Newsletter
The Ashby at McLean (via Google Maps)

The Ashby at McLean apartment building is one step closer to converting most of its commercial space into additional residential units.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission recommended on Wednesday (Feb. 2) that the Board of Supervisors allow the downtown luxury building to add up to 18 apartments, bringing it up to 274 residential units.

Property owner WashREIT’s project would repurpose nearly 24,000 square feet of commercial space in the building at 1350 Beverly Road. At least 8% of the new units will be affordable.

The proposal initially drew concerns from county wastewater staff that the added units could strain a sewage pipe, adversely affecting other residents in the area, said Planning Commission Vice Chair John Ulfelder, who represents the Dranesville District.

“They were concerned that the addition of even just 18 residential units to this section of sewer could…start to cause backups,” he said.

The sewer pipe at issue is 192 feet long and 8 inches in diameter, feeding into a larger line. According to Ulfelder, wastewater staff determined that an end section, located about one-third of a mile away from The Ashby, was “at its limit.”

At first, a 12-inch-wide pipe was proposed to address concerns, but county staff and WashREIT later decided that a 15-inch pipe could be used instead. The company agreed to a proffer in which it would pay for the upgrades but could then impose surcharges on its apartment units.

WashREIT first sought to convert The Ashby’s commercial space into housing a decade ago, but the project stalled and was later put on hold, as Fairfax County revised its plan for McLean’s Community Business Center.

The resulting Comprehensive Plan amendment was approved in June, allowing increased density in the 230-acre downtown area. The county is now inviting the public to weigh in on design guidelines for future development.

The Ashby project will now go before the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors for a public hearing and final approval today (Tuesday).

Photo via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Johns Hopkins Medicine’s McLean Office Now Open — Johns Hopkins Community Physicians (JHCP) announced yesterday (Thursday) that its new primary care office in McLean Gateway (6849 Old Dominion Drive) is now open. The group’s first in Virginia, the practice operates Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. [JHCP]

Founders Row Secures Movie Theater — Developer Mill Creek told the Falls Church City Council’s Economic Development Committee that a letter of intent has been signed for an eight-screen movie theater planned for the 4.3-acre mixed-use project on Broad and West streets. The name was not revealed, but the company is reportedly headquartered in the D.C. area. [Falls Church News-Press]

Fairfax County Adds Spanish Closed-Captioning — All public meetings and live events that air on Fairfax County’s cable channel will have Spanish closed captions available, starting Tuesday (Feb. 8).  This includes Board of Supervisors and planning commission meetings as well as budget town halls and public safety press conferences. [Channel 16]

Metro Appoints New Police Chief — “Metro General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Paul J. Wiedefeld today announced that Interim Chief Michael L. Anzallo will serve as Metro Transit Police Department’s new chief. Anzallo was asked to lead MTPD in August 2021 and helped steer the department through pandemic-related challenges with an emphasis on community policing throughout the region.” [WMATA]

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Emergency responders from Fairfax and Arlington counties worked together to put out a house fire in McLean this morning (Thursday).

The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department reported just before 10:30 a.m. that units were on the scene at 1512 Spring Vale Avenue, just north of Chain Bridge Road.

Smoke was visible from the back of the single-family house, but the blaze was extinguished shortly after it was publicly reported. The department says there have been no reported injuries, and the fire did not extend to any other properties.

Most units are now returning to service.

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Village Eye Center in McLean (via NBC4)

It happened again. Fairfax County police say the Village Eye Center at 1471 Chain Bridge Road in McLean was the victim of a smash-and-grab theft early last night (Tuesday).

A group of four men armed with hammers entered the shop around 5:41 p.m. and began to bust open the display cases to steal eyeglass frames, Fairfax County Police Department spokesperson Sgt. Ian Yost said. He said he did not have any information on how much the thieves stole. They fled in a white SUV.

He said at this point, the incident will be categorized as a larceny since the bandits did not directly confront the store employees.

This is at least the fourth eyeglass smash-and-grab heist in the past few weeks. The others were in Arlington, Alexandria, and Montgomery. Yost says this was the first he’s aware of in Fairfax County.

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Northbound I-495 has been closed near Georgetown Pike in McLean after a tractor-trailer crash (via VDOT)

(Updated at 6 p.m. on 2/4/2022) The collision of two vehicles on I-495 in McLean on Tuesday (Feb. 1) sent two people to the hospital and shut down the interstate’s northbound lanes for hours.

According to the Virginia State Police, troopers responded to the crash involving a tractor-trailer and a box truck near Georgetown Pike at 4:03 p.m.

A 2016 Kenworth T680 tractor-trailer was traveling north on I-495 when it came to a stop due to heavy traffic. A 2016 International 4000 box truck was traveling in the same lane and struck the tractor-trailer in the rear.

The driver of the tractor-trailer, William Alcin, 40, of Hiram, Ga., was transported to Fairfax INOVA Hospital for treatment of serious injuries. He was wearing a seatbelt.

