(Updated at 4:50 p.m.) After initially holding off, Fairfax County is now ready to consider allowing a redevelopment of the former ICF International headquarters in Oakton.
At Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik’s request, the Board of Supervisors authorized county staff on Nov. 21 to craft a comprehensive plan amendment that would open the door for residential or mixed-use development at the Hunters Branch office buildings (9300 and 9302 Route 29).
Constructed in 1987 and 1989, the 12-story, 200,000-square-foot buildings housed ICF for over three decades until the consulting firm relocated to Reston Station, a downsizing finalized in November 2022.
“Since ICF has moved out to Reston, this tower has been sitting there, and it’s surrounded by a very, I think, underappreciated area that needs environmental support,” Palchik said at last week’s board meeting. “…I know that the owners and developers are very committed to ensuring both the ecological support as well as the community amenity for this area.”
Property owners BCSP Hunters Branch Fee and BCSP Hunters Branch Lessee (BCSP) nominated the 13.9-acre site for potential land use changes last year as part of the county’s Site-Specific Plan Amendment process.
(Correction: This story initially suggested that the Hunters Branch owners are affiliates of the firm Beacon Capital Partners based on their corporate addresses. FFXnow has been told that they aren’t affiliates, and Beacon hasn’t had an ownership stake in the property since 2021.)
With the nomination, the property owners suggested two options for redeveloping Hunters Branch:
- “Adaptive reuse” of the office buildings as senior living facilities and/or multi-family dwelling units, and a replacement of an existing 706-space parking garage with multi-family housing
- An exclusively multi-family residential development
The proposal called for mid-rise buildings with five to seven stories and between 913 and 1,124 units. A second, 1,462-space parking garage would be retained in both scenarios.
However, the Board of Supervisors adopted the ICF nomination on April 11 in the third tier of its plan amendment work program, deferring a review to “allow for further development” of the scope, according to Palchik’s board matter.
With last week’s vote, the nomination was elevated to the work program’s highest-priority tier.
In a change from BCSP’s original proposal, the plan amendment could allow non-residential uses, such as ground-floor retail, as well as multi-family and townhouse buildings. Palchik said the site’s location within the Vienna Transit Station Area suggests “there may be advantages to consider a mix of uses.”
With demand for older office space declining post-pandemic, the property owners noted in their nomination that redeveloping the Hunters Branch offices would boost the county’s senior and multi-family housing stock. A “meaningful portion” of the new residences would be designated as affordable dwelling units.
“The area surrounding the Vienna/Fairfax-GMU Metrorail Station is emerging as a residential hub, and the community’s need for an increased and varied supply of housing in this location is growing,” Hunton Andrews Kurth counsel Jill Parks wrote as BCSP’s legal agent. “As such, it is critical that a mix of housing options be made available to the neighborhood’s current and prospective residents.”
When asked about the changes to the development proposal, Parks told FFXnow the developer doesn’t have any comment “at this time.”
Known as Land Bay A in the 56.9-acre Hunters Branch neighborhood, the former ICF office isn’t the only property in the Vienna Metro station area getting a new look. The board approved a plan on Sept. 12 to allow housing and additional retail at the nearby Pan Am Shopping Center, and discussions are underway for a redevelopment of AT&T’s Oakton campus.
Just south of the Metro station, the MetroWest development is also slated to get more residential buildings and a town center, though Fairfax County’s land use database indicates that site plans for both projects are still under review.
Fairfax County has shed another vestige of its Confederate past.
Oak Marr Park, which is home to the Oak Marr RECenter and Golf Center Complex, was renamed “Oakmont” earlier this month by the Fairfax County Park Authority board, which approved the change at its Nov. 8 meeting.
Located at 3200 Jermantown Road, the facilities were originally named after John Quincy Marr, a Warrenton militia captain who became the first Confederate soldier killed by the Union Army in the Civil War.
