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Manassas turned a public place into a public art space

art, city, space, virginia, artist

Manassas City Hall doubles as public art gallery  

The Hall at City Hall is open with an inaugural exhibit by the p-ART-ners, a professional network of Manassas area artists. What is The Hall at City Hall? It is the new place for local artists to display their work. When Councilman Ian Lovejoy talked to City Manager W. Patrick Pate about replacing the 1980’s artwork in City Hall at low or no cost, an idea was born.

In 2009 the City Council created an Arts and Tourism District in the Historic Downtown area of the city. With City Hall being right in the middle of the district, why not bring public art inside City Hall? Staff was tasked with learning about gallery space and making the area ready for artist displays.

Local artist Michele Frantz, Center for the Arts Gallery Director Anna Mish, and Osbourn High School Art Teacher Sarah Weaver were consulted to help with preparations for the opening. A picture railing already existed in the first floor hallway, so very little was needed to turn the hallway into The Hall.

P-ART-ners volunteered to be the first group to display their art in The Hall. The exhibit features an eclectic mix of vibrant scenery, Civil War portraits, and historic sites from more than 10 different artists. There is something for almost any taste. The exhibit runs from Feb. 13 through March 13. Exhibits will rotate in and out of The Hall and will include different forms of visual art.   Visiting The Hall is free and open to the public from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and later when evening meetings are held in the building.

“It is our hope that this new gallery space will be a great place for the public to visit,” said City Manager W. Patrick Pate. “Maybe it will inspire artists of the future.”

The preceding post was written by the City of Manassas under a marketing agreement with Potomac Local. (more…)

Historic Downtown Manassas has 14 new shops, eateries, and new apartments on the way

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More new shops, restaurants opening in Historic Downtown Manassas

The City of Manassas and its downtown development partner, Historic Manassas Inc., have been gradually moving away from referring to Old Town in favor of the moniker Historic Downtown Manassas. This helps to avoid being confused with that other “Old Town” in Northern Virginia.

But in this case, the title seems to resonate because the City is welcoming a host of new businesses to its historic district.

Over the past 12 months more than 16 new businesses have opened or announced their intent to relocate into the Virginia Main Street Community. As 2014 drew to a close, the City had already welcomed new retail outlet Records and Rarities; professional office users Caitlan Jordan, Attorney at Law, and SCS Integrated Support Services; personal services provider the Man Cave; and restaurants the Bone and Zandra’s.

In January a regional favorite, Malone’s, expanded to offer consumers a more casual dining and bar area on the second floor to complement the fine dining experience locals and visitors have grown to love.

Beginning late last year, a series of announced closures by long-time business owners in the Historic Downtown Manassas left development officials scrambling to identify new business prospects. They need not have worried as the City proved both its resiliency and attractiveness to entrepreneurs who are rushing in to fill the spaces being vacated. 

“What really happened was a generational opportunity for a new wave of small business owners to realize their dreams of opening or relocating their businesses in our Downtown. In many instances these spaces are some of the most attractive and high profile storefronts available,” City Manager Pat Pate told the Old Town Business Association.

A number of business owners obviously agree. Historic Downtown Manassas has recently announced that new business openings are pending by retail operators Scatter Seeds, a purveyor Fair Trade goods and local artisan products, Amy’s Bridal (formerly of Woodbridge), Manassas Olive Oil and Totally Vintage Design (formerly of Haymarket); raw bar and restaurant CJ Finz and ice cream parlor Jitterbug will join the crowd as will CutRate Barbershop and the NEW School.

In addition, and proving that Manassas is becoming a living destination of choice in addition to a retail and dining mecca, two new urban style apartment projects have been approved which will bring almost 200 new studio, one and two-bedroom luxury units into the Historic Downtown.

Economic Development Director Patrick Small and Historic Manassas Inc. Executive Director Debbie Haight say there are still a few opportunities left for new businesses that may have missed the initial rush to open. One of these, the site of the former Opera House Gourmet, is possibly the most desirable retail location in the City.

