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Update on 2/16/19 — In a Facebook post, Great American Restaurants announced that the new location will be a “coupling” of Patsy’s American and Randy’s Prime Seafood and Steaks. According to the post:

We are excited to announce, Patsy’s American and Randy’s Prime Seafood & Steaks will be “coupled together” on Leesburg Pike in Tysons Corner – with Best Buns Bakery & Cafe opening next door. Named by children Jill, Jon and Timmy Norton – and Great American Restaurants – in honor of founder Randy Norton and his wife Patsy Norton’s 50 years of marriage and nearly five successful decades dedicated to the hospitality industry. 

The new Great American Restaurants eatery reported a few weeks ago was unnamed at the time, but could be the American Seafood Steaks Bakery & Café, which filed permits last week for the same address.

It’s a mouthful, but it accurately describes a planned restaurant said to have bakery, American food and sports bar components.

The new restaurant is being built at 8051 Leesburg Pike, formerly the site of a Chili’s and On the Border Mexican Grill & Cantina, before both were torn down.

The new location is under construction, with a manager at a nearby location from the same company saying the new restaurant was planning to open in June or July.

According to a legal notice in the Washington Post, the restaurant is currently seeking approval to sell alcohol at the site as well. The license is being filed under the name “Fred’s Food Group LLC,” whose only online reference is in connection with this restaurant.

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For all its faults, it’s hard to say Tycon Courthouse doesn’t stand out.

More locally known as the “Toilet Bowl” or “Stargate” building, Tycon Courthouse on Route 123 just west of Leesburg Pike is most notable for it’s over seven-story tall ring in the front of the building.

But there was a time where the building, labeled the ugliest in Virginia in Business Insider’s 2018 list of ugliest buildings in every state, was once the height of local architecture. It was, at one point, the largest office building in Tysons and the first structure to include massive structure parking, able to accommodate a then-record 900 cars.

It was built in 1983 in the middle of a “screaming architecture” fad — a Washington Post article at the time said the buildings were designed to be their own advertisements. They were reflective of peak Reagan-era style, where notability was more important than pleasing aesthetics. Architects Volker Zinser and Barry Dunn were credited with the project.

There are several urban rumors about the project, like that it was designed to look like an “O” for the Olivetti Company, or the lenses of a Nikon camera, but an interview with Zinser at the time said he was inspired by a book about 19th-century French architects who designed projects that explored geometric volumes.

In keeping with the style, Zinser said the fact that the building was being talked about was more important than what people were calling it.

The screaming architecture fad was centered around Fairfax County. Experts at the time called it medieval, noting that businesses were grabbing spaces and turning them into private fortresses.

The Blade Runner-esque Tysons Office Center on Route 7 and Gallows Road, sometimes called the “Flash Cube” building, and Tycon Towers, the 17-story “shopping bag,” were other local examples of this design.

Tycon Courthouse in the 1980s photo via Bonstra Haresign Architects

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Updated at 2:25 p.m. — Police said at 2:20 p.m. that “at this time there is no evidence to substantiate the threat” after completing their search. The bank is resuming its normal operations. 

Earlier: Police are on the scene of a potential bomb threat at Provident Bank (7799 Leesburg Pike) in Falls Church.

Fairfax County Police said in a tweet this afternoon, below, that “a man called the bank indicating a bomb threat.”

Police told Tysons Reporter that the front desk was notified of a vague threat with very little credible information and after a search of the building no suspicious objects were found.

Following the threat, police remained at the scene to continue investigating the source of the call.

Image via Google Maps 

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The fences are up and construction is underway on the site of the former Chili’s in Tysons as Fairfax-based Great American Restaurants prepares for the opening of its latest restaurant later this year.

The new restaurant will occupy a large new building which looks like a cross between a church and a warehouse. It was built on what was once a Chili’s and an On the Border Mexican Grill & Cantina, before both closed and were torn down.

The manager at another Great American Restaurants location said the new eatery will serve American cuisine. A name hasn’t been selected yet, but the manager said the food would be somewhere between the cuisine of Mike’s American in Springfield and Jackson’s in Reston, two of the company’s other locations.

