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Compass Coffee has opened in West Falls Church.

The regional coffee shop chain began now serving customers yesterday (Monday) at its newest location in the Shops at West Falls Church (7393 Lee Highway/Route 29). Visitors on that first day included Falls Church City Mayor Letti Hardy and Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik.

“[It] was an outstanding opening day with lots of members of the community stopping by the new cafe!” Compass Coffee co-founder and CEO Michael Haft told FFXnow by email. “…Everyone is very excited about the drive thru and central, accessible location.”

The launch comes just a couple of weeks after the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a special exception to allow the cafe, which replaced a BB&T bank. This is the company’s second drive-thru location, joining one in Arlington, and its first shop in the county, though it can also be found in Fairfax City.

Haft says the company is “thrilled to…become a part of the growing West Falls Church neighborhood.”

Haft started the business with fellow Marine Harrison Suarez out of a desire to find the perfect cup of coffee after they were subjected to “terrible” blends during their deployments, according to Compass Coffee’s website.

“We are thrilled to become a part of the growing West Falls Church neighborhood and are excited to expand our commitment to providing exceptional coffee that’s not only delicious, but convenient for everyone,” Haft said. “We look forward to welcoming both new and familiar faces through our doors.”

With the West Falls Church opening, Compass Coffee has expanded to 17 shops since launching in D.C. a decade ago.

In addition to coffee and other hot and cold drinks, the cafe serves breakfast sandwiches and pastries. The West Falls Church location is only the second to also have paninis, including Mediterranean turkey panini and sun-dried tomato mozzarella options that “are already a fan-favorite within the community,” according to Haft.

The 2,552-square-foot building has two drive-thru aisles, one for in-person orders and another for online and mobile pick-ups.

“Whether you’re on your way to work or stopping by for an afternoon pick-me-up, we love being able to provide a quality coffee experience,” Haft said.

A grand opening celebration will be held this Friday (April 5). Details will be shared on Compass Coffee’s Twitter and Instagram pages.

Future Fairfax County sites could be on the horizon. Haft says Compass Coffee is “actively looking” at expansion options in Northern Virginia, though he didn’t share any specific locations.

“[We] are excited to see what the near future brings,” he said.

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Fairfax County police vehicle with lights (file photo)

A man who barricaded himself in his West Falls Church home on Sunday (March 10) is facing multiple criminal charges, including assault and abduction.

According to the Fairfax County Police Department, a woman told officers that afternoon that she had been abducted and assaulted by a “known suspect” in the Mosby neighborhood.

The woman ran up to the intersection of Chestnut Avenue and Annandale Road around 2:23 p.m., reporting that her boyfriend had assaulted her, a dispatcher said on the police scanner on Open MHz. She had visible marks on her face.

“The victim sustained injuries considered non-life threatening and was treated at the hospital,” the FCPD said in a news release published yesterday (Monday).

The man, identified as 33-year-old Silvio Meza Jr., was wanted by the FCPD for allegedly failing to appear in court on drug possession charges, police said.

Meza was in his home in the 6700 block of Chestnut Avenue and refused to come out, according to police, who learned that he “may have been armed with a rifle.” Special Operations Division, Crisis Negotiations Team and Crisis Response Team officers responded to assist.

The barricade situation lasted over seven hours, concluding around 9:45 p.m. when Meza surrendered and was taken into custody.

In addition to being served the outstanding warrant for failing to appear in court, Meza has been charged with assault, strangulation, abduction, possession of a firearm and possession of ammunition by a convicted felon.

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Graham Center in West Falls Church (via Google Maps)

Graham Center’s days may be numbered.

The 61-year-old retail strip in West Falls Church has been targeted by the not-for-profit health system VHC Health for a future emergency department and urgent care center, according to a special exception application recently submitted to Fairfax County.

“This innovative hybrid model of a Freestanding Emergency Department combined with an Urgent Care Center (the ‘FSED-UCC’) will offer convenient and timely access for emergency patients, many of the Applicant’s scheduled outpatients, and the general public,” Walsh, Colucci, Lubeley & Walsh attorney Kathryn Taylor wrote in a statement of justification for VHC Health.

Built in 1953, Graham Center was anchored for decades by Harvest Moon, a Chinese restaurant and banquet hall that became popular for wedding receptions after it opened in the mid-1980s. However, the restaurant closed permanently during the pandemic, leaving behind a mix of small shops, including eateries, a nail salon, a shoe repair outlet and a Vietnamese supermarket.

