(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) The federal government has officially decided to review its decision to award the FBI’s new headquarters to Prince George’s County, Maryland, over Fairfax County.
The inspector general’s office for the General Service Administration has initiated an evaluation of the “process and procedures” that led the agency to choose a 61-acre site near the Greenbelt Metro station for the FBI’s future headquarters campus, according to a letter sent to Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) today (Thursday).
“We intend to begin this work immediately and will share with you and the relevant committees a copy of any report which may result from this evaluation,” acting Inspector General Robert Erickson wrote.
The GSA announced on Nov. 9 that the Greenbelt site had prevailed over the former Landover Mall in Prince George’s County and its own Franconia Warehouse Complex (6808 Loisdale Road) in Springfield, concluding a combative search that spanned three presidential administrations.
Local, state and Congressional representatives in Virginia quickly blasted the decision, arguing that the GSA should’ve followed a panel recommendation that identified the Springfield site as the “most advantageous.” Those criticisms coalesced into a call for an investigation after a leaked letter showed that FBI Director Christopher Wray had opposed the Greenbelt location and raised conflict-of-interest concerns.
Wray suggested former GSA Commissioner of Public Buildings Nina Albert may have interfered with the process to favor the Greenbelt site, which is owned by Metro, her previous employer. The GSA disputed Wray’s claims, noting that it had reviewed Albert for possible ethics conflicts in 2021 and found that her history with Metro wasn’t disqualifying.
Warner and fellow senator Tim Kaine welcomed the inspector general’s announcement of an investigation in a joint statement with Virginia’s House of Representatives delegation, including Reps. Don Beyer, Gerry Connolly and Jennifer Wexton.
Given the overwhelming evidence suggesting that the General Services Administration (GSA) administered a site selection process fouled by politics, we agree that an inspector general investigation is the appropriate next step. We applaud the inspector general for moving quickly and encourage him to move forward to complete a careful and thorough review. In the meantime, the GSA must pause all activities related to the relocation until the IG’s investigation is complete.
A spokesperson for the GSA’s Office of the Inspector General confirmed the office has started an evaluation of the headquarters site selection in response to the request from members of Congress, which it is taking seriously.
“All inspectors general regularly receive requests to conduct oversight from Members of Congress and must regularly decide whether the subject matter of the request supports directing OIG resources to answer some, none, or all of the issues raised in the request,” the office said in a statement. “GSA OIG’s decision to start an evaluation reflects the importance of the FBI headquarters project and is consistent with our past work in this area.”
Currently located at 935 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in D.C., the FBI has been seeking a replacement for the aging J. Edgar Hoover Building for more than a decade now. The GSA initiated a search in 2012, but it got put on hold during Donald Trump’s presidency.
In a subsequent review, the Justice Department’s inspector general determined that the Trump administration’s push to keep the FBI headquarters in D.C. was not influenced by “improper considerations or motives.”
A Maryland man died early yesterday (Sunday) morning after crashing into the jersey barrier at the Old Keene Mill Road and Backlick Road intersection in Springfield.
Issac Garcia Mendoza, 21, of Oxon Hill was seen driving north on Backlick “at a high rate of speed” around 1:21 a.m., according to the Fairfax County Police Department.
“Mendoza failed to turn onto Old Keene Mill Road and struck the barrier head-on,” the FCPD said in a news release yesterday.
Mendoza, who was driving a 2019 Nissan Rogue, died at the scene of the single-vehicle crash, police said.
At 1:28 a.m., an officer asking for units to shut down Backlick Road said witnesses reported that Mendoza had been driving “about 100 mph and went straight through to the jersey barrier,” according to the police scanner on Open MHz.
Per scanner traffic, Mendoza was pronounced dead at 1:31 a.m.
Police are still investigating whether alcohol or drugs might’ve been a factor in the crash, in addition to speed.
Mendoza is the 15th person to die in a crash not involving pedestrians in Fairfax County this year, the FCPD says. There had been 20 non-pedestrian fatal crashes at this point in 2022.
Detectives from our Crash Reconstructive Unit are on scene of a single-vehicle fatal crash at Backlick Rd and Old Keene Mill Rd in Springfield. The motorist, an adult man, was pronounced deceased on scene.
Preliminary, speed was a factor. Please avoid area. #FCPD pic.twitter.com/p0gHyTZkd4
— Fairfax County Police (@FairfaxCountyPD) November 19, 2023
Image via Google Maps
A company representative tells FFXnow that the location is expected to open on Dec. 5 in Concord Shopping Center at 6119A Backlick Road.
