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Morning Notes

Mistrial Declared in Sexual Abuse Case Against Former Thoreau MS Teacher — A Fairfax County Circuit Court jury acquitted Matthew Snell on one count of inappropriate sexual relations with a teenager after 13 hours of deliberation. The jury failed to reach a verdict on two other charges, likely prompting a retrial. [The Washington Post]

Tysons Auto Investment Company Sold — Investment firm Ares Management Corp. closed a $3.8 billion deal yesterday (Thursday) to acquire Capital Automotive Real Estate Services Inc., which gives financing to automobile dealers for buying new locations and upgrading facilities. Based at 8484 Westpark Drive, the company has recently been selling land that it owns for the Dominion Square West development. [Washington Business Journal]

Tysons Steakhouse Plans Second Fairfax County Location — The Brazilian steakhouse Fogo de Chão plans to open a new location in Reston Town Center this spring. The company’s restaurant outside of Tysons Galleria is the only one it currently has in Northern Virginia. [Reston Now]

Funding Recommended for Local Transportation Projects — The National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board approved a $7.2 million plan on Wednesday (Feb. 16) to support bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure upgrades. The recommendations include the Vienna Metro station bicycle improvements and Shrevewood Elementary School Safe Routes to Schools project requested by Fairfax County. [WTOP]

Vienna Nepali Restaurant Gets Thumbs Up — “You will not find a dish quite like Royal Nepal Bistro’s fulbari naan in its homeland. Yes, co-owner Sunil Chaudhary says that the breads in parts of southern Nepal are sweet, but this creation exists only in Vienna.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]

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After years of debate and stagnation, construction has become a common sight along Maple Avenue in Vienna.

Among the most visible of the ongoing projects, thanks to a crane towering over the low-lying commercial corridor, is the Sunrise Senior Living facility emerging at 380 Maple Avenue — just one building east of the redeveloping Vienna Wolf Trap Hotel and Tequila Grande.

Construction on the assisted living facility began with a groundbreaking in June and is expected to be completed in 2023, according to Andy Coelho, the senior vice president of construction, facilities, and design at Sunrise Senior Living.

“Potential residents and community members will be able to get a first look at the offerings when the off-site sales gallery opens in late 2022,” Coelho told Tysons Reporter.

Approved by the Vienna Town Council in January 2020, the project consists of an 82,000 square-foot building with 85 assisted living units and 950 square feet of space on the ground floor for a cafe or restaurant.

The new building will be 54 feet tall with four stories. In addition to assisted living, it will have a “Reminiscence Neighborhood” that serves residents with memory care needs as well as options for short-term stays, Coelho says.

The road to last summer’s groundbreaking was long and convoluted for Sunrise, which originally proposed building the facility at the Center Street corner but faced concerns about parking and the planned retail space.

The town council rejected that plan in July 2019, prompting Sunrise to sue the town. The lawsuit was resolved in March 2020 after the project relocated to 380 Maple Avenue, which had been set for a mixed-use development that encountered similar skepticism.

Sunrise’s Vienna facility will be its 22nd in Virginia, joining existing sites in Tysons, Falls Church, Reston, and more.

Coelho says Sunrise of Vienna will support not just its residents, but also the surrounding community.

“This community will provide a high-quality senior care option to the surrounding area while building strong connections with that region through partnerships and events,” he said by email. “As we continue through the construction phase of this project, we look forward to sharing more about the differentiators of this property.”

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Morning Notes

(Updated at 9 a.m.) Bill Ending School Mask Mandates Signed — Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed legislation yesterday (Wednesday) letting parents opt their children out of mask requirements, adding an emergency clause that sets a deadline of March 1. Fairfax County Public Schools said in a statement to Tysons Reporter that it’s reviewing what this means for the district, which sued to keep its mandate. [Patch]

Wind Advisory Takes Effect Tonight — The National Weather Service has issued a Wind Advisory for Northern Virginia, including Fairfax County, that will be in effect from 10 p.m. today (Thursday) to 10 a.m. tomorrow. The alert warns that winds could reach 20 to 30 miles per hour with gusts of up to 50 miles per hour, potentially blowing down tree limbs and creating power outages. [NWS]

Tysons Area Schools to Hold Graduations in D.C. — Langley, Madison, Marshall, and McLean high schools will have graduation ceremonies at DAR Constitution Hall on May 31 and June 1 after the events were previously moved due to D.C.’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement, which ended Tuesday (Feb. 15). FCPS said the rule “would have prevented a number of students and families from attending.” [WTOP]

Seven Corners to Get New Fire Station — Fire Station 28 personnel moved to temporary quarters yesterday as Fairfax County prepares to tear the existing station down and build a new one in its place. The new building will have two levels and 13,500 square feet of space, and the current estimated occupancy is mid-2024. [FCFRD/Twitter]

Vienna Inn Named Top 10 “Lovable” Dive Bar — DC Eater ranked the longtime Town of Vienna staple as the 10th most lovable dive bar in the D.C. area: “Around since 1960, this Northern Virginia neighborhood institution is famous for its chili dogs and its convivial vibe. During the pandemic, the chill bar debuted curbside takeout, delivery, and heated outdoor seating.” [DC Eater]

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(Updated at 7 p.m.) Tysons shoppers will soon be able to dress like Justin Bieber — provided they have a spare $1,000 to spend on a pair of sneakers.

