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Reston Town Center’s main public spaces have gotten a facelift. 

A visual look shows that much of the work on the public spaces is completed or underway, bringing new life to areas that have been untouched for more than 30 years.

Upgrades to the pavilion include two fire pits next to Market Street, large fans, a wooden deck, the renovation of the lower base area, expanded seating, tiered landscaping, and more outdoor seating areas on artificial turf.

Sasaki Associates led the design work on the project.

The construction of the Fountain Square Pavilion was completed in October as part of a makeover of other common areas. The ice rink also opened in November. 

Boston Properties says work on the fountain area is slated to be completed in early February.

“We will be turning on the fountain in the spring as we normally do,” Sapna Yathiraj, a spokesperson for the company, told FFXnow.

The upgrades come as several tenants aim to open at the town center. Tatte Bakery plans to open at at 11910 Market Street.

Dallas-based wine restaurant Sixty Vines will take space formerly occupied by Clydes at Reston, and Piso y Nazca Ceviche Gastrobar will open in space formerly occupied by Vapiano. 

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A train at the Vienna Metro station (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Just three years after going a full season without Metro, Fairfax County’s Orange Line stations will again be subjected to an extended summer shutdown, as the transit agency works to upgrade some of its equipment.

As part of a larger maintenance work plan, the Vienna, Dunn Loring and West Falls Church stations will be closed from June 3 to July 27 so Metro can replace a steel rail that has degraded, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Agency announced yesterday (Tuesday).

The replacement will unfold in two phases “to reduce the customer impact,” according to Metro. During the first phase from June 3-26, the closure will also include the McLean, East Falls Church and Ballston stations on the Silver Line. Those stations will reopen on June 27.

“The Infrastructure team will focus on replacing 40-year-old steel rail that has become significantly more susceptible to rail breaks than rail in any other part of the system,” WMATA said. “Metro has been tracking rail breaks in the system to identify priority locations for replacement and has determined the rail in this stretch of track to be a top priority.”

The work will also include a replacement of the copper cables at the stations with fiber-optic cables, giving them “advanced radio, signal, and train communication technology.”

Metro typically schedules its major maintenance projects during the summer when there’s lower ridership, according to the news release.

Metro’s planned summer 2023 service outages for maintenance projects (courtesy WMATA)

This year’s plan is focused on modernizing the rail system. It will also involve single-tracking on the Maryland end of the Orange Line from May 12 to 22 and a 44-day shutdown of the Maryland end of the Green Line from July 22 to Sept. 4.

“Continued maintenance work is essential to safe and reliable rail service,” WMATA Executive Vice President of Infrastructure Andy Off said in a statement. “We are working strategically to target maintenance locations and minimize the impacts on customers as we conduct this critical work to upgrade systems, improve reliability, and modernize station facilities.”

This summer’s partial Orange Line shutdown won’t be as extensive as the three-month-long closure of 2020, when Metro overhauled the station platforms.

When ridership plummeted that spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency expanded the closure to include the Silver Line between Ballston and Wiehle-Reston East so that it could connect those stations to the upcoming extension into Loudoun County.

The Silver Line stations ultimately reopened that August, followed by the Orange Line stations just after Labor Day. Even with the unexpected leeway for construction in 2020, the Silver Line extension still encountered several delays before finally launching service last November.

According to its online rail data, the Vienna Metro station is averaging the most daily rail entries out of the four Fairfax County stations that will be affected this summer, as of November:

  • Vienna — 8,794 entries
  • West Falls Church — 4,674 entries
  • Dunn Loring — 3,543 entries
  • McLean — 928 entries

In a quarterly report last fall, WMATA reported its highest ridership levels since the pandemic took hold in March 2020, though the 45.6 million riders across rail and bus was still just 60% of 2019 levels.

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See more of this home remodel in Reston here. Photo courtesy Synergy Design & Construction.

By Nicola Caul Shelley, Synergy Design & Construction

Home remodel on your New Year’s resolution list? A home remodel is a big financial investment and no one wants to make any changes to their home that won’t stand the test of time when it comes to design choices. We’re here to help! This month, we’re sharing what made our team’s list of trends and things we think we’ll be seeing more of in 2023 when it comes to kitchen and bathroom remodeling and interior design.

