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Developer Cityline Partners has proposed turning “Block C2” in Arbor Row into a residential high-rise (via Fairfax County)

With the region’s office market still in flux, the developer behind Arbor Row in central Tysons will bet on housing instead.

Cityline Partners recently submitted a proposal to Fairfax County asking to swap an office building that had previously been approved for the neighborhood’s Block C2 for a residential high-rise with ground-floor retail.

“This proposal to develop Block C2 with a high-rise residential building with ground floor retail/service uses and significant park space will progress Arbor Row into a more complete and vibrant neighborhood,” land use lawyer John McGranahan wrote in a statement of justification on the applicant’s behalf.

Encompassing 19.4 acres along Westpark Drive near Tysons Galleria, the plan for Arbor Row was originally approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in 2012. It calls for eight blocks of development, including the completed Nouvelle apartments.

Construction is underway on the Monarch condominiums and The Mather, a two-building senior living facility.

Cityline’s current application focuses on Block C2, which was approved to host an 180-foot-tall office building with up to 275,650 square feet of space, including retail and service uses. A public park with an urban plaza and recreational amenities was also envisioned on a portion of the block.

The new proposal retains the public park commitment but replaces the office building with a 23-story, 270-foot-tall residential tower. The high-rise’s 275,650 square feet of space would consist of up to 240 dwelling units and up to 8,500 square feet of ground-floor retail or service uses.

The application estimates that the change to housing will result in 2,070 fewer average daily vehicle trips on weekdays compared to what the offices would’ve generated, so a reduction to the 475 parking spaces in the currently approved plan has been requested.

Under the proposal, Block C2 will deliver 1.8 acres of a 3-acre public park. The remainder is being built as part of The Mather.

While some of the planned amenities remain the same, including an urban plaza facing Westpark Drive, a playground, a lawn area, pavilions and public art, the new application swaps tennis and basketball courts for a large putting green, two pickleball courts, and an “outdoor fitness circuit,” citing increased demand in the county for pickleball.

It also proposes covering a previously open-air parking garage.

“This eliminates an awkward element of the approved plan and creates a more cohesive park plan,” McGranahan wrote. “It also facilitates connections to the public park spaces on [the Monarch and Nouvelle], which previously were blocked from the signature urban park by a tall retaining wall.”

In addition to the public park, the revised development plan includes private terraces for residents and their guests:

On the south side of the building, a pool deck and an amenity area featuring seating areas, outdoor grilling stations and dining elements, and a multi-functional lawn will be provided. On the north side of the building, the lower level roof terrace may provide additional passive outdoor spaces, and/or provide outdoor space for use by a street level retailer/restaurateur.

Though the application was filed by Cityline Partners, developer Renaissance Centro is under contract to buy the 2.9-acre parcel at 7925 Westpark Drive, according to the Washington Business Journal. The Bethesda-based firm is also building the Monarch.

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Monarch, a 20-story condominium high-rise going up in central Tysons, has reached its pinnacle.

Developer Renaissance Centro celebrated the building’s “topping out” on Sunday (June 26), a key turning point in construction that comes when the main structure is fully in place. The milestone puts Monarch on track to open in spring 2023, according to a press release.

“Pouring concrete makes you susceptible to weather delays and such,” Renaissance Centro Executive Vice President Ilan Scharfstein told FFXnow. “So, having gone through that now, we’re closing in the building, and we can be confident that we’re not going to be experiencing any delays.”

According to Scharfstein, the project hasn’t been affected by pandemic-related supply chain and labor issues, and in general, work has gone smoothly since restarting in March 2021 after a change in contractors.

When completed, the residential tower at 7887 Jones Branch Drive will have 86 units ranging in size from 880 to 4,100 square feet and in price from the mid-$600,000s to $4.1 million. More than half of the units have already been sold, some going for over $3.5 million, Renaissance Centro reported.

Amenities for residents will include 24-hour concierge service, a fitness center, a garden terrace with a swimming pool, co-working space, a pet wash station, and a private dining room on the 20th floor.

Monarch will also have about 6,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space that will be open to the public.

“We are in active discussions with a couple of groups but not quite ready to share specifics on that yet,” Scharfstein said when asked about possible tenants, adding that the retail is envisioned as “an amenity for the residents, but also for the greater Tysons area.”

