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Good Thursday evening, Fairfax County. Let’s take a look back at today’s stories and a look forward to tomorrow’s event calendar.

🕗 News recap

The following articles were published earlier today — Feb 22, 2024.

📅 Upcoming events

Here is what’s going on Friday throughout the county, from our event calendar.

  • No events today. Have one to promote? Submit it to the calendar.

🌧️ Friday’s forecast

Showers are likely mainly before 1pm, followed by mostly cloudy skies and a high near 58. The southwest wind of 6 to 10 mph will shift to a northwest direction in the afternoon, with a 40% chance of precipitation. Friday night will be partly cloudy with a low around 37 and a northwest wind of 6 to 10 mph. See more from Weather.gov.

🌅 Tonight’s sunset

Thanks for reading! Feel free to discuss the day’s happenings in the comments.

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Here in Fairfax County, real estate is a spectator sport. Let’s take a look at some of the smallest and largest homes sold last month (January 2024).

Largest homes sold

  1. 7686 Ballestrade Ct — McLean — $4,150,000 (6 beds | 8 baths | 11,445 sq. ft.)
  2. 8295 Alvord St — Greenway Heights — $3,500,000 (5 beds | 9 baths | 10,000 sq. ft.)
  3. 1849 Massachusetts Ave — McLean — $4,969,859 (7 beds | 9 baths | 9,637 sq. ft.)

Smallest homes sold*

  1. 1002 Hillcrest Dr SW — Vienna — $2,199,000 (5 beds | 4.5 baths | 5,503 sq. ft.)
  2. 4013 Laurel Rd — Mount Vernon — $1,330,000 (5 beds | 4.5 baths | 5,503 sq. ft.)
  3. 920 Darton Dr — Fort Hunt — $1,625,000 (6 beds | 6.5 baths | 5,560 sq. ft.)

*Minimum home value of $200,000 set to exclude certain land sales, retirement condos, properties with expiring ground leases, etc.

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A table near the fountain at Lake Anne Plaza in Reston (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

A thorny set of issues continues to complicate Deli Italiano’s arrival in Reston’s Lake Anne Plaza.

The Reston Association Design Review Board (DRB) voted Tuesday (Feb. 20) to defer a decision on the application after attorney John Cowherd, who was representing an appealing Lake Anne condominium owner, flagged some concerns about the proposal.

Alec Berry, a member of the Lake Anne of Reston Condominiums Unit Owners Association (LARCA), has appealed conditional approvals by the DRB and LARCA — entities that considered the project separately — of the architectural plans for the restaurant.

Berry, who lives behind the restaurant’s planned unit at 1631 Washington Plaza, said he was concerned metal equipment, an exhaust shaft, an exhaust pipe, gas line and louvres would be installed on LARCA common space, not in the commercial unit, which is owned by Baslios Family Real Estate.

Berry asserts that he has an exclusive easement to an area where the restaurant plans to install a shaft, equipment and gas lines. The front facade of his house faces the back of the property, and the front of the restaurant faces Washington Plaza.

According to Cowherd, he was also concerned about a contractor that cut a large hole through LARCA’s common elements that separates the floor of Berry’s unit and the restaurant. The slab provides strucural support and is essential to protecting the home from a grease fire in the restaurant.

“I just don’t think this shaft project is really moving Reston or LARCA forward. I think it’s going to kind of hold things back with respect to this particular building,” Cowherd said.

Cowherd said Berry is awaiting a books and record request to LARCA in order to get more information about the drawings, architectural approvals, and documents referenced in Deli Italiano’s application and decision-making process.

The board deferred the appeal to allow staff to look into those issues following a discussion held in executive session.

Deli Italiano has been working on plans for the Reston location for several years. A spokesperson said the company was not ready to comment by press time.

Deli Italiano opened a restaurant at 700 Lynn Street in Herndon in December 2022. It serves pizza, pasta, subs and more.

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Active Bystander: Tactical Emergency Casualty Care (TECC) Training

The Tactical Emergency Casualty Care (TECC) Active Bystander Certification course, also known as Active Bystander, is the premier training program to prepare civilians for how to respond during an intentional violent event and to address life-threatening emergencies.

Similar to FEMA’s

Graham Center in West Falls Church (via Google Maps)

Graham Center’s days may be numbered.

The 61-year-old retail strip in West Falls Church has been targeted by the not-for-profit health system VHC Health for a future emergency department and urgent care center, according to a special exception application recently submitted to Fairfax County.

