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The first major renovations to Reston Town Center’s in 30 years are well underway, with the pavilion set to reopen later this year.

A spokesperson for Boston Properties says the opening of the pavilion is anticipated “sometime in November with the return the ice rink for the winter season.”

“The Fountain Plaza and Pavilion rehabilitation and renovation work at Reston Town Center has made significant progress since commencing in March 2022,” Sapna Yathiraj, Boston Properties’ marketing director, wrote in a statement to FFXnow.

The Fountain Plaza is also slated to open later this year, although an exact timeline was not immediately available.

The upgrades are led by Alan Ward, a principal at Sasaki Associates. As previously reported the enhancements include:

The Pavilion

Two fire pits in front of the Pavilion adjacent to Market Street will add to the holiday and cooler months’ experience

Large fans will help cool the space during warmer months for both formal and informal gatherings

An expansion through the service street adjacent to the Hyatt will create more flexibility and space for programming, events, and daily activations
A wooden deck that will serve as a seating area and a stage for smaller events and performances

Additional seating areas in the artificial turf area during warm months

Other

The fountain: Renovation of the lower base area, with new tiling, expanded seating, and tiered landscaping, and replacement of the entire outdated mechanical system. The original design of the upper base and Mercury statue will remain unchanged.

New trees and plantings to replace aged greenery and damaged root systems

Expansion of outdoor seating, including stadium-style structures and traditional tables and chairs

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Kitchen lighting done right! See the Before photo of this kitchen below. (Photo courtesy Synergy Design & Construction)

By Nicola Caul Shelley, Synergy Design & Construction

Nobody likes to hear their home is starting to date and look its age, or that a “must have it” design choice they made may have seen its day. But, it’s a fact of life that, as time goes on, interior design trends and aesthetics evolve and what was “in” twenty or thirty years ago is now ready for a refresh. So, let’s take a look at some common design elements that are dating your home — and some ideas for how you can update your space.

Like all things design, if you have any of these things in your home and you LOVE them, let them be. It’s your home; if it makes you happy, enjoy them. But we bet it’s more than likely some of these things will resonate with you and you might even have been thinking about switching them out for a while!

Honey Oak/Orange Toned Stair Banister & Railings

Oh, boy. This is a controversial one as we see this all over Northern Virginia because so many of the homes in the area were built around the same time. We hate to be the bearers of bad news, but it’s time to put a fresh spin on your honey oak staircase and get your paint out!

Replacing the entire floor is one thing, but updating your staircase is a weekend job that will totally transform your space. Don’t believe us? Swipe through the carousel below to see examples!

1980s Ceiling Fans

This one always creates fond memories of flowery wallpaper borders and chintz sofas. For us, it’s all about the details and nothing sticks out more in an updated space than a dated ceiling fan. Even worse? If you haven’t gotten around to replacing that bulb that went out or the chain has broken and is no longer serving a purpose.

There are SO many options available now at really reasonable prices from big box stores and online. But with so many options, how do you know which one to choose? You don’t have to have contemporary tastes to get one you like. A general rule of thumb is the less it has going on, the better. We think this one is an easy fix that you need to put on your list NOW!

Glass Blocks

Guilty! This was SUCH a popular look for such a long time (especially in bathrooms) that it’s hard to let them go. However, it’s time to move on! These days, large clear glass shower enclosures and fuss-free streamlined modern finishes are the way to go.

Removing glass blocks may not be an easy change. If budget allows and it’s an exterior window, it’s money well spent to replace it. If that’s not within your budget, hang a sheer drape in front the glass block window to filter the light and soften the look.  If you have a glass block shower or accent wall and you want to take it down, you’ll likely need professional help. Put it on your wishlist for when it’s time to remodel!

Before & After (Photos courtesy Synergy Design & Construction)

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Construction has begun on a renovation of Chesterbrook Shopping Center in McLean (courtesy Federal Realty)

(Updated at 2:45 p.m.) Construction has begun on a substantial renovation of Chesterbrook Shopping Center in McLean.

Barricades, signage and other equipment started emerging at the Safeway-anchored retail strip in mid-August, reader Mike Whatley told FFXnow.

An overhaul of Chesterbrook has been anticipated since longtime property manager Federal Realty Investment Trust took ownership of the 90,000-square-foot property at 6214 and 6246 Old Dominion Drive in May 2021, calling the site “well-positioned for future growth.”

