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Burlington will open a store in the current, temporary H&M space at Springfield Town Center (courtesy PREIT)

(Updated at 12:40 p.m.) Springfield Town Center is gearing up for a big 2023.

Burlington will open a 30,000-square-foot store at the mall this year, property owner PREIT announced today.

Coupled with the much-anticipated Lego Discovery Center, which is expected to open this summer, the addition of the clothing department store will put the town center at a record 95.5% occupancy, according to a press release.

“We are pleased to welcome Burlington Stores to Springfield Town Center, another milestone in our mission to create a diverse tenant mix including non-traditional mall retailers,” PREIT Chairman and CEO Joseph Coradino said in a statement.

Burlington’s store will have two levels and both exterior and interior entrances. It will be located by Nordstrom Rack along Frontier Road, moving into a space that H&M is currently occupying on a temporary basis.

H&M’s permanent store is undergoing a renovation that will open this spring. After that store moves into its new space, construction on Burlington will begin, according to a town center spokesperson.

The Springfield Burlington will be the company’s sixth store in Fairfax County, joining locations in Fairfax City, Tysons, Seven Corners, and Bailey’s Crossroads.

Currently anchored by department stores like Target and Macy’s, Springfield Town Center welcomed over 20,000 square feet of stores in 2022, according to PREIT. New arrivals included the fashion accessory store Lovisa, the pop culture merchandise store BoxLunch, Shawarma Taco, and Carter’s, a kids’ clothing store.

In addition to Burlington and Lego, upcoming tenants will include Daily Thread, a clothing chain primarily based in the Midwest.

Though envisioned by Fairfax County as more of a mixed-use community, Springfield Town Center has remained primarily focused on retail even after undergoing a major renovation and rebranding almost a decade ago.

Development efforts finally took a step forward on Dec. 6, when the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved plans for a five-story hotel and a 460-unit residential building called the Hanover, which will give Springfield its first new multifamily housing since 2001.

“The addition of Burlington Stores, the upcoming opening of Lego Discovery Center, and the planned apartment and hotel developments will strengthen the property’s appeal to customers and prospective tenants,” Coradino said.

Though the town center has no shortage of clothing options like Burlington, a market study released last fall suggested that the Lego Discovery Center will help diversify the town center’s retail offerings, which have started to trend more toward food service and entertainment.

The 32,000-square-foot facility broke ground on Dec. 8. It will feature interactive activities, a “mini world” made out of over 1.5 million Lego bricks, a 4D movie theater and more.

“It’s an engagement opportunity that I think is one that’s going to drive a lot of people to want to come and bring their sons and their daughters,” Franconia District Supervisor Rodney Lusk told FFXnow in a Nov. 18 interview. “So, I’m really, really excited by it. I think it’s going to be a unique and well-attended facility.”

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A hotel is slated for approval at Springfield Town Center (via Fairfax County)

The first pieces of the long-anticipated redevelopment of Springfield Town Center are officially moving forward.

At a Nov. 30 meeting, the Fairfax County Planning Commission voted to approve the replacement of a surface parking lot with a five-story hotel — a move that the applicant says could jumpstart the rebirth of the area that surrounds the mall.

David Gill, the applicant’s representative from Wire Gill, said the hotel — Home2 Suites by Hilton — is a “great first step in analyzing the vision that was thought of nearly a decade from now.” The building sits across two parcels fronting Loisdale Road on property owned by Philadelphia-based Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT).

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will hold public hearings tomorrow on the hotel and a companion application for the Hanover, a mid-rise residential building with up to 460 units.

Overall, in 2007, the area was approved for 2 million square feet of commercial space and up to 2,736 residential units, in addition to the roughly 1-million-square-foot mall.

The hotel piece of the property only covers a roughly 5.4-acre piece of the overall development plan.

The latest proposal swaps the hotel with the original location of the first office building planned on the site. The plan also calls a reduction in hotel rooms from 225 to 140 rooms and a reduction in the ground-floor retail from up to 23,000 square feet to a small portion that will serve hotel guests.

Gill said that the applicant plans to build suites only.

Braddock District Commissioner Mary Cortina expressed concerns about the deferral of a Central Park that was previously set to be triggered by the development proposal, due to challenges with “no build” areas maintained by restaurants.

“When are we ever going to see the park part of this? Could this use be indefinitely put off? And I think it would detract from the property value overall,” Cortina said.

County staff noted that the applicant is still committed to the Central Park, but when market conditions and associated easements allow it to move forward in a realistic manner.

Planning Commissioner David Lagana lauded staff for their work on the project.

