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After years of debate and stagnation, construction has become a common sight along Maple Avenue in Vienna.

Among the most visible of the ongoing projects, thanks to a crane towering over the low-lying commercial corridor, is the Sunrise Senior Living facility emerging at 380 Maple Avenue — just one building east of the redeveloping Vienna Wolf Trap Hotel and Tequila Grande.

Construction on the assisted living facility began with a groundbreaking in June and is expected to be completed in 2023, according to Andy Coelho, the senior vice president of construction, facilities, and design at Sunrise Senior Living.

“Potential residents and community members will be able to get a first look at the offerings when the off-site sales gallery opens in late 2022,” Coelho told Tysons Reporter.

Approved by the Vienna Town Council in January 2020, the project consists of an 82,000 square-foot building with 85 assisted living units and 950 square feet of space on the ground floor for a cafe or restaurant.

The new building will be 54 feet tall with four stories. In addition to assisted living, it will have a “Reminiscence Neighborhood” that serves residents with memory care needs as well as options for short-term stays, Coelho says.

The road to last summer’s groundbreaking was long and convoluted for Sunrise, which originally proposed building the facility at the Center Street corner but faced concerns about parking and the planned retail space.

The town council rejected that plan in July 2019, prompting Sunrise to sue the town. The lawsuit was resolved in March 2020 after the project relocated to 380 Maple Avenue, which had been set for a mixed-use development that encountered similar skepticism.

Sunrise’s Vienna facility will be its 22nd in Virginia, joining existing sites in Tysons, Falls Church, Reston, and more.

Coelho says Sunrise of Vienna will support not just its residents, but also the surrounding community.

“This community will provide a high-quality senior care option to the surrounding area while building strong connections with that region through partnerships and events,” he said by email. “As we continue through the construction phase of this project, we look forward to sharing more about the differentiators of this property.”

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Morning Notes

FCPS Can Keep Enforcing Mask Mandate — An Arlington County judge ruled yesterday (Tuesday) that Fairfax County Public Schools and the six other districts engaged in a lawsuit against Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s executive order can enforce their requirements until the legal challenge is resolved. The ruling came as the state Senate, led by Sen. Chap Petersen, approved a measure to let parents opt out of school mask mandates. [The Washington Post]

I-495 Pedestrian Bridge Under Construction — “Check out the progress on this bicycle and pedestrian bridge over I-495 and the connecting shared-use path in Tysons! This link from Tysons One Pl/Fashion Blvd to Old Meadow Rd and Provincial Dr is scheduled for completion this summer.” [VDOT Northern Virginia/Twitter]

Keam’s Roundabout Funding Bill Dies — A House of Delegates subcommittee voted to table legislation proposed by Del. Mark Keam, who represents Vienna and much of Tysons, that would’ve given more funding to sidewalk and roundabout projects. Virginia currently requires regional transportation funds to be prioritized based on congestion relief. [Sun Gazette]

Valentine’s Day Market Coming to Tysons — “Need a gift for your Valentine? @CelebrateFFX has you covered! Stop by the Loving Shop Local Market, this Saturday, Feb. 12 from 12-5 PM at The PARC for all of your Valentine’s Day essentials!” [Tysons Partnership/Twitter]

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An aerial view of the old Gallows Road bridge in October 2021 next to the new span currently serving two-way traffic (via VDOT)

Eastbound drivers on I-66 can expect overnight delays this week as crews demolish the old Gallows Road bridge in Merrifield.

Crews are taking apart an old concrete deck with jack hammers, saw cutters, and hoe rams. The overnight work began last night (Sunday) and will repeat each night through Jan. 16.

A new Gallows Road bridge opened to traffic in October as part of the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project, which is adding express lanes, upgrading interchanges, replacing bridges, and improving pedestrian routes along 22 miles of the interstate from I-495 in Dunn Loring to Gainesville.

The hazardous conditions mean that three lanes on I-66 are closed to eastbound traffic starting at 10 p.m. each night this week. They will reopen at 5 a.m. on weekdays and 7 a.m. on the weekend.

“Drivers should expect periodic stoppages of up to 20 minutes nightly Sunday through Thursday between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m., and Friday and Saturday between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.,” the Virginia Department of Transportation said in a news release.

Gallows Road will remain open, but there will be traffic shifts at times, and changes could occur. VDOT noted that people can receive project updates via email by signing up on its website.