The eatery and bakery, which kicked off in 1995, sells baked good and sandwiches, salads and burgers. It has other locations in Shirlington and Tysons.
“The bakery is celebrated for its outstanding hospitality, commitment to quality, and dedication to the art of baking,” the company said in a press release.
A product of Great American Restaurants, Best Buns will offer all-day breakfast, lunch, dinner, pastries and coffee.
Anchored by the grocery store Aldi, Concord Shopping Center is also home to a Planet Fitness, Eleni’s Greek Taverna and Paisano’s Pizza. Best Buns will be located at the end next to the cafe Fonda Latina, replacing Mattress Warehouse.
Great American Restaurants CEO Jon Norton highlighted the shopping center’s proximity to Mike’s American Grill — another one of the restaurant group’s brands — as part of its appeal. Located at 6210 Backlick Road, Mike’s American suffered from a fire on Valentine’s Day this year, but it managed to reopen just a week later.
“We are excited that the next location of Best Buns Bakery & Burgers will be nearby Mike’s American, which has been popular in Springfield since 1987, in a community we love,” Norton said.
(Updated at 4:10 p.m.) Virginia’s elected leaders may not agree on issues like abortion access or education, but they remain united by the conviction that the Commonwealth would be a better host than Maryland for the FBI.
After coming together to pitch a Springfield warehouse as the best site for the law enforcement agency’s new headquarters, Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin joined Democratic senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine and Virginia’s bipartisan House delegation last Thursday (Nov. 9) to blast the federal government for awarding the facility to Prince George’s County instead.
“It was outrageous,” Warner said in a press call earlier that day. “I mean, Virginia clearly was the better case. Virginia clearly was winning the first set of criteria. The fact that political pressure was put on to try to change the criteria really stunned me.”
Their outrage was echoed by Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay, who has called Springfield a “no-brainer” choice for the FBI’s new headquarters.
“This is profoundly disappointing and defies common sense,” McKay said in a statement to FFXnow. “The FBI headquarters should be strategically located near the training academy in Quantico, a short VRE ride from the Springfield site. This decision will not serve the long-term needs of the FBI or its employees nearly as well as the Virginia site would.”
The General Services Administration (GSA) announced Thursday that it has selected a 61-acre site near the Greenbelt Metro station in Maryland to serve as the FBI’s new headquarters campus, confirming an initial report by the Washington Post that came out a day earlier.
“The site was the lowest cost to taxpayers, provided the greatest transportation access to FBI employees and visitors, and gave the government the most certainty on project delivery schedule,” the agency said in a press release. “It also provided the highest potential to advance sustainability and equity.”
However, a previously confidential report released by the GSA showed that a site selection panel convened this summer had recommended the Springfield site — currently known as the GSA Franconia Warehouse Complex at 6808 Loisdale Road — as the one “most advantageous to the Government.”
The panel, which consisted of two GSA employees and one FBI employee, noted that the site had the advantage of already being owned by the federal government and had more capacity for an expansion than the Greenbelt site, which ranked the lowest of the three options on that criteria.
The Greenbelt site came out ahead of the former Landover Mall, also in Prince George’s, but it was the “least advantageous” when it came to the top criterion: proximity to other facilities critical to the FBI, including its training academy in Quantico and federal agencies in D.C. like the Justice Department.
Further raising eyebrows in Virginia, FBI Director Christopher Wray rejected the proposed relocation to Greenbelt in an Oct. 12 letter first reported by the Washington Post, stating that former GSA Commissioner of Public Buildings Nina Albert’s previous job with Metro created “unresolved” conflict-of-interest and transparency issues. Read More
(Updated at 11:05 a.m.) Adventurers will band together in Springfield this Saturday (Nov. 4) in support of a noble cause: raising money to help sick children.
Wizards and rogues, bards and druids alike have been invited to Curio Cavern (6701 Loisdale Rd, Suite 15) for a multi-table Dungeons and Dragons session — known in the role-playing game as an “epic” — that will raise funds for Children’s National Hospital in D.C.
Set to start at 1 p.m., with doors opening at noon, the event is one of many fundraisers planned around the country tomorrow as part of an annual Game Day organized by Extra Life, a nonprofit that uses gaming to raise funds for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, which includes Children’s National.
Derrick Chelikowsky, one of the Curio event’s organizers with Alex Manavi, says Extra Life’s Game Day offers an opportunity for individuals to “pool our resources” together to help tackle an issue — in this case, children’s health care — that directly affects their local community.
