Tysons, VA

When Metro kicks off its summer work tomorrow (Saturday), drivers can find free parking at three Orange Line stations in the Tysons area.

The free parking will be available at the West Falls Church, Dunn Loring and Vienna stations during the shutdown. The West Falls Church station’s parking will be cut in half, but the other two stations won’t have capacity limits, according to the project’s website.

People who have reserved parking spots will still be billed for their spots, the website said.

The East Falls Church station will be closed for the summer work and won’t offer any parking, although the Kiss & Ride will allow pick-ups and drop-offs.

For cyclists, bike racks and lockers will still be offered at the stations during the summer work, except for at the East Falls Church station where some racks have been moved.

All Orange and Silver line stations west of the Ballston station will be closed starting tomorrow. The work, which is expected to last through the fall, includes platform reconstruction on the Orange Line and the connection of the upcoming stations to the Silver Line.

Image via Google Maps

0 Comments

It’s been almost five years, and Sweet Leaf in McLean is still working to resolve a zoning violation caused by too few parking spots.

The Fairfax County Board of Zoning Appeals decided today (Wednesday) to defer Sweet Leaf’s appeal of its zoning violation for at least the 14th time.

“It’s been a long time, but we’ve been working through this process,” Sweet Leaf co-founder Andre Matini told the board today.

The restaurant has been operating in violation of the zoning code since late 2015, county staff said today.

Over the last few years, zoning changes have affected the cafe, which was originally slapped with zoning violations in 2015 following a complaint about a lack of parking.

One of the zoning violations is now “moot” after the Board of Supervisors adopted changes to the zoning ordinance in 2018, staff said.

When those changes were made, however, the cafe’s other zoning violation became more challenging to fix.

The cafe was incorrectly issued a non-residential use permit (non-RUP) for retail sales but not for food, staff said.

In order to qualify for the correct permit now, the cafe needs to have at least 14 parking spaces with an approved parking reduction — but it only has 12.

Getting the two extra spaces has been more challenging than expected, Matini said.

The county rejected a nearby church’s offer for diners to use its parking lot, Matini said. Now, another neighbor will let the cafe rent two spaces, he said, adding that county staff has been asking for more information.

If the parking reduction fails, then the cafe would need to decrease the square footage of the building.

One of the new changes to the zoning ordinance altered how the number of parking spaces is determined. The building’s square footage — instead of the number of tables at the food establishment — is now used to calculate the parking requirement.

So far, Land Development Services thought the information submitted for the parking reduction request has been “insufficient,” according to the staff report.

Fairfax County Zoning Administrator Leslie Johnson urged that the board make a “short deferral” to push the appellant to get all of the required information to county staff, who said there hasn’t been any recent progress on the parking reduction application.

“We’re not 100% sure how we would resolve the issue if everything is denied by the zoning office,” Matini said. “Obviously, we don’t want to shut down after all of these years in operation.”

The zoning board, staff and Johnson said they want to avoid a situation where the cafe would be forced to close. Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust has also said that he wants the restaurant to stay open.

To give the cafe and the county staff more time to get all of the required materials for the parking reduction application, the Board of Zoning Appeals decided to defer the case to July 22.

“It sounds like people are working hard to resolve this, but they quite aren’t to the finish line yet,” Chairman John Ribble III said.

0 Comments

Happy Friday! Here are the latest stories about the Tysons area that the Tysons Reporter team has been reading:

Tysons Auto Group to Offer Luxury Hybrid Speedsters — “Tysons-based Exclusive Automotive Group has since updated its plans to include sales and service of both Karma Automotive and Koenigsegg vehicles. This will be the first presence for both in the D.C. area.” [Washington Business Journal]

Affordable Housing Spike Expected — “Fairfax County could soon more than double funding for its affordable housing loan program, with local leaders starting work on a new budget that would offer up more than $45.7 million to power affordable development.” [Washington Business Journal]