Fireplaces in Kitchens

The role of the kitchen has changed in the last few decades. They’ve become multi-functional spaces that serve gathering and entertaining needs as well as their day-to-day cooking/prep function. There is now a move taking this one step further by creating kitchens that are ‘cozy’. We like to think we’re trail blazers on this one, but fireplaces in kitchens are regaining popularity as a way to achieve a more intimate and ‘lived in’ feeling.

A Touchstone recessed electric fireplace was integrated into the island in this home remodel in Reston. See more of this home here. Photo courtesy Synergy Design & Construction.
Photo Courtesy Jamie Padgett.

Pet-Friendly Laundry/Mudrooms

This has been a growing trend in recent years, but adding a pet cleaning station to a mudroom or laundry is now a BIG ticket item. With many of us adding a furry friend to the family during the pandemic, it’s now become a ‘must-have’ for many homeowners when they are building a new home or remodeling an existing one. Nicola, our Director of Marketing, did this in her own home and created not only a dog shower (that also doubles for muddy boot cleaning and other heavy duty cleaning) but also added a built-in dog crate, too.

Photo courtesy Nicola Shelley.

Butler’s Pantries as an Extension of Kitchens

In the same way the role of the kitchen has changed, our use of ancillary spaces on the main level has also changed. Historically, Butler’s Pantries were reserved for staff as a primary “landing point” for meal service/clean up as they were located between the kitchen and dining room. These days, Butler’s Pantries are an extension of the kitchen, usually with similar cabinetry or design elements (although not always) for a cohesive feel but with a multifunctional purpose. Not everyone has room for a separate Butler’s Pantry, so mixed-use spaces that combine the Butler’s Pantry/Pantry/Laundry/Mudroom are now high on homeowner’s wishlists.

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The Lake Thoreau renovation project is on track for opening this year (via Reston Association)

A substantial renovation to Reston’s Lake Thoreau pool is 25% complete, putting the multi-million dollar project on track for opening by the 2023 pool season.

Demolition, regrading and structural support for the elevated deck are officially complete, according to Chris Schumaker, Reston Association’s capital projects director. At a Dec. 15 board meeting, Schumaker said the planned addition to the bathhouse will begin shortly after the New Year.

“We’re currently holding on schedule and anticipate opening sometime during the 2023 pool season,” he said.

Fine grading, structural steel work and concrete work is in progress for the pool basin, he told the board.

The project could see delays due to weather impacts — but currently no delays are anticipated.

On-site work at 2040 Upper Lake Drive began over the summer. The facility has been closed since 2020 for the renovation project, which was first set to break ground in the fall of 2021.

The renovated facility will include six lap lanes and a ramp to provide ADA access, a redesigned deck, a larger 25-space parking lot, an overlook with a pollinated garden, and expanded bathhouses.

The project is expected to cost roughly $3.5 million.

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Rendering shows an expansion and a renovation for the Mount Vernon RECenter (via Fairfax County)

The Mount Vernon RECenter is closing at the end of the month for a two-year, $74 million renovation project.

The nearly four-decade-old recreation center right off Belle View Blvd is set to close at 4 p.m. on Dec. 31 to allow for a massive expansion and renovation.

The plan is to add about 75,000 square feet to the rec center, which is set to include a two-story fitness center, building upgrades, an indoor track, a remodeled pool, and a second “NHL-sized” ice rink. The project is expected to take two years, with a reopening scheduled for the early part of 2025.

The Fairfax County Park Authority’s board officially approved the upgrades to its “oldest and most popular” facility back in March.

The recreation center, which opened in 1974, has had a myriad of problems in recent years, requiring workarounds and hundreds of thousands of dollars in short-term fixes. That includes renting ice chillers and dehumidification systems as well as fixing a failing roof.

While closing the entire facility for two years was a “tough” decision, it was the best option of several the county considered, FCPA director Jai Cole said in a press release:

The decision to close the entire facility for two years was a tough one; but it is the best option when it comes to delivering the most desirable outcome and limiting the impact of the closure on our customers. We have worked very hard to create a schedule that has enabled the facility to remain open for as long as possible prior to construction and to condense the closure period as much. While we understand that the temporary closing is challenging, we very much look forward to delivering a top-notch, state-of-the-art facility that will serve this community well into the future.