“We worked very hard to get this application ready for this board date. It was a Herculean effort,” he said.

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The LEGO discovery center is slated to open in the summer of 2023 in Springfield Town Center (courtesy LEGO Discovery Center)

A 32,000-square-foot Lego Discovery Center will open in Springfield Town Center in summer 2023, the company announced today.

News that Lego was bringing a facility to Springfield first came out in February. The discovery center will offer an interactive experience to play, explore and create with various activities and workshops for children and their families.

The latest center has a new look and design, along with more activities than previous designs, according to the news release. A team of “playmakers” and “master model builders” will offer creative workshops and continue indoor Lego play experiences.

For example, participants can take part in a “Space Mission,” where they build a space rocket out of Lego bricks that gets digitally scanned so they can launch and fly their creation in the Lego space solar system. Participants can also ride the “Imagination Express.”

A “Lego Duplo” area designed for younger audiences includes a dedicated indoor play area with a dinosaur-themed carousel and slides.

The company is also seeking Mini Model Builders — children who will be selected to test the discovery center and get early access to the center. Kids aged 4-12 can enter online by creating their own original Lego build.

“Our partnership with the Lego Group continues to deliver fantastic opportunities for families and we are thrilled to be celebrating the next step in bringing our next generation Lego Discovery Center to Washington, D.C.,” Merlin Entertainments Chief Strategy Officer Justin Platt wrote in a statement. “By working closely with the Lego Group’s team to design and build this next generation of the Lego Discovery Centers, we continue to strengthen the attraction offering for future guests, delivering the ultimate Lego indoor activity experience to even more families for them to enjoy together.”

Other features of the center will include a 4D movie theater, a build-your-own mini figure experience, and a Lego Mini World, where guests can experience a world created with more than 1.5 million Lego bricks.

The first Lego Discovery Center opened in July 2022 in Brussels. There are 27 discovery centers around the world, 14 of them in the U.S.

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Fair Oaks Mall sign (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Two of Fairfax County’s longstanding JCPenney stores recently changed hands, a move that could set the stage for their malls to transition to more mixed-use environments.

Announced in September, The Meridian Group — the Bethesda-based developer behind The Boro in Tysons — partnered with D.C. real estate firm Martin-Diamond Properties to acquire five JCPenneys, including the anchor stores at Fair Oaks Mall and Springfield Town Center.

No changes are immediately expected at either store, but Meridian Senior Associate Stephen Garibaldi said in a press release that the company was drawn to the stores because they’re located in areas “ideal for mixed-use density.”

The firms spent $53 million to buy all five properties, which represent a total of nearly 900,000 square feet of retail space.

“We believe over the long-term these locations will continue to be a center of commercial activity but will see outperformance with the introduction of more mixed use,” Garibaldi told the Washington Business Journal. “While we have nothing in the works currently, if the time comes, we look forward to playing a part in that transformation in collaboration with the adjacent sites.”

JCPenney has sold or shuttered dozens of retail stores since filing for bankruptcy in May 2020. The Fair Oaks and Springfield locations were transferred to a bankruptcy trustee last year.

Both the shopping centers where the stores are located have been eyed for redevelopment for years, though neither project has advanced much beyond the planning and zoning stages.

Springfield Town Center got approved for up to 2,736 residential units and 2 million square feet of commercial development back in 2009, but a new hotel proposed this summer represented the first concrete effort to bring that plan to fruition. The application is currently scheduled to go in front of the Fairfax County Planning Commission on Nov. 30.

Previously known as Springfield Mall, the town center underwent a major renovation in 2012 where its JCPenney was one of just three stores left standing.

As for Fair Oaks, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors amended the comprehensive plan in November 2020 to permit approximately 3.1 million square feet of development on 133 acres at the western corner of I-66 and Route 50.

Retail should go from the main use on the site to 20-25% of the total development at full buildout, with residential, office, hotel and other uses becoming more prominent, the plan says, stating that retail typically generates “a high number of vehicular trips to and from a site” and should be reduced.

The Fair Oaks redevelopment plan was enabled by a reduction in parking requirements for the county’s regional malls, but advocates have said the area’s transportation network needs more changes to make it accessible to pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit.

Meridian confirmed to FFXnow that it has “nothing in the works currently” at either Fair Oaks or Springfield Town Center.

“Numerous stakeholders have previously advanced plans re-envisioning the overall mall developments…that would introduce significant mixed-use components to augment the existing retail,” Garibaldi said in a statement. “We are excited by the opportunity to engage with the community and other stakeholders if any of these plans move forward.”

