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Carrabba’s Italian Grill has officially shuttered in Reston after more than two decades of business.

A sign on the door of the chain restaurant at 12192 Sunset Hills Road thanks customers for their “support over the past 21 years” and directs them to the company’s Centreville location at 5805 Trinity Parkway.

The Burn reported earlier that the Reston location was no longer listed on the company’s website.

It’s part of a series of closures under parent company Bloomin’ Brands, which also owns Outback Steak House, Bonefish Grill and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar. The company plans to close 41 locations across its portfolio, Nation’s Restaurant News reported.

“We periodically review our asset base and, in our latest review, we made the decision to close 41 underperforming locations,” Bloomin’ Brands CEO David Deno said when announcing the closures during an earnings call last Friday (Feb. 23).

According to Nation’s Restaurant News, Deno said most of the locations targeted for closures “were older assets with leases from the ’90s and early 2000s.”

Per its website, Carrabba’s has 11 locations remaining in Virginia, though the Centreville restaurant is the only one left in Fairfax County. The chain can also still be found in Dulles International Airport.

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A notice of eviction (via Allan Vega on Unsplash)

Eviction cases continue to rise in Fairfax County as the millions of dollars in financial and legal support allocated during the pandemic run out, county staff say.

Without the nationwide eviction moratorium that ended in August 2021 and federal relief funds, the county’s eviction numbers could have been much higher during the pandemic, staff told the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors at a housing committee meeting on Tuesday (Feb. 27).

However, residents are still struggling due to high housing costs and other challenges like inflation, stagnant wages and a lack of access to higher paying jobs, according to Aimee Garcia, access and economic mobility division director for Neighborhood and Community Services (NCS).

“We still are seeing rent be one of the largest needs across the community,” she said. “We are still seeing needs in regards to shelter, health, housing search…job search…inquiries around Medicaid, subsidized housing and dental.”

Last year, the number of eviction lawsuits (unlawful detainers), legal eviction notices (writs of eviction), and completed evictions were three times higher than in 2021, according to the county’s Eviction Data Dashboard.

In 2023, Fairfax County recorded a total of 7,618 unlawful detainers, 2,961 writs of eviction, and 963 evictions. Some of the most affected zip codes include Hybla Valley and Groveton (22306), Huntington (22303), Lincolnia (22312), McLean west of I-495 (22102), Herndon (20171), Annandale (22003), Bailey’s Crossroads (22041), and Lorton (22074).

Graph showing number of eviction cases in Fairfax County since 2020 (via Fairfax County)

Since the start of the pandemic, the federal government has provided billions of dollars in aid to assist community members with housing, food and other needs through the CARES Act and American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

Unlike most Virginia localities that used a state-managed online portal to distribute federal funding, Fairfax County chose to distribute rental assistance directly to residents using its internal social services agency, Coordinated Services Planning (CSP).

The agency initially faced challenges with a high volume of requests and slow processing times. In some cases, individuals waiting for rental and utility assistance through CSP experienced months-long delays.

However, over the past year, CSP Program Manager Luis Rey says the county has expanded access to legal aid, housing resources and rental assistance.

Now, in addition to calling a phone number, renters can submit applications online to CSP to determine their eligibility for rental aid — an option initially limited to landlords. The agency also introduced an estimated wait time and callback feature for applicants.

“They can leave the phone number and they’ll be called back to connect for an assessment,” Rey said.

Additionally, CSP works with the nonprofit Legal Services of Northern Virginia, the courts and Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office to help residents understand their options during the eviction process, Rey says.

Those efforts have helped mitigate the pandemic’s impact, according to Garcia. However, she noted that call volumes are still higher than they were pre-pandemic.

“We do continue to see new cases on a monthly basis at levels that are indicative of the continued need throughout the community,” she said.

To date, the county has distributed $150 million in rental assistance since the pandemic hit in 2020, according to county officials.

