Newsletter

Idylwood residents will officially have to wait another five years for relief from construction on a power substation project that was originally slated for a May 31, 2020 completion.

The State Corporation Commission granted an extension to Dominion Energy last Wednesday (Sept. 8), letting the utility company take until Dec. 31, 2026 to finish a project that has become a headache for surrounding neighborhoods.

“I think the neighborhood is resigned and tired after 8 years,” Lori Jeffrey, president of the Holly Crest Community Association Board of Directors, said by email. “It’s always been uphill and we know that Dominion will ultimately get what they ask for.”

The project involves upgrading the Idylwood power substation at Shreve Road that was originally built in the late 1950s and reducing the facility’s footprint from 3.99 acres to 2.27 acres, according to Dominion.

The company filed application paperwork with Fairfax County in 2014, got SCC approval for the project in 2017, and ramped up pre-construction activities in 2018. The SCC’s initial order required the rebuild to be complete in 2020 but allowed room for an extension.

“We are committed to keeping this complex and necessary project on schedule,” Dominion spokesperson Peggy Fox said in a statement. “Ensuring the community’s energy needs go uninterrupted is a priority.

Adding that “much of the work is orchestrated around energized equipment,” Fox said that unexpected circumstances always occur during construction, but Dominion is taking precautions to limit delays and will adhere to its commitment to the neighborhood to limit weekend work.

Previously, the company justified the amount of time sought for the rebuild by citing the complexity of the project and longer-than-exected permitting processes, among other factors, acknowledging that it had underestimated parts of the timeline.

The extension comes after residents voiced concerns about delays in the project and questioned whether Dominion was being honest about its work.

During an SCC hearing in June that was requested by Fairfax County officials, residents spoke about the project lasting for years and questioned how trustworthy the company is when it presents information.

In a concession to residents’ frustrations, the commission’s timeline extension approval comes with a requirement that Dominion post quarterly construction updates on its website for the project.

“I think our constant pressure has also ensured that [Dominion] will build the wall on Shreve road this fall, years before the other 3 sides,” Jeffrey wrote. “This will help mitigate the appearance of the construction for everyone but the residents immediately adjacent to the substation.”

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Just as one crane in Tysons prepares to descend, another has emerged on the other side of I-495 to fill the skyline.

Construction has moved above ground on The Monarch, a luxury condominium tower under development at 7887 Jones Branch Drive northeast of Tysons Galleria, developer Renaissance Centro announced in a news release yesterday (Monday).

The Monarch originally broke ground in April 2019 and was expected to open in late 2020. However, the departure of the project’s contractor stalled work on the building until this past June, after Hoar Construction was selected as the new general contractor.

With construction underway again, The Monarch says Hoar is on schedule to deliver the 20-story, 94-unit tower by mid-2023.

Despite the construction hiatus, more than 30% of the available condos have already been sold, according to the developer, which says the purchase contracts for three of the units have exceeded $3.5 million each — record prices for the Tysons market.

Accompanied by 6,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space, The Monarch’s condos come in more than a dozen different floor plans, ranging in size from 800 to 4,090 square feet and in price from $600,000 to $4.1 million.

According to the news release, amenities include personalized concierge service, a hospitality suite for visitors, a fitness center, and a pool:

Designed by WDG Architecture, the iconic Monarch tower will have only two to seven residences per floor, some with direct elevator access. All units except studios will have floor-to-ceiling windows on two or three sides and expansive balconies or terraces.

Residents will enjoy a variety of indoor and outdoor shared spaces for relaxing, socializing, and staying active. The lushly landscaped garden terrace will feature an inviting pool surrounded by lounge seating and grill stations. The terrace will overlook a stand of mature trees including a trail leading to Arbor Row Stream Valley Park.

An impressive residents’ lounge with comfortable seating will be located adjacent to the garden terrace, with a fireplace, book nook, bar area, and catering kitchen. A state-of-the-art fitness center will be on the same floor, and will feature high-end exercise equipment, a stretching area, spa-like locker rooms, and personalized fitness options. Topping it all off will be Monarch’s exclusive 20th floor private dining room with stunning 180-degree views of the surrounding area.

