Newsletter

Aritizia is now in business at Tysons Corner Center.

The Canadian fashion brand had a soft opening for its boutique at the mall — its first in Virginia — just before Christmas, but the arrival wasn’t officially announced by Tysons Corner Center until Thursday (Jan. 6).

“Aritzia is such a great brand to have at Tysons Corner Center,” Lindsay Petak, the mall’s senior marketing manager, said in a statement. “The Canadian-based retailer has gained such a large brand following with their offering of beautiful, everyday luxury fashion in aspirational spaces with exceptional service.”

Located in between Banana Republic and the Tesla showroom, the 7,741 square-foot retail store features a private shopping room and employs a dedicated “style advisor” who can provide one-on-one, personalized service to customers.

Aritzia sells various types of clothing, from T-shirts and blazers to accessories, shoes, and face masks. It launched in a department store in Vancouver, Canada, before the family that owned the store opened the first standalone boutique in 1984, according to the company website.

Aritzia operates more than 100 boutiques across North America. The new Tysons Corner store is part of a larger effort to expand the retailer’s presence in the U.S., which now has 40 stores, including one in Georgetown.

“We are thrilled about this new location [at Tysons Corner] as we continue to expand across the U.S.,” Aritzia spokesperson Marianna Lozowska said.

Aritzia’s arrival comes during a period of transition for Tysons Corner Center.

Property owner Macerich is gearing up for Phase 2 of its development plans, which will add office, retail, residential, and plaza space where the former Lord & Taylor store and a nearby parking garage are currently situated.

More immediately, anchor store L.L. Bean is set to close up shop next Monday (Jan. 17) after more than two decades at the mall. However, online rumors that Barnes & Noble is also on the way out are unfounded, according to both a store employee and the company.

“Our lease has not expired and we plan on continued operation and serving our Tysons customers,” Barnes & Noble’s public relations team told Tysons Reporter.

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The L.L. Bean store at Tysons Corner Center (via Google Maps)

L.L. Bean is closing the Tysons Corner Center store that heralded its national expansion next month.

The anchor store at the Tysons mall will close Jan. 17, company officials tell Tysons Reporter.

“This decision was not an easy one, and though we worked with the landlord to explore many options, we were unable to reach favorable terms in a way that would allow us to best serve our customers moving forward,” company spokesperson Amanda Hannah said in a statement.

When the location opened in 2000, it marked the first major expansion outside of Maine, where founder Leon Leonwood Bean started the company, The Baltimore Sun noted at the time.

According to the newspaper, the region’s large fan base of the flannel and outdoor brand was a driving force behind the decision to open a two-story, 76,000 square-foot store in what was then known as Tysons Corner.

Hannah stated that the company looked for other space in the mall but couldn’t reach a solution. She wrote the company is actively looking for a new location in the area.

L.L. Bean notified staff in the summer, offering severance and other opportunities within the company.

Hannah wrote that the company “could not reach an agreement with the landlord that met our desired store format and needs.”

A representative for the mall said there’s no information to share on who might be going into the space.

Photo via Google Maps

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A watercolor rendering of Tysons Corner Center Phases 1, 2A, and 2B from Route 123 (courtesy David Walker/Macerich)

Tysons Corner Center is ready to embark on a new stage of development, but it will look a little different from what was previously envisioned.

Property owner Macerich submitted development plans to Fairfax County on Wednesday (Dec. 22) that expand its anticipated Phase 2 for the mall to include an overhaul of the old Lord & Taylor store, which has been used as a mass COVID-19 vaccination site for much of the past year.

Under the proposal, the department store will be replaced by a either a 330-foot tower with 540,000 square feet of office or a 400-foot tower with a mix of office and residential space. Both options include 50,000 square feet of retail centered around a plaza.

Designated Phase 2A, the redevelopment constitutes the first half of a two-part project that aims to concentrate the site’s office space near the Tysons Metro station, while adding more outdoor gathering spaces akin to the 1.5-acre Plaza that opened in July 2014 and now serves as the mall’s events hub.