The county is still using ARPA funds for eviction prevention and rent assistance, but Deputy County Executive Chris Leonard warns the funds are dwindling, and more local funding may be needed starting next year.

“We’re going to utilize additional ARPA for FY 25,” he told the supervisors, referring to the fiscal year that will start on July 1. “…That will obviously be able to help us support the need, but it will also help us continue to monitor and figure out where we’re going to land with regards to what our need is out there for future rent assistance from the county and from our community partners.”

Photo via Allan Vega on Unsplash

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The installation “Red Dirt Rug” by artist Rena Detrixhe, whose work will be featured in the Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art’s upcoming “Pressing” exhibit (courtesy Tephra ICA)

The Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art is gearing up for its next art exhibition in Reston Town Center.

Scheduled for March 16-May 19, the exhibit, titled “Pressing,” features work by Kansas-based artist Rena Detrixhe and D.C.-based painter Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann. An opening reception and artist talk is set for Saturday, March 16 from 5-7 p.m. at Tephra’s gallery (12001 Market Street, Suite 103).

“Each of the works in this exhibition is a landscape — a vision of a place formed through careful observation and mark making,” Tephra Associate Curator Hannah Barco said. “And each artist’s departure from traditional modes of landscape painting offers a lesson in how to reconfigure our relationship to the natural environment.”

Here’s more from Tephra on the exhibition:

At a moment when much of the social discourse around climate change is politicized, reactionary, and focused on increasingly concerning storms, sea levels, fires, and heatwaves, Detrixhe and Tzu-Lan Mann create intricate and meditative works that reinsert slowness and contemplation back into the conversation about human impact on the environment. While the exhibition title points to the urgent need to address environmental preservation and climate change, it also refers to the gesture of a hand, an intimate touch, that as exemplified by these artists can have great significance.

Detrixhe’s work combines repetitive processes and scavenged materials to produce objects, installations, sculpture, performances and drawings. She received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas in 2013.

Tzu-Lan Mann got her bachelor’s degree from Brown University and a master’s degree from the Maryland Institute of College of Art. She received a Fulbright grant to Taiwan and has exhibited across the world.

According to Tephra, “Pressing” will be presented in conjunction with “Double 194 Years,” a 2019 drawing by artist Steven L. Anderson that the gallery has loaned from the Microsoft Collection.

“Anderson describes his Tree Rings series as ‘a way of growing a drawing,’ mimicking the growth patterns of trees adding layers of bark season after season,” Tephra said in a press release.

The exhibition is supported in part by Lindy and Richard Brewster, ArtsFairfax, and Reston Town Center Association.

A nonprofit formerly known as the Greater Reston Arts Center, Tephra offers free admission to both its main gallery and a second space, Tephra ICA at Signature (11850 Freedom Drive). The main gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday through Saturday, though Saturday visits must be scheduled in advance.

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Morning Notes

Cars travel northbound along I-495 toward D.C. (staff photo by James Jarvis)

GMU’s Sports Stadium Proposal Questioned — “Students and neighbors of George Mason University are rallying in opposition to a proposed facility for Washington’s newly formed professional cricket team…GMU said it also could be an opportunity to move its successful baseball team out of an aging field and share a 5,000-person stadium on west campus.” [NBC4]

Co-Founder of Longtime Merrifield Restaurant Dies — “Kim Lai, the immigrant businessman who helped transform a small family-run establishment into one of the most widely recognized Vietnamese restaurants in the D.C. area, died Feb. 16…Lai died from a head injury, several hours after suffering a fall at home in Fairfax,” said Le Lai, one of his daughters who ran Four Sisters from 2014 until it closed last year. [Washington Post]

Herndon Firefighters Mourn Loudoun Colleague — “On Friday, Feb. 23, C-Shift of Fairfax County Herndon Station, Company 4, hung black bunting across the front of their firehouse” as a tribute to Trevor Brown, a Sterling Volunteer Fire Company firefighter who died in an explosion at a Sterling house on Feb. 16. A preliminary investigation suggests the explosion stemmed from a propane gas tank leak. [The Connection]

