Tysons, VA

McLean has had its fair share of contentious development debates, but to the relief of everyone involved, a planned senior living facility at 1638 and 1642 Chain Bridge Road didn’t go that way, instead getting a unanimous vote of support from the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

Tension over the future of development in McLean has been brewing in recent weeks with the much-debated downtown revitalization plan headed for a delayed planning commission public hearing on May 26.

In this case, however, Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust says the cooperation and willingness to compromise from both developer Tri-State Development Companies and the nearby residents resulted in a smooth process.

The plan is to build 35 independent living units, five of which are expected to be sold as affordable, and a central clubhouse area for residents to gather.

“This has been a really good experience, working with the community and this developer,” Foust said. “Sometimes you don’t come away with such a good taste in your mouth after you go through a difficult land use case, and this wasn’t simple, but everyone was so positive and cooperative and I want to thank everyone involved in the process.”

While speakers at the meeting generally expressed support for the project, neighboring property owner Bobbi Bowman, who said she’d lived there for 22 years, stated that she still had concerns about the noise level from the clubhouse on the site.

“I will look over my back yard and side-yard fences into the front yard of two-story townhouses and clubhouse with an joining outdoor area,” Bowman said. “I believe this application fails to meet county standard that says such development must be compatible…I am not asking the applicant to forego the clubhouse, I’m only asking to be protected from the noise.”

Tri-State has agreed that the clubhouse will not be rented out to anyone outside of the condominium owners association that will be formed to govern the facility, and no audible music will be allowed in the patio area, according to a list of approved development conditions attached to the project.

Other speakers said they were looking forward to the development in part because they see the need for senior housing for their parents or for themselves a few years down the road.

“I think it’s an excellent idea,” nearby resident Eric West said. “I don’t know of any place within the DMV that has something that would meet the needs of those who want to age in place.”

Winnie Pizzano, president of the nearby Stoneleigh Homeowners Association, said the project had great support from within her community.

Resident Scott Shawkey expressed hope that the project could help pave the way for a transformation of McLean’s downtown area, a goal of the county that has been several years in the making.

“I have a father in his 80s who’s worked his entire life for something nice,” Shawkey said. “This is something special, a celebration of life. I think it will be great…We have an incredible community, but our downtown is just a four-way intersection.”

Map via Fairfax County

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The third phase of The Mile — a mixed-use complex replacing the former Westpark Business Park in Tysons — will combine apartments and a mini-warehouse.

Developer KETTLER and PS Business Parks recently filed an application with Fairfax County for this next phase of development, the Washington Business Journal first reported.

“Building B,” dubbed The Charlton in a rendering, will be up to 90 feet tall with up to 400 units, 150,000 square feet of storage use, and 10,000 square feet of retail use. It will sit on a 3.81-acre property on the east side of Westbranch Drive, according to the filings.

This phase is just part of KETTLER and PS Business Parks’ plans to develop an underutilized 45-acre area with office buildings and parking into a complex with 13 buildings mixing high-rise and mid-rise residential and commercial buildings with ground-floor retail uses, parking, and public park space.

“Building B is designed with a parking and storage structure as the core and the residential units wrapped around the structure parking,” the developer’s legal representative Elizabeth D. Baker said in a letter to the county. “Building B includes two courtyards which open onto the adjacent Signature Park providing extensive views of this future amenity.”

The Charlton sits west of the future Signature Park, which is part of the public open space amenity package that KETTLER and PS Business Parks are proposing for The Mile.

About five acres in size, Signature Park will have a “large flexible lawn with a stage for community events, a children’s playground, a terraced lawn, a recreational loop, lawn games, and a variety of outdoor seating options,” Baker said.

In the interim, before the park is built, the lot will be turned into a small plaza with seating and bike racks on the east side of Blyton Street, as well as a trail connection to the parcel to the east, she said. The graphic above illustrates where those amenities will be placed.

Blyton Street is one of the new streets being created as part of the development, along with Rowling Street, from which users will be able to access the retail space and the mini-warehouse self-storage facility. Residents will access parking from Westbranch Drive.

Construction work on the development’s second phase started in November. The Brentford apartment buildings, and the first units are expected to be complete in spring 2022. The first phase, Highgate at The Mile, was completed in 2017.

Images via Fairfax County

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(Updated at 8:05 p.m.) Even in the midst of a global pandemic, Tysons continues to grow. While there are many new buildings being built, Tysons Reporter reached out to developers on some of the bigger projects for updates on their construction timelines.

