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Reston Station from the Wiehle Avenue bridge (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

A casino may still be on the table for Fairfax County, though it faces some long odds to becoming a reality.

According to a new report by Patch, the real estate company Comstock is interested in building a casino in the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station area, where it owns nearly 80 acres of land for the still-growing Reston Station development.

The company’s plans were shared by “several local officials,” Patch said. A public relations representative for Comstock didn’t return a request for comment from FFXnow by press time.

Before it breaks out the slot machines, however, Comstock will need to convince both the Virginia General Assembly and voters to allow a casino operator in Fairfax County, a daunting prospect given the skepticism that the proposal faced when it first emerged in January.

An informal, unscientific poll by FFXnow found that 60% of respondents wouldn’t support having a casino in the county, though about a quarter of respondents did back the idea.

State Sen. Dave Marsden (D-37) and Del. Wren Williams (R-9) introduced identical bills on Jan. 20 that would’ve added any county with over 1 million residents — a criteria only met by Fairfax County — to Virginia’s list of localities eligible to host casino gaming facilities.

The legislation specifically stated:

The site of the casino gaming establishment shall be limited to a location that is (i) within one quarter of a mile an existing station on the Metro Silver Line, (ii) part of a coordinated mixed-use project development, (iii) outside the Dulles airport flight path, and (iv) outside the Interstate 495 Beltway

Both bills were quickly stricken from the legislative agenda at their patrons’ request, but Marsden told Patch that he plans to reintroduce his bill if he’s reelected this November. Facing off against Republican nominee Mark Vafiades, Marsden is seeking to replace the retiring Dick Saslaw in the new 35th District, which encompasses Annandale, Springfield, Mantua, Kings Park West and George Mason University.

If his bill becomes law, it would send the matter to voters with a ballot referendum in a future election, according to Marsden.

“We’ve started down the road of a severe downturn in the commercial real estate business,” Marsden said to Patch. “People who needed 50,000 square feet of office space now need 5. It’s going to devalue the market and there’s going to be less taxes because there’ll be a lot more in the way of vacancies.”

While Marsden told Patch that he thinks “the county is interested in taking a look at” the possibility of a casino, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn, who represents Reston, “opposes putting a casino on the Silver Line,” his office confirmed to FFXnow.

According to Patch, State Sen. Jennifer Boysko (D-33) — who is campaigning against Republican Matt Lang to represent Reston, Herndon, Great Falls and McLean in the 38th Senate District — said she’s “aware that Comstock would like a casino at the Reston station” but remains “strongly opposed” to the proposal.

Virginia currently only allows casino gambling in five cities. So far, establishments have opened in Bristol, Portsmouth and, most recently, Danville. Norfolk has a casino on the way, and Richmond voters will weigh in on a proposed project this fall.

The state’s existing casinos have exceeded revenue expectations, collectively bringing in $308 million in net revenue, as of the end of the fiscal year in June, according to the Virginia Mercury.

Reston Association (file photo)

The assessment fees that Reston Association members pay every year are expected to go up again in 2024, based on a newly proposed budget.

To cover the actual costs of running the organization, the annual assessment would need to increase to $872 next year — a 14.3% jump from the $763 that RA charged this year, RA CEO Mac Cummins said in a report to the board of directors.

Last year’s assessment hike was lower than initially anticipated, thanks to a $1 million buydown using a cash surplus, but Cummins has advised against repeating a buydown of that scale, warning that it’s unsustainable and “only delays the inevitable.”

Instead, he recommends taking a more incremental, “bleed in” approach that would involve a smaller cash infusion of $700,000 to bring the 2024 rate down to $840, which would be a 10% increase from last year.

“A dramatic increase in assessment…will lead to unfounded narratives and a communication / transparency breakdown,” Cummins wrote. “…If we were to set aside $1.4 million dollars of cash reserve and put $700,000 into the budget, we could take the excess surplus cash and put it into a money market account and generate some earnings over the next 12 months until it’s again time to use for the 2025 assessment.”