Federal Realty confirmed to the Washington Business Journal last week that construction is underway on a $8.5 million “facelift” for the shopping center, which was originally built in 1967, according to Fairfax County property records.

According to the WBJ report, Federal Realty has no plans to turn Chesterbrook into a dense, mixed-use neighborhood. Instead, the focus is on modernizing the building facades and introducing new outdoor amenities akin to its recent renovations of Birch & Broad in Falls Church and Old Keene Mill Shopping Center in Springfield.

Here’s more from the WBJ:

“Today, customers are more likely to spend time with friends and family closer to home,” a trend Federal hopes to tap into by creating a “destination” within the community, Deirdre Johnson, the company’s senior vice president of asset management, said in an email.

Federal, which managed the property for 19 years before buying a majority stake in 2021, envisions a comprehensive modernization of the façade, storefronts, landscape, lighting and outdoor gathering spaces, as well as the addition of new restaurants and retail. Construction has already begun and will be completed in phases over the next two years.

The renovation has already shaken up the tenant mix at the shopping center.

The growing number of vacancies at Chesterbrook, including a 9,764-square-foot space that has been empty since Rite Aid shuttered, is part of an intentional “remerchandising” plan, per the WBJ.

In addition to the smoothie chain South Block, newcomers to the mall will include Kosmo Nail Bar and the clothing store J. McLaughlin.

Kosmo announced in May that it would be expanding to Chesterbrook, adding a second McLean location to its existing site at 1365 Beverly Road. The nail salon is expected to open this fall, according to Federal Realty’s website for the shopping center.

After previously telling FFXnow that it hopes to open next summer, South Block is now projecting a spring 2023 opening. J. McLaughlin didn’t return a request for comment.

Johnson told the WBJ that Federal Realty “is working on ‘several’ letters of intent with additional new prospective tenants.”

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Rebranding and upgrades could come soon to the aging office park (via Google Maps)

Rebranding could be on the horizon for Sunset Business Park in the Town of Herndon. 

The property owners of one-story buildings with fading maroon facades are exploring the possibility of rebranding and renovating some areas of the park.

Sunset Business Park is home to many locally-owned hidden gems like N’Used, Weird Brothers Coffee, and NextStop Theatre Company.

Not much has recently changed with the appearance of the center.

If a proposal is considered, the business park could see updated signage, building colors, floating awnings, landscaping, parking adjustments and “innovative” internal street detailing and streetscaping, according to Alan Hansen, DBI Architects, Inc.’s managing director of architecture. 

It is felt that the environment should reflect the energy and imaginations of the owners and tenants,” Hansen wrote in a statement to FFXnow.”There is a creative group of owners and tenants that primarily occupy the SBP. Food and beverage providers, performing arts groups and the like. It is felt that the environment should reflect the energy and imaginations of the owners and tenants.”

Design changes are in the early stages of the process, with no set proposal on the table. A meeting with town officials is anticipated later this month. More formalized discussions are expected to kick off in October and November of this year.

Photo via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

A car at the Franconia-Springfield Metro station pick-up line (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Sidewalk Projects Planned to Address Route 7 Pedestrian Safety — Virginia and Fairfax County officials are working to add sidewalks along Route 7 in the Culmore area of Bailey’s Crossroads. Prioritized sites include the Liberty gas station where a pedestrian was hit and killed by a vehicle in December, prompting safety advocates to campaign for improvements. [Annandale Today]

Person Rescued from Lincolnia House Fire — “Units arrived on scene with smoke visible and fire on the second floor. Two of three occupants evacuated the home prior to fire department arrival. One occupant was trapped in a bedroom. Crews rescued the occupant via a ground ladder — unharmed!” [FCFRD]

Former FCPD Officer Sentenced in Daughter’s Death — Jason Michael Colley pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree assault in Frederick County Circuit Court last week in connection to his 6-month-old daughter’s death in 2017. Sentenced to a combined 50 years, he will serve eight in private home detention and serve five years of supervised probation on the condition that “he not engage in physical punishment of children.” [ABC7]

