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Archive for February, 2011

Del Ray Residents Tackle Traffic – Part One

Just a few short years ago when the Monroe Street Bridge was still a “dog leg” over the railroad tracks, Monroe Avenue was the main commercial thoroughfare to Mt. Vernon Avenue and beyond.

Now, with a gleaming new bridge but a rerouted Monroe Avenue, East Howell Avenue, a narrow residential street, has become a preferred route for trucks en route to Mt. Vernon Avenue.

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Spurred by the site of a two tier car carrier making its way down East Howell Avenue to Alexandria Audi in January, neighbors Barbara King and Denise Maleug sent out a rallying cry for a recent Sunday afternoon gathering.

Thirty year residents, new comers, young parents, singles and couples all joined in one voice to protest:

X group

On hand to listen and offer suggestions was Alexandria City Councilman Rob Krupika.   First and foremost on every one’s mind was the illegal truck traffic on East Howell Avenue.

While completing the Monroe Street Bridge and moving full steam ahead with the development of Potomac Yard, the City of Alexandria failed to add any signage to Rt. 1 (North or South) indicating that NO THRU TRUCKS are allowed on East Howell Avenue despite a turn lane and a stop light.

Ooops!  There is a NO THRU TRUCKS sign located on East Howell Avenue – waist high and approximately 25 feet from the intersection and visible only after a truck has already made the turn from Rt. 1.

At the same time the City failed to add any signs on Rt. 1 (North or South) indicating that Monroe Avenue, despite its convoluted restructuring, is still the main commercial thoroughfare to Mt. Vernon Ave and beyond.

Tomorrow – what we are doing and how you can help.


Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently No Comments »

Del Ray Named in National Poll of Top Ten Revitalized Neighborhoods

This morning on MSN.com Del Ray was named in a national poll of Top Ten Revitalized Neighborhoods.

This is what the site has to say:

“In its heyday, Alexandria’s Del Ray neighborhood was home to families of workers at the bustling Potomac Yard, which in the 1930s was one of the busiest rail yards on the East Coast. But as train culture began to wane and the rail yard closed in the 1980s, the neighborhood fell on hard times and entered a long season of blight.

In the late 1990s, residents rediscovered the narrow grid of streets filled with tightly packed homes and a charming main street within commuting distance of Washington, D.C. Today, Del Ray sports a mix of single-family homes, condos, apartments and businesses. The neighborhood’s main street, and the center of much of the community’s activities, is Mount Vernon Avenue.”

Del Ray Farmers Market

Del Ray Farmers Market

For those of us who have longed called Del Ray home, this characterization is nothing new.  We moved here over 20 years ago and I remember my wife telling her parents that it was a “transitional neighborhood.”  I’m not sure even that softened the shock the first time they came to visit!

But hey, look at us now!  If you have even thought about buying in Del Ray I would love to show you my neighborhood.  Give me a call at 703.927.4554 and let’s get started.


Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 6 Comments »

Alexandria Named “Distinctive Destination” by National Trust for Historic Preservation

Earlier this month, with great fanfare on Market Square in Old Town, Alexandria was named as one of 12 “Distinctive Destinations” for 2011 by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

x-old-town-alexandriaAccording to the National Trust site, the “Distinctive Destination” program started in 2000 and recognizes “cities and towns that offer an authentic visitor experience by combining dynamic downtowns, cultural diversity, attractive architecture, cultural landscapes and a strong commitment to historic preservation, sustainability and revitalization.”

The Trust also offers visitors (and residents) a chance to vote for their favorite city or town.  The winner is then named the 2011 Fan Favorite.  A quick check of the polling just a minute ago showed Paducah, KY in the lead and Alexandria in fifth place so take a moment to cast your vote – NOW!

Check out the interactive maps and, please note, the Trust heralds the fact that “George Washington (GW) Slept Here.” Sound familiar?


Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 5 Comments »

Alexandria Chamber of Commerce Launches Local Buying Program

In an announcement that went out on our local list serv tonight, the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce is launching a local buying program similar to Groupon.

Called “Try It Local”, the program offers savings of 40-90% from retailers, service providers, and restaurants who are members of the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce.

Chamber  Logo

Chamber Logo

An email notification goes out each morning with that day’s special offer (s) and you have until the end of the day to purchase the coupon.  The length of time available to use the coupon depends on the business offering the discount.

While still in it’s infancy, “Try It Local” was developed specifically for Chamber of Commerce affiliates and is currently available in 26 cities – a nice benefit for travelers who sign up.

Some of the other Chamber cities on the roster include Cape Cod (!!!), Amelia Island, Baltimore, Las Vegas, San Diego and San Francisco.

We’re signed up and looking forward to our first coupon.

We’ll keep you posted on how we like it but we think it’s a great way to support Alexandria’s local businesses.


Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 1 Comment »

Feedback On Why I Won’t Buy Your House

Real estate agents are frequently asked by sellers for “feedback.”  Sometimes it’s feedback from an open house but more often the seller wants to hear from every agent and client who visits the house.

I have mixed feelings about the logic of this process.  If your house is not what a buyer is looking for then it’s not what a buyer is looking for.  Period, end of discussion.

When it goes on the market your house should be sparkling clean, clutter removed, cosmetic changes made, etc. etc.  If a buyer still doesn’t like what they see they’ll move on and so will you.  (Pricing is another matter entirely and one we’ll get into later.)

business man holding a white cardInterestingly, the Washington Post in all its wisdom (?) has decided to take “feedback” to a whole new level.

