Morning Notes

Vienna ambulance behind Cedar Park at start of Virginia State Little League Majors Tournament Parade of Champions (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

McLean Drivers: Expect Delays on Georgetown Pike Starting Monday — “Georgetown Pike (Route 193) between Swinks Mill Road and I-495 (Capital Beltway) will have one lane of alternating traffic in each direction via flagging, weather permitting, Monday, July 26 through Wednesday, July 28 between 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. each day to replace a stormwater pipe at the Saigon Road intersection, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.” [VDOT]

Founders Row II Proposal Modified — Developer Mill Creek presented revised plans for a second phase of its Founders Row project to the Falls Church City Council on Monday (July 19). Changes since it was first proposed in March include reductions of the height and number of rental residential units and the addition of “more street-level retail and amenities to please its neighbors.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Former Container Store to Host Tysons Block Party — The Celebrate Fairfax! Festival has been canceled for a second consecutive year, but the nonprofit that organizes it is returning next Friday (July 30) with a block party to kick off its 40th Anniversary Series. The event will go from 3-7 p.m. outside the former Container Store at 8508 Leesburg Pike with live entertainment, refreshments from Caboose Brewing Company, and more. [Celebrate Fairfax/Facebook]

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Morning Notes

New I-66 Ramp to West Falls Church Metro Opens — A new ramp designed to provide direct access from Interstate 66 to the West Falls Church Metro station is expected to open around midday today (Thursday). Work on the ramp, which connects two existing I-66 East/Route 7 ramps, began in May 2020 and is part of the I-66 Inside the Beltway widening project. [VDOT]

Partial Closure of Tysons Boulevard Begins — Fairfax County held a ribbon-cutting ceremony yesterday (Wednesday) to mark the launch of a program to give pedestrians and bicyclists access to a half-mile of Tysons Boulevard. This is the second year that the county has experimented with a partial closure of the road near Tysons Galleria. [Dalia Palchik/Twitter]

McLean Family Starts Persian Ice Cream Delivery — The owners of Amoo’s Restaurant in McLean has spun off one of their most lauded dishes into a delivery service. Kinrose Creamery launched last week, producing ice cream that can be picked up at Amoo’s and delivery sites in Vienna, Sterling, and Manassas. [Northern Virginia Magazine]

Wolf Trap Hotel Project Returns to Vienna Board — The Town of Vienna Board of Architectural Review will discuss the latest revisions to plans for a four-story, mixed-use development at 444 Maple Avenue W. when it meets tonight. After being slowed down by the pandemic and public opposition to proposed development on Maple, the developer told Tysons Reporter in June that they hope to start construction this fall. [Town of Vienna/Twitter]

Behind the Architecture of Capital One Hall — “HGA worked with the client, presenting alternatives [to marble] such as Italian travertine, silvery Alabaman limestone, or Brazilian swirling granite to avoid joining the high number of noteworthy marble failures in the past sixty years. For Barry Mark, vice president of design and construction at Capital One, none of these had the distinctive beauty and character for the vision he had of the project.” [The Architect’s Newspaper]

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Morning Notes

MCA Supports Proposal to Replace Office Building — “The McLean Citizens Association’s board of directors on July 7 passed a resolution generally supportive of a proposed townhouse development at 7700 Leesburg Pike, but sought changes to bolster pedestrian safety and discourage cut-through traffic.” [Sun Gazette]

Lack of Transparency Frustrates Justice Park Advocates — Documents obtained by the community group Justice for Justice Park, which opposes a proposal to convert part of the Falls Church park into a parking lot, show that county park and school officials had been negotiating a land transfer for two years without telling the public. The group argues a master plan amendment should be required before any moves are made. [The Annandale Blog]

New Jersey Driver Wanted for Assault on Police Officer — According to the Fairfax County Police Department’s weekly report, a police officer was treated at a hospital for minor injuries after attempting to arrest a man who was driving a vehicle without the owner’s permission. The incident occurred in the 2000 block of Peach Orchard Drive in Tysons on July 3, and the man has not been located yet. [FCPD]

Vienna Named Bicycle-Friendly Community — The Town of Vienna has been recognized by the League of American Bicyclists as a bronze-level Bicycle-Friendly Community, an award given to “communities that demonstrate a strong commitment to bicycling by creating transportation and recreational resources that benefit residents and improve the quality of life.” [Town of Vienna]

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Morning Notes

Fountains outside The Verse condos in The Boro (photo by John G. Colby)

