Tysons, VA

Businesses and local governments alike are sorting out how best to continue local restaurant and retail operations as winter starts to make outdoor options less viable.

The Board of Supervisors announced plans yesterday to start loosening restrictions on outdoor tents, and the Town of Vienna is planning a virtual talk early next month to discuss winterization options and plans for local restaurants and entertainment businesses.

“Join the Town of Vienna Economic Development Department for our kickoff event on a two-part series on business winterization during COVID-19,” Vienna’s Economic Development Office said in an event listing. “We will address the ‘new normal’ for restaurant and entertainment businesses brought about by economic and social changes of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The first discussion, planned for Thursday, Oct. 8, will focus on stimulating and sustaining dining and entertainment as the temperature drops. According to the event page:

We will examine:

  • If outdoor dining and entertainment can help increase restaurant and retail sales throughout the health crisis
  • How restaurants can stimulate and sustain dining and entertainment as we move into colder weather
  • Locating funding and technical assistance to help with the expansion of outdoor and entertainment areas
  • Mastering and streamlining takeout and delivery procedures

The round table discussion is scheduled to include several local business owners and regional restauranteurs. The event is scheduled to run from 10-11:30 a.m. and accessible via Zoom link provided after registering.

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Board of Supervisors celebrates success of Mosaic at a refunded bond sale (action item 6) making its way back to the county coffers.

At the Board of Supervisors meeting yesterday, the Board approved a refunded portion of a bond. According to the staff report:

Based on market conditions as of August 31, 2020, a refunding bond sale of $57.2 million is estimated to generate net present value savings of $18.8 million or 33% of the refunding bonds. Debt service payments are programmed in Fund 70040, Mosaic District Community Development Authority. It is expected that annual TIF revenues generated in excess of annual debt service requirements, administrative costs, and deposits to the surplus fund will be retained in the County’s General Fund, including additional savings realized from the refunding bond sale. It is also noted that the reduction in debt service accruing from the refinancing will reduce the potential need to collect the special assessment on owners in the District to cover debt service.

Board members were enthusiastic about the economic sustainability of the Mosaic District and pointed to the commercial area as a positive return on investment.

“This is a very exciting day, that we’re able to refinance and see quite a bit of saving from these bonds that were high risk bonds,” Providence Supervisor Dalia Palchik said, “and we’re hoping they will now be rated and we’ll be able to see reinvestment in the greater Merrifield area.”

Dranesville Supervisor John Foust called the Mosaic District a “success story” for Fairfax County.

“It’s a grand slam home run, and now the financial rewards are starting to flow,” Foust said. “It’s all coming together.”

Chair Jeff McKay also highlighted another small bit of news for the Mosaic District — that the planned self-driving shuttle is getting closer to reality.

“Palchik and I recently heard, on a small fun note, relay self-driving vehicle has been cleared by the Feds to start accepting passengers,” McKay said. “So, many great things are happening in Mosaic, none of which would be happening without the work this board did on establishing to Mosaic District in the first place.

For Vice Chair Penelope Gross, it was a surprising turnaround from when the Mosaic District had first been proposed.

“When Gerry Connolly brought up the issue of Mosaic and we all looked at him like ‘are you crazy?” but he had a vision of what had to be done and it worked,” Gross said. “He was convinced, as Providence district supervisor, that this was going to be a boon for the community. It took 20 years, but it really has paid off.”

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is considering a move to allow closed or partially-closed tents for outdoor dining in Fairfax County as temperatures continue to dip in the coming weeks.

At a board meeting on Tuesday, Board Chairman Jeff McKay proposed an emergency ordinance that would allow restaurants and fitness businesses to set up the tents.

“This is an important step we can take to safely help our local restaurants through this difficult time,” McKay wrote.

Currently, restaurants and fitness businesses are allowed to  use outdoor areas, including portions of parking lots and sidewalks. That ordinance is set to expire six months after the county’s state of emergency ends.

A public hearing on the matter is set for Oct. 20.

Photo via Melissa Walker Horn/Unsplash

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In an uncertain economy, professionals may find that returning to school for an MBA can be a productive way to sharpen skills and add credentials while working to launch the next stage of their careers.

Virginia Tech’s Evening MBA program, based in the university’s Northern Virginia Center in Falls Church, has attracted many new students this fall for several reasons, said MBA programs director Dana Hansson. These include its stellar reputation and top 20 national ranking; dedicated faculty, many with industry experience; extensive alumni network; and great value.