Old Dominion Drive Closed for Two Days — “Old Dominion Drive (Route 738) will be closed to through traffic between Balls Hill Road (Route 686) and Route 123 (Dolley Madison Boulevard), weather permitting, from 9 a.m. Monday, Aug. 8 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 9 to replace stormwater pipes…Traffic will be detoured via Balls Hill Road, Lewinsville Road (Route 694) and Route 123 back to Old Dominion Drive.” [VDOT]

Two Charged in McLean Church Burglary — Two men were reported forcing entry into the Faith Bible Presbyterian Church (6901 Haycock Road) through a window at 5:17 p.m. on July 31. Officers found the 18-year-olds inside the church, taking property. They were both charged with burglary and property destruction, and one of them was charged with providing false identification to law enforcement. [FCPD]

Reston Assault by Teens Under Investigation — “Officers from the Reston District Station of the Fairfax County Police Department are investigating an assault that occurred Wednesday night in the South Lakes area, according to the weekly crime report. Around 10:45 p.m., a group of teens stole property and assaulted a person in the 11900 block of Barrel Cooper Court…The victim was treated for non-life-threatening injuries” [Patch]

Renovation of Merrifield Fire Station Complete — “After a little over two years, the renovation at Station 30, Merrifield, is complete. [Thursday], crews moved back in. Station was totally operationally during the renovation with a trailer for personnel in back. The reno included an addition of 440 square feet.” [FCFRD/Facebook]

Graffiti by Soldiers Revealed at Historic Fairfax Farmhouse — “Between March 1862 and June 1863, hundreds of Union soldiers left their enduring marks in charcoal, graphite or crayon on the walls of the attic and first and second floors of Historic Blenheim, a brick 1859 farmhouse and 12-acre estate on what is now Old Lee Highway.” [WTOP]

It’s Monday — Humid throughout the day. High of 91 and low of 76. Sunrise at 6:17 am and sunset at 8:13 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Reston Kitchen. Synergy Design & Construction.

By Nicola Caul Shelley, Synergy Design & Construction

Main level footprint not serving the needs of you and your family well? Kitchen too small? Ready to rethink the layout of your space? Then read on because, this month, we’re giving you a behind the scenes look at a recent main level remodel in South Reston and show you how we reimagined this home. Time to get inspired by what’s possible!

The Challenge

This custom contemporary home had great bones and lots of space, but our clients were ready to update and improve the flow of the main level, create a much larger kitchen and put the underutilized (but spacious) hallway to use.

The existing kitchen was small given the square footage of the home. It was sectioned off in a corner of the expansive main living area, with lots of walls and half-walls that weren’t showcasing the beautiful architecture of the space.

Before. Looking from the great room to the kitchen (behind the partition wall)
Before. Looking from the dining room into the kitchen.
Before. Looking from the den to other side of the kitchen.

Moving into the hallway, to the right of the photograph below is the entrance to the great room. An entrance to the kitchen off the family room/den (at the far end) can be seen in the middle. On the bottom left, the top of the basement staircase can be seen. The hallway was wide but the space was not used efficiently and opened up the potential to get creative with rethinking the purpose of this space.

Before. The view from the front door.

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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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Nonprofit Fellowship Square has finished a major renovation of its Hunters Woods affordable housing community (via Fellowship Square)

A nearly $26 million renovation effort at the Hunters Woods Fellowship House in Reston is officially complete, property owner Fellowship Square announced yesterday (Tuesday).

The nonprofit completed its renovation earlier this month. A ribbon cutting is planned for July 21 at the affordable housing community that caters to seniors who wish to live independently and earn roughly a maximum of $10,000 per year.

Fellowship Square CEO Christy Zeitz said the completion of the project modernizes a nearly 50-year-old apartment building and addressed the critical need for affordable housing for seniors in the area. The issue has been complicated by skyrocketing real estate and rental prices as well as an aging population.

“With this completed renovation, we can continue to offer quality apartment living at rental rates they can afford well into the future and enable our residents to live independently in the dynamic Reston community,” Zeitz wrote in a statement.

The project broke ground in mid-February of 2020, but was hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic and related issues.

Although work halted in March 2020 due to the pandemic, Zeitz said Fellowship Square was able to work with its builder and public safety experts to lay out a new timeline for the project.