Capital One Adopts Hybrid Work Model — The founder and CEO of Capital One, which employs almost 10,000 people in the D.C. area, told workers yesterday (Tuesday) that its U.S. offices, including its headquarters in Tysons, will reopen on Sept. 7. The company will shift to a hybrid model where employees can work virtually on Mondays and Fridays with no requirements for how many days they need to be in the office. [WTOP]

Traffic Calming Measures Coming to Vienna and McLean — The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted last Tuesday (June 22) to approve the installation of “$200 Additional Fine for Speeding” signs along Vaden Drive between I-66 and Lee Highway near the Vienna Metro station. The county will also spend $40,000 to install four speed humps on Churchill Road in McLean. [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]

Founders Row Apartments Start Preleasing — The 322-unit Modera apartment building and 72-unit Verso senior living complex in Falls Church City’s Founders Row development are now preleasing in anticipation of opening later this year. The site will also host a six-story, mixed-use building with ground-floor retail and a movie theater, and a second phase is currently in the works. [Mill Creek Residential/PR Newswire]

Falls Church Among Healthiest U.S. Communities — The City of Falls Church came in third in U.S. News & World Report’s fourth annual Healthiest Communities rankings, the same spot that it has occupied for the last two years. Fairfax County made the top 15 at No. 14. [Patch]

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Graham Park shopping center (courtesy Federal Realty Investment Trust)

The sweeping overhaul of Falls Church shopping center Graham Park Plaza (7263 Arlington Blvd.) should be starting next month, with the aging strip-mall undergoing a substantial facelift to keep up with nearby development plans.

According to a spokesperson for the project, the renovation will include updates to the shopping center’s facade, new signage, better landscaping, decorative lighting, and new outdoor amenities. The renovation was spurred on by a new townhouse development that is currently under construction next door.

The renovation will tie the 132,000-square-foot shopping center more closely with the 177 townhomes that are being built on the western part of the property, which will also get a public park and infrastructure improvements, like new sidewalks and paths connecting the residential and commercial components of the site.

Graham Park Plaza is anchored by a Giant Food and features a handful of other stores, like a deli and a Verizon store.

The renovation is scheduled to be completed by the “holiday season” later this year.

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A former state legislator has convinced the Town of Vienna to save some trees by an iconic preschool that’s slated to become a new housing development.

A developer is turning Parkwood School into a housing subdivision called Parkwood Oaks that could have up to nine homes, according to engineering notes for the developer in a plan on file with the town.

The son of Parkwood School founder Clarene Vickery, Raymond “Ray” Vickery Jr. sent a letter to the town council on June 11 asking them to save several trees, including a large oak, on the edge of the property at 601 Marshall Road SW near the Ware Street SW intersection.

“We want to particularly save the big oak my dad planted about 60 years ago at the corner of Ware and Marshall,” Vickery told Tysons Reporter.

Clarene Vickery, 101, died in 2019 after founding Parkwood School in 1956 and spending most of her life as director of the preschool, which has served over 10,000 kids. She lived in the upstairs part of the home, which also served as part of the school with its lower half.

Vickery’s father, Raymond Ezekiel Vickery, was a lieutenant colonel with the U.S. Army and died in 1987 at age 77. The couple is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Vienna Town Manager Mercury Payton said in an email that trees located next to an existing sidewalk needed to be removed because the town requires sidewalks to be upgraded to a new code when there’s a new home or development building.

But Vickery argued in his letter to the town that “slight deviations could be made to save the large oak and other trees that mean so much to the citizens of Vienna who live in the 601 Marshall Road vicinity.”

It worked: Vickery connected with the town, which agreed to save a few key trees there next to a sidewalk, including the oak his dad planted.

However, some trees will still have to be removed, said Scott Diffenderfer, an urban arborist for the town.

“On the other hand, the developer is saving a lot of trees, and there’s going to be trees planted as the development progresses,” Diffenderfer said.

A property sale closed last Monday (June 21), and buyer John Sekas of Sekas Homes Ltd. has agreed to erect a historical marker there, Vickery said.

Vickery has also offered to donate Japanese cherry trees to be planted along Ware Street in honor of his parents.

The preschool had multiple single-family dwellings for its campus, but during the COVID-19 pandemic, it used virtual programming instead of in-person activities.

According to Vickery, Malisa Eaton, the school’s executive director, has taken over Parkwood School and is looking for new premises. She didn’t immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

Vickery, who served in the Virginia General Assembly from 1974 to 1980, says he plans to go the town council’s July 12 meeting to address the town’s tree ordinance, highlighting how trees help reduce carbon dioxide emissions and protect the ozone. The latter benefit is particularly important to him as someone who has been affected by skin cancer.