For the upcoming budget, RA has proposed eliminating member fees for recreation passes and certain events, such as the annual “Totally Trucks” event, and instead incorporating those costs into the base assessment.

The move would bring RA more in line with its past practices and those of other homeowners’ associations, according to Cummins. The organization brings in about $400,000 from the recreational pass fees for members, covering only about 15% of the approximately $3 million it takes to operate the pool and tennis facilities.

Pass fees from non-RA members generate about $240,000 in revenue.

“The membership currently subsidizes 85% of the cost of these facilities without access to them,” Cummins said.

According to the draft budget, RA anticipates a 7% increase in operating expenses, driven in part by personnel costs, maintenance needs, an uptick in insurance premiums and “a dramatic rise in costs for many materials and supplies” due to inflation.

While looking at how to reorganize staff to be more efficient, including eliminating staff accountant and communications manager positions, RA has proposed adding positions for a chief financial officer, a land use planner, an information technology director and a business analyst.

The IT director would come as the organization grapples with persistent technology issues and a pending website redesign, while the land use planner would “allow the organization to be far nimbler and more responsive than we currently are,” Cummins wrote.

Other staff-related costs include a $90,000 increase in funds for lifeguard salaries “to be more consistent with the market and allow us to fill necessary slots for our summertime aquatics activities,” according to the report.

RA predicts that approximately $3.2 million will be needed for facility repairs and replacements and other capital projects through 2028. Major investments planned in the next five years include Ridge Heights pool renovations and improvements to the Lake Newport, Uplands, Shadowood and Autumnwood tennis courts.

Staff have pushed the Lake Newport project to 2025, and improvements at the Golf Course Island swimming pool could be paused or scrapped entirely.

“Staff have reduced the investment in Golf Course Island to account for maintenance needs but are not currently planning a major investment in the pool,” Cummins said.

The CEO noted that RA recently completed a community survey to gather member feedback on its parks and recreation needs. The results could prompt revisions to the capital improvements plan.

The draft budget will be presented to the RA Board of Directors when it meets on Thursday (Sept. 28).


Morning Notes

A menorah statue is lit up for Yom Kippur at the corner of Chain Bridge Road and Horseshoe Road in Tysons (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Get Prepared for Flu Season — “The Fairfax County Health Department is encouraging everyone six months and older to prepare for flu season by getting a flu vaccine and reminding yourself of the steps to take to help avoid flu…September through October is typically the best time to get a flu vaccine.” [FCHD]

Car Shot on I-66 Near County Border — “Virginia State Police are investigating a reported shooting on Interstate 66 in Northern Virginia on Monday morning when a car driving on the interstate was struck by a bullet…Police said it happened around 10:30 a.m. near the 47-mile marker near the Prince William County and Fairfax County line.” [WTOP]

Reston Office Building Bought by New York Developer — “TF Cornerstone…has purchased 1881 Campus Commons Drive in Reston for $25.1 million…TF Cornerstone plans to combine 1881 with 1900-1902 Campus Commons Drive, creating an 18-acre urban campus with modern spaces and amenities [in a] mixed-use neighborhood surrounding the Wiehle–Reston East Metro.” [Patch]

N. Va. Population Drop Brings Down State Income Levels — “The changing demographics of Virginia are unlike the ones we’ve been accustomed to. The region whose economy should be of most concern right now is Northern Virginia, while the region with the most hopeful positive changes is Martinsville and Henry County.” [Cardinal News]

Fair Oaks Fire Station Welcomes New Truck — “On Friday, Fire Station 21 (Fair Oaks) B-shift held a push in ceremony for their new Rescue 421. It is a fire service tradition to push new apparatus into their station…Shout out to Sully Supervisor Kathy Smith for stopping by.” [FCFRD/Facebook]

Inova to Screen Firefighters for Cancer Risks — “A Northern Virginia hospital is preparing to launch a new pilot program aiming to increase early cancer screening for firefighters in the D.C. area. The pilot study will be run by Inova’s Saville Cancer Screening and Prevention Center and Inova Occupational Health.” [WTOP]

