Apollo, a labrador mix up for adoption from Pet Connect Rescue (courtesy Woofie’s)

Owners of six Woofie’s franchises in Northern Virginia are hosting a “Paws in the Park” pet adoption event tomorrow (Saturday) at Wolf Trap National Park.

Participating Woofie’s include Reston/Herndon, Ashburn-Leesburg, McLean, Western Loudoun, South Riding-Aldie and Fairfax. Woofie’s mobile pet services include dog walking, grooming, nail trimming, Bed ‘n Biscuit pet stays, overnight and daytime pet sitting, and other personalized services for area pet owners.

The event will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, with a rain date of May 19 if necessary, at Wolf Trap Farm Park.

The Woofie’s businesses will have about 20 mobile spa vans on site, offering free nail trims and Wash ‘n Go baths for rescued dogs and pups up for adoption, and special event pricing for families who bring their own pets for grooming (as time permits/allows for all services). Parking is free.

Ridgeside K9, with professional dog training, and Keller Williams Realty are sponsoring the event.

A silent auction with gift baskets from sponsors and Woofie’s will be available for attendees to bid on with all proceeds going to the animal shelters.

Participating shelters include:

  • Pet Connect Rescue
  • Friends of the Fairfax County Animal Shelter
  • Operation Paws for Homes
  • Friends of Homeless Animals, Aldie
  • Canine Companions for Independence
  • Safe Haven Puppy Rescue
  • A Forever Home Rescue Foundation
  • Humane Society of Fairfax County
  • Humane Society of Loudoun County
  • LOVEPAWS Rescue
  • Wolf Trap Animal Rescue Virginia

There will be multiple food trucks offering tasty bites, DJ William Linne spinning tunes, pet photography, and several other participating vendors who will provide baskets or other support for the animal communities, including:

  • LuvMyDog
  • Whiskers, Paws and Love Inc.
  • Philip Martin, author of “Tails from Tibet,” with leadership lessons for young lives, from pets
  • Disorderly Chic
  • Perfectly Pawsitive
  • The Farmer’s Dog
  • Pet Wants Chantilly
  • Perigee Tribal and Wildlife Arts

This article was written by FFXnow’s news partner InsideNoVa.com and republished with permission and small tweaks to specify Safeway’s location. Sign up for InsideNoVa.com’s free email subscription today.

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A Fairfax Connector bus to Tysons (staff photo by James Jarvis)

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) has the green light to apply for a federal grant to replace dozens of buses in its Fairfax Connector fleet.

However, none of the new buses will be all-electric, despite the county’s earlier pledges to electrify its fleet of vehicles.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved FCDOT’s request on May 7 to apply for $128.1 million in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to purchase a total of 72 buses, including 60 hybrid and 12 diesel models.

“I’m very pleased with where we’ve gone and hopefully, we can go to that next level and make them non-emitting,” Mount Vernon Supervisor Dan Storck said before the vote. “But I think, at this point in time, anything we can do with e-hybrid and hybrid is definitely on the right road.”

In February, DOT announced it planned to allocate $1.5 billion for Low or No Emission Grant and Grants for Buses and Bus Facilities programs “to support the transition of the nation’s transit fleet to the lowest polluting and most energy efficient transit vehicles.”

According to the Federal Transit Administration’s website, the Low-No Emission program offers funding to state and local governments for buying or leasing zero-emission and low-emission buses, along with the necessary facilities to support them.

Similarly, Grants for Buses and Bus Facilities helps localities fund new bus projects, including updates, replacements, and purchases of vehicles and related equipment. It also supports building or upgrading bus-related facilities to make them more environmentally friendly.

Aiming to reach carbon neutrality by 2040, Fairfax County introduced an operational energy strategy in 2021 whose goals included ceasing diesel bus purchases after fiscal year 2024, which ends on June 30, and fully transitioning all buses and fleet vehicles to electric or other non-carbon-emitting sources by 2035.

However, the county’s facilities still lack the infrastructure needed to maintain battery electric buses, holding up the transition.

“Funding, engineering design, and construction of infrastructure will be required to move beyond the zero emission pilot phases,” FCDOT spokesperson Freddy Serrano told FFXnow.

He said the county is choosing diesel buses because there are no available hybrid models to replace 12 30-foot buses that need to be retired. The remaining 60 buses will be 40 feet long.

Fairfax Connector operates more than 300 buses, carrying approximately 26,000 riders each day on 93 different routes — some of which will soon be changing.

