Tysons, VA

Plans for a proposed commercial building in Falls Church may soon move forward.

Fairfax One LLC wants to add a 12,000-square-foot building at 130 E. Fairfax Street — the current location of parking for the nearby Protestant Episcopal Church. The project, which is called Southgate II, proposes to house Scramble, a kids’ play gym that is currently located in Alexandria.

The developer told the city’s Planning Commission earlier this year that churchgoers would still be able to park there, along with space at an adjacent property.

While some of the Planning Commissioners had concerns about the location of the kids’ center and the project’s “suburban, strip mall feel,” some argued that child care is needed in that part of the city and that the building is an improvement from the site’s current conditions.

On Monday, the Falls Church City Council is set to move along the rezoning process for the site. Currently, the site plan for the project is on hold until the rezoning application is finalized, according to city documents.

Map via Google Maps

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Falls Church Development Moving Forward — “With the Falls Church City Council’s first in-depth public look at the detailed special exception site plan for the 9.77-acre mega-West End development project Monday night, an undertone arising from the Covid-19 pandemic’s ‘unbelievable headwinds’ suddenly facing it in these extraordinary times was in the background for the three-hour discussion.” [Falls Church News-Press]

List of Local PPP Loan Recipients — Patch has lists of local businesses in Vienna, McLean and Tysons that received loans of $150,000 or more. [McLean Patch, Vienna Patch]

Local Leaders Respond to DeVos’s Criticism — “U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos had some criticism for Fairfax County Schools’ virtual learning during the pandemic and reopening plan for the fall. Leaders from the school system, the largest in Virginia, responded in defense of the plan providing only virtual learning or a mix with two days of in-person learning.” [Patch]

Pandemic’s Impact on Local Dentist — “As coronavirus restrictions in response to the pandemic ramped up in mid-March, dentists like Dr. Nicole Van closed their offices for all but emergencies. Since reopening, the dentist’s office experience looks different from pre-pandemic times.” [Patch]

Photo courtesy Hilde Kahn

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Citizens Group Raises Concerns About Tysons Project — “A proposed Tysons development might be the right thing for a spot now occupied by low-rise commercial buildings, but the applicant should resubmit the proposal after making several improvements, McLean Citizens Association board members said July 1.” [Inside NoVa]

FCPS Town Hall Tonight — “Join FCPS Superintendent Scott S. Brabrand, Assistant Superintendent for Instructional Services Sloan Presidio, and director of the office of special education procedural support Jane Strong for an FCPS virtual Town Hall on Monday, July 6, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Tysons Company Donates Thousands of Masks — “Fairfax County received a donation of 15,000 FDA-approved KN95 masks from Portals Global, a Tysons-based consulting firm. Portals Global’s CEO Omo Igiehon said he chose Fairfax County as the donation recipient in order to give back to the community that he has lived in for 21 years.” [Fairfax County Economic Development Authority]

New Mayor, Town Council Members — “New Vienna Mayor Linda Colbert and the new Town Council will be sworn into office at a public ceremony on July 6. The ceremony will be held outside the Vienna Community Center at 6 p.m.” [Patch]

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Fairfax County planners support proposals to construct a mixed-use building — rather than two residential towers — over a parking podium in the Scotts Run development.

The developer, Cityline Partners, is looking to have the newly proposed 25-story building contain roughly 450,000 square feet of residential ground floor area and 15,000 square feet of retail on the ground floor. The building would have 447 residential units, according to the staff report.

Cityline also wants to modify the parking podium by adding retail along with the above-grade parking, according to the staff report. Proffers limit the parking to 80 feet, and the developer plans to stay within the allotted height range, the report said.

“With the use of glass and masonry, the podium is designed to suggest occupied space rather than a parking garage,” the report noted.

The proposals would tweak some aspects of the Scotts Run development, which will span approximately 40 acres near the McLean Metro station. The overall development will add retail, office and residential spaces along with a new grid of streets.

While the county’s planners support the proposal, the staff report noted ways the developer could improve the project’s aesthetics, like “additional attention to architectural features, such as canopies.”

More from the staff report:

Staff continues to recommend that the applicant refine the vertical banding on the building façade to create a continuous line between levels and further compliment the backlit podium treatment in order to accentuate the impression that those levels are occupied space and de-emphasize that they are structured parking.

The staff reported noted that the change from two towers to one building would not significantly impact Tysons’ skyline.

” Staff believes that the proposed changes do not present any substantial land use issues and the proposal remains in conformance with the Comprehensive Plan,” the report said.

The Planning Commission will consider the proposed changes on Wednesday, July 8.