“We would like to build on that success,” Macerich Vice President of Development Hillary Zahm said. “We think this is a good location for office, but we would like to maintain flexibility in case we decide that we would like to do a mix of uses.”

As originally approved in 2007 and amended in 2015, the plan for Tysons Corner Center called for four phases of development totaling over 6 million square feet of gross floor space.

The Tysons Corner Center development plan, as currently approved (via Macerich)

Completed in 2015, the first phase introduced The Plaza, the 22-story Tysons Tower office building, the VITA apartments, and the Hyatt Regency, but Macerich decided to rethink its second phase after acquiring the Lord & Taylor building following the store’s unexpected closure in January 2020.

Macerich’s plans to demolish the building first surfaced this summer in a Reston Skylines report, though Zahm characterizes the redevelopment as a complement to the existing Plaza, rather than an expansion.

“We recognize the need to turn the mall, in some ways, inside out and create spaces on the exterior that are really welcoming and warm for our guests,” Zahm said, noting that Tysons Corner Center has seen more people using the plaza during the pandemic. Read More

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Morning Notes

Health Department Adapts to Omicron Surge — With COVID-19 cases continuing to rise, the Fairfax County Health Department is changing its contact-tracing process to focus staff and resources on “higher-risk scenarios,” such as congregate settings, schools and childcare facilities, and outbreaks. Other individuals who test positive for COVID-19 will be notified by text message. [FCHD]

Robb Family Comments on McLean House Fire — Children of former Virginia governor Chuck Robb and his wife, Lynda Johnson Robb, confirmed that their parents had no life-threatening injuries after a fire destroyed the McLean mansion where they have lived for nearly 50 years. The Robb family thanked the firefighters and medical professionals who responded to the incident. [Office of the Governor]

Rare Owl Spotted in Oakton — “Animal Protection Police officers in Fairfax County, Virginia, helped a rare owl get out of a tough spot last month. The Fairfax County Police Department posted about the rescue on its Facebook page Tuesday. APP officers were called to the Oakton area Nov. 17 for a report of an owl that had flown into a home under construction.” [WTOP]

Tysons Corner and Galleria Close Early Tomorrow — “Between Christmas Eve for late shoppers and post-Christmas shopping, the two malls in Tysons have adjusted hours on upcoming days. Santa photos will continue at malls through Christmas Eve. Malls and surrounding stores are generally closed on Christmas Day, Dec. 25.” [Patch]

McLean Holiday Lights Contest Voting Underway — McLean residents can now vote online for their favorite neighborhood holiday decorations as part of the Light Up McLean contest. The McLean Community Center will announce winners in three categories — best overall, most creative, and best holiday theme — on Jan. 3. [Old Firehouse Center/Twitter]

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The Winter Walk of Lights in the Meadowlark Botanical Gardens (courtesy NOVA Parks)

The Weekly Planner is a roundup of interesting events coming up over the next week in the Tysons area.

We’ve searched the web for events of note in Tysons, Vienna, Merrifield, McLean, and Falls Church. Know of any we’ve missed? Tell us!

Monday, Dec. 20

  • Winter Break Trip: UNO’s Pizza Making & Movie — 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. day trip to Union Station in D.C. and AMC theatres — Students ages 10 through 14 can learn how to make deep-dish pizza at UNO’s and then enjoy a movie afterward, thanks to the Old Firehouse Teen Center in McLean. Cost is $65 for residents.
  • Holiday Yarn Trees — 3-5 p.m. at Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library (7584 Leesburg Pike) — Library staff will provide all the supplies needed to craft winter-themed tree decor in this activity for people aged 8 to 18. With room capacity limited to 40 people, advance registration is required, and masks remain mandatory in all Fairfax County facilities.

