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A planned development near Westfield High School includes 154 townhouses that are for sale (via Fairfax County)

A plan to build 154 townhouses on a property surrounded by industrial uses and bisected by transmission lines opposite Westfield High School in Chantilly is drawing scrutiny from the Fairfax County Planning Commission.

At a meeting last night (Wednesday), some commissioners called the proposal by K. Hovnanian Homes at Gallery Park inappropriate for the area.

Providence District Commissioner Phillip Niedzielski-Eichner said the applicant was attempting to putting a “square peg in a round hole” and struggled to understand why county staff recommended approval of the application, which requires the site at 15014 Northridge Drive to be rezoned from industrial use to residential.

“We don’t have more industrial uses than we need in the county and here we are taking an industrial use and creating a residential island in the middle of industrial use,” Niedzielski-Eichner said.

Other commissioners expressed concern about the transmission lines that cross over the entire property.

The applicant’s attorney, Kenneth Wire, noted the presence of the high school contributes to the sense of community, suggesting that the development would not be on an island.

He also said the developer worked closely with the community, Dominion Energy, and Washington Gas to design the development so that the road network aligned with most of the transmission lines.

“The center of a community is often a school,” Wire said, adding that some buyers may not be perturbed by the presence of transmission lines above.

Staff said the development was appropriate for an area — known in planning jargon as Land Unit J — that could have up to 4,000 additional residential units.

“It’s really just the beginning of the evolution of Westfields,” Bill O’Donald of the county’s zoning department said.

The proposed townhouses are “strategically organized” around the power lines to include open spaces like grilling pavilions, fitness stations, play costs, and a playground, according to the application.

By county standards, 12% of the units are considered affordable, and roughly 3.5 acres of open space is planned. Trails will also be provided along Stonecroft Boulevard and Northridge Drive.

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Pan Am Shopping Center (file photo)

(Updated at 3:30 p.m.) A new chicken spot is opening soon for Merrifield’s Pan Am Shopping Center.

Chicka Loca plans to open at the shopping center in mid-May at 3089 Nutley Street.

Owner Pedram Kanzi says his restaurant will offer 25 percent off all menu items for the first two weeks of opening.

“I’m thrilled to share a piece of my culture with the Fairfax community,” Kanzi said. “It feels surreal to be opening my very first restaurant — a dream that has been years in the making.”

A precise opening date hasn’t been set yet.

With a ramen and Korean barbecue restaurant also slated to open in the coming months, Pan Am Shopping Center continues to add new tenants, even as Federal Realty Investment Trust eyes it for redevelopment, though that could take several years to come to fruition.

“Federal Realty Investment Trust has taken the first steps toward seeking approval for a mix of uses at Pan Am,” said Deirdre Johnson, senior vice resident of asset management. “It should be noted that this project could take several years to bring to fruition. Our relationships with our merchants are extremely important to us, including Michael’s and Micro Center, and we plan to incorporate them into the property for many years to come.”

She says the company plans to work with all stakeholders to create “something that is successful, vibrant and something that can positively define the community.”

The proposal submitted to Fairfax County in March would transform the strip mall into a mixed-use development with three residential buildings, townhouse, and a public plaza.

In addition to the Micro Center and Michaels block, structures slated for demolition include the now-vacant, standalone McDonald’s building, and the Wells Fargo bank in the center’s northwest corner, which will be replaced by a 5,000-square-foot retail building.

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Chico’s in Reston Town Center has closed (staff photo by Fatimah Waseem)

Chico’s, a women’s clothing store, has officially shuttered its doors at Reston Town Center.

The business, which was located at 11910 Market Street, closed up shop last month.

It started off in 1983 as a small gallery and has since expanded across the country. There are several local locations, including McLean, Fairfax, and Leesburg.

There is no word yet on what will replace the store. The company did not return multiple requests for comment on why the store closed and when the last day of business was.

The closure comes amidst a flurry of recent changes in the town center, including the departure of Bow Ties Cinema and the addition of a new athletic facility from The St. James.

The center’s public spaces are slated for a facelift starting this spring, and tenants like Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse and Fogo de Chao — among others — are slated to open up their doors this year.

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A major gateway project that will guide people from Metro into the Town of Herndon is moving forward with a leaner model.

The plan for Parkview by Lerner Enterprises — which includes three mixed-use buildings — is headed to the town’s Architectural Review Board for preliminary review tonight (Wednesday). The buildings will open up to the Herndon Station promenade on the nearly 5-acre site at 593 Herndon Parkway.

The site is directly next to the north entrance of Herndon-Monroe Metro Station and flanks the west corner of the proposed promenade. The promenade extends from Metro’s pavilion to Herndon Parkway and is intended to serve as a pedestrian gateway to the town.

The board is reviewing the third version of this project. The first version maxed out on allowable residential, office and retail densities, while the second option focused on office and retail only. This latest iteration proposes less density and slashes building heights significantly.

