The Mount Vernon-Lee Chamber of Commerce is administering an online fundraiser for the businesses most affected by Monday’s fire at the Belle View Shopping Center.
The Chamber, along with the Belle View Merchants Association and community member Steve Larsen, have created a Fundly page as an emergency relief fund for businesses and their employees as they try to get back on their feet.
Money from the fundraiser will be spent on financial hardships not covered by insurance, said Larsen, a longtime New Alexandria resident. A steering committee will work together to disburse the funds, Larsen said.
As of Thursday evening, at least 11 businesses in the shopping center remained closed: Belleview Cleaners and Launderers, Bread & Water Company, Dishes of India, GOLFTEC, Roy Rogers, Spokes Etc., Taekwondo Masters, Wine and Design, Yido Ramen & Sushi, Eagle and Empire Game Shop, and Dunkin Donuts. Additionally, the Alexandria Music Company has reopened, but it is using a generator and remains without full power.
The cleaners and Yido Ramen & Sushi both have their entrances boarded up as the investigation into the fire continues. The two businesses suffered the most damage in the six-alarm blaze, which started in the kitchen of one of them, according to the Fairfax Fire and Rescue Department. A spokeswoman said Wednesday that the fire department could not name the specific business at this time.
“It’s very sad to inform you that due to a fire in the adjacent building we have experienced a total loss of property,” read a sign on the boards in front of the cleaners. “We are deeply saddened by everyone who has been affected by this misfortune and we will work diligently with our insurance provider to address all matters.”
Other businesses also have signs up, with GOLFTEC, Wine & Design and Roy Rogers all saying they expect to be closed indefinitely. Dishes of India, Eagle and Empire, and Taekowndo Masters have said on social media that they expect to open in the next few days.
Spokes Etc. said in a Facebook post Thursday that after initially thinking they would reopen soon, they’re now likely to remain closed for months.
“Over the last few days we’ve learned that the extent of damage to the shopping center, and our unit, is much worse than we initially thought, with some of it being structural,” Spokes Etc. said on Facebook. “With that said, our downtime in the Belle View location will be longer than we expected. It’s difficult to put an actual timeframe on this currently, but it will be a few months.”
Total damage from the fire is estimated to be $5.8 million, according to the fire department. The blaze was reported shortly after midnight, and video from the scene showed flames and thick smoke above the east wing of the shopping center. The fire department said that more than two dozen units — spanning multiple jurisdictions — responded to the fire.
To make a donation to the emergency relief fund, click here.