County Backpack Drive Declared a Success — “The Fairfax County Department of Family Services has been overwhelmed with the outpouring of community donations of backpacks and school supplies this year. We are so appreciative for the support that our donors and partners provided to the children and families we serve.” [DFS]

Oakton Resident Who Worked for Park Service Dies — “Following his military service during the Vietnam War, Oakton resident John Byrne enjoyed a long National Park Service career and remained active in environmental matters…Byrne died at his Oakton home Aug. 31 at age of 82 after suffering from multiple ailments, said his wife, Linda Byrne.” [Gazette Leader]

It’s Tuesday — There is a 30% chance of rain before 8am, followed by possible showers and cloudy skies, with temperatures reaching a high of 62°F. For Tuesday night, expect a slight chance of showers before 2am and mostly cloudy conditions with a low of 55°F. The chance of precipitation is 20%. []


Fairfax County has harnessed the fiery power of the sun for two of its fire stations.

The Reston and Woodlawn fire stations are now home to rooftop solar photovoltaic arrays that will generate 17% of the electricity needed for the buildings to operate.

The facilities are the county’s first to get major rooftop solar installations, a milestone that local officials plan to celebrate with a ceremonial flipping of the power switch at the Woodlawn station this Wednesday (Sept. 27).

“Combined, the projects will generate 100 kW of power and provide about 17% of the electricity needed for the two stations,” John Silcox, a spokesperson for the Fairfax County Office of Environmental and Energy Coordination (OEEC), said. “The projects are being managed through an energy performance contract with engineering consulting firm CMTA that will save the county nearly $13,000 in the first year.”

The projects support the county’s operational energy strategy, which aims to ensure that 50% of electricity generated by county facilities comes from renewable energy sources like solar by 2040, among other goals.

The Reston and Woodlawn fire stations were both recently renovated. The approximately $15 million new Reston station at 1820 Wiehle Avenue reopened in the spring of 2022, while the renovation of the Woodlawn station at 8701 Lukens Lane was completed in 2021.

More solar installations will happen at other county facilities this year, Silcox said.

The county has been pursuing a number of solar projects under a power purchase agreement (PPA) initiative announced in 2019, but collapsed lease negotiations with one of the contracted vendors, supply chain issues and rising material costs created complications.

After initially pursuing the Reston Fire Station project and others through the PPA initiative, the county opted instead to hire an energy efficiency firm to install the solar panels in conjunction with other energy upgrades.

Similar projects are in the works at the Sully Community Center, the Spring Hill Rec Center in McLean, the Pender building and the upcoming Springfield commuter parking garage. Another 17 sites are in line for installations next year, county staff told the Board of Supervisors at an environmental committee meeting in July.

OEEC Division Manager for Innovation and Sustainability John Morrill previously told FFXnow that PPA contracts — where the panels are provided by a private company that covers all installation, managment and maintenance costs — are better suited to large-scale projects, like a 40-acre array planned at the I-95 Landfill Complex in Lorton.


Get ready to explore the realm of artificial intelligence in an exciting first-of-its-kind film series showcasing some of the most iconic and thought-provoking movies in the genre.

The entire series, and even this release, curated and marketed by modern artificial intelligence tools. From the visionary classic 2001: A Space Odyssey to the dystopian Blade Runner and the mind-bending The Matrix, the series promises to take audiences on a journey through the possibilities and dangers of AI.

The ShowPlace ICON AI Film Series will kick off with Stanley Kubrick’s seminal sci-fi masterpiece, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), on October 4th. The film explores the evolution of humanity and the birth of artificial intelligence, with HAL 9000 serving as both an enigma and a warning. Following that, the series moves on to Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner: The Final Cut (2007) on October 18th. In this dystopian future, AI-powered androids known as replicants are hunted by a blade runner tasked with their destruction.

The series continues with The Matrix (1999) on November 15th, which imagines a world in which humans are trapped in a simulated reality controlled by AI. The Terminator (1984) will continue the series on November 29th. A Killer cyborg from the future hunts down a woman who holds the key to humanity’s survival.

