Tysons, VA

The Vienna Market is moving forward in the Town of Vienna after a long back-and-forth over the project’s designs.

The project plans to replace the Marco Polo building and other surrounding properties with 44 condominiums and 8,200 square feet of retail space — along with an underground parking garage — to 245  W. Maple Avenue. Vienna’s Board of Architectural Review approved the project in chunks, with the final approval on Sept. 19.

But in October, Residents Charles and Laura Anderson sought to appeal the BAR’s approval of the rear architectural designs and plans for the Vienna Market, claiming that the approved plans — especially the rear facades — violated the Maple Avenue general design criteria and the Town Code.

At that meeting, the developers, NV Homes and Northfield, proposed a compromise — wrapping brick from the front onto the rear of townhomes — to make the rear facades consistent with the front and side facades.

The Town Council approved a motion to modify the BAR’s decisions on Sept. 19 and Aug. 15 regarding the four rear facades of the townhomes.

After the BAR’s work session last Friday (Nov. 1), the Town Council approved the architectural changes on Monday (Nov. 4).

“This decision establishes that the term ‘public view’ applies to all facades of commercial buildings visible from a public street,” Councilmember Pasha Majdi said.

Councilmember Nisha Patel lauded the developer and community working together to reach a compromise.

“I think it’s a great win-win,” Patel said.

“I think this makes for a better project,” Mayor Laurie DiRocco said.

Image via Town of Vienna

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Sunrise is eyeing the site of an approved mixed-use development after the Vienna Town Council killed plans for a Sunrise facility farther up Maple Avenue.

Now, Sunrise wants to open an assisted living facility at 380 Maple Avenue, according to a Nov. 1 submission to the town.

That spot is currently the site of a contentious, approved redevelopment, which would add a four-floor building with ground-floor retail and multi-family condominium units at 380 Maple Avenue.

From Families to Seniors

The Vienna Town Council approved the plans for 380 Maple Avenue in June. But after new councilmembers joined in July, the Vienna Town Council decided to hold a public hearing on possibly rescinding the rezoning application.

In September, Dennis Rice, the owner and developer behind an approved mixed-use development at 380 Maple Avenue, told the Vienna Town Council that selling the project to an assisted living facility could address neighbors’ lingering concerns.

“I think the town needs an assisted living facility, and it’s a good location for it,” Rice told the council in September, adding that having the development house seniors instead of families would eliminate concerns about the number of new students going to local schools.

First Proposed Facility Faced Backlash

Sunrise’s original plans to bring a facility to the Maple Avenue and Center Street received a myriad of concerns from residents and councilmembers over parking, retail and the downtown location.

In June, outgoing Councilmember Tara Bloch put forward a motion to approve the project, which would have needed five “yes” votes to pass because of a protest petition, and the Town Council ended up rejecting the proposed 82-unit facility with a 3-4 vote.

A month later, Sunrise Senior Living decided to sue Vienna officials for $30 million, alleging that the Town Council’s rejection violated the Virginia Fair Housing Law by discriminating against seniors and people with disabilities and that the Town Council treated Sunrise differently from other developers seeking rezoning under the Maple Avenue Commercial Zone.

The Town of Vienna disputes the allegation that the council violated the Virginia Fair Housing Law, according to Town Attorney Steve Briglia.

Next Steps 

Town officials will soon look over Sunrise’s new plans.

The Board of Architectural Review is scheduled to discuss the facility at its work session tomorrow (Friday) at 8 a.m.

Next Wednesday (Nov. 13), the Planning Commission’s work session is set to focus on a proposed proffer amendment and conditional use permit for Sunrise.

Image via Town of Vienna 

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Work on the Archer Hotel is now underway as part of the Scotts Run project in Tysons East.

Cityline Partner’s mixed-use development also includes several apartments and office buildings and retail space, along with the completed 425-unit apartment complex called The Haden and the 14-story office building Mitre 4.

Construction company Hensel Phelps and Lodgeworks, the developer of the Archer Hotel collection, held a groundbreaking ceremony earlier today (Wednesday) for the hotel.