Image via Fairfax County

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A 1.2 million-square-foot development in Falls Church has a new name as it progresses through various approval stages by City Council.

Hoffman & Associates and EYA announced that they have named the upcoming gateway development to the northwestern end of the city “West Falls.”

“The name West Falls pays homage to the site’s location within The City of Falls Church known for its vibrant community and thoughtful urban design,” a press release said.

The development will include offices, a hotel, apartments, condominiums, retail space and senior housing spanning roughly 9.5 acres. It will also include approximately 1 acre of open space for the public.

West Falls is included in a 35-acre transformation to turn the area near the West Falls Church Metro station into a gateway for the city. As part of the larger plans, George Mason High School will be relocated.

In 2019, the City Council approved an agreement for a 99-year ground lease with the developers and a Special Exception Entitlement for the first phase of the project’s entitlement.

Earlier today, Hoffman and EYA submitted their Special Exception Site Plan (SESP) to the city — the latest step in the entitlements process, according to the press release.

Construction is expected to start on West Falls in late 2021, and the first phase of the development is anticipated to open in late 2023, according to the press release.

Image via City of Falls Church

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On Tuesday, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors green-lighted a rezoning that will open parts of the Valo Park office complex up to the public.

Tamares, Valo Park’s owner, wants to add retailers and restaurants, renovate an existing rooftop terrace and open the complex’s current amenities, including a conference center, auditorium and fitness center, to the public. Tamares is considering attracting a rooftop craft brewery atop a parking garage.

“It is anticipated that these proposed changes will help to sustain the current Class A office use and energize this part of Tysons after business hours,” Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik said.

A separate comprehensive sign plan for the project was approved by the Planning Commission in May. Some McLean residents raised concerns about light pollution from the signs.

Currently, the office park (7950 Jones Branch Drive) is home to the headquarters of newspaper giant Gannett and cloud computing company Appian.

The Valo Park changes will now join upcoming changes to urbanize Tysons’ North Central neighborhood, which currently has the Park Crest and Highgate residential buildings.

Last summer, the Board of Supervisors approved the massive, mixed-use development called The Mile, which will transform 38 acres into 10 buildings with residential, retail, office, hotel and storage space, along with six parks spanning more than 10 acres.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust said that people can now walk to Valo Park thanks to the new Jones Branch Connector, which includes sidewalks and bike lanes.

“But for the sign issue… this is a really good application that is exactly moving Tysons in the direction that we all want to see it go — developing this kind of mixed-use, reuse,” Foust said. “This is a really important piece in the Tysons puzzle.”

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After years of pausing the Maple Avenue Commercial (MAC) zone in attempts to revamp it, the Vienna Town Council decided last night to repeal the zoning code and “start fresh.”

The Vienna Town Council held a public hearing last night on the two options for the MAC’s future: either repealing it or extending the moratorium, which has been in place since 2018, on the zoning code to June 2022.

To Repeal or Not to Repeal?

The two choices received a mixed reaction during the public hearing. Supporters for extending the MAC generally side that the zoning code has many good aspects that they don’t want to see completely scrapped, while supporters for repealing argued that town staff and consultants the town wants to hire need a clean slate.

Mary McCullough, who recently left the town’s Planning Commission, urged the Town Council to keep suspending the MAC until the code rewrite is done. “Repeal says we harmed,” she said. “That’s the message you send with repeal.”

Vienna resident Roy Baldwin said that repealing the MAC sends the message that the work from volunteers on the zoning code “is of no value.” Resident Ray Brill Jr. disagreed, saying that people’s hard work on the MAC is not enough of a reason to keep it.

“The fact that we repeal does not mean we don’t incorporate the vision and some of the things we like,” Brill added.

Cindy Petkac with the town’s planning and zoning division told the Town Council said she thought they would be “better off starting fresh.”

“I think it would be more efficient to repeal it,” Petkac said. “It is a cumbersome, confusing process in my professional opinion.”

Consultant Challenges 

The town’s plans to hire a consulting firm to help with rewriting the code also factored into the conversation last night about what to do with the MAC.

The Vienna Town Council initially paused its plans to hire a firm for $250,000 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Baldwin, the local resident, testified that he isn’t convinced the town needs to spend money on consultants when locals with expertise “will work for free.”

Council Douglas Noble argued that bringing in a consultant is even more important now to help the town heal from the pandemic. The Town Council will consider hiring the consulting firm on June 15, Mayor Laurie DiRocco said.

Close Vote

After the public hearing and some discussion among the councilmembers about the MAC, Noble proposed a motion to repeal it.

“It’s not about the MAC,” Noble said. “It’s about how do we make Make Avenue commercially economically viable?”

