The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a motion on Tuesday (Sept. 12) by Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn asking the county executive to move forward with a real estate exchange agreement with Inova.
The step — which has been contemplated for years — would facilitate the construction of a new Embry Rucker Shelter, affordable housing and Reston Regional Library.
The expedited review comes as a task force has assembled to analyze the proposed public uses at Reston Town Center delivers its final recommendations this fall. Alcorn assembled the task force in April 2022.
If the project goes through, the Embry Rucker Shelter will be replaced with a new facility. Built in 1986, the 10,500-square-foot shelter would be expanded with medical beds, day-use services for training and workforce development, and permanent supportive housing units.
Alcorn noted that the replacement of Reston Regional Library is also a critical need.
“As recently noted by the County Executive, this library has numerous critical systems that are nearing the end of their operational lives, and the timing for the replacement of this popular County facility is also becoming critical,” Alcorn wrote in the board matter.
An interim real estate exchange agreement was approved in September 2015. That concept worked toward a grid of streets and a one-to-one land swap, which would provide the county and Inova with developable blocks.
The future of RTC North was muddied when developer Foulger-Pratt scrapped its plans for a public-private partnership to redevelop the site in February. The unsolicited proposal would have included up to 350 affordable apartments and a new 40,000-square-foot library at the intersection of Bowman Towne Drive and Town Center Parkway.
RTC North is a hodgepodge of irregularly shaped parcels owned by the county, the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority, and Inova. The Fairfax County Park Authority conveyed a 5-acre parcel to the county in exchange for 90,000 square feet of development rights.
The land currently hosts the library, the shelter, the North County Human Services building, the Reston Police Station and the North County Governmental Center.
Inova Health System’s former administrative headquarters in Merrifield will soon be transformed into a combination of workforce housing and live/work units — a kind of development that’s still relatively novel for Fairfax County.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted 8-0 to approve the project from developer Madison Highland after a public hearing on June 27. Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross and Braddock District Supervisor James Walkinshaw recused themselves because they respectively serve on Inova’s board of trustees and quality and reliability committee.
The developer — a joint venture by Madison Marquette and Highland Square Holdings — now anticipates breaking ground on the office building conversions at 8110 Gatehouse Road and 2990 Telestar Court by the end of the first quarter of 2024, Highland Square Holdings CEO Robert Seldin told FFXnow by email.
“I think this definitely shows quite a bit of opportunity and repurposing as we look…to build additional affordable and workforce units and try to address an area that’s becoming much, much more urban, to have it be accessible and address the multimodal needs in that community,” Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik said.
Vacant since last fall, the six-story Gatehouse building will be converted into up 240 live/work units that tenants can utilize as a residence, office or both. An existing five-story parking garage on the site will be left intact.
The four-story Telestar building will be turned into 82 workforce dwelling units (WDUs) for residents earning up to 60% of the area median income.
In its proposal, Madison Highland highlighted plans to provide sizable open spaces for both future residents and the general public, including:
- Game Table Community Park: a 20,300-square-foot publicly accessible park adjacent to Gatehouse Road with seating, walking paths, game tables, and a mist fountain
- Woof Park: a 13,600-square-foot publicly accessible park west of the Gatehouse building with seating, a gathering space, and a fenced dog park that will include waste stations and a drinking fountain
- Community Play Zone: a 20,800-square-foot park along Telestar Court frontage with open seating, walking paths, and four children’s play areas
- Resident-only common areas, including a courtyard, an “amenity zone” with grilling stations and table games, and a space on the garage’s top deck with pickleball courts, gardens and other amenities
To make room for the new open spaces and additional landscaping, the developer will eliminate “excess” parking spaces, but it will still meet the 768 spaces required by the county’s zoning ordinance, according to a staff report.
“I’m excited about turning some of the parking lot space that is currently impervious into some community use space, while knowing that there are large garages there that will be able to meet the majority, if not more than the majority of the needs for parking,” Palchik said.
No one at the public hearing voiced opposition to the development, but some area residents expressed concern about the potential impact on parking and traffic.
Insufficient parking is “the only issue that has come up over and over again” at board meetings for the High Pointe at Jefferson Park townhomes, according to resident and board member Ann Sweetser. Read More
The proposed repurposing of Inova Health System’s former corporate headquarters in Merrifield as live/work and workforce housing units got a hearty recommendation from the Fairfax County Planning Commission earlier this week.
