Tysons, VA

Updated 12:45 p.m. — Updates information on the Board of Supervisors’ meeting on March 24.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission has canceled its meetings for the rest of March. Here are the proposed projects that have delayed for consideration this spring.

The Planning Commission was originally set to hold a public hearing tonight (Wednesday) on a continuing care facility near Wolf Trap. The facility would have 172 beds at 9439 Leesburg Pike, according to county documents.

Now, the Planning Commission will consider the proposal on April 22.

A public hearing on plans to open Valo Park, an office park in Tysons, to the public and add restaurants, a 9/11 memorial and a bocce court has been postponed from the now-canceled meeting next Wednesday (March 25) to April 2.

London-based Tamares is looking to redesign roughly 19,000 square feet of the ground floor space and some areas of the garage to accommodate new retail and restaurants, according to the applications submitted to the county.

The plans also include an outdoor gaming area with a bocce court, horseshoes, cornhole and a fire pit. The public would be able to use a 20,000-square-foot health club, along with a possible rock climbing facility.

While the county’s Board of Supervisors will have its meeting on Tuesday (March 24), the public hearing on the office tower near the McLean Metro station will be postponed, according to a county spokesperson.

It’s unclear yet if coronavirus-prompted changes will impact the dates for two mixed-use projects by the Spring Hill Metro stop, which are set to go before the Planning Commission on April 22, and the commission’s hearing in June on a late-night cafe at 7787 Leesburg Pike.

Photo via Valo Park

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The Studio Movie Grill at Founders Row in Falls Church will likely become more colorful with the installation of a new mural project.

Proposed themes include a collage of the universe, diverse individuals and storytelling images like film, according to the city documents, which added the dimensions will be roughly 128 by 38 feet.

“Rooted in the inclusive spirit of the community and history of Falls Church, the design’s whimsical vignettes illustrate the process of artistic ideation, creation, and interaction,” the city documents said about the art.

The mixed-use development, which is currently under construction at the corner of W. Broad and N. West streets, will include luxury apartments, retail space, the 4,693-square-foot movie theater and a 9,476-square-foot City Works Eatery and Pour House.

Though in the early stages, the proposed mural is tentatively scheduled to come back to the Planning Commission for a public hearing in June.

It is unclear when the mural will be completed.

Rendering via JBG Smith, images (2) via City of Falls Church

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As plans proceed for a newly approved pipeline in Pimmit Hills, a group of residents is continuing to push Washington Gas to reroute the project.

More than 100 Pimmit Hills residents gathered earlier this month to protest the installation of a new natural gas pipeline that Washington Gas plans to place in a neighborhood between Tysons and Falls Church.

The project, which was originally rejected twice by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), finally received the green light in late 2019.

The project includes roughly five miles of pipeline intended to support developmental growth in Tysons, according to documentation from the Pimmit Hills Citizens Association (PHCA).

Roughly five feet underground in the Virginia Department of Transit right of way, the pipeline will sit directly under the road, Washington Gas Spokesperson Brian Edwards said.

Lines will run under Cherri, Fisher and Peabody drives in Pimmit Hills, according to a map sent to Tysons Reporter by a member of the citizens association.

Major Concerns From Residents

PHCA Spokesperson Ashley Nellis told Tysons Reporter she worries that the 24-inch-thick and high-pressure pipeline will pose a risk to the safety of local families and cause “massive” disruptions to the area and the environment on several fronts.

The major concerns brought up by Nellis and other residents throughout Pimmit Hills include disturbances to the neighborhood during construction and long-term safety standards.

“This is a very dangerous proposition that has not gone well in other communities,” she said, citing an explosion that occurred in a town in Pennsylvania in 2018.

“We are the only residential neighborhood impacted by a high-pressure transmission pipeline that also happens to be routed along a known flood plain and next to the beginning of Pimmit Run Stream,” Robert Heilen, the president of the PHCA, said in a letter to VDOT.

Brian Edwards, the Washington Gas spokesperson, told Tysons Reporter that the pipeline will not negatively impact the regional flood plain.

After being pressed about community concerns, Washington Gas remains steadfast in its certainty that the pipeline meets, if not exceeds, safety standards according to Edwards, who added that the pipe is built with strong material so there is little possibility of a rupture.

“It is being designed at a very high standard so if someone were to even hit the line with a backhoe it would withstand the damage,” Edwards said.

Due to the nature of the project, VDOT does not require an environmental impact report for the project, according to Edwards.

The Community Fights Back

Politicians including Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust and State Sen. Janet Howell (D-32nd) and Del. Marcus Simon (D-53rd) are also backing the opposition efforts.

Along with its normal monthly meetings, the citizens association began hosting weekly pipeline committee meetings to discuss changes and efforts to halt the project.

As of today (March 16), more than 570 people have signed a Change.org petition to reroute the pipeline.

Currently, a community member is in the midst of filing a petition of appeal against the VDOT approval, aiming to halt the pipeline progress.

