Tysons, VA

The Tysons Regional Chamber of Commerce bid adieu to its outgoing board members while welcoming a new group during a virtual induction ceremony on Thursday (Jan. 14).

The board welcomed seven new members to its 24-member group. Those new members include: Cherylyn Harley LeBon (DBL Lawyers), Dane Scott (Seasons 52), Erik Olafsson (Reese Yeatman Insurance), Michael Bradicich (General Systems Corporation), Raea Jean Leinster (Yuck Old Paint), Sid Ghatak (GSA) and William Dyess (The Dyess Group).

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik joined the meeting to welcome the new members.

“You, as the Tysons Chamber, I think are a very important voice and presence making investments in Tysons, but also helping to transform it to make it the place we want it to be: this vibrant, cutting edge urban place that can set a model for the rest of the country,” Connolly said to the board members.

Board chairman Andrew Clark echoed Connolly’s sentiment of progress by commending the board’s efforts and accomplishments in 2020. Clark particularly emphasized the chamber’s ability to host 40 virtual seminars, its fourth annual Tysons 2050 event and its first-ever Tysons Restaurant Week.

“We want to make sure that we continue to build, not just places, but this vibrant community where people enjoy to live, to work, to play and to hopefully retire as well,” Palchik said.

The Tysons chamber has a number of items on its 2021 agenda. Among those include a federal contracting event on Jan. 25 billed as a “Bid or No Bid” webinar, a venture funding event for small businesses during the first quarter of the year, and Tysons’ first car show, which the chamber is partnering with Tysons Corner Center to host.

“One thing we’re going to continue to do is build out our business verticals because we’re focused on value propositions for our members,” Clark said.

The chamber is also planning two restaurant weeks this year, its annual Tysons 2050 event in November, a summer soiree on Aug. 18, and partnering with The Tower Club to co-host a chef series.

“I believe post-pandemic, we’re going to be looking at a really exciting place that’s connected directly to our Metro system and the airport, but that is a place where people can identify and live and see as a neighborhood themselves,” Connolly said. “I’m really proud of what we’re planning to do and what we are doing in Tysons. We’ve got to stay with it; we’ve got to pay attention to it.” Read More

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Although Dalia Palchik has spent nearly all her life in Providence District, her first term representing the district on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors still threw her some curveballs.

Though she had some prior experience with the county government as Providence’s representative on the Fairfax County School Board, Palchik tells Tysons Reporter that she still had to get acclimated to the many departments, initiatives, and organizations, all while in the middle of a once-in-a-century pandemic.

“My next goal is to have us get away from acronyms,” Palchik joked.

More seriously, the supervisor says the pandemic has uncovered problems in Fairfax County that she believes can be tackled if the county commits to building trust in the community and working with established and respected local groups and organizations.

She says this year has revealed the vulnerability of communities that have less access to housing, good schools, and walking trails. Those populations also bear the brunt of economic depressions and climate change.

While it is important that the county has hard data showing these inequities, it needs to work “so much faster and harder to help not make those gaps even larger,” Palchik said.

Palchik also saw significant gaps in Fairfax County’s ability to communicate with people who speak Spanish. Upon becoming supervisor, she learned that the county had no Spanish-speaking person overseeing all communications with Spanish speakers.

“I was shocked, honestly,” she said.

For a few months, Palchik filled that role until it was taken over by a Spanish-speaking staff member who joined the county communications team this fall, she says.

As supervisor, Palchik also noticed a disconnect between the county’s operations and the needs of hyper-local communities, noting that many residents are more likely to think of Rhode Island when they hear the word “Providence.”

“They know that they live in Oakton, Falls Church, Tysons, Merrifield or Dunn Loring,” she said. “I think the big challenge is continuing to do things that support our whole county, while honing in at the community development level.” Read More

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The future of Tysons as a transit-oriented urban district looks bright, but local leaders worry it could be marred by declines in Metro ridership.

During the State of Tysons event that the Tysons Partnership held last Thursday (Dec. 10), local elected officials, business leaders, consultants, and journalists outlined the present conditions and future of the city, touching on both the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and Tysons’ 40-year comprehensive plan.

While 2020 will be remembered for being upended by a once-in-a-century pandemic, for Tysons, it also represents a “decade of accomplishment” since Fairfax County adopted a comprehensive plan that “envisioned and guides transformation of our suburban-edge city to an urban destination,” event emcee Sol Glasner said.