The hotel plans to accommodate 178 guests and will feature a rooftop terrace, event space, fitness studio and a bar and restaurant operated by chef Charlie Palmer.

The hotel is designed by LK Architecture — the same firm behind the Tysons Walmart and Hyatt House in Merrifield.

“The dynamic Scotts Run development is destined to be a new walkable urban village and will attract a wonderful cross-section of guests,” according to Hensel Phelps’ website.

The preliminary opening timeline for the hotel’s opening is summer 2021, according to Hensel Phelps.

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What will the future hold for Tysons 30 years from now? Developers and business representatives tackled that question at the “Tysons 2050” event last night (Thursday).

Panelists imaged how people might live, work and play in Tysons several decades from now — and what needs to get done to foster a stronger sense of community.

Julie Clemente, the president of Clemente Development, said that one of the most important aspects to community development is cohesion in the planning process.

Clemente told the audience that Tysons lacks parks and community recreation centers. Without these things, she is worried that community members will become lonely and find it hard to break out of “silos.”

“For Tysons to be successful, it needs to be connected,” she said.

She mentioned the Spring Hill Recreation Center (1239 Spring Hill Road) as one of the closest opportunities for people in the Tysons area but said it wasn’t enough to meet the growing demand.

“The Spring Hill Recreation Center is overused and everyone goes there,” she said.

Clemente hopes that The View — a recently approved mixed-use project by the Spring Hill Metro station — will add the city center that she says Tysons lacks.

In addition to adding the tallest building in the region, the development plans to build a black box theater, an art walk, a seasonal ice loop and an open-air theater on the green, along with a Tysons Community Center at a nearby site.

“Tysons doesn’t have it now — a center of growth, a heartbeat — and that’s what we want it to be,” Clemente said about The View.

Deirdre Johnson, the vice president of asset management for Federal Realty Investment Trust and new Tysons resident, echoed Clemente’s concerns about connectivity and a sense of community.

“It’s been hard to find points of natural, authentic and emotional connection,”  Johnson said about her time in Tysons. Places like shared green space and cafe seating — as well as art, medical services and religious worship — can help fill that void, she said. 

While roughly 100,000 people work in Tysons during the day, only about 20,000 live in the area, Johnson said.

“After 5 [p.m.] is very important because it helps you become who you are,” she said.

She wants to fix this by creating places where people of all ages — but especially seniors and young people — can feel fulfilled in every aspect of their lives, noting that retail options that appeal to a wide age range and incomes is one solution. 

Another idea from speaker Linda Sullivan, the president of ARTSFAIRFAX, is to institute an artist in residency or creative spaces pop-up program around Tysons.

Artists would have the opportunity to take advantage of affordable housing opportunities while focusing on their work, she said. She also threw out the idea of flex spaces hosting comedy clubs.

Ultimately, whatever the future holds for Tysons will likely focus on innovation around living, working and playing in the same community.

Paul Siemborski, an architect focused on designing performing arts facilities, said Tysons has the opportunity to “break the mold” and try new things.

“Art and play is not a luxury. It’s a necessity,” Siemborski said.

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As Whole Foods prepares to open next week, several new businesses are also planning to open their doors in The Boro throughout November.

At least five new stores and businesses that were aiming to open in late summer or early fall have extended their planned opening dates to November.

Whole Foods is expected to open this upcoming Wednesday (Oct. 30), followed by Tysons Nail Lounge on Friday, Nov. 1.

Coworking company Spaces plans to open its office spaces at The Boro on Monday, Nov. 11, according to Mark Pankowski, a spokesperson for the development.

A new Verizon Wireless store will likely open early in November, while Ethan Allen and F45 are expected to open halfway through the month, Pankowski said.

The stores and restaurants opening in the new development by the Greensboro Metro station may face a slow start at first.

John Beinert, a senior associate with Greystar Development, told Tysons Reporter that he keeps tabs on other regional development groups like Meridian Group, which developed The Boro.

