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.”
A private school that specializes in childcare and early childhood education will open in McLean’s Valo Park next year after its owners signed a lease on Tuesday (Nov. 10).
Owned and operated by couple Kate and Brian Mulcahy, Celebree School of McLean will be the first Virginia location for Celebree School, a network of early childhood education centers predominantly based in Maryland and Delaware.
The Mulcahys were drawn to Valo Park (7950 Jones Branch Drive) as a location for their franchise because of the amenities on the business park’s 16-acre campus. They also believe there is a need for quality childcare in the Tysons area, according to a Celebree School press release.
“This location stood out because of its long list of features, especially the ample outdoor space,” Kate Mulcahy said. “Plus, it is ideal given the immediate access to the Capital Beltway, Dulles Toll Road and other major roadways. Valo Park truly is a convenient location for parents living and working in the area who need a high-quality and easily accessible childcare solution.”
Celebree School first announced that it had signed a franchising agreement with the Mulcahys to start a center in either Fairfax or Arlington County on Apr. 21. This is the couple’s first franchising effort, but they have previous experience in business and philanthropy, according to Celebree School.
Kate Mulcahy said at the time that she and her husband were interested in working in early childhood education to help children and families, and the “flexible nature” of Celebree School’s model appealed to them.
Originally founded in 1994 in Lutherville, Md., Celebree School provides full and part-time day care, before and after-school programs, and summer camps to children from 6 weeks to 12 years of age.
Celebree School started franchising in 2019 and now encompasses 44 open or under-development locations. The company says franchise opportunities are available in Maryland, Delaware, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
“We’re extremely pleased with this location and the added amenities Brian and Kate will be able to offer, like outdoor learning experiences and on-campus field trips for students,” Celebree School Chief Development Officer Jim DiRugeris said. “We believe Valo Park is a prime location for a Celebree School and meeting the childcare needs of area families.”
Staff Photo by Jay Westcott
On Tuesday, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors green-lighted a rezoning that will open parts of the Valo Park office complex up to the public.
Tamares, Valo Park’s owner, wants to add retailers and restaurants, renovate an existing rooftop terrace and open the complex’s current amenities, including a conference center, auditorium and fitness center, to the public. Tamares is considering attracting a rooftop craft brewery atop a parking garage.
“It is anticipated that these proposed changes will help to sustain the current Class A office use and energize this part of Tysons after business hours,” Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik said.
A separate comprehensive sign plan for the project was approved by the Planning Commission in May. Some McLean residents raised concerns about light pollution from the signs.
Last summer, the Board of Supervisors approved the massive, mixed-use development called The Mile, which will transform 38 acres into 10 buildings with residential, retail, office, hotel and storage space, along with six parks spanning more than 10 acres.
Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust said that people can now walk to Valo Park thanks to the new Jones Branch Connector, which includes sidewalks and bike lanes.
“But for the sign issue… this is a really good application that is exactly moving Tysons in the direction that we all want to see it go — developing this kind of mixed-use, reuse,” Foust said. “This is a really important piece in the Tysons puzzle.”
Fairfax County staffers support new plans to revamp the Valo Park office complex in Tysons, opening it up to the public and adding retail and restaurants.
The newspaper giant Gannett and cloud computing company Appian are currently headquartered at the roughly 785,000 square-foot office park, which has a fitness center, conference facilities and a 300-seat auditorium.
London-based Tamares acquired 7950 Jones Branch Drive for $270 million four years ago. Now, Tamares wants to add shops, restaurants, a bocce court and a 5,000-square-foot craft beverage production establishment or restaurant on the roof on an existing parking garage.
“The conference center, auditorium and fitness center are existing uses within the building; however, these uses are currently accessory to the office building in that only the onsite office users may use them,” according to the staff report published today. “The applicant is converting the spaces into publicly accessible uses.”
