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Wade Hampton Drive in Vienna (via Google Maps)

As Fairfax County moves to rename two major highways, efforts to reexamine the names of landmarks referencing the country’s racist past are making their way to the Town of Vienna.

The Vienna Town Council is slated to vote Monday (Jan. 24) to schedule a public hearing on possibly renaming Wade Hampton Drive, a small neighborhood street southwest of Maple Avenue.

The council was scheduled to vote on Jan. 3, but the meeting got canceled by snow. Town public information officer Karen Thayer told Tysons Reporter that the public hearing will likely be set for Feb. 7.

Wade Hampton Drive was one of several Vienna sites included in a report of Confederate street names, monuments, and public places that the Fairfax County History Commission compiled in December 2020.

The town adopted the name in the 1960s in reference to Wade Hampton III, a lieutenant general for the Confederacy who later worked against Reconstruction efforts and raised money for the Ku Klux Klan. He served as governor of South Carolina for two years after a notoriously corrupt election.

If the council eventually approves a name change, it’s unclear what the replacement will be. The small street contains just four residences, a dentist’s office, and the Sunrise assisted living facility that’s now under construction.

Vienna Mayor Linda Colbert formed an ad hoc committee last year to study the issue and propose a new name. The committee consisted of two property owners on the street and two members of the nonprofit Historic Vienna, which operates the Freeman Store and Museum and the Little Library Museum.

After meeting in March, April, and May, the group recommended changing Wade Hampton Drive’s name but couldn’t reach a consensus on what it should be called instead.

One proposal was to use Roland Street, which would extend an existing road that links Wade Hampton to Nutley Street. Other suggestions included Carter Lane or Drive, Mildred Lane (or variants of Mildred Drive or Loving Drive), Liberty Lane, and Minor Drive.

According to documents from the committee, at least one member expressed opposition to Roland Street in a June 1 letter to the mayor and council:

Many of my Great Aunts and Uncles spoke about J.B. Roland was a Confederate sympathizer and a racist. As I have learned from my Grandparents and father that ‘Old Man Roland’ supported the Confederacy and he was a Confederate soldier.

Roland Street was not listed in the Fairfax County History Commission’s Confederate names inventory.

The committee’s two Historic Vienna members — DeArmond Carter and Gloria Runyon — advocated for Carter Drive or Lane in recognition of their ancestors, the Carter family, who have lived in Vienna since 1859 and counted a Union spy and major landowners among their members.

Alex Gallegos, a resident on the affected street, raised concerns that committee members proposing a street name to highlight their own family could create conflicts of interest.

The four families on the affected street said that, if Roland Street is ruled out, they would favor a reference to Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving, the couple behind the Supreme Court case that legalized interracial marriages nationwide.

Photo via Google Maps

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Tysons Corner Center is getting an up-close-and-personal look at reproductions of Michelangelo’s famous ceiling paintings from the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel.

An art exhibit that’s made its way through cities across the globe is coming to the mall on Jan. 28 for a month-long showing. Called “The Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition,” it features high-definition photos and printings that emulate the brushstrokes of the 16th century artwork.

“This exhibition gives visitors a chance to engage with Rome’s most iconic treasures in ways that were never possible,” said Martin Biallas, CEO of the Los Angeles-based event planning company group SEE Global Entertainment, producer of the exhibit.

The show will occur from Wednesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., taking place in a 10,000 square-foot space on the mall’s lower level across from H&M.

A timed ticketing system is in place to limit capacity and allow for social distancing, according to a press release.

Visitors have already snatched up all of the dates in January for the first three days of the show.

While visitors to the historic Sistine Chapel can view the artwork from around 66 feet away, that’s reduced to around 13 feet with the show, the company says on its website.

“This exhibition is like a sanctuary; you’re transformed into a completely different world,” said Biallas, who produced the exhibit after seeing the ceiling frescoes in person.

“When I visited the Sistine Chapel in Rome, there were long lines and we were rushed through,” he said. “This exhibit at Tysons Corner Center allows everyone an opportunity to see the amazing art at their pace and up-close, at an affordable price, and enjoy an inspiring and unforgettable experience.”

Tickets generally range from $19 to $23 per adult plus fees, but family bundles and other discounts are available for seniors, students and the military. Visitors can also purchase audio guides.