In the past, Tysons was “characterized by regional retail anchors, ringed by acres of low rise office parks, themselves encircled by acres of surface car parking, encased in ribbons of asphalt,” he said.

But participants agreed that Tysons has made strides to becoming a transit-oriented urban district with more mixed-use housing and retail development, and more young families choosing to live in the city.

“We really are making progress. Sometimes it doesn’t feel that way,” Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik said. “This is a 40-year plan, and we’re 10 years in. We need to stay committed to these goals and applying resources and ideas to help achieve them.”

The primary concern for the State of Tysons speakers and panelists was the future of transit.

Pre-pandemic, the four Tysons Metro stops were clocking the highest-ever Metro ridership rates, according to Palchik.

With low ridership persisting, WMATA cuts looming, and little chance of federal aid in sight, the future looks grim, City Monitor editor Sommer Mathis said.

“If the service cuts that WMATA is proposing come to pass, Tysons is going to have to be more than agile,” she said. “It’s a huge potential blow to the ability of folks who were pleased to get to Tysons easily via Metro. We’re starting to track a death spiral for public transportation in a number of cities.”

Ridership declines due to COVID-19 could become semi-permanent when prices increase to make up for lost revenue, she said, adding that it will be difficult to get federal aid if the makeup of the U.S. Senate doesn’t change.

“Transit is under siege,” Palchik said. “It’s under fire. It’s going to take support from federal partners to make sure we make it through this challenging time and save transportation.”

Fairfax County Deputy County Executive Rachel Flynn said Tysons needs to be agile, checking in on the 40-year plan every few years. She stated that it is important to celebrate successes and identify areas to improve, such as transit, walkability, and equity.

Other focus areas in the coming months will be when companies start returning to their offices after the pandemic, responding to changes to the retail sector, and rebuilding the hospitality sector — particularly for restaurants.

Matthis said that some predictions of the future of remote work are overblown, but Tysons will need to respond to an increased demand for flexible office and meeting spaces as more firms are rethinking the traditional office space.

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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Monday Morning Notes

Falls Church Middle Eastern Restaurant Officers Discount for Guests Who Voted — “Sheesh Grill [in] Falls Church (8190 Strawberry Lane Ste 4) will offer diners who present their ‘I Voted’ sticker a discount off their meal from Oct. 26-Nov. 3.” [Sheesh]

Locals Help Science Teacher Clear Daniels Run Elementary Courtyard — “On #VolunteerFest weekend, students from Fairfax and Lake Braddock high schools help a science teacher clean up a courtyard at her school, Daniels Run Elementary.” [Twitter]

Tysons Chamber of Commerce Urges Greater Business Collaboration — “The chamber now is focusing on “business verticals” that encourage companies in complementary industries to purchase services from each other, said Andrew Clark, the chamber’s new board chairman.” [Inside Nova]

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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The announcement of more delays for the Silver Line have led to concerns from Supervisors Dalia Palchik and John Foust that Metro isn’t giving the communities around the Tysons area a fair shake.

Metro was one of several topics the supervisors spoke to the McLean Citizens Association about earlier this week.

“They are currently talking about reducing Metrorail service across the system to 80%,” Foust said. “Except that they’re saying they don’t have the funds to commence service on Phase II of the Silver Line.”

While Foust said the second phase of the Silver Line expansion isn’t quite ready for opening, it will be soon, and Foust said it deserved to be treated like any other wing of the Silver Line. Foust was particularly vexed by arguments from WMATA that Metro lines that had been operational before the shutdowns will be prioritized for service.

“If they get 80%, we should get 80%,” Foust said. “We’ve invested $6 billion into the Silver Line… I’m advocating for opening Phase 2 of the Silver Line as soon as possible.”

Palchik said these issues have been exacerbated by lack of communication between WMATA and Fairfax County.

“We found out, maybe hours before the public, that the Orange and Silver lines were being shut down,” Palchik said. “The lack of communication between our boards and the WMATA boards is frustrating beyond compare. [We] need to ensure we’re not seen as the wicked stepchild of the metro system.”