To quell some concerns about ditching the good parts of the MAC, Councilmember and Mayor-elect Linda Colbert offered an amendment that would make reports, studies, surveys, comments from the Planning Commission and Board of Architectural Review and more a part of the package of information the consultants would review.

A lively discussion continued on the idea to repeal, and Noble suggested withdrawing his motion, saying that he thought the councilmembers wanted to talk more.

Ultimately, the council approved Colbert’s amendment and then voted for Noble’s motion 4-3, with Noble, DiRocco and Councilmember Nisha Patel voting “no.”

“We learned over time the MAC code had flaws,” Noble told Tysons Reporter today. “I did not believe those flaws were fixable.”

Image via Town of Vienna

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The Vienna Town Council plans to hold a public hearing on Monday about what to do about the contentious Maple Avenue Commercial (MAC) zone.

The hearing will solicit feedback from community members on whether to extend a moratorium on the zoning guidelines until June 30, 2022 or rescind it altogether.

The MAC zoning code was adopted in October 2014 and then suspended four years. The moratorium on the zoning code has been in place since September 2018.

While several members of the town’s Planning Commission called the zone “dead” during their meeting earlier this month, the commissioners disagreed on what should happen.

The Vienna Town Council meeting is set to start at 8 p.m. People will be able to watch a live stream of the meeting.

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The Meridian Group is hoping to turn the former headquarters of the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) into an extension of The Boro.

The plans would redo the old NADA site and an adjacent property — both currently vacant — into a mixed-use development with residential uses, a continuing care facility and ground-floor retail space, Elizabeth Baker, a senior land use planner for Walsh Colucci, told Tysons Reporter.

“The vision is to extend The Boro development across Westpark Drive and to continue the transformation of Tysons from a suburban office park to an urban center,” she said.

This new project proposes four buildings — two residential ones, one for the continuing care facility and the last one, which would either be a health club or townhomes, Baker said.

“The proposal is 1.1 million square feet overall,” Baker said, adding that it is less dense than other nearby developments because it’s further away from the Greensboro Metro station.

The project also includes a centralized park that would be open to the public — “I think that is one of the high focal points of the development,” she said.

The Meridian Group acquired the NADA headquarters building and an adjacent site, paying $33.7 million to the NADA for 8400 Westpark Drive in late 2018, the Washington Business Journal reported. The NADA relocated to 8484 Westpark Drive in October 2018, according to WBJ.

Fairfax County accepted the rezoning plans for the project earlier this week. Hearing dates for the county’s Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors have not been announced yet.

“I think this particular application really helps to expand the connected grid of streets, create walkable blocks, provide new residential opportunities as well as a continuing care facility to help meet the needs of the senior population,” she said. “It’s all designed around energizing the streets and parks.”

Image via Google Maps

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Work has now started on a new senior living facility known as The Mather behind Tysons Galleria.

Demolition by the Whiting-Turner Contracting Company of a structure at 7929 Westpark Drive is underway, according to a press release. Utility relocation and public street improvements are expected to be done this summer.

The $450 million senior living community will offer one- and two-bedroom room apartments as the first Life Plan Community in Tysons, according to Mather LifeWays, an organization that creates senior living programs and places.

The Mather plans to offer new retail along Westpark Drive, “significant” green space with parking and loading below grade and an urban park with paths and seating, the press release said.

More from the press release:

The Mather’s apartment homes are designed with modern open floor plans, with prices starting at $660,000, and sizes ranging from 850 square feet to more than 3,000 square feet. Prices are dependent upon apartment size, location, service package, and health plan selected.

Apartment homes will feature expansive views, luxury finishes, and innovative smart home technology including lighting, solar shades, and thermostat, as well as a home automation hub that can be integrated with smartphones, tablets, and home computer systems.

The Mather will be the first Life Plan Community in Tysons. Life Plan Communities are lifestyle communities in which people can pursue new passions and priorities, with a plan in place that supports aging well. Life Plan Communities provide an important benefit: a continuum of living options, which enables people to plan ahead to access additional services, including health care, if ever needed…

Priority reservations are currently being accepted for Phase 2 of The Mather, with nearly 150 reservations in hand. Priority Members will have best choice in selecting an apartment home and view, can secure preconstruction prices, and be able to customize and upgrade apartment home finishes. Interested individuals can become Priority Members by providing a fully refundable $1,000 deposit.

The building is a part of Cityline Partners LLC’s Arbor Row, which includes the completed Nouvelle residential building and The Monarch. The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved the senior living complex last June.

“The Mather has received strong interest and is 65% sold of Phase 1,” the press release said, adding that the first phase is anticipated to open in 2023.

Photo courtesy The Mather

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