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

Tuesday, Jan. 18

  • Baby Lapsit Storytime — 10:30-11 a.m. at Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library (7584 Leesburg Pike) — Enjoy books, songs and bounces for children up to 18 months old.

Wednesday, Jan. 19

  • Traveling While Black— noon-8 p.m. at the McLean Community Center (1234 Ingleside Ave.) — A virtual reality movie shows participants’ part in the struggle for racial justice. One-hour appointments are available for the exhibit, which runs through Feb. 12.

Thursday, Jan. 20

  • Ballerina Boys” — 1 p.m. at The Alden (1234 Ingleside Ave.) — A film shows a glimpse of an iconoclastic group, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, also known as The Trocks, a diverse all-male ballet company based in New York. Free, but registration is required.

Friday, Jan. 21

  • The Dinner Party— 8-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Vienna Community Center (120 Cherry St. Southeast) — The Vienna Theatre Company presents playwright Neil Simon’s one-act play, a comedy about marriage and divorce that centers around strangers gathering for an unorthodox dinner party. Tickets are $15. There are additional performances through Feb. 6.

Saturday, Jan. 22

  • Albert Lee — 8 p.m. at Jammin Java (227 Maple Ave. East) — The British guitar legend behind “Country Boy” and part of Grammy Award-winning group performances with “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” and “Cluster Pick” comes to Vienna with his full band. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets start at $20.

Sunday, Jan. 23

  • D’DAT — 4 p.m. at McLean Community Center (1234 Ingleside Ave.) — A combination hip-hop and jazz group featured by NPR and TEDxABQ performs. Cost starts at $10 for McLean residents.
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Shake Shack will be the occupant of a new drive-thru fast-food restaurant proposed for Pike 7 Plaza (8350 Leesburg Pike) in Tysons.

The tenant’s name was revealed at a public hearing held on Wednesday (Jan. 12) by the Fairfax County Planning Commission, which recommended approving a special exception request for the project.

Pike 7 Plaza’s existing restaurant offerings include Honeygrow, MOD Pizza, Panera, and more.

Property owner Federal Realty Investment Trust plans to construct a 3,600 square-foot building in the shopping center’s parking lot off of Route 7. It will be a sit-down restaurant with outdoor seating and a pick-up window, though drive-thru customers will need to order by phone beforehand.

“You’re not going to see folks…sitting in the drive-thru, perusing the menu, trying to figure out what they want, paying and ordering. That’s all going to happen ahead of time,” said McGuireWoods land use planner Michael Van Atta, who represented Federal Realty at the hearing.

The freestanding restaurant is expected to operate from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. with an estimated 10 to 15 employees per shift, county planner Mary Ann Tsai said. The drive-thru lane will accommodate 11 to 12 vehicles, but Van Atta suggested the lines will be much smaller because of the pre-order requirement.

The restaurant is part of Federal Realty’s efforts to adapt to dining trends accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which included the introduction of a contactless pick-up program at all of its D.C.-area shopping centers in May 2020.

“This new drive-through restaurant is needed in response to structural shifts in the retail economy that are really increasing the reliance on pickup options as a part of retail operations…particularly in the last couple of years,” Van Atta said.

Shake Shack has seen a sharp increase in coronavirus cases among staff during the current nationwide surge, affecting its hours, Chief Financial Officer Katie Fogertey told investors on Tuesday (Jan. 11), adding that she expected those trends to continue.

Known for its burgers and milkshakes, Shake Shack began as a hot dog stand in New York City and now boasts 275 locations around the world, including a spot on the Plaza at Tysons Corner Center.

The company is new to drive-thrus, debuting its first in Minnesota on Dec. 6, but it intends to expand that side of its business, with a goal of opening 10 drive-thru restaurants by the end of 2022.

“We opened our first-ever drive-thru locations in Maple Grove, Minnesota and Lee’s Summit, Missouri,” Shake Shack CEO Randy Garutti said for the company’s fourth-quarter update. “Early results for these two Shacks are encouraging, and we look forward to continuing to expand our drive-thru footprint in the years to come.”

Shake Shack didn’t immediately return FFXnow’s request for comment.

