Tysons Corner, VA

Local Schools Receive “Common Sense Recognition” — Chesterbrook Elementary School in McLean and Cunningham Park Elementary School in Vienna are two of the 23 Fairfax County Public Schools recognized for their digital citizenship. [FCPS]

Ramen Chain Coming to The Boro — “A Japanese ramen chain that has 61 shops in 10 countries will make its D.C. area debut this fall, when it’s expected to open a branch in Tysons Corner… [Santouka] is expected open inside a modern, brick-lined space in the new Boro mixed-use development (1636 Boro Place, McLean) by early November.” [DC Eater]

Parking May Arrive Along Maple Avenue — “A consulting firm aiming to squeeze some additional parking in Vienna’s commercial core has come up with a unique option: Turn parts of Maple Avenue into parking strips.” [Inside NoVa]

Capital One Hosting Code Fest — “Girls Computing League, a nonprofit working to empower underrepresented groups in technology, will host its first national code fest InnovateGCL later this month. The Sept. 14 event at the new Capital One headquarters in Tysons Corner, Virginia, will have over 150 students showcase and develop new ideas on the topics of artificial intelligence, health, finance, education and many more.” [WashingtonExec]

Man Pleads Guilty to Robbing Falls Church Pawn Shops — “An Arlington man previously convicted of a pair of bank robberies in Alexandria is facing more jail time. Budder Khan, now 29, pleaded guilty today to robbing two pawn shops in Falls Church, federal prosecutors announced. [ARLnow]

USAID Deploys Fairfax County Rescue Team to the Bahamas — “Members of the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) team [were] deployed to the Bahamas as part of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) responding to Hurricane Dorian.” [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue]

Blue, Yellow Line Metro Stations Reopen — “The six Blue and Yellow line stations south of Reagan National Airpor — Braddock Rd, King St-Old Town, Eisenhower Ave, Huntington, Van Dorn Street and Franconia-Springfield — will reopen as scheduled Monday, September 9, with completely rebuilt platforms and several customer improvements.” [Metro]

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As the Town of Vienna awaits Fairfax County’s renovation of the Patrick Henry Library, the Town Council continues to drive forward a proposed public parking garage.

The Town Council is set to hear a presentation tonight (Monday) from Grimm and Parker about several ideas that could incorporate public parking in the project.

Opened in 1971, Patrick Henry Library (101 E. Maple Avenue) is set to be rebuilt as part of a $91 million bond referendum to upgrade the county’s aging libraries. Mayor Laurie DiRocco previously said that the library got moved up in the county’s renovation schedule from 2026 to 2022.

Ultimately, the town wants cost-effective public parking that will create a synergy between the library and the surrounding commercial area, according to a report from Grimm and Parker.

“Parking is critical to the success of the Patrick Henry Library. The current parking supply often does not meet the demand,” the report said. “Additionally, the Town of Vienna is experiencing a parking shortfall for the Maple Avenue Corridor.”

According to the report, the three designs concepts for the library and parking are:

  • a stand-alone, two-story building with surface parking for 90 cars;
  • a single-level library with an integrated parking garage with 125 spots for the library and 84 for the town;
  • or a single-level library with an integrated parking garage with 125 spaces for the library and 188 for the town

Prior to the meeting, the Town Council will hold a work session about the final phase of the scope of work for the multimodal transportation study of the Maple Avenue Corridor that is being done by Kimley-Horn.

“Based on the future land use scenario results, Kimley-Horn will present potential multimodal transportation improvements for discussion with Town citizens in a workshop format,” according to the town’s website.

The final community workshop for the study will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 4, at 7 p.m.

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A clerical error has left Sweet Leaf Cafe in McLean in a three-year legal fight to not be zoned as a residential property.

The restaurant is currently operating in violation of zoning code. A non-residential use permit had been issued for the site for retail sales, but not to operate what the zoning law refers to as a fast-food establishment.

