Tysons Corner, VA

A Maryland-based real estate firm recently purchased part of the Arbor Row development in Tysons.

Washington Property Co. announced it bought a 5.2-acre slice of the 2.5-million-square-foot project last week, according to the Washington Business Journal.

“WPC now plans to build about 700 apartments and 8,000 square feet of retail on the site, which is located at the intersection of Westpark Drive and West Branch Drive,” according to WBJ.

Arbor Row’s overarching plan is to transform the back end of Tysons Galleria with a variety of mixed-use buildings. The portion of the project was offered for sale earlier this year after Cityline Partners decided not to follow through on its development plans for the site.

The new owner hopes to start construction within the next two years, WBJ wrote.

Images via CBRE

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The Town of Vienna decided to keep working with the developer to tweak a contentious, mixed-use project along Maple Avenue.

In June, the Vienna Town Council approved the redevelopment, which would add a four-floor building with ground-floor retail and more than three dozen multi-family residential condominium units at 380 Maple Avenue.

Then in July, the Vienna Town Council decided to hold a public hearing on possibly rescinding the rezoning application after some councilmembers pointed to the town’s failure to notify the county about the project — along with other issues — as justification to revisit the project.

The joint public hearing last night (Monday) by the Town Council and the town’s Planning Commission started off with a tense conversation between councilmembers about whether a possible rescission would kick the application back to the Planning Commission or result in a repeal.

“We’re not here to kill the application,” Councilmember Pasha Majdi, one of the councilmembers who originally brought up possibly rescinding the project, said. “We’re here to rescind approval and send it back to the Planning Commission to fix some mistakes that have been made.”

Among the handful of “mistakes” brought up about the project during the hearing, several planning commissioners and councilmembers pointed to a debated road narrowing sparking safety concerns.

Planning Commissioner Stephen Kennedy noted the council’s desire to keep Wade Hampton Road at 36 feet instead of the project’s approved reduction to 32 feet. “It seems to be a contentious point for at least some of the neighbors and [some councilmembers],” he said.

“If we can figure out a way to go forward if the developer or the town is OK with the 36 feet, I think we would be saving everybody a lot of time in the interest of working together,” Councilmember Nisha Patel said. “Can we just make this happen somehow legally?”

Councilmember Howard Springsteen said that keeping the road at 36 feet could create a “win-win.”

Ultimately, the Vienna Town Council voted to negotiate the project’s proffers with the developer until Aug. 5.

Photo via Town of Vienna Planning and Zoning

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Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust wants to know if Fairfax County will submit a federal disaster declaration after flash flooding caused extensive damage, water rescues and road closures last week.

In a board matter approved at the Board of Supervisors meeting today (Tuesday), Foust said, “The McLean-Falls Church area was particularly hard hit. Today, more than a week later, there are roads in the county that remain closed with no estimated date for reopening.”

The region experienced about one month’s worth of rain, making it the heaviest one-hour total rainfall since at least 1936, according to the Washington Post. The City of Falls Church and Arlington County both declared a state of emergency just days after the storm.

More from a copy of the board matter that Tysons Reporter received:

Fortunately, despite the intensity of the storm, no one was severely injured or worse. The Office of Emergency Management and the county’s public safety and public works staffs were great! I commend them for reacting promptly and very professionally to emergencies that occurred throughout the county.

Since the storm, my office has received dozens of emails and phone calls from residents who experienced devastating damage to their property. Many residents had several feet of water and mud in their basements. Others experienced even worse damage. Some residents have estimated the cost to repair the damage will be as high as six figures.

The Office of Emergency Management has asked residents and businesses to file damage reports so that the county can evaluate whether we will pursue federal disaster aid… [Residents] are anxiously inquiring whether Fairfax County will do the same. They also need to know what federal aid might be available to them if a federal disaster is declared.

Residents are also learning that their property insurance may not cover their damages. Some residents believe that a lack of adequate infrastructure to convey some or all the stormwater contributed to the damage they suffered. Some have inquired about filing potential claims against the county and/or the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Now, County Executive Brian Hill will need to let the board know about the status and timing for determining whether or not the county will submit a federal disaster declaration.

