The Montessori School of McLean could soon have the property at 1711 Kirby Road all to itself.
The private elementary school has occupied the nearly 4-acre parcel since the early 1970s, but the site has been shared with the Chesterbrook United Methodist Church, which constructed its longtime home there in 1920.
Now in its 110th year, the church plans to relocate and has proposed selling the property to the Montessori school, a legal representative for the school said on its behalf in a special exception application to Fairfax County.
Received by the county on Sept. 13, the application requests that the school be permitted to stay on the property, even though it will no longer be used for any religious purposes as currently zoned.
“[Montessori School of McLean], as tenant and contract purchaser, seeks to continue its long standing tradition of serving McLean families with quality education and child care on the Property,” Holland & Knight land use attorney David Schneider said in a statement of justification.
The school says no physical changes to the site are planned, and it has proposed leaving the existing enrollment cap of 265 kids in place.
Opened in 1973 with one primary and one elementary class, the school now serves kids aged 2 to 12 with pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, and first through sixth grade classes, along with a child care center.
According to the application, the school doesn’t anticipate any significant traffic impacts, but it is seeking to expand weekday operating hours from 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. to 7 a.m.-7 p.m.
The change will “allow additional child care coverage and help spread out the trips from this existing use away from the peak hours” of 7:45-8:45 a.m. and 5:15-6:15 p.m. at the Kirby Road and Old Dominion Drive intersection, Schneider wrote.
According to its website, Chesterbrook UMC started at one of its members’ homes in 1906 before constructing the church building that it has now occupied for over a century. The church didn’t respond to FFXnow’s inquiry regarding the planned sale and where it will be relocating by press time.
According to county property records, 1711 Kirby Road was valued at $3.6 million for the 2022 tax year, including over $1.5 million for the land and $2 million for the current church building. Virginia exempts real estate used for religious purposes from paying state and local taxes.
As a private school, the Montessori school won’t receive the same exemption once the church transfers ownership of the property.
Photo via Google Maps
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Construction continues to chug along on Sunrise Senior Living’s upcoming facility in McLean.
Sunrise of McLean Village broke ground at 1515 Chain Bridge Road on June 18, 2021 and is projected to move in its first residents in spring 2023, according to spokesperson John Chibnall.
“Sunrise of McLean Village is in the heart of McLean, which appeals to the growing number of older adults living in the community looking forward to their next step in life and want to remain in McLean proper,” Sunrise Senior Vice President of Design and Construction Andy Coelho told FFXnow.
Replacing the defunct McLean Medical Building, whose original owners included the first doctor to administer a polio vaccine, the senior care facility will have 100 residential units for 122 people, including 61 assisted living residences and 39 memory care residences.
Amenities for residents will include outdoor terraces, a multi-purpose bistro, lounges, a library, a formal dining room, an activity room and a theater room. A “heritage garden” will have a private section for residents and a public section open to the surrounding neighborhood — a unique feature of the McLean location, according to Coelho.
“The latest and safest building codes were taken into account when designing and building this community,” he said.
After the Kirby Road plan faced opposition over its potential impact on nearby residential neighborhoods, the approved Chain Bridge location puts Sunrise closer to downtown McLean, which is in the midst of a gradual revitalization effort.
The building will be three stories tall and have 89,983 square feet of space, with 88 parking spots, Chibnall told FFXnow.
A sales gallery and model unit are scheduled to be installed this fall. Sunrise did the interior design, while Rust Orling Architecture served as the architect. The building is being constructed by The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company.
“We selected this location because it complements our surrounding communities in the area, filling in the gap where Sunrise hasn’t been able to serve yet,” Coelho said. “We have already seen a great response from the community and have several future residents preparing to call the community home.”
Started in 1981, Sunrise has over 280 senior living communities in the U.S., including an existing Sunrise of McLean just north of the Dulles Toll Road near Tysons.
