Tysons, VA

Fairfax County and the Virginia Department of Transportation are working on an agreement to include funding for Scotts Run Stream restoration efforts in McLean as part of the I-495 Northern Extension (495 NEXT) project, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said on Tuesday (Feb. 23).

McKay shared the news in a letter to Virginia Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine that reiterates some of the county’s lingering reservations about the project, which seeks to extend the I-495 Express Lanes approximately three miles from the Dulles Toll Road interchange to the American Legion Bridge.

“In conjunction with the stream restoration project planned by the County, the additional funds received from the I-495 NEXT concessionaire will provide a more holistic approach to stream restoration that helps promote streambank stabilization, enhanced outfalls, and an overall improvement to Scotts Run,” McKay said in the letter, which was unanimously approved by the full board during its meeting.

The board raised concerns about the environmental impact of 495 NEXT, among other issues, in a letter to Valentine in early December, stating that runoff from the proposed project would affect almost 100 acres of wetlands, water, and land around Scotts Run and the Potomac River and exacerbate flooding issues in McLean.

The potential Scotts Run agreement and Maryland’s announcement last week that it has chosen a consortium led by Tysons-based Transurban for its Capital Beltway toll roads project have eased some — but not all — of Fairfax County supervisors’ anxieties about 495 NEXT.

Urging VDOT to coordinate with its counterpart across the Potomac as closely as possible, Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust noted that, while last week’s announcement was a meaningful step forward, the actual realization of Maryland’s I-495/I-270 project remains far off.

“We have gone on record as saying that [495 NEXT] does more harm than good if we don’t get Maryland to move forward with their project,” Foust said. “They are making good progress. What happened last week, I think it was good news and very exciting, but they’re still not there yet.”

He also asked that McKay’s letter be amended to request more detailed renderings of planned ramps for the Dulles Toll Road interchange from VDOT, reiterating previously voiced concerns about the possible traffic and construction impacts on surrounding communities.

In addition, the Board of Supervisors wants VDOT to extend the shared-use trail included in the 495 NEXT project to Tysons, rather than ending it at Lewinsville Road, and fully fund one of the Tysons-Bethesda bus routes that have been proposed as a transit option for the I-495/American Legion Bridge corridor.

According to the board’s letter, the route would carry nine vehicles with an estimated initial cost of $5.2 million and annual operating costs of $2.2 million.

Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity cautioned against making too many demands of a project that already carried an estimated $500 million cost as of last March.

“Those requirements get paid by someone. They don’t get funded out of thin air,” Herrity said. “…Since these are just recommendations, I’m going to be supporting the letter, but I think we’ve got to be careful that we don’t push this project out of existence.”

Supervisor Walter Alcorn, who represents Hunter Mill District, said county leaders need to make their concerns about major projects like this known, especially since a private vendor will be involved.

“We have to make sure that the public interest and the environmental issues and everything else that’s important to the broader community is paramount,” Alcorn said.

VDOT issued the following statement to Tysons Reporter in response to the Board of Supervisors’ letter:

VDOT remains committed to continuing to work with the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to listen to and address their feedback on VDOT’s I-495 Northern Extension Express Lanes Project. The issues identified by Fairfax County are important to VDOT and will continue to be an important part of the dialogue as we work together to solve one of the Washington Metropolitan Area’s most congested transportation links. Through the continued collaboration among the staff of VDOT and Fairfax County, VDOT is confident that a multimodal transportation solution can be put in place, which will improve travel and make a positive impact on our Commonwealth.

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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Thursday Morning Notes

Ribbon Cutting Held for New Scotts Run Trail — “Fairfax County leaders on Feb. 4 cut the ribbon for the new Scotts Run Trail, which with serpentine curves connects the Pimmit Hills neighborhood with the McLean Metro station on the eastern edge of Tysons.” [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]

Sunrise of McLean Residents Get COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic — Residents and employees of the assisted living community Sunrise of McLean “received their first doses at a clinic hosted by CVS on Jan. 28. Sunrise Senior Living is working to schedule a clinic for second doses within the next few weeks in coordination with CVS Health.” [Patch]

Vienna Inn Prepares 61st Anniversary Celebrations — “To mark the 61st anniversary, Vienna Inn is hoping to achieve a new goal with a 1960 meal challenge. The restaurant hopes to provide 1960 meals for front-line workers and first responders by the end of February.” [Patch]

School Board Criticized for Delaying Decision on New School Holidays — “Religious leaders in Northern Virginia are criticizing the Fairfax County Public School board after some members signaled they won’t back a task force’s recommendation to add…four additional days off to observe Jewish holidays Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the Hindu festival Diwali and the Muslim celebration Eid al-Fitr.” [The Washington Post]

Fairfax County Seeks Community Input on Affordable Housing — A public comment period has opened on the one-year and five-year plans that guide Fairfax County’s housing and community development goals and how it spends the roughly $8.5 million in federal funds it receives annually to address community housing and human services needs. [Fairfax County Government]

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The ShipGarten, a long-anticipated food and drink experience in shipping containers from the team behind Tysons Biergarten, is slated to open in “early spring.”