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The scene at Springfield Town Center after Fairfax County police officers shot Reston resident Christian Parker (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

The Fairfax County police officers who fatally shot a Reston man at Springfield Town Center in June won’t face any charges, the county’s top prosecutor announced today (Wednesday).

An investigation determined that officers Daniel Houtz and Ryan Sheehan reasonably believed that 37-year-old Christian Parker posed a serious, immediate threat to them and a third officer at the scene, according to a news release from Fairfax County County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano.

“This investigation leads me to conclude that both Ofc. Houtz and Ofc. Sheehan were reasonable in fearing that Parker intended to either kill an officer on scene or cause serious bodily injury,” Descano wrote. “…It was therefore legally permissible for both [officers] to use the level of force they employed.”

Descano confirmed that the Fairfax County Police Department had been searching for Parker at the time of the shooting after he fired a gun inside his brother’s apartment in Reston during “an altercation” on June 26.

According to the commonwealth’s attorney’s office, fugitive detectives obtained a search warrant for Parker’s cell phone, allowing them to track his location. A “ping” alerted Houtz, Sheehan and an officer Monahan that he was at Springfield Town Center around 4 p.m. on June 30.

The officers found Parker’s vehicle in the parking lot outside the mall’s Target and boxed it in while he was in the driver’s seat. As shown in body camera footage released by the FCPD, the officers called for Parker to show his hands multiple times.

According to Descano, the officers reported that they saw Parker reach for a handgun. The officers said in statements that Parker started yelling and waving the gun, eventually moving his finger to the trigger.

“Due to the handgun being swung side to side, Mr. Parker’s finger being on the trigger, and Mr. Paker’s [sic] continued refusal to comply with commands, Ofc. Houltz felt he and Ofc. Monahan were in imminent danger of death and Ofc. Houltz discharged his weapon,” the commonwealth’s attorney said.

Sheehan fired his weapon as well, apparently believing that Parker had shot at Houltz, according to Descano. Both officers fired four shots each, hitting Parker with six of them.

Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department transported Parker to a hospital, where he died that afternoon.

According to Descano’s statement, Parker’s fiancée told his office in an interview that she talked to Parker after the incident at his brother’s apartment, and he said “he would rather die than go back to jail.”

It’s unclear whether Parker served time in Fairfax County or elsewhere, but the county’s circuit court told FFXnow that it couldn’t find any past criminal cases under his name. The commonwealth’s attorney’s office said it had nothing to add beyond the released statement.

Descano said the statement from Parker’s fiancée “lends credence” to the police officers’ account of his behavior. While Sheehan was incorrect in thinking that Parker had fired his weapon, the perception “was reasonable based on the facts and circumstances presented to him,” Descano said.

The shooting at Springfield Town Center came during a period of high-profile gun incidents in Fairfax County. Just 10 days earlier, Tysons Corner Center was evacuated after three gunshots were fired, and on July 7, a police officer shot and killed a man in McLean who was experiencing a mental health crisis.

Noah Settles, a 22-year-old from D.C., was indicted last month for the shots-fired incident in Tysons, while the McLean police shooting remains under investigation.

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Several new tenants are set to open at the town center (via Springfield Town Center)

(Updated at 4:20 p.m. on 8/4/2022) An international accessory store has officially opened at Springfield Town Center — bringing an assortment of accessories near the grand court of the mall. 

The opening of Lovisa, a fashion accessories store — which follows the first location in Australia in 2010 — brings a new brand to the mix of new tenants in the mall. 

BoxLunch Gifts is also slated to open soon in the mall, rivaling Lovisa’s accessories’ collection with a curated collection of licensed and non-licensed merchandise.

Shawarma Taco will also serve up a mix of tacos and shawarma in the upper level food court, according to the mall’s website. The company did not immediately indicate when it plans to open.

Elevation Lifestyle, a company that sells all-natural home and body care products, also hosted a grand opening over the weekend. The business is located on the upper level of the mall near JCPenny. Products are reportedly made from natural and organization ingredients.

Highs & Lows also opened on the lower level near Dave & Busters earlier in the year, bringing a mix of exotic snacks, candy and sodas to the town center.

LEGOLAND’s Discovery Center is also still on the way. A spokesperson for the company said that the store will still open sometime this year, but a more updated timeline was not available.

Correction: This article originally reported that the Canadian retailer Showcase is coming to Springfield Town Center. Its new location will actually be at Fair Oaks Mall.

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Springfield Town Center’s parking lot was partly blocked off after a fatal police shooting yesterday (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

The Fairfax County Police Department released dashboard and body camera footage today (Friday) from the fatal police shooting at Springfield Town Center last month.