The county is currently studying bus electrification with a pilot program that added eight battery-powered electric buses to the Connector fleet last fall. According to Serrano, the program will be critical in guiding future decisions about transitioning the entire bus fleet to zero emissions.

Currently, there is no set timeline for completing the pilot program, but FCDOT expects to publish the results of a Zero Emission Bus Study later this year.

“The schedule for transitioning to carbon free buses is dependent on several factors and will be updated continually as the technology advances,” Serrano said.

Fairfax County Public Schools rolled out 42 new electric school buses last month that were purchased using a federal funding allocated through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act.

The grantees will be announced later this summer or in the fall, per a county staff report. If approved, the county would be responsible for covering 20% for a local cash match requirement of up to $14.2 million.

Read more on FFXnow…

Morning Notes

The splash pad at the Mosaic District in Merrifield has been turned on (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Congress Approves More National Airport Flights — “More long-haul flights are coming to Reagan National Airport. And people annoyed by helicopter noise will continue to have their voice heard. Those are two of the main local impacts from the FAA reauthorization bill just approved by Congress. The bill now awaits President Biden’s signature.” [ARLnow]

Lake Fairfax Skating Rink Now Open — “The new inline skate rink at Lake Fairfax Park is open for business! The Fairfax County Park Authority and Washington Capitals joined to commemorate the opening of the inline skate rink on Saturday, May 11 with an official ribbon-cutting ceremony and free hockey skills clinic.” [FCPA]

Herndon Adopts New Budget — “The Herndon Town Council has adopted a Fiscal Year (FY) 2025 Budget of $74,632,184, a 19.9 percent increase from the adopted FY 2024 Budget…While most property owners will receive higher tax bills in FY 2025 due to rising real estate values, the town’s real estate tax rate remains at $0.26 per $100 of assessed value.” [Town of Herndon]

Tysons Startup Highest Valued in N. Va. — “Somatus, established in 2016, leads as the highest-valued unicorn in Northern Virginia, according to CBInsights. A unicorn is a privately held startup company with a valuation of $1 billion or more…Currently Somatus is operating in 34 states, with more than 1,200 employees, and will care for more than 160,000 lives in 2024.” [Fairfax County Economic Development Authority]

Fairfax City Wins Fitness Challenge — “GO FAIRFAX!! We are thrilled to announce Fairfax City has officially won the Mayors’ Fitness Challenge this year! A huge thank you to everyone who participated, and to our fellow competitors, the Town of Vienna and the City of Falls Church!” [City of Fairfax/Facebook]

Oakton Mental Health Nonprofit Reports High Demand — “Oakton-based HopeLink saw record demand for its services in 2023, fielding more than 180,000 crisis calls, texts and chats from people facing life crises, according to nonprofit representatives. Officials with the behavioral health organization, which serves all of Northern Virginia, say they expect the increased demand to continue.” [Inside NoVA]

Local Nonprofits Get Boost From Grants — “Dozens of Northern Virginia nonprofits recently received grants from the equity-focused Community Foundation for Northern Virginia, and a good chunk of that funding will benefit low-income families around the Richmond Highway Corridor.” [On the MoVe]

It’s Friday — There is a 20% chance of showers starting after 2pm, with partly sunny skies and a high temperature near 75 degrees. At night, showers are more likely, mainly after 2am, with an 80% chance of precipitation. The temperature will drop to a low around 59. [NWS]

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Fairfax County’s annual Summer Entertainment Series will kick off on June 1 (via Fairfax County Park Authority/Twitter)

The Fairfax County Park Authority has composed a slate of summer shows, including Grammy honorees, drive-in movies and a range of dancers.

Nearly 200 live events will take place across more than a dozen locations between June 1 and Aug. 31.

Last year’s Summer Entertainment Series drew more than 37,000 people to 189 concerts across the county, according to FCPA Performing Arts Production Manager Sousan Frankeberger.

“They let music lift their spirits, raise their hopes, awaken their memories, forge friendship between cultures and kindle a sense of belonging,” Frankeberger said in a press release.

The full 2024 show schedule is available to download. The FCPA is also offering a “performance search” function, where users can filter by location, performance type and other factors.

