Finding a place to live in Tysons can be difficult, even outside of the problems with affordable housing.
Jonathan LaCroix from the Tysons Regional Chamber of Commerce noted that the ratio of jobs to housing units in the area is lopsided, with roughly 100,000 jobs but only 19,000 residents. So for those hoping to live a little closer to where they work the housing market can be scarce and expensive.
To help, Tysons Reporter has put together a list of apartments and condominiums available to rent or buy currently and a look at housing coming down the pipeline over the next few years.
According to apartments.com and other sources, these are the places in Tysons that are available for rent:
- The Adaire (1521 Boyd Pointe Way) – Price range from $1,723 to $3,445
- The Ascent (8421 Broad St) – Price range from $1,753 to $3,509
- The Commons of McLean (1653 Anderson Rd) – Price range from $1,585 to $3,450
- Eaves Tysons Corner (1723 Gosnell Rd) – Price range from$1,655 to $2,100
- Dolley Madison Apartments at Tysons (1805 Wilson Ln) – Price range from $1,695 to $2,195
- Haden (1575 Anderson Rd) – Price range from $1,569 to $6,370
- Highgate at the Mile (7915 Jones Branch Dr) – Price range from $1,610 to $4,889
- The Kingston (7480 Birdwood Ave) – Price range from $1,965 to $4,500
- Nouvelle (7911 Westpark Dr) – Price range from $1,709 to $8,282
- Post Tysons Corner (1526 Lincoln Circle) – Price range from $1,600 – $3,330
- Vita Tysons Corner (7902 Tysons One Pl) – Price range from $1,654 to $7,965
Several apartments and condominiums are clumped together at Park Crest just north of Tysons Galleria:
- Avalon Park Crest (8250 Westpark Dr) – Price range from $1,785 to $2,470
- Ovation at Park Crest (8231 Crestwood Heights) – Price range from $1,833 to $5,185
- The Lofts at Park Crest (8210 Crestwood Heights Dr) – Price range from $2,270 to $5,471
- One Park Crest (8220 Crestwood Heights Dr) – Price range from $499,900 to $1,050,000
Other existing condo buildings include:
- Lillian Court (1635 International Drive)
- Westwood Village (1500 Northern Neck Dr)
- The Rotonda (8352 Greensboro Dr)
There are several apartment complexes currently in development:
- Westpark Plaza – Four planned buildings with a planned 1,300 residential units in two of them
- The Boro – Several mixed-use development buildings — including the “Rise” apartment tower and “Verse” condominium tower — near the Greensboro Metro station
- The Monarch – A planned luxury condominium building
- Tysons West Phase III – A planned development hub that will include 669 residential units
- Residences at Tysons II – A planned pair of 30-story residential towers adjacent to Tysons Galleria
- Lumen – A 32-story residential tower with 398 apartment units planned for completion by the end of 2018 and open for renting spring 2019.
Apart from the above list in and around central Tysons, there are also a number of other residential options just east of the Beltway with McLean and Falls Church mailing addresses, including but not limited to: Tysons View, Tysons Glen, Eaves Fairfax Towers, the Oaks at Falls Church, PeachTree of McLean, Tysons Landing Apartments, Regency at McLean condos, Encore of McLean condos, the Colonies of McLean condos, the Commons of McLean, the Gates of McLean condos, McLean Chase condos, Renaissance 2230 condos, and the Fountain at McLean condos.
Affordable housing in Tysons is different than the rest of Fairfax County.
Affordable housing across the rest of Fairfax County, and much of the region, is grouped into apartment complexes with units set aside to cater to those at the lowest income levels. But in Tysons, affordable housing is filling the new high-rises.
Abdi Hamud from Fairfax County’s Affordable and Workforce Dwelling Units Program met with the Tysons Regional Chamber of Commerce earlier today (Friday) to explain the state of affordable housing in Tysons.
Starting in 2010, the Board of Supervisors adopted a policy that would create workforce dwelling units (WDU) in the mid- and high-rise buildings except from other local affordable housing programs.