County property records show that VHC Health bought the 105,698-square-foot site at 7234 Arlington Blvd for $2.4 million in July 2023. The future of the still-operating tenants remains to be determined, but VHC Health’s application says the one-story retail building will be demolished.

VHC Health Vice President of Real Estate Acquisition and Development Adrian Stanton said in a statement to FFXnow that the organization has “maintained open and continuous communication with the tenants about plans for the site” since it purchased the property.

VHC Health chose the Graham Center location because we saw a need in the surrounding community for an important and currently unavailable care option — emergency department services co-located with urgent care services. VHC Health prides itself on offering convenient healthcare options in the communities where our patients live and work…Given the current condition of the property, the plan includes redevelopment as part of the County review and approval process. While we wait for approval from the County, we are still working to determine what other healthcare services and business development opportunities will be offered that will benefit the community most.

According to the Feb. 16 application, which was first reported by Annandale Today, the retail strip will be replaced by an approximately 24,250-square-foot, 40-foot-tall medical facility. About 14,000 square feet will be devoted to the emergency department and urgent care center, while the rest will house primary care, specialty and diagnostic imaging services.

The proposal continues VHC Health’s recent push to expand beyond its main hospital in Arlington with more community-oriented sites around Northern Virginia.

“The primary purpose of the proposed facility will be to decompress high emergency department utilization on the nearby Virginia Hospital Center campus and provide the surrounding community with an important and currently unavailable care option,” the application says. “In addition, the medical services of the FSED-UCC will be provided at a fraction of the cost for services typically furnished at conventional emergency departments or hospitals.”

A special exception is needed to allow the facility in a commercial district that limits office uses to 25% of the lot. The facility is categorized as an “office” under the county’s zoning ordinance because it won’t support overnight stays or regular ambulance usage, according to Taylor.

As part of the redevelopment, VHC Health has offered to eliminate access points to the property except for a northeastern entrance along Graham Road and a southwestern entrance along Arlington Blvd, which will be upgraded with crosswalks and ADA-compliant curb ramps. Read More

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Compass Coffee will limit the travel aisle near Route 29 to one direction of traffic to accommodate its planned drive-thru cafe in West Falls Church (staff photo by Vernon Miles)

Compass Coffee is still weeks, if not months, away from opening its first Fairfax County cafe, but it’s already being warmly welcomed — at least by local planning commissioners.

After a public hearing on Wednesday (Feb. 7), the Fairfax County Planning Commission voted in support of the D.C.-based coffee company’s application to convert a vacated BB&T bank at 7393 Lee Highway (Route 29) in West Falls Church into its second drive-thru restaurant.

Before the unanimous vote, a couple of commissioners admitted that they’re inclined to view Compass Coffee favorably based on their experiences with its existing locations.

The Rosslyn shop is a regular morning stop for Franconia District Commissioner Dan Lagana, who joked that the business may “sort of have an unfair advantage.” After visiting on Tuesday (Feb. 6), Braddock District Commissioner Mary Cortina praised the Fairfax City location for its ambiance and the coupon for a free cup of coffee for first-time patrons.

“It’s a very nice, comfortable place, and people looked like they were settling in for the day,” she observed.

For its new location, Compass Coffee intends to repurpose the 2,552-square-foot bank building in the Shops at West Falls Church as a full-service cafe with two drive-thru aisles — one for in-person orders and one for online and mobile orders. One of the three existing aisles will be closed to traffic so baristas can bring items to vehicles in the online and mobile pick-up lane, according to a staff report.

The drive-thru lanes will accommodate a total of 14 stacked vehicles at a time, more than what’s currently possible on the site. To fit those vehicles on the 0.55-acre property, the coffee shop has proposed limiting the travel aisle closest to Route 29 to westbound traffic.

“The applicant has proposed to install landscape islands, bollards and signage to ensure eastbound travelers recognize this driveway is ‘do not enter’ for eastbound traffic,” county planner Curtis Rowlette told the commission.

The business has also committed to refreshing the trees and shrubs around the building with native, non-invasive plants after “site visits revealed that landscaping was either missing or in poor condition,” according to Rowlette.

At-Large Commissioner Phil Niedzielski-Eichner questioned whether the one-way drive aisle will affected parking. The change will require the replacement of 14 perpendicular parking spaces with four parallel ones, but the restaurant will have 27 spots overall, which Rowlette said meets the county’s standards.

