Alexandria Living Magazine - Sept./Oct. 2018

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New Life for Old Town ALEXANDRIALIVINGMAGAZINE.COM September / October 2018



Bonitt Builders is an award-winning custom home builder and remodeler based in Northern Virginia. We are committed to delivering the highest quality to our clients. Over the past 35 years we have assembled the most talented team of craftsman and subcontractors in the area to work on our projects. That work has been recognized with the Grand Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects for excellence in residential construction. This is the highest award given for this type of construction. And most recently Bonitt Builders has received an award from The Historic Alexandria Foundation for Adaptive Preservation. If you are considering a project that demands only the best, consider us. Our portfolio of projects range from contemporary to traditional and speak to the multiple talents of our team, staff, and all the wonderful people that work with us. Visit us online at to find out more!



Phone: 703.549.1010 • Email: • 1305 Leslie Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22301 B • September / October 2018

An Amazing Autumn at Mount Vernon Eight miles south of Alexandria, nestled on the banks of the Potomac River, sits Mount Vernon—the estate of George Washington. The Mansion, outbuildings and landscape have been meticulously restored so visitors can take in the same spectacular views Washington did. George Washington himself wrote in 1793, “No estate in United America is more pleasantly situated than this…on one of the finest Rivers in the world.” Autumn’s cool, crisp air and colorful foliage make the season ideal for visiting the estate. The weekends are filled with special events, and Mount Vernon members get the most out of the season. From free admission 365 days a year to discounts at the Mount Vernon Inn and Food Court, a membership to Mount Vernon offers countless opportunities to spend time with family and connect with the father of our country.

Learn more and sign up for new membership at or present this ad at the ticket counter to claim new member discount. For questions, email Kara Hershorin, membership manager, at

FALL EVENTS Fall Wine Festival & Sunset Tour October 5–7

Grab a blanket and enjoy live music and spectacular views while sipping wine from Virginia’s finest wineries. Mount Vernon members get early access to tickets for this sell-out event. Fall Harvest Family Days October 20–21

Take a horse-drawn wagon ride, play colonial games, find your way through a straw bale maze, and listen to colonial tunes at this family-friendly event. Members enjoy free admission to this event and every day! Trick-or-Treating at Mount Vernon October 27

This Halloween, bring your family to trick-or-treat at Mount Vernon and learn watch 18th-century chocolatemaking, wool spinning, and dancing demonstrations. Members can take part in the exclusive pre-sale ticketing.





On September 15, you’re invited to tour our first model home.


Join us Saturday, September 15, for the opening of The Delaney, our new townhome model at Robinson Landing. These homes feature distinctive brick façades with large-paned windows and design details that echo the site’s history as an active waterfront district. Four contemporary open floorplans offer rooftop terraces, three to five bedrooms, approximately 2,300 to 3,020 square feet of living space with elevator and river view, per plan.

New Elevator Townhomes and Condominiums from $1.5M to $5.75M

Call 703-263-8045 or visit

Features, finishes, and prices are subject to change without notice. EYA LLC, through its various development affiliates, builds homes in the Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, DC metropolitan area. References to “EYA” refer to EYA LLC. EYA Marketing LLC markets, advertises, and sells each EYA affiliated property as agent for the seller. Robinson Landing is being developed by RT South Associates LLC, RTS Homes Associates LLC, RTS Condo Associates LLC, and RT Parking Associates LLC, each responsible for certain specific components of the project (collectively the “Robinson Landing Development Entities”). The Robinson Landing Development Entities are each solely and exclusively responsible for its portion of the development of the Robinson Landing community. No representations regarding the development, construction or sale of any portion of the Robinson Landing community is made by EYA LLC or any EYA affiliate except the Robinson Landing Development Entities. Sales by EYA Marketing LLC, agent for RT South Associates LLC, RTS Homes Associates LLC, and RTS Condo Associates LLC.



Calendar of Events See events and activities that are coming to Alexandria.


Food & Dining


Get the inside dish on five new restaurants to try in Alexandria.


Pets Capture your pampered pooch’s good side with a portrait (and get tips from the pros on how to take great photos of your pet).

14 20

Home & Garden


Ray Greenstreet II talks about the nursery business that brought him to Alexandria.


Health & Wellness Kickstart your fitness routine by getting out of your comfort zone!



History Alexandria’s city archaeologist discusses the excitement of unearthing three 18th-century ships at Alexandria’s waterfront.




Three getaways — beach, mountains or wineries — you can take this fall within driving distance of Alexandria.

58 29

The Last Word Katie Wells talks about her boutique DIY studio.

September / October 2018 •



37 Building Boom A look at Charlotte’s Asana Partners, which has purchased more than 20 buildings in Old Town Alexandria. Plus, a look at the building boom with a map of new development going up in Alexandria.

46 The Struggle Is Real How Alexandria parents are dealing with the soaring costs of childcare.


52 Lights, Camera, Alexandria A look at how film projects are boosting the local economy; plus an interview with the director of the Alexandria Film Festival.


Photo by Chris Militzer

September / October 2018 •


A Letter from Our Founders PUBLISHER

Beth Lawton

A Season of New Beginnings


Mary Ann Barton

The fall season has always been a time of new beginnings and in this, our first issue, we look at a renaissance of sorts that is underway in Alexandria as new businesses and living spaces are opening or are under construction (see “Asana Brings New Ideas to Old Town,” Page 37 and “Building Boom,” Page 40).


Heidi Fielding Lora Jerakis Meredith Bonitt DESIGN

Jessie Leiber PHOTO EDITOR

Chris Militzer INTERN

Sarah Jenkins Alexandria Living Magazine is published six times per year by Alexandria Living, LLC © 2018. 106 N. Lee Street, Second Floor, Alexandria, VA 22314 Newsstand price: $4.95. To subscribe free for one year (limited-time offer), go to

CONTACT US or call (571) 232-1310.


Alexandria Living Magazine fully supports the local business community and offers several unique ways to partner with the publication. • Sponsored articles and multimedia content on the website, in our popular email newsletters and on social media. • Highlighted events in our events calendar, email newsletters and social media. • Sponsored real estate listings. • Brand awareness through online banner ads designed to boost your business. • Contests, sweepstakes and giveaways.

To learn more about how partnering with Alexandria Living Magazine can help build your business, contact us at or call (571) 232-1310.


Send news releases and story tips to

Fall is a time to adjust schedules for school and childcare; if you hadn’t already guessed, we live in the area with the highest childcare costs in the nation. Writer Jennifer van der Kleut delves into the budget-busting costs, talking to several Alexandria families about their routines and seeing how they cope. Read Jennifer’s story, “The Struggle Is Real,” starting on Page 46. As schedules become easier to navigate with the kids finally back in school, some of you might be eager to get out of the house and try out new restaurants (Page 14) opening around town or jumpstart your fitness routine by trying something out of your comfort zone (Page 23). Alexandria wouldn’t be Alexandria without its emphasis on history. Writer Susannah Herrada has the scoop on replica tall ship Providence (“A Tall Ship for the Port City,” on Page 36) that will make its home at the City’s waterfront next year. Writer Angela Swartz uncovers the story behind the ships discovered during excavation near the waterfront talking with City Archaeologist Eleanor Breen, in her story “Digging History” on Page 26. As much as we all love Alexandria, sometimes you just have to get away, and we’re bringing you three options within driving distance where you can do just that whether it’s the beach, mountains or a nearby vineyard, starting on Page 29 from writer Glenda Booth and Photo Editor Chris Militzer.

Beth Lawton, publisher, and Mary Ann Barton, editor. Photo by Matt Mendelsohn, taken at Virtue Feed & Grain.

We appreciate the interest from readers who are keeping up with us on our website, which launched in January, and our social channels. Even when a snowstorm hit March 21, the day of our launch party for our preview issue, more than 300 of you showed up to help us celebrate. Thank you! We’ve set up shop at ALX Community, a lively co-working space at 106 N. Lee St. in Old Town Alexandria. We’re not sure what we enjoy most — bringing our dogs to work or the juice bar downstairs. Stop by anytime and say hello. We’ll continue to bring you new stories and photos in our print magazine every two months about the people and places that make Alexandria such a special community. For a free one-year subscription, go to In the meantime, be sure to hop onto our website to see what’s new. See you in November!

Mary Ann Barton and Beth Lawton Founders


For marketing inquiries, contact


SOCIALIZE WITH US  • September / October 2018




Meet Our Writers and Photographers





Glenda Booth is a freelance writer who has lived in Northern Virginia for more than 40 years covering travel, history, people and conservation for local, state and national publications. Glenda has volunteered for Earthwatch in Botswana, Greece, France, Saskatchewan (Canada) and the Galapagos. She earned a bachelor’s at Longwood College and a master’s at the University of Virginia. A gardener, outdoors woman and lifelong learner, she lives in Fairfax County and is the mother of two grown sons.

Multimedia journalist James Cullum has reported for over a decade for newspapers, magazines and websites in the D.C. metro area. He’s a native of San Antonio, and has lived in and around Alexandria for decades. James listens to music while he writes, specializes in photographing people and loves his son Henry and dog Josephine more than anything. You can find him near the scene of the action with a driver’s cap, Ray Ban glasses and his camera.

Susannah Herrada is a freelance writer living in Arlington. Her relatable, transparent style can find glamour in precast concrete or make finance feel accessible. When she’s not putting a scintillating spin on IT or DIY, Susannah hits the road. She logs the adventures and misadventures of family trips, along with collecting the stories of less heard voices from around the globe. Some of her bylines include Washingtonian Magazine, AAA Traveler Worldwide and Home & Design Magazine.

Sarah Jenkins is a George Mason University student from Richmond, Virginia currently studying Communication and Business. She started working for Alexandria Living Magazine this summer where her main role has been focused on writing and research. Sarah is very involved in George Mason University organizations and enjoys film, coffee, traveling, going out with her friends and tacos. Alexandria is the perfect place for Sarah to enjoy the growing arts scene and local restaurants.




Chris Militzer is a Virginia photographer whose work has been featured by USA Today, the United States Department of the Interior, Visit Virginia and Visit Alexandria. As a travel photographer, Militzer has shot album covers in New York and performances in Paris. As a consultant and photographer, he has aided brands in their social media outreach. Militzer has lived in Alexandria, Virginia for 20 years where he resides with his wife and two daughters.

Buz Nachlas enjoys photography whether he’s capturing the Red Rocks in the American Southwest or snapping an image of an iconic monument at dusk in the nation’s capital. He often visits Alexandria, where he snapped photos at a boxing gym and a yoga studio for our fitness story in this issue. When he’s not taking photos, you might find him cycling on one of the Washington area’s bike trails. A native of Wisconsin, Buz makes his home in Ashburn, Virginia.

Angela Swartz is a freelance reporter based in San Francisco. She previously covered education at the San Mateo Daily Journal and technology at the Silicon Valley Business Journal. Her Daily Journal work garnered awards from The California Teachers Association and Peninsula Press Club. She interned at The Washington Post, The Investigative Reporting Workshop, All Things Digital (now Recode), and The Palo Alto Daily Post. Her work also appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle and Palo Alto Weekly.

JENNIFER VAN DER KLEUT Jennifer van der Kleut (formerly McBride) is a mother of two who lives in Fairfax County. Originally from California’s San Francisco Bay Area, she graduated with a degree in Journalism and Mass Communications from San Jose State University. She has worked as a reporter and writer for many publications such as,, ABC7 News/WJLA, Huffington Post,, and the Silicon Valley Community Newsgroup.

September / October 2018 •


Lighthouse at Jones Point Park, Alexandria


FALL 2018

Calendar of Events EVE N T K E Y

Arts Film Food & Dining Family-Friendly Live Music Nightlife

September August: Osage County Sept. 8-23 | Various Times When the family patriarch vanishes, the Weston’s return to rural Oklahoma to care for their afflicted, manipulative mother, Violet. Armed with prescription drugs and paranoid mood swings, Violet reigns over the home as family secrets unfold. This powerful family drama by Tracy Letts won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and the Tony Award for Best New Play. Tickets $21-$24. The Little Theatre of Alexandria, 600 Wolfe St.,

Pet-Friendly Recreation & Outdoor Theater

All ‘80s, All Night Sept. 14 | 6:30 p.m. Love the ‘80s? Come ready to dance (and why not dress up in your best ‘80s fashion?) for an “All ‘80s, All Night” flashback dance party. Darin from Belt it Out Productions will DJ, covering ‘80s music like no other — from Madonna to Billy Idol to Wham, Run DMC, New Edition, Human League, Prince, Heavy D, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Michael Jackson, Duran Duran – you get it — all of your ‘80s favorites. Before the dance party kicks off, there will be ‘80s classic videos being played during dinner and prizes will be given out for best dressed and “Name that Tune” winners. Turn back the clock for a fun night of food, beverages, dancing and all things ‘80s. This event will sellout so get your tickets early. Make plans to visit the Carlyle Club, a supper club and full-scale entertainment experience, at 2050 Ballenger Ave., near the King Street Metro. The Carlyle Club, 2050 Ballenger Ave.

8 • September / October 2018


Coco Sept. 15 | 7 p.m.