The first building, which stands 170 feet tall, has mostly retail and housing on the base, a parking garage in the middle section, and an upper section of office space. Facing the Dulles Toll Road and Metro, it is the tallest of the three buildings proposed.

The ARB described the parking garage as “imposing.”

“The architectural design of the garage and the office building are very different and visually express two different forms and means of articulation. Ways to better tie the two together should be explored,” a May 2 memo from staff states.

The second building is described as a mid-rise residential building. Both the second and third buildings are roughly 85 feet tall.

The board is expected to review the project at a meeting to 7:30 p.m. The proposal is in the pre-application phase and must go through a number of steps before any approval is made. The final version may incorporate previous versions of the project.

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The pretzel bakery Nordic-Knot placed second in a national small business competition (via Studio-M Photos & Jennifer Heffner Photography)

Nordic-Knot has won $40,000 in a national contest for small businesses.

The Reston-based bakery — which specializes in its twisted pretzels — placed second out of 10 finalists in the annual Small Business Big Wins contest, which is run by Barclays Bank.

Ashland Birth Center placed first in the nationwide contest, which recognizes businesses that were heavily impacted by the pandemic. The Wisconsin-based maternity health care center received a grand prize of $60,000.

More than 4,750 small businesses from across the country shared stories of how the pandemic impacted their daily operations. After the 10 finalists were selected, public voting determined the final winners.

Nordic-Knot co-owner Melissa Romano said they plan to use the funds to increase marketing, outreach and boost its production line to “better serve our community.” Results were announced yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon.

“We’ve grown this business very carefully and we were put through the runner during the pandemic,” Romano told FFXnow. She expects to announce some big, new clients in the coming weeks.

For Nordic-Knot, the pandemic meant a dramatic business shift came quickly into play. With many of its distributors closed during the peak of the pandemic, the business shifted to providing their products to customers directly.

Now, even as wholesale distribution picks up, the business plans to maintain direct services for consumers directly.

A vending cart that offers customer direct access to goodies will return to Lake Anne Plaza this summer.

Romano says they plan to continue big partnerships while providing direct access to their items.

“Lane Anne has and will always be our special place of business,” Romano said. “We are really excited for this opportunity for our business.”

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This year’s Founders Day celebration will give a nod to an artist whose sculptures still stand in Reston (courtesy David Emke)

Reston’s annual Founders Day will return on Saturday (April 9) to Lake Anne Plaza.

While the event celebrates Reston’s diversity and rich history, this year’s festivities give a special nod to Uruguayan artist Gonzalo Fonseca, who designed many of the sculptures at Lake Anne.

Fonseca was an internationally recognized artist, world traveler and polylingual, according to Reston Museum, which will house an exhibit paying tribute to the artist.

Fonseca, who died in 1997 and would have been 100 years old this year, viewed sculpture as a “microcosmic way to engage civilization and weave together past and future,” according to his website. With stone as his medium of choice, he designed a playground, underpass and monument in Reston.

Other activities include a sun boat design contest and art projects at Reston Art Gallery & Studios, Public Art Reston, the Japanese Culture Club, and Robert Bernhards at the studios.

The day kicks off at noon with a performance by award-winning duo 123 Andres.

The complete schedule is below:

Musical Performances & Remarks

  • 12 p.m. — 123 Andrés
  • 12:30 p.m. — Opening Remarks & Brick Dedication by Reston Museum Board Representative Chuck Veatch
  • 12:33 p.m. — Remarks by community representatives
  • 1:10 p.m. — Foley Irish Academy of Dance
  • 1:50 p.m. — Reston Chorale
  • 2:10 p.m. — Reston Community Orchestra Brass Ensemble
  • 2:50 p.m. — Lopez Studios
  • 3:30 p.m. — Reston Community Players

Schedule of events at Reston Community Center

  • 1-1:50 p.m. — Multilingual Birthday Party: enjoy cake and learn birthday phrases in other languages.
  • 2-3 p.m. — Community is what it is all about: an ode to Lake Anne book launch with the book creators Cheryl Terio-Simon and Eric MacDicken
  • 3-4 p.m. — Film Series about Reston and Reston’s Public Art:
  • “Fun, Beauty, Fantasy: Reston’s Public Art” by Rebekah Wingert-Jabi
  • Fonseca Film Project by Ryan Burke
  • “Moon Viewing Platform” by by Raphael Chambers (2nd Place winner of the “My Community” video contest celebrating the 50th anniversary of the founding of Reston)
  • “If You Lived Here: Reston” by PBS

The annual Founder’s Day celebration is presented by the Reston Historic Trust with support from Reston Community Center. It is co-sponsored by Reston Association and Public Art Reston.

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The hot chicken spot Hangry Joe’s will open in Centreville this spring via Google Maps)

Another Nashville-style hot chicken spot is taking the county by storm.

Hangry Joe’s Hot Chicken plans to open a Centreville location at 14215U Centreville Square in the next few weeks, according to a company representative.