Located diagonally across Center Street from Harris Pavilion, it is the most prominent and highly visible storefront as people enter Downtown. Small and Haight say this and the few remaining retail spaces still on the market won’t be vacant long. In fact, several confidential business announcements are pending.

The preceding post was written by the City of Manassas under a marketing agreement with Potomac Local.

New shops, homes, high citizen satisfaction rates: The state of Manassas is Great

business, development, location

Manassas Mayor Parrish highlights the City’s many successes in 2014

Recently, Mayor Harry J. Parrish II delivered the State of the City of Manassas address.  The address was delivered in a video message to city residents. In his address, Mayor Parrish welcomed new businesses to the city, like El Cactus, Don Lencho, The Bone, Fire House Subs, Zandras and the Olde Town Man Cave. He also spoke about expanding businesses including Heritage Brewing, Bad Wolf Brewing, Fauquier Bank and a few others. 

Mayor Parrish spoke about the many family friendly events held in the city, Manassas City Public Schools and the summer camps held by the Fire and Rescue and Police Departments for Osbourn High School Students. He talked about the citizens group who asked that City Hall be named in honor of Mayor Marvin Gillum and how their civic involvement and community spirit led not only to raise funds for the signs, but funds for the upkeep of those signs as well. 

Mayor Parrish talked about the City of Manassas’ first Citizen Satisfaction Survey held in 2014. The survey set a baseline for future surveys and will help determine priorities in coming years. This survey is available at www.manassascity.org/css. One of the findings of the survey was that city staff ranks 20 percentage points higher than the national benchmark in customer service.

Mayor Parrish also spoke about economic development for the City of Manassas including the hiring of a new Economic Development Director and a greater focus on business attraction, retention and expansion. In closing, Mayor Parrish said, “For those who appreciate independence and access, the historic City of Manassas enjoys a strategic location in Northern Virginia where Old Town charm combines with a new city spirit so you experience a sense of place, a sense of community and a sense of opportunity.  To watch the State of the City in its entirety, visit www.manassascity.org.

The preceding post was written by the City of Manassas. 

KO Distilleries opening in the City of Manassas

KO Distilleries

On Jan. 29, KO Distilleries, a new business in the City of Manassas, opened their doors for a “keel laying.” This is a nautical term for the start of a ship’s construction and is appropriate for this business as both owners are graduates of the Merchant Marine Academy.

Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore, Mayor Harry J. Parrish II as well as other City Council members, business owners and residents were onsite to welcome this new industry to the City of Manassas. KO Distilleries, located at 10381 Central Park Drive, will manufacture, store and sell distilled spirits, including bourbon, rye whiskey, corn whiskey, gin, vodka and rum. The distillery will have a visitors center for tours, tastings, merchandise sales and special events.

Owners Bill Karlson and John O’Mara will open their doors in the spring of 2015. This is only the 19th distillery in the Commonwealth of Virginia and is on the forefront of an emerging industry trend. Historic Manassas, Inc. helped the City and KO Distilleries with the event and many members of the Prince William Chamber of Commerce welcomed the new owners as members of the Chamber.

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The preceding post was written by the City of Manassas. 

Manassas First Friday February: It’s the ‘Souper Bowl’

  • Historic Manassas, Inc.
  • Address: 9431 West Street, Manassas, Virginia
  • Phone: 703-361-6599
  • Website: http://visitmanassas.org/
manassas, souper bowl, festival

Historic Downtown Manassas is putting on the Soup for First Friday February.

On Feb. 6 from 6 to 9 p.m., city restaurants are pairing up with downtown merchants to offer a soup for sampling. Five-dollar wristbands allow participants to sample the soups from each location and vote to name a champion of the “Souper Bowl.”

A list of participating merchants for Manassas First Friday is available at visitmanassas.org.