George Washington’s Estate Colonial Market & Fair

See Coco under the stars in Del Ray. Rated PG, it has a 94 percent rating from audiences on Rotten Tomatoes. In Disney/Pixar’s vibrant tale of family, fun and adventure, aspiring young musician named Miguel (voice of newcomer Anthony Gonzalez) embarks on an extraordinary journey to the magical land of his ancestors. There, the charming trickster Hector (voice of Gael Garcia Bernal) becomes an unexpected friend who helps Miguel uncover the mysteries behind his family’s stories and traditions. The film won Oscars for “Best Animated Feature” and “Best Original Song.” Free.

Sept. 15-16 | 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Cinema Del Ray, 2701 Mount Vernon Ave.

Old Town Alexandria will celebrate their 16th annual art festival with more than $15 million in art displays lining King Street from Washington to Union. Artists will display paintings and sculptures, ceramics, jewelry, photography, hand-crafted apparel, decor and glasswork. The festival promotes the beauty of the historic Alexandria waterfront as well as the blossoming arts culture emerging from this area.

Featured on the 2018 Historic Alexandria Homes Tour is a home with exquisite chandeliers and the previous home of Thomson F. Mason who lived in the home in 1816, 11 years before he became mayor of Alexandria. Mason was the grandson of founding father George Mason. Hosted by The Twig, the Junior Auxiliary of Inova Alexandria Hospital, all proceeds benefit Inova Alexandria Hospital. Tickets are $40 in advance; $45 day of tour.

King Street between Washington and Union streets

Various locations,

Enjoy 18th century entertainment, games and market vendors at Mount Vernon Estate for this annual tradition. With 18th-century inspired food and drinks provided upon admission, there’s family fun for all at this beautiful historic site. George Washington’s Mount Vernon, 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway, PHOTO COURTESY OF THE TWIG

77th Annual Historic Alexandria Homes Tour

King Street Art Festival Sept. 15 | 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. Sept. 16 | 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Sept. 22 | 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.


Canine Cruise Sept. 15, Sept. 29 | 11 a.m. Oct. 26 | 11 a.m., 6:30 p.m., 8 p.m. Bring your best buddy to the Alexandria City Marina and get ready for some fun during a 45-minute canine cruise around the Potomac. Dogs must be on a six-foot leash at all times. Tickets range from $18 to $12. Dogs and babies (under 2) admitted free. Potomac Riverboat Company, 105 N. Union St.

September / October 2018 •



AHS Annual Gala: “25 Years of Color at the Garden”

Sips & Secrets: A Speakeasy Night

Sept. 22 | 6 p.m. - 10 p.m.

Sept. 22 | 6:30 p.m.

The American Horticultural Society (AHS) is hosting their 25th Annual Gala at the Gardens at River Farm featuring special guest Monte Durham from the hit TLC show Say Yes to the Dress. The AHS Gala promotes the positive impacts of taking care of nature while inspiring community members to take action in protecting the Earth. Proceeds will go to educational programs focused on historic and environmental preservation.

Go back in time and immerse yourself in the Prohibition era by grabbing a 1920s-inspired cocktail to commemorate the history of the Lee-Fendall House. Come dressed in your best flapper or mobster style and enjoy a fun-filled Saturday night at the historic LeeFendall House.

American Horticultural Society, 7931 E. Boulevard Dr.

Lee-Fendall House, 614 Oronoco St.,


New Neighbors Oktoberfest & Live Auction Sept. 24 | 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. Join the Campagna Center for their annual Oktoberfest fundraiser sponsored by and held at Port City Brewing. Enjoy local brews and German fare while bridging the financial gaps for those who struggle with educational costs. Sponsorships will give tuition, books, childcare, and literacy services to families in the program. Campagna Center, 3950 Wheeler Ave.

Famous Blue Crab Feast Sept. 29 | 1-3:30 p.m.; 4 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.


Mount Vernon Masquerade Sept. 22 | 7 p.m.

Fort Hunt Park, 8999 Fort Hunt Rd.,


Benefit for Mount Vernon, featuring a black-tie and mask dress code.

21st Annual Fall Wine Festival & Sunset Tour

Heavy hors d’oeuvres, open bar, live music and dancing, private

Oct. 5-7 | 6 - 9 p.m.

tours of the mansion including a rare peek into the underground

Celebrate the history of wine with a beautiful sunset overlook view and live blues music at George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate. In addition to a tour of the mansion, guests will be given a special tour of Washington’s wine cellar and food provided by Mount Vernon Inn Restaurant.

cellar, 18th-century fortune telling, fireworks over the Potomac and a photobooth. Tickets start at $90 for members; $159 for non-members. George Washington’s Mount Vernon, 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway,


Music and fresh seafood for the whole family. Tickets range from $15 up to $65 per person. Tickets may be purchased for either 1-3:30 p.m. or 4-6:30 p.m. • September / October 2018

George Washington’s Mount Vernon, 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway,


Art on the Avenue


Fall Harvest Family Days

Oct. 6 | 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Oct. 13-Nov. 3 | Various Times

Oct. 20-21 | 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Art on the Avenue is a multi-cultural arts festival celebrating the community’s diversity through the arts in the Del Ray area on the first Saturday in October every year. Over 300 vendors and 40,000 visitors attend. Braddock Road is the Metro stop nearest Art on the Avenue. Each half hour, starting at 10 a.m. until 6 p.m., there will be a free Old Town Trolley going to and from the corner of Bellefonte/Mt. Vernon Avenue and the Braddock Road Metro Station.

Just in time for Halloween, Bram Stoker’s classic tale of gothic horror comes to life. Tickets are $24.

Celebrate fall with 18th-century activities: Take a horse-drawn wagon ride, play colonial games on the bowling green, visit the Pioneer Farm and greet Gen. Washington. Half-price sightseeing cruises will be available while supplies last.

Held between Bellefonte and Hume avenues,

Water Discovery Day Oct. 13 | 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Alexandria Renew Enterprises holds its annual block party to educate all ages about water.

The Little Theatre of Alexandria, 600 Wolfe St.

George Washington’s Mount Vernon, 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway,

A Long Black Veil Happy Hour Honoring Death Day Anniversary of the Female Stranger

Annual Del Ray Halloween Parade

Oct. 14 | 6 - 9 p.m.

Date TBD

Join Port City at Gadsby’s Tavern Museum as they honor the 199th anniversary of the Female Stranger’s death with the Long Black Veil. Port City’s Black IPA was inspired by the famous tale of the Female Stranger, who died at Gadsby’s Tavern Oct. 14, 1816. Tickets are $35 in advance; $45 at the door.

The popular Del Ray Halloween Parade, an annual event which attracts thousands, is usually held on a Sunday afternoon close to Halloween. At press time, the date had not yet been announced but keep an eye on the parade’s Facebook page! Awards are given out for everything from Best Decorated Home to Best Pet Costume to Best Decorated Stroller.

Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, 134 N Royal St.

Alexandria Renew Enterprises, 1800 Limerick St.

The parade begins at Mt. Vernon Avenue, south of E. Bellefonte, and continues down to the Mt. Vernon Rec Center fields at Mt. Vernon and Commonwealth avenues,




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Zombie Escape

and adults are welcome to enjoy all other

Oct. 26 | 6:30 p.m. - 10 p.m.

Halloween Pumpkin Hunt

There’s been a Zombie Apocalypse. You

Oct. 27 | Various Times

Lee-Fendall House, 614 Oronoco St.,

must navigate your way through zombie -infested territory to claim what supplies are on your list and make it back to your base safely. Tickets are $30 in advance; $40 at the door. Carlyle House, 121 N. Fairfax St.

The Lee-Fendall House Annual Halloween

activities. Advance tickets are $15 for participating children, and $5 for adults.

Pumpkin Hunt returns to Alexandria on Saturday, Oct. 27. Alexandria’s ghosts and goblins will fill the museum’s garden with hundreds of colorful toy-filled Halloween pumpkins for local children to discover. Other activities include crafts, refreshments, spooky stories and a costume parade. Every participating child will receive a toy pumpkin. The Hunt schedule is Saturday, Oct. 27 at 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. All children of elementary school age

Trick or Treating at Mount Vernon Oct. 27 | 3:30 - 6:30 p.m. Fun Halloween activities for the whole family. Tickets are $14; ages 11 and younger pay $8. George Washington’s Mount Vernon, 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway,

or younger are eligible to participate in the Halloween Pumpkin Hunt. Older children


November Horses & Hounds Nov. 3 | 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Watch a simulated fox hunt, a cavalry demonstration and meet Nelson, a horse

An Evening with Kathy Mattea

similar to Washington’s beloved warhorse. Events take place rain or shine. Event is included in regular admission price. George Washington’s Mount Vernon, 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway,

Oct. 28 | 7:30 p.m “Pretty Bird” Sept. 7. Hailed by The Washington Post as “one of Nashville’s finest

12th Annual Alexandria Film Festival

song interpreters,” Mattea has enjoyed the kind of success many artists only

Nov. 9-11 | Various Times

Kathy Mattea comes to The Birchmere celebrating the release of a new album

dream of: two Grammy wins, four CMA Awards, four #1 country singles and five gold albums (plus a platinum collection of her greatest hits). The dream

featuring more than 50 ticketed and

almost ended, though, when Mattea entered her 50s and began to find her voice

free films at AMC Hoffman Theater

changing. What followed was a three-year journey through life challenges and

and Beatley Central Library. Alexandria

vocal glitches that she describes as her “dark night of the soul,” a trying time

producer and entrepreneur Joe Cantwell,

of personal anguish and professional uncertainty that threatened to silence her permanently. Come celebrate her triumphant return at The Birchmere. Tickets are $35. The Birchmere Music Hall, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave.


This year’s festival marks its 12th year • September / October 2018

who is also a past AFF award winner for his film “Ride The Divide,” has endowed the “Joe Cantwell Award for Excellence in Documentary Filmmaking.” Various locations including AMC Hoffmann (206 Swamp Fox Road) and Beatley Central Library (5005 Duke St.),



Mount Vernon Salutes Veterans Nov. 11 | 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. In honor of the nation’s veterans, all active-duty, former or retired military personnel are admitted free of charge. George Washington’s Mount Vernon, 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway,

Mount Vernon by Candlelight Begins Nov. 23 | TBD Join the estate for a candlelit character-guided tour and learn more about holiday traditions in 18th-century Virginia. $25 adult (12 and up); $17 youth (ages 6-11); Kids 5 and under are free. George Washington’s Mount Vernon, 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway,

Welcome home. | Selling Alexandria for 35 years



48th Annual Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend Dec. 1 | 11 a.m. See the 48th Annual Campagna Center’s Scottish Christmas Walk Parade. Enjoy marching units filled with the tartans of Scottish Clans, the sound of Scottish bagpipes and drums, Scottish dancers, reenactment groups, Scottie dogs, dignitaries, classic cars, Santa Claus and more. The parade begins at St. Asaph and Wolfe streets and concludes at Market Square with a massed band concert. The parade will take place rain or shine. From St. Asaph & Wolfe streets to Market Square

Mums • Kale • Pansies • Violas Trees • Shrubs • Perennials Indoor Plants • Succulents Pumpkins • Gourds • Fall Décor Garden Supplies • Gift Shop

1721 W Braddock Road, Alexandria, VA 22302 5905 Richmond Highway, Alexandria, VA 22303 703.998.3030 • September / October 2018 •




New Restaurants to Try in Alexandria It seems like every time you turn around there’s a new restaurant opening in Alexandria. Here’s a look at several new ones we plan to try this fall!

14 • September / October 2018

Bold Flavors from Mexico City


Urbano 116, at 116 King St., will offer up a craft cocktail menu focused on agave-based spirits for mezcal and tequila connoisseurs. Award-winning chef and Noma restaurant alum Alam Mendez Florian, of Mexico City, is helping develop the menu alongside owner Chad Sparrow, a Johnson & Wales Culinary School graduate. Florian’s mother, known in Mexico City as “La Madre de Mole,” will team up on a range of authentic Mexican moles. Fresh tortillas made daily from whole kernels of Oaxacan corn is a big part of the Urbano’s menu. The eatery’s interior design will feature banquette seating and a U-shaped bar next to a large folding window on the sidewalk. The modern finishes will harken the hip, urban vibe of downtown Mexico City, while showcasing the exposed brick and steel of the original building. Urbano 116 is targeting a December 2018 opening. Keep an eye on @Urbano116 on Instagram for progress and updates or visit their website at


September / October 2018 •





Russian Relations

RusUz, a restaurant specializing in Russian and Uzbek cuisine, will be located in the space formerly occupied by Ruby Tuesday next door to the AMC Hoffman Center 22 movie theater in Alexandria.

Look for a menu that will include caviar, Russian potato salad, Borsch, beef stroganoff and Plov, the national dish of Uzbekistan that includes of carrots, chickpeas, raisins, spices and lamb). The menu will also include imported wines, beer and alcoholic beverages. The eatery is named for Uzbekistan, part of the former Soviet republic; most of the cuisine there is influenced by pre-Islamic traditions. The location at 210 Swamp Fox Road is the second for the owners; the first is located in Arlington’s Ballston neighborhood at 1000 N. Randolph St. The Ballston location has four stars from Yelp reviews; critics say not to miss the lamb and chickpea soup, smoked-fish plate, blini with beef; “Fish Under a Coat” dish (herring with beets, potatoes, eggs, and mayonnaise) and more.