The restaurant has been rapidly expanding in the county, opening an initial Fairfax location in September and one at Herndon’s Worldgate Centre in January. More Virginia locations are planned in Oakton, Short Pump and Alexandria.

While a exact date has not been determined yet, the restaurant will offer 25% off all orders on grand opening day.

Derek Cha, the founder of sweetFrog, a frozen yogurt spot, launched the business with business partner Mike Kim.

Hangry’s serves hot chicken ranging from “plain” to “angry hot.” Other items on the menu include loaded waffle fries, salad, chicken tenders, okra and Korean-style chicken nuggets.

Photo via Google Maps

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The Reston Subway location appears to have closed (courtesy of Laura Crielly)

There’s more movement on the tenant front at North Point Village Center in Reston.

Subway, located at 1474 North Point Plaza, appears to have closed up shop. Its windows are covered up with paper and its website states the location is closed.

The company did not respond to multiple requests for comment from FFXnow. It is unclear if the closure is permanent or temporary.

Most recently, Matsutake Sushi & Sake Bar opened in the center, replacing a former Boston Market. Bb.q Chicken, a Korean fried chicken spot, opened last July, replacing Jerry’s Subs.

The center has other food-oriented tenants like Gregorio’s Trattoria, Finn Thai, Bobby’s Bagel Cafe and Glory Days Grill.

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Fairfax County staff have flagged a number of issues with a proposal to bring townhomes to Fannie Mae’s former campus in Reston.

Wheelock Street Capital, a Connecticut-based company, wants to build up to 90 townhomes on the site, which was previously approved for three office buildings.

The development houses one office building at 11600 American Dream Way but hopes to replace the approved yet unbuilt offices with residential units.

In a 237-page report, county staff raised a litany of issues with the rezoning proposal, including lack of pedestrian walkability and connections to the surrounding community, poor integration of the townhomes on the site, and too many parking spaces.

The move from office to residential is fairly common in Reston, particularly given the community’s close proximity to the anticipated Silver Line extension.

Roughly 24 of the proposed units are located on protected open space and Environmental Quality Corridor areas, which are given a higher level of scrutiny due to their environmental value.

“Staff has significant concerns with the proposal that have not been adequately addressed,” the report states.

Other aspects of the proposal do not conform with the county’s desire to ensure the development connects seamlessly to surrounding areas, particularly since the development is located within a half-mile between two new Metro stations.

Major concerns include:

  • Over-parking by 213 spaces
  • Trails are disconnected from American Dream Way
  • The installation of a gate on the property is “unacceptable” and limits public access
  • Vehicles could overhang on proposed driveways, creating a safety issue for pedestrians
  • Sidewalk widths are not appropriate on American Dream Way

In the initial application to the county, the developer’s land use attorney, Scott Adams, said the change would complement the existing office development.

“The introduction of an option for residential use will help to complement and balance the existing office use on the property, and will create positive traffic impacts relative to the full office build-out option,” Adams wrote in the proposal.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission delayed a decision on the proposal this week. A rescheduled meeting is expected to take place on April 27.

Fannie Mae has moved its offices to Boston Properties’ Reston Gateway development, where it occupies one office tower and part of a second tower.

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An exact opening date for the Silver Line extension project has not yet been determined (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

The 11.4-mile extension of the Silver Line is still eying a summer completion date, but an exact date remains elusive.

At a meeting earlier today (Thursday), the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s Safety and Operations Committee did not provide a specific date for the completion of the $2.8 billion project.

Instead, members noted that cooperative agreements do not call for a specific date. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) is currently negotiating the period between substantial completion — which it completed in November — and Operational Readiness (OR).

Andrew Off, WMATA’s executive vice president of capital delivery, said that Metro’s general manager will officially determine an Operational Readiness Date (ORD) once OR testing is completed.

Because of the fluid nature of testing and issues that may arise as testing and certification continues, MWAA cannot provide a target opening date. Once the ORD is determined, Metro will formally accept the project from MWAA.

WMATA expects that a 90-day period of pre-revenue activities will then commence.

“There is no defined time period between substantial completion and operational readiness,” Off said, adding that the date of operation is “all condition based.”

That date has already been delayed several times, resulting in some consternation and frustration from county officials.

Metro’s punch list of the main line and station — known as Package A — is 80% complete. Package B — which covers the Dulles Yard — is 95% complete and has been “stagnant” for several weeks, Off said. Remaining items include contract safety certification and certificates of occupancy that are needed for employees.

Joe Leder, WMATA’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, said 400 new employees have been hired for the extension project. Another 20 are expected to be hired by the end of the month.

Dulles District Supervisor Matthew Letourneu noted that the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission — which oversees and enforces safety practice of the rail system — must also complete its own safety enforcement measures, including a safety certification process.

“There’s obviously increasing interest in having this up and running,” Letourneu said.

He clarified with staff that WMSC’s reports should not produce additional delays or surprises because the commission is coordinating closely with Metro.

“As a result of this process, there shouldn’t be surprises from the WMSC that come kind of at the last minute because it’s been iterative,” he said.

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