“Many asked why we didn’t do a declaration the day after the storm like Arlington,” Hill said.

Hill said that he had several conversations with Foust about the process and that meetings are scheduled with the county’s stormwater management crew. “We will probably need to change how we do our engineering going forward,” Hill said.

The county’s Emergency Management Coordinator Seamus Mooney is set to update the county in the last week of July, Hill said.

Additionally, Foust’s board matter directed the county to create an informational flyer or brochure about how residents can submit damage claims to the county and the Virginia Department of Transportation, along with a list of county services and resources that could assist residents experiencing storm damage.

Chairman Sharon Bulova said that it’s also important to push information on social media on what people should report and why.

“We will likely have additional storm and water events in the future,” Bulova said, adding, “We’ve gotten really good at snow and not so much with water.”

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Val Sotillo, Northern Virginia-based Realtor and Falls Church resident. Please submit your questions to her via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: We are under contract for a property in Falls Church and the home didn’t appraise for the purchase price. What are our options?

Answer: Don’t panic! Low appraisals are a common side effect of a seller’s market. Appraisals are largely based on comparable home sales that closed prior to the home you’re buying. When there is a limited number of units that have sold and the market is hot, appraisers might have a harder time coming up with a home value that keeps pace with a hot market.

But First, What’s An Appraisal Contingency?

A home appraisal is an impartial professional opinion of how much a home is worth. In a property sale transaction, an appraisal is used to let the lender know that the contracted sales price is supported.

An appraisal contingency protects buyers if the appraised value is less than the price they’ve agreed to pay for the property and gives them the right to renegotiate the sales price with the seller, or withdraw from the contract without a penalty if buyer and seller don’t come to an agreement.

Your mortgage lender cares about the appraisal only to the extent it affects the loan-to-value ratio. A low appraisal does not mean the lender won’t lend. It means the lender will make a loan based on the ratio agreed to in the contract at the appraised value.

When Is It Okay To Waive The Appraisal Contingency?

I don’t often recommend waiving the appraisal contingency, but in some unique situations it could be considered an option:

  • Buyers competing with multiple offers might choose not to include an appraisal contingency in their contract to make their offer more attractive to the seller. Buyers must be financially prepared to cover any difference between the sales price and appraised value.
  • For an all-cash buyer, an appraisal is not required but it’s entirely up to the buyer to have one.

Most Common Reasons For Low Appraisals

  • The market is moving too quickly — In areas where homes are selling rapidly, with multiple offers and increasing prices, it may be difficult for the appraiser to keep up with them as the appraisal process compares recent past sales.
  • Bad comps — Bank owned, foreclosures and distressed properties bring down the value of the subject property unless an appraiser adjusts for marketing conditions.
  • Improvements are not always as valuable as you would expect — No matter how nice, the appraiser won’t value the improvements significantly higher than the same improvements in the other homes in the area.
  • Lack of local market knowledge — The comps the appraiser uses may be in an area that is not as pleasant or desirable as where the subject home is, which can negatively impact the appraisal value.
  • The property is priced incorrectly — A common saying in real estate is that a property is worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it. While some would argue that you should never pay more for a home than what it’s worth, it’s important to remember that appraisals are merely opinions of value. This is where your agent is especially helpful and he understands what the market is doing and can clarify your options so you can make the best decision for that moment.

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The Vienna Inn has plans to celebrate National Hot Day Day on Wednesday (July 17).

Neary 60 years old, the Vienna Inn (120 E. Maple Avenue) is known for its hot dogs.

“We have many customers that have been coming in since they were kids and now, they come in with their children and even grandchildren, it’s become a rite of passage,” Owner Marty Volk said in a press release.

The restaurant will serve up $1.99 hot dogs and $2.29 chili dogs, which normally cost between $2.20-$2.60, the press release said. Diners can get their hot dogs plain or with cheese, chili, mustard or onions.

National Hot Dog Day is an annual event during National Hot Dog Month in July.