The luxury fashion house Balenciaga will open a boutique store at Tysons Galleria tomorrow (Thursday), its first in Virginia and the D.C. area, a spokesperson confirmed to Tysons Reporter.

Located on the mall’s second floor by Saks Fifth Avenue, the store is 133 square meters in size (or 1,431 square feet) and will sell the brand’s ready-to-wear clothing as well as bags, shoes, eyewear, and accessories.

A news release highlights the store’s “intentionally eroded concrete façade” and “deconstructed” architecture that Balenciaga says makes for a more environmentally friendly design.

“The resulting structures inherently require fewer virgin materials,” the press release says. “In keeping with Balenciaga’s policies, new stores and renovations aim to reach the highest standards in sustainable practices.”

Balenciaga was founded by Spanish designer Cristóbal Balenciaga, who opened the house’s first official store in Paris, France, in 1937. His work was distinguished by its clean lines and full silhouettes, serving as an inspiration for Paul Thomas Anderson’s film “Phantom Thread.”

The company now operates over 100 stores globally, including 30 in the U.S.

Balenciaga joins the New Zealand-based clothing store Rodd & Gunn, which now appears to be open next to Kate Spade, and the restaurant Empanadas De Mendoza as the most recent additions to Tysons Galleria.

The mall is also expecting to add the furniture store CB2, a CinéBistro movie theater, Crate & Barrel, a Yard House sports bar, and more. Many of the newcomers will fill out the former Macy’s space, which has been redeveloped and divided into smaller units.

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I-495 South just after the American Legion Bridge (via Google Maps)

A Fairfax County police officer’s attempt to stop a reportedly stolen vehicle on I-495 this morning (Wednesday) prompted a high-speed pursuit that extended from McLean to Woodbridge.

The journey began shortly before 5 a.m., when the Fairfax County Police Department notified Virginia State Police that a 2012 Ford Fiesta had been spotted traveling south on I-495 across the American Legion Bridge.

The vehicle had been reported stolen out of New York, according to a VSP news release.

The Virginia State Police says a Fairfax County officer moved to initiate a traffic stop, but the Ford “sped off” at more than 100 miles per hour, leading to a pursuit by state police:

As the stolen vehicle approached Exit 158 on I-95 in Prince William County, the troopers attempted to slow the vehicle and contain it by positioning their vehicles around it. The Ford rammed one of the trooper’s vehicles twice, which caused the police vehicle to spin out and spark a chain reaction crash among a total of three troopers’ vehicles. The Ford kept going.

State police began searching the immediate area for the stolen vehicle and located it a short time later abandoned in a restaurant parking lot in the 2400 block of Prince William Parkway. State police and Prince William County Police K9 teams responded to this location. Shortly after 8 a.m., a 19-year-old female and a 28-year-old male were taken into custody without further incident. Charges are pending.

According to the VSP, five troopers were treated for minor injuries from the crash at the I-95 exit at a nearby hospital, but there were no other vehicles involved or damaged.

No Fairfax County police units were involved in the actual pursuit, an FCPD spokesperson told Tysons Reporter.

State police are still searching for two men who fled the Ford Fiesta, and they’re working with Prince William County police to determine if there’s any connection to the theft of a Honda Civic reported in Woodbridge around 7:25 a.m. today.

“Anyone with information related to this ongoing incident are encouraged to contact the Virginia State Police at 703-803-0026 or #77 on a cell phone, or by email to [email protected],” the VSP said.

Photo via Google Maps

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More than two years after it was vacated, Tequila Grande in Vienna has been reduced to rubble.

Demolition work began last week on the former restaurant, which occupied the corner of Maple Avenue and Nutley Street for roughly four decades. The property will become 444 Maple Ave., a much-debated mixed-use building that will also take over the adjacent Vienna Wolf Trap Hotel.

All buildings on the site are expected to be knocked down by the end of March, says Chris Bell, the senior vice president of acquisition and development for 444 Maple developer Hekemian & Co., Inc.

“After that, we’ll start construction sometime in late spring, early summer,” Bell told Tysons Reporter yesterday (Tuesday).