The 196 planned outdoor concerts and movies are grouped into various series spread across 17 locations around the county, with each spanning several weeks of the summer:

  • Braddock Nights: Fridays, 7:30 p.m., at Royal Lake Park (5344 Gainsborough Drive) and Lake Accotink Park (7500 Accotink Park Road), with children’s events on Saturdays, 10 a.m., at Wakefield Park (8100 Braddock Road)
  • Franconia Nights: Wednesdays, 7:30 p.m., at Leonadus K. Plenty Amphitheater (6601 Telegraph Road)
  • Hunter Mill Melodies: Thursdays, 7:30 p.m., at Frying Pan Farm Park Kidwell Farm (2709 West Ox Road), with children’s events on Wednesdays, 10 a.m., at the Frying Pan Farm Park Visitor Center (2739 West Ox Road)
  • Mount Vernon Nights: Fridays and Saturdays, 7:30 p.m., primarily at Grist Mill Park (4710 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway) and Workhouse Arts Center (9518 Workhouse Way), respectively
  • Providence Presents: Thursdays, 7:30 p.m., at Nottoway Park (9537 Courthouse Road) and Saturdays, 6 p.m., in the Mosaic District (2985 District Avenue)
  • Springfield Nights: Wednesdays, 7 p.m., at Burke Lake Park (7315 Ox Road), with children’s events on Saturdays, 10 a.m., at Burke Lake Park Amphitheater (7315 Ox Road).
  • Spotlight by Starlight: Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, 8:30 p.m., at Mason District Park Amphitheater (6621 Columbia Pike) and Saturdays, 7:30 p.m., at Ossian Hall Park (7900 Heritage Drive). Children’s events will be on Saturdays, 10 a.m., at the Mason District Park Amphitheater.
  • Music at Arrowbrook Centre Park (2351 Field Point Road): Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.
  • Evenings on the Ellipse: Thursdays, 5:30 p.m., at the Fairfax County Government Center (12000 Government Center Parkway)
  • Starlight Cinema Drive-in Movies: Saturdays at the Sully Historic Site (3650 Historic Sully Way), with gates opening at 6 p.m., a pre-show for kids at 7 p.m., and movies at dark

Finally, the Arts in the Parks children’s entertainment series will be spread across six locations, with dates on Saturday mornings, Saturday evenings and Wednesday mornings.

The season kicks off with a Mount Vernon Night on Saturday, June 1. The U.S. Navy Band Cruisers will play from their repertoire, which includes original songs, jazz, classic rock and pop.

The series concludes with a concert from Minnesota-based pop/rock band Cloud Cult at Arrowbrook Centre Park in Herndon on Saturday, Aug. 31.

If a show is at risk of getting rained out, those planning to attend can call 703-324-7469 an hour before the scheduled start time.

Photo via Fairfax County Park Authority/Twitter

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The Reston Town Center expansion seen from the Dulles Access Road (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Fewer parking spaces will be required in the expansion of Reston Town Center than previously anticipated.

During its May 7 meeting, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors agreed to vacate the parking reduction that it granted developer Boston Properties (BXP) when the project known as RTC Next was originally approved in 2018.

At that time, BXP intended to provide a total of 7,834 parking spaces for the 4.8 million square feet of mixed-use development planned in the northeast quadrant of the Town Center Parkway and Sunset Hills Road intersection. That would’ve been up to 660 fewer parking spaces than what the county’s zoning ordinance required — a 7.8% reduction.

But after the county’s sweeping update of its parking regulations last fall, the proposed number of spaces is now higher than the minimum requirements, prompting a transportation consultant hired by BXP to ask that the 2018 reduction be dropped.

Under the new parking rules, the developer needs to provide only 0.4 spaces per bedroom for multi-family residential buildings, rather than the previously approved rate of 1.1 to 1.6 spaces per unit, depending on the number of bedrooms, according to a staff summary. The rates for hotel and retail development are also lower.

Allowing RTC Next to follow the updated regulations would be “a component of an effort to reduce auto travel and enhance environmental benefits by de-emphasizing ample, free parking,” county staff wrote.

Staff noted that the 33-acre development site is adjacent to the Reston Town Center Metro station, where community members have access to trains, local bus services and bicycle facilities, including a Capital Bikeshare station.

However, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn, who represents Reston, says there are still gaps in the area’s transportation network, particularly for short trips within Reston.

“It’s important to plan for more localized transportation options to help residents and workers get around and across Reston’s transit station areas,” Alcorn said in a statement to FFXnow. “Metrorail cannot meet all these shorter-hop needs. The county’s recently updated parking requirements assume use of other ways to get around, such as by local transit, bike or foot so we need to plan for that when developers make their proposals.”

At the May 7 board meeting, Alcorn said his office is looking into potential transportation upgrades for the Reston Town Center area, including “longer-term improvements to transit.”

