Tysons, VA

The man who died after a vehicle crash in Merrifield early Monday morning (March 29) was a 49-year-old Centreville resident named Dashdavaa Zambalgarav, the Fairfax County Police Department reported yesterday afternoon.

Police say the crash occurred just before 4 a.m. at the intersection of Arlington Boulevard and Javier Road, and it involved a single vehicle with Zambalgarav as the driver and lone occupant.

Crash reconstruction unit detectives have preliminarily determined that Zambalgarav was traveling west on Route 50 in a 2008 Lexus RX “when he drifted into the center median and crashed into a traffic pole at Javier Road,” according to the police report.

Zambalgarav was transported to a hospital, where he died from his injuries.

“Detectives continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding this crash, but preliminary, do not believe speed or alcohol were factors,” the FCPD said.

Since the investigation is ongoing, police are still seeking additional information about the crash:

Anyone with information about this crash is asked to contact our Crash Reconstruction Unit at 703-280-0543. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through Crime Solvers by phone – 1-866-411-TIPS (866-411-8477), by text – Type “FCCS” plus tip to 847411, and by web – Click HERE. Download our Mobile tip411 App “Fairfax Co Crime Solvers”. Anonymous tipsters are eligible for cash rewards of $100 to $1,000 dollars if their information leads to an arrest.

Image via Google Maps

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George Mason University students and employees hold a protest regarding the treatment of janitorial staff by the contractor LT Services (Photo courtesy 32BJ SEIU)

A cleaning services contractor based in Merrifield is undergoing an audit ordered by George Mason University in response to allegations of labor law violations.

In recent months, LT Services Inc. (2815 Hartland Rd.) and its subcontractors have faced numerous complaints by workers who say they have experienced poor working conditions, including delayed payments and retaliation for engaging in union activities.

GMU President Gregory Washington announced on Feb. 22 that, after conducting an initial review of the complaints against LT Services, which provides janitorial services at the university’s 220 buildings in Northern Virginia, he has ordered an outside audit of the contractor by the accounting firm Baker Tilly.

“George Mason University values everyone who works on our campuses, whether they are faculty, classified staff, student employees, or contractors. We hold high standards toward the treatment of everyone,” Washington said. “…I look forward to learning the results of what I expect will be a thorough, fair, and thoughtful audit.”

Washington added that Mason would not “offer any further public comment” until the audit is completed “in order to be fair to all involved.” A GMU spokesperson reiterated that sentiment, telling Tysons Reporter that Washington’s statement would be the university’s “only comment” on the issue.

LT Services declined to comment when contacted by Tysons Reporter.

While Mason’s audit is ongoing, the National Labor Relations Board is investigating LT Services and two of its subcontractors — Reyes Cleaning Contractors and Seth Ean Service — for allegedly engaging in unfair labor practices to shut down workers’ efforts to organize, according to documents provided by the Local 32BJ chapter of the Service Employees International Union, which filed the charges on March 9.

In its charging statement, SEIU states that LT Services promised workers at GMU a $2 raise and money to pay hospital bills in response to “protected concerted activities” and told a worker “to not discuss their working conditions with others.”

The charges against Reyes Cleaning accuse the company of interrogating employees and creating “more onerous working conditions” in retaliation for union-related activities. SEIU alleges that Seth Ean Service interrogated and intimidated workers, told them not to talk to union organizers, and disciplined a worker and reduced their pay for participating in union activities.

The three new cases come on the heels of two settlements won by SEIU on behalf of the contract cleaners at Mason. H&E Cleaning Service Inc., a subcontractor of LT Services, signed a settlement on Nov. 11 and again in January after the union accused the company of threatening and intimidating workers, sabatoging their work areas, and denying them compensation.

LT Services was also one of five companies required to pay back wages in 2016 after Montgomery County determined that they had violated its living wage laws.

SEIU expressed skepticism of the outside audit ordered by George Mason University, urging Washington to instead hire a new, responsible contractor immediately.

“Essential workers that keep Mason clean every day cannot wait for an audit to finish,” 32BJ SEIU said in a statement. “They have brought numerous allegations and violations against L.T. Services and their subcontractors to President Washington for nearly a year. President Washington cannot delay ensuring that these essential workers be treated with respect, especially in a global pandemic.”

Pressure on GMU to address concerns about the treatment of contract workers has been growing both internally and externally.

Several state elected officials, including Dels. Kathleen Murphy (D-McLean) and Mark Keam (D-Vienna), wrote a letter to Washington on March 15 urging the university to “ensure its contracted and subcontracted janitors, students, and broader community are kept safe and healthy during this pandemic by choosing to employ a responsible janitorial contractor.”

