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More and more sidewalks are coming to Tysons, but not all of them are created equal.

Sidewalks have been getting a lot of attention lately, They’re credited with the power to revitalize the economy and save lives, but sidewalks, like all infrastructure, need planning, engineering and investment — and some are implemented better than others.

Modern designers understand the subtleties of how to make a sidewalk safe and comfortable, while exciting new materials offer new technological possibilities and economists are coming to better understand the investment potential of sidewalks.

The best tools in any arsenal are multitaskers, and sidewalks aren’t just for moving. Just like we use streets for both driving and parking, we use sidewalks both for walking to a destination and also for standing still once we arrive.

In dense residential areas, like The Boro or The Mile, sidewalks can provide an outdoor common space, like a shared living room, for those living in small apartments. Sidewalks are also a good investment — they contribute thousands of dollars to property values. Good sidewalk design can even make a street safer for drivers.

Anatomy of a Sidewalk

The National Association of City Transportation Officials has a lot to say about how to engineer sidewalk space. In its design guide, it carves sidewalks up into three parallel zones – and while all three are for people, only one is actually about walking.

The frontage zone meets the facades of buildings and functions as an extension of them. It is usually home to cafe seating, benches, signs, staircases and entry ramps, and in residential areas individuals’ front gardens.

It can provide small nooks where you can stand under an awning and fire off a text message, or a place for eager customers to wait in line at the hip new cupcake shop. The frontage zone, while public, feels most closely associated with the building it touches.

The through zone is where pedestrians actually travel. It’s a clear lane for foot traffic, extending straight across multiple blocks, free of obstructions and wide enough for wheelchair users or groups of walkers to pass one another. It is often distinguished from the other two zones by a slightly different paving material. In order for pedestrians to move quickly, comfortably and efficiently, the through zone must be wide (at least five feet and up to 12) and unobstructed.

The furniture zone, also called the curb zone, is both the access to and the barrier from the street.

Traditionally, it is home to trees, light posts, traffic signs, utility boxes, newspaper stands and bus stops. In the 21st century, it gives us access to our wealth of new mobility options: car rental kiosks, Capital Bikeshare stations, pick-up zones for Uber or Lyft. This is where shared scooters ought to be parked.

Like the frontage zone, it can have benches or picnic tables, but this space feels entirely public, whereas benches in the frontage zone seem to belong to the adjacent building. The objects, furniture, and especially trees in this zone protect pedestrians from car traffic but the bus stops, taxi stands and bikeshare stations let them enter it on their terms. Like the wall of your house with its doors and windows, it protects you from the elements while also forming a point of access.

All sidewalks have these three zones, although they might blur together or be very narrow. Designing a good sidewalk, though, means understanding the role of each. Many sidewalks in Tysons, for lack in investment, don’t have the essential elements that fully flesh out the frontage and furniture zones. These sidewalks, simple concrete paths through grass, are incomplete.

Sidewalk Engineering

Concrete is classic, but new materials offer exciting possibilities for the sidewalks of the future. New kinds of sidewalks could double as automatic storm drains, use recycled materials, or generate electricity — and the D.C. area is on the cutting edge.

Engineers in many cities around the world have started experimenting with using recycled rubber as a paving material for the last two decades. Results have been mixed, with maintenance costs higher than expected in some places, but the rubber has a threefold advantage. DC has been a national leader with this technology, meaning Tysons has a lot of local expertise to reference.

First, by reusing waste rubber, the material is ecologically friendly.

Second, this rubber paving is usually slightly porous — meaning it absorbs some water during a heavy rainfall, helping deal with the thorny problem of stormwater management and preventing puddles from accumulating.

Third, as trees on sidewalks grow, their roots can push up and out, dislodging cement blocks and making the through zone inaccessible to those in wheelchairs. Rubber paving, because of its flexibility, can actually accommodate shifts in root structures without cracking.

Another new type of sidewalk has only made its way out of the laboratory a few years ago. In 2013, the George Washington University campus in next-door Loudoun County unveiled the world’s first walkable solar-powered pavement. This “Solar Walk,” part of the public campus sidewalk, uses solar panels embedded beneath a reinforced material to generate electricity that can not only light the sidewalk up at night but also send some power back to nearby Innovation Hall.

However, these flashy technologies have their critics, and it may be that traditional bricks offer greater value and some of the same benefits as the rubber material.

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Three men were arrested in a Tysons Corner Center parking deck after allegedly passing counterfeit bills at the Lord and Taylor store.

Store employees called police to report the crime around 8 p.m. Wednesday. Officers stopped the men in their car and recovered additional counterfeit currency, narcotics and brass knuckles, according to police.

More from FCPD:

Andres Moreno, 34, Warren Missouri, 26 and Michael Allen 42, of Baltimore, Md. were arrested for possession of schedule I or II narcotics, carrying a concealed weapon, forging bank notes, obtaining money by false pretenses, possession of marijuana and obtaining identifying information to avoid arrest.

Also Wednesday, the McLean Islamic Center, which recently won approval increase parking, was burglarized by a man entering the building through the window.

