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NEW: Fairfax County casino push targets abandoned Tysons auto dealership

The former Aston Martin and Bentley dealership in Tysons has been proposed as a future casino site (via Google Maps)

The proposal to permit a casino in Fairfax County has honed in on one specific site: a former Aston Martin and Bentley dealership in Tysons.

Site criteria for the potential gaming establishment emerged yesterday (Wednesday), when state Sen. Dave Marsden’s long-awaited/dreaded bill was officially published online, just two days before the Virginia General Assembly’s filing deadline for the 2024 session.

As first reported by NBC4, the legislation would add Fairfax County to the list of localities eligible for a casino as long as the facility is:

  • Located within one-quarter of a mile of an existing station on the Metro Silver Line
  • Part of a coordinated mixed-use project development
  • Outside of the Dulles International Airport flight path
  • Within two miles of a major shopping destination with at least 1.5 million square feet of gross building area
  • Outside of the Capital Beltway (I-495)

Those conditions limit possible sites to Tysons, dropping Reston from consideration after residents there prepared to fight the incoming legislation.

However, Marsden confirmed to FFXnow that he plans to amend the bill, titled Senate Bill 675, to further narrow the proposed scope to the abandoned Exclusive Automotive Group lot at 8546 Leesburg Pike near the Spring Hill Metro station.

Marsden didn’t specify what criteria will come with the amendment, but he says it will be added before the bill is presented to a committee. The legislation was referred yesterday to the Senate Committee on General Laws and Technology, which hasn’t scheduled a meeting on it yet.

The site of a fire in April 2023, the dealership has been vacant since the company relocated its Aston Martin and Bentley franchises to a new showroom that opened in Ashburn in spring 2022.

The property was sold by the Cherner Development Group to Tysons Development LLC — a joint venture of the Clemente Development Company and Khaled Juffali Co. — for over $57 million on Feb. 4, 2020, per Fairfax County records. The sale involved multiple parcels totaling about 7.5 acres — all part of the planned View at Tysons development.

Approved by the county in 2019, The View at Tysons would transform the Route 7 and Tyco Road intersection with over 3 million square feet of mixed-use development, including the D.C. area’s tallest office tower and a performing arts center.

Marsden has said the casino could be part of an entertainment district that may also include an arts venue. He confirmed the project was proposed by Reston Station developer Comstock, which was previously reported to be pushing for a casino near the Wiehle Metro station.

“In my view, this casino is needed to ensure further revenue for Fairfax County to fund schools and other vital services due to the decline in commercial real estate revenue and increases in costs for Metro and other county obligations,” Marsden said, adding that broadening the commercial tax base would “take pressure off” of residential real estate and car taxes.

Local reactions to the possibility of a casino have generally ranged from skeptical to hostile. The McLean Citizens Association, which includes Tysons in its coverage area, sent a letter to state legislators last week opposing the impending bill, while Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik told FFXnow yesterday that there are still too many questions around where revenue would go and how the operator and site will be selected.

In addition to providing location criteria, SB 675 would require Fairfax County to consider a prospective operator’s labor practices, including payment of prevailing wages to construction contractors and hospitality workers and labor peace agreements with any unions. The operator would need to enter into an agreement with employee labor groups before it’s submitted to Virginia Lottery for approval.

If the bill passes the General Assembly and gets signed into law by Gov. Glenn Youngkin, Fairfax County voters would still have to approve a referendum to allow a casino. Virginia currently has five localities eligible for a casino, but Richmond may be removed from that list after voters rejected a referendum two times.

Image via Google Maps

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