Monarch

A 1o1-unit luxury condominium high-rise, The Monarch is part of the 19-acre Arbor Row mixed-use development near Tysons Galleria. Construction stalled last year after developer Renaissance Centro parted ways with its construction contractor.

While there is no official timeline for completion, a spokesperson for the project told Tysons Reporter that a new contractor has been selected and should be announced soon. Once the contractor is announced and construction begins, the owners recently told frustrated residents that construction should be complete in 21 to 24 months.

“It is moving forward and we are still selling the condominiums,” Kami Kraft, vice president of the marketing firm The Mayhood Company, said.

The Mather

Also part of the Arbor Row development, The Mather is a Life Plan Community that will open in two phases, with the first coming in 2023. It will have apartments with access to assisted living, memory care suites, and medical services for residents 62 and older. Phase 1 is already 80% pre-sold, and phase 2 pre-construction sales will begin soon.

The existing structure on the site was demolished in May 2020, and work on various public improvements, including a relocation of site fences, temporary reconfiguration of traffic lanes, and sewer system upgrades, began the week of March 8.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Mather’s parent company Mather created an “interdisciplinary” team to support staff and residents across its facilities and develop infection control protocols.

“These conversations have led to enhancements that will be seen in the design and operations at The Mather in Tysons, such as HVAC systems which will include UV light purification and 100% of air exhausted to the exterior,” Mather Senior Vice President of Sales Gale Morgan said.

Capital One Center

The second phase of construction is currently underway at Capital One Center, a 24.25-acre complex with dining, shopping, outdoor activities, a movie theater, and more attractions coming.

While slightly inconvenienced by the COVID-19 pandemic, disrupting shipments of materials and equipment, the lack of traffic helped construction pick up the pace, according to Capital One Center Managing Director Jonathan Griffith.

The next big opening will be The Perch, an outdoor space atop Capital One Hall with food trucks, a Biergarten, live music, and more. The skypark is set to open this July, while Capital One Hall — a performance venue with a 1,600-seat theater, a 250-seat black box theater, and other event spaces — is scheduled to open in October.

The 300-room Watermark Hotel is slated to open in late 2021 as an “all-suite lodging facility” set to host “associates of Capital One as well as corporate and leisure guests visiting the region,” according to a job posting made by B.F. Saul Hospitality, which will be managing the property. Read More

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Virginia-based Starr Hill Brewery announced today (Wednesday) that it will be nesting in The Perch, the skypark atop Capital One Hall in Tysons.

The brewery will lease a biergarten space with more than 5,000 square feet within the 1.2-acre skypark, which is expected to open this summer. Visitors will have access to an outdoor dining and lounge space as well as an amphitheater with lawn seating, which will offer live entertainment managed by Starr Hill.

Starr Hill will serve a biergarten-themed menu and stock a full bar highlighting its beers.

“We couldn’t be more excited to be a part of the growing development around the Capital One Center,” Starr Hill Vice President of Finance and Retail Josh Cromwell said. “The Perch is such a unique space and when we were approached about bringing to life a rooftop biergarten and amphitheater concept, we couldn’t turn it down. There will be tremendous energy at Capital One Center and we’re proud to bring Starr Hill into the D.C. metro area.”

Headquartered in Crozet, Virginia, Starr Hill has four locations in Richmond, Roanoke, Lynchburg and Charlottesville. The independent, regional craft brewery has won numerous awards in the U.S. and abroad.

“Capital One Center is thrilled to welcome one of the most-recognized breweries in Virginia, Starr Hill, to The Perch,” Capital One Center Managing Director Jonathan Griffith said. “Starr Hill’s brand and reputation within the craft beer community, as well as their experience in the live music scene, will further establish The Perch as a unique destination for Tysons and the Greater Washington region.”

In addition to the Starr Hill Biergarten, The Perch will feature food trucks, a games plaza, a sculpture garden and a dog park. The skypark is situated above Capital One Hall, a corporate and performing arts center set to open this fall, and adjacent to the Watermark Hotel, Capital One’s corporate lodging facility, opening in late 2021.

Starr Hill is not the only retailer to recently announce it would be setting up shop in the 6 million square-foot Capital One Center in Tysons.

Reston Skylines first reported earlier this month that the boutique nail salon and spa Nothing in Between Studio will be moving into the ground floor of Capital One Center.