Cortina said she doesn’t anticipate parking will be an issue, since the cafe will be in a strip shopping center that currently has 200 total spaces.

As of late December, Compass Coffee was targeting a spring opening for its West Falls Church shop, Vice President of Marketing Joel Shetterly told FFXnow. With the Board of Supervisors not scheduled to vote on the special exception amendment application until March 19, it’s unclear if that timeline will hold.

Still, Shetterly said at the planning commission hearing that the company is “very excited” to expand into Fairfax County.

“I just wanted to thank everyone for their hard work and all their help on our application over the last year, so we’ve learned a lot,” he told the commission and county staff. “We’re very excited about what lies ahead for us in Fairfax.”

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Perspire Sauna Studio is expanding to Virginia with three franchises planned in Fairfax County (courtesy Perspire Sauna Studio)

An expanding chain of sauna studios is targeting West Falls Church for its introduction to Virginia.

Local entrepreneurs Michael Sobhi and Michael Baffa will open three Perspire Sauna Studio franchises in Fairfax County under a recently signed agreement with the California-based company, which offers infrared sauna and red-light therapy services.

The first location will be in West Falls Church, though a specific site is still being identified, according to a public relations representative for Perspire. The locations for the other two studios are also being determined.

Sobhi and Baffa, who have a combined 20 years of experience in the real estate and construction industries, hope to eventually expand the company’s presence in the area to 10 spas.

“We’ve always been health-conscious and familiar with the benefits of saunas, though our experiences have been limited to gyms and public facilities, where truly enjoying the experience can be challenging,” Sobhi said in a press release announcing the franchising deal. “The concept of Perspire, with its private and personalized approach to wellness, immediately resonated with us. We saw it as something we would personally use and benefit from if it were available in our area.”

Started by CEO Lee Braun in Costa Mesa, California, in 2010, Perspire Sauna Studio says it utilizes “age-old” sauna heat therapy practices that can help cleanse the body, ease joint and muscle pain, encourage relaxation and assist with weight loss.

The cedar-paneled saunas generate heat with colored lights that warm up the body, rather than the air, according to the company’s website. Available services include red light therapy, which is used in treatments for skin conditions, hair loss and other health needs, and chromotherapy, which can supposedly be used to treat diseases.

Perspire currently has 49 studios, with another 20 in development and 170 signed franchise agreements. Sobhi and Baffa’s franchises will be Perspire’s first locations in Virginia.

“At the crux of our brand is the intent to ignite a passion in our members and our communities for a more relaxing, health-conscious lifestyle,” Braun said in a statement. “That passion starts by introducing the science-backed approach of infrared and red light therapy to new people and new places; something both Michaels are now playing a pivotal role in seeing through.”

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The koi pond at Fairview Park’s 2941 Restaurant, a semifinalist for the 2024 James Beard award for Outstanding Restaurant (file photo)

A longstanding fine dining establishment in West Falls Church near Merrifield and a rising star in the Tysons culinary scene are both representing Fairfax County this year in the semifinals of the prestigious James Beard Awards.

The only Virginia eatery recognized in a nationwide category, 2941 Restaurant (2941 Fairview Park Drive) was named a semifinalist for “Outstanding Restaurant” by the James Beard Foundation, which announced competitors for its 2024 Restaurant and Chef Awards yesterday (Wednesday).

The list also includes Joon chefs Najmieh Batmanglij and Christopher Morgan, who made the semifinals for the regional “Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic” category. Their Persian restaurant opened at Fairfax Square (8045 Leesburg Pike) in Tysons last June.

“The James Beard nomination recognizes how food can join chefs from different backgrounds and generations together to create a delicious and enticing experience for guests,” Joon co-founder Reza Farahani said in a statement to FFXnow. “We are humbled and appreciate the James Beard Foundation’s nomination of Chef Batmanglij’s and Chef Morgan’s talents and their modern take on this ancient cuisine. These two chefs’ approach to presenting a rich and diverse cuisine is a testimony to their artistry and skill.”

Named after the influential American chef, the James Beard Foundation has handed out awards lauding “exceptional talent and achievement in the culinary arts” annually since 1991.

Tucked away on the ground floor of an office building, 2941 has been recognized for seasonally-rotating menu — currently designed by Executive Chef Bertrand Chemel — and elegant setting, which includes a koi pond and a view of an artificial lake. Back in 2005, The Hill described it as a “gleaming example of suburban fine dining,” and it was called the best restaurant in Northern Virginia last year by Northern Virginia Magazine.