Tuesday, Dec. 21

  • Jammin Java Songwriters Circle — 8 p.m. at Jammin Java (227 Maple Ave. East) — Local singers and songwriters share stories and music. Cost is $16. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Dec. 22

  • Needlecraft Circles — 1-2 p.m. at Thomas Jefferson Library (7415 Arlington Boulevard) — Join other older adults to learn a new needlecraft. Supplies provided.

Thursday, Dec. 23

Friday, Dec. 24

  • Photos with Santa — 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2-5 p.m. at Tysons Corner Center (1961 Chain Bridge Road) — It’s your last chance to ask Old Saint Nick what you want for Christmas. He will accept walk-in visits on Dec. 23 and 24 after hearing from good boys and girls daily by reservation since Nov. 12.

Saturday, Dec. 25

  • Meadowlark’s Winter Walk of Lights — 5-10 p.m. at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens (9750 Meadowlark Gardens Court) in Wolf Trap — Enjoy lights and holiday scenes in this annual transformation, which goes through Jan. 2. The tickets for those ages 2 and over are $18 each.

Sunday, Dec. 26

  • “Traveling While Black” — noon-6 p.m. at the McLean Community Center (1234 Ingleside Ave.) — A virtual reality movie shows participants’ part in the struggle for racial justice. One-hour appointments are available for the exhibit, which runs through Feb. 12.
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Morning Notes

FCPS to Highlight Need for Safe Gun Storage — “Fairfax County Public Schools will notify parents and guardians about Virginia’s new secure firearm storage law, why secure storage is essential, and other ways to prevent gun violence or seek help for a child who could be a threat to themselves or others. The communication will be sent in January and then annually before the start of each school year.” [Karl Frisch]

Lawsuit Accuses FCPD Officers of Sexual Assault and Complicity in Sex Trafficking — “The woman, who is referred to only as Jane Doe because she is a trafficking victim, alleges that the Fairfax County, Virginia, police department, including its former chief Edwin Roessler, knew that some officers were possibly participating in and protecting the ring, but allowed the officers to retire with full pensions rather than prosecute them.” [Reuters]

County Awarded for Mosaic Autonomous Shuttle — “The @fairfaxcounty Relay Shuttle project was presented the Fairfax County TAC Transportation Achievement Award on December 7, 2021. The award is given to the person or group that has made the most significant contribution during the year. The Relay project team accepted the award” [Virginia DRPT/Twitter]

Meet the Tysons Corner Center Santa — Tennessee resident Mike Graham has been serving as Santa at Tysons Corner Center for the past 34 years. He was first sent to the mall by a photo company that was looking for more Santas, and that initial appearance got such “a tremendous response” that the management team asked if he’d like to work with them exclusively. [Northern Virginia Magazine]

McLean 7-Eleven and Merrifield BMW Center Burglarized — Two men entered the 7-Eleven at 8110 Old Dominion Drive around 1:36 a.m. on Dec. 11, implied they had a weapon, and took property. Another commercial burglary was reported on Dec. 12 at the BMW Collison Center at 2730 Dorr Drive after someone forced their way into the business and took property around 10:30 a.m. [FCPD]

Winners of Vienna Holiday Lights Contest Announced — For the 2021 Light Up Vienna contest, first place in the business category as voted on by the town business liaison committee was split between Vienna Rexall Drug Center and Judd Tile. Public voters awarded the People’s Choice prize to Vienna Pet Spaw on Church Street, and 121 Casmar Street SE (also known as Casmar Street Lights) came out on top in the residents category. [Town of Vienna/Facebook]

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Cha Tea House has arrived at Tysons Corner Center, intent on sharing a love not just of Pakistan’s food, but also its people and culture.

Located between &Pizza and Cava Mezze Grill, the cafe will welcome customers for the first time with a soft opening at 10 a.m. today (Friday). This is Cha Tea House’s first brick-and-mortar location after it started in October 2020 as a food truck in Springfield.

“Excited and anxious,” co-owner Sofhia Qamar said yesterday (Thursday) when asked how she felt about the impending opening. “We think we’re ready, but you’re never actually ready until you’re in business and operating.”

