Newsletter

Morning Notes

Indigenous Peoples’ Day Scheduling Changes Announced — Most Falls Church city buildings will be closed on Monday (Oct. 11) in recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, with the exception of the community center, which will remain open for scheduled classes and camps. In addition, Fairfax Connector will operate on a holiday weekday service schedule.

Vienna Awarded for Liberty Amendments Month — The Virginia Municipal League named Vienna Town Manager Mercury Payton its Local Champion Award winner this week for spearheading the first-ever Liberty Amendments Month. The town also won the 2021 President’s Award, which is the league’s “highest honor for innovative solutions by local government.” [Patch]

Eastern District of Virginia Gets New U.S. Attorney — The Senate voted yesterday (Wednesday) to confirm Jessica Aber as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, which includes Fairfax County and operates out the federal courthouse in Alexandria. Her experience includes fraud and child exploitation cases as well as the prosecution of former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell, who was convicted of taking bribes but got the verdict overturned by the Supreme Court. [The Washington Post]

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As one major Falls Church development takes a step toward completion, another is just getting started.

Developer Atlantic Realty Companies, which owns George Mason Square and nearby buildings, hopes to transform the area with a mixed-use complex dubbed One City Center, which will include 246 residential units, office space, retail, and a grocery store.

“This is an area that has long been planned to evolve into a downtown vibrant hub,” Andrew Painter, an attorney representing the developer, said at a Sept. 27 Falls Church City Council meeting.

As part of the project, the company plans to demolish and replace a rear two-story parking garage with a building that’s nine or 10 stories tall, add a park on a vacant corner lot at South Maple Avenue and West Annandale Road, and create a pedestrian-friendly street — a Dutch-inspired woonerf — with a 30-foot by 40-foot exterior screen.

“The Digital Screen may be used to display art, landscapes, movies and theatrical presentations for ‘screen on the green’ events, coverage of live City events and performances (e.g., Watch Night performances, Memorial Day parade, etc.), promotion of the project’s retailers and City services, and related programming,” a voluntary concessions document from June 23 says.

Other buildings to be demolished include the former BB&T Bank and a tailor business building, where a temporary parking lot would be created during construction.

Atlantic Realty unveiled an initial proposal for the project on Feb. 11 and submitted a second version on June 23. The company is working with Falls Church officials as it seeks to get approval from the city council, possibly on Feb. 28 next year.

An agreement calls for designating 6% of the units — up to 15 units — as affordable. Painter said the developer is working with the city to determine what that would entail.

As part of the application, the developer is seeking special exceptions, one of which includes increasing a building height from a maximum of 75 feet to up to 115 feet.

City Looks at Proposed Concessions

The City of Falls Church has been working with the developer on concessions to make the project become a reality.

Among numerous concessions, a proposed agreement calls for:

  • A one-time payment of $1.7 million to schools to offset capital costs, provided all 246 units are built
  • 30 public parking spaces
  • A 3,000 square-foot conference center (about two-thirds the size of a basketball court) that would be available to commercial tenants in the new development and George Mason Square, nonprofits, and the city for meetings

Painter said the conference space could be used by the city and nonprofits at no cost.

The developer and project leads showcased the potential of the site on a walking tour on Wednesday (Sept. 29), making the case that a new bus shelter, bikeshare, pedestrian crossings, and other upgrades would improve transportation.

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Morning Notes

Tysons Wegmans Reopens After Hazmat Event — The Wegmans at Capital One Center (1835 Capital One Drive) was closed throughout the night on Wednesday (Sept. 22), a tipster who told Tysons Reporter, adding that there were “lots of fire trucks outside.” The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department says one of the store’s refrigerator lines had a leak, which “is considered a HAZMAT incident.” The scene was cleared that evening, and the store reopened yesterday (Thursday).