NIB Studio confirmed the news to Tysons Reporter. This location marks an expansion for the salon, which also has a studio at 6410 Arlington Blvd in Falls Church.

The studio bills itself as a “healthy and clean nail salon” providing non-toxic nail care. It offers eco-friendly, non-toxic, plant-based, cruelty-free products.

“We are providing full spa services including body massage, body scrub and chair massage,” NIB studio told Tysons Reporter.

An opening date has yet to be announced, Capital One Center Manager of Marketing and Community Affairs Meghan Trossen says.

“Right now we have no other leases to announce,” she said.

Reston Skylines also reported that City Tap House, which has seven locations, including one in Loudoun, would be coming to Capital One Center. However, the brewery told Tysons Reporter that it does not have plans to set up shop in Tysons.

Photos courtesy Starr Hill Brewery

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(Updated at 11:30 a.m. on 4/16/2021) The Monarch, a luxury high-rise condominium complex, is still in the process of being built northeast of Tysons Galleria.

Construction on the Jones Branch Drive property began more than two years ago, and it was originally set to open in 2020.

However, the project stalled last year when the developer Renaissance Centro split ways with its hired contractor. Right now, there is no official timeline for completion, though the owners recently told frustrated citizens that once construction begins again, the building should be done in 21 to 24 months.

“A new contractor has been selected and should be announced in the next few weeks. Construction will commence very shortly thereafter,” Kami Kraft, vice president of The Mayhood Company, which is marketing the project, told Tysons Reporter.

The Monarch is a luxury high-rise condominium complex with 101 units. As few as four to six units will be on each floor, according to the sales website. Prices for the units range from $600,000 to just under $3 million.

The 20-story tower will be part of the 19-acre Arbor Row mixed-use development envisioned on Westpark Drive, joining the residential building Nouvelle, which opened in 2015, and The Mather, a senior living facility set to open in 2023.

Kraft confirmed that units at The Monarch are still being sold, and private tours of the sales gallery are open for prospective buyers by appointment. More information on The Monarch can be found on the sales website.

Correction: This article initially described The Monarch as an apartment complex. The units are condos, not apartments for rent. H/t to nvacondos for pointing out the error.

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Updated 4:50 p.m. to correctly attribute a quote to Martin Smith.

The McLean Citizens Association wants to see significant changes to the downtown revitalization plan slated to go before the Fairfax County Planning Commission this month.

Members of this board focused their criticisms of Fairfax County’s most recent draft plan to update the McLean Community Business Center on parking, building height, overall density, stormwater management, and schools.

The MCA passed a resolution on April 7 opposing the document unless the county made a number of changes, including:

  • Reduce language encouraging underground and on-street parking in favor of language protecting surface parking
  • Guarantee that a developer’s proposed building height includes all above-roof features
  • Require a 10-year review midway through the plan’s proposed 20-year vision with regard to increasing density
  • Eliminate language that encourages “innovative solutions” to school overcrowding if, as density increases, schools need to expand

Multiple board members said the resolution contains emphatic language in the wake of the Fairfax County Zoning Ordinance Modernization project. That initiative encountered vocal opposition from many homeowners’ groups, including MCA, but was ultimately approved 7-3 by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

“We took a softer, more positive approach on zMOD and I’m not sure it got us anywhere with zMOD,” MCA board member Jen Jones said. “I think this is just as important as that was, and I think taking a stronger stance makes a lot of sense.”

Martin Smith, who opposes the McLean CBC plan completely, likewise voiced support for the resolution but said he wished the language were even stronger.

“I support this because I think it’s clear that we don’t like the fact that they haven’t responded to our previous suggestions, and I just think we have to make a stronger statement,” he said.

But some members said the resolution contained language that was too strong.

“I think that this is a document which we agree with on very many points,” board member Ron Bleeker said. “There have been some very good points which have been raised and should be considered. Whether this requires us to say we oppose the entire document, I think may not be the best approach.”

Fairfax County staff recently revised its drafted plan to revitalize downtown McLean in response to a wave of public feedback.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust and Fairfax County staff say they plan to further engage with the MCA.

“The provisions of the proposed comprehensive plan are very good, but we have time to make them even better before the plan is presented to the Board of Supervisors for approval,” Foust said. “The MCA’s resolution is helpful, and each of their recommendations will be considered as the language of the draft plan is finalized.”

Leanna O’Donnell, planning division director of the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Development, said her department is reviewing the resolution and will be reaching out to discuss the MCA’s concerns.