“The elimination of ‘Marr’ from the name of these park facilities follows the county’s pattern of moving away from names and titles that glorify the Confederacy,” the park authority said.
Until recently, Marr had also been recognized with a stone monument outside the old Fairfax County Courthouse at 4010 Chain Bridge Road. The monument was erected in 1904 by the Daughters of the Confederacy, marking the spot where he died on June 1, 1861, according to the FCPA.
The monument, which was accompanied by two howitzers and a state memorial marker, was the subject of a protest by the local advocacy group Reston Strong in June 2020, ultimately leading to their removal on Nov. 6, 2020.
Continuing a trend that began in 2017 with J.E.B. Stuart High School’s renaming as Justice High School, the Fairfax County History Commission conducted a review that identified more than 26,000 streets and landmarks in the county with names related to the Confederacy.
The most significant change to come out of that review and a subsequent Confederate Names Task Force has been the elimination of Lee Highway and Lee-Jackson Memorial Highway as the county’s names for routes 29 and 50. Those renamings took effect on July 5, though the street signs are still being changed.
FCPA staff initially proposed replacing Oak Marr with “Oak District,” noting that the site’s scope and amenities classify it as a district park, per the county’s comprehensive plan. But some board members wondered at an Oct. 25 meeting if the name might create confusion by implying the existence of an Oak magisterial district.
One board member admitted finding it “just a little plain.”
“You cannot incorporate Oakton into the park, because there’s already an Oakton Community Park, although some of the feedback I got indicated folks want Oakton in there somehow,” said Ken Quincy, who represents Oakton as the board’s Providence District member.
Before the board vote on Nov. 8, FCPA Executive Director Jai Cole credited Quincy with proposing Oakmont, noting that it “keeps the O and the M as Oak Marr and Flint Hill next to Oakmont.”
“Sounds like a great idea,” Mount Vernon District Representative Linwood Gorham said, while another board member suggested that it “sounds like a winery.”
An FCPA spokesperson says the park authority is in the process of transitioning its website and registration systems for camps, classes and other services to the new name, a process expected to finish by mid-November.
The signage at the affected facilities will likely take longer to get replaced.
“We do not currently have a set date for the installation of the physical signs at the Oakmont Rec Center and Golf Center as they need to be manufactured and transported to the site,” the spokesperson said. “We will hope to have a better idea of that timeframe within the coming weeks.”
Image via Google Maps
A nonprofit dedicated to providing resources for Northern Virginia’s LGBTQ community has officially chosen Oakton for its headquarters.
After operating as a pop-up for 18 months, NoVA Prism Center opened its first physical offices at 10467 White Granite Drive, Suite 322, on Nov. 1. Open by appointment from noon to 7 p.m. daily, the headquarters hosts a publicly accessible library, a clothing closet and events, along with the organization’s administrative base.
“With the public opening of NoVA Prism Center, we will give our community a place to come together, learn, and thrive with access to stories about queer lives, bodies, and history,” Executive Director Leon van der Goetz said in a statement. “While we will not stop our Library Pop-up programming, our goal is to provide access to our community year-round, because the need for connection and representation doesn’t stop at the end of June.
Founded in May 2022, NoVA Prism was created by local transgender educators and activists after book challenges in 2021 led Fairfax County Public Schools to temporarily remove Maia Kobabe’s “Gender Queer: A Memoir” and Jonathan Evison’s coming-of-age novel “Lawn Boy” from library shelves.
With schools and libraries across the U.S. continuing to face pressure to ban books, particularly ones that deal with race, sexuality and gender identity, NoVA Prism wants to ensure the local LGBTQ community has access to books and other resources going forward, its website says.
Prior to opening its headquarters, the nonprofit appeared at local Pride festivals and other events, including ones hosted by Fairfax County Public Library. It has also brought a pop-up library to businesses and community groups, such as Reston Museum.
The organization announced the location for its new headquarters at an inaugural “Coming Out Gay-la” fundraiser in Reston on Oct. 20.