The company is also working on a facility in Vienna that’s expected to open next year. Coelho says Sunrise will share interior renderings of the building “in the coming weeks,” with a sales gallery opening to potential residents and their families in December.
(Updated at 9:40 a.m. on 9/30/2022) Metro’s extension of the Silver Line through Herndon into Loudoun County is finally starting to look like a reality, instead of a hypothetical, albeit expensive, project.
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority unveiled new maps for its rail system last Friday (Sept. 23) that featured the six new stations, among other changes. A day earlier, its general manager got the go-ahead to set an opening date, though one has yet to be announced.
Coming six years after its initial projected opening of 2016, Silver Line Phase 2 will bring the D.C. region’s subway system into Loudoun for the first time, with stops at Dulles International Airport and Ashburn. Along the way, trains will pass through Reston Town Center, Herndon, and Innovation Center in the Dulles area.
Despite frustrations with the project’s many delays, Fairfax County officials remain hopeful that the rail line’s arrival will be a boon for residents and businesses in Reston and Herndon, fueling growth akin to what Tysons has seen since the Silver Line’s first phase opened there in 2014.
State of Emergency in Virginia for Hurricane — “Governor Glenn Youngkin today declared a State of Emergency in advance of Hurricane Ian, which is expected to impact portions of Virginia starting on Friday, September 30, 2022…Virginians should be prepared for the potential of severe rainfall, flooding, wind damage, tornadoes, and other storm-related impacts.” [Governor of Virginia]
Burke VRE Station Gets Longer Platform — Fairfax County officials cut a ribbon yesterday (Wednesday) to celebrate the completion of a platform expansion project at the Virginia Railway Express Rolling Road Station. With an added 290 feet, the platform can now fit eight-car trains, reducing passenger loading times. [Jeff McKay, James Walkinshaw, Pat Herrity/Twitter]
Kingstowne Man Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement — “A Fairfax County, Virginia, man has pleaded guilty to embezzling $4 million in what authorities described as one of the largest white-collar fraud cases in the county’s history. Carlos Camacho, 59, pleaded guilty Tuesday to one felony count each of embezzlement and forgery, according to Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano.” [WTOP]
McLean Arts Festival Canceled by Hurricane Ian — “We have made the difficult decision to cancel our 2022 MPAartfest, scheduled for Sun, Oct 2 in McLean Central Park. The decision was made in anticipation of the 2-3 inches of rain projected to inundate the area this weekend.” [McLean Project for the Arts/Twitter]
Tax Credit Journal Recognizes County’s Affordable Housing Work — “The Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority (FCRHA) and Fairfax County were recently featured in the August edition of The Novogradac Journal of Tax Credits, highlighting their collective and unprecedented work in developing public-private partnerships to more effectively deliver affordable housing.” [Housing and Community Development]
Public Input Sought on New Parks Strategy — “The Fairfax County Park Authority is developing a Parks, Recreation, Open Space, and Access Strategy (PROSA)…The PROSA Strategy is anticipated to be completed in 2023 and will provide a pathway toward improved park access and a balance of recreational experiences.” [FCPA]
Vienna Honors Local Workers — Vienna bestowed its first-ever Outstanding Service Awards on Monday (Sept. 26) to opthamologist Ann Dunning, who has worked at Mitchell Eye Institute for 50 years, and Foster’s Grille Assistant General Manager Nancy Nichols, who has worked at the restaurant for over 20 years. The award was created to “recognize local business employees who have provided significant customer service to the Vienna community.” [Town of Vienna]
Learn About Medicare at Thomas Jefferson Library — “Medicare 101 training is for individuals and their care partners who will soon be eligible for Medicare or have Medicare and would like to learn more about it…This free class is taught by Fairfax County staff who are non-biased, state certified and SHIP (State Health Insurance and Assistance Program) Counselors.” [FCPL]
It’s Thursday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 68 and low of 51. Sunrise at 7:04 am and sunset at 6:56 pm. [Weather.gov]
Amir Mostafavi always knew he would eventually open a South Block juice bar in his home of McLean.
