After being adapted for emergency uses during the COVID-19 pandemic, the former Container Store in Vienna could undergo another transformation.

The vacant storefront at 8505 Leesburg Pike near the Greensboro Metro station could be used by the Tysons Partnership and Celebrate Fairfax, Fairfax County Department of Economic Initiatives Director Rebecca Moudry told Tysons Reporter.

The building is 19,260 square feet in size and has approximately 95 parking spaces. The Container Store previously used the space before relocating to 8459 Leesburg Pike in 2018.

The county acquired the space in 2019 for $16.6 million with the hopes of using it to support innovation and entrepreneurship and create a vibrant destination for residents and visitors. Those goals remain and could be realized by this fall, Moudry says.

When the county requested proposals for the space before the pandemic, development officials suggested the property could host temporary or “pop-up” community-oriented events, arts and cultural special events, innovation hubs or exchanges, or civic and cultural programming that complements and supports primary uses of the property.

Over the past year, it has been used for storage, including for personal protective equipment, and it was designated as a hypothermia shelter from Dec. 1 to April 1.

“As we plan for reopening and economic recovery, placemaking, local businesses and community engagement will play vital roles in this work,” Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik said in a statement. “The county owned building at 8508 Leesburg Pike is uniquely situated to serve the growing residential and business community in this area of Tysons, and we are currently reviewing proposals to provide such opportunities.”

A representative for Tysons Partnership, the nonprofit group charged with implementing the county’s vision for Tysons, had no update on the plans as of mid-June, and Celebrate Fairfax did not immediately respond to a message.

“I hope to be able to see this site activated in the coming months, both with its indoors and outdoors spaces,” Palchik said in her statement.

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Tysons has a new logo.

Replacing the multi-colored “O” that has greeted drivers for the past five or so years with bright blue block letters, the Tysons Partnership unveiled the new emblem on Thursday (May 13) as part of a rebranding effort that included the launch of a new website.

18 months in the making, the Partnership says the new brand “reflects the urban district’s current successes and assured confidence in its future.”

“This has never been just about a new logo. This is about how Tysons defines itself and how, through public-private collaboration, we will be more,” Tysons Partnership President and CEO Sol Glasner said in a statement. “In just ten years we have proven success with a reported 2020 asset valuation of nearly $18 billion, imagine what we will accomplish together in the next ten to thirty years.”

A nonprofit association of private stakeholders formed in 2011 to implement the Tysons Comprehensive Plan, the Tysons Partnership started working to rebrand the area that Fairfax County wants to turn into “America’s next great city” in late 2019.

Supported by a $1 million economic opportunity grant from the county and $630,000 in private funding, the rebranding involved surveys, focus groups, and discussions with county officials and community members to define Tysons’ identifying characteristics and future aspirations, according to a press release.

Features of the new website include:

  • A downloadable Tysons Activation Guide that explains the new brand and the Partnership’s strategy for establishing a consistent, recognizable identity for Tysons going forward
  • Maps of Tysons neighborhoods and completed, planned, and in-progress developments
  • Links to county and other public resources, such as the Comprehensive Plan, Capital Bikeshare and Metro
  • A “Residents’ Stories” section with comments from people who live in Tysons
  • Resources from the Tysons Transportation Management Association, which is dedicated to improving the area’s transportation conditions
  • An events calendar

The brand launch was preceded by the release of an economic report and market study on March 4 that analyzed the state of Tysons’ economy, including trends in office use, retail, housing, development, and employment.

The Tysons Partnership ultimately hopes to establish a data hub that will make it easier for people to find information about the area.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors nominated the Partnership in December for an additional $1 million in economic opportunity funds that the organization plans to use for marketing, research and data analysis, transportation projects, and community events.

Right now, the Tysons Partnership starting to determine what the area’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic might look like with a still-open community survey.

County officials say the rebranding will further their vision of Tysons as a vibrant downtown area with a distinct sense of community, rather than the cluster of office buildings scattered around two shopping malls that it has been in the past.

“The fabric of Tysons is changing as residents and families add a new vibrancy to established diverse communities,” Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik said. “The new brand aligns with this newer Tysons community, reflecting a future of inclusion and equity. It’s fun and vibrant, but more importantly it represents opportunity and possibility.”