Falls Church Development to Delay Traffic Tomorrow — “Drivers should expect delays at the intersection of Broad St. (Rt. 7/Leesburg Pike) and Washington St. (Rt. 29/Lee Highway) on Saturday, September 25, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The traffic signal at that intersection is expected to be dark, and lanes will be closed…The closures are due to a contractor testing for the upcoming Broad and Washington private development project at the intersection.” [City of Falls Church]

Park Authority Recognizes County Leaders for Pandemic Response — “The Fairfax County Park Authority Board is honoring two individuals this year with Chairman’s Choice Awards for outstanding long-term support, service to, and advocacy on behalf of the Park Authority…County Executive Bryan Hill and Fairfax County Director of Health Dr. Gloria Addo-Ayensu, are being hailed for their outstanding leadership during the challenging COVID-19 pandemic.” [FCPA]

Watch Demolition of Old NADA HQ in Tysons — Have a few free hours? Spend them watching the vacated National Automobile Dealers Association headquarters get reduced to rubble to make way for The Boro’s expansion. Demolition work is nearly complete on the building, which was among the first office towers in Tysons when it was constructed in 1975. [Fairfax County Economic Development Authority]

1st Stage Theater Reflects on Staying Busy During Pandemic — “Instead of shutting down and laying off workers, 1st Stage took a different tack. The company committed to fulfilling every contract for three scheduled productions, keeping its entire staff employed and continuing to function at the fullest capacity possible under the circumstances, [artistic and managing director Alex] Levy said.” [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]

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Morning Notes

Controversy Hits Tysons Korean Cooking Contest — Half of the judges for the 2021 K-Food Cook-Off have quit after a statement introducing one of them drew social media criticism for suggesting that the D.C. area has a lack of Korean restaurants. The competition, which will be held on Sept. 26 at the Tysons Hyatt Regency, has also come under fire for only having one judge of Korean heritage on its original panel. [Washington City Paper]

Police Investigate Possible Murder in Falls Church — Fairfax County police found the remains of 78-year-old Truman Nguyen in a shallow grave behind his house near Bailey’s Crossroads yesterday after a family member reported him missing on Monday (Sept. 6). His son was arrested and has been charged with murder, which would make it the county’s 18th homicide this year, triple the number that had been reported at this time in 2020. [The Washington Post]

Family of 9/11 Victim Shares Memories of Tragic Day — Now a student pursuing a master’s degree at George Mason University, Fairfax County resident An Nguyen was just 4 when his father was killed in the terrorist attack on the Pentagon, where both of his parents worked. His mother, who came to the U.S. from Vietnam as a child, was not at the Pentagon when the plane hit. [NBC4]

Tysons Business Group Hosts Statewide Candidates Forum — “The Multicultural Chamber Alliance (MCCA), a powerful collaborative initiative of the Asian American Chamber, the Northern Virginia Black Chamber and the Virginia Hispanic Chamber, invites the press and general public to attend the Annual Candidates Forum. The Candidates Forum will take place Thursday, September 9, 2021, from 10 am-12 pm, at the University of North America (12750 Fair Lakes Circle) in Fairfax, Virginia.” [MCCA]

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Labor Day weekend has almost arrived, unofficially bringing summer to an end with an occasion to recognize the achievement of workers and the labor movement.

For students, the weekend has already begun, since Fairfax County Public Schools has designated both today (Friday) and Monday (Sept. 6) as holidays.

With Labor Day falling on Monday, many public facilities and services in Fairfax County will be closed or have altered schedules to accommodate the federal holiday. Here are some of the changes that residents in the Tysons area should keep in mind:

Fairfax County Government

Fairfax County Courts

Town of Vienna

City of Falls Church

County Libraries and Recreational Facilities

Public Transit

  • Fairfax Connector buses will operate on a Sunday schedule for Labor Day. Check the transit system’s website for the specific routes that will be in service.
  • Metro will operate from 7 a.m. to midnight throughout Labor Day weekend, with trains serving 87 of 91 stations normally on the Red, Blue, and Silver lines and scheduled maintenance on the Orange, Yellow, and Green lines.
  • On Labor Day, Metrorail, buses, and MetroAccess will follow a Sunday service schedule with off-peak fares and free parking in effect all day.

County Trash and Recycling

  • Labor Day will not affect trash and recycling collections for county customers. However, the customer service center will be closed in observance of the holiday.
  • The I-66 Transfer Station and I-95 Landfill Complex will both be open.
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Morning Notes

Rainbows appear over Tysons after a recent storm (photo by ERTRIPP9/Twitter)

FCPS Looks to Tighten COVID-19 Protocols — Missed emails have led some Fairfax County Public School students to show up for class when they’re supposed to stay home after coming into close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. The school system is working with county health officials to speed up the complicated contact-tracing process. [Reston Now]

