Tysons Corner, VA

Updated at 11:30 a.m. on May 9 — The Planning Commission decided to defer the decision to May 16. A description of The Monarch was corrected. 

A proposed senior living facility in Tysons is headed to the Fairfax County Planning Commission for a vote tonight (May 8) that may result in a recommended denial.

Fairfax County planners took issue with the height, design and open space planned for the two-tower senior living complex called The Mather and have recommended denial of the application, the Washington Business Journal reported in late April.

According to the staff report in WBJ’s story:

Staff does not object to the concept of a continuing care facility as a use, and in fact, recognizes the services provided by such a facility are both necessary and desirable within Tysons. However, the continuing care facility has been designed in a way that reflects the unique needs of the applicant’s specific business model, and does not reflect the urban design recommendations of both the Comprehensive Plan and the Tysons Urban Design Guidelines.

The project includes 18- and 27-story tall towers with a podium connecting the towers on the lower levels and 300 independent living units, 78 assisted living units and 18,000 square feet of retail and restaurants on the lower floors.

The project is a part of Cityline Partners LLC’s Arbor Row project near Tysons Galleria, which includes the completed Nouvelle residential building and The Monarch, which is under construction. The development aims to transform the back end of Tysons Galleria along Westpark Drive into a suite of mixed-use buildings.

The proposal is scheduled for a decision at the Planning Commission’s meeting tonight.

Image via Fairfax County Planning Commission 

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More concerns about the proposed Sunrise Senior Living Facility cropped up at the Town of Vienna’s Planning Commission meeting last night (April 24).

The Sunrise development and Vienna Town Council are already at odds over the project exceeding the town’s height requirements — a topic that also resurfaced during the public comment period last night.

“My real concern this is essentially a five-story building that is being sold as a four-story building,” Vienna resident Chuck Anderson said during public comment. “MAC was sold as a four-story and now we’re allowing five stories. I think there are a lot of people who are upset about this.”

While the public hearing focused on the development’s proposed reduction for its loading space width, fewer bike spaces, new fencing, extended awnings and desire to move the bus stop, concerns about parking and retail space dominated the discussion.

Planning Commissioner Sarah Couchman stressed an emphasis on maximizing opportunities for the assisted living facility’s ground floor retail space. Jerry Liang, senior vice president of development for Sunrise, said the current plans could support one larger tenant or two smaller ones.

“I think it would be great for Vienna to have another retail bay in that area,” Couchman said, questioning whether the lobby with the grand staircase could get reconfigured to add more retail space. “I don’t really see many people using the stairs given your population.”

Questions around parking erupted after Liang told the Planning Commission that the 83-unit facility proposed might have up to 35 employees during peak times on weekdays and would also want to offer valet parking on site for holidays and weekend events.

Some of the planning commissioners expressed skepticism that 60 parking spaces could fit the residents, visitors, retail customers and employees. Liang responded by saying that some of the employees will probably use public transit and carpools and that residents are expected to use about 33 spaces, with the retailers having 29 spots.

Planning Commissioner Mary McCullough said she is concerned about how the parking will affect the already-congested Church and Center streets.

“It’s a problem right now without your facility,” she said, questioning how the senior living facility could also valet park with only 60 parking spaces.

Chair Michael Gelb said he also shares McCullough’s concerns about the parking. “It’s a little bit of a hope and a prayer that this will work out,” he said.

The Planning Commission voted to keep the public hearing on the Sunrise proposal open and will return to the development on May 8.

Image via Town of Vienna

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(Updated April 8) As Sunrise Senior Living haggles through the approval process in Vienna, the assisted living franchise also filed permits earlier this week for a new facility in downtown McLean.

On March 11, Sunrise Development filed a special exception application to allow a senior living facility at 1515 Chain Bridge Road, replacing the existing McLean Medical Building.

In the application, the business noted that the need for assisted living facilities is high in Vienna.

Despite immense need, the McLean CBC does not currently contain any assisted living facilities. Per Fairfax County’s compiled demographics for the McLean Census Designated Plant , 92% of households in McLean have one or more people over the age of 60, which is more than double the 43% of households for the rest of the County.