The draft will go before the Planning Commission on April 28 and the Board of Supervisors on May 18.

Photo via Fairfax County

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Construction work on an extensive renovation of Falls Plaza Shopping Center will begin in mid-April, property owner Federal Realty Investment Trust announced yesterday (Wednesday).

The 144,000 square-foot shopping center at 1200 W. Broad Street in Falls Church will get a new look with overhauled building façades, new signage and decorative lighting, enhanced landscaping, and expanded outdoor seating areas.

As part of the renovation project, Falls Plaza will be rebranded as Birch & Broad to reflect its location at the intersection of Birch and Broad streets and “align with the Modern Farmhouse aesthetics featured in the renovation,” according to Federal Realty’s press release.

“This transformation underscores Federal’s long-term commitment to our properties, merchants, and the communities in which we operate,” Federal Realty Vice President of Development Jay Brinson said.  “The new public gathering spaces and expanding café seating areas combined with the new architecture and placemaking upgrades will make Birch and Broad a place that truly captures the essence of community, a quality for which the City of Falls Church is recognized.”

The renovation will also occur concurrently with an interior remodel of the Giant Food that anchors the shopping center.

According to Giant Food Director of Strategic Planning and Execution Gary Budd, the remodel will enable the grocery store to “significantly upgrade” its fresh and prepared food departments. Added offerings will include a new gourmet cheese case and a fresh pizza program.

The store’s layout and decor will also be revamped to make navigation simpler for shoppers.

“The remodeled Giant is an exciting step in our mission to continue to offer improvements and unique selections across the areas we serve,” Budd said.

Other existing retailers at Falls Plaza include Conte’s Bike Shop, CVS Pharmacy, Plaka Grill, Starbucks, Jersey Mike’s and Road Runner Sports.

Federal Realty anticipates that the shopping center renovation will be finished later this year, prior to the winter holiday season.

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Morning Notes

J.R. Stockyards Inn for Sale — The 1.18-acre property that currently houses one of the oldest restaurants in Tysons hit the market in early March, with a new owner expected to be chosen by the end of April. The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a redevelopment of the site in October that would replace the Stockyards with a 26-story mixed-use building. [Washington Business Journal]

Connolly Urges Congress to Follow Virginia’s Lead in Legalizing Weed — “Another big progressive win here in Virginia,” Rep. Gerry Connolly (D) said after the Virginia General Assembly voted yesterday to legalize marijuana starting July 1. “I hope my colleagues in the House and Senate will join me in supporting the MORE Act to legalize marijuana nationwide.”[Gerry Connolly/Twitter]

Falls Church Schedules Town Hall on Gateway Development — Falls Church City staff and the developer of the West Falls Church project will present updates and answer questions on April 14 at noon. The city will also hold a town hall meeting on April 15 to discuss its proposed FY 2022 budget and new capital improvements program. [City of Falls Church]

Clemyjontri Carousel and Train Among Facilities Reopening This Spring — Fairfax County Park Authority facilities have started to reopen for the spring, with hours expected to expand further into the summer. Visitors are encouraged to buy tickets in advance, because amusements will operate at reduced capacity, though drop-in tickets will be available on-site if they do not sell out online. [FCPA]

Proof of Job Searches Will Soon Be Required for Unemployment Benefits Again — “The Virginia Employment Commission says it will start notifying unemployment benefit recipients of the return of job-search requirements starting in May. To qualify, or continue to qualify, for unemployment benefits in Virginia, those filing claims must provide evidence…of at least two job applications each week for VEC review.” [WTOP]

Photo by Joanne Liebig

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The Falls Church City Council will get a staff briefing and presentation during its work session tonight (Monday) on a proposed One City Center mixed-use development just across the street from the still-pending Broad and Washington project.

The discussion is slated for 9:30 p.m., according to the meeting agenda.

Atlantic Realty Companies is proposing an extensive mixed-use apartment building with space for a grocery store and other retail space, as well as commercial and office spaces. The plan includes creating a new traffic circle at the intersection of S. Maple Avenue and W. Annandale Road and designing a Dutch-style “living street” called a “woonerf.”