The Post is now offering a Web site where potential buyers snap a photo of the “one thing” that is keeping them from buying a particular D.C. area home and upload it for the world to see.

I had to read the banner twice in Sunday’s Washington Post to make sure I understood what they were suggesting and then went on the Web site to see for myself.  And yes, there were two pictures of what buyers did not like.

Why? What good does this do anyone?    The site asks only for the neighborhood, the approximate price of the house and the day visited.

There is absolutely no way to verify the information or the picture. Those submitting the picture can also check a box indicating their willingness to be contacted by a reporter for future “news gathering”.  Is this what “news” or even “feedback” has come to?  No context, no verification, no investigation.

Count me out on this “feedback.”


Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 2 Comments »

President’s Day Weekend in Alexandria, VA

President’s Day Weekend in Alexandria promises a full range of activities from parades to an ice melting contest to free museum tours.

Starting on Sunday, Gadsby’s Tavern Museum will kick off with an Ice Melt Contest in an effort to preserve its historic ice well.  The underground ice well will be stocked with several tons of ice and participants are invited to guess how long it will take to melt completely.

The event begins at 2 p.m., as a block of ice is hauled from the Alexandria waterfront at the end of Cameron Street to the ice well at the corner of North Royal and Cameron streets.

Once the ice block reaches the ice well around 2:30 p.m., visitors will be able to view the stocked ice well, purchase contest tickets, learn about the importance of ice in the 18th century and talk with George Washington outside the very tavern where he dined and danced.

On Monday, February 21st, the “largest parade celebrating George Washington’s birthday in the USA” kicks off at 1:00pm in Old Town Alexandria.  Last year’s parade was canceled because of a major snow storm so the mild weather predicted for the next few days will be a welcome relief.

Throughout President’s Day, several Historic Alexandria sites will have Open Houses offering free admission. Those sites include:

And less you think it was all work and no play for our founding fathers, check out this video about Washington’s original rye whiskey recipe.

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Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 2 Comments »

New Apartment Development Breaks Ground in Historic Paker Gray Neighborhood

A large new development has broken ground in Alexandria’s historic Parker Gray neighborhood.  Located on one full city block directly behind the U.S. Post Office on Wythe St. and Fayette , the former warehouse complex is now a busy construction site.

Wythe Construction 2

Originally designed as town house style condominiums, current plans call for rental apartments – a smart move given the glut of condominiums here in Alexandria.

X Wythe Construction 1

The development will consist of two buildings, one to resemble town houses while the other will be a multi-level mid-rise structure, both with underground parking.  Plans also call for some retail shops to front Fayette Street.

X Wythe Construction 3

The great appeal of this location will be the Braddock Metro Station to the west, the Charles Houston Recreation Center and Trader Joe’s to the east and the comfortable proximity to both Old Town and Del Ray.

We’re still looking for the official name and more details on this development so be sure and check back in with us as the weeks roll on.


Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 11 Comments »

Early Census Results Indicate Little Change for Alexandria

The Washington Post, in a recent article on early census results noted:

“Alexandria was an island of stability in a rapidly changing region, growing more slowly than much of the rest of Northern Virginia and with less dramatic shifts in its racial and ethnic makeup.”

successOverall the city’s population grew just over 9% with Hispanics and Asians contributing to much of the growth.

At the same time, Hispanics account for just 16% of Alexandria’s total populations while the Asian community makes up just 6%.

Figures are also available for Arlington, Fairfax Country and Virginia as a whole.


Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently No Comments »

One Stop Shopping Popular with Home Buyers

A recent survey by the National Association of REALTORS® and Harris Interactive shows that home buyers want four services affiliated with their real estate agent’s firm:

Known as “one stop shopping“, the appeal of using a real estate affiliated service provider has increased 34% since 2008.

coldwell-banker-logoBuyers continue to believe that one-stop shopping will save them money (78%); make the process more manageable and efficient (75%); prevent things from falling through the cracks (73%); and will be ultimately be more convenient (73%).

Home buyers who use one -stop shopping consistently reported higher satisfaction levels (52%), a nearly 11% increase in satisfaction over those who used multiple sources (42%).

One of the other advantages of one stop shopping is that it simply takes less time  – and time is money.

Call me at 703.927.4554 and let’s make Coldwell Banker your one stop shopping home.


Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently No Comments »

Vendor Carts Slated for Market Square in Old Town Alexandria

The Alexandria City Council has approved a pilot program for food vendor cards on Market Square in Old Town Alexandria.

The program, which will run from early April through October 2011, will allow a maximum of eight vendor carts to sell food and non-alcoholic beverages.

The carts will be in place from 11:00am to 5:00pm Monday thru Friday and on Sunday.  Saturday hours are from 1:00pm to 5:00pm because of the weekly Farmers Market in the same location.

Tables and chairs, supplied by the city, will be available on the plaza.

Courtesy of the City of Alexandria

Courtesy of the City of Alexandria

What foods will be available?  We don’t know yet.

Only existing Old Town restaurants were invited to apply for the eight spots in the pilot program.

Applicants will be reviewed using the following criteria:

Vendors will set their own prices and retail items (shirts, hats, etc.) will NOT be permitted.

I think this will be a terrific attraction for Alexandria residents, workers and visitors.  And since our Coldwell Banker office is directly across the street from Market Square I expect to be a regular!

Thinking about buying or selling a house in Alexandria?

Let’s do lunch at the new vendor carts on Market Square in Old Town Alexandria – just give me a call at 703.927.4554.


Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently No Comments »

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