While he didn’t specify any proposals that are under consideration, he praised Boston Properties for providing free shuttle service from the Metro station to sites in the town center without being asked or required by the county. The LinkRTC shuttle operates Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

BXP is also building a pedestrian bridge over the Washington and Old Dominion Trail that’s expected to finish construction later this year.

“This does take a step towards bringing the parking requirements for this particular project in line with the updated ordinance that we adopted fairly recently,” Alcorn said of the parking reduction vacation. “…But this is really part of a larger discussion that we’re having about long-term needs of getting people around in that part of Reston. So, just so everyone understands, this is sort of the beginning of that part of the discussion.”

When fully built out, the Reston Town Center expansion will boast 2.2 million square feet of offices, 93,000 square feet of retail, 2,010 residential units, and a 570-room hotel. Two office buildings have been completed, and the hotel — a dual-branded Marriott AC and Residence Inn — is expected to finish this year. A 40-story residential tower called Skymark is on track to be delivered in 2025.

Read more on FFXnow…

The Fairfax County School Board holds a public hearing on the Fiscal Year 2025 budget (via FCPS/Youtube)

With just days to go before Fairfax County Public Schools finalizes its fiscal year 2025 budget, teachers voiced frustration this week with the news that school employees will get lower-than-expected pay raises.

As it stands, the Fairfax County School Board is on track to adopt a revised budget that includes a 3% pay increase for all school employees, down from the initially proposed 6%, starting July 1.

However, school staff, parents and education advocates argue the increase isn’t enough to keep teachers — especially those in special education and Title I or understaffed schools — from leaving for other districts or quitting the profession altogether.

“The staffing shortages are going to be felt differently across different positions,” Emily VanDerhoff, a first grade teacher at Hunt Valley Elementary School, said during the school board’s public hearing on Tuesday (May 14). “I would like to suggest taking into consideration the conditions most hard hit by shortages for stronger increases to help with recruitment and retention.”

According to publicly available data, FCPS boasts approximately 25,000 full-time staff, including about 12,675 teachers. Currently, the division anticipates needing to fill nearly 600 vacancies, mostly for teaching positions, for the coming 2024-2025 school year.

Fairfax County isn’t alone, as school divisions across the D.C. area have grappled with a high number of staff vacancies for several years. The Washington Post previously reported that FCPS lost 726 teachers during the 2022-2023 school year and 896 in 2021-2022.

While pay raises have historically served as a tool for FCPS to enhance staff retention and recruitment, many school employees remain unimpressed by the division’s efforts.

At the public hearing, VanDerhoff noted that a 3% raise might “seem fair on the surface,” but she argued it actually benefits those with higher salaries, widening the income gap among teachers.

Instead, VanDerhoff said the school board should consider allocating more to the lowest paid employees to “provide a more equitable distribution” of the $165 million in additional funding from the county.

“The staffing shortages are going to be felt differently across different positions I would like to suggest taking into consideration the conditions most hard hit by shortages for stronger increases to help with recruitment and retention,” she said.

Local school and county officials have attributed underwhelming teacher salaries to the state, repeatedly referencing a recent study by the Joint Legislative Audit & Review Commission of Virginia (JLARC) that found that the state underfunds FCPS by about $568.6 million annually.

Earlier this week, the state approved a biennial budget that includes funding for 3% teacher pay raises. It remains unclear whether Fairfax County will receive enough money to increase its pay raises beyond 3%.

Although Superintendent Michelle Reid’s amended budget halves teacher pay raises, she indicated at a school board meeting last week that she would aim for as close to 6% as possible if the new state budget provides more funding than anticipated.

While teachers and parents at the public hearing acknowledged the state’s role in underfunding the school system, one teacher criticized the county for prioritizing higher wages for other county employees, such as police, because they were “first to the bargaining table.”

“If this is the mindset of those who hold the purse strings, then we FCPS employees, the school board and the community need to work together to move the minds of the Board of Supervisors and the state,” Woodley Hills Elementary School teacher Durann Thompson said. “Schools in Virginia had been underfunded for far too long, and the impact is teacher dissatisfaction, which has led to the teacher shortage we are currently experiencing.”

Unions representing employees in the county’s police and fire departments secured collective bargaining agreements in December that guaranteed pay raises and other benefits. FCPS workers won the right to bargain last year, but haven’t yet elected a representative for future contract negotiations.

The Fairfax County Federation of Teachers and Fairfax Education Association, which banded together to form the Fairfax Education Unions, announced on May 8 that they have filed for union elections.