Tamares says that the proposed changes would help it better fit in with nearby urbanization. The office park is located in the North Central neighborhood of Tysons, which is home to the Park Crest and Highgate residential buildings and the upcoming mixed-use development called The Mile.
Here’s what the county staffers said in their report:
The proposed conversion of existing office and accessory uses to secondary uses will activate the site and facilitate a vibrant, mixed-use development that the Comprehensive Plan envisions for the Tysons Urban Center. The development offers high-quality amenities that will turn the existing office park into a community asset.
Minimal site disturbance is required to implement the development, as most of the proposed modifications are located within the existing building. The applicant has proffered: contributions to the Tysons Road Fund; bicycle parking; and green building technology and strategies as part of the construction of the proposed commercial use on top of the existing parking garage.
In staff’s opinion, the development plan is in conformance with the Comprehensive Plan and meets the general and design standards for a Planned District.
The Fairfax County Planning Commission is set to hold a public hearing on the project this spring.
A group headquartered in Falls Church aims to get women “from the classroom to the board room” by offering developmental resources and networking opportunities.
With more than 1,000 members, the Women in Technology group (200 Little Falls Street) operates around the D.C. area and works with a large variety of age groups — including young girls and women at the height of their careers, according to its website.
“Our scope is to really network and support the advancement of women and girls in this specific area to enter STEM fields,” recently elected Board Member Cristine Gollayan said. “It’s for girls and women at any stage of their life.”
Gollayan’s own story with the group began around 2013 when she said she attended an event and eventually worked her way up the group’s leadership ladder.
Since then, she also served on the job fair committee board and was eventually elected into the WIT’s Board of Directors in 2018.
Gollayan currently works in Herndon as a senior manager for Sony’s Global Information Security team and said events hosted by WIT take place throughout the area, including Tysons — a central location for many of the organization’s volunteers.
WIT has several representatives, who happen to be women of color, on both its board of directors and the executive committee. But, the group doesn’t offer specific programs targeting women of color or transgender women.
Gollayan also said anyone who identifies as a woman is more than welcome to join.
“Anything we promote, we try to ensure that diversity and inclusion is an important piece,” she said.
Two of Gollayan’s favorite events include the leadership awards ceremony and STEM for Her Gala, which Gollayan also said she helps to plan, because the women at both of the events are “so poised and ready to rock and rule the world,” she said.
Other events run by the group include two seasonal job fairs a year, the Leadership Foundry and Girls in Technology. A full list of offerings can be found online.
For example, the Leadership Foundry is a nine-month-long program that teaches women to run board meetings and take on positions of power within their own companies. So far, 20 alumnae from the program have ended up on boards within a corporation, according to Gollayan.
Meanwhile, Girls in Technology is a subgroup within WIT that targets young girls considering careers in STEM.
The CyberPatriot Girls is a program through Girls in Technology that takes 6th-12th-grade girls and challenges them to participate in a “fast-paced and high-pressure” simulation that resembles a mock cyber-attack, according to Gollayan. It is hosted in partnership with the Air Force and the University of Maryland. In the activity, girls form teams and are expected to “protect national infrastructure” while learning technical skills, she said.
For people interested in the group, the next upcoming event, WIT.Connect, is coming up.
On Feb. 20 from 6 to 8:30 p.m., people will gather at Valo Park (7950 Jones Branch Drive) to network and learn about upcoming technological trends in healthcare. Attendees will have the chance to hear from speakers and WIT members.
Registration is $45 for WIT members or $55 for non-members.
Photo courtesy Cristine Gollayan
The roughly 785,000 square-foot office park is currently home to the headquarters of the newspaper giant Gannett and cloud computing company Appian. The building currently has a fitness center, conference facilities, a 300-seat auditorium and lots of open space.
London-based Tamares acquired 7950 Jones Branch Drive for $270 million four years ago.
The private investment group is now looking to redesign roughly 19,000 square feet of the ground floor space and some areas of the garage to accommodate new retail and restaurants, according to the applications submitted to Fairfax County.