Great American Restaurants currently operates 10 locations across Fairfax, including Coastal Flats in the Tysons Corner Center mall. Its headquarters are also located in Fairfax, near Merrifield.

On Reddit, several users said the new Tysons restaurant would have a sports bar component. The manager said the location would also contain a bakery, similar to the Best Buns Bread Company in Arlington, and is planning to open in June or July.

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As the national chain files for bankruptcy, the Performance Bicycle Shop in Pike 7 Plaza is going out of business.

Like the nearby Pier 1 Imports, the imminent closure of the store also means much of the store’s supply is on steep sales. Helmets and other equipment normally sold for over $100 is priced at around $30.

Items in the store range from bicycles, including specialized recumbent bicycles, to smaller bicycle accessories like bells and chain lube. Yesterday (Thursday) was the first day fixtures in the store were also on sale, from wall racks to the vacuum cleaner.

A manager at the store said the business likely has a week or two before it fully closes. He estimated Jan. 27 will be the store’s final day.

Despite the impending closure, staff at the store still maintained a bit of gallows humor. The manager at the store was directing customers to items with the highest sales and asking if any of the people stopping by for accessories needed a bike-rack capable of storing 12 bicycles.

When one woman walked in with a bike broken into three pieces, staff told her that the store was no longer accepting maintenance work and that the shop’s repair team had been recently laid off.

But when she mentioned one of the staff by name, the discombobulated bicycle was recognized as a “special project” and she was directed to the back of the store where the few remaining employees were still helping Tysonians with their bicycle problems.

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(Updated 1:40 p.m.) — The Tysons Pier 1 Imports is the latest victim of a series of closures that’s hit the furniture and decor chain.

The store is located at 8311 Leesburg Pike in a shopping center just southwest of the Greensboro Metro station.

Everything in the store, including the fixtures, is on sale. Most discounts range from 20-30 percent off in addition to existing sales. Items in the store range from large furniture and rugs to candles and bath bombs at less than $10.

As of Friday, the store was still around three-quarters full of items for sale, though with one scented air freshener and candle less than when the reporter arrived.

According to a spokesperson for Pier 1 Imports, the Tysons location will close late next month.

“As a matter of practice, we do everything we can to support our associates during this time of transition,” said the spokesperson in an email. “Pier 1 Imports continually reviews new and existing store locations to make sure we’re operating as efficiently as possible. Where necessary, based on that review, we make the strategic business decision to close certain locations on a case-by-case basis.”

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It’s been nine years since Hazleton Laboratories, later Covance, closed the doors of its facility near Wolf Trap, infamous for its testing on monkeys and beagles — but life could soon be returning to the site.

Toll Brothers, a real estate developer, has plans to build 102 single-family homes northeast of the intersection of Route 7 and Towlston Road. The new project, called Grantstone, is a by-right development that has generated concern among neighbors who say the new development could overburden the nearby roads.

“Despite the fact that it is by-right, they’ve been cooperative,” said Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust. “We’ve had two well-attended community meetings to identify issues of concern. They’ve been willing to work with us. There’s not a lot of things we can do as long as they stick to subdivision ordinance.”

One of the biggest items of concern has been the new development’s impacts on Towlston Road, a two-lane street to the west of the property. The Great Falls Citizens Association passed a resolution last summer calling on the Virginia and Fairfax County departments of transportation to reexamine the issue of how much traffic will be generated on the surrounding streets.

Foust said the new housing development aligns fortuitously with a plan to widen Route 7 from four lanes to six lanes, as well as make new intersection improvements.

“The Department of Transportation will not grant access onto Route 7, so they’ll have to access the site from Towlston,” said Foust. “Eventually, that’s going to work very well since we’re widening Route 7 and the plan is to dramatically improve the intersection at Towlston. [That will mean] adding a couple lanes to the dedicated right and left turning lanes. But that’s a couple years down the road.”

