Newsletter

Morning Notes

Real Estate Taxes Due Today — Fairfax County property owners must pay the second installment of their real estate taxes by the end of today (Monday). Taxes can be paid through the Department of Tax Administration’s online portal. [Fairfax County Government/Twitter]

Vienna Man Arrested in Fatal Hit and Run — Carlos Alexander Torres Jr., 24, of Vienna was arrested in Montgomery County on Friday (Dec. 3) after police detectives determined that he was allegedly the driver in a Sept. 1 hit-and-run crash in Reston that killed the other driver. Police believe alcohol may have been a factor in the crash. [FCPD]

Asian Restaurant in Vienna ClosesRed Galanga at 144 Church Street NW closed its doors for the last time on Dec. 1, citing challenges with filling positions during the pandemic. Sister restaurant Sweet Ginger (120 Branch Road SE) will honor outstanding gift certificates from Red Galanga, which says an Italian restaurant will take its place on Church Street. [Patch]

Former WFT Quarterback Sells McLean House — “Alex Smith, quarterback for the Washington Football Team until earlier this year, has sold his 6,300-square-foot mansion in McLean for $5,800,000. He first listed the property for $6,750,000 in June, a few months after he was released from the team.” [Washingtonian]

Leaf Vacuum Careens into Vienna Garage — “Town of Vienna employees were working in the 400 block of Center Street, N., on Nov. 30 at 2:59 p.m. and had parked a leaf-vacuum trailer on the roadway with a wheel stop in place to secure it. Due to the steep incline, the trailer went over the wheel stop, proceeded down a hill and struck the garage of a residence, Vienna police said.” [Sun Gazette]

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The weekend is almost here. Before you rush out to buy an evergreen or head to bed for some much-needed sleep, let’s revisit news from the Tysons area that you might’ve missed.

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

  1. Closure of Starbucks at Capital One is permanent
  2. West Falls Church kitchen fire pushes four people out of their home
  3. With site plans in review, MetroWest developers promise retail is coming to Vienna Metro area
  4. Indie coffeehouse 29th Parallel brews up expansion with new Vienna shop
  5. Traffic Alert: Georgetown Pike closed in McLean after vehicle crash

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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Power is out for 224 people in the Falls Church area (via Dominion Energy)

(Updated at 9:35 a.m.) More than 200 people in the Falls Church area are currently without power.

According to Dominion Energy’s outage map, the power loss has affected 224 customers on the east side of Route 7. The utility company attributes the outage to a vehicle accident.

A crew has been dispatched, but the estimated time of restoration is not until 1-6 p.m.

The City of Falls Church says the power outage has affected some of its facilities. The Mary Riley Styles Public Library has been closed for the day, and City Hall is offering only limited services since it’s on partial power.

The Falls Church Community Center, however, has full power and remains open.

According to the City of Falls Church, Dominion Energy arrived on the scene around 3:30 a.m. after a vehicle hit a utility pole near 300 North Washington Street.

“The vehicle was towed and there were no reports of injuries,” Falls Church spokesperson Susan Finarelli said.

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Morning Notes

Vice President Praises Local Candle Maker — 11-year-old entrepreneur Alejandro got a boost from Vice President Kamala Harris when she visited the stall that his company Smell of Love Candles had at the Downtown Holiday Market in D.C. last weekend. Based in Fairfax County, the company crafts and delivers soy candles, and it now offers the ones bought by Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff as a package. [WUSA9]

COVID-19 Diagnostic Testing Available to Students — Fairfax County Public Schools students and staff who have COVID-19 symptoms or have been in close contact with a COVID-positive person can now get diagnostic testing at six drive-through sites around the county. Appointments aren’t needed, but a parent or guardian must provide consent and their children’s information through the school system’s online portal. [FCPS]

County Recommends Getting COVID-19 Booster — “The Fairfax County Health Department joins the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in strengthening their recommendation on booster doses for individuals who are 18 years and older. Everyone aged 18 and older should get a booster shot either six months after their initial Pfizer or Moderna series or two months after their initial J&J vaccine.” [FCHD]

Four People Killed in Thanksgiving Weekend Traffic Crashes — “Four people died in traffic crashes in Virginia over the Thanksgiving weekend, the smallest number of traffic fatalities during the holiday weekend in the past 10 years, according to preliminary data released by the Virginia State Police. The fatal crashes occurred in the counties of Albemarle, Chesterfield, Fairfax and Spotsylvania.” [Patch]

