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A Fairfax County police car with lights flashing (file photo)

An 82-year-old man died in Rose Hill yesterday afternoon (Tuesday) after an apparent assault by his son, Fairfax County police say.

Samy Hassanein, 36, was arrested overnight and has now been charged with second-degree murder in the death of his father, Talat Hassanein, the Fairfax County Police Department announced this morning (Wednesday).

According to the department, its officers were called to the 5500 block of Justis Place at 2:37 p.m. yesterday for a death investigation. Upon arriving at the house, they found Talat Hassanein unconscious at the bottom of the basement stairs.

Talat was pronounced deceased at the scene by Fairfax County Fire and Rescue personnel.

“As detectives began investigating, they identified significant trauma to Talat’s upper body,” the FCPD said. “Detectives from our Crime Scene Section responded to the scene and discovered evidence to indicate Talat’s death was not accidental.”

Interviews and evidence collected at the home led detectives to determine that Samy Hassanein “fatally assaulted his father,” police said. Talat lived at the home with Samy and his other adult sons, who were all present during the investigation, according to the FCPD.

Samy Hassanein is currently in custody at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center without bond.

The police department says anyone with information about the incident can contact its detectives:

Detectives are asking anyone with information regarding this incident to call our Major Crimes Bureau at 703-246-7800, option 2. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through Crime Solvers by phone – 1-866-411-TIPS (866-411-8477), and by web – Click HERE. Download the ‘P3 Tips’ App and follow the steps to “Fairfax Co Crime Solvers”. Anonymous tipsters are eligible for cash rewards of $100 to $1,000 dollars. Please leave contact information if you wish for a detective to follow up with you.

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Firefighters assess the scene of a house fire in the 6900 block of Birch Street on the McLean border (via FCFRD)

(Updated at 10:10 a.m. on 9/30/2022) Four people lost their home and a pet dog early Wednesday morning (Sept. 28) after a fire at their house in McLean.

Fairfax County and Arlington firefighters were dispatched at 1:45 a.m. to the 6900 block of Birch Street, near the West Falls Church Metro station area, the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department tweeted at 7:06 a.m. that day.

While responders got the fire under control within 10 minutes, the blaze caused $156,000 in property damages, according to the department. A photo shows extensive damage to what appears to be a backyard deck with patio chairs.

FCFRD investigators later determined that the fire was caused by an unattended barbecue or meat smoker, according to a Sept. 30 news release.

According to the fire department, the residents were alerted to the fire by smoke alarms and their dog’s barking.

“Upon investigation, fire was seen in the kitchen,” FCFRD said. “One occupant called 9-1-1 while another tried to rescue the dog. All occupants self-evacuated prior to fire department arrival.”

The department said four occupants of the single-family house have been displaced. No injuries to the residents or firefighters were reported.

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Guapo’s will replace the now-shuttered Chevys Fresh Mex restaurant at Gatehouse Plaza in Merrifield (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

A family-owned chain of Tex-Mex restaurants will soon add Merrifield to its roster of locations across the D.C. area.

Guapo’s plans to take over the former Chevys Fresh Mex restaurant at 3052 Gate House Plaza, as the Washington Business Journal reported on Friday (Sept. 23).

“We are looking to open early 2023,” Guapo’s owner Ángela Musalem told FFXnow by email, adding that more information will be available as the opening gets closer.

Chevys didn’t return FFXnow’s request for more details about the closure of its Merrifield location by press time.

The restaurant will be located between Uno Pizzeria and Fairfax County’s first unionized Starbucks in Gatehouse Plaza, which also has a Wendy’s, Panda Express, Sweetwater Tavern and Sunoco gas station.

Fairfax County granted an interior alteration permit to Guapo’s on Sept. 9 allowing renovations to the building’s patio, vestibule, bar area, and dining room.

According to its website, Guapo’s was started by the Ricon family, who moved to Virginia in the late 1970s. The chain is currently run by the original owners’ children after they all attended and graduated from Fairfax County Public Schools.