Van der Goetz says NoVA Prism Center chose 10467 White Granite Drive as its headquarters because the building already houses several other nonprofits, including ServiceSource and the Northern Virginia Resource Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons, “whose communities frequently overlap with our own.”
“The opportunities for collaboration and connection, intentional architecture supporting the Disability community, and access to a shared community classroom and conference rooms to support our programs made the space ideal for meeting our needs,” he told FFXnow.
The nonprofit is continuing to fundraise to bring more events and resources to its new center. In addition to accepting donations through its website, it publishes a zine called The Lantern that focuses on the experiences of LGBTQ teens and adults in the D.C. area.
A Leesburg man faces multiple criminal charges from two different Northern Virginia counties in connection to a police pursuit that started in Ashburn and ended just outside the Town of Vienna.
On Monday (Oct. 30) afternoon, the Fairfax County Police Department arrested 44-year-old Joseph Daniel at the intersection of Route 123 (Chain Bridge Road) and Flint Hill Road in Oakton after he allegedly attempted to carjack two vehicles.
Helicopter video shared by the FCPD shows a man trying the driver’s doors of a gray minivan and a red sedan while running away from officers, who ultimately tackle him to the ground.
The FCPD has now charged Daniel with carjacking, disregarding police commands to stop, a felony hit-and-run, driving without a license and reckless driving, the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office announced yesterday (Tuesday).
The Loudoun sheriff’s office is expected to file charges of its own related to the pursuit, which began shortly before 2 p.m. after someone called 911 to report an “abduction in progress” at a Wells Fargo bank (43650 Yukon Drive) in Ashburn.
“The LCSO continues to investigate the initial abduction call and multiple charges are pending related to the pursuit,” the office said in a news release, adding that information on the charges will be released “once they are placed.”
According to the LCSO, the vehicle Daniel was driving during the chase — a 2005 Hummer H2 — had been reported stolen in Chantilly on March 16, noting that SUV “had been repainted from its original green color to black.”
The FCPD said on Monday that, after taking Daniel into custody, its officers found a woman inside the Hummer “a short distance away.” She was treated “for minor injuries related to the abduction.”
The sheriff’s office says it already had several “open” warrants for Daniel charging him with two counts of possession of stolen property, possession of burglary tools, fleeing and eluding, driving without a license, and three counts of violating probation.
Daniel is currently in custody without bond at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center.
The pursuit and arrest occurred in the same afternoon that the FCPD dealt with a carjacking in Tysons. That incident began at 4:32 p.m. when police responded to a reported commercial theft at Tysons Corner Center and concluded shortly thereafter when the suspect crashed the stolen vehicle into a nearby Shell gas station.
A police pursuit of a man who reportedly attempted to abduct a woman crossed county lines before ending just outside the Town of Vienna this afternoon.
Route 123 (Chain Bridge Road) is currently closed at the Flint Hill Road intersection in Oakton in the wake of the arrest, according to the Fairfax County Police Department. The Town of Vienna said on Twitter at 4:30 p.m. that one southbound lane between Flint Hill and Nutley Street had opened.
“Our officers assisted @Loudounsheriff after a man abducted a woman and fled from deputies,” the FCPD said in a tweet. “The pursuit entered Fairfax County and man was arrested with the help of @VSPPIO.”
Suspect in custody. Our officers assisted @Loudounsheriff after a man abducted a woman and fled from deputies. The pursuit entered Fairfax County and man was arrested with the help of @VSPPIO. Chain Bridge Road is closed at Flint Hill Road. #FCPDhttps://t.co/R0jG09KRip pic.twitter.com/AwEfocO6Tp
— Fairfax County Police (@FairfaxCountyPD) October 30, 2023
Traffic Update: One southbound lane of Maple Avenue (Rt. 123) between Nutley Street and Flint Hill Road is now open. The other lane will remain closed for a Fairfax County Police Department investigation. Both northbound lanes of Maple Avenue (Rt. 123) are open. pic.twitter.com/TUMjXB46GB
— Town of Vienna, VA (@TownofViennaVA) October 30, 2023
The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office says it got a call around 1:52 p.m. from someone who reported “an abduction in progress” in Ashburn.