McLean Falls on Richest U.S. Places List — “The next Virginia town on the list was McLean at 30 with an average household income of $293,323. McLean fell from 25th place last year, although its average income rose from $283,992… Rounding out Virginia towns on the list was Wolf Trap at 47, down from 42 in last year’s ranking. The average household income increased from $261,610 to $265,175.” [Patch]

Falls Church Concerned About Upcoming Metro Parking Closure — “Falls Church’s Assistant City Manager Cindy Mester will be on an urgent conference call with WMATA officials and her counterparts in Arlington and Fairfax Friday in an effort to mitigate the impact on neighborhoods in the City of Falls Church of WMATA’s plans, announced less than two weeks ago, to close the parking lots at the East and West Falls Church Metro stations months ahead of the closing of the stations for platform repairs over the summer.” [Falls Church News-Press]

0 Comments

Come March 15, some or all of the parking options will be closed at three Metro stations in the Falls Church and Vienna area.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) announced on Friday that pre-construction ahead of summer work will impact parking at three Orange Line stations.

While the summer work on the Vienna, Dunn Loring, West Falls Church and East Falls Church stations doesn’t start until May, the parking changes are set to start on March 15.

“Due to the stations’ location and extreme space limitations, construction crews will need to utilize surface parking lots to stage heavy equipment and tons of material,” according to a press release from WMATA.

Here are the planned changes:

  • surface parking lots at the East Falls Church, West Falls Church and Vienna stations will be closed for seven to nine months
  • parking at the Dunn Loring station will not be impacted
  • Kiss & Ride lot will remain open for pick-up and drop-off only at East Falls Church station
  • West Falls Church station parking garage will remain open
  • Vienna station Parking Lot 1 will be temporarily closed beginning March 15
  • Vienna station’s parking garages and Parking Lot 3 will remain open.

The changes mean that parking won’t be available at the East Falls Church station.

Metro expects that the parking will fill up at the West Falls Church station before 7 a.m., according to the press release.

“Vehicles parked in closed lots after 12:01 a.m. on March 15, 2020, may be subject to towing,” the press release says.

0 Comments

Fairfax County officials say that a newly approved parking rate for the county’s largest malls would not adversely affect Tysons malls.

Yesterday (Tuesday), the Board of Supervisors approved the zoning ordinance amendment that will allow lower parking rates at the four largest malls in the county — the two in Tysons, Fair Oaks Mall and Springfield Town Center.

The proposal was based on a review of the parking rates and demand at large regional malls by consulting firm Nelson/Nygaard.

The county’s planners stressed that the focus of the zoning amendment was meant to help Fair Oaks Mall, yet it sparked concern about whether it would create parking problems at Tysons Corner Center and also about the lack of data for the Tysons malls.

Nelson/Nygaard study’s evaluated parking data for Fair Oaks Mall and the Springfield Town Center, but the study did not evaluate the two malls in Tysons.

“It really has no bearing on Tysons,” Providence District Supervisor Linda Smyth said yesterday, noting that Tysons Corner Center is a part of the Planned Tysons Corner Urban District’s (PTC) parking rates, which allows for lower parking rates. Tysons Galleria is not a part of the PTC District, but could opt-in.

“There has been concern raised in the community that it would [cause issues in Tysons], but I agree with Supervisor Smyth that the real impact is in Springfield and Fair Oaks, where we need to reduce the parking requirements,” Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust said.

The change now lets shopping centers with 800,000 square feet of gross floor area or more to have a parking rate of 2.5 instead of four spaces per 1,000 square feet of gross floor area.

In addition to the zoning change, the county board also approved directing staff to prioritize review of the parking rates in phase two of the zoning ordinance modernization effort.

0 Comments

A zoning ordinance amendment that would allow lower parking rates at Fairfax County’s largest malls received a thumbs up from the Planning Commission last night.