Residents Form Coalition to Tackle Invasive Plants — “A group of homeowner and community associations has come together to focus on removing invasive plants and supporting the planting of native species. The Fairfax Invasive Removal Alliance (FIRA) is sending letters to the Board of Supervisors and state legislators urging action to address the problem of invasive, non-native plant species.” [Annandale Today]

Virtual Town Hall Planned on Animal Services Merger — “Join the Fairfax County Animal Shelter and the Fairfax County Police Department for a conversation about how our proposal to unite animal care and control services will benefit wildlife.” Community engagement will begin with a virtual meeting at 7 p.m. today (Thursday), followed by in-person town halls at the animal shelter’s Fairfax and Lorton campuses on March 11 and 13, respectively. [FCAS]

Architecture Firm Moves HQ Out of Tysons — “Architecture firm KTGY is moving its East Coast headquarters from Northern Virginia to Washington, D.C. The Irvine, Calif.-based company inked a 15,000-square-foot lease at Alexander Court, a 12-story, two-building office complex in the District’s Golden Triangle neighborhood. Since 2010, KTGY has had offices in Tysons, Va., where it had a similarly sized footprint at 8609 Westwood Center Drive.” [Commercial Observer]

South Lakes Basketball Team Reaches Semi-Finals — South Lakes High School’s varsity boys’ basketball team will face the Hayfield Hawks tomorrow (Friday) in the Virginia High School League’s state semi-finals at Westfield High School. The Seahawks advanced after defeating the Potomac Panthers 74-69 on Tuesday (Feb. 27). [South Lakes Athletics, Nova Hoops]

How to Give Feedback on County’s Proposed Budget — “On Tuesday, Feb. 20, County Executive Bryan Hill presented his proposed FY 2025 budget to the Board of Supervisors. You can get more information and provide input…at a Budget Town Hall meeting in your district, and during the budget public hearings, scheduled for Tuesday through Thursday, April 16-18.” [Fairfax County Government]

It’s Thursday — Expect sunshine and a high of 46 degrees, accompanied by a northwest wind blowing at 10 to 15 mph with gusts reaching up to 24 mph. Thursday night will be mostly clear with a low of 32 degrees and a northwest wind of 6 mph, which will become light and variable. [Weather.gov]

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Vintage plates used at the Bowman House are available for purchase (via Reston Museum)

Restonians now have a chance to own a piece of their community’s history.

Reston Museum, which is located at Lake Anne Plaza, will hold a raffle over the next month for a chance to win vintage plates that were used at the Bowman House during the early years of Reston’s formation.

Tickets are $5 for one raffle entry and $20 for five entries. They are available for purchase throughout March.

All proceeds from the raffle will benefit Reston Museum, a nonprofit organization that aims to preserve Reston’s past, inform the present and influence the future.

The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday at 1639 Washington Plaza.

Located at what is now an office park on Bowman Green Drive, the Bowman house was built in 1941 and operated as a distillery. The house was used by Robert Simon, Reston’s founder, in the 1960s, as he began planning Reston. It was renovated into an office park in 1984, according to Reston Museum.

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Sustainable interior design, utilized in such places as The Mather, emphasizes longevity and flexibility through ecologically conscious furnishings. (Interior rendering subject to change without notice.)

This biweekly column is sponsored by The Mather in Tysons, Virginia, a forward-thinking Life Plan Community for those 62 and better.

When it comes to interior design, green is becoming a popular trend for creating thoughtful, inviting, and aesthetically pleasing living spaces.

Green, of course, is referring to sustainable interior design — a style that emphasizes the use of ecologically and ethically conscious furnishings and materials. It’s a widely appealing approach already making its way into places like The Mather, a Life Plan Community for those 62 and better.

With open floor plans and elegant fixtures, The Mather’s modern apartment homes — some up to 3,300 square feet — are a dream for interior designers like Kelly LaPlante. As a sustainability expert, LaPlante is designing the model apartment homes at The Mather with a heightened perspective on eco-friendly possibilities.

