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The three-story office building at 380 Maple Street in Vienna, a squat brick structure from the 1970s, could soon be replaced with a new mixed-use development.

At tonight’s Board of Architectural Review meeting, the Board will review a proposal to replace the building with 7,500 square feet of retail and 40 residential condominium units. The new development will include a dog park for residents of the building.

The development is proposed to have one floor of below-ground parking and two floors of structured above-ground parking.

The developer is also proposing to plant a series of trees along the surrounding streets as part of the development’s streetscape improvements.

The building is proposed as part of the Maple Avenue Commercial (MAC) zoning, which last year was at the center of a controversy surrounding a new development a block away.

A previous work session on the new development was held on Dec. 14.

Photo via Google Maps

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Update 4:25 p.m. — Lynne Coan, communications and marketing manager for the Town of Vienna, said the Vienna Town Council removed pedestrian bridges and digital information board from the strategic plan and changed “get rid of planters” to “enhance streetscapes to encourage walkability”

As the Vienna Town Council begins to craft a new strategic plan, one of the largest sections of the document focuses on how to revitalize the town’s economy.

A full draft of the plan can be found in the agenda for the Jan. 15 Town Council work session. The strategic plan’s stated aim is for Vienna to serve as a “location of choice for unique, independent businesses that add to the town’s charm, attract visitors as well as residents and collectively serve to establish the town as a destination.”

So far, that’s been a challenge for Vienna. While there are new businesses, many of the largest additions are retail chains, and the western end of Maple Avenue suffers from rampant vacancies and “blight” like the burned husk of Marco Polo.

The strategic plan points to plans to update the town’s zoning code as one of the largest projects in the next year related to new economic development. The strategic plan says the aim is to start work on addressing the zoning code in spring 2019. The process is anticipated to take 18 months.

Part of the plan to make Vienna a destination also involves making it more walkable. The plan includes a series of recommendations on how to make Vienna more pedestrian friendly:

  • Make wider sidewalks a part of new Maple Avenue Commercial developments
  • Get rid of planters to allow more walking area
  • Enhance traffic-light timing to improve crossing Maple Avenue
  • Add more pedestrian-controlled signals on Maple Avenue
  • Start a local bus shuttle service to walkable destinations in Vienna

To help diversify the economy and bring in non-chain businesses, the plan recommends hiring an economic development consultant or deputy town manager to focus specifically on economic development. One of the recommendations would also loosen some of the sign ordinance restrictions, allowing businesses to get waivers allowing signs and balloons for events on Church Street, as well as additional way-finding signage.

In an effort to reduce the rampant vacancies, the plan recommends providing a link on the website to current vacant properties and opening up those spaces for pop-up arts or other short-term uses.

The plan also says that the current Town Green could be utilized more effectively as a social hub for Vienna, with recommendations for the square including bringing events with food trucks into the area.

Additional proposals in the strategic plan include:

  • Implement campaigns such as restaurant week
  • Celebrate small business week for a whole week, starting on the date of the Church Street Stroll; ask businesses to come up with deals to offer that whole week
  • Create a mobile app with an interactive business map
  • Create an app and printout for a Vienna walking tour focusing on local history and points of interest
  • Publicize where to park off-hours
  • Host more events that draw people to the commercial area
  • Create a Vienna dining and restaurant directory
  • Create a Chocolate Escape event; ask all businesses to feature a low-cost chocolate items as part of event
  • Host a Casino Night; have live music frequently
  • Encourage more dining options
  • Encourage local groups to adopt a spot and keep it clean
  • Create training centers
  • Feature a business of the week
  • Additional free events: dances, dance lessons, senior events.

Lynne Coan, communications and marketing manager for the Town of Vienna, said the strategic plan is still a work in progress with the Town Council scheduled to consider a draft of the plan in the spring.

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Months after a large fire leveled the restaurant, Marco Polo still stands as a burnt out husk on Maple Avenue.

The building had been long vacant and was set to be demolished, even before two teens allegedly set fire to the building as part of a small crime spree.

The site is owned by a limited-liability corporation, Vienna Vision LLC, and was planned to be redeveloped as 8,200 square feet of retail space and 44 townhouse condominiums. The development was approved in 2017.