Staff photo by Jay Westcott, image courtesy Tysons Partnership

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Morning Notes

Tysons Partnership Considers BID — The Tysons Partnership could become a business improvement district that would impose a tax to help fund its efforts to implement Fairfax County’s Tysons Comprehensive Plan. The district would be a first for the county, similar to what Arlington has around Amazon HQ2, but a majority of property owners would have to approve the tax. [Washington Business Journal]

Fairfax Connector Commits to COVID-19 Health Protocols — The bus system has joined the American Public Transportation Association’s Health and Safety Commitments Program, pledging to take “all the necessary measures to operate safely” as Fairfax County plans a recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The program commits transit systems to following public health guidelines, including cleaning protocols and mask requirements, and keeping passengers informed. [Fairfax Connector]

MPAartfest Submissions Open — The McLean Project for the Arts is seeking submissions for its 15th annual MPAartfest, a one-day, juried fine art and craft show featuring local and regional visual artists. This year’s festival will take place on Oct. 3 in McLean Central Park. The deadline to submit work is June 15. [McLean Project for the Arts]

McLean Teen Organizes Church Food Drive — “A 14-year-old from McLean, Virginia, is making an extraordinary difference in her community by helping hundreds of families who need some extra help during the pandemic…[Sophia] Sears’ efforts were done in conjunction with St. John’s Episcopal Church.” [WTOP]

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Morning Notes

New Fairfax County Police Chief Sworn In — Kevin Davis was formally sworn in as Fairfax County’s new police chief yesterday morning (Monday). The former Baltimore police commissioner begins his tenure amid intense scrutiny of his past conduct and the county’s hiring process. [FCPD]

Wolf Trap Wireless Tower Plans Put on Hold — Fairfax County has paused negotiations with Milestone Communications on a special exception application for a 114-foot-tall monopole on the Wolf Trap Fire Station site. The proposal drew strong opposition from community members, who argued that the structure would be inappropriate for the surrounding residential neighborhoods. [Sun Gazette]

Tysons Pandemic Recovery Survey Deadline Extended — Tysons Partnership has extended the deadline for its survey to evaluate expectations for the area’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic to May 21. Previously scheduled to close on May 14, the survey asks about people’s interest in returning to offices, transit, dining, and other activities that were disrupted by the pandemic. [Tysons Partnership]

Vienna Animal Hospital Proposes ExpansionVeterinary Surgical Centers, which is located in Suite 100 in the basement of 124 Park Street SE, wants to expand to the first floor, where it would add neurology treatment, a new imaging center with a waiting room, exam and operating rooms, and other facilities. The Vienna Planning Commission will make a recommendation on the proposal at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday (May 12). [Patch]

Clemyjontri Park Playground Named Best in Region — Virginia Living readers voted for Clemyjontri Park as the site of Northern Virginia’s best playground in the magazine’s “Best of Virginia 2021” competition. The McLean park’s unique playground was designed for children of all abilities, including kids who use wheelchairs, walkers, or braces and kids with developmental or sensory disabilities. [Fairfax County Park Authority]

Photo by Hilde Khan

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Morning Notes

Wind Advisory in Effect — The National Weather Service has issued a Wind Advisory for the D.C. area, including Fairfax County, starting at noon today (Friday). In effect until 2 a.m. Saturday, the alert says to expect northwest winds of 20 to 30 miles per hour with gusts up to 55 miles per hour. Gusts could blow around unsecured objects and bring down tree limbs, potentially leading to power outages. [NWS]

McLean Community Center Gets New Executive Director — The MCC Governing Board has chosen Daniel Phoenix Singh as the center’s next executive director was to succeed George Sachs, who is retiring on May 7. Singh’s selection to the position, which has an annual salary of $150,000, was effective April 12 but not publicly announced until the board’s meeting on Wednesday (April 28). [MCC]

Help Tysons Plan for COVID-19 Recovery — The Tysons Partnership is conducting a community survey until May 14 to gauge people’s interest in transit, dining, shopping, office work, and other activities affected by the pandemic. A follow-up to a similar survey from last summer, the results are expected to be released at the end of the month and “will be significant to recovery efforts,” President and CEO Sol Glasner told Tysons Reporter. [Tysons Partnership]