The developers are considering repurposing two corner areas of the building into restaurants — one would take 7,000 square feet of front corner space and the second would occupy 12,000 square feet of rear corner space. Meanwhile, 5,000 square feet of the garage’s rooftop would get converted into a craft beverage production establishment or restaurant.
The plans also include an outdoor gaming area with a bocce court, horseshoes, cornhole and a fire pit. The public would be able to use a 20,000-square-foot health club, along with a possible rock climbing facility.
“A 9/11 memorial is currently under construction on the property for further activation of open space,” according to the application.
The office park is located in the North Central neighborhood of Tysons, which has a luxurious four-building residential project at Park Crest, office space at Tysons Overlook and the residential Highgate. A massive mixed-use development called The Mile was approved earlier this year for the area.
“The underlying objectives for the proposed applications is to better incorporate Valo Park into the surrounding neighborhood fabric and better align the site with the goals of the Tysons Plan,” according to the application.
More from Tamares about how the changes fit the comprehensive plan for Tysons:
The proposed applications would render the site more compatible with the Comprehensive Plan’s goals for the North Central District to redevelop as a vibrant, mixed-use neighborhood with local-serving retail. The proposed restaurants and site modifications would create a more outward facing development that is more accessible to the surrounding community.
A public hearing for the Planning Commission has not been announced yet.
Photo via Valo Park
A local organization is hosting a charity tailgate to help people who are experiencing homelessness and struggling youths.
The Tysons Partnership event will have live music from the Decades Band, beer and wine tents, a pop-up playground, arcade games, raffles and a speech from Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust, according to the event page.
The event aims to raise funds for Second Story, a non-profit founded in Vienna that works to improve the lives of struggling young adults and people experiencing homelessness.
Tickets are on sale for $30 and include two complimentary drinks. The event will be held outside regardless of the weather.
Drew Sunderland, a spokesperson for Tysons Partnership, said that the organization tries to work with local nonprofits in the regional Tysons area or surrounding communities.
“Second Story was identified as a great partner that was in need,” Sunderland said, adding that their work has a real impact on the Tysons community.
The tailgate is part of the Tysons Partnership’s larger Season of Giving, which raised money for similar organizations, like Food for Others. This year’s other events included a 5k and a happy hour event. In years past, the event has attracted over 1,000 attendees, according to the website.
Second Story supports a variety of people including homeless teens, survivors of domestic abuse and young mothers in northern Virginia, according to their website. The organization matches at-risk youth with counseling, shelter, food or other forms of assistance based on their needs, free of charge.
Teens between the ages of 13 to 17 and young mothers can text TEENHELP to 855-11 if they would like assistance from the program.
The party will last from 5-8 p.m. in Valo park next Wednesday (Sept. 25).
Photo via Valo Park
Since May 1, 2019 there have been 39 confirmed cases of Cyclosporiasis in Virginia, according to the Virginia Health Department.
According to a press release:
- Capital One Building at 1600 Capital One Drive
- Valo Park Building at 7950 Jones Branch Drive
Valo Park is home to the corporate headquarters of newspaper giant Gannett.
The source of the outbreak has not been found, but health officials warned that the illness could be contracted by consuming food contaminated with feces or stool that contains the parasite.
Symptoms can begin one week after exposure to the parasite, and typically include explosive diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, aching muscles, and a low-grade fever. Symptoms can last days or a month for some, but others can be a carrier of the parasite and experience no symptoms.
Different takes on the role of prosecutors in the justice system took center stage in a rare fight for the Democratic endorsement for the commonwealth’s attorney position in Fairfax last week.
While the candidates in the Board of Supervisors chair race that followed were in agreement on most issues, Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Katherine Stott — standing in for incumbent Raymond Morrogh who was out with bronchitis — and challenger Steve Descano sniped back and forth constantly last Friday (May 24) at Valo Park (7950 Jones Park Drive).
