Amid a roar of traffic, a dozen Fairfax County officials gathered to break ground on an extensive Leesburg Pike (Route 7) widening project.
The ceremony was today (Thursday) at Capital Church on the border of the Hunter Mill and Dranesville districts, with their respective Board of Supervisors representatives Cathy Hudgins and John Foust present.
The project will involve adding a third lane to Leesburg Pike in each direction from Reston to Tysons. At the groundbreaking, officials highlighted the new shared-use paths and other improvements planned along the corridor to increase capacity, improve safety and traffic flow, and make life a little easier for cyclists and pedestrians.
“This project will enhance nobility…” said Sharon Bulova, chair of the Fairfax County Board, then laughed and corrected herself, “mobility, but [nobility] too, for cycling and pedestrians.”
The shared-use paths are planned to run along both sides of the road, with bridges and underpasses planned along the way and several other intersection improvements.
“It’s an important milestone many years in the making,” said Bill Cutler, the Virginia Department of Transportation’s district construction engineer. “It’s a 7-mile corridor and an important multimodal project, with 14 miles of multipurpose trail and access to the Spring Hill Metro station.”
During construction, off-peak lane closures are expected as the project works in segments. Final completion of the project is expected for summer 2024.
“If you’re sitting here wondering why we’re doing this, traffic seems to be going pretty well… it’s too late now,” said Foust. “In 2010, it was said that if Tysons was going to work, we needed to ensure that vehicles could get out of Tysons… This improvement will, I hope, make it much more attractive for drivers to stay on Route 7. Right now, we have a lot of cut-through traffic taking Georgetown Pike or Lewinsville Road trying to avoid traffic on Route 7. I think this will go a long way to addressing challenges with cut-through traffic.”
According to county permits, a new Men’s Wearhouse could be coming to a squat, castle-looking building at 1929 Old Gallows Road off Leesburg Pike.
The building formerly had been a Petco, but has been vacant for at least a year. Construction at the building seems to include not just the former Petco, but the closed Mattress Firm that also shared the building.
Men’s Wearhouse also has locations in Reston and near Centreville and there had been one near the Greensboro Metro station.
Permits were filed in March for internal alterations to the building, and from the look of the building, any interior renovations are still in the earliest stages. Tailored Brands, the company that owns both Men’s Wearhouse and Joseph A. Bank, could not be reached for comment, so the estimated time for completion is not currently known.
The large affordable housing project near the Spring Hill Metro station is on hold, according to the developer.
The Clemente Development Company is currently busy with The View, a 3 million-square-foot redevelopment project planning on being a new residential, retail and arts hub for Tysons. The project includes The Iconic, a 600-foot tall tower that has the potential to shape the Tysons skyline.
The Evolution, a residential development planned just south of The View, popped up again yesterday (Monday) in Fairfax County permitting, but Antonio Calabrese, a lawyer representing Clemente, said there have been no new plans submitted for the project since it was initially proposed in 2017.
The eventual plan is to include 1,400 multi-family units in a high-rise building that would replace the existing commercial building. All units would be workforce dwelling units.
Calabrese said The Evolution is a separate project from The View and is not part of a proffer related to that project.
Meanwhile, Calabrese said Clemente is moving forward with plans to resubmit The View to Fairfax County staff on Friday (June 14) with hopes to have final approval in the fall.
EcoPlay, a new children’s playspace in Tysons, is planning to open in early July.
The indoor play area is currently under construction in Pike7 Plaza, replacing the Performance Bicycle Shop that closed in January.
A store representative said the location had been hoping to open in June, but is more likely eyeing early-to-mid July.
According to the company’s website:
When you enter EcoPlay, your children’s eyes will light up as they encounter our beautiful indoor play space. We believe in play that encourages exploration, learning and imagination. We provide children with a space to explore new abilities through a wide variety of interactive games, learning events and educational toys. Every inch of EcoPlay was hand-selected to promote healthy and safe play.
Two-hour open playtime supervised by a parent or other responsible adult costs $20 per child, or a child can be dropped off for supervised play for $30.
The facility will also offers private or semi-private party spaces for up to 25 children for three hours.
