News: September/October 2005

What’s been happening in our neighborhood?

It’s funny how things seem to get quiet during July and August. Many people go on vacation, fewer groups have meetings, and the summer heat seems to wilt enthusiasm for new projects and activities. Yet, things have been happening in Old Town North:

First, and most visible, the Mirant Power Plant closed temporarily on August 24, following an ambient air quality analysis showing pollutant emissions exceeding standards. The District of Columbia protested on the grounds that the plant is critical to DC’s and the region’s energy supply. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is considering the plant’s status. Obviously, the neighborhood and the City of Alexandria would prefer the plant to remain closed. Recently, Mirant announced a partial reactivation of the plant, using only one of its five boilers for 16 hours a day. The North Old Town Independent Citizens Association is holding a meeting on September 29 at 7:30 at Marina Towers where the Mirant plant will certainly have a prominent place on the agenda.

When we last discussed the Bus Barn property at Royal Street south of Alexandria House, several developers had submitted bids to Metro to develop the site. Negotiations are apparently still ongoing, and the successful bidder has yet to be selected. Regardless of which proposal Metro wants to pursue, any development on the site will be subject to a full review by the City of Alexandria’s Department of Planning and Zoning, the Planning Commission, and the City Council.

The Commonwealth of Virginia’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board listed its property at 901 St. Asaph Street for sale for $12 million. The property is 1.29 acres and is being marketed by a brokerage firm CB Richard Ellis for townhouse/condominium units. Who knew our part of town was so valuable? Several bids have been submitted, but again it is not known who might be selected.

The Motorcoach Task Force under the auspices of the Alexandria Convention and Visitors Association is recommending tour bus parking sites in our neighborhood. It has been a challenge for the task force to find sites to host two to three modern coaches after they drop off tourists. The tourism benefits to our city are undeniable; however, little has been done in the past to accommodate the buses and their drivers. In looking for sites, the Task Force sought to identify locations that would give drivers the opportunity for some shade as well as refreshment, while minimizing the impact on residential properties. In Old Town North, the proposals are: 1) expand the current two spaces on North St. Asaph Street across from the Giant to three spaces; 2) add two to three spaces on North Fairfax Street by the Radisson. Side streets of a primarily commercial nature, for example Canal Center drive just north of the Radisson and Montgomery Street just south of the Radisson were deemed not feasible because they don’t have space for buses to turn around nor to connect to other streets. The Task Force plans to take up these and other recommendations at its September 29 meeting. If you have any comments, please write us at

The Windows Catering business on North Royal Street is about to close; the site is being planned for redevelopment, although there will probably not be any visible activity for several months. Any development plan will be reviewed by various City agencies with opportunities for public comment as needed.

It looks like the area between Washington Street and the Braddock Metro Station has been discovered; a number of development proposals are circulating through the Planning Department, which is in the midst of preparing a new Small Area Plan for the Braddock Metro area. A team of consultants made initial presentations at workshops in June; another series of workshops highlighting initial findings is expected to take place in late September or early October.

A La Lucia restaurant once again has made an application for expanding its number of seats. After the restaurant expanded into the rear of the former woodworking shop at Madison and Royal, it was found that the remaining corner site was not suitable for a separate small restaurant, so A La Lucia is the logical tenant for the corner. Its new application would allow it to have 120 seats with no other changes in operating hours.

Montgomery Park Plan moves ahead

Over the summer, meetings continued with the City’s Department of Recreation and Parks. Progress is being made: Montgomery Park is now included in the Department’s Capital Improvement Program budget for the next two years, and a Special Use Permit application will soon be submitted to cover some of the proposed improvements including the central gazebo and a community sign box.

We have been awarded a matching grant to design, fabricate, and install a “community sign” that would provide information on the residential, commercial, park, and historic features of our neighborhood overlaid on a grid map of Old Town North, and also provide room for posting items of community interest such as this newsletter, meeting notices, and notices about recreational and cultural events. We are looking for a graphic artist to help us with the design…would any of our talented neighbors be willing to volunteer some time?


Art on the Avenue takes place on October 1 from 10 am to 6 pm along Mt. Vernon Avenue. For the 10th year, Art on the Avenue features local artisans and crafters, as well as food, music, and activities for children. For more information, check

MetroStage has announced its 2005-2006 season:

  • October-November: For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again
  • February-March 2006: Two Queens, One Castle
  • April-May 2006: Becoming George

Support our local professional theater at 1201 N. Royal Street!

October 13 is Second Thursday in Old Town: food and music at Market Square, the Torpedo Factory, and Union Street; shops open until 9 pm.

Every Saturday: check out the Farmers’ Markets:

  • Market Square, 5 to 10:30 am
  • Mt. Vernon Avenue, 8 am to 12 noon.

Hold the date — May 18, 2006: Second Taste of Old Town North in Montgomery Park

Volunteers Needed

The Old Town North Community Partnership seeks volunteers for the following activities:

  • Graphic design of the sign for Montgomery Park
  • Two positions on the Board of Directors
  • Montgomery Park committee
  • Membership communications and newsletter

Our thanks go to the volunteers who helped this past year with our web site, planning the Taste of Old Town North last May, and distributing the newsletter.

To volunteer or find out more, please call Agnes Artemel at 703/683-2788.

Faqs About OTNCP

Who is OTNCP? We are an association of residents, business owners and employees who work together as volunteers to improve the Old Town North neighborhood.

What does OTNCP do? We work on projects such as the improvements to Montgomery Park, the Taste of Old Town North, and the provision of information to the community through our website, newsletter, and proposed “community sign”.

What is OTNCP’s vision for Old Town North? We promote Old Town North as a mixed-use neighborhood where residents can walk to a variety of businesses that provide goods and services. We see Old Town North as a visually attractive neighborhood that relates well to its natural and built assets and reflects its maritime history. We support community-serving open space, pedestrian access, and well-managed traffic and parking. We hope for recreational and cultural attractions and participate in the social, intellectual, cultural, and political life of Alexandria.

Who can be a member? Anyone who lives or works north of Oronoco Street to the northern city boundary and east of Washington Street to the Potomac River.

How much does it cost to join, and how do I join? There are no membership dues. Our projects are self-supporting or funded by contributions by people who want to see them happen. Send us an email with your name, address, and phone number to


Please send an email with your contact Or complete and mail the form below to Old Town North Community Partnership, c/o Montgomery Center, 300 Montgomery Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314.