“The ordinance, though, is written so that trees, even though they’ve been marked and identified, can — can be taken down and replaced with saplings that’ll have 20% cover in 20 years,” he said. “And my perspective is if you have coverage there of existing trees…you ought to save existing trees.”

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Morning Notes

McLean Downtown Plan Public Hearing Today — The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing at 4:30 p.m. today (Tuesday) on the McLean Community Business Center plan, which unanimously passed the planning commission earlier this month. The plan aims to revitalize McLean’s downtown area but has faced objections over parking, building heights, and the potential impact on local schools. [Fairfax County Government]

Capital One Center Starbucks Closed — The Starbucks at Capital One Center (1610 Capital One Drive North) is temporarily closed “due to limited office occupancy during the COVID pandemic,” a spokesperson for the development confirmed to Tysons Reporter, adding that the coffee shop is expected to reopen “in the near future.” [Capital One Center]

Madeira School Expansion Approved — “Fairfax County supervisors on June 8 voted 10-0 to grant a special exception allowing Madeira School to add a new science building, more faculty housing and improved equestrian facilities on its McLean campus…Under the newly approved plan, Madeira will have 518,255 square feet of gross floor area, with up to 45 residential units and up to 12 accessory-dwelling units.” [Sun Gazette]

McLean HS Turf Field Replacement Starts Today — “Starting tomorrow (June 22nd), the turf field and track at our stadium will be closed until early August. This shut down is due to our turf field being replaced. We apologize for inconvenience.” [McLean High School]

Wolf Trap to Salute Front-Line Workers — “Wolf Trap is officially back open for in-person shows after a year of pandemic closures. So what better way to celebrate than a series of ‘Thank You Community Concerts,’ saluting frontline workers, education workers and health care workers?” [WTOP]

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Construction has begun again on the Monarch, the luxury condominium high-rise being build as a part of the Arbor Row development in Tysons.

The Monarch team announced yesterday (Thursday) that Hoar Construction has been hired as its new contractor, and construction is expected to be completed in mid-2023.

Renaissance Centro, the building’s developer, split with its previous contractor in 2020, and construction had been on hold until Hoar’s recent hiring.

Hoar has experience working on residential buildings in Tysons, having built the nearby Lumen apartments which opened in 2019.

Activity at The Monarch is visible once again, with Hoar Construction starting to work on the building’s site, including pouring concrete for a parking garage, that will continue throughout the summer. A crane to start building vertically will be erect by the end of the summer, according to a spokesperson for  Monarch.

The building is set to be over 250 feet tall with 101 condos inside. It is part of the Arbor Row mixed-use development being built near Tysons Galleria.

A sale gallery for The Monarch is located at 1650 Tysons Blvd Suite 905 and is open on Friday and Saturday from 11-5 p.m. and by appointment. For more information or appoints call 703-734-2020 or visit their website.

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A site map for the proposed 141 Church Street redevelopment (via MGMA Design/Town of Vienna)

The developer that owns a cluster of retail and office properties on the corner of Church Street and Lawyers Road in Vienna wants to turn them into a single building with retail and apartments.

The Vienna Town Council heard a proposal from Bognet Construction and architectural firm MGMA during its conference session on Monday (June 14) that would redevelop 139-145 Church Street into a three-story mixed-use building with a basement.

Owned by Bognet Construction President and CEO Jim Bognet, the two parcels under consideration consist of 26,993 square feet, or 0.62 acres, of land, and each parcel is currently occupied by a two-story commercial building.

Under Bognet’s proposal, the existing buildings would be replaced by a 35-foot-tall building with 18 apartment units and six ground-floor commercial tenants.

The 39,969 gross square footage includes 9,448 square feet per residential floor, 9,378 square feet for ground-floor retail, an 804 square-foot rooftop area, and a 10,891 square-foot basement with retail, according to plans that the developer and architect presented to the town council.

Bognet says he purchased the properties approximately three years ago with the goal of studying the site for redevelopment.

“We’re looking at making it mixed-use, because it’s our understanding that there’s a demand in Vienna for different types of residential use,” Bognet told Tysons Reporter. “…We seem to have a large amount of single-family homes and townhouses coming to the market, but I felt there was a need for some apartment living, new apartments, so we’re going to try and fit that in with the Church Street Vision.”

The Church Street Vision is a zoning ordinance that the Vienna Town Council adopted in July 1999 to “enhance the appearance and economic vitality of businesses in the historic Church Street commercial corridor,” according to a town staff presentation.

The ordinance encourages property owners in the town’s C-1B Pedestrian Commercial Zone to mimic a late 19th-century, small-town architectural style in exchange for more square footage, parking requirement reductions, and a faster review process.