The total project is set to cost just over $74.4 million, an 83% increase over the proposed 2021 budget. Last year, county officials set the budget at $40.7 million, but it became clear that number was unrealistic.

According to a May 2022 presentation, bids came in much higher due to supply chain delays, building infrastructure challenges, and “complex construction phasing with market uncertainty.”

Even in the six months since then, the budget has risen again by another $7 million.

“The total project budget is $74,431,381 — an increase of $33.73 million over the original 2021 budget,” FCPA spokesperson Ben Boxer wrote FFXnow in an email. “The cost increase has been driven by ongoing supply chain challenges and inflation. The cost increase is consistent with construction cost increases across the board on all projects.”

The 24-month closing of the facility is also expected to cost the county $1.3 million in revenue.

The additional money needed for the project will come from a reallocation of other bond funds that had been marked for other projects as well as $25 million from American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) that was provided to the county, per Boxer.

Residents who have countywide rec center memberships will be able to use it to access the county’s eight other eight centers. The George Washington Rec Center near Mount Vernon High School will expand its hours on Jan. 2, 2023 to accommodate the closure of the Mount Vernon center.

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Vining Ivy. Photo courtesy Glidden

By Nicola Caul Shelley, Synergy Design & Construction

It seems like no time at all since we took a leisurely stroll admiring the calming and soothing colors of last year’s color trends! This year, the biggest names in the paint industry are ready to move things forward and are looking optimistically to the future with new colors that are lush, gorgeous and versatile.

As a full service home remodeling company that focuses on design-thoughtful interior remodels, Synergy doesn’t provide painting as a standalone service. However, we believe painting should be included as part of every home remodel and our Interior Designers will even help you pick out the perfect palette for your space! Not every home remodeler or general contractor includes painting in their scope of services, so be sure to ask the question before you sign a home remodeling contract.

With that said, time to get inspired and take a look at the top color picks by some of the biggest names in the painting industry.

Benjamin Moore  

Benjamin Moore is our go-to paint company when it comes to our home remodels. This year, they’ve named Raspberry Blush (2008-30) as their color of the year. Providing “Joie de Vivre”, it is described as “a vivacious shade of color tinged with pink, this electric hue is the definition of charismatic color.”

One of the most frequently asked questions we get from clients is how to best use color without overdoing it and overpowering the space. This depends on a lot of factors (including your personal design aesthetic when it comes to use of color), but it is possible to paint a room all in the same color, or simply use it as an accent. Benjamin Moore provides some helpful suggestions for using this paint color to maximum effect in different ways:

  • Bring a blushed update to the deep red dining room with Raspberry Blush walls and Onyx furnishings.
  • Create a lively living room with walls and wainscoting. 
  • Add a pop of color to your home with a powder room or ensuite painted in this rich coral.

Farrow & Ball

Based in England, Farrow & Ball have long held a reputation for quality paint and interesting colors (or should we say, ‘colours’) and they are also high on our list of favorites when it comes to paint names! 

This year, they introduced 11 new colors to their collection of high-performance, low-VOC, water based paints. According to Farrow & Ball they are, “inspired by moments of joy, comfort and refreshment to bring delight to your decorating. The first additions to our much-loved colour card in four years, these versatile new shades range from a lively, flame red to a delicate pink. With our signature richness, depth and extraordinary response to light, each one is unmistakably Farrow & Ball.”

This is a big deal for Farrow & Ball who haven’t introduced any new colors for four years. They are retiring 11 of their older colors to make way for these new ones, so if you’ve used their paint in your home in recent years, it might be a good time to look into which colors are being discontinued in case you need a touch up.

“Our relationship with our home has changed so much over the last few years, it felt like the perfect time to introduce these new colours,” said Joa Studholme, color curator for Farrow & Ball, in a press release. “We all feel ready to show off our spaces and personal style.”

Say hello to the new Farrow & Ball colors:

  • Stirabout
  • Eddy
  • Tailor Tack
  • Templeton Pink
  • Bamboozle
  • Hopper Head
  • Selvedge
  • Kittiwake
  • Wine Dark
  • Whirlybird
  • Beverly

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The Barton Hill Recreation Area in Reston is slated for upgrades (via Google Maps)

Upgraded lighting is no longer a component of upgrades to the Barton Hill tennis courts in Reston.