16 • September / October 2018

Family-Friendly Sophistication on ‘The Avenue’ Del Ray is getting another dose of refined cuisine wrapped in a family-friendly atmosphere with the opening of Charlie’s on the Avenue at 1501 Mt. Vernon Ave., the former home of FireFlies.

The eatery will be just down the street from its sister restaurant Live Oak, where Charlie’s previewed some of its menu over the summer, including brisket tacos, burgers, a chicken parmesan sandwich and cuban nachos made with (gluten-free) corn chips, cheese, pork BBQ, black beans, roasted peppers and aji aioli. Also on the menu: Homemade pretzels, spaghetti and meatballs and meatloaf sliders. Plus, banana splits and chocolate silk pie! Count us in. Charlie’s will offer specials for the local lunch crowd, show all the big games on weekends and will be kid-friendly. Keep up with Charlie’s On The Avenue on their Facebook page @CharliesOnTheAve.


Food Truck Turns Restaurant BBQ fanatic Dylan Kough (sounds like “cow”) has had a lifelong love of good barbecue — he asked for a meat smoker as a gift when he was 13. His successful and popular Smoking Kow BBQ food truck made the transition to brick and mortar, opening this year at 3250 Duke St. in Alexandria. (The company already offered catering services.) The menu specialty is hickory-smoked barbecue (smoked chicken, brisket and pork) tacos made from scratch. Tortillas are made in-house every morning.


In May, Washingtonian named the up-andcomer among the top 13 barbecue joints in the Washington area.


Patron Saint of Brewers ... and Mussels

Coming to 1106 King St., Augie’s Mussel House and Patio is another venture from the folks at Mason Social and Common Plate Hospitality. Augie’s opened over the summer months on the patio while renovations continued on the interior at the former Hunting Creek steakhouse. The name comes from St. Augustine. The restaurant will give traditional Belgian cuisine a modern twist. Belgium’s national food obsession is moules frites (steaming hot mussels with a side of crisp fries). Also, Belgian waffles. (We’re hoping for Belgian chocolates as well.) Look for a variety of beer offerings, too — after all, St. Augustine is the patron saint of brewers.

September / October 2018 •



Pooch Portraits BY SARAH JENKINS

Alexandria is a dog town, plain and simple — and one way Alexandrians like to honor their pets is by including them in family photos.


Multiple surveys have honored Alexandria as one of the most dog-friendly towns in the United States, and there’s no shortage of doggie daycares, dog-friendly restaurants, stores, parks and hotels catering to Alexandria’s fourlegged residents. Most people consider pets a member of their family, according to an Associated poll. Photographer Shelley Castle has spent more than 40 years working with, training and photographing pets — especially dogs. “I work with each animal individually to access their energy and figure out how best to let their personality shine through,” Castle said. To get four-legged family members to behave for the camera, Castle photographs pets wearing their leash, and Photoshops the leash out in the editing process. She also gets the right shot by getting down on their level. “I spend a lot of time on the ground,” Castle said. “I recommend taking the image when the pet is at rest instead of in motion,” she said. “That way there is no motion blur.” In addition to traditional photos, Castle’s clients sometimes opt for gallery-wrapped fineart canvases and custom-designed albums. Session fees range from $175 to $250, and the price for artwork depends on what a customer selects. Most of her customers spend $1,000 to $1,500 total, she said, and wait two to three weeks to receive proofs. Castle is also the person who takes most pet

portraits for the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria — those iconic white-background images that help pets get adopted a little bit faster. Castle grew up on a “pocket farm” in the Mount Vernon area of Alexandria and spent much of her childhood caring for her family’s horses and other pets, and her long-standing passions for animals and photography merged into her business today ( But photos are just the beginning for Alexandria pet owners. The staff at Local Colour Old Town can create a painted work of art from photos of your pet, according to owner Rachael A. Bright. The most popular style for Alexandria pet owners is an 11 x 14 canvas with a solid-color background — pet owners can pick a favorite color or a neutral gray. The cost on average is around $150. Turnaround time is about a month, which includes drying time. For holiday commissions, Local Colour recommends getting your order in by October. The shop on North Lee Street also offers portraits and silhouettes, and the boutique and working studio features artists, jewelry and more. For Local Colour portraits, pet owners don’t have to worry about lighting in your photo. “I can paint a beautiful portrait either sunlit, backlit or in partial shadow,” she noted. Learn more by stopping by Local Colour at 218 N. Lee St. in Old Town Alexandria, or visit

How to Take Better Pet Photos Professional photos are always best, but sometimes you just want a candid shot of your pet doing something adorable. Here are some tips on how to get the best shot:

BE PATIENT! Pets don’t follow

directions to “look left” or “lift your chin up” the way people do, so expect to spend a lot of time waiting for that perfect shot.


Set up your camera, and let your pet do their own thing whether it’s playing or sleeping. Let your pet get used to the camera until they are no longer nervous around it. Taking a photo of the pet in their favorite place will help them be less camera shy.


says, get down on the ground with your pet for a better perspective.

FOCUS ON THEIR EYES. Pet photos that focus on their eyes come out best, according to Digital Photography School. Don’t be afraid to zoom in, take a lot of photos and experiment.

September / October 2018 •




Raymond E. “Ray” Greenstreet II may have inherited his green thumb. The path to gardening success for the owner of Greenstreet Gardens began in Highland, Md. in Howard County. “It was out in the country back then,” he said. “We always had a huge garden — a monstrous garden. My mom’s a huge gardener. Loves her roses.” He talked about his days growing up in Maryland while giving a tour of his business at 1721 W. Braddock Road just days before making some major changes. Greenstreet moved his Del Ray store to a new garden center in Belle Haven at 5905 Richmond Highway, where his team plans to add events like live music and food trucks. “We love Del Ray, it was just too tight,” he said. “It was a cute, great place, but just a little too hard to operate.” In the springtime at its peak, the nursery business, with its Maryland and Northern Virginia locations, has about 165 employees. With Alexandria’s low unemployment rate, it’s sometimes tough to expand the staff, he said. “We’ve tried to tap into people who have had other careers — we’ve had people who used to be in the military or lobbyists whose passion is gardening and some have their master gardener certificates.” Greenstreet bought the West Braddock location in 2012 as he looked for new sites to diversify their Maryland business. “In Alexandria, there’s such a diversity of housing — we’ve got apartments and condos, townhouses and then we have estates,” he said. “You really kind of have that A to Z. We have to have the same plant in multiple sizes, so Old Town might have window boxes, things like that.” “Another thing that is cool about this area is there’s a diversity of people from different parts of the world and they like different kinds of plants,” he said. It’s traditional too — one of the most popular plants is the geranium.

20 • September / October 2018

Ray Greenstreet pauses for a photo at his W. Braddock Road location of Greenstreet Gardens.

Greenstreet says his team focuses on educating people when they purchase plants. “We try to give them the ABCs on how to garden. Our motto is, ‘Success Grows Here.’ And I truly believe that. If you’re going to buy a couple-dollar tomato plant or a hundred-dollar tree, we want to be sure you’re successful.” Greenstreet still shows an enthusiasm for the business that began when he was 13 years old. That’s when he started working for a wholesale greenhouse grower. “I needed a job, I started out as a yard boy,” he said. He drove the business owner’s wife, who had polio, around the grounds in a cart. “She would show me the flowers she wanted to plant.” The company had 50-plus greenhouses and he worked there throughout high school. It supplied plants to Giant grocery stores and all the big-box stores. He took a year off before entering




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college, working for Creative Plantings (“back in the ‘80s when all the ‘interiorscape’ was huge”) before heading to Chicago to study horticulture at the College of DuPage. The school encouraged students to learn on the job by doing a month of internship followed by a month of study.

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After college, he went to work for Bell Nursery and Creative Plantings, servicing offices and shopping malls’ needs for plantings, and then he went to work as a sales rep for Ball Seed, where he worked in Maryland for a couple of years. Then he accepted a new territory, and his wife, Stacy, and first son moved to Long Island, N.Y. “We fell in love with New York and the Hamptons and it was a great place to work and learn business, but I promised my wife I’d bring her back to Maryland one day.” The family returned to Maryland several years later, in 2001, after they had an opportunity to purchase a farm in Lothian in Anne Arundel County, where they currently live on 65 acres with six acres of greenhouses. The family now includes children Ryan, Seth and Abigail. Greenstreet encounters a number of people who don’t think they have a green thumb at all. “I believe gardening for most people, should be like a recipe card, like baking a cake: Two eggs, a cup of flour, a cup of milk,” Greenstreet said. “People who are not gardeners overthink it. It’s all about the roots, all about the soil.” “As long as you’re consistent with plants,” he said, “that’s what makes it a success.”

Landscape and Portrait Photography September / October 2018 •






F R E E A D M I S S I O N |

22 • September / October 2018



AERIAL YOGA Sarah Craig, owner of Local Motion Studio, teaches aerial yoga at her studio tucked away on S. Dove Street in Alexandria near a gourmet popcorn shop and army surplus store. Aerial yoga uses a hammock that allows students to perform postures that they might not ordinarily attempt on a yoga mat. “Anyone can do aerial yoga,” she said, noting she has students ages 16 to 75. “No yoga or aerial arts experience is necessary. You don’t have to be super flexible or super strong. Those are things you will gain from a regular aerial practice.”

Local Motion Studio owner Sarah Craig demonstrates an aerial yoga move.

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone BY MARY ANN BARTON

This fall, give your fitness routine a kickstart by trying something completely out of your comfort zone. Instead of jogging or hitting the StairMaster, how about challenging yourself with boxing, aerial yoga or spinning classes?

While you don’t need to be super strong, some core and overall body strength is helpful, Craig said. “Our instructors will offer exercises and modifications to help build that strength.” Some of the benefits of aerial yoga include: • Rapidly increasing flexibility while improving balance and core strength. • Moving more fluidly and attaining proper alignment naturally • Decompressing the neck and spine • Putting less pressure on hands, neck, shoulders and joints than floor poses • Achieving more advanced postures while being supported • Using gravity to deepen stretches • Experiencing the benefits of inversions without risk of injury to neck or spine • Enhancing deepening and advancing floor practice September / October 2018 •




Those suffering from certain injuries and medical conditions should avoid aerial practice, Craig said. Such conditions might include untreated high or low blood pressure, recent surgery, glaucoma, recent brain injury and other chronic cardiovascular conditions. Women who are pregnant should not start a new aerial practice and post-partum women should wait at least 12 weeks before beginning an aerial practice. And if you’re looking to just jump-start your fitness routine or starting to exercise after going dormant? “Just show up!” Craig said. “Showing up is the hardest part and once you do you will never regret it.” In addition to offering three aerial classes per week, Local Motion Studio also offers various aerial workshops throughout the year, such as aerial play, yoga nidra, soundhealing, restorative aerial and kids aerial. The studio also offers classes in pilates, barre and dance. To take aerial classes at Local Motion, you must take the intro to aerial yoga workshop first, which are held twice a month. “This will teach you the basic holds and wraps so you will be able to follow along in our regular aerial classes,” Craig said. “We are in the process of expanding our aerial program and that will include different levels and different types of aerial classes.” The studio also offers an aerial yoga fundamentals teacher training program. The next one will be held Oct. 5-8.


Left: Sarah Craig demonstrates aerial yoga.


Above: Instructors at Ascend Cycle in Del Ray demonstrate how it’s done.

ASCEND CYCLE Ascend Cycle was born from Kathryn Zajac’s love of indoor cycling and her hope to create a space for riders to unleash the power they hold within. Zajac, who goes by “Kat,” said the mission at Ascend is to “Become a better version of yourself.” The motto was born of this idea that all we need is the right platform to discover what we’re truly capable of, she said. “For me, the bike has always been the place where I could completely let go — I forget the outside stressors, I let go of the self-doubt, I connect to the beat and I prove that with some effort, I can feel strong and empowered.” Ascend Cycle has been in Del Ray for almost four years. Last December, Ascend opened up a second space in the same building, called Ascend Underground, which is where they hold interval and strength classes, designed to complement studio cycling by building muscle and increasing core strength. The classes at Ascend are structured on an interval training format and this technique helps riders reach goals faster than steady state cardio. “It’s great for cardiovascular fitness, stress relief, weight loss and overall mental health,” Zajac said. “Many riders in our community use classes at Ascend as cross-training to help them prepare for upcoming running and cycling races.” • September / October 2018


Damian Bradshaw demonstrates a workout at UFC Gym in Alexandria.

Indoor cycling is low impact, Zajac noted, and is a great form of exercise for most people. And classes are scalable, so its appropriate for both beginners and experienced athletes because the rider controls their own resistance based on the guidance of the instructor. “Our instructors will provide the suggested speed (RPM) based on the beat of the music and how hard our riders should be working, but ultimately, the rider is in control,” she said. “And our classes are built on the concept of perceived exertion — we want riders to be able to close their eyes and check in on themselves by noticing, physiologically, what’s happening with their body, how hard they’re working. It’s a great way to relearn how to listen to our bodies, and how to disconnect from our very stimulus-heavy society.” Riders have access to performance metrics during and post-class, “but we encourage a more internal measure — a ride where you really have to pay attention to yourself, and give yourself the time you deserve,” she said. The most popular classes at Ascend tend to be during the early morning and weekend hours. However, Ascend offers classes mid-morning as well as in the evenings. “Our happy hour rides that we host on Friday nights also draw a crowd!” Zajac said. First-time riders can notify Ascend that they’re new to a class. The front desk reps will help you get checked in and fitted for shoes, and the instructors are welcoming to new riders, making sure their bike is set up properly and coaching them throughout. The

most intimidating part? Just deciding to come, Zajac said. “After that, we’ve got you!” “Most importantly, we believe that Ascend is more than just a fitness studio,” Zajac said. “We are a community. Friendships are made and our clientele and team show up and support each other. We even had an engagement proposal in one of our classes!”