Fairfax County Collects Record Taxes — “Fairfax County collected more than $4 billion in total taxes in fiscal 2021 for the first time ever, a staggering figure made possible not by rising tax rates, but soaring property assessments. Of the $4.05 billion collected in the fiscal year that ended June 30, $3.02 billion, or roughly 75%, came from real property tax levies, according to the county’s recently released Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.” [Washington Business Journal]

County Leaders Consider Staff Pay Increases — “Fairfax County supervisors and School Board members next year hope to give county and school employees large pay raises to make up for ones lost last year to the pandemic. But supervisors added quickly they did not want homeowners to feel the full brunt of skyrocketing property assessments.” [Sun Gazette]

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Students with the theater company Traveling Players will showcase their recent work at Tysons Corner Center next week (courtesy Traveling Players)

Traveling Players has big plans for its first in-person, public performances in the COVID-19 era.

After staging 15 plays on Zoom during the pandemic, the educational theater nonprofit reopened its studio at Tysons Corner Center to students this fall, and it has been able to provide in-person classes and programming to students from 4th through 12th grade, thanks to the recent expansion of vaccine eligibility to younger age groups.

“[H]aving the vaccine be an option for those younger kids has been great, and we’re actually right next door to the mass vaccination center, so they can go next door and get vaccinated,” said Jeanne Harrison, producing artistic director for the theater company. “A lot of them are in the process of being vaccinated because they’re just newly eligible, but we’re thrilled to have them with us.”

All of the company’s students will present their work to the public with a free, family-friendly showcase at the studio, located on the first floor of the mall, on Saturday, Dec. 11.

The 36 kids in the showcase will perform improv sketches, monologues, and theatrical scenes at 3:30 p.m. with advanced performances at 5:15 p.m.

Traveling Players is asking audience members to be vaccinated and wear masks. Performers — nearly all of whom are vaccinated or are in the process of getting the vaccine — will have the option to remove masks while on stage.

While most of its fall classes started in October, Traveling Players initially had to cancel those for its youngest performers, who were not vaccine-eligible at the time. Harrison told Tysons Reporter that they originally lacked the numbers needed to hold those classes.

That changed with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s announcement on Nov. 2 that some 28 million children could get vaccinated against COVID-19. Traveling Players resumed the elementary student class in November.

During the pandemic, the theater company had been making costumes and creating props and sets at its studio and delivering them to kids’ houses, where they created home studios and performed in front of their computers.

Traveling Players took its first steps toward offering in-person programming again this past summer, reorganizing its typical summer camps as “residential sleepaway camps” that took place outdoors with students staying overnight.

“What we decided was that we could be in person as long as we had a big space and that we controlled the space. We were able to bubble and really control who was in there,” Harrison said.

As schools relied on remote learning for much of the past two years, the isolation took a toll on kids’ emotional and mental well-being, health researchers have noted. Harrison says Traveling Players has been an antidote to that stress.

“We’re community based, and the kids, they’re making friends,” she said. “They’re being reunited with their old friends; they’re creating art; they’re expressing themselves; they’re laughing again. Yeah, their sparkle is coming back. It’s beautiful to see.”

After the showcase, Traveling Players will hold tryouts for an upcoming Dionysian festival on Sunday, Dec. 12, followed the next week by auditions for its summer camps, which will be overnight and outdoors again.

Coupled with additional programming like Greek trivia nights, the Dionysian Play Festival will have rehearsals from January through March, culminating with performances of “Ariadne’s Thread,” “The Odyssey,” and “Hecuba” at the mall from March 12-20 next year.

David Taube contributed to this report

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Nothing in Between Studio wants its customers to relax.

The nail salon opened the doors of its Tysons location on May 28, becoming one of the first retail tenants to take up residence in the Capital One Center development emerging near I-495 and the McLean Metro station.

Ongoing construction isn’t especially conducive to a stress-free environment, but Nothing in Between believes its emphasis on non-toxic products and wellness will prove enticing to the young professionals who populate the Tysons area.

“I really do think the aesthetic and experience and quality that we offer is very different, and we’re really excited to be able to offer that to the Tysons community,” Nothing in Between brand manager Amanda Vega told Tysons Reporter.

Nothing in Between opened its first location at 6410 Arlington Boulevard in Falls Church in November 2018.