Town of Vienna staff say a letter has been sent out to representatives of the property’s owners with questions regarding the property and condition, urging them to do something about the building’s “blighted condition.”

After Vienna staff sent a letter requiring action within 30 days, Doug D’Alexander, the property’s developer, applied for a demolition permit on Dec. 16. Additional information about the demolition was requested and no response has been offered by D’Alexander.

Tysons Reporter attempted to contact D’Alexander but has not received any response.

“As part of the development process, the site plan was approved in early December,” said Lynne Coan, communications and marketing manager for the Town of Vienna. “Next steps as part of the [Maple Avenue Commercial] process would be for the project to go before the Board of Architectural Review and for the developer to apply for building permits.”

If no progress is made, the town government could move forward with blight proceedings, where the town would demolish the building and charge the expenses to the property owner.

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Blend 111 is shaping up to be a little different than many restaurants in Vienna.

It isn’t the latest branch of some regional or national chain. Instead, Blend 111 is a food and wine bar for Vienna by local Vienna residents.

Signs are up on the front of the restaurant under construction at 111 Church St., but there’s still a lot of work still to do inside before it’s ready for its first customers. Michael Biddick, principal owner and CEO of Blend 111, says construction will start the first week of January and is scheduled to take 8-12 weeks with an opening in mid-spring 2019.

But when it does open, Biddick says the restaurant will be a blend of the taste and regional dishes of the four different Vienna families coming together to support the project.

“We wanted to bring something you normally find around D.C. or Logan Circle, an upscale restaurant experience that’s accessible for the community,” said Biddick. “We wanted a special place to go on a night out.”

Biddick said the idea for the restaurant came as he was commiserating with neighbors that they all loved going into the city, but with kids and jobs with long hours it was difficult to make the hour drive and get a babysitter.

“A lot of people around here just go somewhere else, like a chain or somewhere in town, but they make do with convenience,” said Biddick. “We wanted to give people a great restaurant to go to for wine and a special night right here in Vienna.”

Around April, Biddick said he sold the last of the tech startups he’d been working on and had extra time on his hands. Wine and food was a hobby for Biddick and he began to take a serious interest in turning that into a local business.

“I started on my own, but as we shared that with neighbors they got really interested and wanted to come in on the project,” said Biddick. “So now there are four families in Vienna investing… They’re mainly neighbors, just people on the street who want to be involved.”

The restaurant will offer a blend of cuisines from Venezuela, France and Spain, three culinary cultures Biddick says were important to the families involved.

“We took those three regions and tried to create some menu concepts off the things we saw when we were traveling,” said Biddick. “Like we really loved this menu dish from Spain, so we made a note to bring that back with us.”

While there are options for meat eaters like grilled quail or duck, Biddick, a vegetarian, said he was also mindful to offer equal portions of vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options in the menu.

The restaurant’s origins come from a community need, and Biddick says he aims for that community focus to continue after the restaurant opens. The types of food served and hours the restaurant runs are all planned to be flexible based on what the community responds to.

“The localness of Vienna, and the lack of a lot of the larger restaurant chain environments directly in downtown Vienna, makes it unique,” said Biddick. “I think this is showing that you can do something unique and super high quality that isn’t part of some big chain. That’s something that’s important for us to prove.”

Photos via Twitter

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The sign above the store still says Falafel Street, but there’s chicken coming to 235 Maple Ave E. in Vienna.

Banners placed on either side of the storefront’s door say that a restaurant called Keiko Charcoal Chicken is “coming soon.”

Falafel Street, a Mediterranean restaurant whose sign is overhead, closed earlier this year, according to its Yelp page. Despite the banners in the window, Keiko Charcoal Chicken does not seem to have any identifiable online presence yet.

Keiko isn’t the only establishment coming to this stretch of Maple Avenue. Across the street, Shin Se Kai Ramen is also “coming soon” to 234 Maple Ave E.

Hat tip to “Vienna J”

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After an “unexpected delay,” the Virginia Tire and Auto state at 141 Maple Ave in Vienna is scheduled to open early next year.

The Virginia Tire and Auto was originally scheduled to open in October, but a delay pushed the grand opening back. An employee at Virginia Tire and Auto confirmed that the new opening was scheduled for early January but could not comment on what had caused the delay.