Beinert said that March, April, May, June and July are the best months for a new development to host its grand opening, adding that people tend to move during this time and explore new places in a neighborhood.

Despite an off-season start, he said that the timeline shouldn’t hurt the development.

“You’ve just got to get to the next season,” he said, mentioning that the Whole Foods and other businesses in The Boro will attract people to the area.

Beinert also said that the new businesses will benefit Greystar’s four nearby developments, which include the Adaire Apartments.

“Whole Foods is a game-changer in a neighborhood,” Beinert said.

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Some parts of the design plans for the Vienna Market project are heading back to the drawing table.

Back in the spring, Vienna’s Board of Architectural Review (BAR) called the proposed plans rigid, plain and unbecoming for Maple Avenue and continued working with the developer to tweak the plans.

The project plans to replace the Marco Polo building and other surrounding properties with 44 condominiums and 8,200 square feet of retail space — along with an underground parking garage — to 245  W. Maple Avenue.

The BAR approved the project in chunks, with the final approval on Sept. 19.

Appeal Attempt 

Residents Charles and Laura Anderson sought to get the Board of Architectural Review’s approval of the rear architectural designs and plans for the Vienna Market appealed.

In a letter dated Oct. 1 to the town clerk, the Andersons claimed that the approved plans violate the Maple Avenue general design criteria and the Town Code, saying that the facades of the rear are not consistent with the front and side facades.

“As approved, the rear facades of four of the five townhouse rows along the proposed Vienna Market Lane consist almost entirely of siding material with no brick; whereas the front and side facades consist almost entirely of brick with no siding,” the Andersons wrote.

The Town Council considered the appeal at a meeting on Monday (Oct. 21).

“Since the structures won’t be coming out of the ground, I’m told, until November or December at the very earliest, there’s time to do this and get it right,” Charles Anderson said at the meeting.

Anderson’s concerns seemed to resonate with many residents and some of the councilmembers.

“I’m concerned that [if] I lived back there I would want to be looking at something halfway decent,” Councilmember Howard Springsteen said.

Public’s Input 

The Vienna residents who testified during the public hearing about the project on Monday stressed that all of the sides of the buildings can be clearly seen.

“It’s seen from all sides,” one resident testified. “There is really not a back to this building in my opinion.”

Residents asked that the Church Street facade have the same attractiveness as the Pleasant Street and Maple Street facades.

“This is right across the street from the historic district,” another resident said. “We get one chance to get this right.”

Several residents, including the Andersons, said that town officials might be able to avoid future controversies if residents have more opportunities to provide input.

“The citizens of this town need to brought into these conversations in an earlier stage,” Charles Anderson said.

Motion to Move Forward 

After the public hearing, Councilmember Pasha Majdi suggested a motion to reverse the BAR’s decision on Sept. 19 to approve Vienna Market. Repand to BAR

“I have no interest in cutting a deal tonight or making architectural designs,” Majdi said. “I think that’s a poor way to make decisions way outside my expertise.”

After Majdi presented his motion, the developer proposed a compromise that would wrap brick on the rear of two of the four rows of townhomes.

Nisha Patel said that she would like to see a compromise, but wants to see renderings of the proposal.

“I would be really cautious to undo the entire approval that happened at the Sept. 19 because there were a whole bunch of other things that were approved,” Councilmember Douglas Noble said.

Majdi then amended his motion to modify the BAR’s decisions Sept. 19 and Aug. 15 and to direct the BAR to consult with the Town Council before Town Council’s next scheduled meeting on the project.

When Noble proposed an amendment to Majdi’s motion to keep the modification specific to the four rear facades of the townhomes parallel to the Bank of America property and facing Market Square.

The Town Council approved both Noble’s amendment and Majdi’s motion.

“I do think we should move on this as quickly as possible,” Mayor Laurie DiRocco said.

Renderings via Town of Vienna

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The birthplace of “Tysons Corner” may soon become the site of new development.

The site at the corner of Route 7 and Route 123 is known by locals as the place where Tysons originated with a tiny country store, according to the Tysons Partnership.

