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The community has kept VHC Health’s primary care office in West Springfield busy since it opened last June.

Officially welcomed by Fairfax County leaders with a ribbon-cutting and open house on Jan. 31, the practice at 5803 Rolling Road, Suite 110, started with one physician but added a second in October to meet the demand for services, according to Darryl Ernst, the senior vice president of VHC Health Physicians.

He says the nonprofit health system anticipates adding two more physicians into 2025, bringing the office up to VHC’s typical primary care staffing levels. With each physician usually seeing up to 2,500 patients annually, the West Springfield practice could ultimately care for as many as 10,000 to 12,000 patients.

“The office itself has gotten busy fairly quickly,” Ernst told FFXnow. “That’s been very encouraging for us because I think it reinforces why we’ve been asked to come and provide care in that community.”

Located in a brick office building south of the Kings Park neighborhood, VHC Health’s West Springfield facility provides primary care services to people 18 and older, including physical exams, wellness visits and other preventative care, lab testing and chronic disease management. Same-day urgent appointments and telehealth visits are available.

The practice may expand in the future to also offer cardiology services, but a definite decision on that hasn’t been made yet, Ernst says.

Decisions about what services to offer where are driven by community need and possible gaps in a given neighborhood’s health care network, according to Ernest, who says a lot of patients who get cardiology services at VHC Health’s hospital in Arlington live or work in the West Springfield area.

“We want to be in communities that don’t have many providers in a certain specialty,” he said. “So, we believe cardiology is the need in that community, and so, that’s one of the reasons we would do it, in essence, because there’s not the kind of access that we think it should exist for cardiology services.”

The West Springfield practice was among several new VHC Health facilities to pop up in Fairfax County over the past couple of years. Rebranding from Virginia Hospital Center, the nonprofit now also has facilities in Annandale, Tysons, McLean, Vienna and Kingstowne.

A digestive health center that focuses exclusively on gastrointestinal issues also opened this past Tuesday (Feb. 13) at 3025 Hamaker Court in Merrifield.

Ernst says VHC Health has been “very intentional” with its expansion into Fairfax County, which was in the works before the COVID-19 pandemic but got temporarily slowed down as medical providers pivoted to virtual services.

In addition to seeking to give its existing patients a more convenient option, the nonprofit has gotten a “tremendous amount” of outreach from elected officials and business leaders requesting facilities in different parts of the county, including West Springfield, according to Ernst.

Though VHC’s offices have been concentrated in the eastern part of the county so far, it’s developing plans to expand to the western side. Ernst says they’re not at a stage yet where he can disclose specific details, but the focus will likely be around Fairfax City and its surrounding areas.

“We think [our facilities are] special, and we just really want them to be a resource for the community and for the residents,” Ernst said.

Cryptid Grove is the game designed in the extension of Escape Room Herndon (via Omer Aru)

Escape Room Herndon is officially expanding this week with a new room near its current location in Herndon Centre.

The latest game — Cryptid Grove — will open Thursday, Feb. 15 in the company’s new Raven’s Nest Escape Room at 388 Elden Street.

Able to accommodate up to 10 players, the game is designed for customers between the ages of 10 and 75 and described as having “moderate” level of difficulty, according to the company.

“Cryptid Grove offers an intriguing experience inspired by the lore of mysterious creatures like Bigfoot and Mothman, designed to engage adventurers of all ages,” Herndon Escape Room owner Omer Aru said. “Raven’s Nest is our expanded new location in a few doors down in the same shopping center.”

Escape Room Herndon opened its doors in 2016. It decided to expand with Raven’s Nest in reponse to burgeoning demand from the community. The space will also feature a 215-square-foot party room, set to open in March, and a second game expected in late 2024.

Reservations for “Cryptid Grove” are now available online.

South Block logo (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

South Block may be on the verge of an East Coast expansion, but for its next location, the regional juice and smoothie bowl chain is sticking relatively close to home.

Announced in a Halloween Instagram post, South Block’s 16th shop is set to open in The Field at Commonwealth (14383 Newbrook Drive) in Chantilly this summer. Construction will begin within the next couple weeks, South Block founder and CEO Amir Mostafavi told FFXnow in an email.

The shop, which serves smoothies, açai bowls, juices and toasts, will be situated alongside a Peet’s Coffee, UPS Store and Chipotle.

“We love Fairfax County,” wrote Mostafavi, who grew up in McLean. Following a 2020 opening in the Town of Vienna, South Block opened its first Fairfax County location last March in McLean’s Chesterbrook Shopping Center (6246 Old Dominion Drive).