Police Body Cameras Coming to Falls Church — The City of Falls Church City will use grant funds and an anticipated $650,000 surplus in the current fiscal year to establish a body camera program for its police department. City Manager Wyatt Shields told the News-Press that the cameras should arrive in the next couple months. A Use of Force Committee recommended that the city evaluate the feasibility of body cameras in February. [Falls Church News-Press]

Tysons Social Tavern Reopens With Outdoor Patio — After a year-long closure, Tysons Social Tavern is back with operating hours from 4-10 p.m., seven days a week, and a new outdoor patio. The bar took over the O’Malley’s Pub spot at the DoubleTree Hilton in Tysons two years ago. [Tysons Social Tavern]

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Morning Notes

Early Voting Underway for Vienna Town Council Election — Vienna residents can cast an early ballot in the May 4 town council election at the Fairfax County Government Center. Voters who register by April 12 can also apply for a mail absentee ballot. In-person early voting ends at 5 p.m. on May 1, and mailed ballots must be postmarked on or before Election Day and arrive at the Fairfax County Office of Elections by noon on May 7. [Town of Vienna/Twitter]

Church Street Pizza No Longer on Church Street — Vienna’s New York-style pizza eatery has moved out of its longtime home at 113 Church Street NE and into a new space at 115 Maple Avenue W, which also houses a Potomac River Running store. Church Street Pizza is still offering contact-free takeout, curbside pickup, and delivery. [Lombardi’s Pizza]

Vienna and Falls Church to Compete in Fitness Challenge — Vienna, Falls Church, and Fairfax are squaring off in the first-ever Mayors’ Fitness Challenge, which will begin on April 3 and conclude on May 29 with a winning locality being dubbed the “Most Fit Community of 2021.” Community members can register for free at any time and will be tasked with tracking their physical activity each day. [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]

Asphalt Work on Old Meadow Road Postponed Indefinitely — The left lane closure on Old Meadow Road approaching Route 123 in Tysons that had been scheduled to start at 9 a.m. tomorrow (Saturday) has now been “postponed until further notice.” The planned minor asphalt repair work stems from the ongoing realignment of Old Meadow Road with Capital One Tower Drive at Dolley Madison Boulevard. [Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project]

Tysons Partnership Report Shows Milestones, Struggles — Released on March 31, the Tysons Partnership’s 2021 annual report highlights the economic challenges that Tysons has faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in its hospitality, retail, and entertainment sectors. The past year has also seen a sharp drop in Metro ridership, while introducing new virtual and outdoor events, like drive-in movie screenings, and new businesses like the now-open Wegmans. [Sun Gazette]

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A new private school for early childhood education could open as soon as this summer in Tysons.

Owners Kate and Brian Mulcahy held a groundbreaking ceremony for the Celebree School of Tysons-Jones Branch on Wednesday (March 31). It is the first Virginia location for Celebree School, a network of early childhood education centers.

The school is located on Valo Park’s 16-acre campus at 7950 Jones Branch Drive and will serve infants through pre-kindergarten children.

“Truly, the curriculum, the program we’re going to provide to these kids…it gives me chills,” Kate Mulcahy said. “We are going to give these children the best possible start to life while giving their parents incredible piece of mind and flexibility. We are just so excited to do that.”

Celebree aims to open the school this summer, and pre-enrollment has already begun.

Celebree School announced on April 21, 2020 that it had signed a franchise agreement with the Mulcahys to open a center in Fairfax or Arlington county. The couple signed a lease with Valo Park on Nov. 10 to open the center.

Leaders of organizations representing the Tysons area, including the Tysons Partnership and Tysons Regional Chamber of Commerce, were among those in attendance at the groundbreaking ceremony.

“There is no greater opportunity right now than to serve your community through education and childcare, particularly early childhood education,” Tysons Partnership communications director Drew Sunderland said. “As my fellow parents know, the pandemic’s only amplified this need for quality schools. Childcare facilities has provided lifelines to families.”

Founded in 1994 in Lutherville, Md., Celebree School began franchising in 2019 and has now expanded to over 40 locations in 12 states that are open or under development, adding franchises in New York, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.

“Today is a huge milestone in so many ways,” Celebree Schools founder, president, and CEO Richard Huffman said.

He called the groundbreaking a meaningful occasion for “not only expanding the brand into Virginia and bringing high quality preschool to families in McLean, Virginia, but also sitting around watching this vision and dream come true of offering this concept and this kind of business to a family like the Mulcahys.”