A South Korean immigrant who worked in fashion before moving to Falls Church in 2014, founder Jade Kim Trusso wanted to offer an eco-friendly, cruelty-free option for nail care, avoiding the use of plastics, toxins, chemicals, and animal-based products like leather, according to Arlington Magazine.

Capital One Center then offered the business space for an expansion, according to Vega.

The studio’s reputation and mission made it an appealing addition to the development, Capital One Center Manager of Marketing and Community Affairs Meghan Trossen says.

“Nothing in Between’s great brand reputation in the Northern Virginia market and commitment to organic, non-toxic products stood out to our team,” Trossen said by email. “This zen oasis complements the dynamic environment at Capital One Center and has been a wonderful amenity to our mixed-use development.”

When Nothing in Between arrived in May, it was one of just two retailers operating at Capital One Center after Wegmans opened its 80,000 square-foot grocery store on Nov. 4, 2020.

The development previously had a City Works Eatery and Pour House, but the restaurant permanently shuttered last summer. The Starbucks at Capital One’s headquarters is also gone for good.

Since Nothing in Between opened, Capital One Center has add two dining options: Starr Hill Biergarten on The Perch and the Japanese restaurant Wren in The Watermark Hotel.

Vega says the development has been “very supportive” in helping market Nothing in Between and ensuring its success, even as Capital One’s return-to-office plans remain on hold.

While business was initially slow, it has picked up as more people have become aware of the new location, according to Vega.

“That Falls Church location, we do really well,” she said. “We’ve had clients come over that usually go to Falls Church, and they’ve come and tried Tysons.”

While the locations share a health-focused philosophy, massage services are only available at the Tysons site, which features four massage rooms as part of the team’s plan to ultimately expand beyond nail care to offer a wider range of wellness services.

The Tysons salon also aims for a more sophisticated atmosphere. Inspired by Japanese American artist Isamu Noguchi, it has oak wood flooring, a tea bar, and paper lantern lighting.

The studio offers manicures, pedicures, and massages from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays and 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Saturdays. It is closed on Sundays.

Vega says walk-in customers are accepted, but she recommends making an appointment, since space is limited.

Nothing in Between doesn’t have any additional locations in the works, though some customers have asked about getting a salon in D.C. or the Ashburn area of Loudoun County, Vega says.

“We’re definitely open to the possibility if the opportunity is right,” Vega said. “But for right now, we’re focusing on two locations and continuing to build up our clientele.”

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The Ashby at McLean (via Google Maps)

After lying dormant for more than half a decade, a plan to convert retail space in a McLean apartment building into more residences has gained new life.

Located at 1350 Beverly Road, The Ashby at McLean sits in the heart of the Community Business Center (CBC), and like the downtown area as a whole, it has been struggling to attract viable commercial tenants, property owner WashREIT says in a statement of justification submitted to Fairfax County in June.

As a result, WashREIT is now looking to rezone the property so that it can convert the majority of its commercial space — 23,855 out of 28,067 square feet — into 18 new, multifamily residential units.

“These applications request a simple conversion of underperforming commercial space to usable residential units, revitalizing this property without any significant impacts to the area,” WashREIT said in the statement.

Constructed in 1982, The Ashby is 12 stories tall and has 256 residential units. It also has retail and office space on its first and second floors, including The UPS Store, a beauty salon, and two computer consulting stores.

Those tenants all appear to be located on the building’s first floor. The conversion will involve “significantly underperforming commercial space” on the second floor, the application says.

WashREIT, which acquired the apartment building in 1996, first proposed converting the office space to residences on Oct. 5, 2012, according to Fairfax County’s zoning records.

However, the rezoning request languished in the county’s zoning process, and on Aug. 29, 2019, the Department of Planning and Development notified McGuireWoods — the law firm representing WashREIT — that staff intended to dismiss the application because it had been inactive since Sept. 18, 2014.

McGuireWoods Senior Land Use Planner Lori Greenlief responded in October 2019 with a request that the county keep the application active, as the property owner was awaiting the outcome of the then-ongoing McLean CBC Study.

“Washington REIT has been following the study closely and, in fact, has two representatives on the task force,” Greenlief wrote.

Now that the county’s plan to revitalize downtown McLean has been approved, WashREIT has evidently decided that it’s time to revive its plan for The Ashby.

McGuireWoods requested that the rezoning application be reactivated and submitted revised materials on June 23 — one day after the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted to adopt the comprehensive plan amendment that came out of the CBC study.