“Tysons is the perfect place to launch this unique film series as we unveil an amazing series of films that boldly embrace the cutting-edge of AI and technology,” said the AI version of Jim Nowicki, Director, Marketing. “These visionary works offer a thrilling glimpse into the future and remind us that the impossible is now possible.”

Each film offers a unique perspective on the implications of AI, as well as technology, and its potential impact on humanity. The AI Film Series is a must-see for science fiction fans and anyone interested in exploring the fascinating and sometimes unsettling world of artificial intelligence and technology. The series will continue through the rest of year with additional titles in December with Robocop (1987), and Ex Machina (2014).

Tickets are on sale now at for the special price of $7. Don’t miss your chance to experience these classic films on the big screen and delve into the world of AI. Join us for an unforgettable cinematic journey into the future.

About Kerasotes ShowPlace Theatres

With its rich 114-year legacy of innovating and enhancing the cinema experience, ShowPlace ICON Theatre & Kitchen continues to redefine state-of-the-art entertainment offering restaurant-quality food and beverage for in-theatre dining, a full bar and lounge, industry-leading consumer technologies, and fully immersive audio/visual movie presentations, including their exclusive ICONX experience. Tysons ShowPlace ICON Theatre & Kitchen at the Boro is an entertainment destination that includes all reserved heated recliners, wall-to-wall screens including two RealD Ultimate Screens, Dolby Atmos sound and all-laser projection.

The renovation of Lake Thoreau is about 90% complete, Reston Association says (via RA/YouTube)

The Lake Thoreau and Shadowood pool renovations in Reston should both be finished in time for the facilities to open for next year’s swim season, Reston Association staff say.

After running into delays this summer, construction on Lake Thoreau pool at 2040 Upper Lake Drive is about 90% complete, RA Director of Capital Projects Chris Schumaker reported in an update on Friday (Sept. 22). That puts the project on track be done by Thanksgiving, he said.

The roughly $3.5 million renovation includes a pool with six lap lanes, a ramp and “zero-depth” feature to provide ADA access, a redesigned and elevated deck, a larger 25-space parking lot, an overlook with a pollinator garden, and expanded bathhouses, which have been moved away from the spa.

“We’ve now moved [the spa] over to the other side of the facility to provide ADA accessibility,” Schumaker said. “It’s been kept the same size but has improved jets and heating that we didn’t have before.”

This is the first major overhaul of the pool since it was originally built in the 1980s. The facility has been closed for the project since 2020, but work didn’t begin until last fall after encountering delays related to permitting and the availability of contractors and construction supplies.

Schumaker also reported that the first phase of RA’s Shadowood pool renovation at 2201 Springwood Drive has been completed, a process that included squaring the main pool and replacing the bathhouse roof.

Design engineering on phase two is now underway, and RA is preparing to submit plans for the Design Review Board‘s approval and Fairfax County permits, according to Schumaker.

“Some of the features proposed in phase two at Shadowood include the conversion of the wading pool into a splash pad, installation of gas heating for the main pool for users’ enjoyment, and ADA enhancements to the bath house and entrance,” Schumaker said.

The Shadowood pool has been closed for four consecutive swim seasons after RA determined that significant improvements were needed to address sewage and other issues at the aging facility, which was built in 1976.

“We anticipate this work being underway here in the fall and winter and be completed before reopening in 2024,” Schumaker said of the project’s second phase.


