Alexandria Council Notebook

Alexandria Council Notebook

Targeting Target

There’s been lots of hype about Amazon and Virginia Tech and even National Landing. But there’s one thing on everybody’s mind: What about the Target?

"It is always the first question,” says Cathy Puskar, land-use attorney representing developer JBG Smith, which is working with Lionstone Investments and the Virginia Tech Foundation on the project.

The answer is that nobody really knows. For now, the developer is focused on the northeast corner of the property, which is currently part of a parking lot for a movie theater. It’s part of what city officials call an "Innovation District," which will include an academic campus as well as office space and residential units plus required retail. Target is on the other side of Potomac Avenue, which won’t be redeveloped for years to come. An undetermined number of Black Fridays will come and go before the suburban version of Target at Potomac Yard will shut its doors. What replaces it has yet to be determined.

“We have heard everybody wants Target to be a piece of that,” says Puskar. “Target has to want to be there too.”

Double-Edged Gavel

Now that Democrats have seized power in the General Assembly, the Alexandria delegation will include both House Democratic Leader Charniele Herring and Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw. But don’t get too excited about having two leaders quite yet.

Alexandria Legislative Director Sarah Graham Taylor warns having all that star power is a double-edged sword. Sure, it’s great Alexandria is the capital of power and influence across Virginia. But every silver lining has a touch of grey.

“The other side of that is that there’s a lot of concern from other parts of Virginia that there is going to be a Northern Virginia-centric focus from leadership,” says Taylor. "And so while we want to get everything that we can get out of the legislature, I think we also need to understand that they are going to have to govern, and they’re going to have to look beyond Northern Virginia, look beyond Alexandria.”

Tax Cheats

Untold dozens of deadbeat taxpayers were let off the hook this week by the City Council, fleecing Alexandria out of more than $17,000. City officials determined the hassle and expense of collecting on all those unpaid real-estate taxes and personal property taxes would be too much. And don’t expect to see the names of tax cheats published in your local newspaper.

“Given the ability to make information more widely available on the web, the Finance Department no longer publishes the names of delinquent taxpayers in the newspaper,” said City Manager Mark Jinks in a memo outlining the tax amnesty. “If the taxes are paid in full before posting online, the property owner’s name or the name of the business will not be listed.”

Bright with Cheer

Who cares about Oprah Winfrey? Alexandria has Del Pepper.

“I don’t know if Oprah Magazine had any idea how really clever we are,” declared Pepper upon hearing the news that the supermarket staple named Alexandria as one of 19 places that had perfected the art of holiday cheer.

The magazine noted Scottish Walk and Christmas carolers and the bustling storefronts, all attractions that put the city on the map. Pepper points out that the magazine missed the new winter garden and ice-skating rink at Cameron Run. And then there are all those holiday lights up and down King Street that Pepper fought for every budget season like holiday clockwork.

“They’re thinking of all the activities that we have, the parade and so forth,” she said. “They didn’t even mention our holiday lights. But never mind. We will overlook that oversight.