“The ability to directly give back to a community that has accepted me is something that I really like to do,” Chelikowsky said. “I try to give back to the communities that I’ve been in, every place that I’ve lived, and this is one day that I found that allows me to give back, and as an aside, have some fun playing D&D.”
A Franconia resident and regular at Curio Cavern’s weekly Monday D&D sessions, Chelikowsky started participating in Extra Life in 2016 to support Oishei Children’s Hospital in Buffalo, New York, where he lived at the time. He began visiting Curio after moving to Fairfax County for a job and soon found himself serving as dungeon master (DM) for the store’s first charitable Dungeons and Dragons epic on July 22.
That fundraiser benefitted the Against Malaria Foundation and was put together by Grant Babcock, who co-organizes Curio’s Adventurers League (an ongoing campaign officially sanctioned by D&D owner Wizards of the Coast).
Curio, which also has locations at Springfield Town Center and Centreville Square, has hosted charitable events in the past, but its original Loisdale Road location didn’t have the space to accommodate the number of players and tables needed for an epic until a recent expansion, according to Manavai.
The first epic drew about 20 people who raised $570 for the Against Malaria Foundation, all while battling “a vengeful three-headed giant” — played with a costume and props by Manavi — and his army of monsters at an ice-fishing competition.
“A modest start, but we learned a lot about the process of holding events like this,” Babcock said by email. “We decided to try making it a quarterly thing, and Derrick stepped up to organize the next event.”
The upcoming epic, “Peril at the Port,” will task players with rallying townsfolk to defend their home against devil and ghost pirates. All proceeds from the $15 entry fee — which also grants access to a pre-made character if needed and a magic item trading post — and the $1 that players can donate to roll the dice again after a critical fail go to Children’s National Hospital. Read More
With Halloween less than a week away, time is running out to assemble a costume and housing decorations ghoulish enough to impress neighborhood trick-or-treaters.
Fortunately for those making last-minute preparations, the seasonal pop-up Spirit Halloween has taken possession of several vacant retail stores across Fairfax County.
That includes a return to the former Lord & Taylor store at Tysons Corner Center, which first got converted last year after previously hosting a mass COVID-19 vaccination site. Long-term plans to redevelop the building at 7950 Tysons Corner Center got approved last month by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.
Accessible from the Plaza, the store is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day, except for Sundays, when doors close at 7 p.m.
Other locations include:
- Fairfax Towne Center in the former Bed Bath & Beyond (12100 Fairfax Towne Center)
- Crossroads Center in Bailey’s Crossroads, also a former Bed Bath & Beyond (5810 Crossroads Center Way)
- Springfield Commons in the former Party City (6721B Frontier Drive)
- Rose Hill Plaza in a former Tuesday Morning (6140 Rose Hill Drive)
- Village Center in Centreville, another former Tuesday Morning (5619 Stone Road)
The company’s website also lists a store as “coming soon” to the former Office Depot (3536 South Jefferson Street) at Crossroads Center in Bailey’s Crossroads. Spirit Halloween didn’t respond to FFXnow by press time when asked if that location is still coming.
Celebrating its 40th anniversary, Spirit Halloween announced before this season began that it would be its “biggest” one yet, with more than 1,500 locations around North America.
“We’ve seen Halloween grow from a single day of excitement into a season-long celebration, with so many enthusiasts showcasing their love for Halloween all year long,” Spirit Halloween CEO Steven Silverstein said in a press release. “…However you celebrate this season, we have everything Halloween fans need, from the classics to the hottest new trends.”
In addition to opening physical pop-up stores every fall, the business sells Halloween costumes, decor and animatronics year-round online.
An event for foodies — specifically barbeque fanatics — is coming this week to Fairfax County.
The first-ever Halal Ribfest is coming to Springfield Town Center (6500 Franconia-Springfield Parkway) this Friday through Sunday (Oct. 27-29) as part of a 20-city tour. As suggested by its name, the festival features halal food — an Arabic term that denotes meat that is slaughtered in accordance with methods prescribed by Islamic law.
The event was first organized by Salaam Events in collaboration with Eventzilla Group in Toronto last year. Demand and the overall success of that launch led the organizers to kick off a tour that includes the U.S. this year.
Organizers say the ribfest is the first to cater to the needs of the Muslim community.
“North America is multicultural and diverse with over 250 ethnicities representing from around the globe,” the Halal Ribfest said. “Our traditions, values, and lifestyles mesh together to create a cultural mosaic. We are home to over 5 million Muslims. Our objective is to showcase the unique Halal flavors through an authentic ‘Halal’ experience.”