In addition, over 220 Mason faculty, staff, students, and alumni have signed a resolution from the American Association of University Professors’ GMU chapter expressing support for the janitors and calling for the adoption of a policy that would require contractors to give workers a living wage, benefits, and other rights.

“We don’t want to prejudge the audit, but we think that we already have enough information for what we think is the solution, and the solution is for Mason to adopt a responsible contractor policy,” GMU-AAUP interim president Tim Gibson, who teaches communications at Mason, said. “…If you want to contract with our institution, with our community, then you need to commit to treating your workers with fairness and respect.”

Along with forming a GMU Coalition for Workers’ Rights, GMU-AAUP joined SEIU for a “car caravan” protest at Mason’s Fairfax campus on Thursday (March 18).

“We hope the widespread outpouring of support for the janitors helps President Washington take seriously the trauma these essential workers have been through, while risking their lives to keep GMU safe,” 32BJ SEIU Vice President Jaime Contreras said. “Such an esteemed institution, focused on social justice, should simply hire responsible contractors. President Washington can and should utilize his power to ensure janitors a new employer that upholds the school’s values.”

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Morning Notes

Marshall High School Principal Addresses Racial Slur Allegations — In a letter sent to families yesterday (March 17), Principal Augie Frattali acknowledged reports that Marshall students spat and shouted racial slurs during a football game against Wakefield High School on March 5. The full letter, provided to Tysons Reporter by Fairfax County Public Schools, is below.

Dear Marshall Community,

As many of you are aware, there are serious allegations that have been made involving some students within our the Marshall HS Community regarding an incident at a recent football game. These have been shared widely on social media and are very hurtful to all individuals involved.

Please know that we have taken this situation very seriously and are in direct contact with Fairfax County Public School’s Region 2 office and the Office of Equity and Employee Relations.

We have done an intensive investigation into this situation and appropriate actions were taken against individuals by the Virginia High School League from both schools.  I also worked collaboratively with the Wakefield HS principal to ensure that there will be an opportunity for the students to join together to discuss their actions and develop a plan moving forward.

Thank you for all you do to support the Marshall High School.

Tysons Partnership Warns Against Delaying Metro Silver Line Phase 2 — Tysons Partnership President and CEO Sol Glasner argues in a letter to the Metro board that opening the second phase of Metro’s Silver Line is necessary for the “fulfillment of the promise not only of Tysons, but of the entire Silver Line corridor.” The nonprofit says budget constraints should not delay the project’s completion. [Tysons Partnership]

Merrifield Church to Host Free Drive-by Food Distribution Event — “Free boxes of food will be available at First Baptist Church Merrifield (FBCM) on Saturday, March 20, from 11:00 AM until all are distributed. All members and surrounding community are invited to partake of the distribution.” [Greater Merrifield Business Association]

Northern Virginia Reports Uptick in COVID-19 Cases — “The Virginia Department of Health reported 674 new cases in Northern Virginia on Thursday, the most since Feb. 13.  The region’s seven-day average of new cases, which peaked Jan. 18 at 1,628.4, had fallen as low as 318.4 on Saturday, but now stands at 407 cases per day.” [Inside NoVA]

Falls Church Healthcare Startup Raises $10 Million — “CMT Solutions, a leader in patient access services for laboratory diagnostics, announced a close on $10.0MM of Series A fundraising…CMT is using these funds to further develop our technology solution, with a new product launch, that will greatly help the healthcare community with diagnostic testing.” [CMT Solutions]

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Commuters in Merrifield and Vienna should probably avoid traveling on Interstate 66 Friday night (March 19), as multiple lane closures and traffic stoppages are scheduled to accommodate ongoing construction work.

Eastbound I-66 will be reduced to a single travel lane at Gallows Road in Merrifield from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. so that crews can pour concrete for a new Gallows Road Bridge deck.

The Virginia Department of Transportation says that periodic stoppages of up to 20 minutes could occur between midnight and 4 a.m., but all lanes will reopen by 9 a.m. on Saturday.

There will also be lane closures on Gallows Road, which will be reduced to two travel lanes — one in each direction — from 9 p.m. Friday to 7 a.m. Saturday. Two-way traffic will be directed to the southbound side of Gallows during the closure.

“Drivers should expect delays if traveling in this area and are encouraged to use alternate routes,” VDOT says.