Descano’s campaign is part of a broader push across Virginia from left-leaning candidates arguing prosecutors should take an active role in things like functionally decriminalizing marijuana and eliminating cash bonds.
“That’s the main driver of this campaign,” Descano said. “Cash bonds turn this into a two-tier system of justice. Cash bail doesn’t do anything but punish people for being poor. What happens when we hold people in jail because they can’t pay means they could lose their jobs or lose their house. It drives up their recidivism rate. We’re paying $225 a day to build more crime down the road. I will instruct my prosecutors, if there’s no risk of safety or flight, get rid of cash bonds.”
But Stott said Descano’s ambitions are driven by naivety.
“[Descano] shows his inexperience with the Virginia state system,” Stott said. “There are legislative code systems that define how cash bail is used and a judicial element. In the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney, we do not ask for a cash bond. Defendant appears before a magistrate, which sets bond. If they are held overnight, they see a judge the next day. We don’t ask for cash bail.”
The two also clashed over capital punishment and marijuana enforcement — mainly over whether the commonwealth’s attorney’s office should decide an overarching policy or tackle the cases individually. Descano said he would never pursue the death penalty, while Stott said the cases have to be reviewed on an individual basis.
For small amounts of marijuana possession where there is no intention to distribute, Descano said he would move the court to dismiss the cases. Stott said Morrogh supports decriminalization of marijuana but argued it’s not up to the commonwealth’s attorney to decide that.
“Descano’s response is another example of how he crosses out of his lane,” Stott said. “[He says] that he’s a member of the executive branch and doesn’t want to enforce the law from the legislative branch. When you become a commonwealth’s attorney, you take an oath to uphold the laws of the Commonwealth, and that’s a serious oath.”
Supervisor Jeff McKay and candidate Timothy Chapman doubled down on a bitter feud at a debate for the Democratic nomination for the Board of Supervisors Chair in Tysons this morning.
The debate at Valo Park (7950 Jones Park Drive) touched on a variety of countywide issues, with Chapman repeatedly slinging attacks at McKay over school spending and Metro expansion.
When the issue of a recent ethics complaint against McKay came up, sparks flew between the candidates, while the other two candidates, School Board member Ryan McElveen and Georgetown law professor Alicia Plerhoples, tried to stay above the fray.
The complaint alleges that McKay purchased a home at a discount from a developer who brought business before the Board of Supervisors — a violation of state ethics law. The question of the ethics violation was raised by moderator Julie Carey, who asked Chapman why his campaign didn’t come forward as the source of the allegation.
“We wanted to confirm allegations were accurate and correct,” Chapman said. “They are… Anybody who understands real estate knows these allegations here are very troubling.”
But McKay fired back that the allegations were false and started as a smear campaign.
“There is zero credibility. The allegations are completely false,” McKay said. “To try to smear me, because you’re not winning a campaign is a Trump maneuver.”
Plerhoples and McElveen centered most of their responses on affordable housing and school overcrowding issues but did reluctantly weigh into the debate when prompted by Carey.
“Whether the ethics complaint has merit or not, public officials have a duty to investigate for public trust,” Plerhoples said. “It doesn’t get suspended because it’s an election year.”
McElveen said the issue is emblematic of a larger problem.
“The supervisor districts have devolved into fiefdoms,” said McElveen. “I would address that at the county level.”
For most of the debate, the four candidates widely agreed that the lack of affordable housing and overcrowding of the schools were two of the biggest problems facing the county. McElveen specifically called out the Fairfax County School Board’s decision not to immediately tackle the McLean High School boundary question.
The proposal had been backed by School Board member Jane Strauss (Dranesville) but faced pushback from other members of the board, like School Board member Dalia Palchik (Providence), who said the change needed to wait for further planning.
“We have overcrowding at Marshall and McLean High School,” said McElveen. “Frankly, the School Board has been very political on not taking on that challenge. I say we need to act now.”
The primary will be held on June 11.