“This innovative hybrid model of a Freestanding Emergency Department combined with an Urgent Care Center (the ‘FSED-UCC’) will offer convenient and timely access for emergency patients, many of the Applicant’s scheduled outpatients, and the general public,” Walsh, Colucci, Lubeley & Walsh attorney Kathryn Taylor wrote in a statement of justification for VHC Health.

Built in 1953, Graham Center was anchored for decades by Harvest Moon, a Chinese restaurant and banquet hall that became popular for wedding receptions after it opened in the mid-1980s. However, the restaurant closed permanently during the pandemic, leaving behind a mix of small shops, including eateries, a nail salon, a shoe repair outlet and a Vietnamese supermarket.

County property records show that VHC Health bought the 105,698-square-foot site at 7234 Arlington Blvd for $2.4 million in July 2023. The future of the still-operating tenants remains to be determined, but VHC Health’s application says the one-story retail building will be demolished.

VHC Health Vice President of Real Estate Acquisition and Development Adrian Stanton said in a statement to FFXnow that the organization has “maintained open and continuous communication with the tenants about plans for the site” since it purchased the property.

VHC Health chose the Graham Center location because we saw a need in the surrounding community for an important and currently unavailable care option — emergency department services co-located with urgent care services. VHC Health prides itself on offering convenient healthcare options in the communities where our patients live and work…Given the current condition of the property, the plan includes redevelopment as part of the County review and approval process. While we wait for approval from the County, we are still working to determine what other healthcare services and business development opportunities will be offered that will benefit the community most.

According to the Feb. 16 application, which was first reported by Annandale Today, the retail strip will be replaced by an approximately 24,250-square-foot, 40-foot-tall medical facility. About 14,000 square feet will be devoted to the emergency department and urgent care center, while the rest will house primary care, specialty and diagnostic imaging services.

The proposal continues VHC Health’s recent push to expand beyond its main hospital in Arlington with more community-oriented sites around Northern Virginia.

“The primary purpose of the proposed facility will be to decompress high emergency department utilization on the nearby Virginia Hospital Center campus and provide the surrounding community with an important and currently unavailable care option,” the application says. “In addition, the medical services of the FSED-UCC will be provided at a fraction of the cost for services typically furnished at conventional emergency departments or hospitals.”

A special exception is needed to allow the facility in a commercial district that limits office uses to 25% of the lot. The facility is categorized as an “office” under the county’s zoning ordinance because it won’t support overnight stays or regular ambulance usage, according to Taylor.

As part of the redevelopment, VHC Health has offered to eliminate access points to the property except for a northeastern entrance along Graham Road and a southwestern entrance along Arlington Blvd, which will be upgraded with crosswalks and ADA-compliant curb ramps. Read More

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EYA is seeking to build 174 single-family homes on the former Topgolf site in Kingstowne (via Fairfax County)

The Fairfax County Planning Commission has teed up an approval of a residential development that could replace Rudy’s Golf and Sports Bar in Kingstowne with nearly 200 single-family homes.

Commissioners voted unanimously on Feb. 14 to recommend approval of the development proposal for 6626 South Van Dorn Street, which once hosted a Topgolf before Rudy’s opened in 2022.

The decision came weeks after the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a comprehensive plan amendment to increase the housing density allowed at the proposed site from three to four units per acre to 10 units.

The Maryland-based housing developer, EYA Development, initially proposed a much larger project in 2015 that would’ve added 275 residential units and up to 70,000 square feet of retail. However, the developer had to revise its plans multiple times in the face of opposition before finally securing community support.

The latest plan would transform the 17-acre property into 174 single-family homes, 18 of which will be designated as affordable, and create several acres of public park space.

Most attendees at last month’s Board of Supervisors public hearing on the comprehensive plan amendment expressed support, but there were still some holdouts, notably the Franconia Land Use Committee. Speakers argued that the proposed increase in density was inappropriate for the site, citing concerns over traffic congestion and environmental impact.

But when Franconia District Planning Commissioner Daniel Lagana questioned Cooley LLP lawyer Mark Looney about potential traffic concerns last week, the developer representative countered that the property owner has the right to lease out the former Ruby Tuesday restaurant at any time — a move that could generate more traffic than the proposed development.

“Were that restaurant operating at its full capacity with, let’s say, two fast-food-type restaurants, it would have significantly more daytime traffic, as well as higher peak hour traffic in both the morning and evening along South Van Dorn Street,” Looney said.

Looney noted that EYA plans to construct a new underground detention vault, replacing the existing one that’s over two decades old, and multiple bioretention facilities — also known as rain gardens — to capture and purify the majority of stormwater runoff flowing into the Potomac River.