The business has six Guapo’s locations, including one in Fair Lakes, as well as three Charcoal Chicken & Taquerias, one of them on Elden Street in Herndon.

The Washington Post ranked Guapo’s as the fourth-best Tex-Mex restaurant in the D.C. region in 2017, highlighting its freshly made flour tortillas.

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The Fairfax County Government Center’s COVID-19 vaccination site in March 2021 (via FCHD/Twitter)

There were undeniably hiccups along the way, but Fairfax County’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic earned an overall positive assessment from community surveys conducted this summer.

A general community survey issued in June received 2,148 responses, representing just a fraction of the county’s over 1.1 million residents.

However, 90% of respondents reported experiencing little or no difficulty accessing county services during the pandemic, and 89% said the same specifically for services related to COVID-19, Fairfax County Emergency Management Coordinator Seamus Mooney told the Board of Supervisors on Sept. 13.

On average, 71% of 147 surveyed businesses said they would’ve had to stop operations or been otherwise negatively affected without access to county services. 91% of community organizations said they were satisfied with their collaborations with the county, per Mooney’s presentation.

“This was an international health emergency, the likes of which none of us had ever seen before,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said. “So, we were pivoting day in and day out, every minute to try to respond to our community, and this survey proves that our response was effective and that our agencies really stood up and did their job.”

The survey findings were shared as part of a COVID-19 After Action Report that the county is compiling to assess its response to the pandemic and how this experience could inform its response to future emergencies.

While the full report won’t be finalized until later this year, Mooney said the surveys and feedback from the supervisors’ offices and different county agencies suggest the government successfully adapted to the pandemic’s changing circumstances, from the park authority and library’s pivot to online programming to the “rapid rollout” of non-congregate options for sheltering people experiencing homelessness.

A Quarantine, Protection, Isolation/Decompression (QPID) emergency housing program provided temporary shelter in hotels for 2,188 people. Though the program ended in March, the board directed county staff to evaluate how it might inform the county’s approach to supportive housing going forward.

According to the presentation, the county also provided over $90 million in funding for rent assistance, food and other basic needs services. From May 2020 to July 2022, over 1.5 million meals were distributed at Fairfax County Public Schools and by trucks.

“Changes made during the pandemic have the potential to reset expectations for future operations and establish a new path forward that the county can utilize from here on out,” Mooney said.

One change here to stay is the option for community members to testify remotely at Board of Supervisors meetings, which was “a major success,” the presentation says.

When it comes to challenges, one date looms large in county officials’ memories: Jan. 18, 2021. That’s when the county launched its online COVID-19 vaccine registration system, which immediately ran into technical issues after demand overwhelmed the county’s call center a week earlier. Read More

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Converge West Falls LLC has proposed redeveloping Virginia Tech’s Northern Virginia Center (via Fairfax County)

A developer has officially filed plans with Fairfax County to bring housing, retail, and new office and academic facilities to Virginia Tech’s campus in Idylwood.

As a joint entity named Converge West Falls LLC, real estate investment firm Rushmark Properties and the construction company HITT Contracting have proposed replacing the existing Northern Virginia Center at 7054 Haycock Road with a 283,000-square-foot office building, up to 440 residential units, and a 2,000-square-foot retail pavilion.

Submitted last Thursday (Sept. 22), the application fleshes out an agreement made earlier this year between Converge and the City of Falls Church, which intends to sell the approximately 7.5-acre site to the developer.

The project will “serve as a logical connection” between the West Falls development on Falls Church’s former George Mason High School property and a planned redevelopment at the West Falls Church Metro station, Walsh Colucci land use attorney Andrew Painter wrote in a statement of justification on Converge’s behalf.

Rushmark is also involved in the Metro project, which will turn the Metro station’s existing parking lots into housing and office buildings with some retail.