UFC GYM ALEXANDRIA If you’re looking to get into fighting shape, consider joining a boxing gym. You’ll find several in the area including UFC Gym Alexandria,, 528 N. Henry St. (You can even celebrate your workout afterward at the Starbucks next door.) The gym — which mainly caters to women — offers classes for every fitness level. Whatever your goal is — losing weight, increasing strength or sports conditioning — there are daily classes that include boxing, kickboxing, functional training, youth programs, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu & personal training to help you reach those goals. So what do people think about this gym? UFC Alexandria earned four out of five stars on Yelp from 31 reviewers. Christina wrote: “If you want to actually get in shape and feel like you are getting your money’s worth join a boxing gym. From motivating teachers to a good mix of classes and times this location can’t be beat.” Hours at the gym are 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays. September / October 2018 •




Digging History Alexandria archaeologist leads historic ship excavations. BY ANGELA SWARTZ

On a winter day in late 2015, archaeologists unearthed an exciting discovery on Alexandria’s waterfront — a 50-foot, 18thcentury ship buried along the Potomac River shoreline.

contain buried sites with historical significance. Archaeologists

The excitement hasn’t slowed. This year, archaeologists found the remains of three more ships just south of the first discovery, all most likely from the 18th century.

of Revolutionary War-era ships, early building foundations, and

The nautical finds have kept City Archaeologist Eleanor Breen busy, to say the least.

One memorable moment of the excavations came when prepar-

Breen, a Northern Virginia native, oversees excavations in the City of Alexandria. A city code requires developers to hire archaeologists to investigate before doing construction on land that could

sometime before 1798, Breen said. Taking the ship apart in lay-

26 • September / October 2018

from Thunderbird Archaeology discovered the first ship at the construction site of the Hotel Indigo at 220 S. Union Street. The three other ships were unearthed at the site of the new Robinson Landing, under development by EYA. After the third ship was discovered at that site, Breen said, “The combination thousands of other artifacts makes Robinson Landing one of the most archaeologically significant sites in Virginia.”

ing to excavate the most recent ship, which went into the ground ers, the archaeologists found the keel of the ship was in “incredible shape” and constructed by a single piece of wood, Breen said.


Crews and archaeologists work around the discovery of 18th-century ships and other artifacts at Robinson Terminal South near the waterfront in Old Town Alexandria.

“That’s pretty amazing to see — it’s one 43-foot long piece of ship,” said Breen, who moved into a permanent role as city archaeologist in April. “It’s a tangible piece of Alexandria’s maritime heritage.” Archaeologists found another Alexandria historical artifact during the Hotel Indigo excavation: John Carlyle’s 1755 public warehouse. Breen, 41, got her start in archaeology at a young age, doing volunteer archaeology work in high school for Fairfax County and Mount Vernon. “It’s easy to love history and archaeology when you grow up in Virginia,” she said. Breen has anthropology degrees from College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, the University of Massachusetts in Boston, and her Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Before Breen became Alexandria’s archaeologist, she worked for Mount Vernon for more than a decade. There, she excavated President George Washington’s whiskey distillery. Alexandria, which was founded in 1749, hired its first city archaeologist in 1977. It is one of the few U.S. cities with one, Breen said. City officials created the position after citizens started a grassroots effort to preserve historical artifacts found locally. “It’s nationally recognized how historic Alexandria is,” she said. Alexandria now has a staff of five archaeologists and an extensive network of volunteers and interns. Hundreds of volunteers put in hours at the city’s museums and lab, she said. Breen directs the

Alexandria Archaeology Museum, which is on the third floor of the Torpedo Factory Art Center. She also leads the team of staff archaeologists and educators, and she works with private archaeologists and developers to protect artifacts. Aspiring archaeologists should get as much hands-on experience as they can to gain practical experience and skills, Breen advises. “Archaeology is a lot about being able to recognize and read the soil,” said. “The more you do that, the better.” Breen likes her work in Alexandria. In particular, she likes that she can talk to all sorts of people about what’s found on digs. She likes sharing the artifacts with residents and visitors in the museum and on the city’s website. The biggest challenge (but the most interesting part) of her work is that Alexandria has multiple archaeological contract projects, Breen said. “We switch gears a lot,” she said. “One site will be from the 18th century and another will be from the 19th century.” The ship discovered at the Hotel Indigo site in late 2015 was shipped to the Conservation Research Laboratory at Texas A&M University for stabilization. The ship will return to Alexandria for exhibit or storage. The city is still working out the details of where it and the other three ships will go, Breen said. ALT-CIRCLE-R The city is raising money to preserve the ships. Donations can be made at (search for Save Our Ship). September / October 2018 •


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September / October 2018 •

“ . . . with the smell of the woods, and the wind in the trees, they will forget the rush and strain of all the other long weeks of the year, and for a short time at least, the days will be good for their hearts and for their souls.” – President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the dedication of Shenandoah National Park.



Fall in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park More than leaf peeping BY GLENDA BOOTH

Fall is an active time in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Migratory birds, like hawks and warblers, pass through searching for fruits, seeds and other food. Monarch butterflies move southward. Fall fungi, like scarlet, gold-orange and purple gilled mushrooms, punctuate the forest floor. Tan puffballs bring out the kid in grownups — when popped, they shoot up a tiny dust cloud of spores. And, of course, there is the park’s famous autumn artistry of colorful leaves, Shenandoah’s vast forest covers


95 percent of the national park with 331 tree, shrub and vine species. Chestnut and red oaks dominate the ridge tops and upper slopes. Maples, birch, ash and basswood cover the middle slopes. Along streams and on the lower slopes are yellow poplar woodlands.

SERENITY When visitors turn into the park, the temperature seems to drop. “You gain 10 to 15 degrees in comfort,” said longtime visitor Patty Kelly, who for 40 years has escaped suburbia to the park several times a year with her husband, John. “SNP has a certain serenity,” she said. “Sometimes, the phone doesn’t work here and that’s good. It’s a world away.” • September / October 2018

Alexandrians Clyde and Samantha Wentling got engaged and married in the park. “We like the fresh air and open spaces,” Samantha said. President Herbert Hoover chose the area for his escape from Washington. Before his 1929 swearing in, Hoover instructed scouts to find a place with excellent fishing at least 2,500 feet or higher in elevation and within 100 miles of Washington, D.C. They found it at the merger of two streams in today’s Shenandoah National Park, and Hoover directed the Marines to build a rustic, 13-building complex amid the rocky terrain of hemlocks, pines, oaks and mountain laurels, where bears, bobcats and foxes roamed. Visitors today can explore three remaining cabins connected by woodsy paths and stone bridges. The Hoovers’ pine cabin is restored to its 1929 appearance. Within earshot of a babbling stream, Hoover wrote that his camp could “reduce our egotism, soothe our troubles and shame our wickedness.” President Franklin D. Roosevelt, at the park’s dedication, said, “ . . . with the smell of the woods, and the wind in the trees, they will forget the rush and strain of all the other long weeks of the year, and for a short time at least, the days will be good for their hearts and for their souls.” Shenandoah National Park is a place to shame your wickedness and soothe your soul.

TRAVEL BIG, DIVERSE Nature is front and center in Shenandoah National Park. The park’s 197,438 acres sprawl across eight counties atop the Blue Ridge Mountains, bifurcated on the mountains’ spine by Skyline Drive, with 75 overlooks for 105 miles. This roadway joins the Blue Ridge Parkway, which goes another 469 miles to Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains. Congress created the park in 1935 to provide a traditional Western national park experience in the East. President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated it in 1936. The Civilian Conservation Corps built recreational facilities, guard walls and trails during the Depression. More than 1 million people visit every year and explore the park’s 60-plus peaks with elevation higher than 3,000 feet and 90 streams and waterfalls spilling down the mountainsides. The highest waterfall is Overall Run at 93 feet. Visitors might see deer, bobcats, raccoons, foxes or wild turkeys, in addition to bears. One of the park’s treasures is the hard-tosee, endangered Shenandoah salamander which has only been observed on three mountain tops in the park and nowhere else in the world. The mountain range’s craggy peaks and imposing rock formations are made of granite, sandstone, quartzite, phyllite, basalt and grandiorite. Hikers can tackle 500 miles of easy-to-strenuous trails, including the Maine-to-Georgia Appalachian Trail, a 2,176-mile ribbon stretching through 14 states. Ambitious visitors can scale two peaks, Hawks Bill and Stony Man, which soar above 4,000 feet. Old Rag,


3,291 feet, is the most popular and most treacherous hike. The 130-acre, treeless Big Meadows is a unique, high elevation wetland habitat with vernal pools and, at times, an explosion of small critters. One ranger called it a “supermarket for insect-eating birds.” Although It’s less than .001 percent of the park, it supports 16 percent of the park’s rare plant species and two animal species rare in Virginia. As the largest open area in the park, it offers great raptor viewing. Acres of leathery grape ferns and wildflowers attract butterflies

Seeing Bears Between the Leaves

“Bears are very smart,” according to Ranger Woody Searles, who says there are 500 to 800 black bears in the park. “Bears want easy food and a lot of it.”

Fall is prime bear-sighting season in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park.

In the fall, food’s aplenty, as trees drop acorns and as blackberries, raspberries and pokeberries

and other insects. Keen observers might spot peregrine falcons departing for points south in the fall. Since 2000, biologists at the park have raised young peregrine falcons and released them in hopes that they imprint on the area and return to breed. The goal is to restore state-threatened peregrines to Virginia’s mountains. The Blue Ridge Mountains are known for an ever-present bluish-gray haze, hence the chain’s name. Unfortunately, 80 percent of the haze is actually pollution.

ripen. Bears are omnivores, weighing 250 to 300 pounds, and can put on three pounds a day in the fall, said Ranger Mara Meisel.

“When bears hear cars,

How to spot Ursus Americanus?

ping photos.

“Look up, especially in the trees,” Searles said.

bus lengths between

they climb up trees.” A sure sign of a bear is a “bear jam” — multiple cars stopped along the road with gawkers snapKeep 150 feet or four you and the bear.

Bears can run 30 miles per hour, so distance is your safest bet. If you come upon a bear, turn around. Running can trigger their chase response. No one has ever been attacked by a bear in Shenandoah National Park, the rangers said.

September / October 2018 •



Colonial Beach Riverside gem in Virginia’s Northern Neck BY CHRIS MILITZER

In just about an hour and a half, you can be sitting on a sandy beach, looking at palm trees, smelling the salt air and ordering your next Orange Crush from the tiki bar. Sounds too good to be true, but welcome to Colonial Beach, Virginia. Once called the “Playground of the Potomac,” for decades Colonial Beach was a wildly popular site for people from D.C. and the surrounding area to vacation during the summer months. Located on Virginia’s Northern Neck about 60 miles from both D.C. and Richmond, it offered welcome relief for families during those hot times. During its heyday, several steamboat operators ran massive ships


ferrying thousands of people back and forth several times a week to this cottage-filled beach resort town. Later, in the 1950s, as slot machines were legalized in Charles County, Maryland, several piers were built out into the waters of the Potomac to house gambling operations. They had names like Jackpot, Monte Carlo and Reno and were filled at all hours of the day due to the relaxed Maryland drinking laws of the time, and the lure of a quick payday. This was all made possible by the fact that once you cross the low water mark of Virginia’s shoreline, you are now in Charles County, Maryland.

the salty, six-mile wide Potomac River and

However, the original draws to the area, and the ones that still endure, are the salt water, sandy beaches and completely relaxed nature of this town. Colonial Beach is home to the second-longest beach in Virginia, voted in 2018 as the best beach in Virginia by USA Today. Surrounded by

Beach is a golf cart town. With all speed • September / October 2018

Monroe Bay, the town offers both spectacular sunrises and sunsets depending on your location. From Northern Virginia, this can easily be an affordable day trip for the family if you just have a need for a quick beach day. There is public parking located at the beach, a beach shop just off the boardwalk and food trucks available for iced drinks and meals. However, I’d recommend looking into one of the cottages or bed and breakfasts available and stay a while longer. Another fun tip, Colonial limits being just 25 mph, golf carts have been made street legal here and it’s the perfect way to cruise around from spot to spot. The area is filled with customized carts and rentals, and it definitely adds to the laid back fun (plus the kids love it).



BOATING Being located on a peninsula bordering the Potomac and Monroe Bay, 35 nautical miles from the Chesapeake Bay makes this the perfect spot for all water sports. There are 10 marinas available, accommodating all sizes of vessels and its a convenient place to take a break if traveling from the Alexandria area on the way to the Bay. There is also a beautiful brand-new public boat ramp, complete with a concrete bottom if you are launching a trailered boat. One common theme I found in visiting several of the marinas was how well-maintained they were. Docks were all in good repair, lines properly coiled, everything was just right. It’s clear that the town pride extends to their marine traditions.