Image via EcoPlay/Facebook
Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors greenlighted funding for new streets and highway improvement projects in the Tysons area.
In total, the county’s board approved $55 million for transportation projects in Tysons and Reston today (June 4), with more than $51 million for Tysons-area roads.
The greenlighted funding includes:
- $17.5 million: I-66 widening at Route 29
- $16.6 million: State Street land acquisition
- $7 million: land acquisition for Leesburg Pike widening
- $759,000: pedestrian improvements along Lee Highway
The board also approved funding for preliminary engineering and feasibility studies:
- $7 million: Lincoln Street extension
- $1.5 million: Broad Street
- $1 million: Greensboro ramp to Dulles Toll Road
- $500,000: Tysons West Park Transit Center ramp to Dulles Toll Road
I-66 median widening at Route 29
Fairfax County originally approved endorsement of the I-66 median widening in March 2017. The cost estimate for the project, however, increased by $17,500,000 “due to [the] complexity of construction (e.g. shutting down lanes to install the center pier, number of detours, which creates a larger project footprint),” according to the county staff report.
Lee Highway pedestrian improvements
The street improvements would span Nutley Street to Vaden Drive by the Vienna/Fairfax-GMU Metro station, completing missing portions of bike and pedestrian areas. “This project will allow more commuters to make trips by biking, walking, and transit instead of driving, which will improve mobility not only on I-66, but also on the parallel facilities of Lee Highway and Route 50,” the staff report says.
Land acquisition for Leesburg Pike widening
Fairfax County staff want the $7 million for a partial land acquisition between I-495 and I-66 once the design work is done. After deciding to replace an existing gas line along Leesburg Pike, the Fairfax County Department of Transportation has been studying right-of-way and road alignment needs for this section of the highway that runs along the southern edge of Pimmit Hills.
Land acquisition for State Street
Envisioned in the future Tysons Grid of Streets, State Street would connect Greensboro Drive to Route 7 between Spring Hill Road and Westpark Drive.
Currently, the desired, vacant property is for sale, according to the staff report. “If the property is sold to another party and the existing building encumbered with a long-term lease, the cost of acquiring the property will increase significantly, and may become prohibitive,” the report says.
Preliminary engineering and feasibility studies
The Greensboro and Tysons West Park Transit Center ramps to the Dulles Toll Road are two of the three planned ramps that will provide a connection between downtown Tysons to the highway.
Meanwhile, Lincoln Street would connect Old Meadow Road to Magarity Road in Pimmit Hills. The new, two-lane road is meant to provide more access for residents.
Another new road — Broad Street — would run parallel to Route 7, providing access between Spring Hill and Tyco roads and offering an alternative to using Route 7.
The board also approved $3 million for construction to widen Telegraph Road at Hayfield Road in Alexandria and $500,000 for preliminary engineering and feasibility studies on improving the intersection of Reston Parkway and Baron Cameron Avenue.
The funding adjustments from the Tysons and Reston Transportation Service Districts and the Tysons Grid of Streets Road Fund will be made as part of the carryover review for fiscal year 2019, according to a staff report.
Best Buns Bakery and Cafe recently opened in Tysons during Memorial Day weekend.
Similar to Best Buns Bread Company in Arlington, the spacious bakery and cafe serves up burgers, cold and hot sandwiches, artisan breads, pastries and salads. Drinks on the menu include milkshakes, coffee and sodas.
Best Buns opened on Saturday (May 25) at 8051 Leesburg Pike.
The bakery is the first of three Great American Restaurants to open in the former Chili’s spot. An employee said Patsy’s American is set to open early Friday (May 31) evening. Meanwhile, Randy’s Prime Seafood and Steaks will debut in June, Eater reported.
Best Buns in Tysons is open from 6 a.m.-9 p.m. on weekdays and from 7 a.m.-9 p.m. on weekends. The spot features indoor and outdoor seating.
A man was robbed and abducted on Sunday night, according to the Fairfax County Police Department.
Police said that three men confronted a man who was meeting someone to sell an item on a website at 10:25 p.m. on Sunday (May 26). The incident took place at 8111 Leesburg Pike.
