Tysons, VA

The Vienna Market is moving forward in the Town of Vienna after a long back-and-forth over the project’s designs.

The project plans to replace the Marco Polo building and other surrounding properties with 44 condominiums and 8,200 square feet of retail space — along with an underground parking garage — to 245  W. Maple Avenue. Vienna’s Board of Architectural Review approved the project in chunks, with the final approval on Sept. 19.

But in October, Residents Charles and Laura Anderson sought to appeal the BAR’s approval of the rear architectural designs and plans for the Vienna Market, claiming that the approved plans — especially the rear facades — violated the Maple Avenue general design criteria and the Town Code.

At that meeting, the developers, NV Homes and Northfield, proposed a compromise — wrapping brick from the front onto the rear of townhomes — to make the rear facades consistent with the front and side facades.

The Town Council approved a motion to modify the BAR’s decisions on Sept. 19 and Aug. 15 regarding the four rear facades of the townhomes.

After the BAR’s work session last Friday (Nov. 1), the Town Council approved the architectural changes on Monday (Nov. 4).

“This decision establishes that the term ‘public view’ applies to all facades of commercial buildings visible from a public street,” Councilmember Pasha Majdi said.

Councilmember Nisha Patel lauded the developer and community working together to reach a compromise.

“I think it’s a great win-win,” Patel said.

“I think this makes for a better project,” Mayor Laurie DiRocco said.

Image via Town of Vienna

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Sunrise is eyeing the site of an approved mixed-use development after the Vienna Town Council killed plans for a Sunrise facility farther up Maple Avenue.

Now, Sunrise wants to open an assisted living facility at 380 Maple Avenue, according to a Nov. 1 submission to the town.

That spot is currently the site of a contentious, approved redevelopment, which would add a four-floor building with ground-floor retail and multi-family condominium units at 380 Maple Avenue.

From Families to Seniors

The Vienna Town Council approved the plans for 380 Maple Avenue in June. But after new councilmembers joined in July, the Vienna Town Council decided to hold a public hearing on possibly rescinding the rezoning application.

In September, Dennis Rice, the owner and developer behind an approved mixed-use development at 380 Maple Avenue, told the Vienna Town Council that selling the project to an assisted living facility could address neighbors’ lingering concerns.

“I think the town needs an assisted living facility, and it’s a good location for it,” Rice told the council in September, adding that having the development house seniors instead of families would eliminate concerns about the number of new students going to local schools.

First Proposed Facility Faced Backlash

Sunrise’s original plans to bring a facility to the Maple Avenue and Center Street received a myriad of concerns from residents and councilmembers over parking, retail and the downtown location.

In June, outgoing Councilmember Tara Bloch put forward a motion to approve the project, which would have needed five “yes” votes to pass because of a protest petition, and the Town Council ended up rejecting the proposed 82-unit facility with a 3-4 vote.

A month later, Sunrise Senior Living decided to sue Vienna officials for $30 million, alleging that the Town Council’s rejection violated the Virginia Fair Housing Law by discriminating against seniors and people with disabilities and that the Town Council treated Sunrise differently from other developers seeking rezoning under the Maple Avenue Commercial Zone.

The Town of Vienna disputes the allegation that the council violated the Virginia Fair Housing Law, according to Town Attorney Steve Briglia.

Next Steps 

Town officials will soon look over Sunrise’s new plans.

The Board of Architectural Review is scheduled to discuss the facility at its work session tomorrow (Friday) at 8 a.m.

Next Wednesday (Nov. 13), the Planning Commission’s work session is set to focus on a proposed proffer amendment and conditional use permit for Sunrise.

Image via Town of Vienna 

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(Updated at 8:30 p.m.) As plans move forward on the Vienna Police Department’s new police station, Vienna officials are now figuring out where the police station will relocate.

The town has been reviewing designs for the new police station at 215 S. Center Street for the last few months.

Town Attorney Steven Briglia told the town’s Planning Commission at the end of October that the police department has a spot in mind for the temporary relocation.

Briglia said that the town fortuitously acquired a piece of property at 440 Beulah Road that has a house in spring 2018.

“We acquired that piece of property because it makes sense. It’s right next to the entrance there. It squares up the lot and it makes a prime piece of public property even better,” Briglia said.

While the police detectives are working in the basement of Town Hall and plan to stay there until the new station is finished, Briglia said that the Beulah Street house is a good spot to relocate the police department.

“It turns out it might be — the chief thinks it’s a good spot for a temporary relocation of the police department — at least some of the operations there,” Briglia said.

Construction on the new station is expected to last two years, Briglia said.

While there’s a “zoning snag” that would complicate the Planning Commission approving the relocation to the site, Briglia said that the town “doesn’t really have any other facility” for the police department to use.

The Planning Commission gets to decide if it wants to recommend approval of the temporary site use to the Board of Zoning Appeals, Briglia told Tysons Reporter.

“We have to have a police department headquarters somewhere,” Briglia said.