Abortion and Taxes Take Center Stage at Tysons Forum — Nearly 300 people gathered at the Ritz-Carlton in Tysons to hear all six major-party candidates for statewide offices. Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe warned that the abortion restrictions approved in Texas on Wednesday (Sept. 1) could come to Virginia if his opponent is elected, while Republican Glenn Youngkin detailed his recently announced tax cuts plan. [Associated Press]

Falls Church Sets Opening Date for Renovated Library — The Mary Riley Styles Public Library will reopen next Friday (Sept. 10) after a year-long renovation that expanded the facility by 6,000 square feet, reconfigured the layout, and updated its amenities and infrastructure. City officials and library staff will mark the opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, with a public grand opening celebration to come later in the fall. [City of Falls Church]

Caliburger Food Truck Coming to The Boro — “Southern California burger joint @caliburgerdc is coming to #TheBoroTysons next year! In the meantime, get a preview of their sunny SoCal style from the CaliBurger Food Truck on Sat evenings from 6:30-8:30pm (beginning 9/4), & lunch on Wednesdays from 11:30am-2pm (starting 9/8).” [The Boro/Twitter]

Photo by ERTRIPP9/Twitter

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Morning Notes

Help Name Former Container StoreCelebrate Fairfax is turning the former Container Store at 8505 Leesburg Pike in Tysons into a community event venue whose name will be determined by a social media poll. The options are Tysons Commons, Tysons Collective, Social District at Tysons, and The PARC (People, Art, Recreation, and Community) at Tysons. [Celebrate Fairfax Festival/Twitter]

Inova-Tested Drug Helps COVID Patients — “A drug tested at Inova Health System has shown to improve clinical outcomes in hospitalized COVID-19 patients who required supplemental oxygen. The Phase 2 clinical trial evaluating the safety of fostamatinib was conducted on behalf of Rigel Pharmaceuticals Inc…Results were published Wednesday in Clinical Infectious Diseases, an official publication of the Infectious Disease Society of America.” [Inside NoVA]

Falls Church to Get First Electric School Buses — “FCCPS is one of 19 Virginia school divisions receiving a grant to replace diesel school buses with new electric buses. The grant announcement came last Thursday, in a news release from the governor’s office. FCCPS will receive $530,000 for two electric buses from the Volkswagen (VW) Environmental Mitigation Trust.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Local Nonprofit Names New Leader — “Vienna-based Langley Residential Support Services, a nonprofit serving adults with developmental disabilities, has named a new executive director. Langley Residential’s board hired Maureen K. Gum as executive director after she served as interim executive director.” [Patch]

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Morning Notes

Prepare for Remnants of Hurricane IdaTropical Depression Ida is expected to hit the D.C. area today (Wednesday). A Flash Flood Watch will take effect this morning, and Gov. Ralph Northam has already declared a state of emergency. Fairfax County says to avoid flooded streets, remove valuables from basements, and ensure storm drains and gutters aren’t clogged, and Falls Church City residents can borrow sandbags until 3 p.m. [Fairfax County Emergency Information]

County Grants Program Now Accepting Applicants — Fairfax County’s new Active and Thriving Community Grants Program opened its application portal yesterday (Tuesday) and will accept applicants until 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 14. Approved on July 27, the program will allocate $10 million in federal relief money to select small businesses and nonprofits negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. [Fairfax County Government]

FCPS Ready to Help Afghan Refugee Students — “[Annandale resident] Tahir is awaiting the arrival of his wife and other children, who were among thousands of Afghans who fled after the Taliban takeover earlier this month…When his family arrives, one of his priorities will be enrolling the children in school. A spokesperson for Fairfax County Public Schools said faculty and staff are already helping Afghan refugees enroll their children and providing them with additional support to help students adjust to their new environment.” [Inside NoVA]

Longtime Falls Church Crossing Guard Retires — “It was almost like any other day as Audrey Luthman greeted students heading to school Tuesday morning. She’s helped Falls Church students cross the roads safely since 1971, but her work has come to an end…City of Falls Church officials and families gathered Tuesday morning to celebrate Luthman’s 50 years of service and retirement.” [Patch]

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Arbor day tree planting in 2017 (via Falls Church Village Preservation and Improvement Society)

The City of Falls Church and the Falls Church Village Preservation and Improvement Society (VPIS) are planning to plant 30 new trees this fall and could use some of your input on where to put them.

