Hilton hotel approved for Scotts Run in Tysons despite county staff objections

A dual-branded Hilton hotel has been approved for Tysons’ Scotts Run neighborhood (via Fairfax County)

Another hotel may soon check into Tysons’ Scotts Run neighborhood.

Developer Cityline Partners secured the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors’ approval yesterday (Tuesday) to construct a dual-branded Hilton hotel on part of a block originally slated to become an 18-story office building.

The vote was unanimous but not entirely enthusiastic, as Chairman Jeff McKay and Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik acknowledged that the developer failed to win over county planning staff, who objected to the proposed location of a trash and loading service access point.

“While not perfect, don’t let that be the enemy of the good on this one,” Palchik said before the vote. “I think this is a very good application coming forward with commercial viability, which is definitely a challenge right now in Tysons and in urban spaces.”

Citing a changed environment for office space since the overall Scotts Run South development plan got approved in 2013, Cityline Partners has opted to break up a 1.73-acre portion known as the Westgate Block into two components: a 17-story, 263-room hotel on the east side and an office or residential building on the west side.

The newly approved hotel will be located at the Dolley Madison Blvd (Route 123) and Anderson Road intersection, just a couple of blocks away from Archer Hotel, which opened in September 2021. Built atop a five-story parking podium, the building will devote four floors to Home2Suites, an extended-stay concept, and seven floors to the boutique Canopy by Hilton.

The project will reduce the traffic expected at the site by shifting from office to hotel, while still contributing to the county’s commercial tax base, Lynne Strobel, the developer’s representative, said at the public hearing. It will also encourage pedestrian activity with 4,846 square feet of ground-floor retail and complete Platform Avenue, which is envisioned as Scotts Run’s main street.

“The construction of Heming recently established the western end of Platform Avenue, which is the main street that is through Scotts Run South, and this hotel will establish the east end,” Strobel told the board. “We believe it will serve as a catalyst for the continued development of this important property.”

However, county staff argue that the addition of a service entrance for trash and loading activities on Platform Avenue contradicts the vision of the street as primarily pedestrian-oriented with ideally no vehicular access points.

A rendering of the proposed trash and loading area for the Hilton hotel in Scotts Run (via Fairfax County)

The approved concept plan for Scotts Run shows a vehicle entrance from Platform Avenue for one block, but in that case, the only other options are Route 123 and Colshire Drive, neither of which can accommodate a driveway, according to county planner Mary Ann Tsai.

The county’s comprehensive plan and Tysons design guidelines recommend providing vehicular access “where it’s least likely to conflict with pedestrians and ground-floor activity,” county planner Sunny Yang said.

Staff said they proposed alternatives, including redesigning the hotel’s main entrance from Anderson Road to also serve as a service entrance or making the Platform Avenue entry temporary until the block is fully developed and the vehicle access points can be consolidated.

The plan identifies a location where a panel could be knocked out so vehicles can travel between the future buildings, instead of having separate garages and entries, but Hilton has indicated it doesn’t want vehicles to travel through the garage.

“We recognize an opportunity that vehicles could travel through the garage,” Tsai said. “It’s really what was designed…one garage under the entire block, and that’s why there was access only from Anderson and Dartford Drive, but in reality, it’s just not going to happen, and like Sunny said, there’s no commitment [from the developer].”

Strobel said the developer considered all of staff’s suggestions but didn’t find them viable, noting that they worried a shared visitor drop-off and service entrance off of Anderson Road would confuse drivers and create safety issues.

The developer agreed to restrict operating hours for the trash and delivery entrance to before 7 a.m. and after 9 p.m., when pedestrians are less likely to be walking on the roadway. The doors will also be designed to blend in with the building.

“The design, bringing the materials down to the ground plane, you won’t notice it as you’re walking by,” Strobel said. “We also kept the [street] pavers very uniform in front of this. There won’t be any visual cues, if you will, that there’s trash and loading in the area.”

McKay questioned how the loading hours will be enforced, urging the developer to install automated doors instead of relying on an employee to monitor the entrance.

“I do feel like the applicant has done a very good job of addressing a difficult situation,” he said. “I’m actually already looking forward to the implementation stage and worrying about how we’re going to maintain these restrictions from a code enforcement standpoint.”

In a Feb. 29 report, county staff also took issue with the lack of proposed park space for the Westgate Block, but Strobel told the board — and a Fairfax County Park Authority representative confirmed — that those concerns were resolved after the developer agreed to provide funding for a trail connection from Westgate Park (7508 Magarity Road) to a future sidewalk in the Highland District.

Despite the unresolved conflict between staff and the developer, Palchik expressed hope that the future hotel will add to the community emerging in Tysons East.

“I totally respect the position of staff on this. I don’t think staff is wrong. I think they’re right. I just think this is a tough, tough way to come up with a solution,” McKay said. “…We’ll have other bites at the apple as other pieces come forward, but I do appreciate everyone’s work on this as a healthy compromise at this stage of development.”

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