The Boathouse Marina - Beautiful, wellkept slips and helpful, friendly owners. Can’t beat the local knowledge here!

Colonial Beach Yacht Center - Can host vessels up to 130 feet, fuel dock, marine repairs, restaurant on site, and I highly recommend a kayak rental from here! Bayside Marina - Close to downtown and beach, very walkable to restaurants. Beautiful views and sunsets!

GETTING THERE One of the things that was responsible for a period of decline for Colonial Beach was the development of the highway system. Once it became so easy for people to drive longer distances, they chose to drive further out to Ocean City, Bethany and the Outer Banks for their vacations. Ironically, those same roads that once offered the freedom to get away from the hustle of the city now offer endless frustration and traffic jams as everyone clogs them with the same destination in mind. While you can take 95 South to head in the direction

of Colonial Beach, I chose to head over to Maryland and make the 60-mile trek by way of 301, arriving frustration-free and ready to relax in about an hour and a half. Of course, you can take the previously mentioned boat route as well, or if you have the means you can arrive by seaplane and land in Monroe Bay like a group of several planes did.

LODGING Colonial Beach Plaza - 1900s Victorian Bed and Breakfast with a beautiful Carriage House available for families. Expect complimentary wine tastings and craft beer to welcome you, afternoon appetizers and delicious breakfasts. A heated pool and poolside cabana with fireplace are a relaxing spot to grab a drink and unwind when you don’t feel up to the beach or tiki bars. However, the beach is just a block away when you’re ready.

September / October 2018 •


TRAVEL River View Inn - 1940s motel restored to its original retro neon glory. Cottages - More than 50 cottages are available around town on both the bay side or riverfront if you prefer.

BEERS AND BEVERAGES Despite being a town of just 2.6 miles, Colonial Beach is home to both a brewery and a winery, as well as two tiki bars. Clearly, they embrace the vacation mentality and know how to kick back! Both tiki bars also have great full-service food menus, and offer live beachfront music throughout the night.

Colonial Beach Brewing - Family-owned and run small-batch brewer offering a rotating variety of delicious beers. Housed in a former garage, they have already had to expand once to fit in their growing fan base. Pet-friendly patio, live music, large TVs and nice variety of tasty beverages makes a great place to spend some time when you come off the beach, a few blocks away. You can’t go wrong with the Hurricane Mitzi DIPA! Monroe Bay Vineyard - Small farm winery and cidery located just off the beach. Winemaker Kiki Apple brought her love of fine wines from her home in the South of France to this quiet town, and this love is reflected in the products she makes. Relaxed and friendly tasting room and store front in town, with a beautiful strawbale barn on Monroe Bay under construction now. Also, don’t miss Kiki’s crepes!! Dockside Restaurant and Tiki Bar Great food and tiki bar atmosphere with plenty of space to unwind with family and friends. Sandy beaches and plenty of room for the kids to play in the water and sand while mom and dad have an Orange Crush or two. Live music makes it even harder to leave this spot right at the point of the peninsula. High Tides on the Potomac - Beachfront restaurant with a sandy tiki bar complete with live music and an outdoor grill. Fun spot to grab a drink and still be beachfront.

DINING Denson’s Grocery and R&B Oyster Bar - Third-generation owned specialty market, and a true farm and bay-to-table


restaurant that changes the menu based on what is the freshest available. Oysters grilled, fried or raw are some of the best in the state! Crab-stuffed shrimp, and stuffed soft shell crab is the best I‘ve ever tasted, along with tasty brussel sprouts and fried okra.

The Lighthouse - Located on Monroe Bay with some of the best sunsets around, folks come by water or land to try their delicious French or Thai cuisine. It’s a unique mix that just works! Whether you want shrimp fried rice, sauteed scallops or a grilled ribeye that stands up to any steak I’ve had around D.C., this place has you covered. Tides Inn - Full course meals, breads, pizzas, lunches, soups and salads are all available from Culinary Institute of America graduate Caitlin Townsend. Whether you eat inside, on the patio watching live music or take it to go, you’re in for a treat here. Chicken salad stuffed avocado really wowed me!

OTHER THINGS TO DO For such a small area, there really is a good amount to do in Colonial Beach. That being said, you don’t feel that you have to do it all. It’s a relaxing place with a smalltown feel, people know each other and aren’t afraid to greet you and welcome you to town. You can easily sit on the beach and waste a day, and with the lack of big waves, you can feel safe letting your small children play by the water. Taking a kayak trip around Monroe Bay is highly recommended as it’s an easy paddle • September / October 2018

even for a novice like me, and the sights and wildlife really are worth the workout. There is also a museum where you can learn more about the fascinating Oyster Wars between Virginia and Maryland, and the casino culture of days gone by. Or, visit the Riverboat Casino built over the waters of Maryland for off-track betting and a meal as well. Colonial Beach really is a gem waiting to be rediscovered. Whether for a day trip or a weekend, it’s a great change of pace from the rest of the Northern Virginia area.


Here’s a look at other wineries perfect for a weekend getaway in the area: 8 Chains North Winery

38593 Daymont Lane, Waterford PHOTOS BY CHRIS MILITZER

Bogati Winery

35246 Harry Byrd Highway, Round Hill

Breaux Vineyards


36888 Breaux Vineyards Lane, Purcellville

Time to Uncork, Unwind

Casanel Vineyards and Winery 17956 Canby Road, Leesburg

Creek’s Edge Winery

41255 Annas Lane, Lovettsville

Dry Mill Vineyard & Winery 18195 Dry Mill Road, Leesburg

Fabbioli Cellars

15669 Limestone School Road, Leesburg

Greenhill Winery and Vineyards 23595 Winery Lane, Middleburg


Hiddencroft Vineyards

There’s nothing like getting away from all the distractions at home and stealing away with your buddies for a few hours of relaxing and catching up. If you’re looking for a quick weekend “staycation” you can head out to one of Northern Virginia’s wineries such as Quattro Goombas Winery in Aldie. The winery has just the right name for a getaway: It’s Italian for “four close friends.”

The winery, located at 22860 at James Monroe Highway in Aldie, is about an hour’s drive from Alexandria. On site, you can sit indoors or outside, pair your wine with a bite of Sicilian pizza, baguettes and Amish-made cheeses. Be sure to check out the wine slushies. Wine tastings are held from 12 noon to 5:30 p.m. in Quattro Goombas’ quaint log cabin. Tastings are $10 per person for six wines.

12202 Axline Road, Lovettsville

Hillsborough Vineyards

36716 Charles Town Pike, Purcellville

Paradise Springs Winery

13219 Yates Ford Road, Clifton

Stone Tower Winery

19925 Hogback Mountain Road, Leesburg

Sunset Hills Vineyard

38295 Fremont Overlook Lane, Purcellville

Tarara Winery

13648 Tarara Lane, Leesburg

More of a craft beer gal? There’s a brewery on site as well, offering an ever-changing lineup of craft beers. You can also listen to live music (on Fridays and Saturdays from 5-8 p.m.) at the brewery.

The Vineyards and Winery at Lost Creek 43285 Spinks Ferry Road, Leesburg

Willowcroft Farm Vineyards

38906 Mt. Gilead Road, Leesburg.

September / October 2018 •



damaged after a winter storm in Maine. With a damaged hull and mast, the selling price dropped to $175,000. She will arrive fully restored for under $700,000. As part of Alexandria Restaurant Partners, Shaw explains that although he knew a bit about launching a large endeavor, buying a historic tall ship and bringing it to Alexandria posed some unique challenges as a cold start-up. Before this Revolutionary War-era replica, built in 1976, is permanently based at the end of Alexandria’s King Street, the foundation — a non-profit created to acquire and operate The Providence — is establishing both community and business connections in Alexandria. In addition to the goal of raising the $1.2 million for the initial project phase, the foundation has set out revenue streams to make the ship self-sustaining, along with securing local interest partners such as Mount Vernon, which will age some of their rye whiskey casks in her hold. Along with attracting visitors, The Providence will serve as a floating classroom for educational maritime heritage programs. “There are a lot of potential synergies that we‘re excited to explore,” said Kathy Seifert of the Alexandria Seaport Foundation.

A Tall Ship for the Port City Plans are in the works for Alexandria to welcome its own tall ship, The Providence. BY SUSANNAH HERRADA

Maritime heritage will come alive in June 2019 when tall ship The Providence drops anchor at Alexandria’s Waterfront Park, offering daily tours and cruises, along with a floating classroom and venue for private events. The Providence represents a significant part of American history, and provides a missing link for Alexandria’s waterfront development, said Scott Shaw of the Tall Ship Providence Foundation. “We’re spending a lot of time as a city focusing on the waterfront redevelopment, but we haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about what’s actually on the water,” he said. To start the process, Shaw said, he Googled “tall ship for sale.” Apparently, similar to appliances, there’s a hefty “dent and damage” discount. He found a deal on a replica tall ship, recently

36 • September / October 2018

There’s already been a successful connection between The Providence and Alexandria Seaport Foundation’s Boat Building Apprenticeship Program, which sent a graduate to work on the ship’s storm-damaged hull restoration in Maine. “His work was so impressive that he is now working full time and living in Maine,” Seifert said. The Providence will also offer extensions for Alexandria Seaport Foundation’s Middle School Math Program with project-based, cross-curricular learning. Youth in the apprentice program will get hands-on experience caring for the ship, along with the chance to serve as docents. Educational opportunities on The Providence will extend beyond the young. Retired Vice Admiral Tom Church, who supports the initiative, admits he had to brush up on history. “I guess like a lot of people, you lose perspective on history over time,” he said. “I had forgotten the significance of the Providence.” “The Providence is a pretty historic ship--one of the first commands of John Paul Jones who is the father of the United States Navy,” Church said. As a symbol to the City of Alexandria, “It really accentuates the early days of Old Town Alexandria as a famous seaport and the Providence as one of the first ships of the United States fleet. Bringing those two together I think is remarkable.” This replica 110-foot, 12-gun sloop-of-war comes with historical stories of bravery and valor. Her predecessor not only took over 40 British ships, but holds the distinguished reputation as the first American ship to fire on a British warship. Shaw explained that she’s arguably America’s first ship, purchased from Rhode Island (named Warsloop Katy) and commissioned by the Navy of the Continental Congress in January 1775. Closer to her new homeport, The Providence cleared the Chesapeake Bay of enemy British ships. The rest, as they say, is history.

Asana Brings New Ideas to Old Town BY MARY ANN BARTON

Charlotte, N.C.-based real estate investment firm Asana Partners is shaking up commercial real estate in Old Town Alexandria. The company has spent more than $100 million purchasing buildings in Old Town — more than 20 of them, including the Old Town Theater for $4.4 million earlier this year. Most of the buildings are on King Street, clustered in the 800-1100 block and in the 100 block. “Old Town is one of the best neighborhoods in the country demographically and very charming, very authentic, very historic,” said Katie Grissom, Asana’s director of Merchandising and Leasing. Founded in 2015 by three partners formerly at development firm Edens, Asana partners said the company reached $500 million worth of equity commitments nine months after launching its debut fund. Sources include state pension funds, municipal pension funds, corporate pension funds, insurance companies and endowments. Asana sometimes has to work a bit to create walkable retail and dining destinations in some of its other ventures in Charlotte, Atlanta and Austin, but Old Town is ready to go. “It’s been a retail location for the past 200 years,” Grissom said. “It’s been a shopping and dining destination for a very long time.” Asana is working to bring new retailers and restaurants to Old Town in a couple of different ways. One is to partner with already-established local restaurant owners, to help them bring new culinary ideas to life. Another is to bring regional or national retailers to King Street who may have been hesitant to locate there for one reason or another. For example, by purchasing several storefronts together, Asana can locate retailers next to each other that complement one another.

Conte’s Bike Shop moved into 1100 King St. after a renovation by owner Asana Partners.

Previously, “fractured ownership” along King Street likely made it difficult to attract certain regional or national retailers, Grissom said. They hope to bring some retailers that have locations in Arlington or Georgetown to Old Town. A store like women’s clothing retailer Madewell, a sister brand of J.Crew, for instance, wouldn’t necessarily want to be located next to a convenience store, she said. That challenge is not unique to Old Town, she said. “You have to build a strategy when buildings aren’t owned by one entity.” By owning multiple properties, Asana is going to be “piecing together part of the puzzle,” she said. “The great thing about Old Town is it’s the most established neighborhood we’re in.” Of the properties Asana owns in Alexandria, there are very few vacancies — 75 percent of them are leased, Grissom said. At least two (and likely more to come, she said) of the properties are restaurants: Urbano 116 at 116 King Street and Augie’s Mussel House at 1106 King St. Asana is working with Mason Social (Common Plate Hospitality) to bring the two restaurants to King Street. For Urbano 116, they brought a chef from Mexico City to help curate the menu and help teach authentic cooking techniques. Augie’s will have small plates, a more casual feel and European vibe, she said. (Expect a pop-up eatery on its patio as renovations continue on the interior.) Asana is working with other local businesses to bring their vision to life on King Street, working with local brokers KLNB as well as architect September / October 2018 •





See an interactive map of all of the Asana Partners properties at

Asana Partners Properties

The iconic Old Town Theater was purchased this year by Asana Partners for $4.4 million.