At a July 17 meeting, the Board of Zoning Appeals deferred Sweet Leaf’s appeal to Oct. 23, making this the 12th time the issue has been appealed since early 2016.

County staff said Sweet Leaf is pursuing a parking reduction to fall in-line with the zoning ordinance but has hit a few snags.

According to Fairfax County spokesperson Brian Worthy:

Sweet Leaf needs a non-residential use permit for a restaurant, and this is the current issue involved in the zoning appeal. However, the restaurant cannot get this permit until it applies for a parking reduction that the Board of Supervisors must approve. Therefore, the July 17 Board of Zoning Appeals public hearing for this case was deferred because the applicant is working to apply for the reduction. The business requires at least 14 parking spaces based on zoning rules, but the site can only physically accommodate the existing 12 parking spaces. If this reduction is approved, the applicant can get its non-residential use permit. Previous public hearings were deferred at the applicant’s own request.

While Sweet Leaf works with the county government to find a solution, staff said the restaurant has been allowed to continue operating.

“Sweet Leaf has been allowed to stay open without the non-residential use permit for a restaurant because they are working to acquire the proper zoning permit,” said Fairfax County Public Information Officer Crystal Santos. “Unfortunately, a previous administrative error allowed the restaurant to operate as a retail establishment for zoning purposes. However, Sweat Leaf has been subject to all health regulations and licensing requirements related to owning and operating a restaurant in Fairfax County since they opened in 2009.”

Prior to Sweet Leaf, the space was operated under a similar food use for seven years, according to Sweet Leaf owner Andre Matini.

“Sweet Leaf completed all the proper paperwork and was issued a zoning permit… to operate as a food use,” Matini wrote in an email. “We are not exactly sure what has transpired since we opened over ten years ago but this issue seems to be an oversight by the issuer… Unfortunately, this has been an extremely costly process for us.”

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust said it was an innocent error and staff has been working to make sure the restaurant can continue operating and obtain the proper zoning.

“Basically it’s come down to a parking issue,” Foust said. “[Staff] is continuing to search for a solution. They think they have one, and it’s a little creative, but they’re trying to work through it.”

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The City of Falls Church is looking to reduce its residential parking and ramp up its multi-modal transportation options.

The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments’ Transportation Planning Board (TPB) approved $680,000 in assistance for 13 projects, including one to support a residential parking standards update underway in Falls Church.

Details on the update are scarce, but according to the TPB:

This project will update multi-family residential parking requirements for new development in the area. An outcome of this project will include revisions to the city’s Traffic Impact Analyses tables, which are used to estimate potential traffic impacts of proposed land uses and assign parking requirements. The project will also support a potential revision to the city’s zoning ordinance. The updated standards would be intended for use in all future multi-family residential projects and useful to other jurisdictions in the region.

The look at residential parking follows a commercial parking requirements update approved in 2016.

The residential parking standards update would be one part of a broader effort to promote non-car transportation through the city. The FY2019 budget included $25,000 to restore a commuter incentive program.

Photo via Facebook.

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Small business owners and residents in Vienna narrowed down more than two dozen suggested solutions to make it easier to park in the town’s central business district.

Last night’s brainstorming session was the second meeting in an ongoing effort to find viable public parking solutions while the town waits for Fairfax County’s renovation of the Patrick Henry Library, which could bring a parking garage.

“I don’t think we’re going to have a parking garage in town for a few years so we’re trying to come up with ideas to alleviate the problem,” Jim Brooke, the chair of the Town Business Liaison Committee, said at the meeting. “It’s important to get feedback from business owners and property owners because you guys live this every day.”

Mayor Laurie DiRocco said that the library got moved up in the county’s renovation schedule from 2026 to 2022. Until then, though, attendees suggested that small business owners meet with the county’s board in June and collect signatures to push for public parking as part of the library renovation.