The proposal would affect the four malls — the two in Tysons, Fair Oaks Mall and Springfield Town Center — and was based on a review of the parking rates and demand at large regional malls by consulting firm Nelson/Nygaard.

While the county’s planners have stressed that the focus of the zoning change is directed at Fair Oaks Mall, the proposal has sparked concern about its impacts on the Tysons malls.

“Taking away parking — or even insinuating taking away parking from Tysons — I think is a bad way to go,” Dwight Fuller, a managing partner with Great American Restaurants, told the Planning Commission at the public hearing earlier this month.

McLean Citizens Association criticized the county’s consideration of a proposal without complete data.

Nelson/Nygaard study’s evaluated parking data for Fair Oaks Mall collected by the property owner in December for both 2017 and 2018, along with data about the Springfield Town Center that the firm collected in June. The study did not evaluate the two malls in Tysons.

“Without a study specifically addressing parking at those two malls, the MCA believes it is inappropriate to reduce the parking requirements at those locations,” the MCA wrote in a letter dated Oct. 30 to the Planning Commission.

At both the public hearing and before the votes last night, county staff and the commissioners stressed that the Tysons malls already have opportunities to lower their parking rates — and haven’t.

Tysons Corner Center is a part of the Planned Tysons Corner Urban District’s (PTC) parking rates, which allows for lower parking rates. Tysons Galleria is not a part of the PTC District, but could opt-in.

At-Large Commissioner Timothy Sargeant said that the Tysons malls are “bucking the trend” of large malls — like Fair Oaks — that are struggling with empty parking lots as more shoppers rely on online retail or delivery services.

To address citizens’ concerns, Sargeant brought forward several proposals after the Planning Commission recommended approval of the zoning amendment, including:

  • notification to the Planning Commission when a parking reduction request is submitted to the county
  • a study of how to include the PTC in the county’s update of the zoning ordinance
  • prioritize review of parking rates for the county’s update of the zoning ordinance
  • integration of environmental improvements with the proposal

Sargeant noted that more parking rate studies are necessary.

The proposal now heads to the Board of Supervisors for a public hearing on Dec. 3.

0 Comments

Two Merrifield restaurants now have Fairfax County approval for a plan to address parking problems.

The Board of Supervisors approved an amended parking plan today (Tuesday) for 8100 Lee Hwy — the site of TRIO Grill and Open Road, which are both operated by Metropolitan Hospitality Group.

Back in 2013, the board OK’d a parking reduction from 123 to 100 spaces on the site, with 98 spaces for customers and two spaces — one for an employee and another for a shuttle for employees, according to county documents. The board made the decision because of the restaurants’ proximity to the Dunn Loring-Merrifield Metro station.

Several conditions were put in place for the 2013 reduction to incentivize the employees to not drive, including a shuttle to and from the Metro station for employees and reduced-fare vouchers for public transit.

“However, soon after the restaurants opened, the operator discontinued the shuttle program and instead instituted valet parking on adjacent sites,” according to county documents.

To address concerns about the parking situation, the Zoning Administrator requested a parking study in July 2017. The study found that the site requires 123 parking spaces.

Roughly 50 employees are on the site during peak operating hours, according to county documents.

Now, the board approved changes that will have:

  • 100 spaces on the site of the restaurants
  • 23 spaces off-site for the restaurants
  • 74 spaces off-site “for additional parking demand”

The off-site spaces will be valet-parked at 2757 and 2843 Hartland Road.

“The total proposed parking supply of 197 spaces is adequate to meet the projected peak parking demand of 182 spaces, which is based on yearly sales data for the restaurants and potential parking demand associated with this data,” according to county documents.

Providence District Supervisor Linda Smyth likened the situation to the children’s tale “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” saying that it’s important to get the parking numbers right — “not too much, not too little.”

“Parking is vital to the success of any business,” Smyth told her fellow board members. “This has been a dilemma here.”

