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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Huge book sale at George Mason Regional Library has comics, games, first editions

Large selection of comics. [GMF]
The semi-annual book sale April 27-30 at George Mason Regional Library in Annandale features movies, music, and videogames as well as 80 categories of books. 

There’s an entire room dedicated to children’s titles, sorted by subject and reading level.

The event, hosted by George Mason Friends, is open 3-9 p.m. on Thursday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday, and noon-5 p.m. on Sunday. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Suspect arrested for bank robbery

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Costello 
Fairfax County Police have apprehended the suspect they believe was responsible for the robbery of the Wells Fargo Bank at 4260 John Marr Drive, Annandale, on April 18.

The suspect, Kevin George Costello, 57, of the 6800 block of Crossman Street in Annandale, was found by police at a hotel in the 6200 block of Duke Street, Alexandria, on April 21.

Costello was taken to the Adult Detention Center where a warrant was served, charging him with bank robbery.

Redevelopment, transit projects under way in Alexandria

The Metroway BRT line would be a model for the West End Transitway along the Beauregard corridor. [Red Brick Town]
Lots of redevelopment and transit projects are in the works – or at least under consideration – for the West End of Alexandria.

These projects will have a huge impact on the Lincolnia area of Fairfax County – and on the ongoing discussions about the possible creation of a commercial business district at the Little River Turnpike/Beauregard Street intersection by the Lincolnia Planning District Study Task Force.

Planning staff from the City of Alexandria briefed the task force April 18 about those plans, including the redevelopment of Landmark Mall and a bus rapid transit (BRT) system for Beauregard Street.

West End Transitway

A bus rapid transit (BRT) system, known as the West End Transitway, is proposed for a 5.3-mile stretch along the Beauregard Corridor between the Van Dorn Metro station and the Pentagon, said Allan Fye, acting division chief, Transit Services,  

BRT differs from regular bus lines in several ways: It would be more frequent and reliable. There would be full stations with real-time information about when the next bus will arrive, shelter with seating, off-board fare collection, and near-level boarding (so passengers won’t have to climb steps). Signal improvements along the corridor would give priority to buses and be coordinated to improve general traffic flow.

The West End Transitway would operate in dedicated lanes in some areas where feasible and in mixed traffic in other sections. Key stops would be at Landmark Mall, the Mark Center, Southern Towers, the Alexandria campus of Northern Virginia Community College, and the Shirlington Transit Center.

The project would also include 2.3 miles of sidewalk improvements, bikeways, and pedestrian improvements and traffic improvements at 18 intersections.

An environmental assessment was submitted to the federal government in March, Fye said. Design work will begin next month. Construction could take place in 2019-20 and the BRT line could be up and running in 2021. However, a lot of pieces have to fall into place before that happens.

Funding would come from a mix of sources, including the federal Small Starts program, state Smart Scale program, regional funds, local funds, and express lane toll revenue.

Once the West End Transitway is up and running, it is expected to cut 18 minutes from the current trip, and people who switch from cars to the BRT would save $1,300 a year.

Currently, the route is not served by a single bus line. Bus riders have to transfer twice during rush hour and three times during non-rush hours.

The Beauregard BRT would be the third BRT system in Alexandria. The Metroway BRT line on the Route 1 corridor is already up and running. The King Street BRT is expected to start construction in 2022.

Meanwhile, the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission is considering a BRT line along Route 7 between the Mark Center and Tysons Corner.

There have been discussions with Fairfax County officials about extending the BRT line further south into Fairfax County after it’s up and running, Fye said.  

Landmark Mall

In 2013, the City of Alexandria approved a proposal by the Howard Hughes Co. to replace the central part of Landmark Mall with a mixed-use development, but that plan is being updated, said Maya Contreras, a planner with the City of Alexandria. At that time, Macy’s and Sears were under separate ownership. A revised plan calling for more density and an outdoor movie screen was approved in 2015.

In January, Howard Hughes acquired Macy’s. It now plans to incorporate that property into its redevelopment plan. Macy’s closed earlier this year, as did the rest of the mall, except for Sears.

Sears has been struggling financially and has closed many stores. Contreras expects Howard Hughes will buy the Sears property at Landmark and submit a revised plan to the city. There would then be more public hearings and another transportation study.

