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A hotel is slated for approval at Springfield Town Center (via Fairfax County)

The first pieces of the long-anticipated redevelopment of Springfield Town Center are officially moving forward.

At a Nov. 30 meeting, the Fairfax County Planning Commission voted to approve the replacement of a surface parking lot with a five-story hotel — a move that the applicant says could jumpstart the rebirth of the area that surrounds the mall.

David Gill, the applicant’s representative from Wire Gill, said the hotel — Home2 Suites by Hilton — is a “great first step in analyzing the vision that was thought of nearly a decade from now.” The building sits across two parcels fronting Loisdale Road on property owned by Philadelphia-based Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT).

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will hold public hearings tomorrow on the hotel and a companion application for the Hanover, a mid-rise residential building with up to 460 units.

Overall, in 2007, the area was approved for 2 million square feet of commercial space and up to 2,736 residential units, in addition to the roughly 1-million-square-foot mall.

The hotel piece of the property only covers a roughly 5.4-acre piece of the overall development plan.

The latest proposal swaps the hotel with the original location of the first office building planned on the site. The plan also calls a reduction in hotel rooms from 225 to 140 rooms and a reduction in the ground-floor retail from up to 23,000 square feet to a small portion that will serve hotel guests.

Gill said that the applicant plans to build suites only.

Braddock District Commissioner Mary Cortina expressed concerns about the deferral of a Central Park that was previously set to be triggered by the development proposal, due to challenges with “no build” areas maintained by restaurants.

“When are we ever going to see the park part of this? Could this use be indefinitely put off? And I think it would detract from the property value overall,” Cortina said.

County staff noted that the applicant is still committed to the Central Park, but when market conditions and associated easements allow it to move forward in a realistic manner.

Planning Commissioner David Lagana lauded staff for their work on the project.

“We worked very hard to get this application ready for this board date. It was a Herculean effort,” he said.

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Metro surveillance video showing a man police believe to be the suspect in a sexual assault at a Tysons hotel (via FCPD)

A woman was sexually assaulted by a man who brandished a firearm at a hotel in the Tysons West area earlier this month, the Fairfax County Police Department says.

The department’s Major Crimes Bureau Sex Abuse Squad is investigating a rape that reportedly occured on Oct. 1 at a hotel in the 8600 block of Westwood Center Drive — likely the Hawthorn Suites, according to a news release published today (Monday).

“Officers responded at 5:30 p.m., after receiving a report of a man that sexually assaulted a woman and brandished a firearm,” the FCPD said. “The suspect entered the unlocked hotel room, physically and sexually assaulted the victim and fled. A man known to the victim learned of the assault, saw the suspect and gave chase.”

According to police, the suspect was able to escape after pointing the gun at the other man. The woman was transported to a nearby hospital for treatment.

Police say detectives have obtained surveillance footage from the hotel and Metro showing the man that they believe to be the suspect:

Detectives obtained video surveillance from the hotel of the suspect. As detectives continued to investigate, they also recovered video surveillance from the suspect entering the Metro at the Eastern Market station. The suspect switched to the Silver Line at the Capitol South station and exited at the Spring Hill station.

Officers with the Metro Transit Police Department determined the suspect entered the Metro at the Spring Hill station following the assault. The suspect took the Silver Line to Metro Center and switched to the Red Line in the direction of Glenmont. Detectives believe the suspect resides in the Washington D.C. area. The suspect is described as a Black man, 25-40 years-old, 5’8 – 6′, heavy build with short curly black hair that is partially dyed blonde.

A clip from the video shared by the FCPD shows a man wearing a necklace with a large medallion walking down a pedestrian bridge to a Metro station.

Police are asking anyone with information to contact the investigating detectives at 703-246-7800, option 3. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through Crime Solvers by phone (1-866-411-TIPS) and online.

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A fundraiser prepares to rappel down the Hyatt Regency Tysons Corner Center in 2021 (courtesy Sweetheart Photography by Tammy)

For those who find the prospect of being 14 stories in the air exciting instead of terrifying, the Hyatt Regency at Tysons Corner Center has some available views without the rooms.

Dozens of rappellers will descend down the side of the hotel later this month for a charity fundraiser to support the nonprofit Helping Haitian Angels (HHA), which runs a school and orphanage in Delke, Haiti.

Now in its second year, the event is a partnership between the nonprofit and Over the Edge, an adventure company that was also behind a rappeling fundraiser at the Hilton in Arlington. That raised over $200,000 for the local nonprofit New Hope Housing in May.