Shake Shack is also adding traditional, sit-down restaurants, including at the Mosaic District. Fairfax County issued a construction permit and other approvals for the site this past fall.

To make room for the new building, Federal Realty plans to relocate electric vehicle charging stations across from Panera to another part of the parking lot. Landscaping and a ramp from Route 7 compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act would be added between the restaurant and the thoroughfare.

With the planning commission’s support, the project will now go before the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors for a public hearing and final approval on Feb. 22.

Photo via Bryce Edwards/Flickr

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A nonprofit is looking to build affordable housing in Tysons by the Spring Hill Metro station (via KGD Architecture/Fairfax County)

The Fairfax County Planning Commission gave the go-ahead yesterday (Wednesday) to a 175-unit housing development in Tysons that will be restricted to lower-income residents.

The nonprofit Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) has proposed building a 175,000 square-foot residential complex with green space and a three-story, partially underground parking garage at 1592 Spring Hill Road.

“APAH is thrilled to bring to forward this innovative model of high-quality, scalable, urban, affordable housing within ¼ mile of metro, jobs, planned green space, amenities proving that affordable housing can be done in the highest areas of opportunity in the Region,” APAH President and CEO Carmen Romero said in an email.

With the rezoning approval, the affordable housing developer will apply for Low Income Housing Tax Credit funding. It declined to say how much it will seek and whether getting the credit is mandatory for the project, though the nonprofit says it’s confident it will advance. An application is due in March.

APAH will build 35 three-bedroom units, 105 two-bedroom units, and 35 one-bedroom units, all available to individuals and families who earn 30% to 60% of the area’s median income.

“This is a project that is the exact type of Metro-accessible, affordable housing that the county wants to attract, and it’s something that has been difficult to achieve,” attorney Scott Adams, representing the developer, said during the planning commission’s public hearing.

The building will have solar energy on its roof and ground-floor services for residents. It could feature up to 5,000 square feet of retail uses, though Adams suggested the current project might not include any retail business.

While the approved application shows a park at the property, APAH says it intends to build additional affordable housing with a retail element. Plans show a future building listed as C5.

The property is part of Dominion Square West, a plan to redevelop 7.6 acres of parking lots and car dealerships along Spring Hill Road with residential and office buildings.

At least one dealership, however, will remain for the foreseeable future after the land was sold in September to the owner of Ourisman Automotive, which currently occupies the parcel.

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An orange line shows the proposed route of the new Washington Gas line (via Google Maps)

Opposition to a natural gas pipeline planned for Pimmit Hills resurfaced yesterday (Wednesday), as residents voiced concerns about safety and other issues at a Fairfax County Board of Zoning Appeals public hearing.

Washington Gas has sought to upgrade its infrastructure in the area since 2012, but citizen appeals have stalled the project, which will turn a 3-mile line along Route 7 into a 5-mile route circling around Tysons.

In video testimonies submitted to the zoning appeals board, Pimmit Hills residents expressed fears of gas ruptures and a potential explosion affecting homes where the new pipeline could be built.

The appeals board postponed a decision on the matter to Feb. 2 due to a lack of time. Video testimony is scheduled to be heard at that time along with additional questioning, staff comments and rebuttals.

Dubbed the Tysons Strip One Project, the proposed pipeline would replace a nearly 70-year-old, 14-inch-wide line with a new, higher pressure one that’s 2 feet in width.

While it will distribute gas to homes, the new pipeline won’t directly hook up to residences, according to a lawyer representing Washington Gas.

The case before the appeals board was initiated by four homeowners who objected to the county’s finding from July 23, 2021 that the project doesn’t need special exception approval. A staff report agreed with zoning administrator Leslie Johnson, saying the residents’ appeal lacked merit.

Residents Christina Chen Zinner, Kurt Iselt, Sarah Ellis, and Lillian Whitesell argue that there should be more oversight of the utility work.

“The [Fairfax County Board of Supervisors] is not even being allowed…to exercise its discretion and protect its…constituents,” Evan Johns, an attorney for the group, said.

Light or Heavy Utility Facility?

The case before the zoning appeals board hinges on a disagreement over whether the pipeline should be considered a light or heavy utility facility.