Per scanner traffic on Open MHz, the “suspicious activity” occurred at a Wells Fargo bank (43650 Yukon Drive) in the Ryan Park Center, a shopping center, and was suspected to be “possible trafficking.”
“As deputies arrived on the scene, the suspect, driving a black Hummer, drove away northbound on the Loudoun County Parkway,” the sheriff’s office said in a news release. “The deputies activated their emergency equipment and attempted to pull the vehicle over. The driver disregarded the deputies’ attempts and continued into Fairfax County.”
A sheriff’s deputy told a dispatcher at 2:13 p.m. that the driver ran three red lights and wasn’t pulling over for him. Police also said the driver “may have struck a vehicle.”
The FCPD got involved in the pursuit at approximately 2:20 p.m. when it entered Fairfax County via the Dulles Access Road (Route 267), according to the department and scanner traffic. Patrol officers, K9 units and the Fairfax 1 helicopter assisted.
The chase continued onto I-495 North, passing Tysons Blvd and entering Vienna. Upon reaching the Chain Bridge and Flint Hill intersection at 2:45 p.m., the driver stopped and “attempted to steal two other vehicles,” the FCPD says.
“Our officers arrived on scene to stop the potential carjacking and arrest the man,” Fairfax County police said. “An adult female was discovered inside the vehicle a short distance away. She is being treated for minor injuries related to the abduction that occurred in Loudoun County.”
The driver “struck several community members’ vehicles” during the pursuit, resulting in some reported injuries that were determined to be non-life-threatening, the FCPD said.
The man’s identity and any charges being filed haven’t been shared yet, but both agencies say more details will become available as the investigation continues. Virginia State Police also provided assistance.
“The LCSO is committed to ensuring the safety and security of our community,” the Loudoun sheriff’s office said. “We want to thank the officers and troopers with the Fairfax County Police Department and the Virginia State Police for their assistance in bringing this pursuit to a safe conclusion.”
(Updated at 1:45 p.m.) A proposal to redevelop AT&T’s campus in Oakton with housing and retail has undergone some changes since it went before the Fairfax County Planning Commission in March.
Joined by county planners, developer EYA presented a revised concept to the community on Oct. 2 that cut back slightly on the number of proposed apartments, while tweaking the site layout to allow more open and green space.
The developer is now seeking 1,000 residential units, down from the 1,500 units it suggested when nominating 3033 Chain Bridge Road for the county’s site-specific comprehensive plan amendment (SSPA) process last year. Like before, the new concept calls for townhomes and multi-family buildings, but the latter have been scaled down and would include condominiums as well as rental apartments.
The current plan also envisions 100,000 to 120,000 square feet of retail concentrated at the 33-acre site’s northwest corner near Jermantown Road. The retail space would be accompanied by a plaza and a promenade along a new street cutting through the property from Chain Bridge Road.
“[Our vision is] to transform an underutilized commercial property into an appropriately-scaled mixed-use neighborhood serving destination,” EYA Executive Vice President Evan Goldman said in earlier comments to FFXnow on behalf of CB Oakton Associates LLC, the applicant. “The new development will respect the existing residential context while creating a new, highly-amenitized gathering place for the community.”
As authorized by the Board of Supervisors on April 11, county staff are crafting an amendment that would allow residential mixed-use development, including retail and office uses, on the AT&T campus.
The county is considering raising the site’s floor-area ratio (FAR) to 1.0, meaning the amount of building allowed could roughly equal the amount of land available, according to a presentation from last week’s meeting. The site is currently developed at 0.31 FAR and could go up to 0.4 FAR under the existing comprehensive plan.
