Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille charged the new Arlandria-Chirilagua Business Association with advocating positive change in the neighborhood for decades to come at the group’s kickoff event Thursday evening at the Four Mile Run Park Community Building.
“This part of the city is very important and vital,” Euille said. “Everyone focuses on Old Town, Del Ray and the West End. Arlandria is important to the growth of the city as a whole. … This group will advocate to make positive change.”
Euille mentioned longtime staples like RT’s and The Birchmere that have made the neighborhood a destination. But he also said the neighborhood is poised for significant change with its location between areas of growth like Shirlington and Potomac Yard.
“It’s timely this business association is incorporating now,” Euille said, adding that City Council will vote on a massive redevelopment proposal for the Mount Vernon Village Center, which houses MOM’s Organic Market and CVS, before the end of the year.
Euille said he looks forward to the ACBA starting important conversations with city officials in the years to come. The association, he said, is important in creating opportunities for economic expansion, empowering the people of the neighborhood and giving them a sense of community ownership.
The ACBA is open to citizen members as well as business owners, offering a chance for everyone in the community to have a voice.
“It’s important that business and property owners get involved and stay involved,” Euille said.
In his remarks, ACBA President Nelson Zavaleta thanked a long line of people for assisting and guiding the group in its infancy, including members of the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership, former City Councilman Lonnie Rich and several neighborhood business owners and activists.
“This is a very important night for all us now that we’ve started the business association,” said Zavaleta, who is president of SEA Tax Services and Associates and CEO of CESE-DC, a nonprofit organization that assists Salvadorans. “It’s been 18 months of hard work.”
Zavaleta also thanked Pat Miller, a longtime member of the Del Ray Business Association, who provided insight in how to the group could galvanize the community.
With the DRBA known for presenting community events like its Halloween parade and the Taste of Del Ray, the ACBA will follow suit with a holiday tree lighting at the Four Mile Run Park Community Building on Dec. 8. The free event starts at 5:30 p.m. and will include caroling, refreshments and more.