An approximately 9-minute and 30-second video shows footage from dash cams and body cameras edited together to show the police response from Thursday, June 30, to the shopping center parking lot.

According to the FCPD, the officers knew Reston resident Christian Parker, 37, was there and was wanted for stealing a gun from a Reston home days before, after he pointed it at a relative and discharged it.

“When we obtain an arrest warrant for someone, particularly someone who’s wanted for a violent crime, a felony, it’s an absolute priority for the department to take them into custody because they’re a danger to themselves, their family,” Police Chief Kevin Davis said at a press conference. “It was a priority to apprehend him.”

After officers blocked Parker’s vehicle in, they demanded multiple times that he show his hands or put down a gun. They then shot him.

“Our officers were faced with a very dangerous situation,” Davis said. “I think they were brave. I think they acted lawfully and in compliance with our policies and community expectations. Watching a use-of-force on a video or seeing it in person, it’s never pretty, especially when someone’s life is lost. We realize that and take it seriously.”

Davis also said a best case scenario would have been to get Parker before he got into the car.

“One of the goals of apprehending him was for him not to go mobile,” he said. “We don’t want to get into a situation where we’re chasing someone in a car, because then, exponentially more people are in danger.”

Note: The following video contains strong language and is not safe for work.

The video shows an officer in a vehicle watching as Parker returns to his car and appears to be checking his back tires. The officer drives straight ahead into a parking spot behind the car and says over the radio to “box him in.”

Parker gets into the car as another police vehicle parks in front of the car, blocking him into the spot. An officer runs to the driver’s side of the car pointing a gun at Parker and shouting “show me your hands.” Another officer in front of the vehicle also points his gun at Parker in the car and says “he’s reaching.” Read More

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Fairfax County police badge (via FCPD/Facebook)

The Fairfax County Police Department will release video footage this afternoon (Friday) of a recent incident in West Falls Church where officers pointed their guns at a person who was filming them.

Police Chief Kevin Davis will host a press conference at 2:30 p.m. It was announced almost exactly one hour after the Fairfax County NAACP released a statement urging the FCPD to immediately release all body camera and vehicle dashboard camera footage related to the gun-brandishing incident and fatal shootings in Springfield and McLean.

“We are troubled and deeply concerned by what appears to be a shift to a more aggressive style of policing in Fairfax County — a style that time and time again, leads to needless deaths,” the civil rights advocacy organization said. “Calling law enforcement for assistance should not be a death sentence, regardless of race, socioeconomic status, physical or mental ability, age, or gender.”

The FCPD released an audio recording on Wednesday (July 13) with the 911 dispatch call for the West Falls Church incident, which occurred outside an IHOP on Saturday (July 9).

Video of the encounter went viral on social media, just days after an officer shot and killed 26-year-old Jasper Aaron Lynch during a mental health crisis call at a house in McLean on July 7.

One week earlier, a 37-year-old man later identified as Christian Parker from Reston died at a hospital on June 30 after a confrontation with three police officers at Springfield Town Center. Two of the officers fired their guns, killing Parker, who was wanted by police for allegedly firing a gun in his home four days earlier.

There have been four police shootings in Fairfax County so far this year, including one in Lorton on Feb. 15 and one of a man reportedly armed with a bow and arrow in Chantilly on Jan. 6.

However, based on FCPD records, Parker and Lynch were the first people killed by FCPD officers since Herndon resident Mohammad Azim Doudzai was shot in January 2017. A dog was also euthanized after being shot by an officer in July 2019, and in October 2019, a man died after an officer fired his gun during a hostage situation in Burke, but police said the fatal wound appeared to be self-inflicted.

In its statement, the Fairfax County NAACP argued that police should speed up the release of video footage, given “the magnitude” of the recent gun-related incidents and their close proximity to each other. The FCPD’s policy is to make body camera and other videos public within 30 days of a use-of-force incident.

“We have received numerous calls and written communications from Fairfax County community members expressing their concerns, and in some cases, outrage. The community deserves answers,” the NAACP said.

Internal investigations into all three incidents are ongoing. The department recently updated its press release from the Springfield shooting to name the officers who discharged their weapons, Officer First-Class Daniel Houtz and Officer Ryan Sheehan.

“PFC Houtz is an eight-year veteran of the Franconia Police District Station and OFC Sheehan is a two-year veteran of the Mount Vernon Police District Station,” the release said. “Both officers were assigned to the Summer Crime Initiative Team. The department will release body camera footage and audio recordings of the 911 call for service within 30 days or when it no longer jeopardizes the integrity of the investigation.”