Some passersby had already popped in, perhaps drawn by the colorful signage and chairs on the eatery’s outdoor patio. Qamar says it’s been hard turning those visitors away, so she’s eager to be able to tell people that they’re now open and serving.

In addition to tea and coffee, the menu features burgers, chicken sandwiches, and burrito rolls wrapped in paratha, a traditional South Asian flatbread, along with various sides like samosas.

The snack and dessert offerings are more extensive than what Cha Tea House is able to provide at its Springfield location. Some items, like a paan milkshake, are being reintroduced after proving popular there but too challenging to make in a food truck.

Once the initial frenzy of opening a new tea shop subsides, the team plans to expand the menu further with salads, rice bowls, and other dishes, adding one new item each month, Qamar says.

Though a brick-and-mortar cafe can’t replicate the roadside dhabas that inspired Cha Tea House as closely as a food truck, Qamar and her fellow owners incorporated touches of their parents’ native Pakistan throughout the space.

A hall lined by flower boxes suggests “an outdoor vibe,” as Qamar put it, even though it’s inside, and the walls are decorated with paintings done by Pakistani artists and shipped over to the U.S. There is also a Cha Market in the back that will sell mugs, water bottles, and other products handcrafted by artists in Pakistan.

“We really want to kind of educate people about how amazing Pakistan is and how rich the culture is,” said Qamar, who was born in the U.S. to parents who immigrated from Pakistan. “We’re really proud of it, and we want to share that pride with other people and let them enjoy it as well.”

Cha Tea House is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Mondays through Thursdays, 10 a.m. to midnight on Fridays, 9 a.m. to midnight on Saturdays, and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sundays.

The cafe is preparing to hold a bigger grand opening in January that Qamar says will include musical performances. After that, there will be musicians and other kinds of entertainment every weekend.

“We’re just really happy to be part of Tysons,” she said. “It’s a very up-and-coming area. It’s always been an up-and-coming area, but [we want] to bring a bit more diversity and introduce Pakistani food to a very, I think, adventurous group at Tysons.”

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The upcoming pedestrian bridge over I-495 in Tysons has seen its estimated costs rise to $13.4 million as landowners lock in easements and right of ways needed for the connector.

The Virginia Department of Transportation says it has been working with private parties to secure deals, one of which involved a $698,920 payment agreement to the condominium Encore of McLean.

Until the bicycle/pedestrian bridge is created, residents east of the Capital Beltway have to use an interstate underpass at Route 123 or Route 7 overpass to get to Tysons Corner Center, essentially requiring vehicular trips to the mall.

When construction activities began in August, the project cost was estimated at $12.3 million. The $1.1 million increase is due to right-of-way costs, VDOT said.

Crews are developing a staging area where a drilling machine will be used to create the foundation for the pedestrians.

“Over the next several months, crews will continue installing a retaining wall off of Old Meadow Road behind the Dolley Madison Apartments and will begin installing the bicycle and pedestrian bridge foundations and piers on both sides of I-495 and in the median of the 495 Express Lanes,” VDOT spokesperson Mike Murphy said in an email.

Focused on building the bridge and part of a shared-use path on Old Meadow Road, the first phase of project is scheduled for completion in summer 2022.

“Construction of the second phase of the project, the section of the shared-use path along Old Meadow Road from Provincial Drive to Route 123, will begin once additional funding is identified,” Murphy also wrote.

According to VDOT, the rapid growth of the Tysons area has resulted in a significantly higher cost for acquiring the easements.

Among a handful of other right-of-way or easements transactions secured, Tysons Corner Property Holdings, the limited-liability company used by Southern California-based Tysons Corner Center owner Macerich, received no financial award.

The condominium Regency at McLean obtained a $35,500 agreement, and Dolley Madison finalized a settlement on Nov. 9, details of which could be released in early January, according to VDOT.

VDOT said the increased costs were part of the scope of the contract.

