Tysons, VA

Fairfax County Records Third Pedestrian Death of 2021 — Police reported on Friday (April 9) that Falls Church resident Ramakant Bhusal, 36, was struck by a car while crossing Arlington Boulevard near the Graham Road intersection. Speed and alcohol do not appear to be factors for the driver. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Construction to Begin on Marco Polo Development — Starting today (April 12), the sidewalk in front of 245 Maple Avenue W. in Vienna will be closed for approximately five months “to allow for safety and proper right-of-way during construction.” The mixed-use Vienna Market development was approved to take over the former Marco Polo site in 2019. [Town of Vienna/Twitter]

Inova Seeks Volunteers for COVID-19 Vaccine Site — “Fairfax County has received a request to recruit volunteers to help provide assistance to the Inova Stonebridge COVID-19 Vaccination Center in Alexandria, which provides COVID-19 vaccines predominately for individuals who reside and/or work in Fairfax County.” [Fairfax County Government]

Fairfax County Holds Virtual Budget Public Hearings This Week — Community members can weigh in on the county’s proposed FY 2022 budget and capital improvement program on Tuesday through Thursday (April 13-15). The Town of Vienna and City of Falls Church are also holding budget meetings this week. [Fairfax County Government]

Ramadan Begins Today — Agora Tysons (7911 Westpark Dr.) is one of several restaurants in the D.C. area offering halal-friendly options for carry-out and delivery in lieu of extended holiday hours during the Muslim holy month. [Dine After Dark]

Mosaic District Displays COVID-19 PSA — “Many thanks to @mosaicdistrict for showing our #COVID19 Spanish language PSA on the big screen reminding folks on the importance of wearing a mask, washing your hands & employing physical distancing.” [Northern Virginia Regional Commission/Twitter]

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The weekend is almost here. Before you head out to browse a farmers market or catch up on some much-needed sleep, let’s revisit any recent news from the Tysons area that you might’ve missed from the past week.

These were the most-read stories on Tysons Reporter this week:

  1. Skip the Tidal Basin and check out Fairfax County’s cherry blossoms
  2. Falls Church City Council to hear another mixed-use development proposal for Broad and Washington
  3. Fairfax County will expand vaccine eligibility to all adults by April 18, given sufficient supply
  4. Fairfax County vaccine rollout moves to “Phase 1c” as COVID-19 cases stay level
  5. Falls Plaza Shopping Center gets new name as renovation is set to begin

Ideas for stories we should cover can be sent to [email protected] or submitted as an anonymous tip. Photos of scenes from around the community are welcome too, with credit always given to the photographer.

You can find previous rundowns of top stories on the site.

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(Updated at 10:50 a.m.) Students at Kilmer Middle School and Kilmer Center in Vienna are all learning virtually today (Friday) after both schools lost power this morning.

Karl Frisch, who represents Providence District on the Fairfax County School Board, said on Twitter that parents and guardians have been notified about the power outage, and students were sent home to “commence synchronous learning with their teachers.”

Dominion Energy’s outage map indicates that there is an ongoing outage near Kilmer Middle School that took out power for 133 customers.

According to the map, crews are currently working to resolve the outage, which is being attributed to “emergency work.” The current estimated time of restoration is sometime between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. today.

Fairfax County Public Schools spokesperson Lucy Caldwell confirmed that the school system contacted Kilmer parents to let them know that students are being transported home starting at 11 a.m. due to a power loss in the building at 8100 Wolftrap Road.

“FCPS is [in] contact with Dominion Power and are working to address the issue as quickly as possible. We are not sure of the timeframe of the repair,” Caldwell said.

She noted that virtual students “will also be impacted since teachers were unable to deliver concurrent instruction” from the building.

Tysons Reporter reached out to Dominion Energy for comment but did not hear back before publication.

Map via Dominion Energy

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Metro will maintain its current rail and bus service levels under a proposed Fiscal Year 2022 budget that the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority board of directors’ finance committee approved yesterday (Thursday).

Since February, Metrorail has been operating at 80% of its service levels prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, which prompted a nearly 90% drop in ridership. Metrobus has been operating at 85% of its pre-pandemic service levels after seeing a less pronounced decrease in ridership.

The $4.7 billion operating and capital budget proposed for FY 2022 is being supported by $722.9 million in federal COVID-19 relief funding, including $193.4 million from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) that Congress enacted in March.

Those funds have enabled WMATA to avoid making the significant service and personnel cuts that had been on the table even after the passage of the second coronavirus relief bill in December. Among the possible cuts was the closure of 19 Metro stations, including the McLean and Greensboro stations.

Tysons Partnership, the nonprofit group that has been overseeing the implementation of Fairfax County’s vision for Tysons, welcomed the news that those potential cuts have been averted.