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Morning Notes

Marshall High School Principal Addresses Racial Slur Allegations — In a letter sent to families yesterday (March 17), Principal Augie Frattali acknowledged reports that Marshall students spat and shouted racial slurs during a football game against Wakefield High School on March 5. The full letter, provided to Tysons Reporter by Fairfax County Public Schools, is below.

Dear Marshall Community,

As many of you are aware, there are serious allegations that have been made involving some students within our the Marshall HS Community regarding an incident at a recent football game. These have been shared widely on social media and are very hurtful to all individuals involved.

Please know that we have taken this situation very seriously and are in direct contact with Fairfax County Public School’s Region 2 office and the Office of Equity and Employee Relations.

We have done an intensive investigation into this situation and appropriate actions were taken against individuals by the Virginia High School League from both schools.  I also worked collaboratively with the Wakefield HS principal to ensure that there will be an opportunity for the students to join together to discuss their actions and develop a plan moving forward.

Thank you for all you do to support the Marshall High School.

Tysons Partnership Warns Against Delaying Metro Silver Line Phase 2 — Tysons Partnership President and CEO Sol Glasner argues in a letter to the Metro board that opening the second phase of Metro’s Silver Line is necessary for the “fulfillment of the promise not only of Tysons, but of the entire Silver Line corridor.” The nonprofit says budget constraints should not delay the project’s completion. [Tysons Partnership]

Merrifield Church to Host Free Drive-by Food Distribution Event — “Free boxes of food will be available at First Baptist Church Merrifield (FBCM) on Saturday, March 20, from 11:00 AM until all are distributed. All members and surrounding community are invited to partake of the distribution.” [Greater Merrifield Business Association]

Northern Virginia Reports Uptick in COVID-19 Cases — “The Virginia Department of Health reported 674 new cases in Northern Virginia on Thursday, the most since Feb. 13.  The region’s seven-day average of new cases, which peaked Jan. 18 at 1,628.4, had fallen as low as 318.4 on Saturday, but now stands at 407 cases per day.” [Inside NoVA]

Falls Church Healthcare Startup Raises $10 Million — “CMT Solutions, a leader in patient access services for laboratory diagnostics, announced a close on $10.0MM of Series A fundraising…CMT is using these funds to further develop our technology solution, with a new product launch, that will greatly help the healthcare community with diagnostic testing.” [CMT Solutions]

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Commercial office development will be essential to future economic recovery efforts in Tysons and Fairfax County, a new study says.

Released last Thursday (March 4) by the Tysons Partnership, an economic report and market study developed by the consulting firms HR&A Advisors, Toole Design, and Wells & Associates argues that Tysons will need at least 1.9 million square feet of new office space over the next 10 years — despite predictions that the COVID-19 pandemic could permanently alter white-collar workplaces.

“In early 2021, we remain in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, with fallout still being measured,” the economic report says. “However, office investments to date are seeing a strong performance return and will certainly play a key role in County and regional pandemic economic recovery efforts.”

According to the report, Tysons saw a 40 to 75% drop in the use of office space after COVID-19 arrived, following regional and national trends, but prior to the pandemic, vacancy rates had been declining, dipping four percentage points between 2015 and 2019.

In addition, the study projects that office-based employment in Tysons will grow by 7%, or 7,500 jobs, by 2030.

Office work is already integral to Tysons’ economy. Office workers constitute 81% of the total 107,000-person workforce, with the largest sector — the professional services industry — employing two of every five workers in the area. Tysons accounts for 17% of Fairfax County’s office-using jobs.

Tysons outpaced the rest of the county with a 9% job growth between 2015 and 2020, and that faster growth is expected to continue over the next five years, albeit at a slower rate of 5%. Professional services will still be the largest sector, but the biggest area of growth will be in healthcare, which is projected to grow by 24% through 2025.

However, the projected office-using job market growth is far short of what developers would need to fill all of the office space that is in the works for the Tysons area.

If all projects in construction and 50% of all proposed projects in Tysons are completed, that would result in 4.5 million square feet of new office space that could accommodate an estimated 18,200 workers, according to the market study.

In comparison, driven by the opening of the Metro Silver Line in 2014, Tysons added 1.9 million square feet of office space between 2015 and 2020, a 7% growth in inventory that surpassed the rate for both Fairfax County overall (4.7%) and Arlington County (4%).