In addition, I-66 East and West will be reduced to one travel lane between Gallows and Nutley Street from 9 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Saturday, when all lanes will reopen. There will be periodic traffic stoppages of up to 20 minutes between midnight and 4 a.m.

According to VDOT, this lane closure is necessary for crews to remove an overhead utility line at Cedar Lane, which will have flaggers to direct traffic into a single lane between midnight and 4 a.m.

At both Gallows Road and Cedar Lane, the construction work is part of the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project, which will extend the I-66 express lanes 22.5 miles from the I-495 interchange in Dunn Loring to Gainesville.

VDOT notes that “all work is weather dependent and will be rescheduled if inclement conditions occur.”

Maps via Google Maps, VDOT

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The Japanese barbecue restaurant Gyu Shige is finally ready to make its American debut at the Mosaic District (2980 District Ave.) in Merrifield after a long delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Owner Edward Wong says the restaurant will open its reservation system tomorrow (Wednesday) so people can book tables ahead of a soft opening planned for the weekend of Valentine’s Day. Doors will technically open earlier in the week, but customers for the first couple of days will be limited to family and friends.

Gyu Shige has a strong presence in Japan, but this is the chain’s first venture into the U.S.

Wong was introduced to Gyu Shige — one of several brands operated by the company Food’s Style — in Japan about two years ago, and he says he has “great confidence” that it will prove just as popular on this side of the Pacific Ocean, particularly with a setting like the Mosaic District as its launching pad.

“Mosaic District definitely has [a] combination of all different people, from young kids to older people,” Wong said. “…I believe the Japanese barbeque experience is not just for any group, so it will be a great place to attract all kinds of people.”

While Fairfax County diners are no strangers to sushi restaurants and noodle shops like fellow Mosaic tenant Jinya Ramen Bar, they might be less familiar with Japanese barbecue, or yakiniku, which literally translates to “grilled meat.” Before Gyu Shige’s arrival, the closest venue specializing in this kind of cuisine was Gyu-kaku in Arlington.

Like Korean barbecue, yakiniku is cooked at the diners’ table, but it tends to come in smaller portions to encourage patrons to try a variety of dishes, and there is a greater emphasis on the quality of the meat cuts served, Wong says.

Among the options on the menu for Gyu Shige customers will be A-5 grade wagyu beef imported from Japan.

“The taste is definitely different from Korean barbeque, and we want people to take the time to enjoy the whole process,” Wong said. “…We also offer the service to cook for them if they want to, but we mostly let them cook for themselves. Let them experience it. Let them have fun with it.”

In addition to yakiniku, Gyu Shige will have a variety of appetizers and sushi, which will be prepared by a former Sushi Seki chef. The restaurant’s head chef also comes from New York City, where he previously worked for EN Brassiere.

The appetizers and sushi will be available for takeout, but the barbecue can only be served in-person and indoors, another potential challenge presented by COVID-19. Wong says the pandemic led to a three-month halt to construction. Even after work resumed, progress was slowed since fewer people could be on the site, resulting in an overall delay of about a year.

Initially, Gyu Shige customers will need to reserve tables in advance, and the restaurant will only be open during dinner hours, which will run from 4-10 p.m. The menu will also be exclusively a la carte, though set meals will be added in the future.

“When people order the set menu, they tend not to order other stuff. So, right now, we’re going to put the meat into a combo menu,” Wong said. “That way, people can experience most of the meat, but at the same time, they can get to choose their own appetizer, their own other items and try it out.”

In addition to Gyu Shige, local diners can look forward to the opening of Urban Hot Pot right next door. Tysons Reporter first reported that the Chinese restaurant was coming to the Mosaic District in September 2019.

After being delayed by the pandemic, Urban Hot Pot is now on track to open in May, according to Wong, president and CEO of IVEA International Restaurant Group, which is guiding the marketing for both restaurants.

Photo courtesy Gyu Shige/Facebook

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The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has approved the construction of an apartment building with ground-floor retail in Merrifield.

The project replaces a 1980s-era, three-story office building at 2722 Merrilee Drive with a seven-story, 85-foot-tall residential building with retail and recreational amenities.

Proposed by Elm Street Development under the name Merrilee Ventures, the apartment building will have 239 residential units and 30 units for retail use.

On Tuesday (Jan. 26), supervisors approved the developer’s request to reduce the site’s existing parking by 18% because it is close to the Merrifield-Dunn Loring Metro Station.

The Merrilee building will have 294 parking spaces, including 264 set aside for residents. Merrilee Drive and a planned private street will also have on-street parking.