“After a very uncertain time, we are pleased the federal government provided ample funding for WMATA to cover operating costs for the near future and that Tysons Metro stations will remain open,” Tysons Partnership President and CEO Sol Glasner said. “Now, we and the region need to focus efforts on returning to riding Metro as economic recovery efforts get underway and more retail and hospitality businesses return to normal operations.”

However, the proposed budget will delay funding for service on the long-anticipated second phase of the Silver Line, which expands the transit system from Reston into Loudoun County.

Previously scheduled to open this fall, Silver Line Phase 2 will now begin operations in January 2022 at the earliest as the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority works to resolve ongoing construction issues. MWAA said in March that it will be ready to hand over the project to Metro by Labor Day.

“We are preparing to welcome back customers as part of a return to normalcy, and welcome new customers who have long awaited the convenience of the Silver Line and new stations serving their communities and workplaces,” Metro General Manager and CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld said. “I am especially looking forward to beginning rail service to Dulles Airport as people resume travel to and from the nation’s capital as one of the great destinations in this country.”

Metro’s proposed FY 2022 budget also includes the transfer of five bus routes to Fairfax Connector, which will assume operations of the routes in July in conjunction with a host of other service changes concentrated around Tysons, McLean, and Falls Church.

WMATA says it received more than 22,400 responses during the public comment period on the FY 2022 budget, which lasted from Feb. 20 to March 16. That is the most comments the transit agency has gotten on a budget proposal in the past 10 years.

WMATA’s board of directors is scheduled to give final approval to the proposed FY 2022 budget on April 22. The fiscal year will begin on July 1 and last until June 30, 2022.

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Morning Notes

Vienna Budget Hearings Begin Next Week — The Town of Vienna will hold a public hearing on its proposed FY 2022 budget and water and sewer rates on Monday (April 12), with a public hearing on the proposed tax rate to follow on April 26. Town Manager Mercury Payton proposed increasing the budget by 5.3% and maintaining a flat tax rate for the seventh consecutive year. [Patch]

Northam Endorses McAuliffe for Virginia Governor — “Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced Thursday that he is backing Terry McAuliffe in the race to succeed him, handing his predecessor one of the contest’s most coveted endorsements…McAuliffe [is] the presumptive front-runner in the five-person Democratic primary, to be held in June.” [Associated Press/WTOP]

Fairfax County Will Get $7.8 Million to Combat Homelessness — Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner (D) announced yesterday that Virginia will get more than $96 million in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan to help residents who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless get access to safe, affordable housing. Fairfax County is among 21 localities to receive grant funding. [Press release from Sen. Tim Kaine’s office]

Wolf Trap Announces Grants for Local Performing Arts Programs — Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts has awarded eight grants to high schools in the D.C. area, including Centreville High School in Fairfax County to support their music, dance, and theater programs. Wolf Trap will track the projects through its Virtual Stage platform. [Wolf Trap]

Pop-Up Consignment Sale Now Open at Pike 7Just Between Friends Eastern Fairfax kicked off its spring and summer sale yesterday at Pike 7 Plaza on Leesburg Pike in Vienna. The sale runs through Sunday and allows people to buy or sell toys, clothes, and other items for children. Admission is free, but tickets can be reserved through Eventbrite. [Just Between Friends/Facebook]

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Construction work on an extensive renovation of Falls Plaza Shopping Center will begin in mid-April, property owner Federal Realty Investment Trust announced yesterday (Wednesday).

The 144,000 square-foot shopping center at 1200 W. Broad Street in Falls Church will get a new look with overhauled building façades, new signage and decorative lighting, enhanced landscaping, and expanded outdoor seating areas.

As part of the renovation project, Falls Plaza will be rebranded as Birch & Broad to reflect its location at the intersection of Birch and Broad streets and “align with the Modern Farmhouse aesthetics featured in the renovation,” according to Federal Realty’s press release.

“This transformation underscores Federal’s long-term commitment to our properties, merchants, and the communities in which we operate,” Federal Realty Vice President of Development Jay Brinson said.  “The new public gathering spaces and expanding café seating areas combined with the new architecture and placemaking upgrades will make Birch and Broad a place that truly captures the essence of community, a quality for which the City of Falls Church is recognized.”

The renovation will also occur concurrently with an interior remodel of the Giant Food that anchors the shopping center.

According to Giant Food Director of Strategic Planning and Execution Gary Budd, the remodel will enable the grocery store to “significantly upgrade” its fresh and prepared food departments. Added offerings will include a new gourmet cheese case and a fresh pizza program.

The store’s layout and decor will also be revamped to make navigation simpler for shoppers.

“The remodeled Giant is an exciting step in our mission to continue to offer improvements and unique selections across the areas we serve,” Budd said.