Reviving a stalled plan between Virginia Tech and HITT, Converge’s Northern Virginia Center proposal features roughly 820,000 square feet of development across three buildings on two blocks west side of Falls Church Drive and north of Haycock Road:

  • Building A: A 283,000-square-foot office and education facility that will house HITT’s corporate headquarters and a 40,000-square-foot laboratory space for Virginia Tech, dubbed the National Center for Smart Construction (NCSC)
  • Building B: A residential building with up to 440 units and approximately 16,000 square feet of ground-floor retail uses. It will have a maximum height of 15 stories and 145 feet, providing parking in a 2.5-story underground garage.
  • Building C: An approximately 2,000-square foot one-story retail kiosk/pavilion

If approved, the project would link the West Falls and Metro developments by extending the former’s central West Falls Station Blvd through the property. Building C would be in the center of the street’s 12,300-square-foot, publicly accessible median.

Straddling the boundary between the city and Fairfax County, the “Median Green” will also serve as a green space with landscaping, trees, movable tables and chairs for “informal gatherings,” open lawn areas, an outdoor stage or performance space, and public art.

Other proposed amenities include entry plazas for both the office and residential buildings and public gardens on Haycock Road and Falls Church Drive. The latter’s garden would feature a bio-retention rain garden.

The developer says it will also provide approximately 0.29 acres of publicly accessible open space on the Metro redevelopment site as well as private, “vegetative” roof decks for the office and residential buildings.

“Building A’s office roof will, for example, feature outdoor working and social spaces with lush planters and stormwater areas,” the application says. “The Building B’s residential roof deck will include a pool, recreation lawn, and seating terraces.”

As part of its transportation commitments, the applicant says it will upgrade the existing sidewalks on Haycock Road and Falls Church Drive, provide bicycle racks, and extend bicycle lanes planned for West Falls Station Blvd through the development. A total of 1,138 parking spaces will be provided.

“When constructed, this new neighborhood will function as one larger transit-oriented neighborhood,” Painter wrote. “The proposed NCSC facility will serve as a hub for research and testing of emerging construction methods, materials and technology that will inform Northern Virginia’s construction and real estate industries. Further, the proposal will attract individuals who think creatively, share ideas, and drive daytime demand locally-serving office and retail uses, as well as Metrorail ridership.”

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National Park Service staff, elected officials, and community volunteers celebrate the reopening of Mount Vernon Trail’s Bridge 12 (via National Park Service)

The National Park Service has completed the first of four planned projects to reconstruct bridges along Mount Vernon Trail.

Park service staff, elected officials and community members celebrated the reopening of Bridge 12 near Fort Hunt Park with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Saturday (Sept. 24). The occasion coincided with National Public Lands Day, which encourages volunteers to help restore and improve national parks and other public lands.

“The Mount Vernon Trail is a very popular recreational resource and these bridge improvements will greatly increase safety for thousands of trail users,” said Charles Cuvelier, superintendent of the George Washington Memorial Parkway, which runs parallel to the 18-mile trail.

Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck and state Sen. Scott Surovell were among the officials who attended the ribbon-cutting.

The reconstruction began on Feb. 14 and involved relocating Bridge 12, expanding it to 14 feet in width, installing upgraded railings, and resurfacing the trail to the bridge from Waynewood Blvd to Fort Hunt Road, according to the NPS.

The straighter alignment and reduced slope of the trail leading to and from the bridge enabled by its new location will improve safety, the park service said in its news release.

According to On the MoVe, the previous bridge was “known for frequent bike mishaps” and had been under consideration for an overhaul for decades before getting the needed funding from the Virginia Department of Transportation in 2018. The Federal Highway Administration also assisted.

First opened on April 15, 1972, the Mount Vernon Trail spans over 18 miles from George Washington’s Mount Vernon to Theodore Roosevelt Island near Arlington. Maintained with help from the volunteer nonprofit Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail, the facility reached its 50th anniversary earlier this year.

NPS’ next reconstructions for the southern end of the trail will focus on Bridges 23 and 24 between Belle Haven Road and Tulane Drive, On the MoVe reported. The park service plans to replace four bridges in all over the next five years.