“The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council created National Hot Dog Day. The day was established in 1991 to coincide with a hot dog lunch on Capitol Hill every year on a Wednesday in July,” according to National Calendar Day.

Photo 1 via Vienna Inn/Twitter, photo 2 courtesy Vienna Inn

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(Updated at 12:30 p.m.) Trustar Bank is opening a commercial loan office this week by Tysons Galleria ahead of a future branch in the area.

Last week, the bank opened a branch in Great Falls. The company website said, “As a community bank, Trustar Bank’s strategy is to be a personalized alternative to larger, super-regional financial institutions that increasingly dominate the bank’s primary market.”

While the upcoming Tysons location (1650 Tysons Blvd) will just handle commercial loans, Chief Executive Officer Shaza Anderson said that the company also plans to bring branches in Reston in October 2019 and Tysons in 2021.

The new loan office opens after the company raised the required capital and received regulatory approval from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, she said.

Anderson said that the company partially decided on the location because it seemed to be the most accessible for employees and customers.

Community support has been “overwhelming” during this process, she added.

Image via Google Maps

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There’s a birthday party in the works for Tysons’ biggest nightlife spot, and you’re invited.

Tysons Biergarten is celebrating its third birthday and a year that has marked a number of changes for the bar with more on the way. Registration is available online.

The celebration is set for Saturday, July 20, from noon to 1:58 a.m. at the Biergarten (8346 Leesburg Pike).

According to the Facebook post:

We will be looking back on all the good times that wouldn’t be possible without you! We will have vendors, food, live music, games, and of course beer! Not to mention we will also be doing a free festival to help celebrate our birthday! Our third anniversary only happens once in our lifetime so make sure you don’t miss it!

Events at the party include a stein-hoisting contest and free giveaways.

While the upstairs is still the German beer-hall scene the brand was built on, the Biergarten recently converted the long tables downstairs into the Room 7 speakeasy — featuring a dress code and rotating music selection with a particular focus on international themes.

Tysons Biergarten had originally been planned to fill the space until nearby developments came online. But while The Boro is close to opening, Biergarten owner Matt Rofougaran said his restaurant is slated to stay in their location at least through the end of the year.

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A massive development proposed for Tysons and the Defense Health Agency’s expansion plans in Falls Church are set to go before the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors later today (Tuesday).

According to the agenda, the board will hold public hearings on the two proposals. If approved, both of the projects would come to areas of the county facing urbanization.

Proposed for Tysons’ North Central neighborhood, The Mile would transform 38 acres of office park into 10 mixed-use buildings with residential, retail, office, hotel and storage locations.

Unlike some developments recently proposed and built in Tysons, The Mile aims to add six new parks totaling more than 10 acres.

Signature Park, the largest park in the development, would encompass an entire block in the development — about 5 acres — and include retail, a performance stage, areas for games, trails and more. A dog park, linear park, recreation park and two urban parks are also planned for the development.

Over by Pine Spring Elementary School, the Defense Health Agency wants to add an L-shaped office building to its Falls Church headquarters.

The government agency oversees health care to active duty and retired U.S. military personnel and their families.

In addition to the roughly 195,000-square-foot building, the plans also include an 815-space parking garage. The new space would allow for about 600 more employees, according to county documents.

Images via Fairfax County

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Runoff from construction sites reportedly caused a number of drainage issues around McLean following major flooding last Monday (July 8).

Fairfax County received several complaints last week about construction sites mentioning stormwater runoff and water and mud flooding, according to the Sites Construction Complaints Report, which shows complaints submitted in the last 30 days to Land Development Services.

“Most of the complainants who called this week seemed to think the issues were definitely caused by the heavy rains,” Hanna Kras, a Land Development Services staffer, wrote in an email obtained by Tysons Reporter.

Kras noted that inspectors’ resolutions to complaints will “give a better picture about whether or not these issues were driven by the flooding.”

“After a rain event like this, our inspectors respond to emails and phone calls about run-off and debris from construction sites that are impacting neighboring properties,” Anne Cissel, the spokeswoman for Land Development Services, told Tysons Reporter.