In a statement released Tuesday (July 12), Franconia District Supervisor Rodney Lusk, who chairs the county board’s public safety committee, acknowledged the growing community concerns about the “series of high-profile incidents” involving the FCPD. His office will hold a virtual town hall next Thursday (July 21) with police officials, including Chief Davis.

“As community members work to process and understand the events of the past weeks, I remain completely committed to providing the transparency required to ensure trust between our community and FCPD,” Lusk said.

Photo via FCPD/Facebook

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Springfield Town Center’s parking lot was partly blocked off after a fatal police shooting yesterday (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

The Fairfax County Police Department have publicly identified the 37-year-old man fatally shot by officers at the Springfield Town Center yesterday (Thursday) afternoon.

Officers were attempting to locate Christian Parker, of Reston, around 4:30 p.m., because he was wanted for possession of a firearm by a felon, larceny of a firearm, brandishing a firearm and discharging a firearm within a home, police said in a news release today (Friday).

“Detectives from our Fugitive Track and Apprehension Unit learned Parker was in the area of the Springfield Town Center,” police said. “Detectives coordinated with the Summer Crime Initiative team to help find Parker. This seasonal team of officers focuses on suppressing crime during the summer months.”

According to police, Parker was in a parking lot outside of Target when officers at the mall positioned their vehicles to prevent him from escaping. As the police approached, he entered his vehicle, and three officers gave him commands to show his hands, the FCPD said.

Police said it appeared that he reached across the passenger seat and retrieved a firearm, which an officer saw in his hands and told the other officers.

“The officers gave multiple commands to Parker to drop the firearm,” the release said. “Parker disregarded these repeated commands, and two officers discharged their firearms.”

Officers broke the window to his vehicle to enter the locked car and rendered aid until Fairfax County Fire and Rescue personnel arrived, police said. He was taken to a hospital, where he died.

The FCPD says the two officers who fired their weapons were an eight-year veteran of the Franconia Police District Station and a two-year veteran of the Mount Vernon Police District Station.

The department’s policy requires that their names be released within the next 10 days “unless there is a credible threat to the safety of those involved or if additional time is required to thoroughly complete the risk assessment process.”

A criminal investigation by the Major Crimes Bureau is underway. All three officers present at the shooting were wearing body cameras, according to police. The video and audio recordings will be released publicly within 30 days of the shooting.

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(Updated at 8 p.m.) A 37-year-old Fairfax County resident has died after he was shot by police at Springfield Town Center this afternoon (Thursday), the Fairfax County Police Department announced.

The shooting occurred outside Target in the 6600 block of Springfield Mall. The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department transported the victim to a hospital, where he died.

According to Police Chief Kevin Davis, the department had warrants for the man’s arrest after he reportedly stole a handgun from a family member, fired it inside their home, and fled the scene on foot. The man isn’t being publicly identified yet, pending next-of-kin notification.

The FCPD’s fugitive warrant squad had been tracking the man since that incident on Sunday (June 26) and got “intelligence” that he would be in the Springfield Town Center area today, where patrol officers at the mall located the man in the parking lot.

The officers spotted his vehicle based on a photo shared by the fugitive warrant squad. The man saw the police car and got back into his vehicle, prompting officers to approach his vehicle and direct him to show his hands, police said at a press conference.

“They said to him show me your hands and drop the gun at least 20 times. At least one of the officers yelled out that they could see a gun in his hand,” FCPD Lt. Col. Brian Reilly said, citing footage taken by body cameras worn by all three officers.

An anonymous tipster told FFXnow earlier that they saw police with guns drawn and heard someone say “he has a gun.”

Two out of the three present officers fired their guns, hitting the man through his car, Reilly said. Since the vehicle’s doors were locked, a window was smashed so the officers could pull the man out and administer medical aid.

No police were injured in the encounter, police said. The FCPD doesn’t believe there was any larger threat to public safety. A semi-automatic pistol was recovered from the vehicle, according to police.

“I feel very comfortable that these police officers acted appropriately. They acted bravely,” Davis said. “…A man armed with a firearm told 20-plus times to drop the gun and fails to do so, that’s a problem.”

A Springfield Town Center spokesperson confirmed that there is “an ongoing police situation” in the mall’s parking lot but directed FFXnow to the police department for further information.

A Target employee said the store remains open, as of 5:25 p.m.

The FCPD said that the mall remains open, but with a portion of the parking lot closed off while police process the scene, visitors are advised to enter and exit the complex via Loisdale Road. Many shoppers have been waiting by the curb outside Target, frustrated at being unable to get to their vehicles.

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