Paul Beckmann, builder Murray Bonitt and Advanced Construction Group, which is owned by the same folks behind Mason Social. Grissom said the hope is to make King Street an “18-hour” shopping destination with shoppers and diners lingering longer. In addition to retail and dining, Asana is also working with a mix of tech and marketing companies as well as companies adding satellite offices to Alexandria to fill office space on the upper floors of their properties. As for the Old Town Theater? “It was a very long dance but we did end up buying it,” Grissom said. The theater was built in 1914 and opening as the Richmond Theater. It has had a bumpy ride the past few decades under multiple owners. “We’re really focused on finding the right user,” for the space, she said. However, it probably


will not be used as an entertainment space. “The likelihood of it being that is very low.” One of the other notable buildings owned by Asana is at 102 S. Patrick St., the current home of popular Misha’s coffee shop, which plans a move to 917 King St. Grissom said the building on South Patrick Street is “challenging” because of its shape. “We’ll find something interesting, we’ll wait for the right tenant.” The 8,000-square foot space formerly occupied by European Country Living at 1006 King St., is being divided into three spaces, one of which will house Drybar in one of the ground-floor spots. A service-based retailer is expected to move into the second-floor space; an elevator is being added to make it ADA compliant. Another property at 815 King St., which includes a rooftop terrace, will “very, very likely be a restaurant,” Grissom said. “We’re working on exciting opportunities new to the market.” • September / October 2018


109 S. Alfred St.


111 S. Alfred St.


101 N. Columbus St.


106 1/2 N. Columbus St.


113 S. Columbus St.


116 King St.


118-124 King St.


128 King St.


130-132 King St.


805-807 King St.


810-812 King St.


814-816 King St.


815 King St.


815 1/2 King St.


1004-1006 King St.


1100 King St.


1104 King St.


1106-1108 King St.


210 N. Lee St.


102 S. Patrick St.


900-902 Prince St.


814 N. St. Asaph St.


816 N. St. Asaph St.


101 1/2-103 S. Union St.




Getting the Best Results for Your Home Renovation You’re remodeling the focal point of your home — the kitchen and living space. You want to update your home to a more modern open concept arrangement in the spaces that are used the most. You want a custom design with lasting quality and for your ideas to be heard so that you can get the designs that best fit you. In addition to all of that, you want the renovation timeline to be accurate so that you could enjoy your new space with as little hassle as possible. For many people, the idea of remodeling their home may sound like more of a burden than an improvement, but with the right team in place, your project can be a fun and collaborative effort. It’s important to make sure that the builder, homeowner, designer and architect all work together as a team to insure the successful completion of projects. Not adopting this team concept is charting a course of destruction for every renovation, remodeling or new construction project…so from day one it’s important that everyone on the team is reading from the same playbook. Murray Bonitt, founder of Bonitt Builders, has advice for homeowners with these concerns.

Be specific. The builder you’re working with should want what’s best for you as a homeowner, the family and the space — so be specific about what you want. Give clear directions at the beginning of your project and show your builder what you mean through images you found online or in magazines. “We love a thoroughly engaged customer who knows exactly what they want. The more info they can give us from day one, the smoother the job will run,” Bonitt says.

Think about how you use the space. Before you start renovating a kitchen or a main living area, really think about how you use the space, what you like and what doesn’t suit your needs. A great time to do this in the kitchen is around the holidays when your kitchen may be in heavy use — is there enough counter space in the right places? Are people bumping into each other? Does the dishwasher, oven or refrigerator door ever get in the way when it’s open?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you’re unsure of the next steps, don’t hesitate to ask. “On our projects, the superintendent who starts the job, will finish the job, and will be onsite every

day to answer questions” Bonitt explains. Informal morning catch up sessions with the homeowner and superintendent will help insure that reasonable expectations area being set, and met. Not communicating on a regular basis can cause projects to go sideways. Bonitt says that he would advise anyone considering a project to insist from their builder that the same superintendent be on the project on a daily basis from start to finish. Bonitt cautions homeowners that having a rotating group of superintendents on a project is a recipe for confusion and delays. Bonitt Builders has been recognized for outstanding quality of service and craftsmanship for both contemporary and historic projects, having won both the AIA Grand Honor Award for a modern project, and Historic Alexandria Foundation Awards for historic preservation projects. They are one of only a few firms that have an in-house custom millwork shop for fabricating cabinets, built-ins and custom trim. They have been in business for over 35 years and their work has been featured in Washingtonian Magazine, Southern Living, Home and Design, American Builder’s Quarterly, Town and Country, and others. Learn more at

September / October 2018 •


New residential, business and mixed-use developments are coming to Alexandria. BY BETH LAWTON

Already recognized as one of the best places in the United States to live and work, the Alexandria region is experiencing a boom in both population (up 14 percent from 2010 to 2016) and amenities. Under construction now are more than 1.4 million square feet of retail and restaurant space, plus 4.6 million square feet of approved office space, according to the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership. This is in addition to thousands of apartments, condos and townhomes planned or under construction across the City and neighboring areas. Forty-eight percent of Alexandrians are Millennials (approximately ages 18 to 37) or Generation Z members (18 and younger) according to AEDP. The preferences of those residents are encouraging developers to create mixed-use areas that combine the best of living, working and relaxing in walkable neighborhoods. In recent years, Alexandria has been named the Fourth Best City in America for Millennials by Niche, the Best Downtown by Livability and the Second Most Walkable City in Virginia by Walkscore. The following pages show where Alexandria’s biggest developments are going up, what’s being built and what residents and visitors can expect in the coming years.

40 • September / October 2018

September / October 2018 •



Developments Key 1

North Potomac Yard


Robinson Landing


Eisenhower East


West Alex


Landmark Mall


New Heights


Gables Old Town North


Penn Daw Area


Alex South


Topgolf in Kingstowne


Metro Bus Garage



42 • September / October 2018



7 11

3 2

9 8

September / October 2018 •


Eisenhower East




West Alexandria




Developer: Multiple

Developer: Multiple

Developer: Bozzuto, Weingarten Realty

Type: Mixed use

Type: Mixed use

Type: Mixed use

Delivery Date: Vary

Delivery Dates: Vary

Delivery Date: Early 2019

The area in and around North Potomac Yard, which now includes Shoppers, Barnes & Noble, Regal Cinemas and more, is slated for a multi-phase redevelopment totaling 7.5 million square feet of new offices, retail and residential space. The project will be aligned with the delivery of the new Metro station, likely opening in late 2021. The current Regal Cinemas sits on the first section slated for construction, and it is not clear if a theater will be incorporated into the new development.

Just South of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office near the Eisenhower Metro Station, the longterm vision for this area is “mixed-use, high-density development that takes full advantage of the transit infrastructure and the ability to construct very tall structures,” according to the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership. All of the new projects will include retail or other active use on the ground floor. A new Wegman’s is going into this neighborhood (estimated delivery 2021), as well as new retail, offices and residential projects. A Pump It Up kids playspace opened in this area in August 2018.

Harris Teeter will anchor this new project, which will be a mixed-use development with residential and retail at the corner of Beauregard and King streets in Alexandria’s West End.

ROBINSON LANDING Developer: EYA Type: Mixed use



Delivery Date: 2018


Developer EYA is in the process of building 70 luxury condos and 26 townhomes as part of this new retail and residential area. The neighborhood will also include a revitalized pier, public promenade and more.

Keep up with the progress of these developments plus other local construction projects, restaurant openings, business news and more at • September / October 2018


LANDMARK MALL Developer: Howard Hughes Corp. Type: Mixed use Delivery Date: Unknown

Sears remains fully operational and open for business as the Howard Hughes Corp., which owns the rest of the Landmark Mall property works on major redevelopment plans. While planning moves forward, the Carpenter’s Shelter has moved into Macy’s while a new shelter and affordable housing building goes up along the northern edge of Old Town. Other uses for the mall space included the filming of the next movie in the Wonder Woman series (filmed over the summer of 2018) and more.

New Heights




Gables Old Town North





Developer: AHDC

Developer: Cafritz Interests (Novus)

Developer: Unknown

Type: Residential

Type: Residential

Type: Mixed use

Delivery Date: Late 2019

Delivery Date: Unknown

Delivery Date: Unknown

The Carpenter’s Shelter move to the former Macy’s space at Landmark Mall is temporary. The shelter, in partnership with Alexandria Housing Development Corp, is building a new facility at 930 N. Henry Street with underground parking, a new shelter and 97 affordable housing units. The building should be completed and ready for residents by the end of 2019. Just a few blocks away, the Ramsey Homes affordable housing development was torn down in June 2018 to make room for a larger affordable housing project.

Four buildings between 6321 and 6329 Richmond Highway are closed and awaiting redevelopment. The former Wendy’s fast food restaurant, martial arts school and adjacent buildings have been boarded up and will be demolished to make way for the Kings Crossing multifamily residential development. The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved the development in July 2017.

Topgolf is building a new, larger facility near National Harbor. The status of the original Topgolf in the Kingstowne area is uncertain. Topgolf property owner 6625 South Van Dorn St., LLC, has reportedly filed plans with the Fairfax County government to replace Topgolf Alexandria with townhomes, multifamily units and commercial space, but the development is still in the early planning phases.

GABLES OLD TOWN NORTH Developer: EDENS Type: Mixed use Delivery Date: Early 2019

At 530 First Street in Old Town Alexandria, a new mixed-use development anchored by a West Elm home store, Oak Steakhouse and other retail is under construction, along with more than 200 luxury apartments.



ALEX SOUTH Developer: Craftmark Homes


Type: Residential

Developer: Trammel Crow Residential

Delivery Date: 2019

Type: Residential

Craftmark Homes is constructing 41 luxury, four-story townhomes with two-car garages, four bedrooms, 3.5 baths and high-end finishes. Longterm plans call for retail and a grocery store just south of the townhome development near the intersection of Kings Highway and Route 1 south of the City of Alexandria. More information will be available on the retail development in the coming months.

Delivery Date: Unknown

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) announced in June 2018 that it sold its bus garage at 600 North Royal St. to Trammel Crow Residential must go through a lengthy permit and planning process before the company can break ground. A development timeline is not yet available.

September / October 2018 •




is Real

High child care costs push parents toward creative solutions and schedules. BY JENNIFER VAN DER KLEUT

46 • September / October 2018

It’s not an exaggeration when parents in Alexandria say they’re paying “more than the mortgage” for childcare every month. The average price of a home in greater Alexandria is $582,000 — more if you want to live in certain areas like Old Town, Fort Hunt or Mount Vernon. The average monthly mortgage in this area tops $2,560 per month, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. “I have friends who pay around $700 per week per child,” says Ashley Burris, a mother of two. “Especially in Old Town, it’s around $2,600 per month. And it’s even more during the summer when we pay extra summer activity fees.” The Washington, DC metro area has the highest child care costs in the nation, according to Child Care Aware, a nonprofit that serves as an information clearinghouse for parents and caregivers. The average cost for infant care at a daycare center in the region is $1,885 per month. Families who also have a child in pre-school can pay an additional $1,485 per month. The cost of infant and child care in a “family” setting (in someone’s home) can be less expensive — but often not by much. Of course, the cost of a family’s child care can vary widely depending on what type of care they family chooses, the hours, location and other factors. Earlier this year, SmartAsset reported that Alexandria had the fourth-highest median earnings for women in the country at nearly $67,000, tied with San Francisco. Even in dual-income households, paying the equivalent of a second mortgage for childcare is a significant cost. Burris, who works as an analyst for the Department of Commerce in Reston, and her husband, who consults for the Department of Defense in Arlington, originally paid to have a full-time au pair for their 4-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son because they had trouble finding any child care centers with

openings for both their children. Though most people think having an au pair sounds expensive, Burris says once the bigger upfront costs were out of the way, her regular stipend was actually cheaper than paying to send their children to full-time day care. The J-1 Visa for their au pair’s first year with them was $8,500, she explains. The second year she was with them was only $5,000 since she was staying with the same family. The au pair lived with them in a bedroom in their home, and the Burrises paid for her to have a car to get around and a phone to stay in touch.

their son, but that means Burris and her husband currently do two different morning drop-offs and evening pickups, in addition to their commutes to

After those costs, her regular stipend was $200 per week, she says.

Reston and Arlington for work.

“If you do the math, it averaged only $350 to $400 a week for the year to have full-time, in-home care,” she says, after the visa costs. “We were really blessed to have that experience.”

more children--and with their daughter

Unfortunately, after 16 months, their au pair decided to move to another state, leaving the Burris family less than two weeks to find full-time child care for their two young children.

“It might be hard, and the cost might be

This time, they opted for a full-time child care center that would be reliable year-round — which proved easier said than done.

Some parents might think the costs go

“Most places had a waiting list of at least a year,” she said. “And, at first, the costs made me sick to my stomach.”

After all that, they still hope to have starting elementary school soon, that would mean three different drop-offs with a new baby and, of course, more money for child care.

crazy, but it’s what we want to do, and it’s the life we want to have, so we decided, we’re going to make it happen,” Burris says.

down once the children are in school full-time, but the Bevins family says they also pay around $2,000 per month, even though one of their two children is in elementary school most of the day. Their daughter goes to SACC, or School-

When they finally found a place that was affordable — around $2,160 a month for the two children — there was only an opening for their daughter, and not their son, since the center only took children 2 years and older, and their son was 16 months old at the time.