“So, everything that will leave the property at the end of the day will be much slower and much cleaner than the what the storm water is today,” he said.

The Franconia Land Use Committee was absent from the planning commission hearing, where nearly 10 individuals supported the development.

Toward the end of the hearing, Lagana praised EYA for its persistence in working with the community to design something he described as “truly remarkable” and “forward-thinking.”

“Working with this coalition of groups and building this broad alliance of people that were engaged in this for three and a half years…gave you the type of design that you needed to have for this site,” Lagana said. “I mean, it really led to the great solution that we have before us today, which I think is just a beautiful site design.”

The commissioner, however, called the actions of the Franconia Land Use Committee members “unbecoming of any appointed body in this county.”

“We reduced the [number of homes] to 100 units, we improved stormwater, we improved [affordable dwelling units] — I mean, the list goes on and on and on and on, and we’re still dealing with these, I think, fictitious problems that kept coming up,” he said. “And I just want to say the amount of frankly, vitriol and hostility personal hostility that was directed at the applicants at some points was absolutely unacceptable.”

The next public hearing on the rezoning application will take place before the Board of Supervisors on March 5, according to the county website.

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St. Paul’s Lutheran Church is seeking to sell part of its property in Idylwood, including a now-vacant building, to a housing developer so it can expand its sanctuary (via Google Maps)

Plans to build housing in front of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Idylwood have been resurrected.

After a previous attempt in 2019 sputtered out, the church has found a new developer partner to potentially buy vacant portions of its property at 7426 Idylwood Road and transform it with residential development.

The developer EYA submitted an initial pitch to Fairfax County last summer for approximately 65 to 75 townhouses that would be constructed on two parcels of the roughly 10.7-acre site, an EYA marketing manager told FFXnow. The church intends to stay and use the money from the land sale to fund an expansion of its building, which was built in 1968, per county records.

“EYA is interested in the site for townhome development given its proximity to nearby established retail amenities, Tysons Corner and the City of Falls Church for work and shopping, and a direct bus connection to the West Falls Church Metro Station,” EYA said in a statement. “…We look forward to continuing to engage with the community, staff and elected officials as we develop our plan for this site.”

EYA’s proposal revives a development plan filed in March 2019 by Toll Mid-Atlantic LP Company, an affiliate of the Delaware-based home builder Toll Brothers.

According to that application, St. Paul’s wanted to sell part of its property to pay for a “family life center” that was approved in 2005 but never constructed “due to financial constraints.” The church consists of a main sanctuary with an attached educational building, though it also owns a separate, now-vacant building that once housed Lutheran Social Services.

Toll Mid-Atlantic sought to replace the empty building and another undeveloped parcel — totaling about 5.85 acres — with 67 residential units, which would’ve been a combination of single-family townhomes and two-over-two multi-family units.

The county’s land use database indicates that the application was scheduled for a public hearing before the Fairfax County Planning Commission multiple times, most recently on Sept. 30, 2020, but it ultimately got deferred indefinitely.

To allow for EYA’s development, the county needs to revise its comprehensive plan for the site, which currently designates the entire church property as a future residential development with 16-20 dwelling units per acre.

With the church committed to remaining at the site, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors directed county staff on Tuesday (Feb. 20) to craft a plan amendment that would reduce the intensity of the housing envisioned for the site.

“Recognizing that the Church wishes to remain on site, and this impacts the available area for development and the design of the site, a Plan amendment for residential development at a lower density, with suitable conditions related to site design, recognizing retention of the existing Church, is appropriate,” Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik said when introducing the request.

Recalling the previous attempt to develop the site, she added that “transportation improvements and others are key to this development.”

The proposed amendment will be added to the second tier of the county’s comprehensive plan amendment work program, meaning it will be reviewed concurrently with rezoning and special permit amendment applications. Submitted on June 27, 2023, EYA’s proposal is still in the “pre-application” stage, so it’s unclear when an official plan will be available.

According to a summary report from the Department of Planning and Development, the initial concept tweaks Toll Mid-Atlantic’s earlier design to allow for more open space and tree preservation. It also features a recommended sidewalk along Idylwood Road and commits to replenishing landscaping that screens the church from existing townhouses to the south.

Image via Google Maps

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Memorial Street is closed approaching Richmond Highway after a fatal single-vehicle crash (via Google Maps)

Another person has been killed in a crash in the Richmond Highway corridor.

Police and emergency medical services were dispatched to Memorial Street at Richmond Highway for a single-vehicle crash around 9:24 a.m. today (Thursday), according to scanner traffic on Open MHz.

An adult man was transported to a hospital in life-threatening condition. He was pronounced deceased at the hospital, the Fairfax County Police Department said at 10:37 a.m.