The Vienna Town Council approved the proposed redevelopment in October 2018, despite opposition from many community members and a moratorium on additional mixed-use development projects imposed just a month earlier.

444 Maple Ave. will replace the restaurant and hotel with a four-story apartment and retail center. The developer intends to build 151 multifamily rental units on top of approximately 20,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space.

Fencing went up around the site last year, with hopes that demolition would begin this past fall. However, supply-chain and cost issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic convinced the developer to push pause on the project, according to Bell.

Though Bell didn’t specify what prompted the project’s resumption beyond that “now seems like a better time,” Hekemian recently selected Tysons Service Corporation as a general contractor, and it received a demolition permit from Fairfax County on Jan. 19.

Vienna’s Board of Architectural Review approved final designs on Oct. 21.

Bell declined to confirm marketing materials that suggest the development has already landed a few tenants, including the pizza chain Mellow Mushroom.

“We are working with several tenants, but we don’t make any comments until the leases are signed,” he said.

After the anticipated start in a few months’ time, the overall timeline for construction gets hazy. Bell says a project of this kind typically takes 18 to 20 months to build.

“We’re just looking forward to getting it started and getting it built,” Bell said. “It’s been a long time coming, and we’re excited about it.”

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Morning Notes

Herrity Criticizes Langley HS Book Display — Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity took issue with a display in Langley High School’s library featuring books “some adults don’t want you to read.” The supervisor later claimed that Fairfax County Public Schools “apologized for the sign on display” and “are now reviewing their policies and procedures.” [Pat Herrity/Twitter]

How to Detect COVID-19 Scams — “Martin Bailey, a member of the Northern Virginia AARP Fraud Watch Network, the Virginia Senior Medicare Patrol and Fairfax County’s Silver Shield Task Force, regularly produces a Scam Slam audio series. And the most recent Scam Slams cover these COVID scams — unsubstantiated COVID-19 treatment claims appearing on social media platforms, phony COVID testing sites and how to get your free COVID test kits.” [Fairfax County Health Department]

Tysons Ritz-Carlton Among Top Virginia Hotels — “We are delighted to share that The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner has been awarded the #9 Best Hotel in Virginia and #20 in Washington, D.C., and has earned a Gold Badge in the Best USA Category by U.S. News and World Report! Thank you to our guests for supporting us through the years and for the #RCMemories shared.” [The Ritz-Carlton Tysons/Facebook]

General Assembly Hits Midpoint — It’s crossover day for the Virginia General Assembly, when the House and Senate take up the other chamber’s bills. The Republican-controlled House has passed a slate of bills favored by Gov. Glenn Youngkin, including restrictions on voting, abortion, and school curriculums, while the Democratic Senate has mostly blocked the governor’s agenda. [The Washington Post]

McLean Budget Forum Scheduled — With the new proposed county government budget set to be unveiled next Tuesday (Feb. 22), the McLean Citizens Association will host a free, virtual public forum on the topic on Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. Participants will include Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust, School Board Representative Elaine Tholen, and County Executive Bryan Hill. [MCA]

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Morning Notes

Fairfax County Native Earns Super Bowl Ring — “Years before making it to the most elite game in football, Nick Scott, the starting safety for the Rams, suited up for Fairfax High School, where he wowed fans, connected with coaches, and made lifelong friendships.” [FCPS/Inside NoVA]

Vienna Reexamines Leaf Collection Practices — The Vienna Town Council will hold a public hearing on March 21 to get feedback on potential changes to the town’s practice of collecting leaves and turning them into mulch. Alternatives proposed by a contractor would eliminate mulch delivery and the use of a controversial facility on Beulah Road. [Sun Gazette]

Valentine’s Cards Delivered to School Employees — “7,000 personal valentine cards were delivered to FCPS staff members in more than 40 schools last week as a part of the @VolunteerFFX annual #Valentines Challenge. Thank you @GrandInvolve & all who supported the effort!” [FCPS/Twitter]

Masks No Longer Required in Falls Church City Schools — Falls Church City Public Schools now allows parents to opt their children out of wearing masks, following through on a plan announced last month as COVID-19 cases continue to fall. Students who aren’t wearing masks and haven’t been vaccinated are required to participate in weekly PCR testing screenings. [WTOP]

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Roberto’s Ristorante Italiano is now open in Vienna (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Chef Roberto Donna has officially arrived in the Town of Vienna.

As promised, Roberto’s Ristorante Italiano opened its doors at 144 Church Street NW last Tuesday (Feb. 8), and owner Nancy Sabbagh, wife of the once-troubled star chef, says the first week of business has been a success.

“We’ve gotten such amazing support from past patrons,” Sabbagh told Tysons Reporter today (Monday), while preparing for what she anticipates to be a busy Valentine’s Day.

that the new restaurant has already gotten customers from as far away as D.C. and Bethesda, Maryland.