A spokesperson for the organization told FFXnow that Virginia was chosen as a stop because of the high concentration of Muslims in the area.
“We chose Virginia based on the growing Muslim population in the region and the demand for events with Halal options. Halal Ribfest Tour started with the vision of promoting events with Halal-options,” the spokesperson said.
The food festival features halal international cuisine, street food, live entertainment, meet and greets with influencers, shopping stalls, carnival rides and other family-friendly activities.
Tickets can be purchased online in advance for $10. A portion of the festival proceeds is donated to charities, according to organizers. The U.S. tour will conclude with a final stop in California in late November.
More than 75,000 workers at health care giant Kaiser Permanente are set to strike on Wednesday.
The Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions’ contract with the health system expired on Saturday night without reaching a new agreement with management. Union workers are bargaining for pay raises and increased protections against strain. Employees say they and patients are feeling the effects of short-staffing.
Kaiser Permanente has more than a dozen medical centers across the Washington, D.C., area with Fairfax County sites in Tysons, Reston, Fair Oaks, Burke and Springfield. The strike will take place over three days at hundreds of Kaiser Permanente facilities across Virginia, D.C, California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington, according to the unions.
“Kaiser continues to bargain in bad faith over these issues and, so far, there is no light at the end of the tunnel,” the unions said in a statement on Saturday.
Kaiser Permanente said that in Virginia and the District of Columbia, the strike covers less than 400 optometrists and pharmacists and does not include nurses or physicians. In the case of a strike, the health care provider expects facilities to remain open and operate with minimal disruption.
“We are continuing to bargain with the Coalition to reach a new agreement that protects and improves all the great advantages of working at Kaiser Permanente,” the health care provider said in a statement on Monday. “Our goal is to reach a fair and equitable agreement that strengthens our position as a best place to work and ensures that the high-quality care our members expect from us remains affordable and easy to access.”
If no contract agreement is reached by midnight, workers with union OPEIU Local 2 intend to picket Kaiser’s Springfield Medical Center at 6551 Loisdale Court tomorrow morning, DCist reported.
This article was written by FFXnow’s news partner InsideNoVa.com and republished with permission. It was lightly edited to focus on Fairfax County. Sign up for InsideNoVa.com’s free email subscription today.
Photo via Google Maps
Fairfax County police are investigating a possibly drug-related death after a man allegedly broke into a Springfield house, sans clothes, early this morning (Wednesday).
Officers got a call at 12:30 a.m. for “a nude man acting erratically and forcing entry into a residential home” in the 5700 block of Ash Drive, the Fairfax County Police Department reported in a news release.
“The homeowner reported the unknown man appeared to be under the influence and forced his way into the house,” the FCPD said. “Responding officers found the man inside, lying on the floor, and detained him. No force was used by the officers.”
According to police, the officers rolled the man onto his side and sought medical help from Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department personnel “due to his apparent altered state.”
Before medics arrived, though, the man “became unresponsive,” prompting police to administer CPR until he could be transported to the hospital, the FCPD said.
While transporting the man, FCFRD personnel gave him two rounds of Narcan — an emergency medication that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose — but he died at the hospital, according to police.
The incident is now under police investigation. An exact cause of death will be determined by an autopsy conducted by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
“All information provided in this release is based on preliminary investigative findings and may be subject to revision as the investigation progresses,” the FCPD said.
Back in June, the police department reported that a 16-year-old boy had died from an apparent opioid overdose in a car parked outside Aldi in Bailey’s Crossroads. However, a subsequent investigation revealed that the teen had actually died from carbon monoxide poisoning, leading his mother to call on the FCPD to correct the public record.
Best Buns Bakery & Burgers is adding another location to the Northern Virginia region. The bread company is opening a location in Springfield towards the end of this year, adding to locations in Shirlington and Vienna.
Erica Herrera, a spokesperson for the company, confirmed the opening to FFXnow. She said since opening in 1995, the Shirlington Best Buns location has grown in popularity while producing all the burger buns for Great American Restaurants’ 15 restaurant locations.
“It has grown so popular as a neighborhood mainstay for freshly baked breads, breakfast sandwiches, pastries, sandwiches, cakes, and cupcakes that we are moving our home-made burger buns for all our locations to Springfield,” Herrera said, adding that the Vienna location is also growing steadily.
“The Springfield location will also offer burgers, breads, cookies, sandwiches, salads, and fresh pastries made in house throughout the day,” Herrera said.
She said given the popularity, the company is actively looking to open additional locations in Virginia.