Tysons, VA

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 apart of the Planned Tysons Corner Urban District’s (PTC) parking rates, which allows for lower parking rates. Tysons Galleria is not apart 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.

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Several new stores took residency in Tysons Corner Center throughout the last weeks — including a holiday shop with locally sourced gifts.

Newcomers to the mall include the Creative Collective POPUP, Seletti, Terres da’ Afrique — all in BrandBox spaces on the first level — and Beauty Nail Bar upstairs.

Creative Collective reopened for the season on Friday (Nov. 15) and will remain open through Christmas Eve (Dec. 24) during mall hours from 10 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. daily.

The shop acts as a market for roughly 2o local vendors offering a variety of goods including hats, jewelry, leatherworks, prints and even children’s books. Shoppers also have the opportunity to meet the artists and vendors in person and ask them about their craft.

Meanwhile, Italian home goods store Seletti sells furniture, decorations, lights and other items. The Tysons Corner Center location is the company’s first physical store in the U.S.

One of their bestsellers is a $400 monkey lamp, a store representative told Tysons Reporter.

“Some people are familiar with our brand and others are just intrigued,” the spokesperson said about people who stop in for a look, adding that the company is trying to gauge interest for the brand around Tysons.

If the pop-up is successful in the next six months, the brand might decide to open up a permanent shop elsewhere in the mall, the representative said.

Terres da’ Afrique, which opened Saturday (Nov. 16), sits right next to Seletti in BrandBox and offers shoppers personal skincare products including massage and facial oil.

Located on level two of the mall near the Paul Mitchell School, beauty Nail Bar made its debut roughly two weeks ago, an employee told Tysons Reporter.

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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 apart of the Planned Tysons Corner Urban District’s (PTC) parking rates, according to the staff. Tysons Galleria is not apart 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.

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

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

Tuesday (Nov. 12)

  • Mayor @ Your Service — 7:30 p.m. at Town Hall (127 S. Center Street) — Mayor Laurie DiRocco is set to chat with Victor Hoskins, the president of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, tonight about the future of Fairfax County economic development.

Wednesday (Nov. 13)

Thursday (Nov. 14)

  • Women in Technology Job Fair — 4 to 7 p.m. at Sheraton Tysons Hotel (8661 Leesburg Pike) — Women in the STEM industry are invited to attend this free event if they are currently seeking a job. Registration is still open for applicants and hiring companies.
  • Professional Networking Night — 6 to 7:30 p.m. Tea with Mrs. B (136 W Jefferson Street) — This event allows people across the community to network and meet new people. Tickets are $10 and include drinks and appetizers.
  • Trace Bundy — 6:30 p.m. at Wolf Trap (1635 Trap Road) — Folk singer and guitarist Trace Bundy will take the stage for a performance. He is known for his harmonics, looping and multiple caps, according to the event website. Tickets start at $27.

Friday (Nov. 15)

  • Tree Lighting — 6 to 9 p.m. at The Plaza (1961 Chain Bridge Road) — The public is welcome to watch as the Christmas tree at Tysons Corner Center be decorated with lights. There will be live music from Kris Allen at this free event.
  • Bright Lights in the Little City Community Celebration — 7 to 10:30 p.m. at The State Theatre (220 N. Washington Street) —  The Falls Church event will include food and dessert, live music by The Grandsons and an online auction. Tickets are $85.
  • Improvicon — 7:30 p.m. at 1st Stage  Tysons (1524 Spring Hill Road) — This event will feature several improv groups throughout Northern Virginia. General admission tickets can be purchased for $15.

Sunday (Nov.17)

  • 5K Turkey Trot — 8 a.m. Central Park (Tysons Blvd and Galleria Drive) — This 5K, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Tysons Corner, invites community members to participate to raise money for local charities. Until Nov. 15, tickets are $35 and will go up to $40 after that. Tickets include food and swag. The first three women and men to place will receive cash prizes.

Photo via Tysons Corner Center/Facebook

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Fairfax County police say that an intoxicated woman kicked and tried to bite police late last night (Wednesday) after being arrested at Tysons Corner Center.

The incident occurred around 11 p.m. “Mall Security called [the] police to report two people engaged in suspicious activity,” according to a police report.

Police arrested a 43-year-old woman from Leesburg for being drunk in public. While the woman was getting into the police car, she “kicked two officers and attempted to bite a third,” the report said.

Police also charged her with three counts of assault on law enforcement.

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(Updated at 11:15 a.m.) Shoppers can customize their sweats at the new Roots store set to open today (Thursday) at Tysons Corner Center.

The Canadian brand’s store is located on the second level by Victoria’s Secret and plans to open at 10 a.m., according to Francesco Tribuzio, a spokesperson for the company.

Roots sells women’s, men’s and kids’ clothing, with a focus on leisurewear and leather goods branded with the beaver logo.

“The new store at Tysons Corner will be a 4,845 square foot store designed to look like a traditional Roots cabin with original furniture and fixtures,” Tribuzio said.