Dishes on Chemel’s current January tasting menu include baked Wellfleet oysters, a grilled venison chop and a chocolate biscuit with fig marmalade.

Before joining Joon, Batmanglij wrote cookbooks credited with helping introduce Iranian cuisine to the U.S., and Morgan co-founded the D.C. restaurant Maydan, which earned him a Michelin star. At the Tysons restaurant, they make kabobs and other Iranian dishes intended to showcase the country’s ethnic diversity, according to Joon’s website.

Located in the former Chef Geoff’s space, Joon also hosts a “virtual” food hall called The Kitchen Collective where local residents can pick up food from other concepts curated by Farahani, such as the D.C. restaurants Pizza Serata and Yasmine or the cookie shop Franki’s, which was inspired by Morgan’s daughter.

The finalists for the 2024 James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards will be announced on April 3, and the winners will be revealed at a ceremony on June 10 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

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Jose Lazaro Cruz has been arrested for allegedly murdering his wife, Ana Jurado, in West Falls Church on April 30, 1991 (courtesy FCPD)

The man believed to have killed 24-year-old Ana Jurado in West Falls Church over three decades ago had started an entirely new family by the time he got arrested, Fairfax County police say.

Jose Lazaro Cruz arrived and was taken into custody at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center last Thursday, Jan. 18 — 32 years after detectives got a warrant charging him with murdering Jurado on April 30, 1991, officials announced yesterday.

In that time, one of the detectives on the case — Fred Fife — has died, and his partner, Rich Perez, recently retired, according to Police Chief Kevin Davis.

“We’ve never forgotten the family. We’ve never forgotten the seriousness of this senseless crime, and we never stopped,” Davis said. “That’s why we’re so proud to be here today.”

Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano and other FCPD officials also spoke at the press conference.

According to the Fairfax County Police Department, officers were called to the 3100 block of Cofer Road in the evening of April 30, 1991 for a stabbing. Upon arriving, officers found Jurado lying at the street curb with a knife wound to the upper body. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Witnesses reported hearing a scream and seeing a man leave the area who matched a description of Cruz, Jurado’s husband.

Also 24 years old at the time, Cruz and Jurado were in the process of getting a divorce, FCPD Deputy Chief of Investigations Eli Cory said. Jurado had a 4-year-old son, who was with family in El Salvador at the time of her murder, and two daughters — a 3-year-old and a 7-month-old living in the U.S.

Police believe Cruz initially attempted to flee into Canada but got denied entry at the border for using fake identification. Instead, he turned south, crossing the Mexican border from Houston, Texas, with the help of a smuggler and ending up in El Salvador, which didn’t have any extradition procedures.

That country’s lack of extradition held up arrests in nine Fairfax County murder cases over the preceding decade, including Jurado’s, the Washington Post reported in 1998.

“Rich Perez, for years, worked with the El Salvadorean government to get a mechanism put in place,” Cory said.

El Salvador amended its constitution in July 2000 to allow extradition, but police didn’t locate Cruz until he tried to enter Costa Rica on July 29, 2022, possibly to visit family there, Cory said.

According to Cory, the FCPD determined that Cruz remarried and started “an entire new family” with “several children” while living in El Salvador, where he worked as a truck driver.

Because of the lengthy extradition process, it took another 16 months or so for Cruz to be transferred from the custody of Costa Rican authorities to the U.S. Marshals Service, which brought him back to the U.S. so he could be served the felony murder warrant that detectives had obtained on May 10, 1991.

“This really isn’t a traditional cold case,” Davis observed. “It was solved virtually right away. He was on the lam. He was on the run. He avoided accountability for something he did nearly 33 years ago.”

Fife’s son, Aaron Fife, recalled his father as someone who valued collaboration and was committed to his job and advocating for victims of crimes.

Fred Fife retired in 1994 after a 24-year career with the FCPD, including 17 years spent working on homicide cases, according to his son, who now works for the FCPD himself.

“To bring closure to the victims’ families wasn’t just a duty for him, it was a commitment,” Aaron Fife said. “I would just like to use this as a reminder to me to carry on the lessons he taught me about dedication, collaboration and compassion.”

Coralain Gardens Apartments in West Falls Church (courtesy Enterprise Community Development)

The affordable housing developer behind the new Lake Anne House in Reston is targeting an apartment complex near Falls Church High School for a similar rebuild.