Sunrise isn’t wrong on that count. McLean is disproportionately elderly and has struggled to create housing that allows local residents to age in place. Sunrise Senior Living isn’t cheap, so it probably doesn’t hurt that McLean is also one of the wealthiest places in the United States.

The proposal for a Sunrise facility in McLean also comes at that area is in the middle of a planning process to reshape the center of town.

The application notes that the new facility would be located within Subarea Two of the McLean Commercial Business Center, an area outside of the main downtown and planned to have very little change. The Sunrise facility would be replacing an existing medical office building, which it argues is in keeping with the intent of the plan.

While the Vienna location is locked in a struggle with the Vienna Town Council over whether or not the building fits within local height parameters, the McLean facility is half the size allowed by-right on the property and 10 feet shorter than the existing building.

The project is tentatively scheduled for a Planning Commission hearing on Sept. 11 and a Board of Supervisors hearing on Sept. 24.

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A new, 86-bed assisted senior living facility could be on the way for 2347 Hunter Mill Road, adjacent to the United Methodist Church of the Good Shepherd in northern Vienna.

According to the application, the facility would primarily serve seniors living currently living within five miles of the property, or whose current caregivers live nearby. Senior living facilities around Northern Virginia can be scarce, though several are planned across the Tysons area.

The proposed facility would provide accommodations for people with dementia or memory loss, providing housing, meals, programming and supportive care services.

The applicant, Orr-BSL Hunter Mill, LLC, is proposing a two-story building with approximately 43,680 square feet of space. The application says the building will include outdoor courtyards and a garden accessible to residents of the facility.

The facility would operate 24/7 with a staff of 30 employees.

A Planning Commission hearing for the application is scheduled for June 12 at 7:30 p.m.

Photo via Google Maps

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As we reported last week, senior housing can be hard to come by in Tysons.

Where it is available, outside of public-private partnerships like the recently opened The Fallstead, most of that housing is expensive. But there are senior living options around Tysons and planned for the area, and a few of them are on the affordable side of the spectrum.

One of the largest projects on the horizon is The Mather, a senior living facility projected to open in 2022 at 7901 Westpark Drive in Tysons. The Mather is a proposed facility from Mather LifeWays, a Chicago-based organization. The Mather would feature large floor-plans with one and two bedroom options, with pricing starting at $650,000.

Priority reservations are currently being accepted for the facility, with early reservations allowing priority in selecting apartments and securing pre-construction prices at the cost of a refundable $1,000 deposit.

The senior living units, meanwhile, are part of the larger Arbor Row development east of the Spring Hill Metro station approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in 2012.

On the more affordable side, there are a few options in the Tysons area with options for lower-income residents.

  • Chesterbrook Residences — A not-for-profit senior living facility founded by three local religious communities. Chesterbrook Residences offers housing based on a sliding income scale, and residents who can no longer cover the cost of their housing are eligible to receive support from the Chesterbrook Continuing Care Fund. Apartment types vary in size and include apartments adapted for residents with disabilities.
  • The Fallstead — A senior living facility recently opened at Lewinsville Center. The facility was built as a partnership between Fairfax County, affordable housing developer Wesley Housing Development Corporation and Hamel Builders.
  • Vinson Hall Retirement Community — A retirement community offering independent living, assisted living, long term care and memory care options. Vinson Hall is open to commissioned military officers of all branches of service or their immediate families, or federal employees with intelligence of national security related departments rated GS-14 or above. A non-profit organization supporting the facility offers financial support for residents.

There are also a variety of more conventional for-profit senior facilities. Most of the housing prices are not available online and dependent on the level of care required.