The project was divided into two phases, focusing first on infrastructure and upgrades to heating and cooling system. The second phase resulted in more publicly visible changes, like upgrades to communal areas, an expanded lobby and entrance, a new media and wellness center, and flex space for activities and functions.

A dozen apartments were also reconfigured so they would be accessible for residents with disabilities.

The project team includes Miner Feinstein Architects and Southway Builders.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn lauded the community and its renovation.

“This renovation, including additional accessibility and other modernizations, preserves this landmark and ensures its residents will continue to be able to call it home,” Alcorn said in a statement.

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Louise Archer Elementary School (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

(Updated on 7/11/2022) Fairfax County Public Schools has officially committed $36 million to renovating Louise Archer Elementary School in Vienna.

The Fairfax County School Board awarded a contract to Henley Construction Company, Inc. during its June 16 meeting. The contractor beat out two other bidders for the project, which will roughly double the size of the school building.

The contract set a construction start date of Aug. 1, with Henley beginning its initial setup and erecting fencing by Aug. 15, according to the FCPS facilities staff.

“FCPS has already installed temporary classroom cottages behind the school,” FCPS told FFXnow by email. “The main work is expected to start with the new 2-story classroom addition in early September 2022.”

Originally erected at 324 Nutley Street in 1939, Louise Archer last underwent a renovation in 1991 and serves 510 students, as of the 2021-2022 school year, which concluded on June 10.

According to the current Capital Improvement Program (CIP), FCPS added the school to its renovation queue in 2009, but enrollment has declined over the past decade. There were 824 students during the 2012-2013 school year, pushing the facility’s program capacity utilization to 114% — well above the current utilization rate of 77%.

The school currently has a design capacity of 784 students, thanks to two temporary trailers and a 10-classroom modular introduced in 2005.

A rendering of the planned Louise Archer Elementary School renovation from Nutley Street (via Town of Vienna)

The planned renovation will eliminate the temporary classrooms, reducing the school’s design capacity to 700 students, but it will expand the 51,235-square-foot building to 103,224 square feet with a second-story addition. New amenities will include additional classrooms, offices, an updated library, and a larger parking lot.

The expanded parking lot will replace the existing modular with a new kiss-and-ride lot, separating parent drop-offs of students from the school bus area and staff parking. It will have 105 parking spots and two loading spaces, according to a Town of Vienna staff report.

Expressing optimism that the new drop-off area will alleviate overflow traffic on Nutley Street, the town’s Board of Zoning Appeals granted FCPS a conditional use permit for the project on April 20.

Construction is being funded by the 2021 school bond approved by voters last November. FCPS’ CIP status page estimates work will be completed in late 2024 to early 2025.

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Patrick Henry Library in Vienna (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

An initial concept for the upcoming Patrick Henry Library renovation is here, and the Vienna Town Council has some reservations.

At a Town Council conference session on Monday (June 13), Fairfax County public works staff unveiled a conceptual site plan for a one-story library and a four-level parking garage to replace the existing facility and parking lot at 101 Maple Avenue East.

The county hopes to expand the community library from 13,817 square feet to about 18,000 square feet — smaller than the previously expected 21,000 square feet — to accommodate its programming plans, including a larger children’s section and upgraded technology.

The project will also add a public parking garage to the 1.4-acre site. The current concept provides 216 spaces, including seven accessible spots and five with electric vehicle charging stations — more than the 209 spaces required by the county’s agreement with the Town of Vienna.

Fairfax County’s initial concept site plan for the new Patrick Henry Library and parking garage (via Town of Vienna)

With an access road planned from Maple Avenue and a driveway to the garage from Center Street, the two structures will essentially take up every available inch of space.

“The site is quite constrained in size for the uses proposed,” Vienna Planning and Zoning Director David Levy said. “Parking garages in particular have minimum dimensions related to turning radii and efficient layouts. As a result, there’s not really many options for the concept design.”

The limited space will make it difficult to meet Vienna’s tree canopy requirements, which may have to be waived, Levy told the council.

The concept provides open space in the form of a plaza at the corner of Maple and Center. A rooftop terrace to provide outdoor reading and classroom space has been considered, but it would be “cost-prohibitive” to include initially, according to county staff.

Though staff said the setback from Maple Avenue will be slightly increased, council members urged the design team led by the firm RRMM Architects to find ways to use less space and reduce the height of the garage. Read More

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