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Morning Notes

Omicron Variant of COVID-19 Found in Virginia — Yesterday (Thursday), the Virginia Department of Health confirmed the state’s first case of the omicron variant that was first identified in Botswana and South Africa in November. The sample came from an adult in the northwest region who had no history of international travel, but did travel domestically during the exposure period. [VDH]

Tysons Event Company Is Now Public — “Event management company Cvent has once again become a public traded company. As of Thursday morning, the firm began trading on the Nasdaq under the ticker CVT following the close of a merger deal with special purpose acquisition company Dragoneer Growth Opportunities Corp. II.” [Technicl.ly]

Local Startup Raises $7 Million — “Tysons tech startup Datasembly, which gives grocers and other retailers real-time product pricing data, has raised millions in new funding to hire aggressively and get its analytics platform to more customers in a period of pandemic-fueled demand.” [DC Inno]

Washington Post Reviews Local Selfie Wrld — “I have feelings about Selfie Wrld, an Instagram selfie studio tucked away in the Tysons Corner Center mall; feelings I considered while attempting to make a sultry, thoughtful face while uncomfortably posed on a hard red plastic couch shaped like a pair of lips, in a red room, beneath a red neon sign that said ‘Feelings,’ because nothing about this place is subtle.” [The Washington Post]

Voting Starts for Vienna Holiday Lights Contest — “As homes and businesses get decorated for the holiday season in Vienna, it’s time to vote for the best displays in town. The annual Vienna Holiday Decorating Contest is now open for voting through Dec. 16.” [Patch]

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Vehicle manufacturers at Tysons Corner Center can now let customers purchase a car on-site and drive away with it.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to grant the mall’s request that vehicle sales be a permitted use in its parking garages after a public hearing on Tuesday (Dec. 7).

Under the approved plan, Tysons Corner Center can allocate 30 parking spaces each to up to eight different vehicle manufacturers for vehicle storage and sales. The designated spaces will account for 240 out of the roughly 11,000 spaces available at the mall.

Tenants are prohibited from using the spaces to provide vehicle services, and the mall has committed to limiting loading activities to outside its operating hours, so they won’t disrupt customer traffic, Fairfax County Zoning Evaluation Division Director Tracy Strunk told the board.

Tysons Corner Center can use the parking areas in yellow to store vehicles for sale (via Fairfax County)

“No outdoor display is going to be permitted. That’s one of the development conditions,” said Brian Clifford, a land-use planner with DLA Piper who represented Tysons Corner Center at the hearing. “At the moment, we only have two [tenants], but we asked for eight total just for the sake of flexibility, and there’s nothing that could limit another manufacturer from coming.”

The mall’s two current vehicle manufacturers are Tesla, which also has a store on Tyco Road, and Lucid Motors, which opened a showroom on Nov. 6.

According to Tysons Corner Center’s rezoning application, Tesla was allowed to have six designated parking spaces, including two electric chargers, to store vehicles when the county permitted its showroom in 2012, but customers couldn’t make purchases directly from the showrooms.

Instead, customers order a vehicle, make a deposit, and have the car delivered to them at a later date, according to Clifford.

He says allowing on-site vehicle sales will put Tysons Corner Center “at the forefront of the vehicle sales industry,” allowing the showrooms to offer a standard car dealership service but in an environment similar to other mall retail stores.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission recommended on Nov. 17 that the supervisors approve the mall’s application, a decision also supported by county staff.

Lucid Motors is also planning to open a store and service center at Tysons Galleria. That proposal got the planning commission’s approval on Oct. 20 and was later granted by the Board of Supervisors on Nov. 9.

Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik said she believes the addition of auto sales at Tysons Corner Center will add to the mall’s vitality.

“I did get a chance to swing by on the opening day of the Lucid location recently — very enthusiastic public, very well-displayed,” Palchik said. “I look forward to seeing more of these electric vehicle sales coming to our county, especially Tysons.”

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