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A kid runs past Vienna Town Hall (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

With the national shortage of commercial drivers continuing to strain services from trash collection to school buses, the Town of Vienna plans to increase salaries and offer bonuses to bolster its maintenance workforce.

As part of a new incentive program, the Department of Public Works recommends that the town increase its entry-level salary for maintenance workers to $55,000 and offer a $2,000 hiring bonus to new employees with a commercial driver’s license (CDL).

Maintenance workers — who handle tasks from paving and plowing roads to maintaining sewers and parks facilities — currently get a minimum annual salary of $40,354 or $44,490, depending on the exact position, according to Vienna’s pay plan for fiscal year 2022-2023.

The incentive program would adjust the salaries of existing employees with CDLs accordingly “to address compression and years of service,” town staff wrote in a request for $80,000 to fund the plan in the FY 2022-2023 budget.

The program would also give an annual $2,500 bonus to employees who maintain a Class A CDL and $2,000 bonuses to employees who maintain a Class B license.

Per the staff memo, the proposed hiring bonuses are in line with what Fairfax County, the Town of Herndon, and other Northern Virginia jurisdictions are offering. However, they fall short of what workers can get from the private sector, where incentives range from $4,000 to $10,000.

Vienna’s public works department is seeking $80,000 for the program in a $1.28 million set of adjustments to the FY 2022-2023 budget, known as carry forwards.

“Carry forward money is available because the Town had a surplus in FY 2021-22 of approximately $720,000,” town staff said. “The surplus is due to a combination of several General Fund revenues exceeding budget plus salary savings due to position vacancies during the year.”

Intended to address needs identified after the budget was adopted in May, the package includes $100,000 for building maintenance, $15,000 for landscaping at the Bowman House, and $30,000 to switch 60 town cell phones from T-Mobile to AT&T, among other items.

Stricter regulations for massage salons that the town council approved on Aug. 29 will require a new temporary employee to help enforce the new rules, according to staff. The town estimates that the position will cost $40,000.

“During the 2024 budget cycle staff will recommend whether or not this requires a permanent full or half-time position,” the memo says.

The Vienna Town Council will hold a public hearing on the proposed carry forward plan during its regular meeting at 8 p.m. tonight (Monday).

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A rendering of the proposed development outside the West Falls Church Metro station (via WMATA)

Metro anticipates reducing the parking capacity at its West Falls Church station by over 700 spaces in order to accommodate a planned redevelopment of the property between I-66 and Haycock Road.

Under review by Fairfax County, the project would replace the Metro station’s surface parking lots with 24 acres of mixed-use development, including up to 900 residential units, 110,000 square feet of office, and 10,000 square feet of ground-floor retail.

Working with private developers known collectively as FGCP-Metro LLC, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) has proposed eliminating a south parking lot off of Falls Church Drive and reducing the number of bus bays and Kiss & Ride spots at the station.

“Proposed changes are intended to promote transit-oriented development, increase Metro ridership, enhance bicycle and pedestrian access to the station, and modernize transit facilities,” WMATA says.

Park and Ride

Taking out the south parking lot will reduce the station’s park-and-ride capacity from 2,009 to 1,350 spots, according to an environmental evaluation by the consultant WSP.

The evaluation found that demand had dropped from an average of 1,500 vehicles per day when the Silver Line opened in 2014 to 850 per day in 2017. Prior to the pandemic, the average rebounded to 950 in 2018 and 1,100 in 2019.

The West Falls Church Metro station’s existing parking lots (via Google Maps)

About 1,350 to 1,400 spaces are projected to be sufficient to meet parking demand through 2045, the report says. The station’s existing 1,200 garage will be retained, while construction on the office and multifamily residential buildings planned on the north parking lot won’t begin for another 10 years.

At that time, Metro will “reassess” whether to keep as parking or give the developers permission to redevelop it, on the condition that private garages for the new buildings include 150 to 200 spots for commuters.