Monarch’s meticulously designed residences are distinguished by spacious living rooms, walk-in showers, large closets, luxurious bathrooms, and white oak flooring throughout. The open chef-inspired kitchens will have oversized waterfall kitchen islands, quartz countertops and full-height backsplashes, concealed-panel Miele appliances, and modern European cabinetry. Optional upgrades include natural stone selections, automated shades, heated floors, wine refrigeration, and more.

The Monarch is part of the six-parcel, mixed-use Arbor Row development that will eventually occupy 19 acres along Westpark Drive.

The first portion of the development was completed in 2015, when Fairfax County cut the ribbon on Arbor Row Stream Valley Park (8101 Jones Branch Drive) and two Jones Branch athletic fields. The Nouvelle, a 27-story residential building, was delivered in 2016.

The 300-unit senior living facility The Mather is scheduled to open a first residential tower at 7929 Westpark Drive in 2023, followed by a second tower in 2024. The complex launched pre-sales for the second tower in June.

In total, Arbor Row will have more than 1,400 residential units and 35,000 square feet of ground-level retail when completed.

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Morning Notes

Silver Line Phase 2 Construction Could Finish This Fall — Construction on the long-delayed Silver Line Phase 2 could reach substantial completion in November, letting Metro take control of the project for a potential opening in the first half of 2022, officials said yesterday (Thursday). The project will add six stations to the rail line, whose first phase opened in the Tysons area in July 2014. [The Washington Post]

Vienna Town Council Gets Peek at Police HQ — “Donning hard hats, members of the Vienna Town Council got a first-hand look at the new police headquarters construction [Thursday] morning. Later they joined staff and contractors to sign one of the steel beams. As of now, the new facility is on schedule to open in summer 2022.” [Town of Vienna/Twitter]

Tysons Consultant and IT Firm Merge — Tysons-based consulting company Guidehouse has agreed to acquire the McLean-based Dovel Technologies Inc., which provides data analytics, artificial intelligence, and other technology services. Expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year, the sale will add 1,800 employees from Dovel to Guidehouse, which plans to expand with a new global headquarters on International Drive later this year. [Virginia Business]

Annandale Resident Dies in Helicopter Crash — “An Annandale man was one of the five sailors killed in a helicopter crash following a flight operation off the coast of San Diego on Aug. 31. Lt. Paul R. “Boo” Fridley, 28, of Annandale was part of the crew…conducting a routine flight operation from USS Abraham Lincoln when the aircraft crashed into the sea roughly 60 nautical miles off the coast of San Diego at 4:30 p.m.” [Patch]

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(Updated on Sept. 10) The Tysons skyline will soon look a little emptier, as one of the three cranes looming over Capital One Center near the Capital Beltway is scheduled to be disassembled next week.

The move marks a turning point in construction on the mixed-use development forming around Capital One’s headquarters. The Perch sky park opened to the public last month, and the performing arts venue Capital One Hall and The Watermark Hotel will come online this fall.

The next phase focuses on two office towers — one 24 stories tall and the other 30 stories, plus a roof — that the cranes have been piecing together on the site. Linked by an atrium, the buildings will encompass 900,000 square feet of office and retail space, slated to be finished in 2023, according to Capital One Center.

Miller & Long — one of dozens of subcontractors for the project — topped off both towers earlier this year, but crane operators have been assisting other parts of the build, and the skyscrapers are still a hard-hat site.

The tallest crane, which towers 550 feet above ground, will come down by mid-October, and crews will remove the remaining crane on the north side of the new buildings by the end of the year.

The bulk of Miller & Long’s work on Capital One Center occurred last year even as the COVID-19 pandemic upended the construction industry across the country.

Construction jobs in Virginia took an initial hit before the industry bounced back to its pre-pandemic peak of over 207,000 jobs by the end of 2020. Since January, though, employment has dropped again by several thousand.