The commission recommended on Wednesday (June 7) that the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approve the plan from Madison Highland, a developer focused on live/work projects that’s pursuing similar conversions at the Skyline Center in Bailey’s Crossroads.
“This is an art-of-the-possible application,” Providence District Commissioner Phil Niedzielski-Eichner said. “It started with a vision…but then, that interaction between the applicant and staff resulted in an outcome that is so strikingly beneficial to our county that, to me, it’s a remarkable achievement.”
Under the name Madison Investment Portfolio LLC, the developer is seeking to turn a vacant, 245,000-square-foot office building at 8110 Gatehouse Road into 240 live/work units, which are newly defined in the county’s zoning ordinance as areas designed to accommodate both a residence and a “flexible work space.”
The 89,000-square-foot office building at 2990 Telestar Road will be repurposed as 82 workforce dwelling units for residents earning up to 60% of the area median income.
Representing the applicant at Wednesday’s public hearing, McGuireWoods Managing Partner Greg Riegle pitched the new units and accompanying open space, sidewalks, and other amenities as a “significant” improvement over the existing offices, which have been empty since Inova finished moving out last fall.
“The site gets greener, more amenitized,” he said, “and something that was exclusively automobile-oriented becomes much more walkable…We take a significant step toward creating a centerpiece where people can gather and interact that’s never existed in this part of Merrifield.”
The development will feature three publicly accessible parks — a game table community park, a play zone and a “Woof Park” for dog walking — as well as three common areas for residents. Pickleball courts are also proposed on top of the Gatehouse building’s five-story parking garage.
Pedestrians will get 6-foot-wide sidewalks in front of both buildings, internal walkways for the new parks, a connection between the properties, and high-visibility crosswalks at all crossings, pending Virginia Department of Transportation approval.
Two area residents called for more roadway improvements to address safety concerns and vehicle speeds, particularly on Gatehouse Road.
“I see a lot more rush of people cutting off the corner coming up Lee Highway all the way to Gallows,” a resident of the High Point at Jefferson Park townhomes said. “Maybe at 3 o’clock after noon, there are 20 cars waiting for the red light to turn onto Gallows, so it’s already quite congested.”
The resident also said parking has been a persistent challenge for her neighborhood and the adjacent Yorktowne Square Condominiums, requesting that they be allowed to use the Gatehouse garage.
While Niedzielski-Eichner said parking access should be negotiated by the developer and homeowners separately from the rezoning application, Marc Dreyfuss with the Fairfax County Department of Transportation shared that Gatehouse Road is scheduled for a repaving this year that will create buffered bicycle lanes.
“Restriping the road through a road diet and adding the features that are proposed with this application should help slow the traffic,” Dreyfuss said, confirming that “we would not expect to see any significant increase” in traffic with the proposed development.
The application is set for a public hearing before the Board of Supervisors on June 27.
Detectives have determined that Brenda Ochoa Guerrero, 33, of Alexandria died at a house in the 2500 block of Fairhaven Avenue in Huntington, according to the Fairfax County Police Department.
She was then driven to the hospital at 8033 Holland Road, where a community member found her unconscious in the passenger seat of a vehicle with a gunshot wound, police said.
“Detectives from our Major Crimes Bureau responded to the scene and immediately began investigating,” the FCPD said. “Detectives located surveillance footage of two men who drove the car to the hospital parking lot and two individuals who were in the SUV that picked them up.”
According to police, an anonymous tip helped detectives identify 43-year-old David Littlefield and 36-year-old Eric Thompson, both from Alexandria, as the men who drove Ochoa Guerrero to the hospital and left her.
Police say they were picked up in a different car by 35-year-old Alexandria resident Eric Rubio and 29-year-old Maryland resident Yuris Pineda Gallegos.
Officers arrested Rubio, Thompson and Littlefield on May 14, according to Fairfax County court records. Gallegos turned herself in at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center yesterday (Wednesday), according to the police.
All four of them have been charged with concealment of a dead body, a Class 6 felony in Virginia.
Rubio and Littlefield remain in custody without bond. However, Pineda Gallegos was released by a magistrate on personal recognizance, and a judge granted Thompson a supervised release on May 18, according to a Fairfax County General District Court clerk.
According to the court, Thompson was assigned a probation officer with whom he has to check in periodically.
A preliminary hearing in the case has been scheduled for July 17, per court records.
The circumstances around Ochoa Guerrero’s death are still under investigation, the FCPD said.