Aged Child Care, on site at her school

They finally found another center owned by the same company that would take

our youngest, our son, is around $1,500

before and after school. “SACC for her is around $600 per month during the school year,” says mom Erika Bevins, who works for the Department of the Treasury in D.C. fulltime. “And then full-time child care for per month.”

September / October 2018 •


That doesn’t even include summer camps and extra-curricular activities for her daughter, who loves to take dance and gymnastics, she says. The family trip to Disney World, or even having much of a savings at all, have been on the backburner for years, and are likely to stay there for several more, she says. “Once a year we get to go to Delaware to the beach for two weeks, mainly because we have family friends with a house there that will rent it to us for only $100 a night. But we don’t get to do as much as we like,” Bevins says. “We’ve never taken the kids to Disney World. I’ve never gotten to take my kids on a European vacation or an island destination or Disney World, because you’re talking $7,000 to $10,000, and that’s just not doable.” Lack of savings aside, life for the Bevinses can be a little chaotic between the various schedules and commutes as well.


The Judy Family

has a truly horrible commute back and forth to Fort Meade in Baltimore during the week, forcing him to be out the door by 5 each morning. The drive home is even worse and can take nearly two hours most days, meaning Erika does the morning drop-off and evening pickup routines all by herself the majority of the time. The chaos and finances have led Erika to consider staying home with the children, but living on her husband’s income alone would be even tougher. Plus, Erika loves her job. “We decided that we knew it would be tight for several years, but me staying in the workforce outweighed the benefits of me staying home,” she says. “Plus, I have a really great job. If I didn’t, it would be a different story.”


they are severely limited in the centers that are approved--and with such a large population of military families in the area competing for a spot in an approved center, it can be difficult, to say the least.

Military families are fortunate to receive assistance from the government to help cover the cost of child care for families in which both spouses work full-time.

“There’s often a waitlist for approved

However, as the Judy family will tell you, that doesn’t always go far, especially when it comes to the Northern Virginia/ D.C. area, which has one of the highest costs of living in the country.

daughter was more than a year long-

Melissa Judy is the mother of a 4 ½-year-old daughter, and her husband, whom she is separated from, is an active-duty Army officer currently stationed at Fort Belvoir. Melissa works full-time in the Alumni Relations Office at George Mason University in Fairfax. They live in the Kingstowne neighborhood.

“There are on-post child care centers at

Erika’s husband is active duty Air Force. When he’s not deployed, Erika says he

Army, but in order to receive that,

Melissa said the Army currently deposits $850 per month directly into the family’s account at the full-time day care center their daughter attends in Kingstowne, but the full cost is around $1,400 per month for their one child. Melissa said she realizes they are fortunate to get more than half of their monthly childcare bill covered by the • September / October 2018

centers,” she said. Melissa said the waitlist at the center that was their first choice for their -and once they finally got to the top of the list and got a call to enroll her, the Army had suddenly taken it off the “Approved” list.

most stations, like Belvoir, but the waiting lists are always extremely long,” she said. “If there’s a spot on-post, you have to take it, but if they are full, you can usually get fee assistance to use off-site care like we do.” She explains that many of her friends opt for in-home child care providers, but in the past, they have proved unreliable. “If a home-based caregiver is ill or needs to take leave for a while, we’re left without care. We’re stuck,” she said. “We didn’t want to deal with that either. At child care centers, they are fully staffed and employees can cover for each other.”

If they had more than one child, she said their situation — even if they weren’t separated — would be impossible. “There would be no way we could afford it, even with fee assistance. There would be no way,” she said emphatically. “At that point it would just be cheaper if I stayed home.” As for other military families, in this area or elsewhere, Melissa highly recommends reaching out to the National Military Family Association, where she previously worked helping military families find the assistance and resources they need, such as the child care assistance funding they use. “[They] work hard to educate military families, so I’m always trying to let people know there is this wonderful resource out there.”


The Irwin Family In addition to the high cost of childcare, for some families the chaotic commutes and pick-up/ drop-off scrambles take a toll on family life. Purvi Irwin and her husband are parents of 2-year-old twins and a rising third-grader. Before having three children, Purvi worked for more than a decade as an architect. Post-children, she opted to transition to consulting rather than leave her career. “I put a lot into my education and career,” Purvi said. “When the kids were born I realized I could either be stressed out at work, or stressed out at home. Being stressed out at home didn’t seem like an option for me. I like my career.” With her consulting job, Purvi negotiated an agreement that no more than 10 to 15 percent of her time would be

spent traveling, substantially reducing the amount she was traveling before as an architect, visiting clients around the country.

he can feed them breakfast while I get

Purvi’s husband is a government contractor, meaning they both have fulltime work schedules, and therefore the role of “dropper-off” and “picker-upper” varies from day to day depending on how crazy both of their schedules are and who needs to be in the office earlier.


“Typically my husband gets up first at around 5:20 a.m. and then makes the coffee while I get the twins dressed and then send them downstairs to him so

myself ready,” Purvi explains. “Then, depending on how both of our days are looking, we decide who will do the two

Their older daughter, who is in elementary school, can’t get to school any earlier than 7:30, so Purvi said they all usually try to leave the house by 7 or 7:15 a.m. and go to drop the twins off at their daycare center first, then drop off their daughter at 7:30 to eat breakfast in the cafeteria at school before the first bell rings at 8 a.m.

September / October 2018 •


E N R I C H M E N T “Some days one of us will do both drop-offs and pickups, and some days we split it, it just depends,” she adds. The same goes for evening pick-ups.



Sometimes it takes a few tries to find the right after-school program for elementary school children. After looking at their options, they decided to send their daughter to the Boys and Girls Club right across the street from their school. “She likes it at the Boys and Girls Club, they have other activities like dance, art club, field trips and so on. She can walk there right from school, and they are open until 7 p.m. Sometimes she will stay late because she likes to do art club, and sometimes we pick her up earlier.” Purvi said she and her husband realize such a busy schedule can have an impact on the children — especially the young twins. “I think it definitely impacts them; I definitely think that it’s hard for them sometimes. Like the fact that most days, we barely get home just in time for dinner

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and bed,” she said. “And being kind of rushed in the

Quality experiences for students

morning, they can feel it. Some days they’re happy to have us leave [them at daycare], sometimes they get upset and it takes us longer to get out of there.” “Especially with our 2-year-old twins, some days are smooth and happy, and other days are full of temper tantrums. But we try hard to do something special with them every day at least a little bit, like sit with them and read a book or play a game with them at night, and make sure they get Mommy and Daddy time.” “Mommy and Daddy time” includes taking as many little family trips as possible, like the five-day camping trip they just took recently, as well as lots of playing on the weekends or going to family festivals or to see the local 4th of July fireworks. As for costs, Purvi said they are fortunate that they can afford the roughly $36,000 per year they pay for the twins’ full-time daycare as well as the donation they make each year to the Boys and Girls Club, which only requires a small registration fee each year and is otherwise free. However, it does mean some things take longer to save up for, such as the addition they are finally about to put on their house. “That’s something we’ve been saving up for, for quite a while,” she said.

50 • September / October 2018



Alexandria, VA


Building a Community of Caring The mission statement of Blessed Sacrament School in Alexandria, Virginia is more than just a group of words strung together to provide a catchy motto for marketing purposes. It is a living, breathing reflection of the caring values of our school community, one that gives a clear sense of direction to each school day. Everything we do at Blessed Sacrament School stems from supporting and living our mission: Creating an educated community to serve Christ and one another with integrity and respect. The students at Blessed Sacrament School learn the mission of the school by DOING the mission of the school.

Creating an educated community… We strive for and achieve a high level of academic excellence. In our quest to create an educated community, our standardized test score averages place us in the top 10% in the nation. Our graduates continue to successfully matriculate to excellent area high schools, such as Bishop Ireton, Bishop O’Connell, Gonzaga, Georgetown Visitation, St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes, and TC Williams. We are proud of the hard work and dedication of our students, our teachers, and our parent community to achieve a culture of academic excellence.

Blessed Sacrament School, 1417 W. Braddock Road, Alexandria, Va.

To serve Christ… We continue to serve Christ on a daily basis and nurture our Catholic faith through prayer, frequent reception of the sacraments, and a commitment to learn more about the tenets of the Catholic faith. We are proud to be a Catholic School in the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia. Led by our pastor, Fr. John Kelly, our parish priests are a visible spiritual presence in our school community from leading class discussions to cheering for our students at CYO sports games.

To serve one another with integrity and respect… We continue to seek opportunities to serve others in need, be they within or outside of our Blessed Sacrament School community. A wide variety of successful service projects this past year benefitted local and global organizations. Student Council Monthly Dress Down days raised over $5,000 for organizations such as First Book DC, Catholic Charities, American Red Cross, Animal Welfare League of Arlington, INOVA Children’s Hospital, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, Louverture Cleary School in Haiti, Foundation to Eradicate Duchenne and Heifer International. A student-initiated committee called “Mercy Works” was formed and quickly began work to support the Monumental Scholars Fund, a nonprofit

fund designed to support disadvantaged children attending Catholic schools in the neediest neighborhoods of Washington, DC, as well as AHOPE, an orphanage in Ethiopia which provides support services to children infected with HIV. Our community continues to champion a culture of integrity and respect and we are most proud of our Blessed Sacrament School culture of giving to those in need. Our students are “living acts of giving” in a world that desperately needs love and mercy. Blessed Sacrament School offers four robust, experience-based preschool classes in our Early Childhood Center (ECC) and a one-track K-8 program that offers individual opportunities to get involved and make a real difference. In addition to the focus on academic excellence, faith formation and community service mentioned above, we offer a STEM Ambassador Program, an Annual Musical combining both fine and performing arts opportunities for interested Middle School students (set design; costuming; stage management), Odyssey of the Mind beginning in Kindergarten and Battle of the Books. The true essence of our Community of Caring at Blessed Sacrament School is alive in each student, teacher and parent in our school community. We invite you to join us for an upcoming Open House to witness it in action!

September / October 2018 •


52 • September / October 2018



The recent filming of Wonder Woman 1984 brought a lot of attention to Alexandria, but dozens of other projects have boosted the local economy, too.


September / October 2018 •


Top row: The cast and crew of the PBS Series Mercy Street visited Alexandria. Botton row: Mount Hideaway filmed at 529 Kids Consign in Old Town Alexandria this spring.

When Wonder Woman 1984 comes to theaters in November 2019, starring Gal Gadot, Kristin Wiig and Lynda Carter, Alexandria moviegoers will quickly recognize a 1980s-styled Landmark Mall. Some residents may see their own vintage cars in parking lot scenes, and others will recognize friends cast as extras. Of all the projects filmed in Alexandria this year, Wonder Woman 1984 garnered the most attention — but several other projects have visited Alexandria this year. The 2018 season of the Bravo Show The Real Housewives of Potomac featured Candiace Dillard, who is engaged to Alexandria restaurant investor Chris Bassett.


Amazon series Mount Hideaway has been filming in Alexandria, as well. The series follows a spy, a thief, a private eye and a country preacher as they solve crimes in a fictional small town. In the past three years, Alexandria has also hosted film crews from NBC’s The Voice, Travel Channel’s Food Paradise, Cooking Channel’s Cheap Eats, HGTV’s House Hunters, Inside Edition and CNBC’s Blue Collar Millionaires in addition to several local television news live shots and stories.

“They come in, bring a lot of people with them who are staying in hotel rooms, eating in our restaurants, renting production materials, buying construction equipment and props, hiring local construction support, and also hiring local actors and talent. It’s an immediate boost to the economy,” Dorman said. The Alexandria Film Office through Visit Alexandria coordinates applications and permits for the City of Alexandria for filming on public prop-

With each project comes a boost to the local economy.

erty. This includes Alexandria’s streets,

“The whole economic benefit of the film industry is that these are short term projects that generate immediate revenue, and yet don’t put a strain on city services,” said Ann Dorman, who operates the Alexandria Film Office through Visit Alexandria on behalf of the City.

ly, with a variety of incentives in place • September / October 2018

historic sites, parks and more. Virginia has a reputation for being film-friendto draw production crews. Alexandria, in particular, has a reputation of being easy to work with. In some cases, the economic boost lasts for years, as has been the case with the PBS series Mercy Street.

Jackie was a 2016 biographical drama about the life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis following the 1963 assassination of her husband, President John F. Kennedy. The film starred

INSPIRED BY ALEXANDRIA — BUT NOT FILMED HERE Alexandria has also inspired several projects not actually filmed here, in addition to the PBS series Mercy Street.

Natalie Portman and was nominated for three Oscars. J. Edgar, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, was a 2011 biographical drama about the life and times of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. It was nominated for multiple awards, including a Golden Globe, and won awards from the American Film Institute and the National Board of Review. Mercy Street was filmed in the Richmond area, but the plot was inspired by real events in Alexandria during the Civil War. Stars of the drama including L. Scott Caldwell and Hannah James, toured Alexandria. Several Alexandria museums and historic sites still offer Mercy Street-inspired tours of historic spots and venues, and there was a measurable increase in historic site visitation and in local museum visitation, according to Visit Alexandria. “The other advantage of it is that it helps us expand awareness of Alexandria both nationally and internationally when the city is featured in the movie or in the press about the movie,” Dorman said.