Beauregard Small Area Plan

The Beauregard Small Area Plan, approved in 2012, envisions a series of seven distinct neighbors with a mix of uses, diverse housing options, and integrated transit along the Beauregard corridor, said Radhika Mohan

The plan covers 400 acres and calls for over 7 million square feet of residential uses, 1.7 million square feet of office space, 500,000 square feet of retail, 45 acres of new public parks, 800 units of dedicated affordable housing, a town center on the site of the shopping center, a dedicated transitway, a fire station, and athletic field.

JBG, the largest landowner in the corridor, was the first developer to proposed a new project, but that plan was later withdrawn after JBG merged with Vornado. Now JBG is trying to sell that property.

Meanwhile, the City of Alexandria is considering converting an office building on Rayburn Street to an elementary school. The city plans to move ahead with the transitway whether the Beauregard corridor is developed or not.

Farther down Beauregard, outside the plan boundary, a mixed-use development is going up at the King Street intersection, Contreras said. A mixed-use office building with 350 multifamily units, including 74 affordable units, and a Harris Teeter grocery store will go up on the site of a former hospital and a small retail center that housed one of the first Five Guys burger restaurants.

Eisenhower West Small Area Plan

The Eisenhower West Small Area Plan, adopted in 2015, calls for redevelopment along Eisenhower Avenue, with major mixed-use development around the Van Dorn Metro station, a new grid of walkable streets, a multimodal bridge over Eisenhower at an underdetermined location, new pedestrian bridges, new bike trails, and new parks.

The goals, Mohan said, are to transform the area from a suburban to an urbanized environment and ensure adequate transportation networks. It’s a long-range plan that could take decades to fully implement.  

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Farmers markets open next week

Fresh-from-the-farm tomatoes at the Annandale Farmers Market.
Ready to shop outdoors for fresh produce from local farms? Fairfax County’s 11 farmers markets open next week.

The market at Wakefield Park, 8100 Braddock Road, Annandale, opens for the season May 3. It will operate 2-6 p.m. every Wednesday through October.

The first day for the Annandale Farmers Market, at 6621 Columbia Pike in Mason District Park, is May 4. It’s open on Thursdays, 8 a.m.-noon, through Nov. 15.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Public invited to Aldi grand opening on May 4

A typical produce section. [Aldi]
The community is invited to the grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Aldi grocery store at 7006 Columbia Pike, Annandale, at 8:25 a.m. on May 4.

The first 100 customers will receive a “golden ticket” containing Aldi gift cards, states a press release from the company. There will also eco-friendly bag distribution, a sweepstakes offering a chance to win a year’s supply of produce, and product samples.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Sponsors, food vendors sought for Taste of Annandale

Staff from the Annangol Korean BBQ restaurant at the 2016 Taste of Annandale.
The Taste of Annandale, a community festival in the heart of the community on Oct. 14, offers owners of restaurants and other businesses a great way to showcase what they have to offer and draw new customers.

Several thousand people came to the event last year, which features food, live entertainment, a chili cook-off, children’s activities, and a 5K run. A one-mile fun run has been to the 2017 festival. The festival will take place on Tom Davis Drive – between Columbia Pike and John Marr Drive – 10 a.m.-6 p.m. There is no charge to attend.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Dog walker stabbed

The Fairfax County Police Department’s daily crime report includes a malicious wounding incident in Bailey’s Crossroads. A 55-year-old woman was walking her dog at around 10:40 p.m. on the 5500 block of Seminary Road April 19 when a man approached her from behind and cut her throat with a knife. She was treated at a local hospital for a minor injury and released.

The victim saw the suspect before he sped off on a bike. He was described as Hispanic, around 17 to 19 years old, short and thin, wearing a gray, zip-up sweatshirt, and camo-style shorts.

'The Late Wedding': a theatrical gem at the Hub

Carolyn Kashner, Matthew Pauli, Gwen Grastof, and Nick DePinto. [C. Stanley Photography]
Once again, Artistic Director Helen Murray and the Hub Theatre in Fairfax are producing a seductive play meant to kindle sparks for adventurous theater-goers. The Hub is constantly on the hunt for small gems from the edge land of plays and playwrights fresh to the D.C. area.

From what has to be a huge pile of possible plays to produce, the Hub has found a fascinating little gem. This gem, “The Late Wedding,” by Christopher Chen is smack in the Hub wheelhouse. The play, running through May 7, is a provocative one-act, composed with a unique theatrical structure, about the mystery and challenges of love in all its permutations.