The new Gallows Road bridge, which currently has four lanes, will eventually shift to just a northbound link over I-66. Once crews finish the demolition work, a new southbound bridge will be built.

“The bridge will include three lanes southbound and two lanes northbound (with width to add a third northbound lane in the future),” Justin McNaul, with the engineering consulting firm ATCS that’s assisting VDOT, said in an email.

The new bridge will be longer and wider than its predecessor. It will also feature 5-foot-wide bicycle lanes in each direction with a sidewalk to the north and barrier-separated path to the south in an effort to improve access, including to the Dunn Loring-Merrifield Metro station.

The bridge is slated to be completed in the fall, and the new I-66 express lanes are expected to open in December.

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Fairfax County is planning to dredge the pond by Nutley Street near I-66 (via Google Maps)

Nutley Pond will be going dry for the next several months.

The pond, located off Virginia Center Boulevard and Nutley Street in Vienna, will be drained as a part of a dredging project at the site. The project will address clogged low-flow sluice gates, an unsafe riser area, an excessive sediment deposit and invasive plant species around the pond’s periphery.

Sajan Pokharal, a project manager with the Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services, said at a virtual meeting on Monday (Dec. 13) that the project will take roughly 10 months, starting in January.

The dredging will remove about 10,000 cubic yards of sediment from the pond. The project will also enhance safety by installing a safety rail, fences, and safety benches, while rehabilitating the pond shoreline to provide an aquatic safety bench and native vegetation.

Susie Foster, the project’s landscape architect, said welded wire mesh can be used, as needed, to protect the plant material from wildlife.

A stabilized turf access point will also be installed at the north end of Baronhurst Drive for future maintenance.

The rehabilitation part of the project will include the installation of six cell floating wetlands, with three each at the north and south ends of the pond.

Pokharal said these will benefit the pond by attracting and sustaining insects, which will, in turn, attract song birds. The floating wetlands material and root systems will also provide surface area for beneficial microbes to pull pollutants from the water.

The dredging and restoration processes can overlap with multiple crews, while plantings will occur in spring, fall, or winter seasons, according to Pokharal.

Pokharal assured that the project will follow Fairfax County noise ordinance guidelines, which will allow for work from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends and federal holidays.

However, he said the work “typically” can end around 3 p.m. and by 5 p.m. at the latest each day.

The trail around the pond will be closed throughout the duration of the project, with temporary fencing to identify its limits. Heavy construction equipment will also remain on site throughout the project.

While there will be trucks coming and going, Pokharal said loading and unloading will happen at a staging area on the existing asphalt access road off of Virginia Center Boulevard. Flaggers will direct trucks in and out of the access road.

The mechanical dredging will start by emptying the pond and allowing crews to establish access and staging areas. Diversion channels will then be established within the lake before the dredging begins.

Pokharal said that process will enable crews to remove more sediment per day, potentially lower the project cost, and make it easier to construct other improvements, such as the proposed safety bench.

He did, however, note that the project will be weather dependent, potentially causing delays. He also warned that there could be an odor from the lake bottom being exposed.

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The upcoming pedestrian bridge over I-495 in Tysons has seen its estimated costs rise to $13.4 million as landowners lock in easements and right of ways needed for the connector.

The Virginia Department of Transportation says it has been working with private parties to secure deals, one of which involved a $698,920 payment agreement to the condominium Encore of McLean.

Until the bicycle/pedestrian bridge is created, residents east of the Capital Beltway have to use an interstate underpass at Route 123 or Route 7 overpass to get to Tysons Corner Center, essentially requiring vehicular trips to the mall.

When construction activities began in August, the project cost was estimated at $12.3 million. The $1.1 million increase is due to right-of-way costs, VDOT said.

Crews are developing a staging area where a drilling machine will be used to create the foundation for the pedestrians.

“Over the next several months, crews will continue installing a retaining wall off of Old Meadow Road behind the Dolley Madison Apartments and will begin installing the bicycle and pedestrian bridge foundations and piers on both sides of I-495 and in the median of the 495 Express Lanes,” VDOT spokesperson Mike Murphy said in an email.

Focused on building the bridge and part of a shared-use path on Old Meadow Road, the first phase of project is scheduled for completion in summer 2022.