Reston Association will not challenge the Oct. 26 vote by the Fairfax County Board of Appeals upholding an earlier decision to require additional approvals before lights can be installed at the facility.

Board of Appeals member Daniel Aminoff emphasized that the county’s current ordinance does not specifically indicate that lighting-related upgrades are considered exceptions to a requirement for an amendment to Reston’s existing Planned Residential Community (PRC) plan.

“Had the Board of Supervisors intended to include lights, they would have specifically delineated in that case,” said Aminoff.

The board agreed with a county zoning administrator that a PRC plan amendment is required for the proposed upgrades in addition to a site plan.

RA had argued that it only needs a sports illumination plan to move forward with 23 LED light poles, which would stand 26 feet tall. RA also said the approved development plan for the area describes the courts as a recreational area and, as a result, allows for greater flexibility in planning.

The project will still include refurbishment and replacement of the existing tennis courts. RA’s board removed roughly $381,000 from its budget after the lighting component was dropped, according to RA spokesperson Mike Leone.

Leone declined to provide a response on the association opting not to appeal the county’s decision.

The proposal includes renovation of four courts and striping for tennis and pickle ball. RA previously anticipated the project would be ready by the end of the year, but the new timeline has not currently been finalized.

Photo via Google Maps

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The Tysons Mobil gas station on Chain Bridge Road was damaged by a tornado in March (staff photo by David Taube)

The Mobil gas station by Tysons Corner Center was looking to make some changes before it got hit by a tornado this spring, but the damage resulting from that storm added a new sense of urgency to the project.

When it meets tomorrow (Wednesday), the Fairfax County Planning Commission is poised to approve a renovation of the station at 1953 Chain Bridge Road that would replace the existing vehicle service bays with a convenience store.

The car wash and repair bays haven’t operated since a tornado briefly touched down in Tysons on March 31, damaging the Mobil and adjacent Sunoco gas stations, Wire Gill LLP partner David Gill told the commission at a public hearing last week.

“We are very eager to move forward on this so we can begin repairs on the building,” said Gill, who is representing PMG in the land-use case.

The renovation of the eight-pump gas station, which has been running since 1973, would add a convenience store sales floor, a 350-square-foot cooler vault and a 240-square-foot employee work room. The 2,585-square-foot building’s façade would be replaced.

While no new exterior construction or additions to the building have been proposed, PMG has agreed to realign the existing sidewalk on Chain Bridge Road (Route 123) and widen it from 4 to 6 feet, including in front of the Sunoco station up to International Drive.

A private road that connects the two gas stations will be closed off “to reduce vehicle conflicts and the possibility of collisions,” leaving the site with two entrances off of Chain Bridge and a rear service road to International Drive, the staff report says.

Gill said the closure will also give the site some additional open space that will be filled with trees and other landscaping.

However, the landscaping along Chain Bridge will be located between the property and sidewalk, rather than by the street, a deviation from Tysons’ design guidelines that Gill said will allow more trees to be planted and prevent visibility issues for drivers.

“Overall, this is an incremental change that reflects larger trends with the fueling station industry, where convenience stores are replacing service stations,” Kevin McMahan with the Department of Planning and Development said. “In staff’s opinion, the upgrades to the building’s architecture and streetscape improvements along Chain Bridge Road will be positive improvements to the area.”

The planning commission stopped short of approving PMG’s special exception request last week, because a development condition that would require the property owner to install two electric vehicle charging stations was still being finalized.

Staff had initially pushed for Level 3 chargers to be required, but the condition has been revised to less-intensive Level 2 chargers. Gill said the site doesn’t have the space to accommodate the infrastructure needed for Level 3s.

Who will be responsible for installing and operating the chargers hasn’t been determined yet, but Gill said PMG has partnered with providers to install stations at other sites in the past.

“We’ve figured out, if worst comes to worst, we’re in that game ourselves now if we put in these chargers,” he said.

Providence District Commissioner Phil Niedzielski-Eichner observed that the growing acceptance and use of electric vehicles presents a potential opportunity for convenience stores and other businesses that could serve drivers waiting for their cars to charge up.

He said the commission will “need to look thoughtfully at what expectations we have for future developments,” suggesting that they push for Level 3 stations at sites along I-495, I-66 and other major highways.