Image via Google Maps

0 Comments

The Fairfax County Planning Commission is still tackling a proposal to reduce parking requirements for the county’s largest malls after a contentious public hearing last night (Wednesday).

The proposal would affect the four largest malls in Fairfax County — the two in Tysons, Fair Oaks Mall and Springfield Town Center — and was based on a review of the parking rates and demand at large regional malls by consulting firm Nelson/Nygaard.

County documents indicate that the proposal is meant to help Fair Oaks Mall.

“Fair Oaks Mall is also currently looking at redevelopment opportunities and an evaluation of the parking rates is viewed as critical to ensure the long-term vitality of the mall,” according to a county staff report.

Yet most of the discussion about the proposal last night focused on the inclusion of the two malls in Tysons — Tysons Galleria and Tysons Corner Center.

Dwight Fuller, a managing partner with Great American Restaurants, told the Planning Commission that parking is a problem for staff and diners in the Tysons area.

“Taking away parking — or even insinuating taking away parking from Tysons — I think is a bad way to go,” he said.

“It’s hard to do this one size fits all,” Vice-Chairman James Hart said, asking if there could be a way to eliminate the other malls from the proposal. “Is there a way to do this for the mall that seems to need this?”

Zoning Administrator Leslie Johnson told Hart that the staff could have tried to define the proposal in a way that would only make it applicable to Fair Oaks Mall.

Tysons Malls Have Flexibility With Parking

Despite concern about parking at the Tysons malls, county staff told the Planning Commission multiple times throughout the evening that the Tysons malls “have additional flexibility” already when it comes to parking.

During the discussion between the staff and commissioners, it was unclear how much of the conversation revolved around both Tysons malls or just Tysons Corner Center. Yet the feedback from staff suggested that both Tysons malls already have the opportunities to pursue reducing their parking limits if so desired.

“[The proposal] does not have a lot of relevance to the Tysons malls because they can go to zero [parking spaces,]” staff said. Yet, for economic business decisions, the malls are unlikely to drastically cut or eliminate parking, staff said.

Tysons Corner Center is a part of the Planned Tysons Corner Urban District’s (PTC) parking rates, according to the staff. Tysons Galleria is not a part of the PTC District, but could opt-in, staff said.

Tysons Corner Center also proffered to pursue parking reductions with the redevelopment of part of the site, staff said.

The staff presentation noted that declines in retail parking demand are expected to continue because of mall locations near other transit options and the prevalence of online shopping. The presentation noted that lower parking rates could lead to better utilization of surface parking.

When asked by the commissioners if the proposal would serve as a catalyst for the Tysons malls to cut their parking, the staff said, “No, it would not.”

A Call For More Data

The proposal is based on a Nelson/Nygaard study that evaluated parking data for Fair Oaks Mall collected by the property owner in December 2017 and December 2018, along with data about the Springfield Town Center that the firm collected in June.

The firm found that less than 65% of the available spaces were occupied during peak times from a parking count for the Springfield mall and analyzing data from the Fair Oaks Mall. The study did not evaluate the two malls in Tysons.

County staff insisted that the study looked at the peak shopping month — December.

Commissioner Ellen Hurley, who represents the Braddock District, criticized the limited range of the Nelson/Nygaard study and that there isn’t any data about the parking demand for the day after Thanksgiving.

“I think it’s disingenuous to say the ‘peak day of the peak month’ when most shoppers realize the peak day is the day after Thanksgiving,” she said.

Hurley called for a survey of mall shoppers to provide more data about the parking demand. She also noted that not everyone has access to the Metro.

“It’s kind of feeling like you’re saying that Tysons could eliminate all parking,” she said. “From the lens of equity that doesn’t seem like a really smart way to go.”

Commissioner John Carter, who represents the Hunter Mill District, also called for more data about malls’ parking rates.

Carter suggested a table with the parking rates for 10 or so malls in Fairfax County and surrounding jurisdictions.

“I don’t question that malls are evolving tremendously,” he said.