Map via Google Maps, images via Town of Vienna

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Work on the Archer Hotel is now underway as part of the Scotts Run project in Tysons East.

Cityline Partner’s mixed-use development also includes several apartments and office buildings and retail space, along with the completed 425-unit apartment complex called The Haden and the 14-story office building Mitre 4.

Construction company Hensel Phelps and Lodgeworks, the developer of the Archer Hotel collection, held a groundbreaking ceremony earlier today (Wednesday) for the hotel.

The hotel plans to accommodate 178 guests and will feature a rooftop terrace, event space, fitness studio and a bar and restaurant operated by chef Charlie Palmer.

The hotel is designed by LK Architecture — the same firm behind the Tysons Walmart and Hyatt House in Merrifield.

“The dynamic Scotts Run development is destined to be a new walkable urban village and will attract a wonderful cross-section of guests,” according to Hensel Phelps’ website.

The preliminary opening timeline for the hotel’s opening is summer 2021, according to Hensel Phelps.

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Some parts of the design plans for the Vienna Market project are heading back to the drawing table.

Back in the spring, Vienna’s Board of Architectural Review (BAR) called the proposed plans rigid, plain and unbecoming for Maple Avenue and continued working with the developer to tweak the plans.

The project plans to replace the Marco Polo building and other surrounding properties with 44 condominiums and 8,200 square feet of retail space — along with an underground parking garage — to 245  W. Maple Avenue.

The BAR approved the project in chunks, with the final approval on Sept. 19.

Appeal Attempt 

Residents Charles and Laura Anderson sought to get the Board of Architectural Review’s approval of the rear architectural designs and plans for the Vienna Market appealed.

In a letter dated Oct. 1 to the town clerk, the Andersons claimed that the approved plans violate the Maple Avenue general design criteria and the Town Code, saying that the facades of the rear are not consistent with the front and side facades.

“As approved, the rear facades of four of the five townhouse rows along the proposed Vienna Market Lane consist almost entirely of siding material with no brick; whereas the front and side facades consist almost entirely of brick with no siding,” the Andersons wrote.

The Town Council considered the appeal at a meeting on Monday (Oct. 21).

“Since the structures won’t be coming out of the ground, I’m told, until November or December at the very earliest, there’s time to do this and get it right,” Charles Anderson said at the meeting.

Anderson’s concerns seemed to resonate with many residents and some of the councilmembers.

“I’m concerned that [if] I lived back there I would want to be looking at something halfway decent,” Councilmember Howard Springsteen said.

Public’s Input 

The Vienna residents who testified during the public hearing about the project on Monday stressed that all of the sides of the buildings can be clearly seen.

“It’s seen from all sides,” one resident testified. “There is really not a back to this building in my opinion.”

Residents asked that the Church Street facade have the same attractiveness as the Pleasant Street and Maple Street facades.

“This is right across the street from the historic district,” another resident said. “We get one chance to get this right.”

Several residents, including the Andersons, said that town officials might be able to avoid future controversies if residents have more opportunities to provide input.

“The citizens of this town need to brought into these conversations in an earlier stage,” Charles Anderson said.

Motion to Move Forward 

After the public hearing, Councilmember Pasha Majdi suggested a motion to reverse the BAR’s decision on Sept. 19 to approve Vienna Market. Repand to BAR

“I have no interest in cutting a deal tonight or making architectural designs,” Majdi said. “I think that’s a poor way to make decisions way outside my expertise.”

After Majdi presented his motion, the developer proposed a compromise that would wrap brick on the rear of two of the four rows of townhomes.

Nisha Patel said that she would like to see a compromise, but wants to see renderings of the proposal.

“I would be really cautious to undo the entire approval that happened at the Sept. 19 because there were a whole bunch of other things that were approved,” Councilmember Douglas Noble said.

Majdi then amended his motion to modify the BAR’s decisions Sept. 19 and Aug. 15 and to direct the BAR to consult with the Town Council before Town Council’s next scheduled meeting on the project.

When Noble proposed an amendment to Majdi’s motion to keep the modification specific to the four rear facades of the townhomes parallel to the Bank of America property and facing Market Square.

The Town Council approved both Noble’s amendment and Majdi’s motion.

“I do think we should move on this as quickly as possible,” Mayor Laurie DiRocco said.

Renderings via Town of Vienna

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The Falls Church Anglican built a new church along Route 50 in the Falls Church area after losing its former sanctuary space.

The new location (6565 Arlington Blvd) is nearly complete and began holding services in September, Zach Kincaid, the church’s spokesperson, said. Now they are looking to finish certain cosmetic projects around the church, including landscaping and interior design. 

The Anglican Church built a new space because they lost their original sanctuary (115 E. Fairfax Street) in a legal battle when they split from the Episcopal Church due to political and religious differences. The Episcopal Church declined to comment.

The new church cost around $16 million, which came from contributions by the congregation and parishioners, Kincaid said.

Before deciding on the Falls Church spot along Route 50, they considered following other parishes that built churches in Loudoun County, where real estate is less expensive, Kincaid. 