The company also plans to start construction on a location in Fairfax’s Fair City Mall (9650 Main Street) this summer and is negotiating a lease in Springfield, Mostafavi wrote.

“Our longer term plan is to start expanding into new markets outside of the DMV, but we feel there [are] still a ton of amazing communities in the DMV that we would love to be a part of,” he wrote.

Private equity firm Savory Fund acquired a stake in South Block in a deal announced at the end of January. That deal keeps Mostafavi as the company’s CEO.

The new partnership aims to bring South Block up to 50 East Coast locations. South Block’s first storefront opened in Clarendon in 2011, and the chain’s most recent location opened last July in Amazon’s HQ2.

“More important than scale, where we add dozens more units, we want to grow the business from within and make sure that we grow the base of our cult following and the locations we currently have,” Savory Fund Managing Partner and co-founder Andrew Smith told FFXnow’s sister site ARLnow.

Following the announcement, Mostafavi told ARLnow that the entire South Block team will stay intact.

Ornery Beer Company is no longer expanding to Herndon’s Arrowbrook Centre (courtesy Ornery Beer Company)

Ornery Beer Company Public House has officially dropped its plans for a location at Herndon’s Arrowbrook Centre (2340 Silver Arrow Way).

The company’s CEO Randy Barnette says plans fell through due to issues with securing financing for the project. The news was first reported by The Burn.

Inflation in the wake of the pandemic added 25% to the project’s costs, making a loan challenging and “adding uncertainty to the profitability of the location,” Barnette told FFXnow.

“The developer, The Ruth & Hal Landers Charitable Trust, was an outstanding partner in the pursuit of the location,” Barnette said. “I wish we could be a tenant for decades with them. Their charitable trust was built from the original cattle & dairy farm that occupied all that area up from the 50s until the early 80s.”

The brewery had hoped to open towards the end of last year, bringing a full-service restaunt and brewery with three barrels to the site. It was designed to be similar to the Fairfax location.

Arrowbrook — still a relatively new development south of the Dulles Toll Road near the Innovation Center Metro station — welcomed the bakery and restaurant Paris Baguette in November. Other upcoming tenants include a South Asian grocery story and a spin-off of a Peter Chang restaurant.


A rehabilitation center in Burke wants to expand, and it’s asking Fairfax County to approve its plan.

In an effort to “improve its ability to serve the Northern Virginia area,” the Burke Health and Rehabilitation Center submitted an application to the county on Jan. 16 requesting a rezoning and an amendment that would allow an addition, a statement of justification reads.

The 120-bed facility at 9640 Burke Lake Road offers short and long-term post-surgery care, cardiac and stroke care, and other nursing services. The proposal calls for a roughly 25,000-square-foot addition to the existing facility to accommodate 68 more beds.

“To accomplish this, a rezoning to the R-3 District is requested as the proposed floor area ratio (FAR) is slightly over 0.2,” the statement reads, referring to the size of the new building compared to the size of the lot. “Additionally, the existing special exception approval from 2008 will have to be amended to accommodate the proposed site changes.”

According to the application filed by 9640 Burke Lake Road LLC, the property is governed by a special exception initially approved in 1985 and amended in 1987 and 2008. Currently, the 46,143-square-foot building is zoned for the county’s R-1 district and occupies 7.65 acres with two-story and one-story sections.

The proposed building would be tucked into the “L” formed by the existing building, the statement reads. The rehab center is also seeking 10 additional parking spaces south of the addition.

The center would keep an existing recreational area west of the building, which has a gazebo, a picnic table, benches and trails. Additionally, areas that are in a floodplain, resource protection areas and Environmental Quality Corridors will not be disturbed, according to the application.

The statement of justification also describes the center’s relationship with the adjacent Heatherwood Retirement Community as symbiotic.

“In addition to providing much needed medical and rehab services to the retirement community residents, as needed, the center is also accessed through the retirement community property,” the statement reads.

Next steps include referring the special exception application to the Health Care Advisory Board for a recommendation and report, which will then be given to the Fairfax County Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors.

The Chinese noodle shop Shi Miao Dao will soon open a franchise in Merrifield Plaza (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

(Updated at 5 p.m.) A few new tenants are making their way to Merrifield Plaza, the H Mart and Lidl-anchored shopping center at Route 29 and Gallows Road.