The first 50 shoppers will receive a deal for $50 off a purchase of $100 or more, Tribuzio said.

Shoppers can add patches, letters or numbers to their sweat in-store and digitally personalize leather goods or the Award Jacket.

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Now that Halloween and the election, Santa Claus is coming to Tysons for photos with kids and pets.

Presented by HGTV, the “Santa HQ” is returning to Tysons Corner Center (1961 Chain Bridge Road) on Saturday (Nov. 9) to let families “explore the wonder of Santa in the digital age,” according to a press release.

More about the HGTV event:

HGTV Santa HQ guests can customize their individual experience by using augmented reality to view the Elf Academy in magical ways. Visitors can use the workshop’s Magic Mirror to transform into one of Santa’s elves.

Guests can virtually change their elf’s outfits, create customized Elf Academy ID collector cards at the Elf ID station, explore Santa’s Workshop and Elf Academy using ELF-RAY Vision and test out the Naughty O’ Nice Meter. Families can continue their adventure with a custom photo opportunity and an in-person visit with Santa inside his modernized sleigh.

Adding another dimension to the holiday experience, Tysons Corner Center will provide multiple camera angles to capture your family’s entire Santa experience.

Photo packages start at $39.99. Santa HQ will be available until Dec. 25, according to the press release.

Shoppers at the mall can also bring an unwrapped toy and participate in “Help Through Holiday Giving” that will support the Salvation Army’s Giving Tree.

Additional Christmas events at the mall include:

Over at Tysons Galleria (2001 International Drive), kids can take photos with Santa from Friday, Nov. 15 through Tuesday, Dec. 24. People can sign up for free photo packages from Nov. 9-27.

Santa will also do pet pictures from Nov. 18 until Dec. 16. with photo packages starting at $39.99.

The “It’s a Wonderful Lifetime” photo takeover, Brookfield Properties and Autism Speaks are partnering up to offer “Santa Cares Day” — a sensory-friendly event for families with kids with autism and other special needs to take pictures with Santa — on Nov. 24.

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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

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Updated 7/11/19 — A spokesperson for Lord and Taylor said that the store will close in January. 

Shoppers can find big discounts at Lord and Taylor before the department store closes at Tysons Corner Center.

“Store closing” signs say that customers can take advantage of a 20-40% discount on everything in the store. As of this morning (Monday), employees could be seen clearing out a few display cases but the location seemed to be fully stocked otherwise.

Lord and Taylor offers clothing, shoes, apparel and accessories for men, women and kids. Shoppers preparing for the winter season can find discounts on seasonal items such as gloves, coats and boots, along with everything else in the store. For example, a women’s bright yellow coat that would normally cost $300 is on sale for $240.

Tysons Reporter received conflicting reports from staff on why the store was closing but Business Insider reported earlier this year that up to 10 Lord and Taylor stores in the U.S. could close by the end of the year — including the flagship store in New York. It is unclear if the closing in Tysons Corner Center is related.

Todd Putt, a spokesperson for the mall, sent Tysons Reporter the following statement:

Lord and Taylor represents very attractive real estate at Tysons Corner Center and we are enthusiastic about future uses that will continue [to] add incredible energy to The Plaza.

And their decision to close at our center is not reflective of our business. Just in time for the holidays, we’re opening some exciting new brands, including Abercrombie Kids, Beauty Nail Bar, Roots, Helzberg Diamonds’ expansion, and much more!

Across our portfolio, Macerich has a strong track record of reimagining former big box spaces into creative, far more productive new uses. This includes not only fresh and exciting retail, but also entertainment, offices and other new experiences that are a real fit with what people want today. We see the same happening here at Tysons Corner Center.

Alexandra Cohen, a spokesperson for Lord and Taylor, told Tysons Reporter that decisions to close stores “are never easy, but they are the right ones for the company.”

“We are committed to treating every associate with respect and fairness through this process; all eligible associates will receive appropriate employment separation packages and transfer opportunities will be explored where feasible,” Cohen said.

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Halloween is here and there are plenty of events around the Tysons area to get into the spooky spirit.

The Fairfax County Police Department will be handing out candy on The Plaza for Tysons Corner Center’s Malloween event from 3-5 p.m. tonight.

Also at the mall, Spirit Halloween is selling Halloween costumes and decorations until 9:30 p.m., while the American Scream Selfie Museum is offering attendees the chance to take pictures with various Halloween themed displays until Nov. 3.

Over in Merrifield, the Caboose Halloween Costume Contest will feature an extended happy hour at Caboose Commons (2918 Eskridge Road) as well as prizes for people with the best outfits from 3:30-9 p.m. tonight.

From pumpkin carving to costumes to eating lots of candy, let Tysons Reporter know what your spooky plans are.

Send photos of pets dressed in Halloween costumes to us for a story on Friday (Nov. 1) — tag or direct message us on social media (FacebookTwitterInstagram) or email us at [email protected].

https://twitter.com/FairfaxCountyPD/status/1189286152509022209?s=20

Ashley Hopko contributed to this story.

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