While construction of 102 new homes was planned to start in early 2019, as of yesterday (Wednesday) most of the 113,000 square-foot property visible from outside the “do-not-enter” signs remains overgrown, with cracked roads the only sign of the former facilities. Foust said the development is currently in the site plan review process, and county records show the review was approved on Dec. 21.

Foust said the Grantstone development is being done across two phases, and the first home sales are unlikely to start for another two or three years.

“It’s a long process to go through,” said Foust. “That’s another reason the traffic issue is a little less concerning. We are concurrently making progress on Route 7 widening. By the time they’re fully built, I’m confident Route 7 will be widened.”

The Route 7 widening project hit a snag last summer when the costs came in at $95 million more than was originally estimated. In June, the Board of Supervisors voted to approve $40 million to help close the project’s funding gap.

Map via Fairfax County

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Foot by foot, Tysons is getting a little more walkable.

Tomorrow afternoon, Fairfax County will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony for two new sidewalks along Leesburg Pike (Route 7) under Chain Bridge Road (Route 123). The new sidewalk connects the Pike 7 shopping center and The Boro development with the retail and restaurants west of the Tysons Corner Center mall.

According to the Fairfax County Department of Transportation press release:

The sidewalks are part of the Dulles corridor bicycle and pedestrian access improvements and provide enhanced pedestrian access along Leesburg Pike with 1,100 feet of sidewalk on the north side and 800 feet of sidewalk on the south side. These improvements were designed by the Fairfax County Department of Transportation; constructed by the Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services (DPWES); and funded under the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) Locally Administered Project (LAP) program.

The ribbon-cutting is scheduled for 1 p.m. tomorrow and to be attended by several members of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and Sol Glasner, president and CEO of the Tysons Partnership.

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Photos: Tysons Then and Now

The blistering pace of development in Tysons has many looking to the future, but sometimes it’s interesting to look back.

Aerial photos from the 1980s, available via Google Earth, help tell the story of the region’s evolution over the past three decades.

Tysons as an urban metropolis is a somewhat modern phenomenon for an area that was largely farmland for 100 years after William Tyson purchased it. In the 1960s, development was jump-started by the construction of the Capital Beltway, Dulles Airport, and the Tysons Corner Shopping Center in 1968.

By the 1980s, when the first satellite photos are available, Tysons was already a developed area. According to data from the U.S. Census, in 1990 the population of Tysons was 9,374. It grew by 35.8 percent to 12,734 in 2000.

The growth slowed a bit between 2000 and 2010, when the population rose by 11.2 percent to 14,159. Since then the pace of residential growth in Tysons has picked back up; the current population of Tysons is 19,627, already a 38.7 percent increase over 2010.

The 1988 image of Tysons, above, shows Tysons Galleria to the north on the eve of opening later that year. The streets surrounding Tysons Galleria were also widened and became more interconnected over the years, allowing for more dense construction to the north and to the east, including several recently opened and planned mixed-use developments. The offices to the west of Tysons Galleria are currently planned for major renovations to keep up with development further west on Leesburg Pike.

One of the most visually striking shifts on Leesburg Pike is the decrease in surface parking lots, which covered much of the office parks east of Leesburg Pike. Several of the lots have been replaced with under-construction developments like The Boro. The shopping centers west of Leesburg Pike have also become more active as well, with new restaurants like Honeygrow and Cava opening this year.

Photos via Google Earth

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Cava, a Bethesda-based Mediterranean restaurant chain, has just opened in Tysons at 8350 Leesburg Pike.

The restaurant officially opened today (Monday) near the Greensboro Metro. The Cava is located right next door to Honeygrow, a stir-fry restaurant that opened last month.

The Cava on Leesburg Pike will be open daily from 10:45 a.m.-10 p.m. Be warned though, despite the large lot in Pike 7 Plaza, parking tends to fill up quickly around lunch.

This isn’t the first Cava in the area, with locations in Vienna, McLean and another inside Tysons Corner Center. The chain has been expanding rapidly over the last year, including a deal in August that led to the company acquiring Texas-based Mediterranean chain Zoës Kitchen.

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