The man was described as 6′ tall, wearing a dark jacket and jeans, and driving a four-door beige car, according to FCPD.

Photo courtesy FCPD

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McLean, like nearby Great Falls and Wolf Trap, are all still in the Top 50 for Bloomberg’s 2019 Richest Places ranking, but the elite suburban communities took a dip in this year’s rankings.

McLean’s average household income is $283,992, a slight increase over 2016’s $280,225 and 2015’s $268,997, which was what the 2018 rankings were based on.

But that wasn’t enough to keep the locality from falling five spots in this year’s ranking. It was surpassed by newcomers like Rumson, a wealthy corner of Monmouth County in New Jersey.

Great Falls ranked higher than McLean, at number 16 in the rankings. It too took a hit, falling from a lofty 14th place with its $309,599 average household income.

Wolf Trap, currently ranked 42nd, fell three places. The neighborhood’s average household income is $251,610.

Overall, Fairfax County was ranked second in U.S. News & World Report’s richest counties, with a median household income of $117,515, between Loudoun County in first place and Howard County, Maryland in third place.

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It’s Valentine’s Day and there’s plenty of options around the area for romantic gestures, from a singing quartet to a wide array of restaurant specials.

But if you’re looking for something a little more low-key, Stomping Ground in Tysons Galleria’s Taste of Urbanspace has a few special treats for today only.

In addition to the usual biscuits, the location will be offering strawberry scones with a pink strawberry glaze for $3. The scones — of course — have been cut into heart shapes.

In keeping with the pink theme, Stomping Ground will also have fresh strawberry milk with whipped cream for $4.

The last special is something of an inexplicable Valentine’s Day specialty: Mexican Hot Chocolate. The drink has cocoa powder, cayenne, cinnamon, grapefruit and black pepper marshmallows in a house hot chocolate for $5.25.

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For all its faults, it’s hard to say Tycon Courthouse doesn’t stand out.

More locally known as the “Toilet Bowl” or “Stargate” building, Tycon Courthouse on Route 123 just west of Leesburg Pike is most notable for it’s over seven-story tall ring in the front of the building.

But there was a time where the building, labeled the ugliest in Virginia in Business Insider’s 2018 list of ugliest buildings in every state, was once the height of local architecture. It was, at one point, the largest office building in Tysons and the first structure to include massive structure parking, able to accommodate a then-record 900 cars.

It was built in 1983 in the middle of a “screaming architecture” fad — a Washington Post article at the time said the buildings were designed to be their own advertisements. They were reflective of peak Reagan-era style, where notability was more important than pleasing aesthetics. Architects Volker Zinser and Barry Dunn were credited with the project.

There are several urban rumors about the project, like that it was designed to look like an “O” for the Olivetti Company, or the lenses of a Nikon camera, but an interview with Zinser at the time said he was inspired by a book about 19th-century French architects who designed projects that explored geometric volumes.

In keeping with the style, Zinser said the fact that the building was being talked about was more important than what people were calling it.

The screaming architecture fad was centered around Fairfax County. Experts at the time called it medieval, noting that businesses were grabbing spaces and turning them into private fortresses.

The Blade Runner-esque Tysons Office Center on Route 7 and Gallows Road, sometimes called the “Flash Cube” building, and Tycon Towers, the 17-story “shopping bag,” were other local examples of this design.

Tycon Courthouse in the 1980s photo via Bonstra Haresign Architects

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Morning Notes

Robbery Attempt in Falls Church — “The victim was getting out of a van when a man walked up to him, displayed a handgun and demanded money. The victim quickly backed away and the man ran away.” [FCPD]

Students, Retirees Send Valentine’s Day Care Packages — “On Jan. 27, nearly 150 individuals, from kindergartners to octogenarians, took part in The Potomac School’s third annual Intergenerational Valentine’s Day Service Event, hosted by Vinson Hall Retirement Community.” [McLean Connection]

Snow in the Forecast — “The first in this trio of storm systems is slated to arrive Saturday, with a second one possible Sunday and finally another targeting late Tuesday into Wednesday next week. The Saturday and late-Tuesday-Wednesday systems appear to have the most wintry potential locally, but they are also far from sure bets.” [Washington Post]

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It’s been a long time in the making, but Shinsekai Ramen at 234 Maple Avenue E. opens tonight (Wednesday).

Inside, it’s all hands on deck as the kitchen and hospitality crews get the final preparations. Kevin Choe, regional operations manager for the Shinsekai, said he’s excited.

The restaurant is the first of a new brand behind Sushi Jin. While Vienna has other sushi restaurants, Choe said in researching the local market they didn’t find any other ramen-focused locations.

The restaurant opens at 5 p.m. Choe said the restaurant will normally be open for lunch at 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 5-9:30 p.m. for dinner. On weekends, Choe said they close an hour later.

Choe is passionate about ramen; not just the cooking of it, but the culture and the history. Shinsekai is a little different from most ramen restaurants. While pork-based ramen is the most common variety in the United States, Choe said Shinsekai uses a more traditional chicken based broth.

But while much of the menu is traditional, Choe also said the restaurant has some modern and international twists, like Korean kimchi as part of a dish that Choe said pairs well with ramen.