Cissel added that inspectors are “still catching up on filing their reports into the system.”

In a complaint last Wednesday (July 10), a woman reported that new construction in the 6500 block of Smoot Drive switched the grade from facing toward the street to facing toward her mom’s house, resulting in runoff.

Inspectors told the builder to fix a silt fence that “was breached due to Monday’s flood flush.” The inspectors were scheduled to meet with the complainant this morning.

Last Thursday (July 11), someone also complained about trash and portable toilet spill at 7006 Elizabeth Drive: “Due to recent flooding, a drainage problem has been noted. Portable toilet spill. Construction debris spill.”

In another complaint on Friday, July 12, someone reported worsening gravel and debris issues at 6500 Tucker Avenue, adding that “with the recent rain downpours, it has gotten even worse, spreading all over the roads making them hazardous in our area.”

These three complaints are still marked as “open” or “in progress” as of this afternoon.

One complaint the county closed was from last Wednesday (July 10) about a blocked drain that flooded a street and nearby yard. The inspectors found that the contractor at 1629 Wrightson Drive “had inlet protection at the storm structure… [The contractor] will remove inlet protection when expecting heavy rain.”

When asked if crews had trouble getting to the sites because of the storm damage, Cissel responded, “Kirby Road is closed and Benjamin [Street] was also impacted.”

Photo via @SteveML9022/Twitter

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The Weekly Planner is a roundup of interesting events coming up over the next week in the Tysons area.

We’ve scoured the web for events of note in Tysons, Vienna, Merrifield, McLean and Falls Church. Know of any we’ve missed? Tell us!

Tuesday (July 16)

Wednesday (July 17)

  • Pizza for Pets11 a.m.-10 p.m. at Ledo Pizza (141 Park Street SE) — All day in Vienna, 10 percent of the proceeds from any purchase at Ledo Pizza will go to supporting the nonprofit Frankie’s Friends and Hope Advanced Veterinary Center.
  • Mars and Whisky — 6-9 p.m. at Inca Social (2670 Avenir Place) — The recently opened Inca Social in Merrifield is hosting a book talk with Ancient Aliens guest George Haas, who is the co-author of The Cydonia Codex: Reflections From Mars. The book talk will be followed by a Catoctin Creek Rye whiskey tasting and raffle.
  • Princess Mononoke” 7 p.m. at Angelika Film Center (2911 District Avenue) — Angelika in the Mosaic District is hosting a screening of the 1997 Studio Ghibli classic “Princess Mononoke.” Tickets are $14.50. The Wednesday show is in Japanese with English subtitles, while the Thursday screening is the English dub.

Thursday (July 18)

  • Virginia Tire and Auto Grand Opening — 5-7 p.m. at Virginia Tire and Auto (141 W. Maple Avenue) — The recently opened Virginia Tire and Auto is hosting a celebration featuring autographs from Washington Redskins player Ryan Kerrigan. Free food, drinks and activities will also be provided.
  • Sheryl Crow at Wolf Trap8-11 p.m. at Wolf Trap (1551 Trap Road) — “Soak Up the Sun” country-rock artist Sheryl Crow is performing at Wolf Trap. Tickets are $45 and the only ones left are on the lawn, so attendees are encouraged to get them quickly.

Friday (July 19)

  • Silhouette Artist at Mosaic District — by appointment at Wee Chic (2905 District Avenue, Suite 120) — Childrens’ clothing boutique Wee Chic will have silhouette artist Keith Donaldson at the store to create hand-cut artwork. Appointments are required and kids of all ages are welcome. Two matted copies are $40 and additional copies of the same child are $10.

Sunday (July 21)

  • Woman’s Flat Tire Repair Class — 9-11 a.m. at REI (8209 Watson Street) — REI is hosting a flat tire repair class specifically for female cyclists. The class is aimed at teaching women everything they need to know to change a tire and reduce the chances of a repeat flat. Attendees are invited to bring their own busted tire or work on one provided by REI.

Image via Amazon

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