The comprehensive plan amendment will establish guidelines for EYA’s development plan, which it anticipates submitting to the county for review this fall.
EYA says its conceptual design has evolved significantly in response to public input from almost 20 community meetings as well as the planning commission’s March 23 SSPA workshop, when several residents raised concerns about potential impacts on traffic, pedestrian safety, local schools and the trees surrounding the property.
In addition to reducing the amount of housing, the developer added a community park to supplement the adjacent Borge Street Park, while turning a planned central park into the retail plaza.
(Correction: This story initially said the central park was replaced by the Borge Street Park expansion. EYA says it considered an “either/or” scenario but ultimately “found a feasible way to incorporate both into our current design.”)
It also removed one of the two new road connections from Flagpole Lane and is looking at pedestrian and bicycle improvements, including a shared-use trail around the site’s perimeter, “proper” sidewalks on Flagpole and crosswalks at any intersections with a traffic signal or stop sign.
Goldman says the design changes will enable the developer to preserve trees along both White Granite Drive and Chain Bridge Road, where a nature play area, dog park and other amenities are proposed. Read More
The Oakton-based nonprofit that runs Northern Virginia’s suicide and crisis hotline is now offering mental health services specifically geared toward young, LGBTQ people.
PRS announced yesterday (Thursday) that it’s hiring 40 new crisis workers who have specialized training and experience to handle calls and texts from LGBTQ individuals who are 25 or younger.
“Providing tailored crisis services will help us reach more people and connect them with safer life-saving services and resources that affirm their identities,” PRS CEO Joseph Getch said in a statement. “We now have crisis workers dedicated to this community that have additional training, lived experience, and a dedication to serving individuals within the LGBTQIA+ community. We are proud and eager to provide hope, empathy, and compassion.”
Formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 9-8-8 was established by Congress in 2020 as the nationwide phone number for accessing emergency mental health support. It officially replaced the pre-existing, 10-digit number on July 16, 2022.
The legislation required the new lifeline to have a “mechanism” where LGBTQ youth, minority and rural callers can access specialized services, because those populations are statistically at higher risk of contemplating or dying by suicide.
More than half (52%) of high school students who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual or who are questioning their sexual identity reported recently experiencing poor mental health, and 45% had seriously considered suicide within the past year compared to 15% for their heterosexual peers, according to a February report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC report, which examined trends from 2011 to 2021, didn’t address gender identity, but this summer, Denmark released a first-of-its-kind study that found transgender people died by suicide at 3.5 times the rate of the rest of the country’s population.
In Virginia, 43% of LGBTQ youth, including 53% of transgender and nonbinary youth, reported seriously considering suicide in the past year. In addition, 13% of LGBTQ youth, including 17% of trans and nonbinary individuals, attempted suicide in the past year, according to state-level data collected in 2022 by The Trevor Project.
The LGBTQ youth-focused suicide prevention nonprofit attributes those trends to the rejection and discrimination those populations experience in society, especially in a year when lawmakers have introduced hundreds of bills restricting their access to health care, education and other rights.
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration rolled out policies in July that direct schools to identify students based on their legal sex and names, though Fairfax County Public Schools has maintained its existing policies that support transgender and gender-expansive students.
“We know these young people face stigma, discrimination, and oppression making reaching out for help and connecting to safe resources incredibly difficult and scary,” Gretch said, noting that PRS is continuing “to evolve our crisis services to meet the needs of different populations.”
Established in 1963, PRS provides therapy, peer support, housing and employment assistance and other behavioral health services, along with its CrisisLink call center, which receives 14,000 calls per month on average, including 4,500 from Northern Virginia.
According to a press release, PRS is one of only four 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline centers in the country to offer chat and texting option to LGBTQ youth in addition to calls.
The LGBTQIA+ service provides several ways to get in touch: text “Q” to 988; press 3 when prompted while calling 988; or go to 988lifeline.org/chat and check the LGBTQI+ box in the pre-chat survey. These options are designed for anyone under 25 who wants to connect with a trained crisis worker specifically focused on meeting the needs of LGBTQIA+ youth and young adults.