A second public hearing on the budget that would’ve been held last night (Wednesday), if needed, has been canceled. The school board plans to adopt its final budget on Thursday, May 23.

Read more on FFXnow…

A pedestrian bridge on Hunters Creek Trail in Herndon is due for replacement (via Town of Herndon)

The Town of Herndon has taken a crucial step towards constructing a new pedestrian bridge along Hunters Creek Trail, which could be ready as soon as the end of August.

The Herndon Town Council approved a special exception on Tuesday (May 14) that clears the way for a replacement of the worn-out 1970s-era bridge in Runnymede Park. The bridge was shut down last year due to safety concerns after being deemed “structurally unsound.”

According to a town staff report, the new 25-foot-long replacement bridge will be built using fiberglass-reinforced polymer and helical pile foundations, allowing for a wider stream bed. The project will also restore the unnamed stream under the bridge.

A special exception was required because the area is designated by local authorities as a flood-prone zone, putting it at risk of potential damage.

However, a flood study conducted by the engineering and design consulting firm Kimley-Horn, which has a satellite office in Reston, concluded that the proposed improvements won’t lead to higher flood levels and would likely slow the water flow in the stream.

At Tuesday’s public hearing, several residents urged the town council to proceed with construction promptly, expressing worries about trail accessibility and traffic congestion with pedestrians unable to use the bridge.

Holly Giuliano, who lives near Hunters Creek Trail, said she and her family rely on the trail to reach the pool at the Hunters Creek Clubhouse. Without access to a bridge, she and other residents in the neighborhood are forced to drive, potentially leading to congestion and parking problems, she said.

“The parking lot at the Hunters Creek pool is not huge, and this is going to cause more cars to park in the parking lot with possible spillover into the…neighborhood, Queens Row Street in particular,” Giuliano said. “…I have concerns that this is going to create some community relations issues between pool members, residents [over] general traffic issues.”

Hunters Creek Bridge in Herndon (via Town of Herndon)

Giuliano and others criticized the town for not fixing or replacing the bridge sooner, pointing out that it was in disrepair even before its closure in 2023.

“This is an exceptionally long period of time to get a bridge repaired…It doesn’t take too much effort to look underneath those pylons have been eroded for quite some time,” she said.

Resident Ruston Spurlock stressed the urgency of replacing the bridge, which he described as not only a key piece of transportation infrastructure, but also a place where he and his family share meaningful experiences.

“If you poll anybody in that area, that bridge is not just a tangible item,” Spurlock said. “It is a bridge to memories and experience for our community.”

According to town staff, the current bridge can’t be removed and replaced until they receive approval from the Army Corps of Engineers, which is responsible for designing and building infrastructure, managing water resources, and conducting environmental restoration projects.

That process could take anywhere from six to up to nine months, staff said.

“[The Army Corps] will not grant us emergency authorization to proceed without a permit,” one staff member told the town council. “We have been checking in with them, and there have been movements, and I’ve seen them coordinating with other agencies in the state…But again, we are beholden to what the Army Corps can process during their normal review time.”

Staff expressed optimism that the town will install a new bridge on schedule by the end of August. In the interim, they plan to send regular newsletters to local homeowners’ associations and provide updates on the construction progress via social media.

Read more on FFXnow…

The side of a Fairfax Connector bus (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Fairfax Connector is gathering public input on a plan to adjust bus service while increasing fares by 12.5%.

If approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, the fare changes will take effect on July 1. The Connector’s policy is to match Metrobus fares, which will increase in an effort by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) to address a budget shortfall.

Riders on one express route, however, will get some relief. The fare for Route 599, which provides rush-hour service between the Reston North Park and Ride and the Pentagon Metro station, will decrease from $7.50 to $4.80 to match the Connector’s other express bus rates.

At a virtual public meeting on Tuesday (May 14), Fairfax County Department of Transportation staff also outlined proposed service changes that are slated to take effect in December, including the addition of two routes.

The service adjustments follow a first phase of changes in the Centreville, Chantilly, Vienna and Tysons (CCVT) areas that will take effect on June 22. The changes are intended to provide access to the new Springfield and Monument Drive commuter parking garages, which are supposed to open this summer.

Some riders who attended Tuesday’s meeting expressed exasperation with Fairfax Connector’s current routes, saying it can take two hours to reach places that are only 15 minutes away by car.

A Reston resident said her son takes three buses to reach Northern Virginia Community College’s (NOVA) Sterling campus.