Friderike Butler, a member of the Town Business Liaison Committee, suggested shared parking, which could encourage drivers to park and walk — potentially encouraging people to shop in more stores as they explore the town.

“You have all of these individually designed signs of ‘No Parking’ or ‘Patrons only,'” Butler told the business owners in attendance. “The message that you’re sending is [that] you’re not wanted here. Come in for your one transitional parking and then please leave.”

Some business owners said that sharing parking sounds like a good idea, yet doesn’t add parking or address needs for nearby parking spots for customers to load heavy items.

Dave Wallen from Nothing Bundt Cakes said that designated parking spots are often necessary for patrons who might not want to hunt for a parking spot nearby.

While possible pricey, Butler said having a digital parking map could help people find public parking spots around town that visitors often don’t know about. A similar idea would have the town put up big, blue parking signs that could direct drivers to those hidden spaces.

At the end of the meeting, attendees had the opportunity to vote with stickers for their top three in the “idea gallery,” which included all of the short-, mid- and long-term ideas from the two meetings.

Some of the top vote getters:

  • business meeting with Fairfax County to accelerate Patrick Henry Library garage
  • create a comprehensive, digital map for available public parking options
  • clear and improve town-branded parking signage
  • comprehensive strategic parking and marketing plan sponsored and coordinated by the town for businesses participating in shared parking
  • comprehensive shared parking solution

The idea wall is set to get displayed somewhere accessible for local business owners who were not in attendance last night to vote on the ideas.

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The Town of Vienna will continue seeking locals’ input on public parking following a returned push to make it easier to park in the town’s central business district.

The meeting set for this Thursday (May 9) will follow up on a March brainstorming session hosted by the Town Business Liaison Committee and Mayor Laurie DiRocco.

About 35 business owners and people helped problem-solve and come up with more than two dozen ideas, including short-, mid- and long-term options, like:

  • create a comprehensive parking and marketing plan for Vienna and its business community
  • develop clear and improved Town-branded parking signage
  • actively enforce two-hour parking on Church Street and for designated short-term parking
  • consider financial or property improvement incentives for property owners
  • research feasibility of connecting Vienna Metro, Town Green, Tysons Metro (and residential areas) with a trolley

The upcoming meeting will seek locals’ input on the ideas and any new ideas and possible implementation strategies.

The meetings come on the heels of the town’s decision in January to dissolve an agreement to use a four-story commercial building on Church Street as a public parking garage.

Anyone interested in going can head to the Town Hall (127 S. Center Street) at 6 p.m.

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Fairfax County and the Town of Vienna are working together on a plan to potentially replace the Patrick Henry Community Library (101 Maple Ave E).

The rebuilding is part of a $91 million bond referendum planned for this fall to upgrade the County’s aging libraries. The Patrick Henry Community Library was originally built in 1971.

In September, the Town Council unanimously agreed to finance part of a feasibility study with Fairfax County to look at adding a new parking structure to the building in addition to potential renovations to the library itself, according to InsideNova.

According to the FY 2020 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), the Town of Vienna will be working in a joint partnership with Fairfax County to determine whether to renovate or completely replace the building.

Photo via Google Maps

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The Town of Vienna is poised to rev up public parking discussions again, after recently dropping a plan that would have made it easier to park in the town’s central business district.

One month ago, the Town of Vienna said it had dissolved an agreement to use a four-story commercial building on Church Street as a public parking garage. Now, the push for public parking is making a comeback.

The Town Business Liaison Committee and Mayor Laurie DiRocco are set to host a community brainstorming session about public parking.

The meeting later this week aims to gather feedback from business owners, problem-solve and consider future options, the event description says.

Anyone interested in going can head to the Town Hall (127 S. Center Street) from 6-7 p.m. on Thursday (March 14).

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A group is meeting and planning out strategies to handle increased growth in downtown McLean — but, in the meantime, some of that transformation is already underway.