Fifteen years after it emerged from the shell of the former Lorton prison, the Workhouse Arts Center will take the spotlight at Capital One Hall in Tysons as the top honoree of the 2023 ArtsFairfax Awards.
The center will receive the Jinx Hazel Award at the annual ceremony and fundraising event on Oct. 26, ArtsFairfax, the county’s official arts agency, announced earlier this month.
“The 2023 ArtsFairfax Awards honorees all demonstrate how the arts revitalize communities, improve our wellbeing, and spark creativity in unexpected places,” ArtsFairfax President and CEO Linda Sullivan said. “We’re thrilled to celebrate each of these awardees for enriching the lives of Fairfax County residents.”
Given to Capital One Hall last year, the Jinx Hazel Award recognizes “an individual or organization whose vision and commitment has helped shape the cultural life of Fairfax County,” ArtsFairfax says.
Opened to the public in September 2008, the Workhouse Arts Center is the only multi-disciplinary arts facility in the area of southern Fairfax County recently rebranded as Potomac Banks, according to ArtsFairfax.
The 55-acre campus hosts art studios, galleries, performing arts space, classrooms and the Lucy Burns Museum, drawing about 100,000 patrons annually with exhibits and special events like Fourth of July fireworks or the upcoming BrewWorks Festival.
The center is still being built out, with a new location for Bunnyman Brewing expected to open in a recently refurbished building this year. Future developments could include an amphitheater, more events and educational venues and even housing, depending on the master plan that the county is currently finalizing.
Reinsch is this year’s recipient of the ArtsFairfax Philanthropy Award, which goes to a person, corporation or foundation “that has provided leadership funding or long-term monetary support to the arts.”
As president, owner, and CEO of the Reinsch Companies, a residential and golf course developer, Reinsch has been a regular donor for numerous local arts nonprofits, including the McLean Project for the Arts (MPA), the Virginia Chamber Orchestra, 1st Stage theater in Tysons and the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts.
Her contributions to MPA include a matching gift to support a future art and education center at Clemyjontri Park, according to ArtsFairfax.
Meanwhile, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute will be recognized with an Education Award for providing arts education classes, clubs and events to older residents of Northern Virginia.
The ArtsFairfax Impact Award will go to the Inova Schar Cancer Institute for its Arts and Healing program, which supports a permanent art collection, ongoing exhibitions, performing arts events and 20 artists-in-residence to help patients and their families going through treatment or recovery.
Tickets and sponsorships for the awards ceremony are now for sale. Reston Community Center is the visionary sponsor for the awards, which typically attract over 300 guests, according to ArtsFairfax.
“The arts are the heartbeat of all truly great communities, and we can’t envision any world in which the arts aren’t central to what makes us human,” RCC Board Chair Beverly Cosham said. “The arts play a central role in Reston’s neighborhoods and Fairfax County has embraced their vital importance to building vibrant places to live and learn. ArtsFairfax is the catalyst for these successful efforts.”
Inova Mount Vernon Hospital will open a new behavioral health unit next week, marking an expansion of mental health care along the Richmond Highway corridor.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held yesterday morning (Tuesday) for the nearly $10 million facility, which will increase bed capacity at the hospital by 67%.
Close to $4 million was donated by Amyia and Jeff Veatch, a local entrepreneur who founded the engineering firm Apex Systems. The family previously donated money to help modernize the hospital’s emergency room.
Hospital leaders and a number of elected officials attended the ceremony, including Rep. Don Beyer, State Sen. Scott Surovell, Del. Paul Krizek, Mount Vernon District School Board Rep. Karen Corbett Sanders, and Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck (who had to leave to vote on the county budget).
The Inova Veatch Family Behavioral Health Unit will open to hospital patients on May 16. It will feature 20 additional beds, private rooms, “quiet” spaces, modernized equipment, and enhanced safety features, like impact resistance windows and drywall.
Along with the hospital’s existing adult psychiatric unit, the total capacity for behavioral health patients will now be 50 beds.
As many noted during the ceremony, mental health care and behavioral services have become a priority in Fairfax County, as rates of depression and suicidal thoughts, specifically among young people, have risen drastically in recent years.
“We have a significant shortage of mental health services all over Virginia and especially acute here in Northern Virginia,” Surovell, who represents Hybla Valley, Woodlawn, and parts of Franconia, told FFXnow. “That’s the big reason we need to expand these services. If you don’t have a place for people to go when they need help, it can result in really tragic consequences.”