Those who majored in science, engineering and other nonbusiness disciplines as undergraduates — such as Ryan Feber, a 2003 Virginia Tech graduate in computer science, and Bryan Gassenmeyer, who earned a degree in industrial and systems engineering at Virginia Tech in 2006 — have found that not only is a prior business education not needed to enroll or excel in an MBA program, but that technical backgrounds can be a basis for diversifying or rounding out knowledge and skills for managing or leading change in today’s data economy.

Others like Cody Neder, a 2014 finance alumnus, and Alexis Monahan, a 2006 graduate in communications and psychology, have lauded the program for the business and management knowledge and skills they’ve gained and the rich contributions to their learning from faculty and classmates with diverse professional backgrounds.

And, because life circumstances can change, a program that offers flexibility and affordability — students can shift between full-time and part-time status and apply for paid graduate assistantships — are two more pluses.

Maryann Romero’s experience reflects both these benefits. A stay-at-home mom at the time with an undergraduate degree in communications and rhetorical studies from Syracuse University, Romero finished up in two-and-a-half years and credits the program for opening the door to a new career as a client insights analyst at a media analytics company.

Lastly, Virginia Tech’s caring and supportive community of faculty and staff left a lasting impression on Nicholle Clinton, who received a marketing degree in 2007 and currently expects to complete her MBA in December 2020. Clinton coped with a series of serious family illnesses and losses during her senior year as well as early in her MBA studies. She is grateful for the compassion and assistance she received during both periods from the teaching faculty and program staff.

Learn more about how Virginia Tech can support your career goals at mba.vt.edu.

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Fairfax County is in the process of overhauling the outdated sections of its zoning ordinance, and Supervisor Dalia Palchik will be on hand tonight to address any questions locals might have about some of the upcoming zoning changes.

The Zoom meeting is scheduled tonight (Wednesday) at 7 p.m. and is open to all residents of the Providence District.

“Join the Providence District Council in attending this virtual community outreach meeting hosted by District Supervisor Dalia Palchik to learn from Planning and Development staff, ask questions and provide feedback on the zMOD Consolidated Draft,” the Providence District Council said in an email.

A 711 page draft document contains all of the planned changes. Many are modernizations that bring Fairfax’s zoning language in line with state and federal regulations to reduce confusion, such as renaming “home childcare facility” to “home daycare facility” and adding new classifications of residential uses, like accessory living units.

Questions can be submitted in advance via email to [email protected]

Image via Fairfax County

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Modifications to the Capital One Campus in Tysons are scheduled to continue next month as the financial institution heads back to the Planning Commission for more changes.

The changes planned for the Oct. 28 Planning Commission meeting mostly involve adjusting earlier sign plans to match the July approval of changing out the hotel portion of the site for more office space.

The new buildings will, like the existing headquarters, have a Capital One logo at the top with much of the body of the buildings occupied by offices while retail is located on the ground floor.

The Board of Supervisors had earlier been enthusiastic about the change, agreeing that the proposed change to office space rather than hotels could help boost economic activity in the area.

Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik said that the change better fits the recommended percentage of office use in the Tysons Comprehensive Plan and that the area has other planned hotels.

Image via Fairfax County

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Vienna Girl Scouts Send Positive Messages — “Girl Scouts in Vienna, Virginia, have come up with a painting project aimed at spreading happiness called Kindness Rocks.” [NBC4]

Vienna Firefighter Retires After 42 Years — “Leo started as a Vienna volunteer in 1978 & was hired as a career firefighter in 1982. Enjoy a well deserved retirement, Leo!” [Twitter]

Tysons Silver Diner Hosts Fundraiser for McLean High School PTSA — “Tysons Silver Diner Fundraiser on Thursday, 10/1, 5-8 p.m!” [Twitter]

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Since 2015, the United Methodist Church and Montessori School of Cedar Lane has been trying to get inline with local zoning ordinances, and at a County Board meeting the Board of Supervisors granted another extension for the church and school to get their house in order.

The school was approved special exception in 2014, contingent on development conditions, but a staff report on the project said the school and church has been been out of conformance with the Zoning Ordinance.

