Tysons Corner, VA

Updated at 1:30 p.m. — Corrects name of the performance venues and updates event information.

The curtains will rise for a new performance venue in Tysons in two years.

Fairfax County announced Tuesday (June 11) that the performance hall, which is a part of Capital One’s redevelopment, will open in September 2021.

Back in July 2017, the county’s Board of Supervisors approved the redevelopment, which includes Wegmans and the Capital One Center.

The 125,000 square-foot Capital One Hall will include a 1,500-seat main hall with an orchestra pit and a 250-seat black box theatre, according to the county.

In addition to hosting Capital One’s corporate events, local nonprofit arts organizations will be able to use the performance spaces for a specified number of days each year through a 30-year agreement with Fairfax County.

Arts organizations can find out more about the user application and scheduling processes for the facilities at a meeting next Wednesday (June 19) from 7:30-9 p.m. at Capital One Headquarters (1600 Capital One Drive). ARTSFAIRFAX and Capital One will give a presentation and have a Q&A session.

To RSVP, contact ARTSFAIRFAX at [email protected] by Monday, June 17.

Image via Fairfax County/Twitter

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Amid a roar of traffic, a dozen Fairfax County officials gathered to break ground on an extensive Leesburg Pike (Route 7) widening project.

The ceremony was today (Thursday) at Capital Church on the border of the Hunter Mill and Dranesville districts, with their respective Board of Supervisors representatives Cathy Hudgins and John Foust present.

The project will involve adding a third lane to Leesburg Pike in each direction from Reston to Tysons. At the groundbreaking, officials highlighted the new shared-use paths and other improvements planned along the corridor to increase capacity, improve safety and traffic flow, and make life a little easier for cyclists and pedestrians.

“This project will enhance nobility…” said Sharon Bulova, chair of the Fairfax County Board, then laughed and corrected herself, “mobility, but [nobility] too, for cycling and pedestrians.”

The shared-use paths are planned to run along both sides of the road, with bridges and underpasses planned along the way and several other intersection improvements.

“It’s an important milestone many years in the making,” said Bill Cutler, the Virginia Department of Transportation’s district construction engineer. “It’s a 7-mile corridor and an important multimodal project, with 14 miles of multipurpose trail and access to the Spring Hill Metro station.”

During construction, off-peak lane closures are expected as the project works in segments. Final completion of the project is expected for summer 2024.

“If you’re sitting here wondering why we’re doing this, traffic seems to be going pretty well… it’s too late now,” said Foust. “In 2010, it was said that if Tysons was going to work, we needed to ensure that vehicles could get out of Tysons… This improvement will, I hope, make it much more attractive for drivers to stay on Route 7. Right now, we have a lot of cut-through traffic taking Georgetown Pike or Lewinsville Road trying to avoid traffic on Route 7. I think this will go a long way to addressing challenges with cut-through traffic.”

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WWBG: Other Half Brewing

Editor’s Note: This biweekly column is sponsored by Dominion Wine and Beer (107 Rowell Court, Falls Church). This week’s Guide is written by David Birks and Arash Tafakor of Dominion Wine and Beer.

In 2012, Other Half founders Matt Monahan, Sam Richardson and Andrew Burman signed a lease on a warehouse in Brooklyn, New York.

Matt and Adam were working in the restaurant industry as aspiring chefs with a serious side passion for home brewing. Sam, beginning his brewing career at a small brewpub in Oregon, then to Pyramid Brewing and later on at Green Point Brewing in Brooklyn, New York where the three met and became close friends.

Their collective vision and goal, ability to utilize a culinary approach, creativity and unique approach to branding and design brought a level and quality of beer never before seen in New York City.

Sounds easy, right? Not exactly. New York wasn’t exactly ready for the craft beer boom back then. Craft breweries were considered manufacturers of products. As with that designation, they were subject to strict zoning laws that delayed the opening of their brewery until 2014.

Founders Matt, Sam and Adam found a way to weather the storm for almost two years and what they’ve been able to create, can be only described as a rose that grew from the concrete. They’ve recently opened up a second location, in Rochester, New York. Same idea; brew world-class beer, with a vibrant taproom experience. Business seems to be going quite well for the trio, and rightfully so.

Other Half is a true powerhouse in the craft beer world. Like clockwork, frequently enjoying long lines for their beer and a bustling taproom. Their success can be credited to a combination of clever artwork, branding, design and intelligent marketing, combined with constantly evolving and innovating brewing techniques. Other Half is always ahead of the curve.

Matt, Adam and Sam have become experts in seeking out the highest quality hops and ingredients from all over the world. Highly respected within the industry for their talents, frequently brewing collaborative projects with the best of the best. At the end of the day brewing is cooking and cooking is brewing, and these guys are producing at a Michelin Star quality level.

Don’t believe me? Read this article in the New York times which speaks to how long people are willing to wait in line just to get their hands on some of Other Half’s beers.

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A few months after Open Art Studio moved across town and rebranded as New York School of Arts, the school is holding a ribbon-cutting celebration.