Elm Street Development is providing 20,000 square feet of passive and active open space, including a retail plaza, an outdoor fitness area, and an expanded streetscape along Merrilee Drive.

“One of the opportunities for Merrifield is to simply link the [Dunn Loring Metro station] to the extensive retail amenities in the established urban core,” McGuireWoods managing partner Greg Riegle, a representative for Elm Street, said on Tuesday.

He further described the project as “an opportunity to promote that connectivity and set a template for the walkable streets, pedestrian amenities, and reasonable street-level retail that will make it an increasingly interesting and amenitized walk.” 

During the meeting, Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik lauded the project because it will enhance the pedestrian experience and provide open spaces, including a much-needed dog park.

“I am pleased it resulted in a high-quality urban design that maximized indoor and outdoor amenities and publicly accessible spaces,” she said.

Elm Street Development is still working with Providence District to find .45 acres of space to develop into an urban park. The company is unable to meet a standard in Merrifield’s comprehensive plan that requires urban park space in new developments.

Staff calculated that .63 acres of on-site park space would be required, but Elm Street Development said only .17 acres fit on the site. So, the developer is looking to make up the remaining .45 acres elsewhere. If it can’t find that space, the developer will contribute $500,000 to Fairfax County Park Authority for future urban park spaces.

Those who worked on the project told the supervisors that the project revealed challenges in the urban park standards within the Merrifield Suburban Center Comprehensive Plan.

When approving the Merrilee project, Palchik asked Fairfax County staff to find new ways to achieve the plan’s vision for urban parks.

“The challenge of meeting the urban park standard within the application brought to light needs that, when addressed, will help realize the comprehensive plan’s vision for additional park resources here in Merrifield,” she said.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission unanimously approved the project on Dec. 9 after deferring the decision for a week over concerns about the urban park space requirements.

Although concerns over parking and stormwater management were raised during the planning commission’s public hearing in December, no public speakers came forward on Tuesday.

Photo courtesy Elm Street Development, image via Fairfax County

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Fairfax County Expects COVID-19 Vaccine Supply to Remain Limited Until March — The county health department has vaccinated approximately 35,200 people since late December, but the current waitlist has more than 156,000 residents. The pace of incoming doses is not expected to increase until March due to changes in the state’s allocation procedures. [Fairfax County Health Department]

Representatives Request Mass Vaccination Site for NoVA — “Representatives Gerald Connolly, Don Beyer, and Jennifer Wexton, who are all Democrats, sent a joint letter Tuesday to Robert Fenton, FEMA’s acting administrator, requesting that Northern Virginia be selected as the location of one of the 100 community mass vaccination sites that the Biden administration has proposed creating throughout the country as part of its effort to combat the covid pandemic.” [Washingtonian]

Verizon Outage Disrupts Remote Learning for Students — A cut fiber cable in Brooklyn took out Google, Slack, Amazon, and other sites for many Verizon customers on the East Coast, including in the D.C. area. Fairfax County Public Schools acknowledged that the issue might prevent students from logging into their online classes. [Washington Post, FCPS/Twitter]

Lidl Eyes May Opening for Merrifield Plaza Store Updated at 11:05 a.m. — The grocery store chain announced that it would move into a space previously occupied by Office Depot last June. The $5 million renovation is happening in conjunction with a facelift for the entire shopping plaza. [Greater Merrifield Business Association]

McLean Contractor Lands $87 Million Deal with Navy — “McLean-based defense contractor Alion Science and Technology Corp. announced Monday it has received an $87 million task order to help the Naval Surface Warfare Center develop a vertical launching system and training equipment for the naval base in Port Hueneme, California.” [Virginia Business]

Staff Photo by Jay Westcott

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(Updated at 12:05 p.m. on 1/26/2021) The Mosaic District in Merrifield is getting a new men’s salon: Boardroom Salon for Men (2920 District Ave., Suite 165), slated to open its doors on Saturday (Jan. 30).

This location marks Boardroom Salon’s debut in the D.C. area. The salon got its start in 2004 in Southlake, Texas, and has since expanded to 42 locations across the U.S. Its co-founders — husband-and-wife duo Bruce and Heather Schultz — plan to continue growing this year.

“The Mosaic District brings a distinct community atmosphere to Northern Virginians looking for upscale retail, residential, restaurant and entertainment offerings,” Boardroom Salon Fairfax Manager Nicole Morales said in a statement. “We look forward to introducing Boardroom with our professional talented stylists and barbers to clients who want an elevated grooming experience in a sophisticated yet still approachable way.”