Miller & Long CEO Brett McMahon says the dip stems from a statewide pause in college and university construction. He says that’s only a limited factor for dips in jobs statewide, not Tysons.

“The state university projects…started getting pushed and pushed and pushed,” he said. “That part of it may be a big chunk of what’s affecting the overall demand for construction.”

However, Miller & Long expects to see continued growth in the D.C. region and is “pursuing a record number of projects,” Vice President of Logistics Jim Martinoski says.

While other businesses faced multi-week shutdowns or had to adapt to work-from-home setups, construction of the two Capital One Center office towers only halted for one day due to COVID-19 sometime around late spring of 2020, Martinoski says.

Even for a commercial development project, Capital One Center has been a massive undertaking, sprawling across 26 acres of land at the intersection of I-495 and Route 123.

Miller & Long poured 100,000 cubic yards of concrete for the Capital One headquarters, which began in 2014 and finished in 2018. The adjacent block featuring Capital One Hall, The Watermark Hotel, and Wegmans required another 100,000 cubic yards.

The new office towers have consumed 90,000 cubic yards of concrete. Typical jobs for 20 to 30-story buildings involve 20,000 to 30,000 cubic yards.

The Capital One campus is part of a development boom in Tysons that has also seen a shift to more eco-friendly buildings, according to Miller & Long.

While working on Capital One Center, the contractor has started using more environmentally friendly cement made in batches at the site, reducing the need for trucks to haul it to the work site as has been done traditionally.

“It’s amazing how much it has grown,” McMahon said of Tysons. “It was a bit of farmland when I was a kid.”

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Morning Notes

More Rain Soaks Northern Virginia — Up to five inches of rain fell across the region early Sunday morning (Aug. 15), causing flash flooding in Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax and Prince William counties. High water closed Arlington Boulevard near Route 7 in Falls Church, while downed wires shut down Clarks Crossing Road at Elgin Drive in Vienna and Melbourne Drive at Van Fleet Drive in McLean. [Inside NoVA]

New Scotts Run Fire Station Begins Operations — The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department’s new Station 44 at Scotts Run officially went into service on Saturday (Aug. 14). Located at 1766 Old Meadow Lane, the station had been under construction since 2019 and contains three vehicle bays, offices, and living quarters for up to 12 people per shift. A grand opening is scheduled for Sept. 18. [Chief John Butler/Twitter]

Construction Starts on Bridge Over I-495 — Work is now underway on the bicycle and pedestrian bridge over I-495 near Route 123 and a shared-use path that, when extended along Old Meadow Road, will connect Tysons Corner Center to the McLean Metro station. Traffic impacts, including lane closures, will occur on the Capital Beltway and Old Meadow during construction, which is expected to finish in summer 2022. [VDOT]

Woman Assaulted Near Tysons Corner Center — A man yelled derogatory statements at two women who were sitting on a bench in the 7900 block of Tysons One Place at 9:55 p.m. on Aug. 10 and assaulted one of them before fleeing the area. The Fairfax County Police Department has labeled the incident a bias or hate crime. [FCPD]

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Bluestone Lane is still brewing at The Boro in Tysons.

A tipster alerted Tysons Reporter that signs for the Australian company’s first Virginia coffee shop went up last week, and a visit to the squat, standalone building in front of Boro Tower on Silver Hill Drive on Tuesday (Aug. 3) found workers touching up the roof and interior space.

A Bluestone Lane spokesperson told Tysons Reporter last month that they are looking to open in mid-August after previously aiming for July 15, which is still listed as the coffee shop’s opening date on a site plan for The Boro.

An employee with the construction contractor attributed the delays to a widespread demand for trade workers and resources, with a lot of projects restarting at once after many developers hit pause during the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bluestone Lane’s goal now is “hopefully” opening in the third week of August, according to the contractor, who said he anticipates doing a walk-through of the site with the owner on Aug. 13.