“There are so many more companies who are sustainably minded and are offering eco-friendly products,” LaPlante says. “It’s becoming a much more viable option for everyone.”

Basic sustainable interior design begins with placing an emphasis on longevity and flexibility, while being mindful of product life cycles; in other words, how long the product will be of use before it ends up in a landfill. This puts more responsibility on the designer to prevent materials and products from being discarded if they’re still functional.

Over time, some sustainability pursuits evolve based on the client’s or homeowner’s perspective. For example, a person with health concerns might focus on improving indoor air quality by sourcing low-toxicity carpets, finishes, and paints.

“Sustainable interior design refers to creating spaces that are deeply considerate of the planet and people,” LaPlante says. “There are many factors to it, and one’s focus will depend on their personal values.”

When seeking to lighten your environmental footprint, LaPlante suggests starting with the three Rs:

  1. Reduce — Reduce waste, especially the act of discarding products just because of it going out of style. Minimize the amount of materials and resources whenever possible. Limit purchasing products made with toxins or poorly made products.
  2. Reuse — Rather than buying replacement furniture, hold onto pieces that are meaningful to you and find ways to give them new life. Consider what you already own, so you’re not contributing to the need for production and shipping, which are hard on the environment. You can use these items as accents to your decor.
  3. Recycle — Use repurposed furniture. Mix in vintage or antique pieces — and/or pieces that are made from recycled materials. You can reupholster chairs or sofas, change out legs on chairs and tables, and update hardware like drawer pulls. Be responsible about how you dispose of pieces you are done with by recycling whenever possible.

“As with those moving into The Mather this spring, people moving into a new home will have the opportunity to reuse some of their existing pieces, so I’d always encourage starting there,” LaPlante says. “When you do purchase new items, be diligent about looking for pieces that are well made and will stand the test of time — so that they don’t end up in a landfill in five or ten years.”

Kelly adds another recommendation for those interested in sustainability: purchase organic bedding to set the stage for overall health and well-being. “We spend one-third of our lives sleeping, and that is when we do our deepest restoration,” she says. “So make the healthiest possible choices when it comes to your mattress and bedding; your bed should be a toxin-free zone.”

Making healthy choices in interior design — from comforters to couches — can result in a home that’s as ecologically sound as it is attractive.

The Mather in Tysons, VA, for those 62 and better, is a forward-thinking Life Plan Community that defies expectations of what senior living is supposed to be. It opens in 2024.

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A housing development has been proposed for two vacant office buildings on Worldgate Drive (via KTGY/Town of Herndon)

A plan to redevelop two vacant office buildings on Worldgate Drive in Herndon is barreling towards official approval.

At a meeting on Monday (Feb. 26), the Herndon Planning Commission unanimously approved the redevelopment plan for 13100 and 13150 Worldgate Drive.

The developer, AM Worldgate Owner, intends to turn the existing office buildings into multi-family, stacked and townhouse residences. According to plans submitted to the town, the redevelopment would include 460 dwelling units.

A Fairfax County Fire Marshall review of a new entrance off of Worldgate Drive is pending but expected to wrap up before the Herndon Town Council reviews the application, town staff said in a memo.

The nearly 10.5-acre property is located on the north side of Worldgate Drive, east of Elden Street, west of Wilshire Lane and south of Chandon Park.

The redevelopment plan for 13100 & 13150 Worldgate Drive (via Town of Herndon)

Staff and the planning commission worked with the developer to iron out concerns with the design of the new secondary access point called Road A. Ultimately, a new curb cut on Worldgate Drive, west of Wiltshire Lane, was proposed. Exiting traffic will be limited to right turns onto Worldgate Drive.

“These conversions are a bit quirky,” said land use attorney Ken Wire, the applicant’s representative. He noted that the developer expects to receive the final approval on the zoning map amendment application from the fire marshall soon.

