Tysons, VA

Ten years into the plan to transform Tysons from a suburban “edge city” mostly known for its malls into a downtown hub to over 100,000 people and 200,000 jobs, the man tasked with seeing it through said he is optimistic about the future.

“I’m very bullish about Tysons over the long term,” said Sol Glasner, president and CEO of Tysons Partnership. “I’m not going to be Pollyanna and say that we don’t have challenging times that we have to get through. We will get through them.”

Glasner spoke to the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority; taking a measure of the ten-year benchmark of a plan that calls for transforming Tysons into an urban and economic hub by 2050. Even with the pandemic and economic downturn it caused, Glasner said he is optimistic about the future of Tysons.

In 2010, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors passed a “comprehensive plan” to bring more development to Tysons to transform it from a suburban “edge city” into a downtown hub.

But for Glasner, who’s group is charged with assisting to help develop and market Tysons, said branding a city, known mostly for its malls, is a challenge.

“So literally as we speak, we are in the process of identifying a visual image for Tysons that will become our brand,” Glasner said. “You’ll see a lot a lot of manifestations of that.”

A key part of changing Tysons is the four Silver Line Metro stations opened in 2014, which the county plans to serve as hubs as development. Glasner said he envisions that two neighborhoods will crop up around each of the four Metro stations each with “their own vibe and their own texture.”

But transforming the “edge city’ that is full of office parks, parking lots and large malls into a livable and walkable downtown for Fairfax County is still a work in progress. Ten years into the county’s plan, Tysons still faces numerous challenges, namely the cost of housing and finding a way to make the city more walkable, Glasner said.

The cost of housing is a county-wide problem with Fairfax County having the highest housing cost in Virginia, according to 24/7 Wall Street.

But even with the challenges and the COVID-19 pandemic and the recession it has caused, Glasner said he has high hopes for the future of Tysons.

“Our ticket to overcoming the transitory challenges we are facing is what I’ve seen among our Tysons stakeholders,” Glasner said. “People have stepped up to the plate in terms of pivoting to make as much lemonade as you can out of the lemons.”

Photo courtesy Ed Schudel

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Friday Morning Notes

Fairfax County to Receive an Additional $4.85 Million in CARES Act Funding— “Through this final allocation, Fairfax County will receive an additional $4.85 Million in federal funding to assist residents facing higher risk of eviction and help combat the economic hardships brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.” [Fairfax County]

3 F.C. Council Candidates Appear at First Joint Campaign Event — “A new breed of candidates for public office has surfaced in the race to temporarily fill a vacancy on the Falls Church City Council.” [Falls Church News-Press]

D.C. Restaurants Turn to Pop-up Concepts to Stay Afloat — “Bethesda’s URBNmarket is bringing a socially distant Oktoberfest event to Tysons on Oct. 9 and 10 with seasonal beverages in the pop-up biergarten.” [Washington Business Journal]

McLean Mom Plans Meal Packing Efforts During Pandemic — “Through her LiftLikeAMother​ Amplify program, McLean’s Alicia McKenzie coordinates meal packing efforts to help those in need.” [Patch]

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As Han Palace, a new dim sum restaurant, makes its debut today in Tysons, the location announced it’ll be hosting a grand opening party this evening.

Those who want to celebrate are invited to do so from 5-9 p.m. at 7900 Westpark Drive tonight (Thursday), a flyer said, adding that complimentary wine and champagne will be available for those over 21.

As a type of traditional Chinese-style brunch, Dim Sum is typically enjoyed by a large group of family and friends.

“Unlike most Dim Sum restaurants, diners will not find any pushcarts at Han Palace,” a press release said. “All Dim Sum will be made to order and the menu will be overseen by Executive Chef Kenny Lei, whom Zhu (the owner) recruited from New York City.”

Specialty dishes at this location will include steamed shrimp dumplings, baked barbecue pork buns and sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves, according to a press release.

“Dim Sum desserts include an intricate Purple Gold Yolk Bun and Almond Ball with Custard Yolk Heart, both filled with an oozy, soft egg custard and for the very adventurous, a Deep Fried Durian Cake,” the press release said.

The location will also offer cocktails, including Japanese whiskey and a variety of liquors.

Both indoor and outdoor seating will be available.

Going forward, the eatery will be open Sunday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m., the Facebook page said.

Photo via Han Palace/Facebook

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Why More and More Families in Tysons are Calling High-Rises Home — “High-rise housing is often portrayed as places for the young and childless. Housing for transient young adults before they move out to the suburbs to start families. But Tysons shows that this stereotype leaves out a large number of families who live in high-rises.” [Greater Greater Washington]

No Car Decals in This Fall’s Tax Bills — “Falls Church Treasurer Jody Acosta reported to the F.C. City Council Tuesday that the personal property tax bills being issued this fall will not, as in the past, include decals to be placed on car windshields.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Creative Cauldron Director Wins Another Helen Hayes Award — “Matt Conner, the prolific composer, writer, director and performer for Falls Church’s own Creative Cauldron theater company won a highly prestigious D.C. Metro [region-wide] Helen Hayes Award for Best Director of a Musical for his work on the Cauldron’s production of “Beauty and the Beast” earlier this year.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Vienna Kids’ Friendship Bracelet Sales Feed Families In Need –“The sisters’ efforts making bracelets over the summer helps an initiative of restaurants feeding families during the pandemic.” [Patch]

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At tomorrow’s meeting, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will consider (Action 5) using $2.8 million to acquire a section of land to advance the Tysons street grid and turn the group of blocks into a more easily traversable city.