“They demanded money and drove the victim to several locations to withdraw more cash,” according to the police report.
The police report gave the following descriptions of the suspects:
All three suspects were described as Middle Eastern men in their 20s. The first man was wearing a white T-shirt and had black facial hair. The second man was described as skinny, wearing a black T-shirt, black pants and black hair. The third man was wearing a red hat, green shorts and had black hair.
Image via Google Maps
A meeting Thursday (May 30) will seek community input on revamping aging bridges at a highway intersection in the heart of Tysons.
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) plans to rehabilitate the intersection of Leesburg Pike (Route 7) and Route 123 in Tysons. The project will focus on the northbound and southbound bridges where Route 123 passes over Leesburg Pike. Built more than 50 years ago in 1965, the bridges are beginning to show their age.
This rehabilitation will restore the bridge to a like-new condition and will cost approximately $2.5 million. The project is part of VDOT’s routine “State of Good Repair” program, which keeps infrastructure across the Commonwealth well-maintained and safe.
Fairfax County has bigger plans for the intersection. Fairfax transportation planners hope to one day tear down those bridges and build an efficient, modern “continuous flow intersection” at the junction of the two highways. That design would enable a high capacity of automobile throughput, but would also let the county build an elevated park over the intersection.
As it stands, the highways sever those communities from one another and separate Old Courthouse from the Metro stations, but an elevated park would stitch them together.
If the project proceeds as planned, construction would begin in early 2020 and finish by the end of the year. VDOT did not provide any information about possible traffic impacts.
The public has an opportunity for in-person comment on VDOT’s rehab plan at a public information meeting Thursday from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Freedom Hill Elementary School (1945 Lord Fairfax Road).
People can also provide feedback on the project by emailing Gang Zhang at [email protected].
Vienna: Provide input on Rt 123 over Rt 7 bridge rehabilitation Thu 5/30, 6:30-8:30PM at Freedom Hill ES. A presentation will begin at 7PM. More info: https://t.co/hntL5Ey4ib pic.twitter.com/3zOqUxykSL
— VDOT Northern VA (@VaDOTNOVA) May 24, 2019
Image via Google Maps
As Tysons gets taller, it’s become the scene of a hardcore — and illegal in this case — extreme sport: BASE jumping.
Last year, police investigated a series of incidents where people would trespass into the under-construction, 32-story Lumen building, climb to the top, and jump off with a parachute.
Videos from the jumper’s point of view were sent to FOX 5 in March.
“A total of six jumps are being investigated,” Fairfax County Police Lt. John Lieb told Tysons Reporter. “We believe we have identified one of the suspects, but confirming the date and location of the jump to make sure the elements of trespassing are met. We would encourage anyone else who has information to let us know.”
Lieb said that while the jumpers could be charged with a separate act of trespassing each time they cross over the property line, police believe differences in time of day and weather conditions in videos taken by the jumpers would indicate that the jumps took place on several different occasions.
Catherine Moran and Vernon Miles worked on this story.
Two more bidders are now vying for a Tysons property poised for redevelopment and new owners.
McLean-based Tepe & Hisar LLC submitted a bid earlier this month to buy the property for $19.5 million, while Virginia Beach-based Cobalt Real Estate Solutions LLC offered to pay $30.4 million for an adjacent office building, the Washington Business Journal reported.
The approved plans for International Place (8201 Leesburg Pike), which were submitted by a limited liability company as a project of the Stafford-based Garrett Cos., would add one main new building and five secondary mixed-use structures.
The Washington Business Journal previously reported that the LLC arranged a May 7 hearing to seek permission to sell the property to a Middle Eastern real estate developer who chairs the United Arab Emirates-based Nobles Properties.
While neither of the new deals is final, a bankruptcy judge authorized the new purchase agreements on May 10, the article notes.
Now, the stalled development may face a decision on new ownership at an upcoming June 4 hearing.
“Representatives for the debtor filed a motion with the court seeking authorization to reject an earlier purchase agreement stuck with Thallium so the office building at 8133 Leesburg can instead be sold to Cobalt,” the Washington Business Journal reported.
Image via Fairfax County