“Relatively Simple and Straightforward”

Tony Calabrese, a DLA Piper attorney representing Fair Oaks Mall, said that the proposal was “intended to be relatively simple and straightforward.”

Addressing Hart’s comments, Calabrese said that trying to make changes to the proposed amendment might lead to more confusion.

Calabrese said that Fair Oaks Mall does survey its shoppers and claimed that the day after Thanksgiving is not nearly as the holiday peak in December.

Calabrese noted that the amendment would not affect the Tysons malls from being able to reduce their parking if they wanted to — the Tysons Galleria, while not a part of the PTC currently, could opt-in with the zoning administrator’s approval, staff said.

“The parking requirements have to be dropped,” Calabrese said.

“Supportive But With Reluct-ness”

The Planning Commission voted to defer the decision to next Wednesday, Nov. 20.

At-Large Commissioner Timothy Sargeant said that deferral will give the commissioners time to consider the comments from the public hearing.

Commissioner Phillip Niedzielski-Eichner, who represents the Providence District, asked the staff if they could exclude the Tysons malls. Staff replied that the proposal would barely impact the malls, which already could find ways to reduce their parking requirements.

While Niedzielski-Eichner said he would prefer to see the Tysons malls kept out of the proposal, he said he is “supportive but with reluct-ness.”

Ultimately, he said that he wants to help Fair Oaks Mall and doesn’t want to risk having to over through the process again if this proposal is rejected.

The proposal is slated to head to the Board of Supervisors for a hearing on Dec. 3.

0 Comments

The McLean Citizens Association is looking to steer Fairfax County away from reducing parking requirements at Tysons Galleria and Tysons Corner Center.

The proposal would affect the four largest malls in Fairfax County — the two in Tysons, Fair Oaks and Springfield Town Center — and was based on a review of the parking rates and demand at large regional malls by consulting firm Nelson/Nygaard.

The firm found that less than 65% of the available spaces were occupied during peak times from a parking count for the Springfield mall and analyzing data from the Fair Oaks mall. The study did not evaluate the two malls in Tysons — alarming the McLean Citizens Association.

“Without a study specifically addressing parking at those two malls, the MCA believes it is inappropriate to reduce the parking requirements at those locations,” the MCA wrote in a letter dated Oct. 30 to the Planning Commission.

The letter goes on to state that “it seems that it is frequently difficult to find a vacant space at the two Tysons malls even during normal weekends throughout the year” and advises the county against approving the change without data about the two Tysons malls.

MCA urges the county to drop the two Tysons malls from the proposal and — going forward — only consider changes to the parking when there is a study done specifically for the affected mall(s).

Fairfax County planners support altering the requirement from four to 2.5 or three parking spaces per 1,000 square feet of gross floor area for the four malls — the recommended change from Nelson/Nygaard.

County staff suggested a rate of 2.8, saying it “is reasonable and will address the oversupply of parking currently experienced at our regional malls.”

The Fairfax County Planning Commission is set to hold a public hearing on the proposal next Wednesday (Nov. 13). Unless indefinitely deferred, the proposal would then head to the Board of Supervisors for a hearing on Dec. 3.

Image via Google Maps

0 Comments

The Town of Vienna is moving forward with its plan to add public parking with Patrick Henry Library’s upcoming renovation.

The town is partnering with Fairfax County so that the town can have public parking spots when the county rebuilds the library (101 E. Maple Avenue).

The town is looking to incorporate public parking into a three-story parking garage, according to the Capital Improvement Plan.

Director of Finance Marion Serfass told the Town Council that the town would have 188 spaces, while the library would have 125 — a total of 313 parking spaces.

The parking garage is expected to cost $6.3 million, and the town is seeking a grant from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority.

The Vienna Town Council approved the 2020-2036 Capital Improvement Plan at their meeting on Monday (Oct. 21).

Image via Town of Vienna

0 Comments
×

Subscribe to our mailing list