The New Year is here. While that allows some to clean their slates, the news continues.
Here’s a list of just a few stories and issues in Del Ray and Alexandria worth your attention in 2012:
New restaurants — Emma Cech of The Happy Tart is aiming to raise the curtain on her gluten-free bakery this month. The Pork Barrel BBQ folks are looking to open a fast-casual Asian-fusion spot called Chop Chop and a sushi bar called Dragon this year. Both will be located next to the barbecue. Bombay Curry Company should reopen at its new location in 2012, provided there are no hiccups with the city. In Del Ray, these openings tend to happen later rather than sooner. Let’s hope the open storefronts at Del Ray Central and next to Fabulous Frocks find tenants, too.
City Council elections — Scott Gordon, a moderate Republican living in Del Ray, became the first person to officially enter the race in December. Democrats Justin Wilson and Charles Sumpter have also officially announced their candidacies. Democrat Sean Holihan is considering a bid. More candidates should emerge following this month’s meetings of the Alexandria GOP and the Alexandria Democratic Committee. Perhaps there will be some independent candidates, too. Every incumbent is expected to run for re-election, with the lone exception being Rob Krupicka. It could be a busy ballot for the June 12 Democratic primary. Election Day is Nov. 6.
Calvert renovation — The massive overhaul of the Calvert apartment building on Mt. Vernon Avenue is expected to begin this month. It’s going to be a two-year project. How will it affect the surrounding area? We’ll find out when the 40 days of extensive drilling work is underway.
Route 1 improvements — Jefferson Davis Highway from the Monroe Avenue Bridge toward Potomac Yard will be widened in 2012 as it prepares for bus rapid transit lanes that will be in the middle of the road. The BRT won’t be ready until 2013, but the construction should be interesting. Will it be noisy? Will it slow traffic? Will cars be moved over to Potomac Avenue? Let’s wait and see.
Potomac Yard — Townhomes in the Pulte development have already started to pop up in Land Bays I and J on the east side of Route 1. They’ll continue to do so in 2012. This past fall, City Council approved plans for construction in Land Bay L, which is on the west side of the Monroe Avenue Bridge. The area is already being groomed for construction and the extension of Main Line Boulevard. The buildings planned along this stretch will honor the styles of existing Del Ray homes and nearby 20th century industrial buildings like the old Gold Crust Bakery. One stretch will be designed to look like modern warehouses converted into residential units. The area will also include a new Dominion Power substation and a second dog park that will possibly be reserved for small dogs. Also in 2012, a large new park skirting the east side of Potomac Avenue is expected to be completed by late fall.
Budget decisions — The city is looking at a sixth straight year of budget cuts. Before Rashad Young stepped in as city manager, acting manager Bruce Johnson (who is also Alexandria’s CFO) asked departments to look into 6 percent cuts. Young has been asked to evaluate and propose reforms to the city's departments, including consolidations, reorganizations or other program changes that would allow Alexandria to maintain the quality of "core city services" like policing. The results could be transformative.
Del Ray parking study — The city has been examining parking in the vicinity of Mt. Vernon Avenue for several months. Some short-term recommendations have already been applied, such as the addition of loading zones and the removal of a taxi stand. The city is expected to hold a meeting in the first quarter of 2012 to go over final draft of the study. Del Ray Patch will let you know when that happens.
Power plant closure — GenOn Energy's Potomac River Generating Station will close by Oct. 1, 2012. What happens then? Well, how environmentally damaged is the soil? Can the land be redeveloped? We should get some answers this year.
Waterfront decision — It’s expected this month. Old Town Alexandria Patch has been all over it.