  • Larmax Homes McLean — Assisted living homes in McLean with services benefitting residents with dementia, Parkinson’s, and other chronic ailments. Larmax operates three homes along Lewinsville Road in McLean.
  • Sunrise of McLean — An international senior living operator based out of McLean. Sunrise of McLean offers assisted living, memory care, hospice, and short-term care options.
  • Tysons Towers Apartments — A senior living facility with apartments. The facility is full but a waiting list is available online.
  • Tysons Woods — Assisted living homes with private bedrooms with shared bathrooms and common areas. Tysons Woods includes medical care like on-call nurses, therapy, and care specializing in dementia.
  • Vienna Manor Assisted Living — Three assisted living facilities throughout the Vienna area, these are facilities with private bedrooms and shared common areas.
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(Updated at 5 p.m.) The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has approved new zoning rules to try and make building elderly care facilities easier.

At its Dec. 4 meeting, the board approved a new zoning district and land use category for continuing care facilities.

The change creates a special set of zoning requirements for retirement communities and nursing facilities. Such facilities frequently combine residential and medical care operations, which were previously not allowed under Fairfax zoning code.

The McLean Citizens Association (MCA) expressed support for the new zoning regulations, but also noted that there were concerns that the new proposals could create development incompatible with low density residential neighborhoods.

We recognize the need for more senior housing and related facilities in an aging county, but also insist on rules that reasonably protect the character of low-density residential neighborhoods,” MCA said in a press release press release.

The MCA resolution called for limits on waivers granted to projects with regards to issues like open space and sufficient parking.

The MCA wasn’t alone in its concerns about the added density. The zoning ordinance includes a maximum building height of 75 to 100 feet tall. Clyde Miller, President of the Holmes Run Valley Citizens Association, spoke at the Board of Supervisors meeting to express concern that the density bonuses granted to for-profit senior living facilities were originally intended to be used by nonprofits.

“The proposal jeopardizes single family residential districts with crowding, overall buildings, bulk and congestion,” said Miller. “Proposed density bonuses should be eliminated.”

Continuing care for elderly residents is an issue of particular importance to McLean, where 30 percent of the population is age 55 or older. McLean’s older population is disproportionately large compared to the rest of Fairfax County, where the median age is under 40.

The county has made some progress in providing senior living recently. In October, new affordable senior living complex The Fallstead opened in McLean after a decade of planning and funding challenges.

But McLean also has a history of struggling with the scale of elderly care facilities. In 2017, the Board of Supervisors rejected a proposal by Sunrise Senior Living to build a 73-room facility on a 3.79 acre lot in McLean after three years of arguments from local citizens that the facility would add to local traffic in an area already overburdened by schools, houses or worship and other senior centers.

At the Board of Supervisors meeting, McLean District Supervisor John Foust praised the MCA resolution and said he shared their concerns about waivers for parking.

“I ran some numbers, and it looks like it can work so I’m comfortable enough to vote for this,” said Foust, “but I understand we’re taking another look at all of this as part of a parking zoning ordinance amendment. This will be reviewed and we will look in great detail at this.”

Foust also noted that, depending on public transportation access, the Board of Supervisors can require additional parking for developments.

The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the zoning change.

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Morning Notes

Reminder: Change Your Clocks and Smoke Alarm Batteries — “We move our clocks back one hour early Sunday morning. You also need to remember that when you change your clock, our firefighters and paramedics want you to check your smoke alarms to ensure they are working.” [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue]

Rainy Weather Prevented Paving in Vienna — The Town of Vienna “was unable to complete about $100,000 worth of paving and pavement marking work earlier this year because of poor weather, said Finance Director Marion Serfass.” [InsideNova]

100th Birthday Party in McLean — “Ann Ames Groves Gurman, formerly of Arlington and now living at Vinson Hall Retirement Community in McLean, celebrated her 100th birthday last weekend. Born on Oct. 26, 1918, Ann Ames grew up in Arlington. She was Miss Arlington in 1936 before going off to college. ” [McLean Connection]

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Morning Notes

Extra Security for Synagogue Event Tonight — “Temple Rodef Shalom, a Falls Church synagogue, will hold an interfaith gathering and has [additional] security in response to the shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue that killed 11.” The event is being held tonight (Oct. 30) at 7:30 p.m. [Patch]

Local Housing Watch — A two-bedroom, two-bath condo in Tysons is on the market for $374,900. The condo was written up in WaPo’s “Where We Live” section. [Washington Post]

Microsoft Store Hosting Senior Day — The Microsoft Store at Tysons Corner Center is hosting a “senior day” this coming Friday, with software training and a number of special guests. [Facebook]

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Even The Fallstead’s biggest proponents admitted there were times it looked like the 82-unit affordable housing complex for seniors was never going to open.