Inspired by the couple’s experiences traveling in Italy, the menu posted in the restaurant’s front window primarily features seafood and pasta dishes, along with desserts and espresso.

Online ordering isn’t available yet, but the website indicates it will be coming soon. While not required, Sabbagh recommends that customers reserve a table, since the dining room is limited in size, and she wants to be able to give adequate attention to each patron.

Reservations can be made online or by calling 703-223-5336.

Roberto’s is currently open from 5-9 p.m. on Mondays through Thursdays and from 5-10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Sabbagh says they decided to close the restaurant on Sundays to give staff “a uniform day off.”

Donna rose to acclaim with the popular D.C. restaurant Galileo in the 1980s but ran into legal troubles with the shuttered Bebo Trattoria in Crystal City. Aside from a stint at Al Dente D.C., Roberto’s is his first full restaurant since an ill-fated attempt at a comeback in 2011.

Hat tip to Liz Sues on Twitter for the alert about Roberto’s opening.

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Dolley Madison Library is preparing for Mardi Gras with a mask-making event this week (via Thomas Park/Unsplash)

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

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

Monday, Feb. 14

  • One Fairfax (Online) — 3:15-4 p.m. — The Tysons Regional Chamber of Commerce talks to Fairfax County Chief Equity Officer Karla Bruce about the One Fairfax policy, which requires local leaders to consider social and racial equity issues when making decisions. The event is free for members.

Tuesday, Feb. 15

  • The Fire of Frederick Douglass (Online) — 6:30-7:30 p.m. — University of Maryland professor Dr. Richard Bell discusses Douglass’s life, career, and legacy, covering his escape from slavery to his work as an abolitionist. Register a day in advance to receive a link to the virtual event.

Wednesday, Feb. 16

  • Code Create Vienna — 6-8 p.m. at Vienna Town Hall (127 Center St. S) — Vienna’s planning staff hosts a community conversation on the town’s draft zoning code update. The discussion will focus on proposed changes to uses and standards in residential areas.

Thursday, Feb. 17

  • The Phlebotomist — 7:30-10 p.m. at 1st Stage Theater (1524 Spring Hill Rd.) — 1st Stage returns with the regional premiere of this dystopian sci-fi romance, written by Ella Road. The play will be performed on Thursdays through Sundays until March 6. Masks and proof of COVID-19 vaccination are required.

Friday, Feb. 18

  • Kindness Cards — 4-5 p.m. at Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library (7584 Leesburg Pike) — Extend the Valentine’s Day mood of cherishing loved ones by making a kindness card for someone special. Registration is required.
  • Snack & Paint Night — 7-9 p.m. at the Old Firehouse Center (1440 Chain Bridge Rd.) — Beginners and experts alike can grab some snacks and express themselves through painting with a professional art teacher. The $5 fee covers food and supplies, and registration is recommended but not required.
  • Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo — 7 p.m. at McLean Community Center (1234 Ingleside Ave.) — Also known as The Trocks, a diverse all-male ballet company based in New York performs. Tickets start at $30 for MCC district residents and $40 for non-residents.

Saturday, Feb. 19

  • Skills for Scouts: Knot Tying — 10 a.m. at Lewinsville Historic House (1659 Chain Bridge Rd.) — This program for people 10 and older will teach everything Boy Scouts need to know about making ropes and tying knots, including squares, half hitches, and a bowline. Enrollment costs $11.
  • Mardi Gras Masks! — 2-4 p.m. at Dolley Madison Library (1244 Oak Ridge Ave.) — Decorate your own mask to prepare for the annual celebration that, for Christians, precedes Lent fasting and, for everyone else, is just an excuse to party. All supplies will be provided, but advance registration is required.
  • Sal Vulcano — 7 p.m. at Capital One Hall (7750 Capital One Tower Rd.) — Get some laughs in from Staten Island native Sal Vulcano, the comedian known for the reality TV show “Impractical Jokers” and game show “The Misery Index.” Masks and proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test are required.

Sunday, Feb. 20

  • The Miró Quartet — 3 p.m. at The Barns (1635 Trap Rd.) — The classical string quartet returns to Wolf Trap National Park to perform work by Franz Joseph Haydn, Maurice Ravel, and contemporary composer Kevin Puts. Doors open at 1:30 p.m. Masks and proof of vaccination or a negative test are required.
  • The Marshall Tucker Band — 7:30 p.m. at Capital One Hall — The southern rock band from South Carolina brings its 50th anniversary tour to Tysons with Traffic guitarist Dave Mason as a special guest. Masks and proof of vaccination or a negative test are required.

Photo via Thomas Park/Unsplash

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