In total, there are nearly 500 total WDU in Tysons, according to Hamud.
On the rental side, the WDU program covers area median incomes (AMI) at a broader level than other affordable housing programs. The cost of living in Tysons often exceeds the AMI. While Fairfax’s primary affordable dwelling unit (ADU) program serves those at 50 or 70 percent of the AMI, in Tysons the WDU covers incomes from 60 percent through 120 percent.
At least 20 percent of the rental units inside the new mid and high-rise apartments in Tysons must be WDU, with specific percents broken up by income brackets.
- Two percent of all units must be accessible to those at 60 percent of AMI
- Three percent of all units must be accessible o those at 70 percent of AMI
- The remaining 15 percent of WDU units must be broken equally into 80 percent, 100 percent and 120 percent of AMI
A policy is also in place for WDU in units that are for sale, but Hamud said there haven’t been any yet and none are planned for the near future.
Hamud said one of the largest problems facing Fairfax is the demand for affordable housing far exceeding the supply. According to Hamud, other affordable housing waitlists in Fairfax and across the state are so full they are being closed. But in Tysons, with new projects constantly in development, Hamud said the waiting lists are substantially shorter and easier to access.
Even with this affordable housing program, Larry Rockwell from The Arc of Northern Virginia noted that “affordable housing” can still be too expensive for many living in the area.
The Arc helps support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, many of whom Rockwell said struggle to find affordable housing because the stigma of disabilities leaves higher paying work inaccessible to them. With the expenses many people with intellectual and developmental disabilities face, or for students getting started in the workforce with loan payments, even the affordable housing in Tysons can exceed the advised 30 percent of a salary that should go to housing.
Still, in a region with rents of $2,000 or $3,000 per month, Hamud said it’s important to have tools available to try and help the new workforce of Tysons find a place to live. The county is currently looking at what has been working with the WDU program and what hasn’t, he said.
Republik Coffee Bar was founded out of frustration.
Elan Irving, the company’s director of operations, said when the founders of the coffee bar were looking for premium coffee options in the area, they were underwhelmed. Recently, the coffee shop that started one year ago in Arlington has branched out into Tysons.
The Republik Coffee Bar in Tysons is located on the ground floor of the mixed-use Highgate (7915 Jones Branch Drive) just east of Tysons Galleria. It opened in June.
“We were looking for a place to enjoy premium coffee served in an inviting environment staffed by friendly baristas with a pleasant ambiance,” said Irving. “Surprisingly, there are very few places that embody all of these qualities, so we decided to provide such space for like minded coffee lovers.”
Irving said the largest issue that faced the burgeoning company initially was finding a price balance.
“One of the challenges is to keep prices low without sacrificing on the quality of the product as well as keeping a staff of highly qualified baristas,” said Irving. “We were always in pursuit of better coffee, better brewing methods, and very competitive prices. We don’t believe in charging $5 for a six-ounce cappuccino.”
Republik Coffee Bar is in the midst of an aggressive expansion campaign. In six months, Republik plans to open two more locations inside D.C. and eventually another in Fairfax County.
“If you are afraid of taking calculated risks, you shouldn’t be in business of investing in new businesses,” said Irving. “This is also true in our business. We are very confident in our concept and very happy to see the response we received in Ballston. This has encouraged us to expand into other locations.”
For now, Republik Coffee Bar is local, but the company has much larger ambitions if the continued regional launches go well.
“Our short term goals are establish our brand into a very respectable local brand in the D.C. metro area,” Irving said. “If we are successful in achieving this, we will continue to expand regionally and then one day, nationally.”
Hopefully, the firefighters of Station 29 will never have to use their familiarity with new high-rise buildings across Tysons. But just in case, the crew has been spending the last few weeks exploring the unfinished interiors of Tysons’ tallest structures.
Captain David Bentley from Station 29 said it’s useful for firefighters to take a look inside the buildings before the drywall and the finishing touches are added to see how the buildings are structured and to understand the layout.