Other films include the Kevin Bacon sci-fi thrilled Hollow Man (2000), key scenes of which were filmed at a South St. Asaph Street townhome. The movie was a box office and special effects success, but critics were unimpressed. Scenes from National Treasure: Book of Secrets (2007) also were filmed in Old Town. That movie starred Nicolas Cage and Diane Kruger. In addition, scenes from the award-winning 1993 film The Pelican Brief and the 1986 thriller No Way Out feature regional landmarks. One of Alexandria’s biggest local productions (prior to Wonder Woman 1984) was the 1998 Harrison Ford movie Random Hearts, the filming of which shut down King Street in Old Town

In addition to the tourism boost, some projects, like Mount Hideaway, work with and support local retail businesses. In addition to filming inside 529 Kids Consign, the Amazon series hired local hair and makeup artists.

Alexandria for a week. Ford starred

“One of the reasons we really love shooting here in Old Town is that you’ve got this small-town neighborhood feeling, even though you’re in the thick of Northern Virginia,” said Mount Hideaway Director and Editor Brett Monk. “In a lot of the rest of Northern Virginia, you don’t have this kind of neighborhood feel.”

hoods and the ease of working with

A number of award-winning projects have used Alexandria as a backdrop, according to Visit Alexandria President and CEO Patricia Washington.

Vaso’s Kitchen) that featured multiple

alongside Kristin Scott Thomas. The movie was directed by Sidney Pollack. “Alexandria is attractive to many film producers due to our proximity to D.C., differing ‘looks’ in diverse neighborthe Alexandria Film Office operated by Visit Alexandria,” said Visit Alexandria President Patricia Washington earlier this year. Several episodes of the political serial drama The West Wing were filmed in Alexandria, including the season two premiere shot outside Dixie Pig (now Alexandria police officers and their vehicles. Show producer John Wells was born here in Alexandria.

The 2000 movie starring Denzel Washington, Remember the Titans, followed the 1971 consolidation of Alexandria’s high schools and the integrated football team that won the state championship that year. The movie itself was filmed in Georgia (with a few scenes in Roanoke, Virginia). 12 Years a Slave was filmed in Louisiana in 2012. Solomon Northup, the slave whose memoir the movie recounts, was not held in Alexandria. However, the man who kidnapped Northup in Washington, DC was James Birch, who later went on to own the slave trading firm Franklin and Armfield in Alexandria. Today, that trading firm is the Freedom House, now operated as a museum by the Office of Historic Alexandria with a partnership with the Northern Virginia Urban League. After 12 Years a Slave was released, Freedom House saw an uptick in visits as moviegoers wanted to have an experience standing in a historic site similar to where Solomon Northrup was held. Alexandria is one of just a few Northern Virginia jurisdictions with a film office and a coordinator dedicated to helping ensure all relevant City departments are coordinated properly. “Having Wonder Woman in the West End is an example of the way Alexandria residents truly embrace and are always open to help with projects like this,” Dorman said. Alexandria’s Workforce Development Office coordinated the recruitment of a legion of extras. A call for vintage cars came out and the antique car community came out in force with 1970s and early 1980s vehicles for the production. When Wonder Woman 1984 is finally released in 2019, expect a variety of film-related events in Alexandria. In the meantime, keep an eye out for other movies, television shows and independent projects being filmed in Alexandria’s streets and shops.

September / October 2018 •


with Patti North Executive Director of the Alexandria Film Festival BY SARAH JENKINS

We sat down with Patti North, the executive director of the Alexandria Film Festival, to discuss her role as a leading force in the Alexandria arts community. North started the Alexandria Film Festival over 12 years ago as a way of showing off the incredible films being created by independent filmmakers from all over the world. The Film Festival itself started as a project of the Alexandria Commission for the Arts. In 2012, the festival went independent and continues to receive Commission support through the competitive grant program. Born in upstate New York, North moved to Vermont as a baby and grew up there. She attended The George Washington University and got her B.A. in American Studies. In this Q&A, she opens up about her background, her role within the Alexandria Film Festival and what she enjoys doing in her off-hours. She even gave us a few tips about how to become a success in the film industry.

How long have you lived in the DC area?

Since graduating from college — a long time! When did you realize you wanted to pursue film? What inspired you to start the Alexandria Film Festival?

I always loved movies as a kid. There was a theater we could walk to that had a matinée with kids’ films followed by an adult (G-rated) feature. My younger brother would usually start whining right after the kid’s movie and my older sister would take him home. I never left until the last credit rolled. Later, I got interested in screenwriting and spent a few years learning this very difficult task. Like a lot of people, I thought it was easy until I tried it. It’s very difficult to do well and lots of films get made that miss the mark. What exactly is your role as executive director of the Alexandria Film Festival?

I keep the wheels churning on the administrative tasks. I pay the bills, invoicing, buy insurance coverage, file licenses and permits, fundraise and write grants, review and sign contracts, manage design and printing — pretty sexy stuff. But it’s rewarding to develop a non-profit organization and see it grow. What have you learned since you’ve been involved?

ALEXANDRIA FILM FESTIVAL The 2018 Alexandria Film Festival will be Nov. 9 - 11, showcasing more than 50 free and ticketed films at the AMC Hoffman 22 Theater and Beatley Central Library. For more information, go to


So much! People are so generous — the business community, as well as individuals who support us, volunteers who work only for the love of our mission to put on a pretty complicated event with lots of moving parts, filmmakers who incur substantial expenses to share their work with our audience, and our audience who buys the tickets • September // / October October2018 2018

and spread the word to their friends. There are so many stories out there just waiting to be told. The camera has been called an “empathy machine” for its ability to bring us an intimate look at another person’s situation and point of view and I think that’s pretty apt. It’s almost impossible to be narrow-minded when you have experienced so much of the world and the people in it on what feels like pretty intimate terms. Film is a phenomenal art form! It really has no equal in its beauty, creativity, excitement, ability to engage your senses and expand your world. And to be able to connect with its creators in real time is an experience you will not have in any commercial theater, and certainly not with TV, cable, Netflix and Amazon. Have there been any difficulties working on film projects in this area?

From the standpoint of the festival in particular, and the arts community in general, one of the biggest challenges is space! AMC has been very supportive and Beatley Library is also a great partner, but venues that can handle film projection without a lot of technical support and related expenses aren’t plentiful. We are monitoring the Old Town Theater closely and hoping the new owner will continue its use as a theater. If not, it will be an incalculable loss to Alexandria and its heritage. Do you have any interesting film industry stories?

We had a filmmaker last year (Mike Fallavollita) who is a protégé of Steven Spielberg and had worked

on Jurassic Park and Schindler’s List, among others. We screened his short film as part of a “family showcase,” that included several young and student filmmakers. He told the audience that when he was 10 years old, he made a video sequel to E.T. and sent it to the great director. Spielberg told him to contact him when he had finished film school. Twelve or so years later, Mike did and Spielberg hired him. Very inspiring to the aspiring filmmakers who were there that day. Our very first grand jury award (2007) went to a wonderful film War Dance. One of the directors came to the festival and spent a lot of time taking questions from the audience. It was so exciting when the film was nominated for an award the following year. Those same filmmakers won the Oscar a few years later. It’s a special memory for me and certainly for the audience who were lucky enough to be there that night — to have “discovered” Academy Awardcaliber filmmakers before the Academy. What kind of impact do you hope to leave on the organization?

I hope to leave the festival someday with a sense of excitement — there is so much going on worldwide in filmmaking. What used to be a prohibitively expensive venture, dominated by the affluent and powerful, has been democratized in a sense, as filmmaking becomes more affordable. It’s being taught and picked up by the youngest of kids all over the world. Countries nearly closed off to the rest of the world are spawning very talented filmmakers and great films. There is no government that can stop that and all the filmmakers ask is to be “heard.”

What do want to see happen in the Alexandria area film community?

What are your hobbies outside of work?

There are some very talented filmmakers right in Alexandria. We hope to bring attention to their work and to promote Alexandria as a great place to work as a filmmaker. It must be working — Wonder Woman 1984 is here now!

I have been organic gardening for decades. I get really excited about things like a caprese salad with tomatoes and basil at the peak of ripeness. I am also a glass artisan — everything from fused glass jewelry to mosaics. In fact, I make the awards that are presented to winning filmmakers at the festival.

What are some of your favorite films?

I like films that are more character-driven than action/adventure. And I usually like films that fool the audience into thinking it’s about one thing, when it’s actually another. One of my faves is Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (the original with Sidney Poitier, Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy). It tells you that it is about racial and social mores of the time, but it’s really about love. I also love surprise endings, but they must be A) possible for the audience to foresee (not “it was all a dream”) and B) work so well that resolution seems inevitable, but only in retrospect. If I can predict it — it’s usually a fail.

And as previously mentioned, I dabble in screenwriting. What kind of advice can you give to upcoming filmmakers?

For a high tech industry, filmmaking can be incredibly low tech. You really have to network and put yourself and your work out there. Festivals are a great way to do that. I would also say to keep your ear to the ground. We are increasingly living in a world where people seek out and consume only content they think will comport with their worldview. Read at least one newspaper every day. You never know whose story will obsess you until you can share it!

September / October 2018 •



Q&A What do you like most about living in Alexandria? Community – whether it’s in my neighborhood, my personal life or at work. I feel like there’s a sense of community and there’s a lot of local love.

When you aren’t working, what are you doing? When I wasn’t working, I was DIY-ing at home. I literally walked around looking for things to paint and craft. When I’m not working now, I love traveling – I’m always thinking about where my next trip is going to be.

What’s the best thing about your job?

Katie Wells AR Workshop

Katie Wells considers herself a “late bloomer” in developing her passion. She worked in the corporate world for years, but didn’t discover her own creativity until her daughter’s first birthday party eight years ago, when Wells pulled off a Martha Stewart-level event.

I love how happy it makes people. There are a lot of people who walk in wondering what this is, and then when they’re in there taking a class, there’s really good energy. AR Workshop is bright, it’s cozy, it’s inviting, and people talk about how much they love being there. … It’s a place where people can escape and have a few hours.

If you had to do something different, what would your dream job be? I would love to be a food or travel photographer. It makes me happy to just walk around, explore and see all the little details. I love to capture that.

It’s a friend’s first time in Alexandria — where do you take them?

Wells spent the next several years building a children’s event planning business and collaborating on projects with Anders Ruff (AR) Workshop co-founder Maureen Anders.

I’d take them to the Saturday Farmer’s Market in Old Town. … I would take them strolling King Street, going to the waterfront for brunch. The day would be very chill, just exploring the charm.

When the opportunity to open an AR Workshop location in Alexandria came knocking, Wells knew she found her calling.

What do Alexandria people do best?

“From what I saw, I thought, ‘This is it. This is what I’m supposed to do’,” she said.

I think they’re welcoming, and I think because it’s such a transient area, everyone becomes friends and a community.

Bringing together her corporate experience with her DIY passion, Wells opened Virginia’s first AR Workshop in Old Town Alexandria. Wells’ store was no. 7 for the creative franchise. There are now close to 100 AR Workshops open nationwide.

In the next year, my goal is to...

Wells was born in Vietnam and moved to Virginia with her parents when she was 4 years old. She’s lived in Alexandria for 8 years, and currently lives in the Waynewood neighborhood with her husband, 11-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter. She attended George Mason University and majored in communications. Her AR Workshop is a boutique DIY studio with space for classes in sign making and a variety of other crafts, plus a retail arts and crafts boutique. The Alexandria AR Workshop is at 107 N. Fairfax Street, above Dolci Gelati Café.

58 • September / October 2018

Continue growing. I’m really happy with the direction that we’ve evolved in – we offer classes for custom décor. But the way it has evolved is that we’re inviting other local creatives in the DC metro area to come and share their craft. So not only do we offer DIY, but we’ve able to offer other crafts like hand lettering and water color workshops, a re-upholstery workshop and how to build a charcuterie board. We’ve even hosted an Instagram 101 class for businesses and creatives.

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In past years, the more popular nickname for the Parker-Gray neighborhood was “Uptown” to distinguish it from the “downtown” areas closer to the Potomac River. Christine Sennott


The official moniker comes from two schools whose names, in turn, honored leading black educators in the community: Sarah Gray, principal of Hallowell School for Girls and John Parker, principal of the Snowden School for Boys.

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Alexandria built the first black high school in 1950 at 1207 Madison Street, which was named Parker-Gray. Prior to this, young African-Americans who wanted to continue their education past the eighth grade were forced to go

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571-215-4499 301-371-2914 630-226-3512

September / October 2018 •



MODERN BANKING OLD-FASHIONED VALUES Burke & Herbert Bank has been serving families and businesses in Alexandria and beyond for over 165 years. With a focus on serving customers and a full array of modern products and services, we’re here to meet your banking, borrowing, investing needs. If using logos less thanand 75% size, please switch to logo Stop size 2. by your nearest branch today.

Burke & Herbert Bank

Burke & Her

703.684.1655 ■ Burke & Herbert

Burke & Herbert

At Your Service Since 1852


At Your Service Since 1852 ®