“Construction of the second phase of the project, the section of the shared-use path along Old Meadow Road from Provincial Drive to Route 123, will begin once additional funding is identified,” Murphy also wrote.

According to VDOT, the rapid growth of the Tysons area has resulted in a significantly higher cost for acquiring the easements.

Among a handful of other right-of-way or easements transactions secured, Tysons Corner Property Holdings, the limited-liability company used by Southern California-based Tysons Corner Center owner Macerich, received no financial award.

The condominium Regency at McLean obtained a $35,500 agreement, and Dolley Madison finalized a settlement on Nov. 9, details of which could be released in early January, according to VDOT.

VDOT said the increased costs were part of the scope of the contract.

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(Updated at 9:35 am. on 12/10/2021) The Highland District apartments — now branded The Rylan — are on their way toward completion next year.

Construction crews are now adding floors and setting the wooden framework in place for a five-story complex with 390 units of multifamily housing at 1768 Old Meadow Road.

Despite supply-chain issues making it harder to obtain materials, the project remains on track to be finished in summer 2022, according to Josh Wooldridge of The NRP Group, the developer behind The Rylan.

However, don’t expect a restaurant or coffee shop to follow suit.

When Fairfax County approved the Highland District in 2016, plans for the mixed-use development along Old Meadow Road featured a commitment to between 10,000 and 37,000 square feet of retail and service space.

That now appears unlikely to come to fruition, according to Wooldridge.

The Rylan was previously envisioned with 5,000 square feet of retail under original developer MRP Realty, but the current developers chose to go entirely residential, he says.

NRP specializes in apartment development, and there was no mention of retail when the company announced in May 2020 that it had partnered with real estate firm PointOne Holdings to work on the building.

“Essentially, there’s no market for it,” Wooldridge told Tysons Reporter. “When you put just a little bit of retail in these buildings, it almost never succeeds.”

While having ground-floor retail to serve residents sounds appealing, it’s risky unless the property lands a major brand like Starbucks, Wooldridge says, pointing to the closure of Republik Coffee Bar in Highgate at The Mile as an example.

He also says Tysons East is becoming “over-retailed,” noting that the initial proposal for The Rylan is dwarfed by the nearby Scotts Run development, where The Heming apartment building alone is expected to boast 38,000 square feet of commercial space.

Retail is also out at The Bexley, the condominium complex across the street that developer NV Homes completed in 2020. Wooldridge says that, as far as NRP is aware, the owners of the three other parcels designated for the Highland District have no plans to redevelop them, instead leaving the existing office buildings in place.

Despite the change in plans, Wooldridge says NRP is “really excited about what’s happening in Tysons,” noting The Rylan’s proximity to the Capital One headquarters and Fairfax County’s recently added recreational trail along Scott’s Run.

“So, you’re going to be able to walk from our site along that path up to the [McLean] Metro,” he said.

He also noted that the apartment building will benefit from the future pedestrian bridge connecting Old Meadow Road to Tysons Corner Center over I-495. A crew is currently preparing the site for the Virginia Department of Transportation project.

“On the weekend, weather’s nice, real easy walk over to the movie theater and to the food court at the mall,” Wooldridge said.

Amenities will include a resident clubroom with gaming rooms, working areas and a doorman, infinity edge pool, yoga lawns, outdoor activity areas, outdoor grilling areas, and a warehouse-style fitness center with separate spin and cardio studios, PointOne Holdings previously said.

The development will also have pocket parks, according to Woolridge.

Pricing could be released in the spring.

David Taube contributed to this report.

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Morning Notes

Fairfax County Public Schools Reduces Student Quarantine Period — “With FCPS now offering drive-through diagnostic testing at six sites across the county, in addition to the many alternative ways to access COVID-19 testing, FCPS is now providing the option for students who have been exposed to COVID-19 to return to school and in-person activities after seven days.” [FCPS]

Longtime McLean Restaurant Reopens — After 20 years on Old Dominion Drive, the Italian restaurant Pulcinella reopened yesterday (Tuesday) in a new location at 1310 Chain Bridge Road. The shopping center is also expecting to add the Persian-Mediterranean restaurant Divan and a Lidl that will replace the closed Safeway next year. [Patch]

See Construction on Phase II of The Mile — Developer KETTLER has made progress on Brentford at The Mile since breaking ground on the 411-unit apartment building in October 2020. Expected to finish next year, this is the second phase of the 45-acre mixed-use development emerging northwest of Tysons Galleria, with plans for a third phase already in the works. [Tysons Partnership/Twitter]

No Plans to Mandate COVID-19 Vaccine in Schools — “A petition to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for school employees and all eligible students failed this week when the Virginia Department of Health opted to take no action on the request. In a decision posted Monday, the agency stated that it lacked the ‘clear statutory authority’ to mandate the shots for employees.” [Virginia Mercury/Inside NoVA]

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Developers broke ground last week on a project to construct new townhomes on part of Graham Park Plaza.