Though independently organized, PHCA set up a GoFundMe page to fund the lawsuit. So far, people have donated over $9,500 in two months. “It shows how adamantly the community is against this issue,” Nellis, the PHCA spokesperson, said.

The private community member is now in search of new representation after the original law firm dropped the case, Heilen added.

Edwards said he was not in a position to give a statement from Washington Gas.

Project Alternatives

Project leaders within the community originally hoped that VDOT and Washington Gas would install the new pipeline along Route 7 — an option that Washington Gas said would be more intrusive and time-consuming.

As it stands, the line construction in the Pimmit Hills neighborhood would affect roughly 7,000 commuters daily over the course of three years, according to Edwards. But, if the pipeline would instead be installed along Route 7, he said it would take six years — double the amount of time — and affect roughly 41,000 commuters daily.

For community members though, perks of moving the line to Route 7 include an increased sense of security for their families and easement of construction noise.

Edwards said that Washington Gas plans to proceed with construction block-by-block in order to lessen the burden on homeowners.

Next Steps

As community members continue to fight pipeline installation, Washington Gas is proceeding with preparation for the project.

Edwards wouldn’t give an estimated project start time but told Tysons Reporter that Washington Gas hopes the project will be completed by 2023.

Heilen said he was told that construction was supposed to begin in early April, but said he hasn’t received any updated information.

“Most of the route is already marked,” Heilen said. “I expect that once they feel the weather is stable, they will start digging.”

Photos courtesy Devin Buries

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Two lawsuits against the Town of Vienna have been resolved now that Sunrise Senior Living’s plans are moving forward to occupy a different Maple Avenue location.

Steven Briglia, the town’s attorney, told the Town Council on Monday (March 9) that “soon the ink will be dry on both.”

The first lawsuit involved a Vienna couple suing town officials for approving the rezoning for a mixed-use development at 380 Maple Avenue.

“The parties have agreed it can be dismissed with prejudice,” he said. “It has been removed from the court docket.”

The mixed-use development site is now being considered for a Sunrise Senior Living Facility.

After the Town Council killed Sunrise’s original plans to bring a facility at the corner of Maple Avenue and Center Street, Sunrise sued Vienna officials for $30 million.

Sunrise then proposed to take over the 380 Maple Avenue spot and its plans have been moving forward with the town.

Briglia said that on Friday (March 6) that the Sunrise has agreed to drop the case.

“They are very happy with locating to 380 [Maple Avenue] and to move forward on that,” he said, adding that the non-suit “will remove the cloud on that property.”

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The Fairfax County Planning Commission is delaying its decision on two mixed-use developments by the Spring Hill Metro station again.

Commissioner Phillip Niedzielski-Eichner, who represents the Providence District, asked the commission last night (Wednesday) to push its vote on the proposed project to next month.

Niedzielski-Eichner said the postponement is to give more staff more time to review a resubmission and changes by the developer, Georgelas LLC.

The project is split into two parts — North Spring Hill Station and West Spring Hill Station — and would transform current car dealerships along the north side of Tyco Road into commercial and residential units.

Previously, the project has been held up over Fairfax County planners’ concerns that the West Spring Hill Station doesn’t fulfill the Tysons Comprehensive Plan.

The decision was previously postponed from December, when Niedzielski-Eichner said that the Georgelas LLC asked for more time on the application.

The project is now scheduled to go before the Planning Commission on April 22.

Images via Fairfax County

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A new proposal submitted to Fairfax County aims to transform the Dunn Loring Center into a residential mixed-use project.

The site (2722 Merrilee Drive) near the Dunn Loring-Merrifield Metro station is currently home to a three-story office building that was built in 1984.

According to county documents, Merilee Ventures, L.C. wants to rezone the 2-acre property for a mixed-use development with a five-story building with up to 239 multifamily dwelling units, including 40 Workforce Dwelling Units, atop two-and-a-half levels of parking with 293 spaces.

The development would also include 3,875 square feet of ground-floor retail use, a public plaza to “bookend” the Halstead Square development to the east and changes to the Merilee Drive streetscape, including a 6-foot sidewalk and 8-foot parking lane.

Merilee Ventures says that the redevelopment will help implement the Comprehensive Plan for the Merrifield Suburban Center, according to county documents.

More from the documents:

The Comprehensive Plan guidance for the area envisions mixed use redevelopment in a pedestrian-oriented urban environment.

Merrilee Ventures, L.C.’s objective is to bring forth a development proposal that carries forward the theories and concepts reflected in the Plan language by establishing a highquality living environment that activates the street and complements other recent development projects in the area.

Ground floor retail and interior amenity space, in combination with a public plaza and additional streetscape improvements provide a strategic focal point that will create a sense of place and anchor the Halstead Square development to the east.

The county’s Planning Commission is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the proposal in September.