“Hyatt Hotels has a long-standing history of supporting local nonprofit and global organizations,” said Jon Davenhall, the hotel’s general manager. “…Hyatt Regency Tysons Corner Center is excited to be the Presenting Sponsor and help make a lasting impact in the lives of children who are left vulnerable without the care of loving parents.”

The fundraiser has been split into two days, starting at 4 p.m. on Aug. 26 with a kick-off reception, media day, and local celebrity and sponsor participants. All of the fundraisers will then rappel down the hotel between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Aug. 27, according to a news release.

Funds raised by the event will go toward the construction of a secondary school and trade school at HHA’s Kay Anj Village campus in Haiti, HHA board member and Over the Edge event lead Carol Wallace says.

Founded in 2008 by a Christian missionary couple, HHA opened the Lekol Harvey Christian School for the children in its orphanage in October 2014 and now provides education and summer camps for up to 150 elementary school students and their parents, according to its website.

The new secondary and trade schools will serve older children as a complement to the existing school, which Wallace says “is thriving.”

“Children in the neighboring community of Dekle will also be invited to attend the secondary school once constructed,” Wallace said.

After landing 85 participants in 2021, HHA has upped the ante for this year’s Over the Edge event with a goal of 110 individuals. There are currently 44 people signed up, according to the event page.

Registration costs $50, which counts toward the minimum of $1,250 that aspiring rappellers must raise in order to participate.

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The newly renovated Tysons Corner Marriott has a new restaurant and bar called Tysons Rickhouse (courtesy Marriott International)

(Updated at 4:10 p.m.) The Marriott in Tysons has finished a $25 million renovation that included redesigns of all 400 hotel rooms, expanded meeting space and the introduction of a new restaurant, the hospitality company announced this morning (Monday).

Replacing Shutters Bar and Kitchen on the hotel’s ground floor, Tysons Rickhouse is described as a “bourbon-inspired” restaurant that serves American food sourced “from the local Virginia area” as well as over 40 kinds of bourbons and whiskeys, according to a press release.

Marriott spokesperson says Shutters was successful, but the company felt the space was in need of a refresh.

“We chose to re-brand the restaurant to be up to date on current food and beverage trends,” Sasha-lee Vos, a senior marketing manager for Marriott, said. “Now, the food is focused on local Virginia flavors and sourced locally as well. We have over 40 bourbons/whiskeys to offer guests and residents, which is unique to the area. Also, we highlight local distilleries and local craft beer on draft.

Located at 8028 Leesburg Pike, the 14-story hotel also has a new fitness center, a 1,750-square-foot meeting room and a lounge for members of the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program:

“The revitalization of our full-service hotel gives loyal Marriott guests a newly transformed option in the historic Washington, D.C. area,” said Tysons Corner Marriott General Manager AJ Atmonavage in the press release. “With our proximity to upscale shopping, numerous corporate offices and historic landmarks, these upgrades have resonated with both business and leisure travelers.”

Work on the renovation began in January 2020 after the hotel was acquired by new owners. Fairfax County records show that the Marriott was built in 1981 and was bought by MTC Hotel Owner LLC in 2018 for $60 million.

“We, along with our owners, felt that a complete renovation would better position us, which it has,” Vos said.

The project’s completion comes as the Tysons Marriott and other local hotels work to recover from the turbulence of the COVID-19 pandemic, which included mass layoffs during the spring of 2020.

Because of the pandemic, the hotel shuttered from March 20 until Sept. 1, 2020 when it typically would’ve stayed open during construction. Despite “a few supply change issues,” the renovation didn’t experience any delays, according to Vos.

Fairfax County has made some efforts to boost the hospitality industry with grants and marketing campaigns, though Visit Fairfax CEO Barry Biggar predicted last summer that it could take until 2023 for business travel in particular to return to pre-pandemic levels.

Nationally, hotel occupancy rates remain down, and room prices are up compared to this time of the year in 2019, according to the data company STR.

More details on the Marriot Tysons renovation from the press release are below: Read More

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A sky terrace is planned at the proposed Fairfax Peak site in Lorton (via Fairfax County)

The climb continues for Fairfax Peak, a long-anticipated project to bring one of the largest indoor ski facilities in the world to Fairfax County.

The county is considering partnering with Alpine-X, a Tysons-based company, to lease land at the county-owned I-95 landfill (9850 Furnace Road) in Lorton for the public-private project.

Alpine-X CEO John Emery said work on the project is ongoing, and the company plans to file an application to rezone the site this year.

“At this time, we continue to make progress on the design of the facility and are coordinating with the county on the timing for filing,” Emery told FFXnow in a statement.