“Memorial St is closed as our Crash Reconstruction Unit investigates,” the police department tweeted.

Just minutes earlier, around 9:21 a.m., Richmond Highway was shut down in both directions in the Lorton area after a multiple-vehicle crash at Hassett Street. Police said at 10:16 a.m. that an adult woman was taken to a hospital with injuries not considered life-threatening.

“Please use an alternate route,” the FCPD said.

There have now been four fatal crashes along Richmond Highway this month.

A man was arrested on Sunday (Feb. 18) after a reported hit-and-run that killed a pedestrian at the Brevard Court intersection in Woodlawn, and another pedestrian died in a crash at Belfield Road in Belle Haven on Feb. 15. In addition, a 19-year-old driver died after rear-ending a dump truck in Lorton on Feb. 14.

Map via Google Maps

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Dulles International Airport at night (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Washington Dulles International Airport and Reagan National hit a new travel record last year.

The Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority hosted 50.6 million total passengers last year, setting a new passenger record at Reagan and an international passenger record at Dulles.

“Setting a new record is a remarkable accomplishment that can be credited to continuing recovery from the COVID pandemic and the hard work of our airport team and their partners,” MWAA President and CEO Jack Potter said. “We are not slowing down as upgrades continue for our customers at Reagan National, as well as a new concourse at Dulles International. Our team thrives on recruiting new airline service and finding new ways to provide an outstanding travel experience while planning to meet the region’s long-term transportation needs.”

Between 2022 and 2023, Dulles saw a nearly 27% jump in international activity. Overall, the airport logged 25 million passengers for the year.

“The upward trend can be credited to a strong resurgence in travel demand that led to eight new airlines launching nonstop flights to destinations around the globe over the past two years. With new flights announced for 2024, this brings the airport’s total to 42 airlines and 139 destinations,” MWAA said in a press release.

New service is planned from on the following route options:

American to Bermuda
American to Hyannis, Massachusetts
AeroMexico to Mexico City
Allegiant to Punta Gorda, Florida
Southern Airways Express to Williamsport, Pennsylvania
Southwest to Phoenix
Sun Country to Minneapolis
Swiss International to Zurich
United to Anchorage
United to Vancouver
United Express to Philadelphia, Harrisburg, State College and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Pennsylvania

The passenger count suggests Dulles has rebounded from the plunge in travel during the first years of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the international passenger count stood at a meager 2 million in 2020 and 3.4 million in 2021.

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The Korean restaurant Meokja Meokja is among the 2024 participants in Fairfax City Restaurant Week (courtesy Meokja Meokja

(Updated at 11:50 a.m.) Fairfax City will soon invite community members to experience cuisines from Azerbaijan and the Caribbean to Ireland and Vietnam for its seventh annual Restaurant Week.

From Monday, Feb. 26 through Sunday, March 3, promotions will be available to diners at more than 25 restaurants, according to the event’s website.

Restaurants will offer prix fixe menus, setting prices at $25 for brunch/lunch and $40 for dinner. Specialty restaurants will offer a two-for-$10 deal, according to a press release.

“Restaurant Week is that nudge our residents get twice a year that says dining out is a community event,” City of Fairfax Mayor Catherine Read said in the press release. “Dining in the city can be a culinary trip around the world without needing a passport.”

Participating restaurants include:

Baku Delicious, Bellissimo, Commonwealth Brewing Co., Capital Ale House, Coyote Grille, Curry Mantra, Dolce Vita, Draper’s Steak & Seafood, Earp’s Ordinary, El Pollo Rico, Hamrock’s Restaurant, Jas & Fam Caribbean Flavor, Mackenzie’s Tunes & Tonics, Mama Chang, Meokja Meokja, Ned’s New England Deck, Old Dominion Pizza Company, ONE Bar & Grill, Ornery Beer Company, Okonomi Asian Grill, Patriot’s Pub & Grill, P.J. Skiddos, Roots Natural Kitchen, Taim Mediterranean Kitchen, The Auld Shebeen, The Wine House and Vivi Bubble Tea.

Though it wasn’t mentioned in the initial list, Pupatella says its Mosaic District location is also participating in Fairfax City Restaurant Week.

The week is co-sponsored by the Fairfax City Economic Development Authority, the Central Fairfax Chamber of Commerce and the Old Town Fairfax Business Association.

“Together, they have consistently expanded the event, establishing Fairfax City as a premier dining destination and fostering a strong sense of community among restaurant operators,” Fairfax City Economic Development President and CEO Christopher Bruno said.

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