“If there’s an emergency, when it’s finished or during construction, this way it will be easier for us to get to patients,” said Bentley. “We need to know how the floors are made, what the ceiling looks like, and what’s between the drywall.”
At The Boro, for example, Bentley said they’re using aluminum studs in the walls while many smaller construction projects use wood. While wood burns when exposed to direct flame, or can smolder and fail over time, Bentley said aluminum studs fail quicker because they start to warp when exposed to intense heat. Bentley said information like that helps firefighters understand how much time they have to continue working to extinguish a fire safely or rescue people from the building.
One of the most interesting buildings Bentley said they visited was the new 31-story Capital One tower, the tallest building in the greater Washington area.
“It’s an absolutely amazing building,” said Bentley. “The sheer number of people working there, elevators, and security, it’s all absolutely amazing… Some of these bigger [buildings have fire pumps that run up to the top floor, and the size and amount of these pumps are quite large and they have to have a backup in case they fail. They have five massive diesel generators the size of cruise ship engines to keep the place running.”
One of the unique features of the new Capital One building is a fire suppression device that rolls over the escalators like a conveyer belt and seals them off, which both stops the fire from spreading to higher floors but also cuts off a route of ingress or egress for those needing to get to or away from the fire.
“I’ve never seen that before,” said Bentley. “It would definitely cut off a route, whether we need to go up or down, but it’s meant to stop vertical fire spreads. There are plenty of other exits in that building and I’m sure security has pre-plans, but that’s definitely a unique challenge.”
Bentley said the sheer verticality of these buildings presents a challenge as well. While Bentley says firefighters can respond to most emergencies in downtown Tysons in five minutes, getting the right equipment to the right floor can take twice as long. Once inside, maneuvering around the building in an emergency situation can be difficult as well, as evidenced by the dramatic rescue via construction crane last month.
“We practice a lot,” said Bentley. “We have drills once a week on high-rise operations. We assign people on different apparatus to different tasks. Paramedics will grab one length of hose to take to the fire floor. The firefighter on the right side of the engine will grab another section of hose. I’ll grab the officer’s bag, which has tools to hook into pipes. This way we can take any hose down any hallway to get to the fire.”
Bentley says the crew of Station 29 visited the Boro (8301 Greensboro Drive) and the Capital One building (1600 Capital One Blvd) and older buildings like Kaiser Permanente’s Tysons Corner Medical Facility (8008 Westpark Drive) and Rotunda Apartments (8352 Greensboro Drive).
Bentley said the firefighters also travelled to low rise buildings, like Cava and Honeygrow in Pike 7 Plaza, to familiarize crews with the new small developments he says are popping up all over.
Photos via Twitter
No wallet? No problem.
With Yombu, everything from financial transactions to gym access is at your fingertip. Now, this Tysons company is starting to branch out across the country.
Yombu is a tech startup based out of MakeOffices in Tysons. The company lets customers of a business confirm their identity for something like purchasing an item or signing into a membership with only a fingerprint scan.
“We want to be the way people pay and the way people engage so you don’t need anything other than you,” said Joe Falit, one of the two co-founders of Yombu.
Yombu started in Northern Virginia, but has since expanded into D.C. and Maryland. Falit said the company is focused on gradually building into more cities and building locally-centered networks.
Yombu’s new deal with gym software company Motionsoft means that the company is about to receive a major boost in users as it spreads to 26 gyms across the country.
Yombu started one year ago with zero users. Today, they are at 15,000, which is 5,000 more than their initial goal for 2018.
The company expands its user-base through two types of markets.
The first is through merchants or “quick-serve” transactions, like coffee shops or dry cleaners. In a location like this, a customer can authenticate their fingerprint once as they pay with a card, and the card will be linked with that print. Things like rewards traditionally tracked through punch cards can also be tracked through Yombu.
Getting merchants on board can be difficult. Falit said many they talk to initially say that credits cards work fast enough. But once shown how much faster lines can move and how much more consistent the rewards programs can be with a fingerprint scan, they usually sign up.