Virginia State Police are investigating a fatal motorcycle crash that occurred on I-66 in the Oakton area last Saturday (Aug. 19).
At 8:24 p.m., Cody P. Riley, a 36-year-old resident of Owens Cross Roads, Alabama, was headed east in the I-66 Express Lanes “at an excessive rate of speed” when he lost control of his 2018 Yamaha FZ09 motorcycle near Route 123 (Chain Bridge Road), VSP said in a news release today (Thursday).
“[The motorcycle] operator was thrown from the vehicle, which came to rest on the left shoulder of the Express Lanes,” VSP said.
Riley died from his injuries at Inova Fairfax Hospital.
Police say Riley was wearing a helmet. An investigation into the crash is ongoing.
There have been five fatal crashes involving a motorcycle in Fairfax County so far this year, exceeding the four such crashes recorded in 2022 through August, according to Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles data.
(Updated at 5:50 p.m.) A man was taken to the hospital earlier this afternoon after a two-vehicle crash on Route 123 in Oakton.
Officers responded to the crash involving a sedan and a Town of Vienna trash truck at the Hibbard Street intersection at 2:06 p.m., according to the Fairfax County Police Department.
The driver of the sedan was found lying on the ground, a dispatcher said on the police scanner via Open MHz.
“One person is being taken to the hospital with injuries not considered to be life-threatening,” the FCPD said. “Officers are on scene investigating.”
A fire engine from the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department was on the scene blocking off eastbound Chain Bridge Road at the intersection. Congestion was building up on the main road and Hibbard, but the FCPD says “no long-term delays are expected.”
The trash truck driver told FFXnow that he was driving on Chain Bridge Road when the car came out of Hibbard Street and they collided.
“It’s a shame, two kids in the car,” the driver said. “I asked if [the injury] was serious, and they indicated that he’s hurt but not seriously. I don’t know much more than that.”
The FCPD didn’t immediately confirm the circumstances of the crash or whether children were involved.
The faregates at the Vienna Metro station are sporting a new look.
Workers installed taller doors on the gates on Aug. 9 as part of a systemwide retrofit project intended to combat fare evasion, which costs Metro an estimated $40 million per year in lost revenue, according to the transit agency.
“The bottom line is fare evasion is not okay, and we will continue our efforts to ensure everyone is respecting the community’s system and each other,” Metropolitan Washington Area Transit Authority CEO and General Manager Randy Clarke said in a news release announcing the rollout of the project last month.
The Vienna station is the only one in Fairfax County to be featured in the project’s first phase, which also includes stations in Arlington, D.C. and Maryland.
The first phase is expected to be completed by early fall. A Metro spokesperson says there are no updates yet beyond that initial timeline, but all 103 rail stations are slated to get the retrofit over the next year.
At 55 inches tall, the new doors are stronger and more resilient than the original faregates, which were updated just last year, WMATA said.
The new design includes an L-shape door panel that extends over the faregate to minimize gaps between the openings. The increase in barrier height from the original 28 to 48-inch prototype to 55 inches will also make it more difficult to jump over faregates. The new height is taller than a hockey net or nearly half the height of a standard basketball hoop.
The swing doors are made of a polycarbonate which is 200 times stronger than glass, lighter weight, and more durable. The final design also includes more robust hinges and a more powerful motor to strengthen the door. As stations are retrofitted with the new barriers, Metro is also raising the height of fencing and emergency gates.
Metro will install a single door panel for all regular faregates, and double door panels at the wider gates for accessibility and wheelchairs.
Prior to the rollout of the new doors, Metro launched a reduced fare program that lets SNAP recipients who live in Virginia, Maryland and D.C. ride its trains and buses at a 50% discount.
“To-date, more than 1600 customers have enrolled, taking nearly 17,000 combined trips,” WMATA said on July 24.