The newcomers will include a franchise of Shi Miao Dao, a Chinese noodle shop that can also be found in Rockville, Maryland, among other locations. The Merrifield restaurant is part of the same brand, but the operator isn’t affiliated with the one in Rockville, says a broker for TSCG, which manages and leases Merrifield Plaza.

Specializing in cuisine from the southwestern province of Yunnan, Shi Miao Dao originated in China, where it has more than 750 restaurants, before expanding in recent years to North America, according to Eater San Diego, where a franchise opened last year.

Translating roughly to “ready in 10 seconds,” the name refers to the time it takes to dump the ingredients of the restaurant’s signature, DIY noodle soup into the accompanying pork broth, the Washington Post said in a review of the Rockville location that calls the dish “exquisite.”

Shi Miao Dao will occupy 1,200 square feet at 2833 Gallows Road, per TSCG.

Also coming to Merrifield Plaza is La Mexicana, an expansion of the bakery and taqueria that has operated at 2907 Arlington Drive in Hybla Valley since 2002.

According to its website, the eatery was started by a couple who wanted to “share our Mexican heritage and love for baking” and specializes in traditional Mexican dishes, like tacos and tamales. Washingtonian designated it as one of the D.C. area’s best cheap eats in 2017 and 2018.

“From mouthwatering tacos to traditional enchiladas, La Mexicana promises to be a haven for lovers of Mexican cuisine,” TSCG said.

La Mexicana’s second location will be at a 2,000-square-foot space at 2855 Gallows Road next to Lidl. Owner Carlos Benitez estimates that it’ll be four to five months before the restaurant opens, since they’re waiting for Fairfax County to approve the necessary permits to start construction.

Finally, Merrifield Plaza will add Sou the Spa, a South Korean beauty and skin care clinic that can currently be found in Annandale. The spa has leased 1,200 square feet at 2851 Gallows Road.

TSCG says Shi Miao Dao is expected to open sometime in March, but there’s no estimated opening date for Sou the Spa yet.

“We are thrilled to welcome La Mexicana, Sou the Spa, and Shi Mao Noodles to Merrifield Plaza Shopping Center,” TSCG Executive Vice President Billy Orlove said. “These establishments add a unique and diverse dimension to our current offerings, providing something for everyone in the community. We know that Merrifield Shopping Center will continue to be a great source of retail stores.”

Costco plans to add a new fueling station to its Springfield location (via Google Maps)

Costco is fueling up to expand its Springfield location with a new 12-pump gas station.

In a proposal submitted to Fairfax County on Dec. 15, Costco Whole Corp. says it wants to demolish a vacant, two-story office building next to its warehouse at 7373 Boston Blvd and replace it with the fueling station, which would be open for Costco members only.

To move forward with the plan, Costco would consolidate two parcels of land, adding roughly 9,300 square feet of usable space to its property.

“The consolidation of Parcel 24 and Parcel C would allow the Applicant to redevelop the currently vacant office building with a state-of-the-art members-only vehicle fueling station and integrate all 17.61 acres into the Costco Wholesale retail experience with the same departments and features Costco includes in any new developments and which exist in all of their other locations in Fairfax County,” the application said.

The application emphasizes that the changes, if approved, would actually reduce the overall density of the site.

Access to Costco — which is currently provided at two points on Boston Blvd. — would not be impacted by the proposal.

At the western entrance to the property, an existing entry to the office building would be repurposed as an entry point, “seamlessly integrating it into the consolidated Costco retail center.”

“This consolidation ensures continuity in site accessible while enhancing overall operational efficiency,” the application said.

The fueling station would have 24 fueling positions and a 8,100-square-foot fuel canopy.

The proposal is under review but hasn’t been officially accepted by county planners yet. Costco is also seeking to expand its heavily used retail warehouse at 4725 West Ox Road in the Fairfax area.

Image via Google Maps

Cryptid Grove is the game designed in the extension of Escape Room Herndon (via Omer Aru)

Escape Room Herndon is venturing into new territory as it prepares to open an expansion of its existing space in Herndon Centre.

Omer Aru, the owner of the business, says the location on Elden Street is expected to open sometime around Jan. 1.

The new space had previously been expected to open this past fall, but Aru says it took more time than expected to receive the necessary approvals from Fairfax County for the expansion. Building the game itself also took several months.

“We expected it to take about 4-5 months, but we thought we would have gotten started in early summer,” Aru told FFXnow. “Instead, it wasn’t until late August that we started building the game.  All our props are custom-made by our very small team, so those take time as well.”

The game “Cryptid Grove” is based on various “wonderful creatures of lore,” according to Aru.