A new building at 6707 Old Dominion Drive was approved by the Board of Supervisors in October. The building is planned to replace a surface parking lot behind the current retail properties with a 44-unit mixed-use residential building.

During the planning process, some nearby McLean residents expressed concerns that the site could have a detrimental impact on local parking and traffic. Today, the property is a frequently crowded parking lot behind a retail complex on Old Dominion Drive.

The building will have 112 parking spaces for existing uses, replacing those taken by the new development, at surface lots to the south and west of the new building.

The plans show four levels of parking structure with 173 spaces located under six floors of residential units. The staff report indicates that the occupants of the 44 new condominium units are unlikely to have a substantial impact on nearby streets.

Because the development contains less than 50 units, none are required to serve as affordable housing, though a contribution to the county’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund is included in the development plans as a condition of approval.

According to the application:

“The benefits of a residential/office/commercial mix of uses has been proven many-fold in the County. This property, located adjacent to what is considered the “South Village” area will hopefully serve to catalyze other redevelopment efforts within the [downtown area].”

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One of the “guiding principals” of the Tysons Comprehensive Plan is a reduction of surface parking and moving vehicles through Tysons to drive pedestrian and bicycle traffic.

But at Bisnow’s Tysons State of the Market event last week, local developers said that utopian plan isn’t really shaping up the way it’s designed.

Brian Tucker, managing director for JLL, said changes in how space is filled in office developments has impacted local parking more than the comprehensive plan accounted for.

Despite ridership of the Metro increasing in Tysons, Tucker said parking supplied by new developments isn’t keeping pace with the demand for parking. According to Tucker:

“There was a time going back when we couldn’t give parking away. With the coming of the Metro, we all assumed things were going to continue on that trend. But it didn’t turn out that way. As buildings got developed, there were changes in terms of how people used their space. Floors became much more dense, and we had 30 percent more people on a floor than we had years ago.”

If you’ve found it difficult to find parking in Tysons, that’s by design. Where many localities have parking minimums for development, in Tysons, offices located near Metro stations have parking maximums. According to the plan:

“Office uses located between 1/8 and 1/4 mile of a station have a maximum parking ratio of 2.0 spaces per 1,000 square feet of office, while those located between 1/4 and 1/2 mile have a ratio of 2.2 per 1,000.”

The comprehensive plan lists a number of strategies to wean Tysonians off their cars — including adding transit infrastructure and encouraging teleworking — but the plan also calls for a reduction over time in the ratio of parking spaces to the commercial floor area.

A chart in the comprehensive plan shows a scale of vehicle trip reduction goals connected to the amount of gross square feet of development in Tysons.

According to the plan:

In the past, each development was required to provide parking for its own peak demand, an approach that often leads to excess parking supply and a wasted uses of resources. In 2015, the Tysons Parking Study estimated that Tysons had 110,000 parking spaces. This amount of parking far exceeds what is necessary.

The comprehensive plan calls for parking in Tysons not to be supplied for individual use but regarded as a common resource for multiple uses.

But Tucker says those maximums are concerning to real estate developers.

“Real estate people would say ‘we know Metro is here and all the millennials are supposed to take it, but we’re scared to death [of limited parking],'” said Tucker. “We need a mechanism to bridge us to the date when people actually will be taking the Metro by allowing people the opportunity to park and wean people off of their car.”

Donna Schafer, managing director for Cityline Partners, said the vision of a car-free Tysons is going to take time to implement and more flexibility should be offered to offer temporary parking options, like “throwaway parking decks.” According to the Tysons Annual Report, a 711-space interim commuter lot was built in 2014. A stury of this lot in 2018 found that 558 of the spaces were filled on an average weekday.

Mark Carrol, executive vice president of Skanska Commercial Development, said driving around Tysons is part of the area’s DNA.

“The accessibility by car was part of the initial appeal,” said Carrol. “Some of the planning that went into place to try to change that, but it feels like we’re at the stage in Tysons where the behavior hasn’t changed.”

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