Staff photo by Michelle Goldchain

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As the Tysons plan reaches its 10-year anniversary, Supervisors John Foust and Dalia Palchik spoke candidly to the McLean Citizens Association last night (Wednesday) about some of the challenges facing the Tysons plan today.

While many of the issues were Tysons-specific, they are also challenges the entire region faces as Northern Virginia becomes more urbanized:

  • Walkability
  • Schools
  • Affordable Housing

For some of these, the recent pandemic has both brought the issues into focus and helped present new opportunities.

“One of my favorite topics is walkability,” Palchik said. “[We’re] looking now at how we make Tysons more walkable.”

Palchik pointed to a recent success in temporarily closing a section of Tysons Blvd to allow for more cycling and walking. Palchik pointed to it as a step in the right direction, but said it also took a lot of work to make it happen.

“It took a month to get Fairfax and the Department of Transportation to agree on a location,” Palchik said. “I hope to see more flexibility to create a sense of place.”

Palchik pointed to the planned pedestrian and bike bridge going over the beltway as another upcoming walkability success. Tysons is also slated for more investments to connect the blooming city’s street grid.

“Sometimes, new streets can feel in conflict with existing conditions, but [we’re] trying to make it more walkable,” Palchik said. “Change can be hard, but we’re looking at the upsides and really listening.”

Palchik and Foust both repeatedly praised the foundation of the Tysons plan, but said there are things that need tweaking.

“One issue that continues to bother me is the fact that we don’t have a plan for delivering school facilities in Tysons yet,” Foust said. “We have gotten a proffer of land for an elementary school. That’s an issue that’s going to head up, going forward.”

Palchik said the county needs to be more flexible on how schools are built, for example, building smaller schools with less grade levels than traditional elementary, middle, and high school models.

“We’ve been working on proffers, because the county can’t buy land,” Palchik said. “We’re looking at being more flexible, knowing this area is urbanizing. Can we get five acres? Can portions of development be dedicated to classrooms?”

Foust said another issue that’s really been prevalent during the pandemic is the lack of affordable housing in the area.

“Our challenge is delivering housing for 80% below and 60% below [Area Median Income],” Foust said. “We’re working on that challenge to increase the amount of housing that is truly affordable.”

COVID-19, Foust said, has hopefully helped to highlight the role essential workers play.

“COVID, if nothing else, has opened up our eyes to who is truly our essential workers, and they’re not the people making the income that can put you in a luxury apartment in Tysons,” Foust said. “They’re the kind of people working in the department stores and grocery stores, the service providers, and they deserve to live in the community where they work.”

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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In 2010, a plan was approved to help turn Tysons into a fully fledged city. Now, the McLean Citizens Association is planing to talk to County leadership and learn about how those plans have progressed.

The MCA is hosting a conversation tomorrow (Wednesday) at 7:30 p.m. with Fairfax County Supervisors John Foust and Dalia Palchik on how Tysons has changed over the last ten years since the new Comprehensive Plan was adopted.

“The session, moderated by MCA President Rob Jackson, will be in person at the McLean Community Center and live-streamed on our Facebook Page,” the MCA said in a press release. “Prior reservations are required for admission to the in-person session, and all county COVID-19 guidelines, including the wearing of masks at all times, and social distancing will be enforced.”

Each supervisor is scheduled to share their thoughts on how Tysons has changed, followed by a question and answer session and some closing remarks.

Attendance of the in-person event is for MCA members only, though anyone can view the Facebook livestream. No more than 50 people will be allowed in-person, including speakers and support personnel. Registration for the in-person portion can be made online.

Questions should be sent in advance of the session to [email protected]

Image via Fairfax County Board of Supervisors

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Fairfax County is in the process of overhauling the outdated sections of its zoning ordinance, and Supervisor Dalia Palchik will be on hand tonight to address any questions locals might have about some of the upcoming zoning changes.

The Zoom meeting is scheduled tonight (Wednesday) at 7 p.m. and is open to all residents of the Providence District.

“Join the Providence District Council in attending this virtual community outreach meeting hosted by District Supervisor Dalia Palchik to learn from Planning and Development staff, ask questions and provide feedback on the zMOD Consolidated Draft,” the Providence District Council said in an email.

A 711 page draft document contains all of the planned changes. Many are modernizations that bring Fairfax’s zoning language in line with state and federal regulations to reduce confusion, such as renaming “home childcare facility” to “home daycare facility” and adding new classifications of residential uses, like accessory living units.