“Is there any way to make it easier for the students? He’s been struggling this year. The class starts at 9:30 a.m., and he has to leave home at 6:45 a.m. to get there on time,” she said. “It’s three buses for a short distance. That’s ridiculous. I’m trying to motivate him to go, but I’m afraid that one day he’s going to give up.”

Rayana Nabih said he just completed his first year at NOVA and relies on Fairfax Connector.

“I can’t [take] two hours to get to a morning class that starts at 8 a.m.,” Nabih said. “I’ve had to take Uber with the money I’m trying to save to go to Mason, and relying on Fairfax Connector has caused me a lot of issues…It’s exhausting, it’s hard for me. I feel like there isn’t any convenient transportation for low-income families.”

FCDOT planners said they can examine ridership patterns to see what options could make it easier to reach NOVA’s campus in Loudoun County. The Connector began serving the campus more than a year ago; before that, there was no way to get there from Fairfax County by bus. Ridership isn’t large, but it’s growing, staff said.

“The planning team has done a really great job of trying to add access to as many schools [as we can] as quickly as we can, given the budget that’s available,” Kala Quintana, Fairfax Connector’s head of marketing, said.

The proposed route changes in phase two of the CCVT plan include:

Route 610

The new route will link George Mason University, Fairfax County Government Center, Route 29 and Centreville. It also provides a link to the new Monument Drive Park & Ride, which will have 820 free parking spaces and enable riders to transfer to 15 other Connector routes, the Fairfax CUE bus and Metrobus.

It will operate weekdays from 5:30 a.m. to 10:21 p.m. every 30 minutes at peak times and hourly at off-peak times. Buses will run hourly on Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 7:51 p.m. but will not operate on Sundays.

Route 670

The second proposed new route links Chantilly with the Franconia Metro station, via Route 50, the Monument Drive garage, Vienna Metro station and I-495. Transfers to 11 other Connector routes are available, as well as the Fairfax CUE, Metrobus and the Virginia Railway Express (VRE).

It will operate only on weekdays at peak times: 5-9:52 a.m. and 3:20-7:57 p.m.

Route 921 (Herndon Circulator): Buses will run every 30 minutes at off-peak hours, and services will end at 7:45 p.m. instead of 7:48 p.m. Planners say the changes will improve reliability.

Route 335 (Fort Belvoir): Buses are being detoured because the John Kingman gate at Fort Belvoir is frequently closed. Fairfax Connector plans to make this route change permanent.

Detours could also become permanent for Route 351 and Route 352, which both connect the Transportation Security Administration’s Springfield headquarters and the Franconia Metro station. Gate closures implemented by the TSA forced the buses to change routes.

A second virtual public hearing on the proposed changes will be held at 7 p.m. today (Thursday), and a survey will be available online until May 28.

After gathering public input this spring, Fairfax Connector will continue refining CCVT Phase 2 and present it to the Board of Supervisors for approval in the fall.

Read more on FFXnow…

Morning Notes

Cornerside Blvd streetscape in Tysons West (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Northern Lights Seen Over National Mall — “Rare, possibly one-of-a-kind video has emerged of the northern lights dancing over the National Mall and Washington Monument. Even though clouds in the D.C. area mostly obscured the epic display of auroras…a short window opened up just before dawn Saturday when the clouds parted. [Washington Post]

Tysons Auto Dealerships Up for Sale — The Koons dealership site at 2000 and 2050 Chain Bridge Road, which was considered for redevelopment by Comstock, “is now being marketed for sale as a Home Depot-anchored mixed-use district.” Marketing materials say the property is available “for three different opportunities: a ground lease, a sale and a joint venture.” [Bisnow]

Fairfax Man Pleads Guilty to Fraud — “A 31-year-old Fairfax man pleaded guilty in federal court on Wednesday for two scams that defrauded victims and retailers of approximately $1.25 million.” The U.S. Attorney’s Office says the man conned people into buying gift cards that he and his collaborators used to purchase electronics. Another scheme involved using “fake price tags to buy large containers of baby formula.” [Patch]

Tysons Corner Center Plants Urban Farm — “Our urban farm, ‘The Giving Garden,’ is officially installed! 🌱🌻 Join us for the Grand Opening on Friday, May 17, from 2 to 4PM. Enjoy live music, light bites, and drinks, and learn about the garden, non-profit partners, and sustainability initiatives.” [Tysons Corner Center/Instagram]

Dulles Toll Road Revenue Dips — “Revenue collected from drivers using the Dulles Toll Road during the first four months of the year is down from the same period in 2023, new data show. Revenue for the January-through-April period stands at $65.8 million, according to figures reported by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which operates the toll road.” [Gazette Leader]