“The application was approved with a requirement that a Non-Residential Use Permit (Non-RUP) be issued within 24 months of the approval date in order to establish the use,” staff said. “In addition, the development conditions mandated that certain improvements, including approval of a minor site plan (MSP) with parking lot and stormwater improvements, enhanced landscaping, removal of certain gravel surfaces, improvements to the parking lot and recordation of a reservation for future right of way dedication, be satisfied prior to issuance of the Non-RUP.”

An extension was first granted in mid-2016 for 12 months, which was eventually extended to July 2020.

A representative of the church and school said the organization is not experienced in handling development issues, which has resulted in delays.

“The applicant has been working to fulfill all development conditions associated with SE 2013-PR-021,” staff said. Ms. [Lynne] Strobel states that the applicant is a non-profit and inexperienced in the process of obtaining permits and approvals associated with zoning and land use. As a result, the implementation of the approval has taken longer than anticipated.”

Strobel told staff the applicant is working with a civil engineer to get the improvements done as quickly as possible, though the pandemic created additional financial challenges due to the school’s closure. However, staff said the applicant reported that it plans to commence the required work within the next year.

The school was approved for 18 additional months to get the needed work done.

Image via Google Maps

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Normally the McLean Community Center’s October calendar would be full of fall activities and gatherings. The lingering specter of COVID-19 has muted that somewhat, but there are still several virtual or distanced in-person events planned over the next month.

  • Twelfth Night (Friday, Oct. 2, 7:30 p.m.) — The American Shakespeare Center is hosting a live, virtual performance of the Shakespeare comedy. An American Shakespeare Center staff member will be online to answer questions and provide insight. Tickets are $15 or $10 for McLean residents
  • The Unruly Theatre Project’s Virtual Improv Show (Wednesday, Oct. 7, 7 p.m. and Wednesday, Oct. 28, 7 p.m.) — The Alden theater is sponsoring a virtual improv show. The program is free and viewable after registering online.
  • Virtual Family Fun Trivia Night (Friday, Oct. 23, 7-9 p.m.) — Families can register as a group ($5 per family) to engage in socially distant trivia hosted by The Old Firehouse. Prizes are awarded for winning teams.
  • House of Terror and Family Trunk or Treat (Saturday, Oct. 24, from 6-9 p.m.) — The Old Firehouse is hosting a haunting at the teen center, turning the facility into a walk-through house of horror. The program is also providing a “Trunk or Treat” program as an alternative to trick or treating.
  • Virtual: McLean Uncorked (Sunday, Oct. 25, 5-6 p.m.) — Chain Bridge Cellars in McLean is hosting a free wine discussion with both beginners and connoisseurs. A wine expert will lead the session and explore various aspects of wine, from production to food pairings. Wine must be purchased separately.
  • Spooky Virtual Family Bingo (Friday, Oct. 30, 7 p.m.) — The Old Firehouse is hosting a Zoom bingo session. Families are encouraged to dress in costumes and join the call. Prizes will be awarded each round of bingo and Old Firehouse staff will vote on the best costume.
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There’s no indoor spa, no exotic perks meant to appeal to younger startup crowds. Tom Passarelli’s upcoming Boost McLean is a no-frills or gimmicks approach coworking.

Passarelli is working on getting Boost McLean set up at 6731 Whittier Avenue in the aftermath of a pandemic that devastated the business built on a bunch of strangers working in close proximity in a shared space. The building is still under construction and Passarelli hasn’t moved into the full advertising push yet.

“We’re not marketing yet, but we do have a waiting list,” Passarelli said.

Instead of a sprawling complex taking up a floor or two of an office, building, Passarelli is putting together Boost McLean as something substantially smaller, around 40,000 square feet.

Passarelli said his goal is to serve the McLean business community, catering more towards being an office location for established businesses rather than chasing the latest startups.

The program will offer food and snacks, coffee, and beer and wine if an ABC permit is approved. Passarelli said Boost McLean will also offering catering services if people want them. There will also be wi-fi and printing capabilities.

“It’s a business center and small business club,” Passarelli said. “It’s not a WeWork for the younger crowd and startups, but for people who are a little further along in their careers and don’t want to go downtown but can’t work out of their homes.”

The project was in the works before COVID-19, but Passarelli said he’s made some changes to the program to adapt to the new challenges. Passarelli said the website will include a chance to see how many people are currently in the facility and an anti-microbial filter for the HVAC system.

Image via Boost McLean

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