“As many can tell, the tent’s been put up, the shipping containers are being built as we speak, and everything is pretty much moving forward rapidly,” former Tysons Biergarten CEO and managing partner Matt Rofougaran said.

ShipGarten plans to be a pop-up for three years at the Scotts Run development in Tysons. It will be six times larger than Tysons Biergarten space, which closed in November 2019.

The pop-up will feature four specially-designed shipping containers where food and drinks will be prepared, along with three year-round tents where guests will sit at tables.

Originally, the new bar was slated to open in the spring of 2020, but it was pushed to the third quarter of 2020 due to the pandemic. Rofougaran also attributed the delays to the long processes involved in trying to do something this new.

“Our contractor has never cut up shipping containers before and converted them into bars,” Rofougaran said. “Fairfax County has never seen anything like this.”

Finding the right tent took a while too, and ultimately, they had to be ordered from Germany.

“Overall, everything about it is different than your normal restaurant-bar,” Rofougaran said.

The experience completely diverged from the process for Hops N Shine in Alexandria, which took six months from getting permits to opening, he said.

At ShipGarten, customers can choose from four mini-restaurants that will each operate in a shipping container: Salamati (which Rofougaran describes as “Persian-style Chipotle”), Tysons Biergarten (German fare like the old establishment served), Rollbär (Asian fusion) and Chalkboard (barbecue).

Customers will order from kiosks outside the containers and pick up their food from one of a half-dozen windows that are being cut into the containers. They will be able to sit at tables, spaced 10 feet apart, under the tent or in the field.

During non-COVID-19 times, Roufgaran says customers would be able to sit at the bar section of the shipping container.

“This will be the safest place for you to do social distancing because of how much land we have,” Rofougaran said. “We’re providing very good social distancing.”

For now, people can try offerings from Salamati and Rollbär at Hops N Shine. Kitchen staff will be preparing the Persian food for a pop-up on Feb. 10 from 6 to 9 p.m., and Asian fusion food will be served from noon to 4 p.m. on Feb. 13.

“The pop-ups are the best,” Rofougaran said. “We get people from Tysons showing up to these all the time.”

Images via ShipGarten/Instagram

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Update 10/28 — The new parking district will relieve overparked residential streets near the Scotts Run Nature Preserve, not the Scotts Run development in Tysons East. According to Robin Geiger:

As you can see from the area of impact shown on the map above, this permit district is not in the Tysons East district and will have no impact on multi-family development. The permit district will instead provide relief to residents of communities adjacent to Scotts Run Nature Preserve, whose streets have been heavily impacted by the increased number of visitors to the park.  You also indicated that guests could receive temporary passes for no more than two weeks.  That also is not true.  Permits and visitor passes are available only to residents of the permit district. 

Earlier: Be careful where you park near Scotts Run, because some of those spots could soon become residents only.

New residential developments are coming in to Tysons East even as other developments, like the Capital One complex, are expanding or being added. To stem off future conflicts, the Board of Supervisors is set to review this afternoon whether to implement (public hearing item for 4:30 p.m.) a parking district for the Scotts Run District.

Residential parking districts can be a mixed bag, with residents secure in their parking but adding difficulty to finding parking for guests — back in a time when people could have friends over at their house. The Scotts Run Residential Permit Parking District document noted that guests could receive temporary passes for no more than two weeks.

The new district will be designated District 48 and would not be available to residents of new multi-family developments.

“One transferable visitor pass per address shall be issued in the name of a bona fide resident of said address,” the document said. “However, visitor passes shall not be issued to multifamily or townhouse addresses, which have off-street parking provided.”

Image via Fairfax County

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Park Party Is Over — “A video supplied by a local resident showed throngs of bathing-suit-clad youths cavorting and whooping it up and swigging alcohol at the park’s scenic waterfall… Fairfax County Park Authority officials are beefing up police presence at [Scotts Run Nature Preserve], and authorities soon will be prohibiting parking along Georgetown Pike and some nearby neighborhood streets.” [Inside NoVa]

Empty Offices — “Many companies in the county are likely to shrink their footprints to account for increased remote work, according to surveys the FCEDA has tracked, while others that may have been considering a move to Fairfax have put those searches on hold, [Victor] Hoskins said. The county’s office vacancy rate stood at 13.9% at the end of 2019, according to the county’s 2021 budget plan.” [Washington Business Journal]

Vienna Hit With Power Outage — Thunderstorms last night swept across Northern Virginia. Dominion Energy has now resolved a power outage that was affecting over 1,700 customers around 8 p.m. in the Vienna area. It was caused by a circuit outage, according to Dominion. [Dominion Energy]

ICYMI: Protest Held in McLean — “Hundreds of people chanted and marched in a Black Lives Matter protest led by six McLean High School students on Wednesday.” [Tysons Reporter]

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New work and plans are underway at the Scotts Run development near the McLean Metro station.