Inspired by the success of the monthly event concept held in other localities, First Friday in Historic Downtown was created by the Historic Manassas, Inc. promotions committee to enhance tourism and entertainment offerings in the City of Manassas. The initial First Friday event was held in February 2014 and has grown and evolved. Some months feature roving musicians and caricature artists, while other months feature sidewalk art or special foods, like this month.

The preceding promoted post was written by the City of Manassas.

Teen wins NYC trip with “Say I Won’t” video with Manassas City Police Department

#SayIWont, manassas city police department

Captain Trey Lawler and Chief Doug Keen stand behind Mark Johnson.

In December, City of Manassas resident Mark Johnson had an idea for the #SayIWont video contest put on by Grammy Award winner Lecrae Moore and Reach Records. The video contest asked participants to make a 15 second video showing how “you’re not scared to be different.” Mark’s video featured members of the Manassas City Police Department.

Mark Johnson had the idea, in light of current happenings in other areas of the country, to show a positive relationship between the Manassas City Police Department and a City resident. His video shows him coming into MCPD Roll Call and encouraging the officers about to go out in the field.

Mark went to Osbourn High School in the City of Manassas. After a rocky start, including being expelled from school, Mark went back to Osbourn to finish high school with an advanced diploma. When asked why he chose the Manassas City Police Department to feature in his video, Mark said he remembered the great conversations he had in high school with Officer Cahill and he used that contact to make the video happen. 

On Dec. 12, while attending the Manassas City Police Department holiday luncheon, Mark received a phone call from Reach Records saying he had won the national video contest and had won a trip to New York City to accompany Lecrae Moore to a Brooklyn Nets game.

“We are honored that Mark chose the MCPD to feature in his video,” said Chief Doug Keen from the Manassas City Police Department. “Mark Johnson’s video sheds a positive light on relationships with police officers and those relationships are something we want to promote in the City of Manassas. We congratulate Mark on his award winning video.”

Johnson traveled to New York City in December.

The preceding promoted post was written by the City of Manassas.

City of Manassas Citizen Satisfaction Survey results are in

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Manassas ranks above average in 8 Citizen Satisfaction categories surveyed

In a survey conducted by one of the nation’s leading community-based market research firms, results showed that citizen satisfaction in the City of Manassas is significantly above national and regional benchmarks in a number of service areas. Overall, three categories stood out: the overall quality of citizen services provided; the overall quality of water and sewer utilities; and the effectiveness of communication with the public.

Categories where the City of Manassas scored significantly higher than the national and regional benchmarks include:

  • Maintenance of streets
  • Sidewalks and infrastructure
  • How safe residents feel in their neighborhood at night, in commercial/business areas of the City and in City parks
  • Maintenance of neighborhood streets
  • Cleanliness of City streets
  • Access to information about City services
  • Opportunities to participate in local government 
  • Satisfaction with residential garbage collection and residential curbside recycling

The percentage of residents satisfied with customer service is 15 percent higher than the national average. Survey participants responded more than 20 percent above the national average when asked how satisfied they were with customer service in regards to response time and customer service experience.

“Having worked with City staff for the last year, I know how our dedicated staff goes above and beyond to provide services to the community,” said City Manager W. Patrick Pate. “I am extremely proud that resident opinions show that City of Manassas staff are significantly above the nation in customer service.”

City Council and staff are pleased with the results, not only because they highlight what the City is doing right, but because the survey shows what priorities the community has in coming years. Major services that were recommended as top priorities for investment over the next few years include: overall flow of traffic and ease of getting around; overall quality of public education; and overall quality of economic development.

ETC Institute used a random sample of households within the City of Manassas for this survey. They had a goal of 400 completed surveys being returned to provide this data and received 405 surveys from all areas of the City of Manassas. To read the survey results presented by ETC Institute, visit manassascity.org/CSS.

The preceding promoted post was written by the City of Manassas.

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