The second type of market is membership. Yombu is used to sign in or out of a membership area, like a gym, and while Falit said the company started with mostly quick-serve transactions, they’re finding membership to be the much more lucrative use of the technology.
“If you’re a gym and you now use Yombu to have membership through finger, you’re basically making everyone sign up,” said Falit. “We see these memberships as hubs. At coffee shops, we might get 20 percent of people there to sign up. But at the gym, we get 100 percent of people to sign up.”
As Yombu prepares to launch in Philadelphia soon and in gyms across the country, back at home in Tysons the program is starting to become more and more commonplace.
Yombu is currently being used in 56 locations throughout the D.C. area — 30 merchant locations and 26 gyms. On one rainy day along a few weeks ago, Falit watched as 325 new users signed up for the program as they flocked into coffee shops throughout the region, all of them paying for their coffee with a single touch.
Photo via Yombu
It’s no secret that Tysons is growing.
The skyline is filled with construction cranes and seemingly every week there’s an announcement of a new restaurant or business moving into the area. But as Tysons grows, it also faces infrastructure challenges and threats from neighbors.
Professor Stephen Fuller, Professor of Public Policy at George Mason University, said that Tysons is finally starting to recover from the 2013 budget sequestration. Fuller said the sequester had a more damaging impact on the region than the 2008 recession, as the type of contracting that fills Tysons office space was cut by 15 percent.
Today, Tysons is still left with 15 percent office vacancy, which Fuller said puts the market on about even footing with Arlington. Rosslyn and Crystal City were both particularly hard hit by contracting cuts that left sweeping vacancies along the Metro corridor.
But Fuller noted that both Tysons and Arlington have comparative strengths and weaknesses that make them very different marketplaces.
“Arlington has old office spaces with bad floor plans,” said Fuller. “That’s sending people out to Tysons, which has newer office space.”
Gerald Gordon, who will soon be retiring as President and CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, said that the county essentially gave a blank check to developers for density near Metro stations, which has helped incentivize new construction.
“The county allowed for unlimited density in a quarter mile radius of each station,” said Gordon. “We have these really tall buildings and we’re going to see a lot of new office space. Some of the older buildings are coming down, being replaced by more floors to be a lot of office spaces.”
But older office space is also one of Arlington’s greatest strengths, as Fuller said the outdated office spaces in Arlington are also often less expensive than the new office suites in Tysons where speculation has sent land prices skyrocketing.
Another of Arlington’s strengths, according to Fuller, is the culture and vibrancy that Tysons mostly lacks.
“When Amazon was looking at Northern Virginia, they were looking at Crystal City, not Tysons,” said Fuller. “Tysons just doesn’t offer lifestyle that they’re looking for.”
Fuller said the new apartment buildings and lifestyle-supporting commercial retail coming into Tysons is a good sign that Tysons is working towards that vitality, but Fuller said bringing that kind of culture is going to take two key ingredients: walkability and time.
“It’s about the distance between buildings, it isn’t walkable,” said Fuller. “Some internal circulation system will be required. It’s been long discussed, but I haven’t seen any yet. The Capital One complex, with the headquarters expansion, is going to make that a node that people are going to want to get to.”
Gordon similarly said transportation is one of Tysons greatest challenges over the next few years, but that stepping up public transportation in Tysons can help alleviate some of the areas traffic woes.
Most importantly, Fuller said it’s going to take time to organically build vibrancy and economic stability in Tysons.
“There’s work to be done, but they have to be patient,” said Fuller. “They’re delivering spaces faster than the economy is growing. The economy has picked up, 2017 was a much better year for the kinds of businesses that look at Tysons, but you can’t just snap your fingers and make it all happen.”
While Tysons and Arlington compete for office tenants and vibrancy, Professor Frank Shafroth, director of the Center for State and Local Leadership at George Mason University, said it’s important not to ignore Washington, D.C.’s increasing appeal for developers.