He called private contributions like the one made by the Veatch family “critical” to expanding care, particularly since behavioral services “are often not the most profitable areas for a hospital to invest in.”
But he said it’s also on the state to make the necessary investments as the need for mental health care continues to skyrocket.
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin has proposed $230 million in this year’s budget for addressing gaps in behavioral health services. Surovell said that doesn’t go far enough.
“This is about half of what we need because the state is so far behind in investing in behavioral health,” he said.
Mount District Supervisor Dan Storck agreed, stating at the ribbon-cutting that “we’ve never done enough” to provide mental health care both locally and across the country. Adolescent care in particular is lacking, he told FFXnow.
“We need more adolescent psychiatry units. Our adolescents are bearing the brunt of Covid,” Storck said. “They need more support than we can provide. Inova is stepping up in their Fairfax hospital, but that’s still inadequate to our adolescent needs.”
Beyer shared that his son suffers from schizophrenia and has been hospitalized “many times” at Inova Mount Vernon Hospital. The additional unit will hopefully provide care to more people in need like his son, he said.
While more resources are needed, the Veatch behavioral health unit and emergency room are potentially life savers for residents of the Richmond Highway corridor, Surovell said.
“They don’t have to travel to either Alexandria [City] or Franconia or Fairfax to get these services,” he said. “Having a facility that’s close can be the difference between life or death for a lot of people.”
Fairfax County police are looking for two men who may have been involved in the death of a woman found with a gunshot wound in the Inova Mount Vernon Hospital parking lot last week.
A community member reported at 10:45 a.m. on Thursday (April 13) that they saw an unconscious woman in a vehicle parked at the hospital (8033 Holland Road), the Fairfax County Police Department said in a news release on Saturday (April 15).
Identified as 33-year-old Brenda Ochoa Guerrero of Alexandria, the woman was found in the vehicle’s passenger seat by responding police officers and Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department personnel, who decleared her dead at the scene.
“Ochoa Guerrero had apparent trauma to the upper body, but no immediate cause of death could be discerned,” the FCPD said.
An autopsy by the county’s medical examiner indicated preliminarily that Ochoa Guerrero had been shot in the upper body.
The police department says its detectives found surveillance footage showing two men parking the woman’s vehicle and leaving the area.
“The men were then picked up by another SUV and left the area,” police said.
Two videos released by the FCPD show what appears to be a white man dressed in black, including a ski mask, and a Black man wearing a blue shirt who’s looking at a cellphone.
The FCPD asks anyone who might have information about the case to contact its detectives:
If you have any information about this incident or Ochoa Guerrero, please call 703-246-7800, option 2. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through Crime Solvers by phone – 1-866-411-TIPS (866-411-8477), and online [at] www.fairfaxcrimesolvers.org. You may also download the ‘P3 Tips’ App “Fairfax Co Crime Solvers”. Anonymous tipsters are eligible for cash rewards. Please leave contact information if you wish for someone to follow up with you.
Construction on a new hospital next to Inova’s existing Franconia-Springfield HealthPlex is expected to begin late next year after the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved the rezoning plan at a meeting yesterday (Tuesday).
The board voted unanimously to bring 985,000 square feet of medical space to the 21-acre campus on the intersection of Beulah Street and the Franconia-Springfield Parkway. Two representatives recused themselves from the vote due to their tie’s with Inova.
Tim Sampson, Inova’s land use attorney and representative, said that the project represents an “opportunity to fill a space in the geographic area without those facilities today.”
The first phase of the project will include a hospital with a maximum of 144 beds spread across two patient towers and an outpatient center. The current HealthPlex will be incorporated through a new road network and walkway connections.
Eventually, the emergency room will be expanded and relocated into the hospital. The former ER space will be filled with other medical uses.
Phase two may include a third patient tower with up to 72 beds and a second outpatient center. The plan also includes nearly 1,500 parking spaces and a helipad, although Inova officials only expect a few landings.
Lee District Supervisor Rodney Lusk said he was particularly impressed by the project’s aesthetics and Class A office space.
“The finishes and the design features of the campus are slated to be extraordinarily attractive,” Lusk said, adding that the project will likely bring 1,200 net new jobs to the district.
Inova’s expansion includes planned road improvements along Franconia-Springfield Parkway, Jasper Lane, Walker Lane, Beulah Street and a new internal roadways.
The county’s planning commission unanimously voted to approve the project earlier this year.