Bluestone Lane has been eyeing The Boro as its entry into the Northern Virginia market since December 2018, before the mixed-use development had even opened its first building. The shop was expected to be ready sometime between fall 2019 and spring 2020.

The company currently has a combined six cafes and coffee shops in D.C., along with locations in New York City, Boston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and other major U.S. cities.

In other Boro restaurant news, Metropolitan Hospitality Group has swapped in Circa Bistro for Open Road, an Americana restaurant that already has a location in Merrifield.

The group is also still planning to bring the Mexican eatery El Bebe to the Tysons development, as announced in November 2019.

According to the Washington Business Journal, the restaurant group decided to make the Circa/Open Road switch after consulting with the Meridian Group, the property developer behind The Boro, in light of the pandemic.

The Boro confirmed WBJ’s report that Circa and El Bebe plan to open in Boro Tower in early 2022.

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Construction is starting today (Tuesday) on Pupatella’s upcoming location in the Mosaic District, a spokesperson for the local pizza chain told Tysons Reporter.

Signage indicating that Pupatella will be moving into the space at 140 Penny Lane first emerged in early fall 2019, but no visible work on the site had been done since then.

Founded in 2007 by Enzo and Anastasiya Algarme, Pupatella began life as a food truck before opening its first brick-and-mortar location in Arlington in 2010.

Since then, the pizza restaurant has added four more locations, including a second Arlington spot and a site that opened in Reston this past December.

As first reported yesterday by the Washington Business Journal, Pupatella says it has secured a $7.5 million investment that will enable it to add as many as 15 pizzerias over the next few years.

New locations that have been confirmed so far are the Mosaic restaurant and a West Springfield site. Three other sites are currently under negotiation, including what would be the chain’s first Maryland site.

“Our focus is always going to be neighborhood Neapolitan,” Enzo Algarme said in a press release. “Our most recent capital raise gives us the opportunity to bring the true Naples pizzeria experience to more communities. It’s a dream that keeps growing for us.”

According to the spokesperson, Pupatella is aiming to open its Mosaic restaurant in late 2021.

It will join several other Italian venues at the Merrifield mixed-use development, which already has Alta Strada, Oath Pizza, and Matchbox Pizza. Most recently, The Italian Place opened across the street from Pupatella this past weekend, but a planned grand opening celebration has been delayed until later this month.

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Renovations for the first phase of improvements at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts have been completed.

The renovations include the introduction of permanent, roofed wooden pavilions that replace temporary tents that covered the park’s Ovations restaurant, Encore Circle Lounge, and associates and terrace decks. The old temporary vinyl tents had to be erected each spring and taken down in fall.

Each of the new structures were constructed out of Douglas fir and designed to match the Filene Center, a 7,000-seat outdoor amphitheater.

The finished renovations were revealed Thursday (July 29) during a ribbon-cutting ceremony hosted by the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, the nonprofit that partners with the National Park Service to provide concerts and other programming at the park.

“This day has been five years in the making,” Wolf Trap Foundation President and CEO Arvind Manocha said. “Five years ago, we convened a group of leadership of the foundation and our partners at the National Park Service to consider this park’s needs and reflect carefully on how to bring Wolf Trap into the next half century as a national beacon for the performing arts.”

Each of the renovated pavilions retained the open-air concepts that distinguish Wolf Trap, and they are intended to enhance the park experience for the performance season and encourage a greater year-round use of the park than what was possible with the tents.

Additional announced enhancements include a replacement of the Filene Center’s over 20-year-old audio systems and the renovation of the backstage artist areas.

Funded with money that the foundation raised from private donors, the renovation project coincides with Wolf Trap’s 50th anniversary, which it celebrated on July 1.

“These projects were funded by members of our board, led by a group of visionary donors who stepped forward to ensure that we could move quickly and decisively,” Manocha said.

The renovations fall in conjunction with upgrades being performed by the National Park Service. Those upgrades include security upgrades, the installation of new fencing, and electrical infrastructure improvements.