The salon features dark-wood paneling and a lounge with oversized leather chairs and complimentary beverages. Its signature haircut service, The Benchmark, provides tailored haircuts, massages, a steamed towel, a parrafin hand dip, and styling advice.

For COVID-19 safety, team members wear masks and gloves and take their temperatures before each shift.

Clients can purchase one-month, six-month, or annual memberships, which provide unlimited haircut services and a 10% discount on all products and services, as well as complimentary referral Benchmark haircuts to give to friends and family.

Memberships are honored at all Boardroom locations, which can also be found in Arizona, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas. The salon is also planning to open a venue in Maryland.

In honor of the opening, Boardroom Salon is offering discounts and promotions. A limited number of Founder’s Memberships are available, giving buyers exclusive discounts and a branded Boardroom silver beverage tumbler. Clients can also buy discounted three-month haircut memberships, starting at $125.

Boardroom will be open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Sundays from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. The salon is also seeking applicants for stylist and front-of-house positions.

Photo courtesy Boardroom Salon for Men

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Fairfax County’s planning staff recommends that the Arizona College of Nursing’s proposed expansion into Fairview Park be approved.

Staff says in a report released on Jan. 14 that it does not anticipate there to be significant impacts from the addition of a nursing school to an eight-story office building at 3130 Fairview Park Drive.

“The proposed nursing school will not significantly alter the existing office use or transportation conditions to and from the site,” the report said. “Therefore, staff is in support of this application and all issues have been resolved.”

Tysons Reporter first reported in August that the Phoenix-based Eduvision, Inc. is looking to expand its Arizona College of Nursing into Virginia by turning offices in the Fairview Park development into seven classrooms. If approved, this would be the first Virginia location for the nursing college, which currently has 10 campuses in Arizona, Nevada, Texas, Florida, and Utah.

Eduvision’s proposal requires Fairfax County to approve a college/university use on one floor of the office building in question, which occupies 6.29 acres in a mixed-use development located at the southeastern intersection of I-495 and Route 50 (Arlington Boulevard).

The proposed school would not involve new construction to the existing building or three-floor parking garage, and it would not alter the site’s open space, according to the application.

The county staff report states that allowing a college/university as a secondary use would be consistent with the county’s comprehensive plan and contribute “to the long-term vision of the Merrifield Suburban Center.”

While the college is expected to follow roughly the same operating hours as an office, Fairfax County staff estimate that a school would generate an additional 200 trips per day compared to a one-floor office.

“Staff believes that these trips can be accommodated by the surrounding transportation network,” the report said.

The Fairview Park building is approximately four miles south of the Dunn Loring-Merrifield Metro station.

As part of the project, Eduvision has committed to providing space to accommodate the future construction of a pedestrian and bike bridge that would cross I-495 to connect Fairview Park with the Inova Fairfax Hospital campus, according to the report.

The Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan and Bicycle Master Plan both recommend having a publicly accessible, multiuse bridge across I-495, and the site at 3130 Fairview Park Drive had been identified as a possible landing location.

Eduvision has also agreed to improve curb cuts on the site for accessibility and install at least five bike racks “in close proximity to the entrances of the building and the parking garage,” the report says.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the proposal at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 27.

Image via Google Maps

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Greater Merrifield Business Association (GMBA) President Billy Thompson is stepping down from the position after leading the nonprofit for seven years.

A lifelong Vienna resident and realtor with Samson Properties, Thompson guided the GMBA through a period of significant change, as Fairfax County seeks to transform Merrifield from a largely industrial area to a suburban center anchored by mixed-use developments like the Mosaic District and Halstead Square.

The GMBA, which provides support and resources to local businesses, says Thompson will continue serving as an active member on its board of directors.

“GMBA thanks Billy for his dedicated leadership and vision for Merrifield over the past 7 years,” the association said today (Thursday) in a newsletter. “GMBA wouldn’t be where we are today without the unique optimism and energy he brought to GMBA.”

Thompson’s successor will be Kevin Warhurst, vice president of the Merrifield Garden Center.

Acknowledging the challenges that the local business community has faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, Warhurst says his goal as the business association’s incoming president is to build off the work it has already done to shape Merrifield as a community and make it an integral part of the local economy.

“As we continue to navigate our way through the pandemic, there is no doubt that our organization will face some challenges in the months ahead,” Warhurst said. “…But there are also many opportunities to strengthen our existing relationships, and build new ones as we seek to grow our association moving forward. I look forward to facing those challenges together, and creating opportunities to better serve our members and our community.”

Photo via Greater Merrifield Business Association

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