More Money Requested for Silver Line Phase Two — “Officials with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority are seeking an additional $250 million in funding to pay for construction…citing the project’s complexity, coronavirus-related restrictions, an increase in the cost of building materials, and supply chain slowdowns as key factors for the cost increase.” [The Washington Post]
Mochi Doughnut Eatery Opens in Vienna — The regional chain Donutchew has opened a franchise in the former Starbucks at 107 Maple Avenue West, offering about 20 flavors of doughnuts made with glutinous rice flour. The shop gives Vienna a second option for mochi doughnuts and bubble tea after Bubble Mochi opened nearby in January. [Patch]
Man Robbed on W&OD Trail in Herndon — “The victim reported he was walking along the W&OD Trail on the afternoon of Thursday, July 14, 2022, when he was approached from behind by two unknown suspects. The suspects robbed the victim of personal property. The case is under investigation.” [Herndon Police]
Vienna Business Committee Chair Dies — “It’s not easy assuming a leadership role during a pandemic, but Robert ‘Bob’ Leggett did it willingly and enthusiastically when he became chairman of the Town Business Liaison Committee (TBLC) in 2020. Upon learning of his death on Sunday, July 17, 2022, Town leaders reflected on Leggett’s ability to bring people together for the greater good of the community.” [Town of Vienna]
Fairfax Station ATM Stolen From Gas Station — “Authorities say two men forced their way into a gas station in Fairfax and stole the automated teller machine inside. The incident happened just after 4:05 a.m. Tuesday at the Exxon at 5211 Ox Road. Police say the men loaded the ATM into a white van and fled the area.” [FOX5]
Vienna Revises Historic Site Definition — The Vienna Town Council voted unanimously on July 11 to amend an ordinance to make buildings, structures, businesses and sites eligible for the town’s historic register if they’re at least 100 years old. The town previously defined sites as historic if they’ve been at their current locations or in continuous use or operation since before 1900. [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]
County Library Foundation Board Elects New Chair — “The Fairfax Library Foundation is excited to announce that Miriam Smolen has been elected chair of the board of directors beginning in 2022-2023. Miriam will replace outgoing Chair, Patricia Reed. She previously served as the board’s special projects lead.” [Fairfax Library Foundation]
Students Master Cake and Swordplay at Summer Arts Program — “The teenagers are part of Fairfax County Public Schools annual Institute for the Arts, a summer program that encourages kids — even those not enrolled in FCPS — to explore subjects like ‘Modern Buttercream Techniques’ or ‘Stage Combat’ that either aren’t traditionally offered during the school year or may not fit into a student’s academic scheduling needs.” [FCPS]
It’s Wednesday — Humid throughout the day. High of 90 and low of 76. Sunrise at 6:01 am and sunset at 8:32 pm. [Weather.gov]
A major fixture in Fairfax County’s historic wagon trade is undergoing major repairs.
The county has begun demolishing and repairing the Historic Dranesville Tavern (11919 Leesburg Pike), which was built in the 1830s to serve the wagon trade that supplied the Piedmont area of Virginia. Crews have started a $191,000 project to root out termite damage in the building’s structure.
“As it stands today, the tavern is the product of three distinct phases of construction, and it offers an interesting insight into the evolution of local construction styles,” the Fairfax County Park Authority said in its news release announcing the repairs.
The project is expected to wrap up in November of this year, according to project manager David Buchta.
“The problem was identified in the spring of 2021. The project was delayed by the pandemic and seeking a qualified contractor for the project,” Buchta said.
The park authority describes the tavern as a “significant vestige of the social and commercial history of the region”:
Its association with the turnpike trade is an interesting chapter in its history. The rapid growth of these roads in the general area of Dranesville was spurred by the rivalry between the cities of Georgetown and Alexandria for the valuable resources of the Shenandoah Valley. Dranesville Tavern was frequented by those who traveled between these eastern towns and Leesburg.
Currently, the building is being used as a historic rental for social events and programs for the park authority.
Crews will remove the building’s siding and find rot-resistant wood. Scaffolding will also be erected on the exterior gable end of the building’s chimney.