Though they anticipate future job growth, the economic report and market study acknowledge that “long-term trends remain uncertain” due to the pandemic, which triggered a 5% climb in office vacancy rates and sent the leasing market plummeting from 81 deals in the first quarter of 2019 to just five in the fourth quarter of 2020 so far.

“Tysons Partnership leaders understand much work remains to be done as recovery efforts begin post COVID-19 and in identified areas where continued investment and resources are essential, including housing affordability, mobility, and implementation,” the partnership said in a news release.

Outside the office market, the report says that Tysons has cemented its role as a regional retail hub over the past decade, generating $3.5 billion in annual retail spending, which represents 17% of Fairfax County’s total retail spending.

As reported at the Tysons Partnership’s “State of Tysons” event in December, Tysons’ residential population grew 39% from 2010 to 2018, a rate four times higher than the county’s average growth. Led by mid- and high-rise developments, Tysons has expanded its housing stock by 34% to 13,800 units since 2010, and it is projected to grow by 36% to nearly 19,000 units by 2025.

“The investment on behalf of the public and private sectors in smart, sustainable urbanization is working,” Tysons Partnership president and CEO Sol Glasner said.

The full report and market study can be found on the Tysons Partnership website. The nonprofit plans to use the collected data to develop a dashboard that “will serve as the go-to information hub for a wide range of stakeholders and promote the growth of Tysons,” according to the market study.

Staff photo by Jay Westcott, slide via Tysons Partnership

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The Tysons Partnership greeted news that the federal government might allocate funding to Metro for the next decade with a cheer.

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-11th District) announced on Tuesday (Feb. 2) that he has reintroduced the Metro Accountability and Investment Act, which would provide funding to sustain the D.C. area transit system for 10 years.

Several other members of Congress who represent the D.C. area have also sponsored the bill, including Reps. Don Beyer (D-8th District) and Jennifer Wexton (D-10th District).

“We are hopeful that stable funding would instill a bright future for Metro and specifically ridership in Tysons,” the Tysons Partnership said yesterday.

The Metro Accountability and Investment Act would give the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) $1.73 billion between 2022 and 2031 by reauthorizing the Passenger Rail Investment Improvement Act of 2008 (PRIIA), which established annual federal funding for Metro until it expired in 2018, according to The Washington Post.

Under Connolly’s bill, Metro would be required to implement and maintain certain safety and oversight reforms in order to receive the annual allocations, which range between $150 million and $200 million per year.

Among other conditions, the WMATA board of directors must pass a resolution by July 1 that gives independent budgeting, hiring, and procurement authority to the Office of the Inspector General, which conducts audits, reviews, and investigations of the transit agency’s programs and operations.

“Even before the pandemic, which has only exacerbated the challenges facing transit agencies across the country, WMATA was in need of a long-term plan that restored confidence in the rail system,” members of the National Capital Area Congressional Delegation said. “The Metro Accountability and Investment Act is a balanced proposal that recognizes the federal government’s responsibility to the funding, safety, and reliability of Metro.”

Plummeting ridership levels during the COVID-19 pandemic have created a dire financial situation for WMATA, which said last year that it would have to make significant service and personnel cuts without additional assistance.

Metro will avoid the worst-case scenario for now after Congress included an estimated $610 million for the transit system in the coronavirus relief package that was signed into law on Dec. 27. However, those funds are a temporary solution, and Metro officials say major cuts could be on the table again in 2022.

WMATA General Manager and CEO Paul Wiedefeld says the federal funding offered by the Metro Accountability and Investment Act “will be critical to the region’s recovery for years to come.”

“This bill once again demonstrates our Congressional delegation’s leadership supporting critically needed funding to maintain a safe and reliable transportation system,” Wiedefeld said. “…We welcome provisions that will increase transparency and ensure taxpayer funds are well-spent to continue to earn the public’s confidence.”

The Tysons Partnership published an article on Jan. 25 urging community members to tell legislators to support federal funding for Metro, noting that budget cuts would take a toll on the Silver Line with the potential closure of five stations — including the ones at McLean and Greensboro.

“If implemented, these transit cuts could be devastating to Tysons and the entire Silver Line corridor,” the Tysons Partnership said.

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