The proposal was approved with little discussion.

“We’ve gone over this quite thoroughly in my opinion,” Planning Commission Vice Chair George Burke said.

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One of the baseball diamonds at Patriot Park North, Fairfax County’s first official sports tourism development (via Fairfax County Park Authority/YouTube)

The Fairfax County Park Authority is still scouting for its next sports tourism project.

After opening Patriot Park North, a $28 million baseball and softball facility, near George Mason University last spring, the park authority put out a call in June for potential private partners on a new, multi-sport tournament complex that it hopes could benefit both residents and visitors.

However, the park authority announced on Feb. 15 that the four development pitches it received were all ruled out for further exploration at this time due to a lack of funding or the proposed site being deemed unsuitable.

“[The] Fairfax County Park Authority Board and stakeholders reviewed the submissions and found them not viable,” an FCPA spokesperson said. “…The [entities] submitting the proposal[s] did not have the funding for the project or the locations proposed were in established parks and would impact existing park amenities including golf courses, existing fields, garden plots or areas with historical significance.”

The submitted proposals haven’t been made public, but in its request for interest (RFI) issued in June, the county suggested Mountain Road and Halifax parks in Centreville, Rock Hill Park in Chantilly, and Patriot Park East near George Mason’s Fairfax campus as possible sites.

Those four sites are all undeveloped parcels owned by the park authority, which has identified them in approved master plans as potential future athletic fields. The RFI also gave respondents the option of identifying other locations that could host a multi-sport tournament complex.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors authorized a Sports Tourism Task Force in 2017 that was charged with studying how the county could “take advantage of this market in order to diversify its tax base” and how any resulting revenue could be used to support resident-focused facilities.

In a report released on Aug. 31, 2020, the task force cited outdoor field complexes as the county’s biggest need and the facility with the greatest economic potential. Other recommended priorities included an indoor hardcourt, an indoor track facility, an ice complex and a natatorium with a pool for swimming and diving competitions.

The study, which was conducted by a consulting firm and supported by the FCPA, identified 17 sites that could host at least one of the recommended facilities, though the vetting process drew criticism from some county supervisors for not considering equity or environmental impacts.

The task force estimated that an outdoor rectangular field complex at Mountain Road could generate over $61.7 million of economic output, including nearly $4.5 million in county tax revenue. An indoor court and track complex at Baron Cameron Park in Reston could bring in $72.6 million, though it would have higher construction costs.

Designed, built and operated by the park authority, Patriot Park North became the county’s first official sports tourism project, featuring four full-size baseball diamonds and two smaller diamonds.

Though none of the submissions for a follow-up gained traction so far, the park authority says it’s still open to new ideas. Unsolicited proposals can be submitted to the county through its Public-Private Educational Facilities and Infrastructures Act (PPEA) process.

“With Requests for Interest, if or when a project becomes viable, additional input will be sought through the Park Authority’s outreach processes,” the FCPA said.

Screenshot via Fairfax County Park Authority/YouTube

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Morning Notes

The Vita apartments loom behind an entrance to the Tysons Metro station (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Herndon Pub’s Cheesesteak Voted Best in Region — “A stalwart in pub food, Jimmy’s Old Town Tavern of Herndon claims the title of Best Cheesesteak in our NoVA Wars: Cheesesteak Edition reader poll. Readers chose Jimmy’s as the winner through four rounds of bracket-style voting. In the end, it topped Falls Church’s Celebrity Delly for the title.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]

Temporary Fix Proposed for Georgetown Pike Traffic — “VDOT is proposing to restrict left-turns from northbound Dead Run Drive to westbound Georgetown Pike” in McLean during rush hour in the hopes of easing congestion exacerbated by construction on I-495. “The meeting will take place Wednesday, from 7-9 p.m., Churchill Road Elementary School Cafeteria.” [Patch]