In 2018, Alpine-X submitted the proposal to build a 450,000-square-foot snow sports facility with a planned 1,700-foot ski slope. The facility could include:

  • Multiple ski slopes at a 20-degree angle
  • An area for skiing and snowboarding with ramps, jumps, and rails
  • A bunny slope for beginners
  • A luxury hotel
  • A gravity-powered, mountain coaster that will slide from the summit to Occoquan Regional Park
  • A gondola to ferry riders from the park to the facility’s base

Other features could include a water park, a gravity ropes course, and recreation areas. SnowWorld, a partner of Alpine-X, has signed an agreement with the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority to possibly operate or own some of the planned facilities.

The county would lease the land to Alpine-X, allowing the company to build, own and operate its own facility.

A spokesperson for the county said negotiations with the company are ongoing.

The project is contingent on several factors, including land use entitlements, state regulatory requirements, and other considerations. In October of last year, the county’s Board of Supervisors voted to extend the negotiation period on the project until December 2023.

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Residence Inn could shift into a multi-family housing project (via Town of Herndon)

Herndon will have to wait a little longer to see whether the local Residence Inn will be redeveloped into residential units.

At a Herndon Town Council meeting on Tuesday (May 24), the council deferred a decision on the project, which converts the aging facility into a 170-unit project with at least half of the units set aside as workforce housing.

The applicant’s representative, Ken Wire, said the deferral was necessary because the applicant was not able to sufficiently gather formal feedback from neighboring residents and stakeholders. Wire said some notices about the project were not sent out in time.

The issue was caused by a planning fluke, Wire told the council.

The council has been working with the applicant to sort through a number of details, including beefed-up proffers, for the project. The plan includes 72 new bicycle spaces, a new cycle station facility, and improvements like ADA-friendly crosswalks and $10,000 for bus stop improvements.

Wire said the applicant first came to the Town of Herndon with this project in 2019 to redevelop an asset that was built 32 years ago and “doesn’t fit its purpose.”

“The good news about this sister is that it does lay out quite well for housing units,” Wire said.

Roughly half of the units will be available to residents who earn up to 80% of the median area income.

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Residence Inn could shift into a multi-family housing project (via Town of Herndon)

The proposed redevelopment of an aging Residence Inn in the Town of Herndon is barreling toward a final approval before the Herndon Town Council this month.

The property owner, identified as Elden Street Owner LLC, is repurposing the hotel at 315 Elden Street into a 170-unit project with at least half of the units set aside as workforce housing, according to application materials reviewed before the Herndon Town Council on Tuesday (May 17).

“They’ll go through and renovate every unit,” David Stromberg, the town’s zoning administrator, said.

Councilmember Sean Regan said he was pleased the applicant did not alter its plan — particularly the workforce housing component — as it moves through the approval process.

“It’s wonderful to see it stick with that original vision,” Regan said.

The plans include 184 parking spaces and 72 new bicycle spaces. Roughly 48 spaces are planned within a cycle station facility, and 24 spaces are planned on racks throughout the site. The applicant’s traffic demand management plan must be approved before occupancy begins.

Other improvements include new ADA-friendly crosswalks, the dedication of roughly 885 square feet of street frontage for future road improvement, and roughly $10,000 for bus stop improvements.

Because of the change of the property’s use, the plan now falls within a floodplain overlay in FEMA’s current flood maps. But the property was removed in the latest floodplain draft and a flood study is no longer required as a result.

Councilmember Jasbinder Singh said he was concerned about ambient noise from the neighboring Outback Steakhouse that is currently under construction.

“I wonder whether we could make sure any noise… doesn’t effect these units,” Singh said.

Stormberg said the addition of parapet walls around the building’s mechanical units “does function to keep some of the noise in.”

The town council is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the project during its session on May 24, which could result in a vote.

Mayor Sheila Olem encouraged council members to bring up any proposed amendments in a speedy fashion in order to move forward with the application.

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Visit Fairfax President and CEO Barry Biggar talks outside George Washington’s Mount Vernon for a tourism event (staff photo by David Taube)

Visit Fairfax is exploring the idea of a tourism improvement district, which could mean an added fee to hotel stays and other amenities.

The tourism organization’s president and CEO, Barry Biggar, said the proposal could go to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors for a vote this September. The fee would go toward marketing the region, in accordance with a General Assembly law passed last year.

Biggar says southern Fairfax County will be targeted for the district, which would act on its own authority and set fees that could vary for different business types. It would mark a first for the county and could be a model for other areas, he said.