Image via Google Maps

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Here are the latest stories about the Tysons area that the Tysons Reporter team has been reading:

The Books Are Back — “The Mary Riley Styles Public Library’s temporary location in Falls Church [opened] this Monday, March 9 at 9:30 a.m. The trailers outside of Thomas Jefferson Elementary School, 160 S. Oak St. will be home to the library while its permanent location on N. Virginia Ave. undergoes an expansion and renovation.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Firefighters Honor Owner of Little City’s Oldest Business — “On Friday, we presented Brown’s Hardware in Falls Church with a fire helmet honoring Mr. Hugh Brown… Mr. Brown’s father, Horace E. Brown, was one of the original trustees of the Falls Church Volunteer Fire Department in 1925, and we can think of no better place to say ‘thank you’ than at Brown’s Hardware Store, our city’s oldest business at 127 years old, founded by Hugh’s grandfather in 1883.” [Falls Church Volunteer Fire Department/Facebook]

McLean Group Reviews Tysons Redevelopment Plan — “The McLean Citizens Association board of directors got down to business quickly March 4, approving resolutions that touched on a redevelopment proposal and a proposed county-government plan amendment… The MCA board approved a resolution supporting plans by the Tamares Group to convert the former Gannett/USA Today headquarters building at 7950 Jones Branch Drive in Tysons into a commercial building with restaurants, retail, conference spaces and a fitness center.” [Inside NoVa]

New Coronavirus Cases in NoVa — “The Virginia Department of Health announced Monday night that two Virginia residents, the wife of the patient in Fairfax City and an unrelated patient in Spotsylvania County, have tested presumptive positive for the coronavirus COVID-19.” [Inside NoVa]

Small Fire at Tysons High-Rise — Sprinklers extinguished a “small fire” on the 11th floor of a high-rise in Tysons in the 1500 block of Anderson Road on Friday, March 6. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue/Twitter]

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The annual Tour de Tysons has been put on hold indefinitely, the event’s organizers told Tysons Reporter.

Typically, the race is held in early March, but organizers never announced dates for 2020 — leaving fans and past participants confused.

Tysons Reporter reached out to the National Capital Velo Club, who is in charge of planning the race, to find out what happened and was told that the race will be suspended indefinitely due to safety concerns for participants.

A spokesperson noted the rapid development in Tysons and the recent increase in traffic.

“As weekend traffic in that part of Tysons has increased, we decided that seeking road closures for a full day wasn’t a tenable solution,” the spokesperson told Tysons Reporter.

At last year’s fifth annual competition, cyclists raced down Westpark Drive before turning onto Jones Branch Drive and then Westbranch Drive.

Several days ago, a Tour de Tysons Facebook page admin posted a short message about the news:

Unfortunately, due to safety concerns, NCVC will not be able to host the Tour de Tysons at its most recent location and will not promote it in 2020. Should a nearby venue become available in the future, we will consider reinstating it on the MABRA road calendar.

Going forward, the NCVC spokesperson said that they’d be interested in hosting the event again, given the right conditions.

“We’re looking for new locations in the region for future editions of the race that will have less of an impact on neighbors and ensure participant safety,” the group said.

Photo via Tour de Tysons/Facebook

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Happy Friday! Here are the latest stories about the Tysons area that the Tysons Reporter team has been reading:

Tysons-Based TV Company May Be Acquired — “Signaling ongoing consolidation of the broadcast business, Gray Television has made an $8.5 billion bid for larger rival Tegna, according to Reuters, sending Tegna stock up by more than 30% in premarket trading Friday in what looks set to be an otherwise down market.” [Deadline]

New Coffee Spot Eying Tysons — “[The owner] says For Five is also planning to open a location in Tysons within the next three to four months.” [ARLnow]

Founders Row 2.0 Planned in Falls Church — “The Economic Development Committee of the Falls Church City Council got the news at its meeting last Thursday… that the 4.3 acre Founders Row mixed-use project now coming out of the ground at West Broad and N. West Streets may be augmented with a two-acre “phase two” right across the street.” [Falls Church News-Press]

McLean Student Finalist in National Portrait Contest — “McLean High sophomore Libby Eick, a Photography 2 student, was one of 15 finalists nationwide in the National Portrait Gallery’s 2020 National Teen Portrait Competition. Eick’s work was selected from among 629 entries around the U.S.  Her artist statement is below.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]

New Store in The Boro — The Shade Store is now open in The Boro. [The Boro/Instagram]

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Construction on a development with a 600-foot-tall tower can start now that land purchases have been finalized near the Spring Hill Metro station.

The Washington Business Journal reported today (Thursday) that Tysons Development LLC, which is made up of Clemente Development Company and Saudi Arabian businessman Khaled Juffali, bought three properties around the Spring Hill Metro station in early February, per county records.

“The developers acquired the land, currently home to a series of car dealerships and auto shops, from the Cherner Family for a total price of about $123 million, according to the records,” The Washington Business Journal reported.

“The joint venture previously closed on the purchase of another piece of land along Leesburg Pike accounting for roughly a quarter of the total View property in February 2018. BP Realty sold about 1.3 acres for $26 million,” according to the news story.

Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors approved The View in October.

Clemente’s project will add six buildings, including the “Iconic Tower,” which will reach higher than Capital One’s headquarters. The View also plans to include a black box theater, art walk and open-air theater.

Image via Fairfax County 

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