Monarch is part of the Arbor Row development, which will ultimately encompass 19.4 acres on Jones Branch Drive near Tysons Galleria. Completed portions of the plan include The Nouvelle apartments and the Arbor Row Stream Valley Park.

Construction on The Mather, a pair of 300-unit senior living high-rises, moved above ground in April. The facility will consist of two apartment towers and is expected to welcome residents in 2024.

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Mather Director of Culinary Operations Thad Parton with a food-running robot that the senior living facility operator is testing in Arizona (courtesy Mather)

When The Mather Tysons opens in 2024, the senior living facility might employ some workers of the artificial intelligence variety.

Rest assured, these robots won’t be capable of planning a HAL 9000-style takeover. Instead, they will perform simple, repetitive tasks, such as delivering food to tables and apartments and cleaning hallways.

“Our hope is that it helps us retain team members, that they’ll recognize that we’ve gone kind of the extra step to provide them a level of assistance they may not get elsewhere in similar roles,” Mather Director of Culinary Operations Thad Parton told FFXnow.

Inspired by its founder’s work as an inventor, Mather’s plans to introduce robots to its senior living residences precede the pandemic.

According to Parton, Mather CEO and President Mary Leary asked him to explore robotics a couple of years ago as a potential way to boost service levels. After some research and conversations with vendors, he had identified a unit that would deliver food to residents’ apartments autonomously when COVID-19 arrived.

Once the worst of the pandemic’s initial surge dissipated, the nonprofit launched a pilot of the delivery robot at its life plan community in Evanston, Illinois, but as more people started eating in the dining room instead of taking food out, Parton realized his team’s needs had changed.

“The delivery robot was not as important to us as providing additional support to our dining services team, so we pivoted to testing a food-running robot,” he said, noting that the machines have become increasingly popular throughout the food service industry as restaurants adjust to an exodus of workers.

Earlier this spring, Mather deployed a food-running bot from Bear Robotics at its Splendido community in Tucson, Arizona, for a four-week pilot.

Capable of carrying 66 pounds with three trays and a built-in bussing pan, the robot transports plates of food from the facility’s kitchen to the dining room and then brings the empty dishes back to the kitchen.

“Human servers unload and serve the meals delivered by the robot, and load it up for return to kitchen,” Mather said. “This saves time for servers, who can now spend more time in the restaurant with residents.”

Mather explained exactly how the robot works: Read More

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(Updated at 6 p.m.) Construction work has moved above ground on a pair of buildings that will bring 300 new apartments for older residents to Tysons.

Vertical construction began earlier this month on The Mather at 7929 Westpark Drive, the senior living provider Mather announced in a news release yesterday (Tuesday).

The milestone comes almost two years after work on the 4-acre site began with the demolition of an existing office building in May 2020.

“We are very excited to bring The Mather to Tysons,” Mather CEO and President Mary Leary said. “‘Going vertical’ is symbolic of the successful effort the team has put forward to obtain financing, exceed sales projections, and break ground — especially at such an unprecedented time these last two years.”

Approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in 2019, The Mather will consist of two residential buildings — a 27-story high-rise with 179 apartments and an 18-story building with 114 apartments.

Open to people 62 and older, the units will range in size from 850 to 3,300 square feet, with entrance fee prices starting at $646,700. Residents will have access to assisted living, memory care, and health care services, among other amenities.

The apartment towers will top a five-story “podium” with retail and other public uses on the ground floor, parking, residential amenities on the third level, memory support and skilled nursing on the fourth level, and assisted living on the fifth level, according to the county-approved plan.

According to the press release, Mather has also partnered with Fairfax County to provide “wellness and lifelong learning programs” in a dedicated space on the podium’s first floor, which will have an over 14,000-square-foot commercial space. The programming will be open to people 50 and older in the general community.

After two rounds of pre-sales, The Mather has already sold 80% of its units, exceeding projections, a company spokesperson said.

Located in walking distance of Tysons Galleria, The Mather is part of the 19.4-acre Arbor Row planned along Westpark Drive. The development also has the finished Nouvelle apartment building and The Monarch condominiums, which are under construction.

The $500 million Life Plan Community anticipates move-ins starting in early 2024, with construction on the 27-story tower expected to finish next year.

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