What to Know About Covid Vaccines for Young Kids — If recommended by the CDC and Virginia Department of Health, COVID-19 vaccines will be available from the Fairfax County Health Department with no appointments needed. Parents should contact their medical provider to see if they will carry the vaccines, which may be harder to find at pharmacies due to a state law that prohibits pharmacists from giving vaccinations to kids younger than 3. [FCHD]
Friends Stunned by Fair Lakes Shooting Deaths — “Now those who knew them are left to reconcile the image of three bodies with memories of an outwardly cheerful trio…who seemed to be always up for a boisterous evening out, for the karaoke nights they enjoyed at Fairfax bars, at Fat Tuesday’s and the Auld Shebeen.” [The Washington Post]
Mosaic District Restaurant Helps Worker After Crash — The Greek restaurant Our Mom Eugenia is helping share a fundraiser for an employee after her daughter was critically injured in last week’s fatal crash in Oakton. The business operator says Katya is “doing well” after being hit by a car while walking home from Oakton High School with her cousin and friend. [NBC4]
Annandale House Fire Started by Lights — Fairfax County fire investigators have determined that a house fire in the 3900 block of Terrace Drive on Saturday (June 11) was started accidentally “by an electrical event involving outdoor string lights” on the backyard deck. The fire displaced seven people and caused approximately $125,000 in damages. [FCFRD]
Victim Says County Prosecutors “Pressured” Her Into Plea Deal — “Julie, not her real name, said she’s been traumatized. First, by a manipulating online predator. Then, by the Fairfax County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office.” [ABC7]
Prepare for Change at Springfield Town Center — “PREIT CEO Joe Coradino said his eye is on reshaping the property into something that more closely resembles its title as a town center, with a greater mix of uses. The introduction of additional components, including the planned Lego Discovery Center and seven-story hotel will help further that aim, he said.” [Washington Business Journal]
Historic Reston Distillery Gets Spotlight — “Thank you Virginia Department of Heritage Resources for promoting #Reston landmark A. Smith Bowman Distillery on #NationalBourbonDay! Read about the only legal whiskey distillery in Virginia in its day, which operated until the 1950s” [Supervisor Walter Alcorn/Twitter]
Restaurant Crawl Coming to Fairfax City on Saturday — The Old Town Fairfax City Summer Crawl is a timed, self-guided tour through participating restaurants, which will offer exclusive small plates and drinks from their menus. The free event will unfold from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m., letting patrons “support local restaurants…while enjoying a variety of bites and beverages.” [Fairfax City EDA]
It’s Wednesday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 85 and low of 69. Sunrise at 5:44 am and sunset at 8:37 pm. [Weather.gov]
Police Arrest Suspect in Car Part Thefts — “A 33-year-old Alexandria man is being held without bond after allegedly stealing thousands of dollars worth of vehicle parts in residential parking garages in Fairfax County and Fairfax City…The first theft was reported on April 19 in the 5800 block of Trinity Parkway in Centreville.” [ALXnow]
Fairfax Man Charged for Loudoun County Bomb Threat — “An 18-year-old man from Fairfax was arrested on Tuesday and charged in connection with a bomb threat that was emailed to Dominion High School on May 19.” [Patch]
Fairfax County to Study Free Bus Service — The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors directed staff to analyze the pros and cons of making Fairfax Connector buses fare free for all riders, building off of a recently approved program providing 50% discounts to low-income riders. The results will be presented to the board at its transportation committee meeting on Sept. 30. [Patch]
Affordable Housing Units Open for Rent — The Fairfax County Department of Housing and Community Development was recently notified of potential vacancies in apartments targeted toward lower-income residents. There are currently available units in Oakton’s Dwell Vienna Metro Apartments, the Passport Apartments in Herndon, and The Kingston and Hanover in Tysons. [HCD]
Construction Firm Makes Reston Office Its HQ — “General contracting firm Winmar Construction Inc., one of the largest private companies in Greater Washington, is moving its headquarters from Georgetown to Reston. Rockville commercial real estate firm Edge said Tuesday it represented Winmar in a lease for 7,000 square feet at 2100 Reston Parkway.” [Washington Business Journal]
Vienna Proposes Change to Historic Register Criteria — “At the request of Historic Vienna Inc., the Vienna Town Council on July 11 will hold a public hearing to change the definition of ‘historic’ as ‘at least 100 years old.'” The town currently limits its register of historic sites and places to properties that existed before 1900. [Sun Gazette]
Repaved Wakefield Courts to Reopen — “After months of repairs and conversion of existing courts to pickleball courts, it’s time to officially open the renewed and renovated Wakefield Park tennis and pickleball court complex…Please join us on Saturday, June 25, 2022, at 9 a.m. for a brief ribbon-cutting ceremony, followed by a demonstration of [pickleball] and light refreshments.” [FCPA]
It’s Thursday — Possible light rain in the morning. High of 75 and low of 66. Sunrise at 5:45 am and sunset at 8:35 pm. [Weather.gov]
A historic landmark in Fairfax County is getting presidential treatment, though it will require visitors and tourists to walk under scaffolding for a while.