“The County Executive recommends that the Board approve the use of up to $2,790,000 in Tysons Grid of Streets Road Fund revenues for acquisition of a perpetual street easement and a temporary construction easement for Center Street in Tysons,” a staff report said.

The new road would connect Greensboro Drive to Leesburg Pike. The expensive acquisition is part of the county’s ongoing efforts to create a grid of streets connecting the various islands of activity around Tysons.

“Tysons Corner currently consists of large superblocks with a relatively small number of streets,” the county said on its website. “The large block size inhibits transit use, pedestrian and bicycle movement by limiting short, direct connections between points within Tysons. This places excessive reliance on the existing street system to accommodate most trips to, from and through Tysons by use of single occupant vehicles.”

The section will need to be acquired from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to make “Center Street” happen.

“The offsite portion of Center Street falls partially on US government property, administered by the US Army Corps of Engineers, which requires localities to provide compensation for obtaining land rights such as perpetual street easements for road construction,” the staff report said. “Appraisals were performed to determine the land value and cost associated with the perpetual street easement and temporary construction easement, and the US Army Corps of Engineers has agreed to the above referenced amount for the land rights.”

Image via Fairfax County

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Friday Morning Notes

Two Candidate Forums Set for Special F.C. Council Election — “The Falls Church Chamber of Commerce and the Falls Church League of Women Voters have each announced forums to hear from the three candidates running to fill the F.C. City Council seat vacated by the July passing of Daniel X. Sze.” [Falls Church News-Press]

FCPS Extends Breakfast and Lunch To Go–“Fairfax County Public Schools announced they will continue free breakfast and lunch to go starting Tuesday through December 31.” [Local DVM]

McLean Firm Wins $7.3M DARPA 5G Security Contract — “McLean-based computer and network security company Kryptowire LLC won a four-year, $7.3 million contract to help the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) conduct research and development services for 5G mobile network security, according to a Department of Defense statement released Tuesday.” [Virginia Business]

Kids of All Ages on What They Miss Most About Dining in Restaurants — “The flaming onion volcano wouldn’t make it through the car ride. Marcus, who is 8 and lives in Tysons Corner, misses dinner and a show at his favorite restaurant, Sakura.” [Washington City Paper]

Capital One May Find Its Way Into the McLean Metro Station’s Name — “Fairfax County is weighing a proposal to rename the McLean Metro station as “McLean-Capital One Hall,” which, if approved, would become the first station to include a company’s name in its title.” [Washington Business Journal]

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A plan to demolish one of Tyson’s oldest restaurants and to replace it with a new high-rise, luxury apartment building is awaiting its next step of approval next week after hitting a recent snag.

The planned residential development, which if approved will replace the J.R. Stockyards Inn, located on 8130 Watson Street, will go before the Fairfax County Planning Commission for approval on Sept. 16.

The proposed development hit a snag in its approval process in July, with Fairfax County planning staff originally recommending the Planning Commission reject the application for the proposed apartment building because it proposal did not meet the county’s requirements for “a functioning grid of streets and provision of public parks.”

But after the developers made changes to the proposal, planning staff signed off on it and now it will go before the Planning Commission for approval. Those changes included adding funding for needed street modifications and a stronger commitment to upgrading the planned park space.

“When completed the luxury apartments on Watson Street will become an iconic image in the skyline in Tysons Corner,” KGD Architecture, the firm tasked with designing the development writes on its website. “Its striking architecture will feature a cylindrical glass tower anchored by high and low curvilinear residential towers arcing to the west and south.

Originally proposed in 2018, the proposed 26-story apartment building will be a mixed-use development with luxury apartments and an underground parking garage. Developers are billing their proposal as an attempt to help bring new life to the retail space in Tysons, with the proposed development being located next to Tysons Corner Center between Tysons and Greensboro Metro stations.

J.R. Stockyards Inn, a two-story, 42-year-old steakhouse, was one of the first restaurants to open outside of Tysons Corner Center. But since 2011, the restaurant has closed its daily service.

Photo via Fairfax County

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A 68-year-old man who was rescued by the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department (FCFRD) in Tysons took the unsual but gratifying extra step of calling the unit months later to update them on his progress and thank them for saving his life.

Rae Cronmiller, an avid swimmer, collapsed on Dec. 15 in the locker room at Sport & Health (8250 Greensboro Drive) in Tysons after experiencing a cardiac arrest following a one-mile swim. A physician in the locker room initiated CPR and a crew from Engine 429 in Tysons was already at the Sport & health for training. They were able to respond quickly and rescued on Dec. 15 after experiencing a cardiac arrest.