The restaurant also boasts a variety of vegan options, though Choe said those will not be available tonight. Choe said the focus of tonight’s soft opening is on the restaurant’s four main ramens.

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Dead Run Stream isn’t the only McLean waterway on the cusp of revitalization.

Bull Neck Run, a stream just north of Tysons, is nearing the end of project construction with completion scheduled for June.

Like the restoration finishing at Dead Run Stream, the Bull Neck Run restoration involves improving the ecological function of the stream and extracting nitrogen and phosphorous from the soil.

The idea is to make the stream valley more sustainable and safer for private property owners along the stream, local wildlife and the public using nearby trails.

The project will reduce flooding from the stream, and stabilize the stream banks. Part of the project involves creating new outlets for stormwater draining into the creek to reduce erosion and tree loss in the nearby forest.

The total cost of the project is $1.6 million, funded through the county’s stormwater service district.

While the project is scheduled to be completed in June, landscaping work at the site could continue through the fall. Visitors to the site are still encouraged to remain outside of active construction areas.

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If you want your Starbucks coffee but can’t be bothered to walk into the one on 207 Maple Avenue E., a new drive-through Starbucks is under construction roughly 200 feet away at 362 Maple Avenue E.

The facade of the former Donuts of Vienna, then a Taco Bell post-1997, is currently undergoing renovation. No signs or public information is available on when the new Starbucks will be open.

The new cafe was unanimously approved last April by the Vienna Board of Zoning Appeals.

The alterations to the existing restaurant will include moving the drive-through’s speaker closer to the building and shifting the pick-up window closer to the front. Landscaping will be installed around the perimeter.

Two crosswalks and two bicycle racks are also listed as additions to the site.

The location will have outdoor seating for 20 people and indoor seating for 20 more. The drive-through’s stacking area is expected to hold 12 vehicles.

One Reddit user, “Futhermucker”, posted an elegy to the departed Taco Bell:

I grew up with this Taco Bell. I’ll never forget rolling in squad deep after middle school — mastering the little balance game on the counter to get a free soft taco with every meal. They removed that game because of us. In high school, I got two out of my five first kisses inside that Taco Bell. It was there that I made a beeline towards after smoking my first joint on the WO&D trail. It was on a 90s retro bench seat there that I broke up with my first girlfriend via text. They were so understanding when my first car’s alternator died in their drivethru, shutting it down for me until the tow truck arrived. Once I got to college, it was always a sweet relief from my mom’s cooking when I came to visit. I watched staff come and go, but it was always the same Taco Bell. If my life was a coming-of-age movie, that Starbucks sign going up would be the ending scene, right before the credits roll. RIP Maple Ave Taco Bell, Vienna didn’t deserve you.

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Luxury for Less: Feb. 13

Welcome to Luxury For Less, a weekly column highlighting the best deals in luxury real estate. Written by Brandy Schantz of TTR Sotheby’s International Realty, Luxury For Less offers tips and tricks navigating the competitive real estate market and securing the home of your dreams. To learn more, visit ttrsir.com.

Vienna is a popular place to live in the D.C. Metro area.

People love the small-town charm, the proximity to Tysons Corner and the trails that wind through our enchanting town. When the weather is nice, we all meet outdoors to enjoy a run, take a leisurely stroll to the Whole Foods, or walk our dogs. It’s a pretty idyllic life in the D.C. Metro area and no one who lives here is surprised that we consistently top lists of best places to live in the U.S.

The only problem, this town is becoming more and more expensive. Real estate prices are quite diverse in Vienna. The town is divided into 4 quadrants with each quadrant selling homes at different prices. Currently, the hot market in Vienna seems to be in Southeast.

Southeast is very desirable for its proximity to Tysons, great schools and walkability to Westwood Country Club. Living on Mashie or Niblick Drive has suddenly become very elite, in part thanks to the very large, high-end homes recently built on those two streets. In addition to paying top dollar to get in to Southeast Vienna, the town taxes can break the budget.

Recent sales in southeast include a $1,030,000 condo on Glyndon and $2,350,000 detached home on Niblick. Top that off with an additional real estate tax for living in the Town of Vienna of 22.5 cents per $100 of the property’s assessed value. It’s steep to live in this neighborhood.

What if you want to live in Vienna without the extra taxes or the price tag over $2M? Just east of the town and mere steps from this hot neighborhood are many great homes that sell for less and lack the extra taxes. This neighborhood is just west of Old Courthouse Road and east of Electric Avenue.

Most of the homes were built 10 years ago or more but have a lot of space and similar access to the trails, Tysons and the shops on Maple Avenue. In contrast to Southeast, the most expensive home sold in this neighborhood in the past six months was a detached home with over 7500 sq. ft. that sold for $1,695,000. Still too much? Most of the homes in this neighborhood sold for around $1M with many below that amount. Vienna addresses without the steep Vienna prices.

This week we have quite a few great homes featured and one just outside the town limits in Vienna to consider!

The properties listed are a small selection of properties available in the Tyson’s Corner area. For a full list of properties listed on MLS and private exclusives, please contact Brandy Schantz.

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