Development company Skanksa announced today that it will invest $221 million in a new 28-story apartment building in the Scotts Run development.

Named “The Heming,” the luxury apartment building will have 410 units, the company’s press release said.

Construction is set to start this month and be completed in late 2022, according to Skanksa.

In 2018, Cityline Partners sold a portion of the development to Skanska. Now, Cityline is set to sell another part of the development.

Bisnow reported yesterday that the Lennar Multifamily Communities is under contract to buy part of the development from CityLine.

Plans have been filed for a 26-story, 447-unit apartment building with 18,000 square feet of retail at the intersection of South Dartford Drive and Chain Bridge Road, according to Bisnow.

“Cityline Partners Managing Director Donna Shafer tells Bisnow that Lennar approached Cityline unsolicited to propose the deal, and that she thought its proposed project would complement the other buildings that have moved forward on the site,” according to Bisnow.

Last year, ground broke in October on the Archer Hotel , which is tentatively set to open in 2021 with a fitness studio and a bar and restaurant operated by chef Charlie Palmer.

The 425-unit apartment complex called The Haden and the 14-story office building Mitre 4 have already been completed in the mixed-use development.

Image via Cityline Partners

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The developer behind the Scotts Run development in Tysons wants to make some changes to the project.

The changes, which were proposed in November, include an adjustment to two heights to a parking podium connected to a residential building, according to Lynne Strobel, the attorney representing the Smith Group.

The developers want to raise the parking garage height from four stories to five for one building and from 4.5 to five for another, according to documentation from Strobel, adding that the height is still within the range originally approved by Fairfax County.

“The podium will appear to be an extension of the building with the use of glass and masonry,” the documents said. 

The 26-story building, which will primarily include residential housing, would no longer include underground parking with the proposed changes.

“It’s within the same range of units,” Strobel said, adding the changes won’t affect residents outside of an aesthetic design shift. 

When development changes are minor, a Fairfax County Planning Commission spokesperson said that it is not always necessary to host a public hearing or require the Fairfax Board of Supervisors to re-approve the proposal.

The upcoming buildings sit on roughly an acre of land, according to Fairfax County records and will be partially designated for affordable housing options.

Image via Cityline Partners

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After seven months of work, construction crews finally refurbished the stream that cuts through a nature preserve in McLean.

Scotts Run Tributary is encompassed by the Scotts Run Watershed project.

Improvements to the stream included reducing sediment, improving ground nutrients, stabilizing the banks and improving the overall water quality for 600 feet of stream, Matthew Kaiser, a spokesperson for Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services, said.

The project began in late November of 2018 and finished this July and cost Fairfax County $1.5 million, Kaiser said.

“Water quality benefits of the project include removal of 47 pounds of total phosphorus, removal of 238 pounds of total nitrogen, and removal of 15,132 pounds of total suspended solids per year,” Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust wrote in his September newsletter.

The makeover also added setup pools, a reinforced pipe and stronger material, according to a Fairfax County presentation.

Photo via Fairfax County

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Construction recently started on a new trail in Tysons East that will connect Westgate Elementary School to the McLean Metro Station.

Scott’s Run Trail will provide a half-mile, 8-foot wide trail spanning Magarity Road to Colshire Meadow Drive near the McLean Metro station.

Robin Geiger, a spokesperson for the Fairfax County Department of Transportation, told Tysons Reporter that construction on the trail started July 8.

“Work is just starting now with the placement of erosion control items prior to grading activities,” Geiger said.

Located within Scott’s Run Stream Valley Park and Westgate Park, the trail will be lighted and include two bridges — a 90-foot bridge over Scotts Run Stream and a 50-foot bridge over a tributary.

The $3.3 million project is being funded by the Federal Regional Surface Transportation Program and Fairfax County.

Geiger said that construction plans to wrap up in next September.

Photo via Fairfax County Department of Transportation

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Updated at 9 a.m. — The Fairfax County Park Authority said this morning (July 10) that the west parking lot at Scott’s Run and bridge at Lewinsville Park are still closed. 

Around the Tysons area, work is underway to clean up and repair roads, parks and even a high school after severe flash flooding yesterday.

“Nearly 5 inches of rain fell on Fairfax County Monday morning — nearly a month’s worth of rain in just a few hours, overwhelming numerous parts of our public infrastructure,” according to Fairfax County.

McLean High School had two hallways flooded along with the athletic locker rooms and coaches’ offices, Ellen Reilly, the principal of the high school, told Tysons Reporter, adding that Fairfax County Public Schools assessed the school today (July 9) to make sure that all of the areas were safe.

“Custodial staff worked throughout the day pumping out the water from the locker rooms and the carpets will be shampooed once everything dries out,” Reilly said.

The staff received a shout out on the high school’s Twitter:

Kirby Road will continue to be closed in McLean for several weeks as crews work to repair extensive damage.

The Fairfax County Park Authority said this morning that several parks in the Tysons area are closed as park teams assess the damage, including the west parking lot at Scott’s Run and bridge at Lewinsville Park.

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