“Several factors could affect commuter parking demand, including post-COVID changes in commuter travel patterns, the planned openings of Silver Line phase 2 and the I-66 toll lane project, and efforts by Metro to manage parking demand,” the evaluation says, noting that FGCP-Metro will construct approximately 700 parking spaces. Read More

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Police have identified the remains of Patricia Gildawie, a 17-year-old Fairfax City resident who went missing in 1975 (via FCPD)

Human remains discovered by a drainage ditch in Tysons over two decades ago have been linked to a teen who went missing back in 1975, Fairfax County police announced today (Monday).

With help from the private forensics lab Othram Inc., cold case detectives have identified the remains found behind the Post apartments in 2001 as those of Patricia Agnes Gildawie, a Fairfax City resident who disappeared when she was 17.

Also known by the nickname “Choubi,” Gildawie was last seen on Feb. 8, 1975. At that time, she had been dating an older man who worked at an upholstery store near the intersection of Church Street and Lawyers Road in Vienna, the Fairfax County Police Department says based on information shared by her half-sister.

According to the department, Gildawie was born in France in February 1958 before coming to the U.S. when she was 8 months old. She moved to Fairfax in the early 1970s and was known to drive a white Cadillac Eldorado with red interior.

The skeletal remains now identified as Gildawie’s were found on Sept. 27, 2001, in the 1500 block of Lincoln Circle by a construction crew, according to police:

A construction crew found the remains behind an apartment complex along with some clothing. The remains were recovered and reviewed by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and an anthropologist. This initial review determined the female died from a gunshot wound to the head. This report further indicated the remains were like that of an African American female in her late teens to early 20s.

Detectives partnered with Othram on the case earlier this year, thanks to funding from anonymous donors through the site DNASolves.

Othram’s advanced DNA testing and forensic-grade genome sequencing determined that the remains, in fact, belonged to a Caucasian woman and identified Gildawie’s half-sister as a possible relative, according to the FCPD.

“Identifying this young woman solves a mystery that has been more than 47 years in the making,” Ed O’Carroll, FCPD’s Bureau Commander of Major Crimes and Cyber and Forensics, said. “Our community should take comfort in knowing that our detectives never stop working these cases. Advancements in technology have given my Cold Case detectives an opportunity to pursue fresh leads and bring some relief to families that have been long suffering with the unknown.”

The department says its detectives are continuing to investigate Gildawie’s case using the new information provided by her family.

Information about the case can be submitted anonymously to police through Fairfax County Crime Solvers.

The FCPD has partnered with Othram to investigate several cold cases recently, including the mystery of the “Christmas Tree Lady” who died by suicide in Annandale in 1996.

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A duck takes a bath in Royal Lake near Burke (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

The weekend is almost here. Before you double check your Congressional district or head to bed for some much-needed sleep, let’s revisit the past week of news in Fairfax County.

Here are the 10 most-read stories on FFXnow this week:

  1. Upcoming gastropub restaurant in Reston reignites family legacy, pays ode to Lake Anne
  2. Nothing Bundt Cakes bakery arrives in Herndon, will offer free ‘bundtlets’ at grand opening
  3. JUST IN: Truck hits McLean power line, killing man and prompting outage
  4. BREAKING: Assistant arrested for allegedly assaulting special needs student at Dogwood ES
  5. Developer seeks to convert Tysons office building into ‘live/work’ units
  6. DEVELOPING: Pedestrian in hospital after crash in Pike 7 Plaza parking lot
  7. FCPS ‘reviewing’ Virginia’s proposed policies on treatment of transgender students
  8. Metro board takes key step to setting opening date of Silver Line Phase II
  9. Proposed ‘home share’ program could help house older county residents
  10. Reston planning committee approves Vantage Hill redevelopment

Ideas for potential stories can be sent to news@ffxnow.com or submitted as an anonymous tip. Photos of scenes from around the county are welcome too, with credit always given to the photographer.

Feel free to discuss these topics, your weekend plans, or anything else that’s happening locally in the comments below. Have a great weekend, Fairfax County!

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