So far, Vienna has approved four projects under the Church Street Vision: 101 Church Street NW (home to Sushi Yoshi and Vienna Pet Spaw), 111-113 Church Street NW (Bazin’s and Blend 111), 114 Church Street NW (Red Galanga), and most recently in 2014, a building with ground-floor retail and second-floor apartments at 120 Church Street NW, whose tenants include Bard’s Alley and Rita’s.

Bognet says his team is currently working with the town to determine the appropriate amount of parking that should be provided by the new building and develop the design so that it fits the street’s overall aesthetic.

A conceptual design for a proposed mixed-use development at 141 Church Street (via MGMA Design/Town of Vienna)

The conceptual plan proposes a total of 72 parking spaces, with 38 spaces on ground level and 34 spaces above that. The garage would be located behind the building, backing up against a 15-foot alley owned by the town.

Bognet says that, while the lot will be occupied by a single building, it will be “broken up every 20 to 25 feet” to look like different buildings from the street. Read More

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Map of the West Falls Church Metro development sites (photo courtesy EYA)

(Updated 6/11) A plan to overhaul one of the Metro system’s least-used stations is headed to the Fairfax County Planning Commission next week, but surrounding the new project is a complex network of advocates, issues, and jurisdictional questions that’s built Katamari Damacy-style over the last two years of public engagement.

As the project to transform the area around the West Falls Church Metro station starts to move forward, advocates and opponents alike are already starting to look at the next stage of transportation questions down the road.

The proposed comprehensive plan amendment aims to turn the area near the West Falls Church Metro station into a mixed-use district with office, retail, and residential uses more typical of areas near Metro stations.

With the withdrawal of Virginia Tech taking the filling out of the development sandwich, the two pieces of the plan are the City of Falls Church parcel, with mixed-use developments around a central stretch of park and open space, and the area adjacent to the Metro station.

The first phase of the project is scheduled for a planning commission public hearing on Wednesday (June 16) before going to the Board of Supervisors on July 13, after which the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s development team will still need to get specific plans approved.

So far, most of the public discussion about the project has involved transportation.

Evan Goldman, executive vice president of acquisitions for site developer EYA, says an expanded roadway parallel to the crowded Haycock Road should help relieve some of the local traffic, along with a new exit off I-66 running directly to the West Falls Church Metro station.

“There’s no question that what is being built here is 100% better than what is there today,” Goldman said. “This will have dedicated bike lanes on almost all the streets.”

Goldman says the concerns raised so far have mainly focused on the single-family residential neighborhoods near the development, where there are insufficient sidewalks in some places.

“It’s specifically because of the location, surrounded by single-family neighborhoods in an area where there are existing traffic issues,” Goldman said. “The density is sized for the capacity of what the traffic can handle to make sure we’re trying to be respectful of neighbors in terms of height and density.”

Goldman says lower density requirements will also allow more of the buildings to be delivered together, so the project can be brought online all at once.

The reaction from surrounding neighbors to the project has been mixed.

Paul Rothstein, one of the representatives from nearby residential development The Villages on a task force to review the project, has argued that the increased density will pose a hazard to nearby residents, who will feel the ripple effect of traffic from the site on streets not built to handle it.

“Even though I view pedestrian infrastructure remediation as mostly Fairfax County’s responsibility and not [EYA’s],  your development will increase traffic in the surrounding areas and increase the risk to pedestrians,” Rothstein wrote in a letter to the developer.

Rothstein has been pushing for EYA to endorse a McLean Citizens Association resolution on the project, which notes that the traffic issues at the site remain unresolved.

“To quote the father of the injured child, ‘I also hope that the developers, who emphasize building walkable communities, will support the MCA resolution and thus make sure that walkability in existing communities does not deteriorate as a result of new communities,'” Rothstein wrote. “Adoption of the MCA resolution still will permit substantial development at the same time as promoting the safety of your neighbors, including their children.”

Goldman says current plans for the development include dedicated crossings on Haycock and Leesburg Pike, but Rothstein’s concern is for neighborhood children walking to Haycock Elementary along more crowded streets.

Goldman says EYA’s obligations for traffic improvement are primarily at the development site and not the broader region around the station.

Cheryl Sim, another nearby resident, agreed that, by and large, EYA is not responsible for the entire area, but it still has some obligations.

“The County and VDOT have long ignored this area and its needs,” Sim said. “However, EYA fronts for WMATA in this exercise. And, WMATA, based upon its Joint Development Guidelines and Principles from May 2020 place the onus on the developer.” Read More

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