World Travel Revival at Dulles Airport — “Excepting Asia, Washington Dulles International Airport is seeing international-service passenger counts in excess…of pre-pandemic times. According to figures provided in advance of the May 15 Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority’s board meeting, Dulles’s post-COVID growth was outperforming the average of U.S. international gateways, as well.” [Gazette Leader]

Special Education Teacher Job Fair Coming Up — “A virtual hiring event will be held for those interested in becoming special education teachers on Wednesday, May 22, 6-8 p.m. Attendees will have an opportunity to network and interview with representatives from various Fairfax County public schools. Employment offers may be extended during the fair!” [FCPS]

It’s Thursday — Expect isolated showers after 2pm, with mostly cloudy skies, a high around 76 and a 20% chance of precipitation. The north wind will blow at 10-14 mph with gusts up to 21 mph. Night will stay cloudy and cool down to around 58, with a gentle northeast breeze at 6-8 mph. [NWS]

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Developer Silverstone Senior Living is seeking to revise its plan for The Canopy in Reston (via Fairfax County)

The Canopy, a planned assisted living community that was once supposed to open in Reston last year, has resurfaced with hopes of attracting a broader range of future residents.

Developer Silverstone Senior Living submitted a rezoning application to Fairfax County on May 6 that would allow it to provide independent living units in the facility at 10819 Leesburg Pike, along with the previously approved assisted living and memory care services.

“It is Silverstone’s experience that current and future demand for senior-based supportive housing in Fairfax County is strong,” Walsh Colucci land use lawyer Lynne Strobel wrote in a statement of justification for the developer. “Residents who have lived lives in Fairfax County wish to stay in the area as they age to be close to familiar services and family. In addition, active seniors wish to relocate to Fairfax County to be near adult children and grandchildren as they age. Silverstone’s proposal addresses these needs.”

Now vacant after an existing single-family house got demolished, the nearly 22.5-acre site off of Route 7 was approved for a medical care facility in February 2016. At that time, the prospective developer, Singh Senior Living, which manages the Waltonwood at Ashburn, intended to build a 155,150-square-foot, three-story complex with 135 assisted living and memory care units.

It’s unclear why the facility never got off the ground, but county records show that Waltonwood Reston sold the property to Silverstone for $12.1 million in July 2021.

Silverstone announced plans for The Canopy in November 2021, anticipating that it would break ground later that year and complete construction around fall 2023, Reston Now reported at the time. However, the company requested additional time to start development in 2022 and again in April 2023, citing delays related to a construction loan and site plan revisions.

Silverstone and Strobel, the developer’s representative for the new rezoning case, didn’t return requests for comment by press time.

According to the application, the layout and architectural style of the senior living facility will be mostly consistent with what was approved for Waltonwood Reston. The building will still top out at three stories or 45 feet tall, but it will be slightly bigger with a gross floor area of 170,200 square feet.

The Canopy will have two interior courtyards and could range in height from one to three stories (via Google Maps)

The design for one of two planned interior courtyards has been tweaked.

“The east courtyard has been opened up to the rear of the property to take advantage of natural views and increase the amount of ground level open space for the residents,” Strobel wrote. “The two wings on either side of the east courtyard will be connected by an elevated walkway.”

The developer has proposed a total of 131 dwelling units that can accommodate 202 residents — an increase from the 155 beds planned for Waltonwood, since more couples are expected with the addition of independent living units. The “greater independence” of those residents will require fewer staff, the application says, reducing the number of workers per shift from 45 to 30.

Instead of providing affordable units in The Canopy, Silverstone intends to meet the county’s affordability requirements by contributing $3 per square foot to the Housing Trust Fund, which is used by the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority to help private developers build and preserve affordable housing.

Indoor amenities for residents will include dining facilities, health and fitness rooms, game and activity rooms and a beauty salon. In addition to the courtyards and recreational amenities, such as a pop-up pickleball court, the facility will have “a series of trails, sidewalks and resident gardens…to encourage connectivity with the outdoors,” according to the application.

As part of the project, the developer will “modify” a portion of the recently opened shared-use path along Route 7 to accommodate a new right-turn lane into The Canopy.

“The Applicant will provide high-quality amenities and services consistent with its other communities to ensure that residents can successfully age in place,” Strobel wrote.

Silverstone’s other projects in Fairfax County include The Providence Fairfax, which opened at MetroWest near the Vienna Metro station in 2021, and The Trillium Tysons, which is currently under construction at The Boro and expected to open later this year.