“Northern Virginia has traditionally, as part of the Washington metro region, been tied to the nation’s capitol,” said Shafroth. “Significantly reduced violent crime in D.C. has made the District far more attractive to millennials, decreasing the pressure for young families to want to move to the suburbs and deal with vicious commutes.”
The application for a controversial redevelopment on Maple Avenue will be coming back to the Vienna Town Council later this week.
On paper, the rezoning application for 430, 440 and 444 Maple Ave. W. is a simple redevelopment issue, but over the last months the application has ignited questions about how Vienna adapts to a marketplace swiftly leaving it behind.
On Thursday, Oct. 4 at 7:30 p.m., project developer Vienna Development Associates LLC will return to the town hall for a work session to try to convince Vienna the project is right for Maple Avenue.
The site is currently occupied by the Vienna Wolf Trap Hotel, but the developer hopes to convince the Vienna Town Council to approve rezoning of the site to let them build a new four-story mixed use development. The project would have 160 multi-family residential units and 22,000 square feet of retail space.
The project attracted controversy in the community from the start, with 53 residents speaking mostly against the project at a July 9 public hearing on the project. The Vienna Town Council received 99 written comments by the time the comment period closed in August.
Many of these comments expressed concerns about the validity of traffic studies paid for by the developer. The traffic studies showed that the project would not have more of a traffic impact on Maple Avenue than any development not-requiring rezoning approval would have.
But public comments and emails to the council said citizens were still concerned the new development would add to the congestion at an already busy intersection and make traffic worse in close proximity to two nearby schools.
A third-party review initiated by Vienna Town Council staff verified the findings of the initial traffic studies, but Vienna Development Associates LLC deferred its application at the Aug. 20 Town Council meeting to take into account feedback from the council and from public comments.
Now, the developer has said the traffic concerns about the project have been addressed. Along with a series of project changes that the company says will reduce residential traffic by 25 percent, the developer has identified several transportation improvements that it hopes will make the project more palatable, including:
- Extending turn lanes on the nearby Nutley Street and Maple Avenue
- Widening the Maple Avenue exit to allow right and left turn lanes
- Pedestrian and bus stop improvements
- A shuttle running from the site to the Metro
But transportation concerns are only one part of the opposition to the project. For many who oppose the project, the development is too large and out of character for the small-town feel of Vienna.
“If we’re going to have a project there, this one is not ready for primetime,” said Councilmember Howard Springsteen at the August meeting. “I think the developer has done a horrible [public relations] job and has created a firestorm of concerns around town. This is probably one of the most divisive things that has come to this town in 20 years.”
In addition to traffic concerns, Springsteen said he and many Vienna residents were concerned that the building was too large and lacked substantial green space.
“People are upset about this around town,” said Springsteen. “Some are in favor, but the majority are opposed. This project needs to be reworked.”
But for others on the Vienna Town Council there are concerns that pushback on projects like the mixed-use development on Maple Avenue will lead to developers passing Vienna by. While residents are concerned about Vienna losing its unique small town character as more of its neighbors become rapidly urbanized, Maple Avenue is plagued with chronic vacancies.
Nearly every block on Maple Avenue has a vacancy of some kind. Traveling west on Maple Avenue, Vienna starts to look like a ghost town. Some whole blocks, like the former Marco Polo Restaurant at 245 Maple Ave., are completely abandoned and showing signs of overgrowth.
“Maple Avenue is a terrific location, but there are concerns with vacancies and commercial corridor perception,” said Councilmember Carey Sienicki. “Relying on the traditional model of neighborhoods separated from strip malls may no longer be justifiable to meet those needs. It’s important to see the benefits of mixed use options.”
Sienicki said that she believed that the additional height of the building won’t negatively impact the character of the town.
“There has been a citizen insurgency precipitated from what has happened in surrounding jurisdictions,” said Sienicki. “Town must react to those external concerns for Vienna. We are not looking to be like other jurisdictions. We are Vienna.”
Concept renderings via Vienna Development Associates LLC. Hotel photo via Vienna Wolf Trap Hotel.