The McLean High School graduate worked at the now-defunct Box Office Video chain that was owned by his parents for about two decades. Those days of stocking shelves, having an encyclopedic knowledge of actors, and ordering hard-to-find movies for customers were his first lessons in entrepreneurship.
“We were a local, family-run business that competed with Blockbuster, but what set us apart was our connection to the community,” Mostafavi told FFXnow. “People coming in, they knew me or my mom or my dad. We knew what our customers wanted…If someone came in and asked me about where a movie is, I could tell them it’s three rows over, three shelves down, and three videos over.”
In the years since, he has taken that experience and has applied it to create his own business. Mostafavi first opened his first juice bar on the campus of George Washington University in 2006 called “Campus Fresh.”
If working at Box Office Video was the entrepreneurial equivalent of an undergraduate education, Campus Fresh was like graduate school.
“I always joke with people that’s where I got my Ph.D. in business,” he said.
Five years later, in 2011, Mostafavi opened South Block was in Arlington’s Clarendon neighborhood. While it wasn’t an immediate success, as the company’s website notes, they kept building the company “one block at a time” and eventually opened a second location in 2015 in East Falls Church.
There are now 13 South Block locations across the D.C. region, including one in Vienna.
Soon, the juice bar’s 14th location is set to open in McLean’s Chesterbrook Shopping Center in early 2023.
Bringing his company home has Mostafavi reminiscing about working at his parents’ video store.
“It’s come full circle. I feel a sense of accomplishment,” he said on working in McLean. “I think about my dad.”
Mostafavi is now 47, the same age as his dad when he opened Box Office Video in Langley Shopping Center — only 2 miles from the site of the new South Block.
“Me having that same experience at the same time in my life and opening in the same place where he opened it, it’s just kinda…” he said, trailing off and clearly emotional about the thought. “My dad lives in Vienna now and owns a Persian restaurant there. That’s kind of his retirement.”
When noted that owning a restaurant doesn’t sound like much of a retirement, Mostafavi laughed, “He works more than I do.”
Beyond the personal connection, he believes McLean is a perfect place for a South Block. He says the community is “underserved” in terms of food choices and is always “so supportive” of local businesses.
“Even though it isn’t [techincally] a small town, it still has that small-town, community vibe in that people want to support small businesses,” he said.
South Block is moving into Chesterbrook Shopping Center, which was first built more than 50 years ago. It’s now undergoing an $8.5 million facelift. Mostafavi said the renovation is “much needed for the community” and one of the big reasons why they choose to move in.
Just like Box Office Video, South Block is a family affair with his brother serving as vice president of the company. For Mostafavi, that was the only way to go, considering how much he learned from his parents about what it takes to run a small, local business.
“It’s from [them] that I learned work ethic, being resourceful, persistent, and not giving up,” he said. “That’s all huge in being a successful business.”
Steve Steiner, a 73-year-old cyclist who lives in Reston’s Hunters Woods neighborhood, nearly lost his life when he was cycling from Leesburg nearly four years ago.
Steiner was hit by an SUV that was turning right through a red signal onto Fairfax County Parkway at the exit for the Dulles Toll Road. Despite trying to veer to the right, he was struck by the car, suffering a concussion, several broken ribs and other serious internal injuries, he said.
“An incident like this buries deep into your psyche and your brain,” Steiner said.
The crash resulted in $100,000 in medical expenses and months of recovery — an ordeal that he hopes no one else has to face.
Steiner spoke yesterday morning (Tuesday) at the launch of a countywide campaign called “Take a Moment” that aims to eliminate traffic-related deaths and injuries. Fairfax County officials hope that the communications campaign will encourage residents, drivers, cyclists and pedestrians to take a moment to pause before making decisions on roadways and paths.
