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Archive for March, 2011

How Community Oriented Police in Alexandria Are Making a Difference

Just last Wednesday we brought you an article about how Alexandria’s crime rate had dropped to it’s lowest point in 40 years.  Today, a story about how Community Oriented Police (COPs) in Alexandria are making a difference.

Our friends over at the Arlandrian were to first to pick up on an article from the Alexandria Police Department’s newsletter, The Police Beat.

It involves graffiti, often used by rival gangs to initiate threats, a stretched city budget, two resourceful police officers and a company called (what else?) Graffiti Removal, Inc. It’s a story that makes you proud.

YouTube Preview Image

Want to know more about living in this great community?  Give me a call at 703.927.4554 and let’s make this your home too.

Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently No Comments »

Lower Your Property Taxes

In September we wrote about challenging property assessment taxes.  Today we came across an interview*** on the Today Show with real estate tycoon Barbara Corcoran talking about the same topic.  Why?

According to an industry trade group, more than 60 percent of U.S. homes are currently over-assessed as a result of falling home valuations and inaccurate county records.

X House & Gavel

Barbara makes the point that 30-40% of property assessments are inaccurate.  These are not malicious inaccuracies but errors or assumptions made on old information.  For instance, the three most common mistakes are:

A good example is the townhouse next door to us.  The previous owners turned the two bath, three bedroom upstairs into a one bath, two bedroom space.

Was that information accurately recorded for an adjustment on their assessment?  I don’t know and if I were my neighbors I wouldn’t count on it.  Instead, they should ask to see the ‘property card’ on their house.  This will tell them how the property was assessed and what comparables were used.

The other point that Barbara made was that physical (on site) assessments are not done every year and have not kept pace with the downturn in housing prices.  At the same time, cities and towns need revenue.  Guess who is likely to be caught in the middle?

For more information and help, check out the National Taxpayers Union.

And just a final side note, Barbara Corcoran also appears on ABC’s “Shark Tank” and is the one who made the wise decision to invest in Pork Barrel BBQ, coming soon to Del Ray!


***this interview actually ran in April 2010 but is still totally relevant in today’s market

Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 5 Comments »

Spring Snow Hits Alexandria

Saturday, March 29

Saturday, March 29

Sunday, March 27

Sunday, March 27

Need I say more?


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The Best Food Trucks in Washington, DC

Today, just in time for the 2011 Cherry Blossom Festival and the hordes of spring visitors, the Washington Post gave a big thumb’s up to these food trucks:

Bada Bing Food Truck
– Big, juicy Italian sandwiches.  twitter.com/badabingdc

Curbside Cupcakes
– Rotating flavors like eggnog and peanut butter plus classic favorites.  twitter.com/curbsidecupcake

DC Empanadas – Be on the lookout for the brie, fresh fig and Marcona almond combination.  twitter.com/DCEmpanadas

Eat Wonky – French fries topped with gravy and cheese curds and hot dogs.  twitter.com/eatwonky

Fojol Brothers of Merlindia
– Indian specialties with vegetarian options.  twitter.com/fojolbros

Lobster Roll

Lobster Roll

Red Hook Lobster Truck
– Expensive and worth every $15 for an authentic lobster roll.  twitter.com/LobstertruckDC

Sauca – Pork banh mi, fish tacos, beef shawarma and more, all wrapped up.  twitter.com/wheresauca

Takorean – Korean tacos from the West Coast.  twitter.com/TaKorean

Ummmmmmmmmm, where shall I stop tomorrow?


Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 2 Comments »

2011 Cherry Blossom Festival Opens in Washington, DC

Today, despite unseasonably cold weather and with snow in the forecast, the 2011 Cherry Blossom Festival opens in Washington, DC.

Running through April 10, the 2011 festival will draw well over 1,000,000 visitors to the greater Washington, DC area, including Alexandria.  The return of the iconic cherry blossom has particular potency this year after the disasters that shook Japan earlier this month.

Jefferson Memorial surrounded by cherry blossoms

Jefferson Memorial surrounded by cherry blossoms

A full, two week schedule of activities will feature everything from sake tasting to kite flying to a parade to the largest Japanese Street Festival in the United States.

First Lady Helen Heren Taft planted the first two cherry trees on March 27, 1912.  That same year the United States sent flowering dogwoods to Japan as a gift and did so again in 1965.  During the duration of World War II the Japanese trees were referred to as “Oriental” trees and the festival was suspended between 1942 and 1946.

A second gift of 3,800 trees was accepted by then First Lady, Lady B. Johnson whose campaign to beautify America began here in the nation’s capital with thousands and thousands of flowering bulbs planted in public areas.

Walking along the Tidal Basin

Walking along the Tidal Basin

Did you know?

Or a parade?  This year’s parade on April 9 will feature actor Atticus Shaffer as Grand Marshall.

Enjoy!  The Cherry Blossom Festival is one of the great harbingers of spring (we hope) and one of the great delights of living in this area.


Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 1 Comment »

Marino’s Pizza and Subs on Rt. 1 in Alexandria Receives Special Use Permit

Marino’s Pizza and Subs on Rt. 1, a long time Lynhaven*** fixture, has received a special use permit from the city planning commission.

Marino's Pizza and Subs

Marino's Pizza and Subs

Marino’s, with it’s distinctive purple paint and deck area adorned with fake palm trees, is planning a 2,547 square foot addition that will include a second restaurant.  Owner Ather Subzwari will add 44 seats for a second level, cafeteria style dining room.

The request included a modification of the rear setback from 25 to 6 feet and the installation of new landscaping.  Subzwari is also working with Inturias Auto to use their lot for night time parking.

There are no current plans for alcohol sales but Marino’s will continue to be open till 1:00am on weeknights and 2:00am on Friday and Saturday.

Marino's Deck

Marino's Deck

The special use permit was granted despite a recommendation of denial by the Del Ray Citizens Association (DRCA).  The DRCA noted their disapproval was more about the lack of long term planning for Route 1 development than about Marino’s. (Marino’s sits directly across the street from the Target at Potomac Yard

At the same time, Marino’s is positioning itself for the development of Potomac Yard and the proposed Metro station.  Drawings show the new Metro station located behind the Target and Marino’s is directly across the street from Target.

Smart moves for all concerned.


*** Lynhaven is a neighborhood adjacent to Del Ray and Arlandria with Route 1 as one of its borders.

Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 2 Comments »

Alexandria Experiences Historic 41 Year Low in Crime

The Alexandria Police Department reported today that overall crimes, including homicide, rape and robbery, decreased by 0.09%, or 33 offenses, in 2010.

Police BadgeThis is the lowest annual total in Alexandria in 41 years.

Police Chief Earl L. Cook praised his department and the cooperative efforts of Alexandria’s citizens, business partners, the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office and the Sheriff’s Department.

Want to know more about living in a city that criminals don’t like?  Give me a call at 703.927.4554.


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February Sales for Zip Code 22301 in Del Ray, Rosemont and Temple Hills

We decided to try something new with this look at the February sales figures for zip code 22301 which encompasses Del Ray, Rosemont and Temple Hills.

Instead of just giving you the figures for February 2011, we went back five years to get a larger sense of what the market is doing in our area.

At the same time, each month’s sales are dependent on multiple factors including the amount of inventory, the number of buyers, qualifying buyers, etc. etc.

Zip Code 22301


Av. List Price

Av. Sold Price

Days on Market

























For more details and a free comparative analysis on your property, give me a call at 703.927.4554.


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The Scriptorium in Old Town Alexandria for Wedding Invitations and More

Let me start by saying that I love beautiful stationery.  Small sheets, folded notes, correspondence cards, calling cards – you name it, I love it.  Engraved?  Even better.



Imagine my delight then in finding the Scriptorium in Old Town Alexandria.  Tucked away in Norford Court off Cameron Street (just behind City Hall), the Scriptorium is a destination shop for anyone who wants expert advice, personal service, quality materials and a beautiful, beautiful product.

X JudyThe Scriptorium is also one of the oldest independently owned businesses in Old Town.

Proprietor Judy Shavin opened her store in 1976 after her presidential candidate lost and dashed her plans to work in the White House.

Casting about for an entrepreneurial opportunity, Judy was encouraged to open a cigar store, a children’s clothing store or a store for fine writing papers.  The first two options held no appeal but the third suggestion was right on the mark.

Judy did her homework, took classes at the Small Business Administration, made friends with savvy retailers and, although she lives in the District, cast her lot in Alexandria.

When asked about the biggest change in the past 35 years, the answer was easy – the use of reply cards and envelopes with wedding invitations rather than the expectation of a handwritten response.

What about etiquette questions around the proliferation of blended families and ‘interesting’ family dynamics?  Judy modestly says she is still learning and sensitive questions see her through.

Her best seller?  Anything by Crane.  Why?  Because Crane is 100% rag content.  In other words, the paper is not made from trees but from cotton fibers.  Wonderfully heavy, ecologically friendly and simply classic.

X Wall of Invitations

Judy’s infallible reference is Crane’s Book of Etiquette and her business philosophy is to treat her customers the same way she would like to be treated.

Having gone in for a box of Crane’s envelopes and walked out with an order for engraved correspondence cards, I would say that Judy’s philosophy is working just fine.

X Small round tables

So whether you need wedding invitations, save the date cards, birth announcements, party invitations, guest books or personal stationery, the Scriptorium should be your destination.

Expect understated, elegant and tasteful, just like Judy herself.   In the all too frequent world of email invites or worse, the Scriptorium is a beacon of light.

Virginia Amos

Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 13 Comments »

What To Do with Old Cans of Paint?

A question flying around the neighborhood today was what to do with old cans of paint.

Old Paint CanThere were excellent references to the recycling operations for both Alexandria and Arlington but, for latex paint, there is an even easier solution:

I really like simple solutions, don’t you?


Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently No Comments »

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