Other existing retailers at Falls Plaza include Conte’s Bike Shop, CVS Pharmacy, Plaka Grill, Starbucks, Jersey Mike’s and Road Runner Sports.

Federal Realty anticipates that the shopping center renovation will be finished later this year, prior to the winter holiday season.

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Morning Notes

J.R. Stockyards Inn for Sale — The 1.18-acre property that currently houses one of the oldest restaurants in Tysons hit the market in early March, with a new owner expected to be chosen by the end of April. The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a redevelopment of the site in October that would replace the Stockyards with a 26-story mixed-use building. [Washington Business Journal]

Connolly Urges Congress to Follow Virginia’s Lead in Legalizing Weed — “Another big progressive win here in Virginia,” Rep. Gerry Connolly (D) said after the Virginia General Assembly voted yesterday to legalize marijuana starting July 1. “I hope my colleagues in the House and Senate will join me in supporting the MORE Act to legalize marijuana nationwide.”[Gerry Connolly/Twitter]

Falls Church Schedules Town Hall on Gateway Development — Falls Church City staff and the developer of the West Falls Church project will present updates and answer questions on April 14 at noon. The city will also hold a town hall meeting on April 15 to discuss its proposed FY 2022 budget and new capital improvements program. [City of Falls Church]

Clemyjontri Carousel and Train Among Facilities Reopening This Spring — Fairfax County Park Authority facilities have started to reopen for the spring, with hours expected to expand further into the summer. Visitors are encouraged to buy tickets in advance, because amusements will operate at reduced capacity, though drop-in tickets will be available on-site if they do not sell out online. [FCPA]

Proof of Job Searches Will Soon Be Required for Unemployment Benefits Again — “The Virginia Employment Commission says it will start notifying unemployment benefit recipients of the return of job-search requirements starting in May. To qualify, or continue to qualify, for unemployment benefits in Virginia, those filing claims must provide evidence…of at least two job applications each week for VEC review.” [WTOP]

Photo by Joanne Liebig

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(Updated at 12:20 p.m.) The Fairfax County Health Department has expanded eligibility for COVID-19 vaccine appointments to all Phase 1c workers, bringing the county one step closer to opening registration up to the general adult population.

Starting today (Wednesday), people who live or work in the Fairfax Health District and are employed in the following industries can sign up for a vaccine appointment through the health department:

  • Barbers, stylists, and hairdressers
  • Finance
  • Information technology and communication
  • Media
  • Legal services
  • Public safety engineers, including emergency communication centers and heavy and civil engineering construction
  • Other public health workers, such as public health program administrators and researchers in physical, engineering, and life sciences

The Fairfax Health District encompasses Fairfax County, the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church, and the towns of Clifton, Herndon and Vienna.

Individuals who are eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccination can register through the Fairfax County Health Department’s website or by contacting the department’s call center at 703-324-7404.

This latest expansion of eligibility comes just two days after Fairfax County opened vaccine registrations up to an initial group of Phase 1c workers, including food service workers, cleaning and janitorial staff, and faculty and staff at higher education institutions.

“We expect to move into Phase 2 by April 18 in accordance with federal and state goals for the COVID-19 vaccination rollout,” the health department says.

President Joe Biden declared yesterday (Tuesday) that everyone 16 and older will be eligible to register for a COVID-19 vaccine by April 19, ahead of his previous target date of May 1.

Gov. Ralph Northam announced on April 1 that all of Virginia will reach Phase 2 — the general adult population — by April 18, though some jurisdictions could advance to that point sooner than others. Fairfax County has said it can meet that deadline as long as it receives a sufficient supply of doses.

According to its vaccine dashboard, the county received 40,950 first and second vaccine doses from the Virginia Department of Health during the week of March 29 to April 4, a step down from the roughly 55,000 doses that came in the previous week.

The Fairfax County Health Department says that it ordered 18,000 fewer doses last week, because some of its partners had unused vaccine that got carried over from the previous week, which can happen on occasion when there is a delay in a partner coming onboard or fewer people come through a particular site than projected.

“The number of vaccinations performed in the health district was not impacted,” the department told Tysons Reporter. “This week, vaccine orders are at normal levels.”

The county health department is currently making appointments for individuals who registered on March 30. There are more than 36,000 people on the waitlist right now, 9% of the 395,096 people who have registered since December.

According to VDH data, 368,665 Fairfax County residents have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 196,304 residents have been fully vaccinated. More than 1.6 million Virginians have now been fully vaccinated — 18.8% of the state’s population.