But after almost 100 years in the family, the site is now available to rent out to developers as a ground lease, Janet Caldwell, a relative, told Tysons Reporter.

The family decided to work with real estate firm Cushman and Wakefield to help them find a tenant for the 7 acres of land. The ground lease would allow developers to build on the property while paying rent to the original owners.

“You don’t find parcels of this size in an urban environment,” Paul Collins, the vice-chairman of Cushman and Wakefield, told Tysons Reporter, adding that this is a rare opportunity in the area considering the land’s visibility and close proximity to the Greensboro Metro station.

Less than 2% of development deals are made up of ground leases, Collins said.

He was not sure how much the land would rent for or how long the lease would be. He also couldn’t reveal the identity of the several parties interested in developing the land, but he did say “large international developments tend to be interested in this type of property.”

Once developed, Collins said he imagines the property will become a mix-used development with housing and retail similar to The Boro development nearby.

Photo via Tysons Partnership 

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Pedestrians will have to wait a few more weeks before the northbound sidewalk along Dolley Madison Blvd (Route 123) by the McLean Metro station reopens.

The sidewalk is maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), Jenni McCord, a VDOT spokesperson, told Tysons Reporter.

“This sidewalk has been closed for about three weeks for construction under a developer site plan and permit,” McCord said.

The sidewalk is closed due to work related to Cityline Partner’s Scotts Run project, which will add an 8 million-square-foot mixed-use development.

The project includes several apartments and office buildings — including the completed 425-unit apartment complex called The Haden and the 14-story office building Mitre 4 — along with the Archer Hotel and retail space.

“Our site contractor is completing a new road connection to Route 123 and was required by VDOT to close the sidewalk during construction,” Cityline’s Managing Director Tasso Flocos told Tysons Reporter.

The new connection will include new asphalt pavement, ADA-compliant handicap ramps and pavement markings, McCord said.

The sidewalk will stay closed until paving is finished, Flocos said, adding that the contractor expects to be done by the end of October depending on the weather.

Until then, pedestrians can use the detour that takes them around the work area.

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A new tower is coming to Tysons’ skyline and snapping up the “tallest building in the region” title.

The tower is apart of Clemente Development Co. plans for The View development, which won approval from the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors last night (Tuesday).

The mixed-use development by the Spring Hill Metro station will add six buildings, including the 600-foot-tall building that will reach higher than Capital One’s headquarters.

Known as the Iconic Tower, building plans to capitalize on its height with a publicly-accessible botanical garden and observation deck.

The development has been praised for its varied building heights and sleek design, but the Iconic Tower’s height of 600 feet — 200 feet above the maximum for Tysons buildings– has received some criticism from the McLean Citizens Association.

Dale Stein, the president of MCA, said that the height “breaks the trust of the community.”

However, the supervisors felt differently.

Providence District Supervisor Linda Smyth said that the height creates an architectural statement that will help define downtown Tysons.

“If we keep that 400-foot level… we will have a collection of 400-foot shoeboxes defining our skyline in Tysons,” Smyth said, adding that people are “starting to see that already.”

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust said that while he understands the MCA’s position about the height, “I don’t necessarily agree with that concern.”

Supervisors also lauded the development’s planned entertainment uses, which include a black box theater, art walk and open-air theater, along with a nearby community center.

“We’re no longer suburbia,” Smyth said. “We are going into the future with this.”

Image via Fairfax County

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At the developer’s request, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is pushing its consideration of single-family homes in Merrifield to January.

Toll Mid-Atlantic LP Company is looking to knock down the existing house and structures by the Bear Branch stream valley and Lee Hwy to build 28 homes.

The redevelopment would keep about 35% of the property as open space. Each home would have a two-car garage, a 15-foot front yard setback and a 20-foot rear yard setback, according to the plans.

The Planning Commission recommended approval of the proposed infill project in September.

The proposal was set to have a public hearing before the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors today (Oct. 15), but the developer requested that the public hearing get pushed to the second board meeting in January.

Images via Fairfax County 

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