Questions can be submitted in advance via email to [email protected]

Image via Fairfax County

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The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors yesterday approved a proposed name change of the McLean Metro station to the McLean-Capital One Hall Metro station, but it isn’t the end of the line for the name change yet.

The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the change, though several supervisors made sure to clarify the name change was to draw people towards the upcoming performance center and not as advertising for the banking giant whose headquarters the facility is part of.

“This is a very particular situation in which we do have an agreement between the county and Capital One Hall to provide a minimum of 100 days of use,” said Supervisor Dalia Palchik, representing the Providence District. “It’s going to be our very own Strathmore. It’s a very specific request to have this name put on the Metro station so people know we have this asset here in Fairfax County.”

Palchik admitted that at first, seeing the corporate name attached to the Metro station gave her some pause, but concluded: “this is not a slippery slope, this is a very unique situation.”

Supervisor John Foust, representing Dranesville, was similarly supportive of the name and pushed back on the idea that the county had sold the naming rights.

“I’m supportive of the name change, but I don’t support every proposed name change,” Foust said. “This is not selling a naming right to a single corporate entity. It’s not being done for the exclusive benefit of a single land owner. Capital One Hall is a state of the art performing arts center. It will play a significant role in implementing the comprehensive plan for Tysons. It is absolutely in the public interest that we draw attention to this center and by this name change I think we will do this.”

Supervisor Jeff McKay clarified that Capital One would pay for changing the Metro signs and would not be publicly funded.

Though the name was approved by the Board of Supervisors, the proposed renaming will still have to be approved by WMATA, which has its own guidelines for changing a station name.

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A controversy at the library level led to a heated exchanged at Fairfax County Board of Supervisors today (Tuesday) as the Board’s lone Republican pushed back against a motion to ensure the various boards and commissions consider the county’s standards of diversity.

Board of Supervisors Chair Jeff McKay started the meeting with a motion for staff to circulate the One Fairfax policy and training to all boards and commissions and that members sign acknowledgement to confirm they have received and reviewed the policy. The One Fairfax policy adopted in 2017 creates a standard of social and racial equity that the Board of Supervisors committed to considering when making decisions or developing programs and services.

The fight centered around what Supervisor Pat Herrity lambasted as an attack on Phillip Rosenthal, a Fairfax County Library Board of Trustees member who faces calls for resignation from Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay and others.

At a July 29 meeting, Rosenthal decried highlighting material about Black Lives Matter and by Muslim authors, Patch first reported.

Backlash to Rosenthal’s comments was swift, but Herrity has vocally defended Rosenthal, who he appointed to the Library Board of Trustees in 2018. At the Board of Supervisors meeting, Herrity defended Rosenthal again and said the motion was a move towards silencing dissent.

“When we try to silence the other side we enter a slippery slope,” Herrity said. “To take someone out because they don’t agree with our political agenda… I think that’s a slippery slope.”

While McKay protested that the board matter wasn’t about an individual person, the text of the item did say “comments made at a recent Library Board of Trustees meeting highlight that we still have a long was to go before we truly become One Fairfax.”

“Things appointee said were hurtful,” McKay said. “I called for his resignation for a lot of reasons.”

Herrity found little support from the other members of the Board of Supervisors, receiving particular rebuke from Dranesville Supervisor John Foust.

“[Herrity] totally misstakes and mischaracterizes the statements Mr. Rosenthal has made,” Foust said. “Everything I hear about Rosenthal is that he’s a decent man who makes many contributions to our community, but his comments at the library board need to be read to understand why so many people were so hurt and why we’re being so misled by Supervisor’s Herrity comments about this.”

Foust ran through a list of Rosenthal’s controversial statements at the library board, which included calling Black Lives Matter activists Marxists and expressing frustration about a reading program aimed at supporting LGBTQ youth.

“To characterize them as Herrity does about the statement for the need for more diverse views in the catalog of books is ridiculous, outrageous, and totally misleading,” Foust said.

Supervisor Dalia Palchik, representing the Providence district, argued that while Herrity had appointed Rosenthal, what Rosenthal said and did reflects on the Board of Supervisors as a whole.

McKay’s motion was passed, with only Herrity voting against it.

Image via Fairfax County

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