Charles Prince, City of Falls Church Arborist, says the planting effort is part of a multi-year push to spruce up much of the city, and the 30-tree goal is intended to be mindful of the limited scale of volunteer operations.

“The Department of Public Works has a goal of 100 trees per year that started this past July,” Prince said by email. “100 is the number of trees planted for the City’s first Arbor Day. Right now we have limited resources due to volunteer event restrictions (COVID) and until our in house crew is hired we are down three people that would normally assist with planting. Setting a goal of 30 trees using a tree contractor lets us work towards our goal while being mindful of budget.”

While the target goal of 100 trees per year is new, Prince says Falls Church has had an annual tree planting program in place for over two decades.

“This is a successful and popular annual program that has been in place since 2000 and has resulted in 1,400 trees thanks to many, many volunteers,” Prince said.

Prince said the program has helped make the tree canopy a core part of the city’s DNA, noting that Falls Church has been designated a Tree City USA by the National Arbor Day Foundation for 42 consecutive years.

“The distinction honors the City’s commitment to community forestry,” Prince said. “In fact, the City was the first community in Virginia to be recognized as a Tree City and has the longest state record for this annual national award. The City had the first Arbor Day in the state in 1892 after a hurricane hit Falls Church.”

Prince said the trees program helps provide several benefits, from shade and filtering CO2 to reducing stormwater runoff and certain health benefits.

For residents hoping to get a tree from the city to plant, Prince said there are a few restrictions, including that requests must come from Falls Church City residents. Falls Church addresses outside city limits don’t count.

Sites also must have room for a shade tree within 15 feet of the street with no interfering utilities, and they can’t be subject to a required landscaping plan.

Requests must be submitted to the city or VPIS by Sept. 6 to be eligible for the fall planting.

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Falls Church City Hall Harry E. Wells Building sign (via City of Falls Church Government/Facebook)

The City of Falls Church will require its employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo regular testing, the city announced this morning (Wednesday).

The policy will take effect on Sept. 30, meaning all employees will need to have gotten both shots of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine on or by that date, Falls Church City communications director Susan Finarelli told Tysons Reporter.

She confirmed that the requirement will apply to the city’s 200 full-time employees as well as part-time and contract workers.

The mandate puts the city in line with Fairfax County’s government and public schools, which both announced on Friday (Aug. 20) that they will have a vaccine requirement for their workers.

“The vaccines are safe, effective, and they save lives,” Falls Church City Manager Wyatt Shields said in a statement. “We join many other Northern Virginia jurisdictions, school systems, companies, and organizations in this important step toward ending this pandemic.”

A testing requirement will be in place for anyone who doesn’t get vaccinated, including employees who request a medical or religious exemption, according to the news release, which notes that the Falls Church City Council has expressed support for a vaccine mandate in recent meetings.

Finarelli says many details of the new policy are still being worked out, including what provider the city will use for testing services.

Falls Church typically relies on the Fairfax County Health Department for health-related services, including COVID-19 vaccination clinics like the public, walk-in site that will be available at the 45th annual Falls Church Festival from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sept. 11.

“We are consulting with Fairfax Health — the City’s health department — on this, as well as exploring other options for the testing requirement,” Finarelli said. “We are still working on the details and a final plan.”

Falls Church City Public Schools says it will also require all employees to get vaccinated going forward unless they have a medical or religious exemption, in which case they will submit to mandatory testing paid for by the school division.

“The number of our employees who report as vaccinated exceeds 98%, which we attribute to the high participation in our vaccination clinics and the collective commitment of our staff to health/safety,” FCCPS communications director John Wesley Brett said by email. “With the Pfizer vaccine having full FDA approval for 16+-year-olds, we are confident that is one less concern if that was a barrier for someone hesitating to be vaccinated.”

Falls Church City has been seeing a moderate level of community transmission since the beginning of August after keeping transmission levels low throughout the summer. It’s one of just two localities in Virginia left in the moderate category, along with Manassas Park, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

Superintendent Peter Noonan said during a virtual town hall on Monday (Aug. 23) that the rise of transmission “gives us pause,” but FCCPS didn’t have any confirmed positive COVID-19 cases during its summer school and extended school year programs.

“We’re very proud of that not just as a school system, but as a community, as a whole, because it means the mitigation strategies that we’re putting in place are actually working,” he said.

Photo via City of Falls Church Government/Facebook

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