According to a Falls Church City staff report, Atlantic is proposing to build a development over 4.6 acres at the intersection of W. Broad and S. Washington Streets that features:

  • About 17,500 square feet of ground-floor retail
  • A 26,500-square foot grocery store at the corner of Maple Avenue and Broad Street
  • 13,365 square feet of retail and commercial space on the mezzanine level
  • 43,000 square feet of office space
  • 246 apartment units across six stories, 15 of which will be set aside for affordable housing
  • 9-10 levels of structured parking with 969 spaces

About 75% of the complex will be dedicated to apartment living, leaving 10% for office space and 15% for retail. Atlantic is seeking a special exception from the council to have apartment units in the complex and allow for a 40-foot height bonus, which would bring the building to a maximum of 115 feet.

Atlantic currently owns and manages all the affected properties: the George Mason Square office complex and two-story parking garage, a BB&T Bank, Matt’s Tailor & Bridal Boutique on W. Broad Street, a vacant parcel at the corner of W. Broad Street and S. Maple Ave., and a five-story office building with a surface parking lot.

Atlantic’s commercial program is based on the need for flexibility to help drive foot traffic to the property, Andrew Painter, the developer’s legal representation, said in a letter to the city.

“Traditional format retail has been challenged in recent years by the rise in e-commerce, and COVID-19 has greatly accelerated this trend,” he wrote. “Similarly, the recent increase in virtual meeting services and the escalated pace of technology adoption is having deleterious repercussions on office demand.”

The existing George Mason Square arcade will be removed and replaced with a pedestrian plaza lined with new fast-casual eateries, retailers, and a pedestrian-oriented “woonerf” between the existing and proposed new buildings that may be periodically closed for special events and fairs, according to Painter’s letter.

This “woonerf” will have “high-quality pavers, overhead accent lighting, landscaping, hardscape treatments, and parallel parking for adjacent retailers,” he said.

Painter wrote that these changes will “anchor the project’s eastern entry, activate George Mason Square’s ground floor area, and provide an updated, modern signature asset to the City’s rapidly evolving downtown.”

He noted that Atlantic is proposing a 30 by 40-foot exterior visual screen, which can be used for “screen on the green” events or coverage of live city events.

Painter added that it “will also keep the George Mason Square development competitive from an aesthetic perspective which, in turn, will energize the Applicant’s leasing program and drive tenant demand.”

The grocery store, he said, will be “a new entrant to the City’s grocery store market.”

As for transportation, the project will include a proposed mid-block crossing and a high-intensity activated crosswalk signal on W. Broad Street.

Painter said the proposed traffic circle will “provide a safer intersection for pedestrians and will, in conjunction with the new public park on the Triangle Parking Lot, transform the intersection into a more attractive urban gateway.”

Photos via Falls Church City 

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More townhouses are coming to Falls Church, this time at Graham Park Plaza on Arlington Boulevard.

Ownership of the Giant-anchored shopping center is now split between two developers after EYA announced last week that it had closed on the purchase of 8.3 acres from property manager Federal Realty, which still owns 10.3 acres.

The sale represents the latest step in a years-long effort to redevelop Graham Park Plaza into more of a mixed-use neighborhood, though the current plans are more limited than what Fairfax County had previously approved back in 2016.

EYA will build up to 177 townhomes on the western portion of the shopping center and has committed to providing a public park and some infrastructure improvements, including a new street grid to connect the residential and commercial parts of the site, five-foot wide sidewalks, a 10-foot wide shared-use path, and bicycle facilities.

EYA Executive Vice President of Acquisition and Development Evan Goldman says the plaza’s proximity to “major Northern Virginia job centers like Tysons and [the] Mosaic” District make it an ideal location for the planned residential development.

“We are providing housing at attainable prices in an area that has not seen much development,” Goldman said. “Working with a fantastic partner such as Federal, which is reinventing the shopping center, will make this a truly walkable mixed-use neighborhood.”

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and planning commission approved EYA’s proposal in October.

Federal Realty won approval from the county in December 2016 for a more intensive mixed-use development with 248 multifamily housing units, but it later downsized its plans before moving to sell part of Graham Park Plaza to EYA last year, according to The Annandale Blog.

EYA, which is also collaborating with the City of Falls Church and Metro on developments in the West Falls Church area, says the new townhouses at Graham Park Plaza will be priced starting in the $600,000s. 12.5% of the units will be categorized as affordable housing.

The developer anticipates breaking ground on the project sometime this spring.

“EYA and Federal Realty are bringing new investment to a corner of the county which has not seen much development in the last two decades,” Mason District Supervisor Penelope Gross said in a statement. “This will be a catalyst for further redevelopment and revitalization up and down the Route 50 corridor.”

Image courtesy EYA LLC

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