The first U.S. president’s Mount Vernon plantation is undergoing a restoration on the eastern side of the mansion.
Exterior work to preserve the home began in late March and could finish this fall. Crews are closely replicating the look that George Washington wanted, where the exterior resembles sand blocks but is actually wood covered in sand and paint.
“It’s essentially the same process that Washington had because he wanted a house that looked like stone, but it’s all wood,” Mount Vernon President and CEO Doug Bradburn said. “The boards would be cut to look like stone blocks.”
Work on the west side, where the main entrance is located, occurred in 2019, and the other sides underwent restoration in 2021.
“This east side is the most complicated,” Bradburn said. “We’ll do the interior later in the year.”
Matt Briney, Mount Vernon’s vice president of media and communications, said the work is funded through ticket sales, retail sales, donations and memberships.
The destination typically draws over 1 million visitors per year, but the COVID-19 pandemic led the site to close for 99 days in early 2020.
Mount Vernon saw 384,000 visits that year, around 450,000 in 2021, and could reach 500,000 or 600,000 this year, Briney said.
The site always sees a three-year recovery from dips over a century’s worth of data, he said.
Just in time for the summer tourist season, Fairfax County is stepping up its efforts to promote the amenities in its southeastern area, providing a discount pass for admissions and more.
County and tourism officials, along with staff of George Washington’s Mount Vernon, touted a new digital pass yesterday (Wednesday) that gives visitors at historic sites and other destinations 20% off admissions and other deals.
Launched last December, the branding campaign is called “Potomac Banks: Explore Fairfax South” and was developed by the digital marketing agency Streetsense. It was showcased during a media event outside the first president’s mansion overlooking the Potomac River.
“Fairfax South is the place to be,” said Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck, who started the Mount Vernon Tourism Task Force in 2019 that led to the branding.
Storck, who was a President Abe Lincoln re-enactor for 25 years, said his love of history was a driving force in showcasing the region’s amenities.
An original marketing push rolled out in February 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic soon took hold in the U.S., particularly damaging the hotel and restaurant industries, Storck said.
The effort also includes one year of marketing with a business development campaign, said Barry Biggar, president and CEO of Visit Fairfax, the area’s official tourism organization.
“Now the real work begins,” he said.
Savings pass launched to promote region
The pandemic-induced delay meant the marketing effort could include a new feature: the Potomac Banks Savings Pass, a $46 pass that gives discounted admission to partnering sites, including George Washington’s Mount Vernon, George Mason’s Gunston Hall and Woodlawn & Pope-Leighey House.
The pass, which has a $25 version for kids ages 6 through 11, also provides deals on tours, gifts and activities at sites such as the National Museum of the U.S. Army, the Workhouse Arts Center, G34.3 Brewing Co., Woodlawn Press Winery and Historic Huntley.
The pass is valid for 90 days, but once it’s first redeemed at a site, it lasts for seven days.
While Washington’s historic property has weathered the pandemic and had buses of visitors there yesterday, other sites will be able to cross-promote.
— Mount Vernon (@MountVernon) May 18, 2022
Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said teachers and textbooks are amazing, but nothing can replace experiencing history in person, and there are historic assets right in people’s backyards to enjoy that people from across the world come to visit.
Biggar said there are plans to create the county’s first tourism improvement district in southern Fairfax County. He said it could be a model for the rest of the region.
According to Biggar, Fairfax County’s tourism dollars generate the most revenue for the Commonwealth of any jurisdiction. The county’s tourism industry generated more than $3 billion in 2019, and he projects it will reach $4.5 billion in five years.