The school programs range from art programs for children to portfolio reviews for students applying to arts programs. Founded 10 years ago, the studio was previously located at 225 Mill Street NE.

The event is scheduled for tonight (Thursday) at 6 p.m. at 320 E. Maple Avenue.

Vienna Mayor Laurie DiRocco is set to attend, and the event will be followed by the program’s first “artist talk” event with Katherine Mann, a professor at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). Hors d’oeuvres and wine are on tonight’s menu.

Photo via OpenArt Studio/Facebook

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The Fairfax County Planning Commission greenlighted yesterday (June 12) a proposed senior living facility in Tysons despite concerns from staff about the height, size and open space.

Fairfax County staff recommended denial of the proposed two-tower senior living complex called The Mather.

The proposed building would go 60 feet above the 225-foot maximum. “The excessive height combined with a narrow building footprint oriented diagonally results in a building mass that inconsistent with adjoining structures and overwhelms the street,” according to the staff report.

Staff also took issue with the developer wanting to move the open space from an area on top of the parking garage to a sloping area behind the parking garage.

According to the staff report:

The three major issues noted above are all interrelated and stem from the manner in which the continuing care facility is proposed to be integrated into the existing Arbor Row development. Staff does not object to the concept of a continuing care facility as a use, and in fact, recognizes the services provided by such a facility are both necessary and desirable within Tysons. However, the continuing care facility has been designed in a way that reflects the unique needs of the applicant’s specific business model, and does not reflect the urban design recommendations of both the Comprehensive Plan and the Tysons Urban Design Guidelines.

While Providence District Planning Commissioner Phillip Niedzielski-Eichner called the proposal “one of the most complicated applications the commission will recall,” he ultimately brought forth a motion to approve the project.

Before the vote, Niedzielski-Eichner asked staff to address each of the three major concerns and allowed the applicant’s representative, John McGranahan Jr., to respond.

McGranahan argued that the recommended denial by staff was not considering the proposal’s height and size in the context of the surrounding neighborhood.

A staffer said that the mass of the building was considered to be out of context to the nearby buildings and that the applicant’s desire for more height for operational and financial considerations wasn’t enough justification to go above the maximum height.

Staff and McGranahan also disagreed on the relocation and redesign of the open space.

By the end of the back and forth, Niedzielski-Eichner said he was persuaded by the applicant’s reasoning.

Now that the proposal has a favorable recommendation from the Planning Commission, it heads to Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors.

The project is a part of Cityline Partners LLC’s Arbor Row project near Tysons Galleria, which includes the completed Nouvelle residential building and The Monarch. The development aims to transform the back end of Tysons Galleria along Westpark Drive into a suite of mixed-use buildings.

Image via Fairfax County Planning Commission 

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Furry four-legged friends in the Town of Vienna may get a new animal hospital.

Banfield Pet Hospital, a preventative health care provider for pets with more than 1,000 locations across the country, wants to bring its services to 414 E. Maple Avenue.

“The hospital will primarily service the surrounding community,” according to the staff report.

Built in 1967, the building has two tenant spaces — one space is home to Leslie’s Pool Supplies, while the other one is the vacant spot Banfield wants.

Banfield plans to provide a range of services, according to its application, including:

  • full-service veterinarian care
  • general surgery
  • a pharmacy
  • retail pet supply sales
  • an internal dog run area

The animal hospital would operate between 7 a.m.-7 p.m. seven days a week. It would not allow pets to stay overnight or provide long-term boarding.

About 20 to 25 pets would visit the animal hospital daily, Aaron Vorasane, the applicant’s representative, told the Planning Commission last night (Wednesday).

As part of the application, the animal hospital wants to install a 4-foot-tall chain link fence to help prevent trash and debris from entering a nearby creek and create a waste pick-up bag station on the grassy area to the side of the building.

Commissioner Sharon Baum raised a concern about dog urine running into the creek. Commissioner Mary McCullough responded by saying that Banfield’s proposed fence and waste area would encourage dog walkers and owners to keep their pets’ waste in a confined area away from the creek.

To limit noise, Banfield wants to install soundproofing in the wall neighboring Leslie’s Pool Supplies.

“Staff believes that the applicant is proposing appropriate mitigation strategies for any potential impacts from the business,” according to the staff report. “The installation of the chain link fence along the rear property line will further mitigate impacts to the abutting creek.”

The Planning Commission voted in favor of the animal hospital. The application now moves onto the Board of Zoning Appeals, which will consider the conditional use permit.

Image via Google Maps

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Fairfax County Fire and Rescue wants to educate locals on how to prevent issues with charcoal disposal following a fire in a home in the Wolf Trap area.

Fire investigators say that improper disposal of charcoal briquettes caused the fire on Sunday (June 9) afternoon.

The investigators determined that the fire started by accident on the rear deck in the enclosed covered porch, according to Fairfax County Fire and Rescue.