Cronmiller has recovered and got onto Zoom with his family to thank the physician and the FCFRD crew that saved his life.

“It was very moving,” Cronmiller said. “Not a day goes by that I don’t think about what happened to me, and how fortunate I am to have the best group of force responders in the world. You saved my life. I am of sound mind and body now, I feel better or as good as I did before the swim. I have you folks to thank and the individual who was there. If he’s able to watch this, I really appreciate his efforts.”

Several of the people involved in the rescue were on the call with Cronmiller and said, once the pandemic is over, they’d love to meet with him in person to shake his hand and see how he’s progressing. Andrew Rose, one of the paramedics who arrived, was among those on the call.

“It’s wonderful to see you doing so well,” Rose said. “We’re always thinking of you and looking for updates. We’re absolutely thrilled to see you at home with your family.”

“I’m so happy we were able to be there with you that day,” Calvin Alexander, another one of the paramedics said.

Sarah Thomas, a dispatcher involved with the rescue, said it isn’t often that FCFRD get to hear about the aftermath of a rescue.

“We never get the opportunity to hear any results, so we never know if somebody lives or not,” Thomas said. “So it is truly inspiring to see you and hear you. Thank you for that, because we never get to hear it or see it.”

The full release from the FCFRD is below: Read More

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Tysons theater 1st Stage is continuing its earlier shift towards online classes with a new series of acting courses aimed to help introduce adults or children to acting or continue their education.

Each course consists of six classes with prices starting at $100 per course.

Classes are taught over Zoom sessions. The deadline for registration is Monday, Sept. 21.

Classes for adults include:

  • Playwriting (Tuesdays, Sept. 29-Nov. 3 from 4-6 p.m.) — The class will introduce students to playwriting concepts like idea generation, dramatic action, character and dialogue development.
  • Beginning Acting (Thursdays, Oct. 1-Nov. 5 from 6-7 p.m.) — The class will introduce students to developing believable characters within the play text and teach acting techniques.
  • A Director Prepares (Tuesdays, Sept. 29-Nov. 3 from 1-2 p.m.) — The class will introduce students to direction, particularly on the production, preparation, and conceptualization aspects. The class will also touch on casting and working with designers and actors.
  • Beginning Voice Training (Fridays, Oct. 2-Nov. 6 from 1-3 p.m.) — The class introduces students to healthy singing techniques, including warm-ups and cool downs, vocal exercises, and simple songs.
  • Play Reading and Discussion (Fridays, Oct. 2-Nov. 6 from 7-8 p.m.) — The class will involve reading and discussing plays, as well as discussing analytic techniques.
  • Introduction to Improvisation (Wednesdays, Sept. 30-Nov. 4) — The class is an introduction to the basics of improvisation, like “yes, and…” as well as other foundational improv techniques.
  • Intermediate Improvisation (Sundays, Oct. 4-Nov. 8 from 1-2 p.m.) — Students will build on more advanced improv skills and concepts from the earlier Intro to Improv class, with a focus on creating characters and scenes quickly, bold choices, and working together to form a scene.

Five courses are available for grades 1st through 12th.

Classes include:

  • Drama Games (1st-2nd Grade, Mondays, Sept. 28-Nov. 2 from 4-4:45 p.m.) — The course introduces children to basic acting skills with games, activities and exercises.
  • Introduction to Improvisation (3rd-6th Grade, Wednesdays, Sept. 30-Nov. 4 from 4-4:45 p.m.) — This class will cover the basics of improv concepts and building on natural instincts.
  • Beginning Improv (Middle School, Thursdays, Oct. 1-Nov. 5  from 4-4:45 p.m.) — Similar to Introduction to Improvisation, Beginning Improv will focus on teaching improv concepts.
  • Building Your Book (High School, Fridays, Oct. 2-Nov. 6 from 4 p.m.-6 p.m.) — This intermediate class aims to help advanced singers through warmups, cooldowns and exercises. The class is geared towards polishing songs with vocal, musical, and dramatic performances.
  • Play Reading And Discussion (High School, Saturdays, Oct. 3-Nov. 7, 12 p.m.-1 p.m.) — The class will focus on reading and discussing plays with classic and modern analyzing techniques.
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The Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant had once taken up a key corner spot in Tysons Corner Center, right across from the Barnes & Noble. But while other restaurants are reopening from pandemic closures, Gordon Biersch is gone for good.

The closure is a latest for the franchise, which had four other regional locations close earlier this year. While the Tysons location was reportedly “not on the chopping block” in March, according to eater, the following months put additional challenges on many restaurants.

With the Tysons location gone, the closest Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant is in Annapolis, Maryland.

The Tysons location still held a special place in the heart of some locals, though, which took home the Great American Beer Festival gold medal in 2018 for a Czech-style pilsner, DC Beer reported. The Tysons Corner Center location brewed beer on-site and offered tours in pre-pandemic times.

Photo via Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant

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