“The players will get to explore a gift shop for Cryptids situated inside a national park created just for these creatures to relax and be themselves,” he said. “It will be a fun light-hearted game good for all adventures young and old.”

The new room is just a few doors down from Escape Room Herndon’s current location at 406 Elden Street. Current rooms include an 8-bit Escape, Maritime Mutiny, Magician’s Workshop, and The Grave Robber’s Dilemma.

While Herndon is its flagship location, the company also has escape rooms in Richmond and Arlington.


(Updated at 4:05 p.m.) A coffee shop inspired by Saudi Arabia’s cafe culture is now bringing that hip energy to both Tysons malls.

Shotted has gained a loyal following, especially within the D.C. area’s Muslim community, since opening a kiosk at Tysons Corner Center in 2020. Three years later, Shotted has expanded for the first time with a new branch in Tysons Galleria.

In its soft-opening phase since Nov. 16, the new shop can be found in the mall’s third-floor food hall, replacing Twelve Twenty Coffee. Seeking to rebuild after the departure of former operator Urbanspace, the hall is still home to Andy’s Pizza and Empanadas De Mendoza.

“We’re very happy to be here and happy to be part of this community,” Shotted founder and CEO Bandar Alhenaki said. “We want people to come in and enjoy their time shopping at the Galleria and also enjoy quality coffee and quality dessert with their family and friends.”

While it seems unusual for a business to open two locations within walking distance of each other, Shotted’s Tysons Galleria shop diverges in several ways from its predecessor.

To start with, it’s envisioned as more of a dine-in experience to take advantage of the food hall’s more extensive seating, while the heavily trafficked Tysons Corner Center location is designed for quick service, Alhenaki says.

The Galleria shop also opens earlier — at 7:30 a.m. instead of 10 a.m. — so it can serve morning commuters, including workers at nearby office buildings. Accordingly, it has an expanded menu with sandwiches, hot croissants and other breakfast food as well as additional desserts, such as date pudding and soft-serve ice cream.

“We’re excited to serve them…during their morning coffee and also be a business hub for them to bring in clients and take to meetings in the Galleria in this amazing space,” Alhenkai said.

Shotted currently closes at 10 p.m. at Tysons Galleria, but its goal is to eventually extend that to 11 p.m., which would be the same weekday closing time as the Tysons Corner Center location.

Rich Dinning, Tysons Galleria’s senior general manager, calls Shotted “a great addition” to the mall for “bringing a new warm community feel” as well as “a wide variety of premium drinks and desserts.”

“Our customers can enjoy their favorite cup of coffee with a friend or while they shop our iconic collection of tenants,” Dinning said in a statement.

The addition of a second location is just the start of Alhenaki’s plans to expand Shotted, first to other parts of the D.C. area, and then, nationwide. Though no specific sites have been identified yet, he says the business is “aiming for the Arlington area, D.C., and such.”

“We are working on that expansion strategy to make it happen in 2024,” he said.

The MetroPlace I office building in Dunn Loring (courtesy LDC)

A land design and engineering firm will expand soon with a new office in Fairfax County, where it already regularly consults on development projects.

Headquartered in Woodbridge, Land Design Consultants (LDC) announced Thursday (Nov. 9) that it will open a second Northern Virginia office in Metroplace I, an 8-floor office building at 2650 Park Tower Drive near the Dunn Loring Metro station.

Intended to give the company a base closer to its clients in the D.C. area, the new, 4,000-square-foot office will focus on landscape architecture services with studio space for 20 employees, who are expected to move in this coming January, according to a press release.

“This is an exciting step forward as our company celebrates nearly 40 years offering land development engineering, planning and surveying services to our valued clients,” LDC President Matt Marshall said in the press release. “This new office will allow us to continue our mission of providing technical expertise, sustainable design and quality work that contributes to the success of our clients’ projects.”

The landscape architecture studio will be led by LDC Director of Project Managment Jessica Bradshaw, according to the firm.

Founded in 1985, LDC provides planning, civil engineering and surveying services to developers. Its Fairfax County work has included The Lofts at Reston Station, Stonebrook at Westfields, and the redevelopment of the Four Seasons Tennis Club in Merrifield into the Marche’ townhomes.

Current projects include The Flats at Tysons, a condominium development that will be built on a parking lot behind the Fairfax Square shopping center, and Workhouse Place, single-family houses currently under construction next to the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton.

MetroPlace I has four spaces available for lease, totaling 12,875 square feet, according to property manager Lincoln Property Company.


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