Firefighters responded around 2 p.m. and quickly extinguished the fire at a two-story, single family home in the 9000 block of Edgepark Road.

No one was injured by the fire, which caused $11,000 worth of damage, according to the fire department.

In an effort to help stop similar fires from happening, the fire department has several safety tips for how to dispose of charcoal after cooking:

  • douse the fire with water and make sure the area is cool to the touch
  • empty the coals into a metal container with a tight-fitting lid that is used only to collect coals
  • place the container outside and keep away from anything that can burn
  • do not empty coals directly into a trash can
  • store the charcoal starter fluid away from children and the heat source

The fire department also has a video about grilling safety.

Map via Google Maps

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According to county permits, a new Men’s Wearhouse could be coming to a squat, castle-looking building at 1929 Old Gallows Road off Leesburg Pike.

The building formerly had been a Petco, but has been vacant for at least a year. Construction at the building seems to include not just the former Petco, but the closed Mattress Firm that also shared the building.

Men’s Wearhouse also has locations in Reston and near Centreville and there had been one near the Greensboro Metro station.

Permits were filed in March for internal alterations to the building, and from the look of the building, any interior renovations are still in the earliest stages. Tailored Brands, the company that owns both Men’s Wearhouse and Joseph A. Bank, could not be reached for comment, so the estimated time for completion is not currently known.

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School Board member Dalia Palchik and Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay won their Democratic primary races yesterday, marking the end to an expensive, crowded and contentious primary.

Palchik won the nomination for the Providence District seat on the Board of Supervisors, defeating four challengers and pulling ahead of Fairfax County Planning Commissioner Phillip Niedzielski-Eichner by nearly 1,500 votes.

Meanwhile, McKay beat three challengers to clinch the Democratic nomination for the county board’s chair.

Frank Anderson, the executive director of the Fairfax County Democratic Committee, told Tysons Reporter that he was surprised by how many Democratic candidates flooded the Board of Supervisors races, although the large fundraising sums weren’t unexpected.

“I was surprised by how many candidates decided to jump in,” Anderson said, adding that a race like the one for Providence District supervisor typically has two to three candidates instead of five.

With crowded races, some of the candidates’ clashing resulted in an “acrimonious” primary, Anderson said, adding, “It’s expected to be.”

The race for the board’s chair was particularly divisive — McKay faced an ethics complaint filed by a rival, while the Washington Post endorsement raised concerns about sexism.

On the Democratic Party’s end, Anderson said that the debates “got awkward,” yet the staff focused on staying “as non-partial as we can” and professional.

The primary also turned out to be expensive for several candidates.

Niedzielski-Eichner and Palchik both neared the $100,000 fundraising mark in the race for the Democratic nomination.

Every candidate for the Democratic nomination to the chair position raised over $100,000, with developer Tim Chapman raising $952,109.

Anderson said that the high fundraising amounts serve several purposes. Beyond paying for resources like campaign staff, recorded calls, glossy mailers and advertising, they also help to give the impression that a candidate has the backing of more supporters.

“When you donate to a candidate, you do it because you believe in them,” Anderson said. “You can’t know whether your dollar made the difference.”

Anderson said that potential donors can become enticed to give money if they see how much others have donated — essentially equating money with value.

Some candidates in the race received sizable checks, either from donations to themselves or from a few key supporters, like developer Tim Chapman who raised most of his $952,109 by donating to himself in the chair race and Hunter Mill candidate Maggie Parker, who received support from Comstock Companies, her employer.

“Not many voters have the time to see who is donating to the candidates,” Anderson said.

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The Vienna Town Council is entering the first stages of a process to bring electric scooters and dockless bicycles to town.

According to staff at a Town Council work session on Monday, June 10, a potentially shared mobility pilot would include both electric bicycles and scooters as “self-propelled vehicles,” but more still needs to be determined.

For starters, where will people ride electric scooters in Vienna? Council members expressed concerns about having them either on Maple Avenue or the adjoining sidewalks, which are typically only 5 feet wide and include planter boxes that narrow the sidewalks considerably. But elected officials seemed equally concerned about the prospect of having electric scooters complicating the already notoriously dangerous and congested Maple Avenue.

The discussion of a potential pilot program comes after a feasibility study for a regional bike-share network — commissioned by the City of Fairfax — was completed last fall. The Vienna process follows in the footsteps of the City of Fairfax, which Vienna staff said has launched a pilot program running from this June to next year.

Both staff and officials expressed some misgivings and frustrations with the prospect of bringing in electric scooters. Staff said that a story had come out this year that Lime Scooters would be coming to Fairfax City and Vienna, prompting a tense series of phone calls from Fairfax and Vienna staff advising Lime that they had not gone through the proper approval process.

Planning Commissioner Mary McCullough also referenced a Washington Post story that only 7 percent of regional residents reported using e-scooters as their preference for getting from one place to another.

The next step for the scooter approval process is a work session planned for sometime in the fall, which the Town Council said will likely include meeting with the Transportation Commission.

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