The residents’ attorneys argue that it’s a heavy utility facility, which isn’t permitted by Pimmit Hills’ residential district.

County staff see the pipeline as a light utility facility, which is exempt from zoning regulations when in a Virginia Department of Transportation right-of-way and intended for consumer distribution.

“A heavy utility use is a major component of an infrastructure system,” Johnson said. “I think it’s clear that it’s not a heavy utility facility.” Read More

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Earl Green, the executive chef at 29 Diner, plates an order at the Vienna Moose Lodge (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

As the 29 Diner recovers from a devastating fire in the fall, a community organization in Vienna has teamed up with the historic Fairfax restaurant’s cooking staff to revamp its menu and run catering and charitable campaigns.

The Vienna Moose Lodge #1896 welcomed the diner’s executive chef, Earl Green, to work on Monday (Jan. 10) in a temporary setup to provide meals to lodge members through events like all-you-can-eat breakfasts on Sunday mornings.

“Most of the members who are on the board have been into the diner at one time or another in the last 10, 20 years,” the lodge’s president, Dan Sullivan, said. “I’ve been going there since I was in high school.”

The collaboration began when lodge board member Scott Flesch reached out to 29 Diner owner John Wood in the wake of the fire that destroyed the diner’s kitchen two days before Thanksgiving.

Wood said the kitchen was a total loss, but his insurance company gave him the go-ahead to proceed with a rebuild. Work will require gutting and reconstructing the kitchen, and the dining room needs fire, soot, and heat remediation.

“Our community just has rallied around us in support,” Wood said.

Local teachers started a GoFundMe that raised over $60,000 in 30 days, and the Salvation Army delivered a mobile kitchen to the restaurant at 10:30 a.m. the next day after the fire.

The business has provided 100,000 free meals over the last two years to the community, including those living in domestic violence shelters, health care workers, and veterans, Wood said.

Through the new partnership, the Vienna Moose Lodge — a fraternal organization that provides social events for members and supports philanthropic groups — has hired Wood and Green as paid workers. Four other diner staff members will also get interim work.

The diner had been using the Salvation Army’s mobile cooking unit temporarily to run operations, but it needed something more stable.

Wood expressed appreciation for the lodge’s support. He will run his catering business out of its hall at 9616 Courthouse Road in Vienna starting this month as part of a rental agreement.

He also plans to continue campaigns recognizing community heroes, such as an ongoing a suicide prevention effort.

As for 29 Diner’s Fairfax Boulevard location, Woods hopes to reopen on July 20, which would coincide with the diner’s 75th anniversary.

Meanwhile, the lodge has welcomed the temporary staff to its kitchen after previously relying on volunteers.

“We’re looking forward to some different foods,” Sullivan said, noting that his favorites from 29 Diner include shrimp and grits and a dish with mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, and pork chops. “In the end, hopefully he will show us and the new staff that we’ll eventually hire in the future to continue…his good food going forward.”

Founded in 1958, the Vienna Moose Lodge is part of the Moose International Fraternity, which started in 1888 in Louisville, Kentucky, and now has over 1 million members across 1,500 lodges in the U.S., Canada, and Britain.

The Vienna lodge has seen a significant growth in membership in recent months, adding 122 members since April to reach 405 people, according to Sullivan.

“I can anticipate we’ll sign up some new members just because John has come to help us,” he said.

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A COVID-19 testing company with a location in Falls Church is the subject of numerous complaints from across the U.S. about its practices.

Attorneys general offices from Minnesota to Washington state have gotten complaints about testing sites run by the Center for COVID Control, according to USA Today. Reported issues have included results being delayed or not sent at all, and participants receiving identical QR codes for results from a lab at one testing center in Houston.

Center for COVID Control only has one testing site in Northern Virginia, located at 821 W Broad Street in Falls Church. A representative from the company said it’s in a parking lot for a dermatology business.

The Fairfax County Health Department, Virginia Department of Health, and state attorney general’s office said they’ve received no complaints about the business, which says it provides free testing at over 275 locations.

The company’s Twitter also says it provides rapid tests for $100.

However, local residents have expressed concerns on Nextdoor, and the company has received complaints from the Better Business Bureau stating that the centers asked to see individuals’ driver licenses and didn’t send results. One person questioned the timestamps on the results.