(Updated at 4:30) — The Boro, a mixed-use complex being built near the Greensboro Metro station, has topped out.
Caroline Flax, senior analyst for site developer The Meridian Group, said the complex is as tall as it’s going to get, so it’s time for a review of the project and where it stands.
The project is broken into five lettered sections filling the block southeast of the Leesburg Pike and Westpark Drive intersection. The area is just west of the Tysons Galleria mall.
Furthest along is Block C, a grouping of two major buildings and a much smaller kiosk. A third building has been approved for the block but has not begun construction. The largest occupants of Block C are the Showplace ICON movie theater and a 437,000 square-foot office building. The kiosk in the one acre park will be where Bluestone Lane, an Australian-inspired coffee chain, will be opening their first Virginia location.
Flax said this side of the project is expected to be completed by the end of this year. In the first two quarters of 2019, Tysons Reporter was told, the office tenants will begin to move into Block C.
Meanwhile, to the northwest of Block C, the skeleton of Block A has been completed. Block A is the primarily residential area of the complex. In August, Flax said the tall towers of Block A, the 27-story apartment “Rise” tower and the 25-story luxury condominium “Verse” tower, had all of their floors poured into place. Work is now beginning on the facades and the interior of the buildings.
A 69,000 square-foot Whole Foods will occupy the base of the northern point of Block A, at the corner of Greensboro Drive and Westpark Drive.
Block B of the project, southwest of Block A, is The Loft. At five-stories tall, The Loft dwarfed by its northern residential neighbors. But the 77,000 square-foot building will stretch along the length of the new street Boro Place and hold two floors of retail and three stories of offices above that.
“Boro Place is the retail spine of The Boro,” said Flax.
Several restaurants are already signed to move into Blocks A and B, including:
- Fish Taco, a DC based taco chain
- Tasty Kabob, the first brick-and-mortar location for a popular local food truck
- Flower Child, a cast-casual restaurant specializing in healthy food
- North Italia, an Italian restaurant specializing in handmade pizzas and pasta
- Tropical Smoothie Cafe, a national smoothie chain
Taylor Gourmet had been signed to move into the area as well, but the chain filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy at the end of September and closed all locations. Flax said no decision on a new occupant has been finalized but that there are several prospects for the location under consideration.
Today, information technology departments are largely reactive — called to fix problems after they happen. But the Tysons startup TaskFit.io has developed artificial intelligence tech that, if it catches on, could supplement if not replace the help desk entirely.
TaskFit.io is an IT automation software platform that can be installed onto a laptop, server, or edge device (like routers) to gather metrics on that device and help fix it when an issue occurs.
TaskFit.io’s AI programs are constantly collecting data as the system is running and adapting to meet problems that come up. Problems can be identified and remedied before the user even recognizes that one exists.
“When you have an issue with your laptop, you call support,” said Tim Marcinowski, co-founder of TaskFit.io. “Your internet goes down and you’re on the phone. We’re the first line of defense for support for organizations through our agents, which are AI that can learn based on data we collect and take action before the user has to report it to support.”
Marcinowski said that for many companies, IT is outsourced. This can work for a smaller company just getting started, but Macinowski said problem comes when the companies start to expand and starts to outgrow their IT service.
“There’s a number you can point to [in each business], where if they bring on X amount of customers, they need X amount of people supporting those activities,” said Marcinowski.
TaskFit.io is currently a small company, based in the Tysons WeWork coworking space. Marcinowski and co-founder Peter Fraedrich run the technical side of the company, along with two advisors and three or four contractors.
“We haven’t taken any investments and have been gaining revenue since month one,” said Marcinowski. “We started on our own with our own money and have been doing okay for right now. Eventually we will raise early stage capital within the year.”
Two started in April with $90,000 of the two founders’ own money. The company has $40,000 in recurring annual revenue, according to Marcinowski, who hopes to push that to $100,000 by the end of the year.