Enterprise Community Development, a Maryland-based national nonprofit, announced last week that it has acquired the Coralain Gardens Apartments in West Falls Church for $21.7 million, setting the stage for a rehabilitation that will enable the property to remain fully affordable.

Located at 7435 Arlington Blvd, the 10 three-story apartment buildings were built in 1964 and consist of 106 studio and one or two-bedroom units — all of them reserved for residents who earn 60% of the area median income (AMI) or below.

Now 60 years old, Coralain Gardens was at risk of losing its income restrictions, but Enterprise Community Development has committed to preserving them through 2087, according to a press release.

“The acquisition of Coralain Gardens was a wonderful chance for Enterprise Community Development to make a positive impact on the Fairfax community,” Enterprise interim president Christine Madigan said. “We are grateful for the County’s partnership and leadership in affordable housing preservation. We are looking forward to renovating the property and ensuring it remains a great place to live for both current and future residents.”

Enterprise says it will seek federal tax credits to fund “a full-scale rehabilitation” of the apartments, a project expected to start by the first quarter of 2025.

The acquisition was financed with a senior mortgage from a Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF) and Capital Impact Partners (CIP) partnership. Enterprise also assumed an existing loan that the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority (FCRHA) had on the property.

The nonprofit was chosen for the deal from the county’s Preservation Partner Pool, a list of housing providers created last year to streamline the process of identifying developers and funding for projects to preserve affordable housing.

In parallel with its efforts to add 10,000 new affordable housing units by 2034, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors adopted an affordable housing preservation policy last year that incentivizes developers to replace both income-restricted and market-rate affordable units.

The Preservation Partner Pool was formed to help implement that policy, which also gave developers the option to provide the replacement units off-site if building them on the redeveloping site isn’t feasible.

“The Preservation Partner Pool enables Fairfax County to quickly act on preservation opportunities that arise, such as this opportunity to purchase Coralain Gardens,” FCRHA Deputy Director of Real Estate Development and Finance Anna Shapiro said. “Enterprise was selected…because of their commitment to extend the existing affordability and invest in physical improvements to the property. The benefits of this acquisition will be realized for years to come for current and future residents.”

Enterprise completed its $86 million Lake Anne House at 11444 North Shore Drive last summer. The 240-unit apartment complex for low-income seniors replaced Lake Anne Fellowship House, which had provided affordable housing for older Reston residents since 1970.

Enterprise owns 114 communities across the U.S. that collectively house 23,000 people.

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This spring will bring a new coffee shop to West Falls Church — or so Compass Coffee hopes.

Construction is underway on the company’s second drive-thru cafe at 7393 Lee Highway. The shop will occupy a former BB&T bank building in the Shops at West Falls Church.

Though Compass Coffee previously said it was “shooting for” a summer 2023 opening, Vice President of Marketing Joel Shetterly says the business is now “looking forward to being open in time for Spring/cherry blossom season.”

Roughly 2,400 square feet in size, per a site plan, the new location will be Compass Coffee’s first in Fairfax County, though it can be found in Fairfax City. The company currently has 16 shops, including one on Langston Blvd in Arlington that hosts its first drive-thru.

In addition to coffee, the cafes sell breakfast sandwiches and pastries.

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Quarry Inn Motel in West Falls Church (via Google Maps)

A Falls Church man has been arrested in connection to a sexual assault at the Quarry Inn Motel (7179 Lee Highway) in September.

Erick Vladamir Chacon Martinez, 23, was taken into custody yesterday (Tuesday) after detectives obtained warrants charging him with raping a woman at the West Falls Church motel on Sept. 16, the Fairfax County Police Department announced today.

As previously reported, police say that Chacon Martinez arranged to meet the victim in a motel room at 6:40 p.m.

“When she opened the door, the suspect displayed a knife and threatened the victim,” the FCPD said. “The suspect then sexually assaulted her. The victim was able to escape the room and call 911.”

Surveillance video allegedly depicting the suspect was shared with the public, suggesting that he was a man in his 20s, police said in September.

According to the FCPD, detectives were able to identify the phone number used to arrange the meeting at the motel, leading them to Chacon Martinez.

“Additional investigation, including open-source data leads from Social Media accounts and additional camera footage, further linked Chacon Martinez as the suspect,” the police department said in its news release.

Chacon Martinez has been charged with rape, abduction with intent to defile and forcible sodomy. He is currently being held without bond at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center.

The Fairfax County General District Court doesn’t list any previous cases involving Cacon Martinez.

Image via Google Maps

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