“That money then is collected, accumulated and used purely for the purpose of marketing, promoting the area…which collects the money, but also capital development and capital improvement,” Biggar told FFXnow.

The move could generate an estimated $1 million per year from hotels and restaurants, Biggar said.

It comes amid a county effort to revitalize and rebrand the Route 1 corridor. So far, that push has brought promises of bus rapid transit and a “Potomac Banks: Explore Fairfax South” tourism campaign with a discount pass for historic sites, partnering businesses and more.

“Only the hotels here in the area would be included, so that wouldn’t be added to a Tysons hotel,” Biggar said of the possible fee. “For a hotel, they may go, ‘We’ll do a dollar a room per night.’ For a restaurant, they may go…a half a percent of the total bill. For an attraction, you know, maybe 50 cents per admission.”

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A plan has been submitted for a scaled-back version of a new hotel at Springfield Town Center (via Fairfax County)

The first pieces of the massive redevelopment of Springfield Town Center have finally come forward, more than 12 years after Fairfax County initially approved a mass of new development for the property.

Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust has filed a plan for a five-story hotel along Loisdale Road, according to an application submitted to the county on May 11.

The hotel would stand alongside a proposed residential building, bringing about the property’s “much-desired rebirth” and acting as a catalyst for the “first free-standing buildings to be built at the property in decades,” according to the application.

The town center is slated for up to 2,736 residential units and 2 million square feet of commercial development, a plan fell into place more than a decade ago, when the complex was still known as Springfield Mall.

While the mall underwent an extensive renovation in 2012, no new development proposals have gained traction since the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors’ preliminary approval in 2009.

“Over the years, a variety of users have tried to introduce both commercial and residential uses to the property, but the significant proffer package and details plans have hamstrung those projects,” the application says.

The developer says the proposal should be able to move forward because it covers a limited application area, fits “seamlessly” within the existing landscape at the mall, and helps establish a new internal street network that will support future development.

The hotel would take up surface parking spaces and sit next to a 460-unit residential building proposed by Hanover to the south of the property. PREIT says it plans to coordinate with Hanover as it moves forward with its application.

A big sell of the project, according to PREIT, is that the building requires minor changes to previously planned access road and uses existing curb cuts from Loisdale Avenue. The latest proposal shifts the hotel from across Village Drive to Loisdale Avenue.

The hotel will also have 140 rooms instead of the 225 proposed in the original redevelopment plan, along with some retail to serve hotel guests. Originally, up to 23,000 square feet of ground-floor retail were planned with the hotel.

PREIT says the plan will bring vitality to an area that has been “overlooked” and will create a “mixed-use center as a community and regional focal point.”

The company purchased the town center seven years ago after Vornado Realty Trust, the previous owner, completed nearly $200 million in mall renovations and established retail facing Village Drive.

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Dozens of people will rappel down the Hilton in Crystal City for charity (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Later this afternoon (Thursday), Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay will descend by rope down a 14-story hotel in Arlington County.

McKay is among over 70 volunteers and VIPs participating in a charity rappeling event at the Hilton (2399 Richmond Highway) in Crystal City to raise money for New Hope Housing, a Northern Virginia nonprofit that provides assistance for people experiencing homelessness.

The event will unfold over two days, with elected officials and other VIPs rappeling down starting at 4 p.m. today. Arlington County Board member Matt de Ferranti has also been confirmed as a participant.

Donors from the general public will rappel down the hotel from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. tomorrow (Friday). Food, drinks, music, and vendor booths will be available at a “Landing Zone” for those who want to watch.

In a media advisory from his office, McKay highlighted Fairfax County’s recent efforts to prioritize affordable housing, including its recently doubled goal to build 10,000 new units in 12 years and the Dominion Square West project in Tysons that announced full construction funding on Tuesday (May 3):

Access to affordable housing is a signature issue in Fairfax County and the region, and is my personal focus. We have seen, especially over the last two years, the tremendous struggle that comes from the lack of access to affordable housing. During my time as Chairman, I have worked nonstop to direct Fairfax County’s efforts to build at least 10,000 affordable units over the next 12 years, including more than 500 just announced in the heart of Tysons, and this is only the beginning. Affordable housing leads directly to jobs and leads directly to a significant enhancement to the quality of life and community for everyone.

This is why I am glad to be at this event today to help promote this vital cause and the great work New Hope Housing and all our non-profits do to alleviate this crisis — even if it means rappelling off a building! The more attention and effort we can bring to this critical issue of inequity, the more we can build the needed coalitions between the public, private, and non-profit sectors to give everyone the dignity of a safe, secure, and affordable home.

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