Currently, TaskFit.io has three paying customers and four pilot projects. The pilot projects are unpaid but allow the company to gain insights into the program working in action and allow them to continue developing abilities.
“These companies that are early adopters got free software,” said Marcinowski, “but we’re going to bug you and ask you a lot of questions. Things may break, but we’ll work to get them fixed.”
Like many startups, TaskFit.io has pivoted its focus over time. Early on, Marcinowski says they were originally interested in competing with Google and Amazon to create the first real-time machine learning platform. That evolved into the company’s current platform, but even then product development has been an iterative process of shifting priorities and tough decisions.
According to Marcinowski, what managers said they really wanted was a tech tool to help them figure out what their employees were doing. While this could have been a profitable avenue, it didn’t fit with the founders’ vision for the company.
“We really didn’t want to be the watchdog of employees,” said Marcinowski. “We didn’t want to be that at all, and we didn’t care how much money we made. We aren’t used car salesmen, we wanted to build software that solves problems.”
Photo via TaskFit.io
For nearly as long as there’s been a Tysons, there’s been a Fire and Rescue Station 29 watching over it.
On Sunday (Sept. 23) past and present members of the Station 29 crew met to share stories and celebrate the station’s 40th anniversary.
Newly-appointed fire chief John Butler also attended to greet members of the fire and rescue crew.
Those that work at Fire Station 29 say the station is unique in the types of challenges it faces. Other stations cover more rural parts of Fairfax County. The Reston and Bailey’s Crossroads both have to contend with high rises. But according to Captain Michael Whetsell, Commander of Fire Station 29, only the Tysons station has to contend with every type of emergency on the books.
“Tysons is a unique location,” said Whetsell. “You have a mixture of all kinds here. We have high rises and residential. You can go left and we have non-hydrant areas. We have the Metro coming through. Every operations manual operates out of Station 29.”
Despite the dramatic increase in density and population in Tysons, Fire Station 29 has not grown except for a county-wide increase from three to four personnel per fire engine or ladder truck. Whetsell says there are ten personnel total on call at the station at any given time.
The main engine receives between 10-15 calls per day, and Whetsell said the medic unit receives about the same. The fire truck responds to roughly ten calls each day.
Whetsell said most of the calls that come in are medical emergencies, accidents or fire alarms. The crew of Station 29 is also regularly called out to Route 7, the Beltway, and the Dulles Toll Road to deal with car accidents.
It’s a difficult job, and Whetsell said the continued development is only making it harder.
“It’s a very busy station,” said Whetsell. “Every day it gets harder and harder due to traffic increases. There’s increased people coming in to work and live, and now the new construction is commercial and residential high rises.”
Whetsell said high rises can be a particularly challenging call for a fire department. With the rapid pace of construction, the department has had to make an increasing amount of high angle rescues.
Earlier this month, Fire Station 29 made a vertical rescue using a construction crane to lower a victim from the sixth floor of a construction site.
There is some relief in sight for Fire Station 29. Fairfax County Fire and Rescue is planning on constructing a new station, Tysons East Fire and Rescue Station 44, on Old Meadow Lane. The station will have 23 personnel with additional staffing planned as part of a five-year safety plan.
Delivery of the station is scheduled for Dec. 31, 2020, but as of the fiscal year 2019 Fairfax County government’s Capital Improvement Plan funding for the project is still to be determined.
Whetsell said the new fire station would cover calls in the eastern section of Tysons, also covering Route 123 and the Beltway.
But for all of the challenges, Whetsell says Fire Station 29 is home for him. He has worked at the station for nine years total. Whetsell started as a rookie at the station, then came back as a truck lieutenant, and finally came back as a captain.
While the usual job of the fire crew is responding to emergencies, Whetsell said he also loves getting a chance to meet with members of the public at events.
“We like getting out to the public,” said Whetsell. “So if anyone has an event to invite us to, get in touch and we’d love to show the fire trucks. We do a lot of birthdays. Just seeing the smiles of kids when we show up… the smiles are priceless.”