and our managers can hire on the spot.”

It took Fagan more than two years to develop Doyle’s Outpost. A retired Wall Street banker, Fagan is the former owner of the Planet Fitness next door (and 10 other Planet Fitness gyms). He opened Doyle’s Outpost to great fanfare at the end of 2019 — and then COVID-19 forced it to shut down 10 weeks later.

Doyle’s Outpost was closed for six months, before reopening in October. It’s now open Thursday through Sunday, and may be open more days per week depending on demand.

Manager Natese Ragland weathered the pandemic with a skeleton crew of four employees.

“My coworkers keep me motivated,” Ragland said. “We want you to bring the happy and relax. If you’re not happy when you come in, I want you to be happy by the time you leave.”

Fagan is working on bringing back customers. He lives in Summit, New Jersey, visits multiple times a month, and also just signed a one-year deal with student tour group Gerber Tours.

“On Thursday and Friday, we have a $25 all-you-can-play deal where you can play all the games all day long, and two games of laser tag,” he said. “On Sunday Funday, we offer four $20 game cards with a large pizza and sodas for $99.”

Doyle’s Outpost is open from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursday, from 4 p.m. to midnight on Friday, noon to midnight on Saturday and noon to 8 p.m. on Sunday.

Courtesy Doyle’s Outpost/Facebook

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