Photo by Karen Bolt/Fairfax County Public Schools

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Morning Notes

Vienna Police Announce Drug Take Back Day — The Vienna Police Department will host a collection site for old, expired, unused, and unwanted medications at its temporary facility (301 Center Street) on April 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The one-day event is part of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Prescription Drug Take Back initiative. [Vienna Police Department]

Capital One Hall Season Two Applications Due May 1 — Tysons’ new performing arts venue won’t open until October, but the deadline is already approaching for community arts groups to apply for space in the second season, which will begin on Sept. 1, 2022. The nonprofit ArtsFairfax is managing the application process on Fairfax County’s behalf. [Fairfax County Government]

Tysons Media Company Launches Lifestyle TV Network — “Tysons, Virginia-based Tegna Inc., owner of 64 television stations including WUSA9 in D.C., has launched a 24-hour, women-oriented lifestyle and reality TV network called Twist — and watching it comes with a twist as well.” [WTOP]

Vienna to Bring Back In-Person “Walk on the Hill” Event — The Town of Vienna’s annual spring Walk on the Hill program will return on April 25 with self-guided garden tours and live entertainment. COVID-19 protocols mean that the event will be limited to 500 total attendees, and participants must sign up in advance for one of two shifts.” [Town of Vienna]

Fairfax County Police Coming to Mosaic District — “Join Fairfax County Police Department at Mom and Pop on April 13 from 10am-12pm. Please adhere to all social distancing guidelines: maintain a 6-foot distance and please wear a face covering.” [Mosaic District/Twitter]

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(Updated at 12:20 p.m.) In one month, the public will get its first taste of The Perch, a 1.2-acre sky park expected to open at the Capital One Center development in Tysons this summer.

Capital One Center opened registration this morning (Tuesday) for its upcoming “Pups & Pints” event, which will transform the McLean Metro station parking lot into a pop-up dog park with a beer garden, food trucks, and live music — amenities that will all be included in the sky park.

Pups & Pints will take place from noon to 7 p.m. on May 1, 2, 8, and 9. While the event is free, attendees are required to register in advance for two-hour time slots so organizers can control the site’s capacity, which will be limited based on Virginia’s COVID-19 public health guidelines.

Capital One Center Manager of Marketing and Community Affairs Meghan Trossen says the development decided to bring another pop-up event to the McLean Metro parking lot, which it owns, after the success of the drive-in movie series that it hosted last summer to support the nonprofit Second Story.

“I think a lot of people are looking at pop-ups or repurposing of parking lots as different ways to elevate and build a sense of place,” Trossen told Tysons Reporter. “I think Tysons has struggled with creating a brand and identity…and we really want to help with that mission and ensure that Tysons develops in a way that has a sense of community.”

According to Trossen, about 5,000 people attended the 12 drive-in movie screenings at Capital One Center. The development is expecting over 1,000 attendees over the four planned Pups & Pints days in May.

Capital One Center used the McLean Metro station parking lot to host drive-in movie nights last summer (Photo courtesy Capital One Center)

Like it did with the drive-in movies, Capital One Center is encouraging Pups & Pints visitors to donate to a nonprofit that it has partnered with for the event. In this case, proceeds will go to Lucky Dog Animal Rescue, a nonprofit based in Arlington that rescues abandoned and neglected pets and helps them find new homes.

The event will also showcase local businesses that offer dog-related products or services, such as training schools, dog daycares, and stores that make dog treats or toys. There will be between four and six vendors each day, Trossen says.

“We’re really trying to focus on local small businesses or local nonprofits to try to elevate those,” Capital One Center Managing Director Jonathan Griffith said.

The emphasis on the local community will extend to the three food trucks that will change each day as well as the musical acts, which will all come from the D.C. area.

Pups & Pints will also feature a “Mutt Strutt” contest where dogs will compete on stage in front of a panel of judges. The first panel will consist of Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay, former Chairman Sharon Bulova, and Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik.

“I am honored and excited to serve as one of the “Mutt Strutt” Judges for Capital One Center’s Pups & Pints Program,” Palchik said by email. “…This is a perfect opportunity to bring our community together safely, to create active spaces, and to highlight the work of a non-profit in the greater Tysons community.”

As for the “pints” aspect of the event, the beer garden will be run by the same brewery that will operate The Perch Biergarten when it opens in July, though Griffith told Tysons Reporter last week that Capital One Center is not yet ready to announce who that tenant will be.

While Pups & Pints was designed as a sneak peek of The Perch, Griffith says Capital One Center sees events like this and last summer’s drive-in movies as essential to Fairfax County’s long-term goal of turning Tysons into “America’s Next Great City,” a place where people will want to live, not just work or shop.

“The event alone won’t stand on its own and radically transform Tysons overnight,” Griffith said. “But it’s through these types of events, these types of activations that we can show that Tysons is a community, that there is more than those two definitions of the mall and of the office that have historically been defining Tysons.”

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