The park service is also looking at some more substantial updates, such as a new pedestrian tunnel, as part of a proposed amendment to Wolf Trap’s master plan. The NPS detailed its plans in a virtual meeting on May 25 and closed a public comment period for a required environmental assessment on June 25.

Wolf Trap National Park Acting Superintendent Ken Bigley says finished and planned upgrades illustrate the National Park Service and Wolf Trap Foundation’s shared commitment to ensuring that visitors “have a memorable, amazing experience” at the park.

“We are in this business for the long term,” Bigley said. “We wanted to build advocacy for a love of the performing arts, for a love of the importance of live music and dance, a love of public lands.”

Dan D’Aniello, who chairs the Wolf Trap Foundation board of directors, closed out the ribbon-cutting event by challenging everyone in attendance to continue to “embrace what needs to be done to ensure that this asset remains viable and dear to not only us, but all people.”

“We are deeply, deeply proud of our friendship and partnership with the National Park Service, both from cultural perspective in artistic programming and from a financial perspective in our role as philanthropic partner,” D’Aniello said. “We are and we will continue making good on our promises to advance the potential of Wolf Trap.”

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Morning Notes

Construction Begins on New Tysons ER — “HCA Virginia, the health system behind Reston Hospital Center, has started construction on a Tysons emergency room and aims to open it in early 2022…Located at 8240 Leesburg Pike, Tysons Emergency will be an ER open 24 hours daily with full-service emergency care.” [Patch]

Just 40% of Metro Workers Vaccinated Against COVID-19 — “Metro’s top executive warned employees Monday that the transit system might start mandatory coronavirus tests if the agency’s vaccination rate doesn’t climb to at least 70 percent. Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld said in a memo to employees that about 40 percent of Metro’s workforce has indicated being vaccinated in an employee database.” [The Washington Post]

I-66 Widening Work Still on Schedule — Work on the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project remains on schedule for the extended toll lanes to open in December 2022, the Virginia Department of Transportation says. Nearly 2,000 workers are currently involved in the project with bridges and ramps at the I-66/I-495 interchange among the most noticeable construction. [Inside NoVA]

Tysons Library Book Sales Return — For the first time during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library friends’ group will host a book sale. To avoid overcrowding, attendees on the first day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Aug. 18 will be required to register for a two-hour time slot in advance, but entry will not be restricted for the rest of the sale from Aug. 19-22. [Fairfax County Public Library]

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Morning Notes

Governor to Throw First Pitch for Little League Tournament — The 2021 Virginia State Little League Majors Tournament kicks off at 5:30 p.m. today in Vienna with a Parade of Champions led by the Washington Nationals Racing Presidents. Opening ceremonies begin at 6:15 p.m. at Yeonas Park with Gov. Ralph Northam and Vienna Mayor Linda Colbert throwing out the first pitch. [Town of Vienna/Facebook]

Idylwood Substation Timeline Extension Supported — A State Corporation Commission hearing examiner recommended approval of Dominion Energy’s request to extend the timeline for construction on its Idylwood substation until Dec. 31, 2026. The project has frustrated residents, but Holly Crest Community Association President Lori Jeffrey expressed hope when contacted by Tysons Reporter that requiring the utility company to file quarterly construction status updates will bring some degree of accountability and prevent a repeat of this past spring. [SCC]

Merger Floated for Tysons Company — Tysons-headquartered Cvent, a private event-management company with around 4,000 employees, will merge with Dragoneer Growth Opportunities Corp. II and become publicly traded, according to The Wall Street Journal. “The company isn’t commenting on WSJ speculation at this time,” spokesperson Nevin Reilly told Tysons Reporter. [WSJ]

Police Department Adds First Data Director — “Fairfax County Chief of Police Kevin Davis has hired Dr. Noah Fritz as the Department’s new Director of Crime Control Strategies & Data Analytics. Dr. Fritz will be a key contributor to Davis’ data-driven strategy, which aims to guide FCPD’s approach to fair and effective policing through the collection, analysis and sharing of statistical information.” [FCPD]

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