Morning Notes

A car in the I-66 Express Lanes approaches the Dunn Loring Metro station (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

McLean Woman Sentenced for Fatally Shooting Daughters — “Prosecutors said [Veronica] Youngblood methodically killed her daughters at her apartment at 1519 Lincoln Circle as an act of revenge toward her former husband, Ron Youngblood.” A jury convicted Youngblood of first-degree murder earlier this year and recommended a prison sentence of 78 years. [Washington Post]

Child Partially Paralyzed After Richmond Highway Crash — “Next month Trenton Gatlin-Ketter will turn 6 years old. Instead of playing outside and enjoying his special day, he’ll be in his wheelchair. The child was partially paralyzed after police say a drunk driver crashed into him and his mom.” [WUSA9]

Vienna Company Ordered to Pay for False Medicare Claims — “AZ Diabetic Supply, Inc. (AZD), a durable medical equipment (DME) provider located in Vienna, was ordered to pay $12 million for its submission of nearly 1,000 false and fraudulent claims to Medicare for reimbursement.” The owner also agreed to pay $10,000 and accept a ban from using federally funded health care programs as part of a settlement that dismissed claims against him. [U.S. Attorney’s Office]

Work Begins on South GW Parkway Improvements — “Motorists who commute along the southern section of the George Washington Memorial Parkway will notice some significant changes at key intersections in the coming days. The National Park Service (NPS) has begun reconfiguring the intersection of the Parkway and Belle Haven Road to improve safety, and NPS plans to make similar changes at Belle View Boulevard immediately thereafter.” [On the MoVe]

Vienna Diner Expected to Open in January — “The owners of the celebrated Tysons-area Greek restaurant Nostos say they plan to open the Yellow Diner by January 2024. The Pagonis family will open the 94-seat modern American diner at the site of the former SunTrust Bank at 501 Maple Ave. W.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]

Lake Accotink Playground Installation Underway — “Several pieces of equipment have been installed and more pieces will be finished. The playground will include, among other things, a tower play structure with a winding slide, a swing set, a teeter-totter, and musical panels to provide children with a wide range of options for play.” [The Walkinshaw Advisory]

Middle School Students Now Have Sports in FCPS — “Our students are setting the pace as middle school sports begin for the first time in FCPS! Across the county, middle school students have started cross-country without any cost to the student…This marks the first time FCPS has offered this age group a chance to participate in extracurricular sports.” [FCPS/Facebook]

Program for ArtsFairfax Awards Announced — “The ArtsFairfax Awards announces Peggy Fox as the luncheon emcee and Jean Sausele-Knodt as the 2023 Awards Artist and will include a musical performance by the Workhouse Arts Center cast of The Who’s Tommy and a violin solo by Inova Artist in Residence Anthony Hyatt. The annual event [will take] place on Thursday, October 26, at Capital One Hall.” [ArtsFairfax]

It’s Monday — There is a slight chance of showers in the afternoon after 2pm and patchy fog between 7-10am, with overall mostly cloudy skies and a high of 67°F. The chance of precipitation is at 20%. At night, expect a higher chance of showers, primarily after 8pm, along with cloudy skies and a low of 58°F. []

Tropical Storm Ophelia is expected to bring rain and wind to Northern Virginia this weekend (via National Weather Service)

Updated at 4:05 p.m. — A Coastal Flood Advisory issued for parts of Northern Virginia, including Fairfax County, will now take effect at midnight, earlier than initially anticipated, the National Weather Service says.

Earlier: It’s going to be a cold and rainy weekend in Fairfax County, thanks to Tropical Storm Ophelia.

Tracking to make landfall in North Carolina today (Friday), the storm is expected to reach Northern Virginia tonight with “heavy rain, high winds, and cool temperatures” continuing into Sunday (Sept. 24) morning, according to the Fairfax County Department of Emergency Management.

“Locally, [the National Weather Service] expects 2-4 inches of rain throughout the weekend,” the county said in a post on its emergency information blog. “Since the precipitation will be spread across the weekend, flooding is not a major concern but could cause some localized flooding issues. Wind speeds will gradually increase, peaking around 40 mph on Saturday.”

The storm has already affected some major events, prompting cancellations of the popular Reston Multicultural Festival, the inaugural Fairfax Fiesta in Tysons and a kick-off for National Public Lands Day in Annandale. Other events, like Fairfax City’s Fiesta Fairfax, have been relocated indoors.

The NWS has issued a Coastal Flood Advisory and a Wind Advisory for much of the D.C. area, including Fairfax County.