Apartment Complex in Bailey’s Crossroads Nears Finish — “Three Collective, the new three-building apartment complex at the Skyline Center in Bailey’s Crossroads, is nearing completion. The three buildings had been office buildings and were repurposed for residential uses. [They] have a total of 720 ‘flexidential’ apartments where tenants can live, work, or do both.” [Annandale Today]

Business Community Opposes Digital Sales Tax — “Trade associations representing hundreds of companies that do business in Virginia have come out swinging against a proposal to expand the state sales tax to cover digital goods, something Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin proposed and Democrats endorsed in their budget legislation.” Signatories of a letter sent to legislators include the Northern Virginia Technology Council. [Associated Press/WTOP]

Development Restricted on Great Falls Property — “Fairfax County supervisors on Feb. 20 unanimously approved creation of a new 29.81-acre agricultural-and-forestal (AF) district in Great Falls, which will protect the property from more intensive development in exchange for a tax break.” The land is mostly forested or undeveloped, but about 4.8 acres are being used for agricultural purposes, and there are three residential structures. [Gazette Leader]

Sorority Donates Books to Lorton School — “The Alpha Beta Alpha Omega Chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. donated over 200 books featuring characters of color to Gunston Elementary School in honor of Black History Month.” The books were collected by the sorority chapter over the past month and “selected or approved by Gunston Elementary’s librarian.” [On the MoVe]

Oakton Student Wins State Diving Championship — “Flint Hill Huskies senior diver Michayla Eisenberg finished her high-school career by winning the girls private-school state championship with a 506.7 point total, the highest in her prep career. The state title was her second in a row, dominating and winning by 186 points this season and finishing second as a sophomore.” [Gazette Leader]

Free Prom Dress Shop Set for Reston Return — “Reston Community Center is gearing up to host its annual Diva Central event on Saturday, March 16. Now in its 22nd year, Diva Central is a single-day prom and formal dress shopping event that is open to middle- and high school-age students who need formal dresses and/or accessories.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]

It’s Wednesday — Expect rain throughout the day, potentially turning into a thunderstorm after 4pm, with a high near 69°F. Winds will be breezy from the south at 21-24 mph, gusting up to 37 mph. Rain will continue into the night, with a possible thunderstorm before 10pm. Temperatures will drop to around 31°F, accompanied by windy conditions. [Weather.gov]

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U.S., Virginia and Fairfax County flags on a pole blow in wind on a rainy day (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Updated at 10:25 a.m. on 2/28/2024 — The National Weather Service has moved up the start time for its Wind Advisory to 3 p.m. today (Wednesday).

Earlier: A Wind Advisory has been issued for the D.C. area, including Fairfax County.

The alert is currently scheduled to start at 6 p.m. tomorrow (Wednesday) and continue until 4 a.m. Thursday (Feb. 29), according to the National Weather Service.

“Gusty winds could blow around unsecured objects. Tree limbs could be blown down and a few power outages may result,” the NWS said, warning that winds could reach 20 to 30 mph with gusts of up to 50 mph.

The strong winds will conclude what’s expected to be a rainy day in the county. The NWS is forecasting a 100% chance of rain tomorrow, but temperatures could still reach a high of 63 degrees, continuing an abnormally warm February for the East Coast.

A cold front is anticipated following tomorrow night’s high winds, bringing temperatures slightly down on Thursday, according to the Capital Weather Gang.

The full Wind Advisory is below.

…WIND ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 6 PM WEDNESDAY TO 4 AM EST THURSDAY…

* WHAT…West winds 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to 50 mph expected.

* WHERE…Portions of central, north central, northeast and northern Maryland, The District of Columbia, central, northern, northwest and western Virginia and eastern and panhandle West Virginia.

* WHEN…From 6 PM Wednesday to 4 AM EST Thursday.

* IMPACTS…Gusty winds could blow around unsecured objects. Tree limbs could be blown down and a few power outages may result.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

Use extra caution when driving, especially if operating a high profile vehicle. Secure outdoor objects.

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