While no physical changes to the site are being proposed, the reduction in retail will shift all but 19 of the building’s 331 parking spaces to residential uses, which will go from 210 spaces for 256 units to 312 spaces for 274 units, improving existing conditions, according to WashREIT.

A parking reduction study by the consulting firm Gorove Slade found that the existing parking supply exceeds demand, and nearby Metro and Fairfax Connector bus stops justify continuing to provide fewer spaces than what the county’s zoning ordinance requires.

“A parking reduction would not adversely affect the surrounding areas,” the study said.

WashREIT’s proposal is scheduled to go before the Fairfax County Planning Commission on Jan. 26, followed by a Board of Supervisors public hearing on Feb. 8.

Photo via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

New Milestone Reached in Silver Line Phase 2 Project — Construction work on a new rail yard and maintenance facility at Dulles International Airport has been substantially completed, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority announced. The milestone will enable the project team to start testing the operational readiness of the Metrorail extension, bringing it closer to the long-anticipated handoff to Metro. [MWAA]

Afghan Refugees Build Community in Fairfax Hotel — “As the morning sunlight pours into her hotel room in Fairfax, Virginia, [Taban Ibraz] plans out her day: Attend an online English course, work on her asylum case and the stack of humanitarian parole applications for her family, look for an apartment, or simply stay in her room to read or write in her journal.” [DCist]

Vienna Kicks Off Holiday Season — “It took an extra year to reach the milestone, courtesy of the pandemic, but Vienna finally got to celebrate the 25th in-person Church Street Holiday Stroll Nov. 29. Santa arrived on the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department’s antique red fire engine, then lighted the town’s holiday tree with Vienna Mayor Linda Colbert and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” [Sun Gazette]

Merrifield Company Honored for Park Philanthropy — The Merrifield-based aerospace and defense company Northrop Grumman received a distinguished public service award from the Fairfax County Park Foundation, which raises funds for the Fairfax County Park Authority. The company has donated more than $169,000 to support environmental education in the county’s parks since 2001. [FCPA]

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Updated at 5:30 p.m. — Georgetown Pike has been reopened, according to Fairfax Alerts.

Earlier: Georgetown Pike is currently closed at Turkey Run Road in McLean after a vehicle crash from earlier this afternoon.

According to the Fairfax County Police Department, officers responded to Georgetown Pike and Langley Lane before 3 p.m. for a single vehicle crash.

A notice from the county’s Fairfax Alerts system stated that delays should be expected for an “unknown duration.”

“Please follow officer direction in the area,” the police department said.

While police say no injuries were reported in this incident, Georgetown Pike and Langley Lane was the site of another vehicular crash on Nov. 13 that ultimately killed 65-year-old Andre Newman. Newman’s family and community members held a vigil for him at Langley High School, just one-tenth of a mile up the road.

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Starbucks will not reopen at the Capital One headquarters in Tysons.

The coffee shop at 1610 Capital One Drive North has been closed for much of the past year during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the exact timing of the decision to keep it closed isn’t entirely clear.

After the location reopened in the second half of 2020, an anonymous tipster alerted Tysons Reporter on June 20 that it had closed again.

“Due to limited office occupancy during the COVID pandemic, Starbucks has temporarily closed this location but plans to re-open this location in the near future,” a spokesperson for Capital One Center, the surrounding mixed-use development, told Tysons Reporter at that time.

However, in an emailed statement, the Starbucks media relations team now tells Tysons Reporter that the company’s last day at Capital One was back on March 23:

As part of Starbucks standard course of business, we continually evaluate our business to ensure a healthy store portfolio. After careful consideration, we determined it was best to close the store at 1610 Capital One Drive North in McLean, VA. Our last day at this location was March 23, 2021.

As difficult as this was, we must make the right business decisions for the sake of Starbucks long-term growth. All Starbucks partners (employees) working at that store had the opportunity to transfer to one of our nearby locations.

We look forward to continuing to serve the McLean community and encourage our customers to visit us at our other stores in the area.

Starbucks opened at the Capital One building in March 2019, quickly becoming a regular haunt for the financial corporation’s employees.

The location is still listed as open on Yelp, where reviewers compliment the staff for their friendliness and level of service.

The Starbucks store locator includes a shop at 1680 Capital One Drive that also appears on Google Maps, but the listed phone number has been disconnected.

Tysons East still has a Starbucks in the Safeway on Colshire Drive, and there are seven other locations in Tysons overall, though one of the two shops in Tysons Corner Center remains temporarily closed.

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