“The matter of electric vehicle charging is going to continue to come before us, and I think we’re getting more and more insight into what that really means for the future of vehicle use in Fairfax County,” Niedzielski-Eichner said.

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The Fairfax County Park Authority has converted one of the Lewinsville Park tennis courts into pickleball courts (via FCPA)

Fairfax County’s inventory of pickleball facilities has expanded with the arrival of 10 courts dedicated to the increasingly popular sport.

Newly renovated courts at Lewinsville Park in McLean and George Washington Park in Mount Vernon will officially open on Saturday, Oct. 15, the Fairfax County Park Authority announced yesterday (Thursday).

The festivities will start at 9 a.m. with a ribbon-cutting at GW Park (8426 Old Mt. Vernon Road) led by Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck. Park officials and local pickleball advocates will also make remarks, and there will be time for photos and “light refreshments,” according to the news release.

The park authority began demolition work on the GW courts this spring, one of five court renovation or maintenance projects planned for this year.

The park’s four tennis courts have been converted into six courts dedicated to pickleball and two courts that can be used by both sports. The $202,306 renovation also added new surfacing, fencing and nets.

Lewinsville Park (1659 Chain Bridge Road) will get its ribbon-cutting at 4 p.m. Expected speakers include FCPA Executive Director Jai Cole, Board Member Tim Hackman and Fairfax County Advocates for Pickleball, the release says.

Costing $650,000, the Lewinsville project resurfaced and added new fencing for all six of the park’s courts, but only one was turned into dedicated pickleball courts, a downsizing from the park authority’s original plans to repurpose two or three of the facilities.

Tennis players had argued that the county doesn’t have enough courts for their sport to cede or share that many with their pickleball-playing counterparts, a conflict that has emerged as a top challenge to the county’s efforts to add more pickleball facilities.

“The improvements align with recommendations in the recently completed Pickleball Study and are an effort to introduce a greater variety of court sports to accommodate the diverse users across the county,” the FCPA said of the Lewinsville and GW renovations. “Interest in pickleball locally and countywide is growing quickly, and the introduction of pickleball at these locations will address the need for additional facilities for this emerging sport.”

This summer, the park authority celebrated the launch of the Wakefield Park Pickleball and Tennis Complex in Annandale, a $410,000 renovation project that installed two pickleball courts and accessibility improvements.

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Before & After. (Photo courtesy Synergy Design & Construction)

By Nicola Caul Shelley, Synergy Design & Construction

Well, last month’s “Design Elements That Are Dating Your Home” column clearly struck a chord with many local homeowners! We heard from lots of people who shared other items they think are ready for a new, fresh twist. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at some other dated items homeowners want to switch up when it comes time for their next home remodel or refresh!

Kitchen Desks

We’ve lost count of how many of these we’ve pulled out of homes in recent years! The kitchen desk seemed like such a great addition when it became ‘in’. However, many homeowners just never used them and they became a dumping zone rather than a work zone. When the COVID pandemic and lockdown happened, most people didn’t want to work at a desk in a small space facing a wall, so the home office/dining room got more attention as a work zone and the kitchen desk was abandoned. If you’re thinking of a kitchen remodel, we say replace the kitchen desk if you don’t use it. Put that square footage to better use!

Closet Pantry

There was a time when homes in this area weren’t built without a closet pantry. Although they are useful, they take up A LOT of square footage and because of their layout (not to mention an added door in a small space), things tend to disappear into the back of them, never to see the light of day again. Closet pantries are now being replaced with pull-out pantry cabinets instead. Got room for a separate pantry? Lucky you! The pantry has become a curated space in its own right and we LOVE it!

Platform Tubs in the Primary Bathroom

We’ve been saying this for a while, but the days of oversized platform tubs are gone. Taking their place are free-standing soaking tubs — or no tub at all! If you love a good soak, then the new style of tub is a great addition to your primary bathroom, but it’s no longer a ‘must-have’. Many homeowners are foregoing the tub altogether and creating large, glass shower enclosures instead. If you simply must have a tub, the trend of having a glass enclosure that has both the shower and the tub in one ‘wet’ zone has also been showing up everywhere in recent years.

When it comes to resale, many prospective buyers may want a tub somewhere in the home for kids (and yes, sometimes, pets!), but it is no longer a requirement to have a tub in the primary bathroom.

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