“Was the testing actually done? Is the result accurate?” the person wrote.

The need for testing comes as Fairfax County averages three times more coronavirus cases this January than it did during last winter’s peak.

The company didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Neither the county nor the state health department sanctions testing sites, but VDH has a map of locations that provide testing, and users can filter by free testing sites.

Virginia also plans to add nine community testing centers across the state, including one in Fairfax County, that will provide free PCR tests.

VDH spokesperson Cheryle Rodriguez said that individuals should immediately report any suspected COVID-19 health care fraud through an online form or by calling 800-HHS-TIPS (800-447-8477).

The Office of the Attorney General said if people believe they have a complaint against a business, they should reach out to its Consumer Protection Section.

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

Monday, Jan. 10

  • Amateur Art! — 6-8 p.m. at Dolley Madison Library (1244 Oak Ridge Ave.) — Explore your creativity. Supplies provided. Registration required.

Tuesday, Jan. 11

  • The Overtones — 7:30 p.m. at Jammin Java (227 Maple Ave East) — An a cappella group tied to James Madison University performs music worthy of Hollywood and Nashville. Cost is $15. Doors open at 6 p.m.

Wednesday, Jan. 12

  • Chair & Mat Yoga Class — 10-11 a.m. virtually — Traditional yoga incorporates a chair as part of a relaxing meditation.

Thursday, Jan. 13

  • Virtual Storytime Fun (Online) — 10:30-11 a.m. — The Dolley Madison Library children’s librarians bring songs, activities, and stories to your home.

Friday, Jan. 14

  • The Daryl Davis Band — 7 p.m. at the McLean Community Center (1234 Ingleside Ave.) — Pianist Daryl Davis kick off a weekend of Martin Luther King Jr. events, which includes Davis speaking at 2 p.m. Sunday (Jan. 16). Cost starts at $20.
  • Make Me Happy — 11 a.m.-6 p.m. at Falls Church Arts Gallery (700-B W. Broad St.) — Check out the works of three dozen artists, centered on works that make people smile. Free. Continues through Jan. 30.

Saturday, Jan. 15

Sunday, Jan. 16

  • “Traveling While Black” — noon-6 p.m. at the McLean Community Center (1234 Ingleside Ave.) — A virtual reality movie shows participants’ part in the struggle for racial justice. One-hour appointments are available for the exhibit, which runs through Feb. 12.
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An aerial view of the old Gallows Road bridge in October 2021 next to the new span currently serving two-way traffic (via VDOT)

Eastbound drivers on I-66 can expect overnight delays this week as crews demolish the old Gallows Road bridge in Merrifield.

Crews are taking apart an old concrete deck with jack hammers, saw cutters, and hoe rams. The overnight work began last night (Sunday) and will repeat each night through Jan. 16.

A new Gallows Road bridge opened to traffic in October as part of the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project, which is adding express lanes, upgrading interchanges, replacing bridges, and improving pedestrian routes along 22 miles of the interstate from I-495 in Dunn Loring to Gainesville.

The hazardous conditions mean that three lanes on I-66 are closed to eastbound traffic starting at 10 p.m. each night this week. They will reopen at 5 a.m. on weekdays and 7 a.m. on the weekend.

“Drivers should expect periodic stoppages of up to 20 minutes nightly Sunday through Thursday between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m., and Friday and Saturday between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.,” the Virginia Department of Transportation said in a news release.

Gallows Road will remain open, but there will be traffic shifts at times, and changes could occur. VDOT noted that people can receive project updates via email by signing up on its website.

The new Gallows Road bridge, which currently has four lanes, will eventually shift to just a northbound link over I-66. Once crews finish the demolition work, a new southbound bridge will be built.

“The bridge will include three lanes southbound and two lanes northbound (with width to add a third northbound lane in the future),” Justin McNaul, with the engineering consulting firm ATCS that’s assisting VDOT, said in an email.

The new bridge will be longer and wider than its predecessor. It will also feature 5-foot-wide bicycle lanes in each direction with a sidewalk to the north and barrier-separated path to the south in an effort to improve access, including to the Dunn Loring-Merrifield Metro station.

The bridge is slated to be completed in the fall, and the new I-66 express lanes are expected to open in December.

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