But yesterday (Thursday), after over a decade of planning and struggling to find funding, The Fallstead at Lewinsville Center in McLean opened its doors at 1609 Great Falls Street to the public.

The Fallstead is an independent senior living community, with 72 one-bedroom and 10 two-bedroom rental units available to persons 62 years of age or older with a household income at or below 50 percent of area median income (AMI). Of those units, 10 percent are fully accessible for individuals with mobility impairments and two percent are accessible for individuals with vision and hearing impairments.

In addition, the complex also has amenities like a fitness center, a library, a community garden and more.

The Fallstead is a result of public-private partnerships between the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and Wesley Hamel Lewinsville LLC, itself a partnership between Wesley Housing Development Corporation and Hamel Builders.

“It was a dream, and at times a nightmare, but we’re here,” said Supervisor John Foust. “We’ve been looking forward to this for a long time. It’s been a very long journey.”

Foust said for years, the cost of redeveloping the parcel of land owned by Fairfax County into an affordable housing facility was not considered feasible. But Foust said that changed as the County looked into developing it as a public-private partnership.

“In McLean it can be a challenge for [older] citizens to find housing,” said Foust. “That need is only growing.”

At the grand opening, guests, neighbors, and new residents were led on a tour of the facility.

“It’s wonderful to have this finished,” said Jan Auerbach, a nearby resident. “These 82 units are terrific, and we need more, but I can’t complain.”

Auerbach and many other visitors said they were excited for the Lewisville Senior Center currently under construction behind The Fallstead. The Lewisville Senior Center is scheduled for completion in Spring 2019.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Mark Finks, a nearby resident. “There’s been years of talk, now it’s finally here. After all the noise and dirt, it’s great to come here and see it. It looks nice and there’s such a need for it in our community.”

Aurora Singletary is scheduled to move into the The Fallstead soon and said she was delighted to walk around and look at the facility.

“It feels really great to be here,” said Singletary. “My daughter drove by in February and saw the ad for senior housing… When I came in, I thought it was absolutely beautiful. I won’t even have to take the bus to work out, it will be right here near the courtyard.”

Singletary moved to the area recently from Portland. She said one of her favorite things about the facility — apparently in contrast to her previous housing arrangement in the Pacific Northwest — is the fact that it doesn’t reek of marijuana in every room.

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Virginia is a good place to retire and Fairfax County is the best locality in the state for retirees, according to new rankings from SmartAsset.

The company says Fairfax is No. 1 thanks to a variety of factors, including proximity to parks, medical care, shopping centers and other amenities.

If you’re looking to retire in the great outdoors, Fairfax County may be the perfect place for you. The region houses many national parks, including Great Falls National Park and Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge, the nation’s first sanctuary for bald eagles. You can also visit the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.

You’d also have more than 300 miles of hiking trails to tackle as you stay active. In fact, the Fairfax County Park Authority runs more than 400 parks among more than 20,000 acres. Some feature wildlife preserves and working farms. But nature isn’t Fairfax’s only perk. You also have more than 200 regional shopping centers. And don’t worry too much about your wallet. The region’s mid-range 16.7% tax burden falls well below that of major cities. So it would behoove you to invest in tax-advantaged savings vehicles like a 401(k) or individual retirement account (IRA). And where can you use your hard earned savings? At tons of recreation centers, including an ice-skating rink and Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts. You also have more than 800 playgrounds you can bring the grandkids to. And if you need it, Fairfax has more than 13 medical centers per 1,000 people. Overall, Fairfax County is definitely the place to retire in if you love the outdoors and still want some action in your life.

Also making the list: Falls Church at No. 2 — “perfect for the person who also likes a vibrant city lifestyle” — and Vienna at No. 7 — “those who enjoy the arts or intend to focus on continuing education will feel right at home.”

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