The driver of the box truck, Timothy R. Steele, 39, of Norcross, Ga., was transported to Fairfax INOVA Hospital for treatment of serious injuries. He was wearing a seatbelt.

All lanes on I-495 North, also known as the Capital Beltway Inner Loop, were closed during the crash response, resulting in backups that, at one point, extended as far as the I-66 interchange in Tysons.

Drivers were diverted onto Georgetown Pike until all lanes reopened shortly after 7 p.m.

The box truck driver was charged with reckless driving, and the crash remains under investigation, state police told Tysons Reporter.

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Morning Notes

Input Sought on Renaming Supervisor Districts — Fairfax County’s Redistricting Advisory Committee is seeking input from residents, businesses, and more on whether the county should rename Lee, Mason, Mount Vernon, Springfield, and Sully districts. The committee will make recommendations on March 1. [Fairfax County Government]

FCPS Test-to-Stay Program Begins — Fairfax County Public Schools launched test-to-stay programs at seven schools yesterday (Monday). Part of a statewide pilot, the program allows unvaccinated students identified as close contacts of someone who tests positive for COVID-19 to keep attending school in person if they take a rapid test every morning for five consecutive days, test negative, and are asymptomatic. [WTOP]

White House Replica in McLean Sold — A 12,000 square-foot replica of the White House located at 1111 Towlston Road sold for $2.438 million in January. The six-bedroom house includes an attempted recreation of the Oval Office and was built in 1995 by a Vietnam refugee who wanted to pay homage to the U.S. [D.C. UrbanTurf]

Former Dranesville District Supervisor Remembered — “Former Dranesville District Supervisor Rufus Phillips III (D), who had served in the U.S. Army and later with the Central Intelligence Agency, died Dec. 29, 2021, at age 92 from complications of pneumonia. A longtime McLean resident, Phillips was elected to the Board of Supervisors in 1971 and served until 1975, said Supervisor John Foust (D-Dranesville) at the board’s Jan. 25 meeting.” [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]

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Morning Notes

McLean Woman Accused of Stalking Apple CEO — “Apple has filed for a restraining order against a woman who allegedly stalked the tech giant’s CEO Tim Cook, showed up at his house at least twice and sent him threatening photos of guns and bullets, according court filings in Santa Clara… Choi allegedly drove cross-country from McLean, Virginia, to Cook’s house in Palo Alto – which she visited at least twice on Oct. 22, 2021, according to the documents.” [Fox Business, Daily Mail]

Capital One Center Part of Corporate Urbanization Trend — Major companies across the U.S. are turning their suburban headquarters into mini cities, with Capital One’s growing 24-acre campus in Tysons as one example. Executives say the trend reflects competition for workers as well as public and private investment aimed at making suburbs denser and less car-dependent. [The New York Times]

Former McLean High Students Climb Africa’s Tallest Mountain — “After a grueling six-hour hike from their camp in the middle of the night in early January, McLean High School graduates Rebecca Berkson and Katie Herold were treated to a magnificent vista: the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro at sunrise.” [Sun Gazette]

County Completes “Winter Warming” Project — Fairfax County’s senior center staff finished a project this month to collect hats, gloves, mittens, scarves, and socks for adults and children in need. The donation drive kicked off in October and ultimately distributed 1,404 items to local nonprofits Cornerstones, Homestretch, and Shelter House. [Neighborhood and Community Services]

Funds Sought for Great Falls Traffic Control — The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution yesterday (Tuesday) asking that the U.S. Park Police include $100,000 in its next budget request to address traffic from Great Falls National Park. The funds would cover overtime costs for officers working the Georgetown Pike and Old Dominion Drive intersection. [Patch]

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Downtown McLean in 2021 (via Fairfax County Historic Imagery Viewer)

The push to redevelop McLean’s 230-acre downtown area is getting into the nitty-gritty details, giving residents another chance to provide input.

Fairfax County is developing design guidelines that will shape the look of sidewalks, tree plantings, lights, buildings, and more in the McLean Community Business Center, an area centered around the intersection of Chain Bridge Road and Old Dominion Drive.

“The guidelines will focus on the design of streetscape areas (space between the curb and the building), how buildings front the street, trees and landscaping, parking design, and the features desired in future parks and plazas,” JoAnne Fiebe, senior revitalization program manager for the county’s Department of Planning and Development, said in an email.

The process will begin with an advisory group comprised of directors from the McLean Planning Committee. A virtual community-wide kick-off workshop is tentatively slated for March 23.

After convening for the first time from 7:30 to 9 p.m. tomorrow (Wednesday), the advisory group will meet on the fourth Wednesday of each month. All meetings will be held virtually and be open to the public.

The project will result in McLean-specific rules, building off of a first volume of urban design guidelines that the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved in 2018 for all of the county’s core commercial centers.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust says the countywide document has broad recommendations and best practices for creating streets, enhancing walkability, and promoting a sense of place.

“The McLean District Design Guidelines…include recommendations specific to McLean regarding open space features, building frontage, parking design, trees and landscaping, lighting, street furnishings, and other streetscape details,” he said in an email.