“I think it is something that Inova and the county will be proud of for generations to come,” Sampson said.
Updated at 9:45 a.m. on 8/16/2022 — Hektor Fernando Alvarez’s employment at Virginia Hospital Center was terminated on Friday (Aug. 12), the hospital says.
Earlier: A man from Falls Church has been arrested after allegedly sexually assaulting a patient under his care when he worked at Inova Fair Oaks Hospital (3600 Joseph Siewick Drive), the Fairfax County Police Department announced today (Friday).
The victim — a patient who was receiving long-term care at the hospital — told a hospital technician on July 7 that his previous caretaker had “fondled the victim’s genitalia on two separate occasions,” police said.
Detectives from FCPD’s Major Crimes Bureau began an investigation on July 8. They identified the caretaker as 21-year-old Falls Church resident Hektor Fernando Alvarez, who was working for a company called Metropolitan Healthcare Services (MHS) that Inova had contracted “to provide sitter services for patients,” according to police.
The FCPD says Alvarez is no longer employed by MHS, but he was working as a medical technician at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington. There have been no incidents reported at that hospital, according to the department.
Alvarez was arrested after a month-long investigation on Aug. 9 and has been charged with aggravated sexual battery with a victim through mental incapacity or helplessness.
“He was held on no bond but later released on a secured bond,” the police department said, which means the money was primarily covered by a bond company.
Prosecutors had argued for Alvarez to be denied a bond, but the judge rejected their recommendation, FFXnow was told.
Online case information indicates that Alvarez was arraigned at the Fairfax County General District Court on Wednesday (Aug. 10) and had a bond hearing yesterday (Thursday). A court employee told FFXnow that the bond was served this morning.
Inova Health System says it has been working with the victim’s family and MHS to respond to the assault allegation.
“Inova has been in contact with the patient, their family, and the contracted staffing agency in regard to this troubling alleged incident,” a spokesperson for the nonprofit said in a statement. “Safety is central to everything we do at Inova, and we expect all who work or provide services in our care sites to meet that high standard.”
The FCPD says anyone with additional information about the case can contact its detectives at 703-246-7800, option 3. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through Crime Solvers by phone (1-866-411-TIPS), and online.
“Anonymous tipsters are eligible for cash rewards of $100 to $1,000 dollars,” the FCPD said. “Please leave contact information if you wish for a detective to follow up with you.”
A preliminary hearing for Alvarez has been set for 2 p.m. on Sept. 28.
Photo via Google Maps
(Updated at 3:55 p.m. on 8/4/2022) A developer that specializes in “live/work lofts” has set its sights on a pair of Merrifield office buildings being vacated by Inova Health System.
The buildings at 8110 Gatehouse Road and 2990 Telestar Road will be renovated and repurposed, respectively, as live-work units and workforce housing under a rezoning proposal that Fairfax County received from Madison Highland Live Work Loft Services LLC on July 25.
Madison Highland consists of the developers Madison Marquette and Highland Square Holdings. Formed in April to build more live-work communities in the U.S., it is also behind a live-work development proposed for the Skyline Center in Bailey’s Crossroads.
Inova had been using the Gatehouse and Telestar buildings as its corporate headquarters for the past 12 years, but the nonprofit is consolidating those operations on its main campus to the south, according to a July 22 statement of justification.
“This creates a unique opportunity to repurpose the newly vacant buildings…while furthering a number of important County policies,” McGuireWoods attorney Mike Van Atta wrote, citing the county’s goals to expand the availability of workforce housing and park space.
Inova confirmed that its Gatehouse and Telestar offices will be relocated to the Inova Center for Personalized Health (8100 Innovation Park Drive) this fall.
A structure or part of a structure with areas specifically designed for occupancy by a single owner, tenant, or user to accommodate a residential dwelling unit and a flexible work space. This use does not include a home-based business that would be permitted in a single-family detached dwelling.
In its application, Madison Highland proposes turning the Gatehouse building into 210 live-work units that could range in size from 600 to 1,300 square feet. The individual units could be used as housing, offices, joint residential/office space “or any combination of those uses.”
The Telestar building, which was built in 1969, is being planned for up to 82 workforce dwelling units that will have one or two bedrooms. All units will be reserved for residents who earn 60% of the area median income or below.
Both buildings will be fully renovated, but their core structures “will be preserved to the extent possible,” the statement of justification says. The heights — six stories for the Gatehouse building and four for the Telestar building — will remain the same. Read More