The county also plans to commit $100 million over the next six years for pedestrian safety efforts in the county — a figure that includes $25 million in carryover funds.
“It’s so important that we mention this is a team effort and not just an effort of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors,” said Jeff McKay, the board chair.
The press conference took place at a busy intersection in Reston where a pedestrian and cyclist bridge is currently under construction at Wiehle Avenue.
Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn noted that tackling traffic issues is particularly important given the expected opening of phase two of Metro’s Silver Line this fall.
He said the pedestrian bridge currently under construction remedies issues with a particularly “challenging” area of Wiehle Avenue. Work is expected to wrap up by the beginning of 2024.
To date, 13 pedestrian have been killed in crashes and accidents on county roadways — despite crashes overall being reduced by more than 400, according to Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis. The number of pedestrian fatalities is three more than this time last year.
“It deserves our constant attention,” he said.
This biweekly column is sponsored by The Mather in Tysons, Virginia, a forward-thinking Life Plan Community for those 62 and better.
When you’re having a good day, or even a good moment, do you savor it?
If so, you are actively boosting your overall happiness and even your health. Savoring is defined as the ability to notice positive experiences and engage in thoughts and behaviors that enhance your enjoyment of the experience.
“We don’t always take the time to notice good things that are happening in our lives. Savoring is a way to make the most of positive experiences,” says Jennifer Smith, PhD, director of research at Mather Institute, an award-winning resource for research and information about wellness, aging and trends in senior living. The Institute is the research arm of Mather, the organization that is bringing The Mather, a forward-thinking Life Plan Community for those 62 and better, to Tysons, Virginia.
Dr. Smith has conducted several studies on savoring, and one involved surveying 267 older adults to measure their savoring, life satisfaction and self-reported health. “We found that the relationship between self-reported health and satisfaction with life was different for people with high and low savoring abilities,” she says.
“When savoring ability was low, people reported lower life satisfaction when their health was poor. However, those with a high ability to savor reported significantly greater satisfaction with life — even when they were in poor health. This suggests that the ability to savor positive experiences can help people respond more resiliently to health challenges.”
The good news is that you can practice savoring and strengthen your ability to pay attention to positive experiences, appreciate enjoyable or meaningful experiences and build positive feelings. Savoring does not necessarily have to occur during an event — it can occur when you anticipate an upcoming positive event or imagine a future happiness. Savoring can also take place when you reminisce about a past positive event, or when you recall how you felt during a happy experience.
Dr. Smith’s research showed that older adults who practiced simple five-minute savoring exercises twice a day for six or seven days reported higher resilience, greater happiness and lower depression compared to those who didn’t fully complete the exercise. There were three steps to the savoring exercise:
1. Think about a positive experience
2. Pay attention to positive feelings that arise
3. Take a moment to appreciate the experience
Find Your Happy Place
Residents of Life Plan Communities may not have to work as hard at savoring exercises: research shows that they have higher levels of happiness and life satisfaction than other people. The findings, based on surveys of 4,100+ residents in 122 Life Plan Communities around the US, are from the Age Well Study conducted by Mather Institute.
Released in 2021, the Age Well Study findings include:
- Those who are satisfied with their daily life and leisure activities report greater overall happiness.
- The personality traits of extroversion and agreeableness are both linked to greater happiness and life satisfaction.
- People are happier and more satisfied when they have a greater sense of community belonging.
- Approximately 92% of respondents were highly satisfied with the place where they live.
The Mather, projected to open in Tysons, VA, in 2024 for those 62 and better, is a forward-thinking Life Plan Community that defies expectations of what senior living is supposed to be.
Early voting for the next general election has just gotten underway, but Fairfax County’s elections staff is already planning for next year and beyond.
The county’s Office of Elections has requested $5 million to launch a multi-year rollout of new, updated voting machines as part of a $190 million spending package carried over from fiscal year 2022, which ended on June 30.