The dealership has been expanding recently, with two new locations opening in Richmond and Herndon. The new locations will bring the total number of dealership locations to 16.

The location had previously operated for 30 years as Merchant’s Tire & Auto Center, but had been renovated with new equipment like new in-ground lifts. The Vienna Virginia Tire and Auto will have nine bays available for mechanical work.

The new Virginia Tire and Auto is near the center of Maple Avenue, located between the newly opened Nothing Bundt Cakes and Maple Ave Restaurant, recently featured as one of Northern Virginia’s Top 50 restaurants.

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The Vienna Shopping Center, already a popular local lunch destination with fast-casual spots like Cava and Mod Pizza, is about to add Don Pollo to the local casual food offerings.

The charbroiled chicken eatery is scheduled to open at 146 Maple Ave. W sometime in December, according to its website. The Vienna location will be the sixth for the chain and the first outside of Maryland.

Don Pollo features Peruvian cuisine, from its namesake chicken dishes to steak and seafood. Sides include South American staples like yuca and chaufa (Peruvian fried rice).

A new Ben & Jerry’s also opened in the Vienna Shopping Center on Sept. 21.

Hat tip to “Vienna J.”

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Vienna and Fairfax County Police have arrested two teen boys and charged them with a series of crimes, including setting fire to the Marco Polo restaurant.

One of the teens is a 14-year-old Vienna resident; the other is a 13-year-old Reston resident, according to police.

The boys are being charged with both felony and misdemeanor crimes, including arson. Police say other charges are being filed in relation to a Nov. 4 vandalism of two historic government-owned buildings near Lahey Lost Valley Park, which caused several thousand dollars in damage.

The Oct. 14 fire destroyed most of the Marco Polo building, which had been vacant. There were no injuries. The site is planned to be redeveloped as a retail and townhouse complex.

The teens are also charged with the vandalism of several buses in the rear parking lot of the restaurant on Sept. 9.

The pair is being held in the Fairfax County Juvenile Detention Center.

Anyone with additional information about the case is asked to contact Officer Juan Vazquez at [email protected] or 703-255-7845.

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Nothing Bundt Cakes, a franchise specializing in the eponymous circular bundt cakes, is now open in downtown Vienna at 129 Maple Avenue W.

Marge Kelly, one of the co-owners of the store along with her husband, sister, and sister’s husband, said the shop officially opened last week and was immediately inundated with holiday orders.

“It’s been great,” said Kelly. “We were really busy right before Thanksgiving, but it’s been more manageable over the last few days.”

In addition to ten cake flavors and forty unique designs, Nothing Bundt Cakes also offers various cake-themed gifts and decor.

Kelly said the store was originally planning on having a grand opening celebration sometime in the next month but decided to push the grand opening celebration back to January.

Nothing Bundt Cakes is one of several new venues filling vacant storefronts along Maple Avenue this fall.

Interior photos via Facebook

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Maple Avenue can be famously slow to change, and it’s left Vienna with rampant vacancies in the middle of a region seeing a surge of new development.

But aerial photography shows this hasn’t always been the case. Throughout the last 65 years, Maple Avenue has undergone a radical transformation.

Critics of a new four-story Maple Avenue development said too much was changing in Vienna too quickly, but at least from the air, the only 20-year period where there’s been very little change along Maple Avenue was between 1997 and 2017.

The Maple Avenue of 1953 looked quite different than the Maple Avenue of 1976. Maple Avenue transformed from a handful of small properties surrounded by farmland into islands of commercial property surrounded by residential streets.

Between 1976 and 1997, the gaps between those islands of commercial property had become filled in with smaller stores.

But the 1997 Maple Avenue is virtually identical to the 2017 Maple Avenue.

One of the most high-profile developments in downtown Vienna’s recent history was the establishment of the Town Green and redevelopment along Church Street, which runs parallel to Maple Street. The changes made there were cited by Vienna Town Council members during hearings for the controversial development — which was ultimately approved — as examples of ways development can still fit with a small town feeling.

Past and Present is a Tysons Reporter series looking at locations in our area as they’ve changed over the last century. Check out our articles for Tysons Corner Mall and Tysons Galleria/Leesburg Pike

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