The project will bring 177 townhomes to the West Falls Church shopping plaza at 7271 Arlington Boulevard. The developer committed to having 22 of those in Fairfax County’s affordable dwelling unit program.

It’ll also redevelop the area with public greenspace, improved sidewalks, and bicycle facilities.

Bethesda-based developer EYA, which is also involved in several other projects in the Falls Church area, has sold 40 townhomes so far, and the next phase of sales will occur early next year, a spokesperson said.

“This project supports one of our key strategic objectives, to provide attainably priced homeownership options in a well-designed, walkable neighborhood,” Evan Goldman, an executive with EYA, said in a news release.

The three-story townhomes with an option for a fourth-story loft start in the mid-$600,000s.

Goldman participated in a groundbreaking ceremony last Wednesday (Dec. 1) with Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay, Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross, and others, including representatives of property management firm Federal Realty, which has retained part of the plaza.

Federal Realty previously owned the entire plaza but sold 8 acres on the western side for $20.25 million in March to make way for the townhouse project. Several buildings on the eastern half of the plaza, including a Giant grocery store, were slated to remain for retail.

McKay said revitalization projects take a lot of creativity.

“It’s not just another development,” he said. “It’s revitalization and transformation of a part of the county where we need to continue that momentum.”

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Morning Notes

New Milestone Reached in Silver Line Phase 2 Project — Construction work on a new rail yard and maintenance facility at Dulles International Airport has been substantially completed, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority announced. The milestone will enable the project team to start testing the operational readiness of the Metrorail extension, bringing it closer to the long-anticipated handoff to Metro. [MWAA]

Afghan Refugees Build Community in Fairfax Hotel — “As the morning sunlight pours into her hotel room in Fairfax, Virginia, [Taban Ibraz] plans out her day: Attend an online English course, work on her asylum case and the stack of humanitarian parole applications for her family, look for an apartment, or simply stay in her room to read or write in her journal.” [DCist]

Vienna Kicks Off Holiday Season — “It took an extra year to reach the milestone, courtesy of the pandemic, but Vienna finally got to celebrate the 25th in-person Church Street Holiday Stroll Nov. 29. Santa arrived on the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department’s antique red fire engine, then lighted the town’s holiday tree with Vienna Mayor Linda Colbert and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” [Sun Gazette]

Merrifield Company Honored for Park Philanthropy — The Merrifield-based aerospace and defense company Northrop Grumman received a distinguished public service award from the Fairfax County Park Foundation, which raises funds for the Fairfax County Park Authority. The company has donated more than $169,000 to support environmental education in the county’s parks since 2001. [FCPA]

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Commuters driving down Route 123 in Tysons this morning (Tuesday) might have caught an unusual sight: a double-decker bus emblazoned with a Union Jack ascending into the air via a massive crane.

The bus was one of three vehicles installed in The Perch, the sky park that opened at Capital One Center at the end of August.

A post on the mixed-use development’s Instagram page also contains pictures and video footage captured by NBC4 of the crane lifting a 1947 Flxible bus and an Airstream caravan 11 stories in the air to the park on top of Capital One Hall.

A Capital One Center spokesperson confirmed that the vehicles will be repurposed as food trucks as part of The Perch’s second phase, which will feature an 18-hole “Perch Putt” mini golf course as well as the food trucks.

The tenant that will operate the food trucks remains “to be named,” the spokesperson said.

The second phase of The Perch is scheduled to open in spring 2022. The 2.5-acre park is anchored by Starr Hill Biergarten and already features bocce ball pits, a dog park, and an amphitheater.

A crane lifts a double-decker bus to The Perch over Capital One Hall (via Capital One Center/Instagram)

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