Expected to start in 2023, the process will replace more than 1,200 machines owned by the county, according to Fairfax County Office of Elections spokesperson Brian Worthy. The existing machines are now eight years old.
“While the machines are secure, function well and meet current standards, the Office of Elections will replace them to keep up with technology changes, as well as meet new federal security guidelines that will become the standard in the near future,” Worthy said.
The voting machine replacement plan is one of several initiatives covered by the FY 2022 carryover review, which uses surplus funds to address previously approved or new, one-time budget items.
Buoyed by higher-than-anticipated revenue from staff vacancies and close spending management, per an Aug. 1 memo from County Executive Bryan Hill, the package includes a net total of 30 new positions, 27 of them for the upcoming South County Animal Shelter.
The animal shelter positions are needed to ensure the facility is staffed for an expected opening in May, Chief Financial Officer Christian Jackson told the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors’ budget policy committee on Sept. 20.
The proposal raised some eyebrows, since it will require ongoing funding.
“We have traditionally been very, very disciplined about using carryover for recurring expenses,” Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross said. “30 is a lot [of positions].”
Jackson reassured the committee that the carryover will allocate $1.9 million to fill the positions for part of a year, but full-time funding of $2.9 million will be included in the county’s next proposed budget, which is typically presented in February each year.
Other notable items in the carryover review include:
- $10.3 million for environmental initiatives, including electric vehicles and charging stations as well as LED streetlight replacements
- $3.5 million for an expanded child care center at the Original Mount Vernon High School
- $2.58 million for employee pay and benefits
- $2.5 million to establish a Tysons anchor organization
- $5 million for Fairfax County Park Authority capital projects
- About $13.2 million for facility improvements, including the demolition of two Historic Courthouse wings and a long-term design for the Hybla Valley Community Center
The Board of Supervisors has also proposed using remaining unallocated money to help bring permanent restrooms to local high school stadiums, improve sidewalks to Huntley Meadows Park, enhance trails in Gum Springs, and hire a data scientist for the board auditor’s office.
Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity requested that the county address police staffing shortages with a $2.5 million reserve for one-time hiring bonuses. He also proposed letting employees defer retirement for two more years and enabling the police chief to hire retired officers.
Jackson said employees can only use the deferred retirement option for up to three years, but the current average is less than two years. She also said retired police officers can already be hired for a limited amount of time, since otherwise, they’d have to un-retire.
The board will vote on the carryover review after a public hearing on Oct. 11.
(Updated at 10:10 a.m. on 9/30/2022) Four people lost their home and a pet dog early Wednesday morning (Sept. 28) after a fire at their house in McLean.
Fairfax County and Arlington firefighters were dispatched at 1:45 a.m. to the 6900 block of Birch Street, near the West Falls Church Metro station area, the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department tweeted at 7:06 a.m. that day.
While responders got the fire under control within 10 minutes, the blaze caused $156,000 in property damages, according to the department. A photo shows extensive damage to what appears to be a backyard deck with patio chairs.
FCFRD investigators later determined that the fire was caused by an unattended barbecue or meat smoker, according to a Sept. 30 news release.
According to the fire department, the residents were alerted to the fire by smoke alarms and their dog’s barking.
“Upon investigation, fire was seen in the kitchen,” FCFRD said. “One occupant called 9-1-1 while another tried to rescue the dog. All occupants self-evacuated prior to fire department arrival.”
The department said four occupants of the single-family house have been displaced. No injuries to the residents or firefighters were reported.
1:45 AM today, #FCFRD and @ArlingtonVaFD dispatched to a house fire in 6900 block of Birch Street. Fire showing on arrival. No injuries reported. One dog perished. Damages: $156,000. Fire was brought under control in under 10 minutes. Four occupants displaced. More later. pic.twitter.com/6vv2gzLt7R
— Fairfax County Fire/Rescue (@ffxfirerescue) September 28, 2022