The flood advisory will be in effect from noon tomorrow (Saturday) to 5 a.m. Sunday:

* WHAT…Up to one half foot of inundation above ground level expected in low lying areas due to tidal flooding.

* WHERE…Fairfax, Stafford and Central and Southeast Prince William/Manassas/Manassas Park Counties.

* WHEN…From noon Saturday to 5 AM EDT Sunday, especially around the time of high tide.

* IMPACTS…Flooding of lots, parks, and roads with only isolated road closures expected.

* ADDITIONAL DETAILS…Tides one and a half to two feet above normal. The worst flooding will occur with the Saturday afternoon and Saturday night high tides.

The Wind Advisory will take effect at 8 a.m. tomorrow and last until 8 p.m., warning that northeast winds could reach 20 to 30 mph with up to 45-mph gusts. The NWS notes that the “gusty winds” could blow around objects and result in power outages. Read More

Reston Station (file photo)

Qualtrics, a technology and data research company, has officially opened its doors in Reston.

The company, which provides artifical intelligence-driven software to assist businesses with customer and employee “experience management,” is adding an office to “serve as a hub for AI innovation and public sector growth,” according to a press release.

The office will take up more than 52,000 square feet across two full floors in Reston Station.

“Our expansion in Reston marks a significant milestone in Qualtrics’ growth and commitment to innovation, particularly artificial intelligence and machine learning,” Qualtrics CEO Zig Serafin said.

The office design is based on the Capital Beltway with walking paths around each floor that mimic the highway, according to the company. The office also includes the Blues Cafe, a 40-seat work area that was inspired by D.C.’s historic jazz scene.

The Reston office marks an expansion for the company, which acquired Reston-based Clarabridge in 2021. Started in 2005, Clarabridge provides similar AI-powered text and speech analytics software.

“The opening of Qualtrics’ world-class East Coast office reinforces that Virginia’s tech sector is booming,” Gov. Glenn Youngkin said in the press release. “This new hub in Reston Station will allow Qualtrics to continue to capitalize on the Commonwealth’s pipeline of top talent.”

The company’s cloud-native software is used by more than 600 state, provincial and local government organizations. Its headquarters are in Seattle, Washington, and Provo, Utah, but it has offices around the world.

The Boro in Tysons (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Fairfax County is considering a pilot program to support more murals in its commercial revitalization areas.

The pilot program, called Paint It! Fairfax, was introduced at a Fairfax County Board of Supervisors economic initiatives committee meeting on Tuesday (Sept. 19).

If approved, the program would allocate $400,000 to complete at least two murals in the county’s Commercial Revitalization Districts (CRD) and Commercial Revitalization areas (CRA).

Richmond Highway would receive $85,000, with the rest spread out between the other CRDs and CRAs in Annandale, Bailey’s Crossroads and Seven Corners, Lake Anne, Lincolnia, McLean, Merrifield and Springfield, according to Jenee Padmore, a planner with the Department of Planning and Development’s Office of Community Revitalization.

Murals would remain on the property for at least five years, and artists would agree to repair the mural if it’s defaced or vandalized for a minimum of five years.

The program would begin with site identification and an agreement with the property owner, followed by calls for submission. The artist and committee would then work to finalize a concept to be presented to the community for input, followed by approval from the program director.

A Site and Artist Selection Committee would manage the program.

Elizabeth Hagg, deputy director of the community revitalization office, said that the program was developed at the board’s direction.

“If the board should confirm that this proposal is on target, our intention would be to come back to the board to seek funding through the economic reserve fund,” Hagg told the committee.

Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity encouraged staff to leverage students and community members to create and design the murals.

Overall, the board said they were supportive of the program. Franconia District Supervisor Rodney Lusk, for example, noted that the addition of a mural at The Boro in Tysons is a significant asset. Some developers choose to install murals without specific direction from the county.

“I’m just in awe of it every single time. And I’ve looked at it so many different times,” Lusk said.

Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik encouraged staff to consider adjusting the program timeline so that community input was prioritized earlier in the process.

“My big concern about this is the order,” she said.


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