“The glue that stuck us to something around here was to be part of this neighborhood still,” he said. “It was a fleeting thought.” 

In total, the new space consists of 16,000 square feet of space divided between two stories, Kincaid said. About 6,000 square feet will be used for a gathering space for children and family, while the remainder will be worship space.

The church has around 900 chairs but typically seats around 1,200 worshipers each Sunday, Kincaid said.

“Lots of people tend to turn their attention to church as Advent comes up,” he said, explaining that membership and attendance tend to increase around Christmas time. 

To engage with the surrounding community, the church invited surrounding neighborhoods to stop by for open houses.

The church shares an office space next door with other professions, such as doctors.

Renovations should be completed soon, Kincaid said, but they currently do not have an exact date. The church is finishing up the permit process with Fairfax County.

Photo courtesy Craig Thoburn

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The birthplace of “Tysons Corner” may soon become the site of new development.

The site at the corner of Route 7 and Route 123 is known by locals as the place where Tysons originated with a tiny country store, according to the Tysons Partnership.

But after almost 100 years in the family, the site is now available to rent out to developers as a ground lease, Janet Caldwell, a relative, told Tysons Reporter.

The family decided to work with real estate firm Cushman and Wakefield to help them find a tenant for the 7 acres of land. The ground lease would allow developers to build on the property while paying rent to the original owners.

“You don’t find parcels of this size in an urban environment,” Paul Collins, the vice-chairman of Cushman and Wakefield, told Tysons Reporter, adding that this is a rare opportunity in the area considering the land’s visibility and close proximity to the Greensboro Metro station.

Less than 2% of development deals are made up of ground leases, Collins said.

He was not sure how much the land would rent for or how long the lease would be. He also couldn’t reveal the identity of the several parties interested in developing the land, but he did say “large international developments tend to be interested in this type of property.”

Once developed, Collins said he imagines the property will become a mix-used development with housing and retail similar to The Boro development nearby.

Photo via Tysons Partnership 

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The McLean Medical Building’s days are numbered now that Sunrise Senior Living is building a senior living facility on the site.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors recently approved the facility, which will add 140 beds, 40 employees at peak times and a public garden, along with open space for private use by the residents.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust praised Sunrise at the meeting on Tuesday (Oct. 15), calling the facility’s public garden “an excellent contribution to downtown McLean.”

Sunrise tried to bring a senior living facility to McLean two years ago.

In 2017, the board nixed Sunrise’s plans to open a facility at 1988 Kirby Road over concerns that it would overwhelm the surrounding residential area and worsen traffic.

“The last time Sunrise came before this board in Dranesville, it wasn’t this much fun,” Foust said. “The funny thing was a lot of the testimony pointed to this [location].”

Now, Sunrise plans to raze the McLean Medical Building on the site at 1515 Chain Bridge Road. A historical link was uncovered earlier this year tying the building, which is not listed on any official historical register, to the doctor behind the first polio vaccine.

“They have taken the perfect site and done it exactly right,” Foust said.

First image via DPZ, second image via Fairfax County

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A new tower is coming to Tysons’ skyline and snapping up the “tallest building in the region” title.

The tower is apart of Clemente Development Co. plans for The View development, which won approval from the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors last night (Tuesday).

The mixed-use development by the Spring Hill Metro station will add six buildings, including the 600-foot-tall building that will reach higher than Capital One’s headquarters.

Known as the Iconic Tower, building plans to capitalize on its height with a publicly-accessible botanical garden and observation deck.

The development has been praised for its varied building heights and sleek design, but the Iconic Tower’s height of 600 feet — 200 feet above the maximum for Tysons buildings– has received some criticism from the McLean Citizens Association.

Dale Stein, the president of MCA, said that the height “breaks the trust of the community.”

However, the supervisors felt differently.

Providence District Supervisor Linda Smyth said that the height creates an architectural statement that will help define downtown Tysons.

“If we keep that 400-foot level… we will have a collection of 400-foot shoeboxes defining our skyline in Tysons,” Smyth said, adding that people are “starting to see that already.”

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust said that while he understands the MCA’s position about the height, “I don’t necessarily agree with that concern.”

Supervisors also lauded the development’s planned entertainment uses, which include a black box theater, art walk and open-air theater, along with a nearby community center.

“We’re no longer suburbia,” Smyth said. “We are going into the future with this.”

Image via Fairfax County

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At the developer’s request, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is pushing its consideration of single-family homes in Merrifield to January.

Toll Mid-Atlantic LP Company is looking to knock down the existing house and structures by the Bear Branch stream valley and Lee Hwy to build 28 homes.

The redevelopment would keep about 35% of the property as open space. Each home would have a two-car garage, a 15-foot front yard setback and a 20-foot rear yard setback, according to the plans.

The Planning Commission recommended approval of the proposed infill project in September.

The proposal was set to have a public hearing before the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors today (Oct. 15), but the developer requested that the public hearing get pushed to the second board meeting in January.

Images via Fairfax County 

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