Developers will be encouraged to abide by the guidelines to help implement the community vision for McLean. Fiebe says the county hopes the second volume of design guidelines will:

  • Ensure that future development and streetscape improvements meet community expectations regarding design, community character and bicycle/pedestrian accessibility
  • Help create a unified appearance for the area
  • Offer more environmentally sustainable approaches to redevelopment

The design guidelines project comes after the Board of Supervisors approved a plan to revitalize the McLean CBC in June.

Concluding a multi-year process, the Comprehensive Plan amendment increased the number of potential residential units in the downtown area from 2,175 to 3,850, among other changes. It was the first update to the McLean CBC plan in 20 years.

The comprehensive plan is a “big picture vision” to guide county officials’ decision-making when voting on projects proposed by developers, while the design guidelines will establish the details of that vision and strategies for implementing it, Fiebe explains.

“It is critical to get the details right in order to achieve high-quality walkable places,” Fiebe wrote. “This includes everything from the right paving materials for sidewalks, the right trees, good lighting, etc…And all of this needs to be discussed with the community to ensure that it meets their vision and expectations.”

The Board of Supervisors could sign off on the visual specifications in December.

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An ad for Johns Hopkins Community Physicians’ upcoming McLean primary care office hangs in Tysons Corner Center (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine is expanding into Fairfax County.

The school’s community physicians network will open a primary care office in McLean in February, Carolyn Carpenter, president for the Johns Hopkins Health System in the National Capital Region, confirmed to Tysons Reporter.

With the goal of bringing health care services to local neighborhoods, Johns Hopkins Community Physicians operates more than 40 medical practices in Maryland and D.C., but this will be the group’s first location in Virginia.

“Access to care, especially primary care, continues to be needed in our communities,” Carpenter said by email. “…The Johns Hopkins Community Physicians practice will provide comprehensive care to community members who live and work in Tysons Corner and the surrounding areas.”

Located in Suite 300 in the McLean Gateway office building at 6849 Old Dominion Drive, the 8,000 square-foot practice will have 12 exam rooms and provide adult primary care, specialty, and ancillary services, including lab services, electrocardiograms (EKGs), and COVID-19 testing.

Patients will be able to choose between in-person and video visits. Like Johns Hopkins’ other facilities, the new office will require face masks and have a COVID-19 vaccination mandate in place for employees and medical staff, among other protocols.

According to Carpenter, the office will initially be staffed by two primary care physicians, including Dr. Marwah Tareen, who has been seeing patients at Johns Hopkins Community Physicians on I Street in D.C. since summer 2021.

The staff is expected to expand in subsequent months. Gynecologic oncology providers, for example, will come on board in the spring.

Carpenter says Johns Hopkins wanted to expand into Virginia through McLean because of its proximity to Tysons as an employment hub.

“Establishing this practice also aligns with development efforts for Johns Hopkins Health System’s National Capital Region by expanding access to services offered by Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C. and Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Md.,” she wrote.

The Johns Hopkins practice joins a growing number of new health care facilities seeking to serve the booming Tysons area.

Heale Medical opened a primary care practice near the Chain Bridge Road and Leesburg Pike interchange in September, and Reston Hospital Center is building a new emergency room that’s expected to open this spring.

In addition, Inova Health Systems recently introduced a cancer screening and prevention center to its Schar Cancer Institute in Merrifield. The Saville center is currently only open to breast cancer patients, but an expansion is anticipated in the next few months, a Schar employee told Tysons Reporter.

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Morning Notes

Person Stabbed at Tysons Metro Station — An individual was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries after a man reportedly stabbed them around 5:30 p.m. on Friday (Jan. 7) at the Tysons Metro station. Metro Transit Police officers responded to the incident, and Fairfax County police later arrested a man believed to be the suspect. [WTOP]

No Injuries in McLean House Fire — “At 10:43 pm last night, crews from #FCFRD and Arlington County Fire Department dispatched to house fire in 1500 block of Dominion Hill Ct, McLean. Units arrived to find home fully involved in fire. 2nd alarm requested. Fire out. All occupants safe. No reported injuries.” [FCFRD/Facebook]

Police Identify Serial Killer Victims — “The Fairfax County Police Department identified two badly decomposed bodies found in a large plastic container near a shopping cart on Dec. 15 in the Alexandria area of Fairfax County as a woman from Washington, D.C., and a woman from California, police officials said at a news conference Friday night.” [Patch]

FCPD Recovers Stolen Vehicles — Fairfax County police recovered two vehicles during traffic stops in late December that had been reported as stolen. One was found on I-495 at Arlington Boulevard on Dec. 30, and the other was obtained on Dec. 31 after the driver attempted to get out of a traffic stop on I-495 at Leesburg Pike by striking a police cruiser with his vehicle. [FCPD]

FCPS Survey on Next Superintendent Now Open — “Please weigh in by participating in the Superintendent Search Survey today. The survey allows FCPS parents/guardians, staff, high school students, and community members to share their thoughts on the leadership characteristics and qualities of the next superintendent.” [FCPS]

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