Read more on FFXnow…

Developer Comstock celebrated the topping out of JW Marriott Hotel and Residences, a new hotel and condominium building under construction in The Row at Reston Station (courtesy Comstock)

The developer behind Reston Station celebrated a milestone last week in its construction of a new Marriott hotel.

Comstock held a “topping out” ceremony last Wednesday (May 8) at 1800 Reston Row Plaza for the 26-story JW Marriott Hotel and Residences, the hospitality brand’s first location in Virginia and an anchor for the future Row at Reston Station neighborhood.

Marking the moment when construction reached its highest point, the ceremony was attended by more than 100 local and state elected officials, community leaders, representatives of the building contractor and other stakeholders in the project.

“Developments [like this] are where workers want to live, it is where new businesses want to come. They all want to be near transit,” Virginia Senate Majority Leader Scott Surovell said in a press release. “These projects are not possible without people that have the kind of vision like [Comstock CEO and Chairman] Chris Clemente does. And to me the future is really bright.”

Initially expected to open this year, the Marriott building at Reston Station Blvd and Wiehle Avenue will consist of 243 hotel rooms and 94 condominiums with approximately 25,000 square feet of event and meeting space. Amenities for residents will include personalized concierge services, private lounges and kitchens, a private fitness center, and grilling areas and a dog park on the roof.

Parking will be provided in a garage with 24/7 valet service and electric vehicle charging stations.

Adjacent to the existing, fully built Metro Plaza District, The Row at Reston Station will expand the development outside the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station by roughly 1.5 million square feet. In addition to the Marriott, the new neighborhood will deliver a residential building called BLVD Haley and two office towers at 1800 and 1880 Reston Row Plaza.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved revisions to the plan for the $1.3 billion project last fall, allowing Comstock to shift planned but unbuilt office space from the Metro Plaza District, increase the residential building’s height and number of units, and create a private outdoor dining area.

The dining area will serve Ebbitt House, a new restaurant from the company behind Clyde’s of Reston that’s expected to open at 1860 Reston Row Plaza next year. Other tenants confirmed for Reston Row include the mini golf facility Puttshack, French bakery Tous les Jours, the Japanese restaurant Noku Sushi and VIDA Fitness and Spa, a 55,000-square-foot gym that will occupy three levels of 1800 Reston Row Plaza.

Comstock confirmed Vida Fitness remains on track for a May opening, but an opening date still hasn’t been announced.

“World-class businesses like Marriott…are coming here and will help bring this place to life,” Clemente said. “The Row at Reston Station is a sought-after destination that is raising the bar for mixed-use development [and] will set a new standard for placemaking within transit-oriented communities.”

A sales gallery for JW Marriott’s residences opened in mid-April at 1900 Reston Metro Plaza. The tower is expected to be delivered in spring 2025, according to Comstock.

Marriott also has a dual-branded hotel under construction at Reston Town Center. The combined Marriott AC and Residence Inn is scheduled to open at 1975 Opportunity Way sometime in 2024.

Read more on FFXnow…

Morning Notes

Clouds gather over Royal Lake Park in Kings Park West (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Depression-Era Building in Groveton Set for Demoliton — “A historic building in Groveton will soon be demolished in preparation for the construction of the Richmond Highway Bus Rapid Transit system. The property at 6821 Richmond Highway…is described in Fairfax County documents as a two-story Colonial Revival commercial building of domestic origin that was built in 1934.” [On the MoVe]

Virginia to Study College Policies After Protests — “The Virginia House of Delegates has formed a select committee on maintaining campus safety and allowing students to exercise their First Amendment rights, after more than 125 arrests at four of Virginia’s college campuses” where students staged protests of Israel’s war on Gaza. [Virginia Mercury]

Chanel Opens New, Bigger Tysons Store — The fashion brand Chanel has opened a new boutique at Tysons Galleria, the mall announced on Monday (May 13). “Designed by longtime Chanel collaborator Peter Marino, the new 5,000-square-foot boutique more than triples the size of the previous one, which first opened at the mall in 2004.” [WWD/Yahoo]

Glass Recycling Bin Added at Clifton School — “Fairfax County’s Solid Waste Management program is proud to announce the installation of a new glass recycling bin at Clifton Elementary School, expanding the ‘Purple Can Club’ in the region. This initiative was spearheaded by two Robinson Secondary School juniors, Shaan Agarwal and DK Nguyen, who identified the need for more accessible glass recycling options in Clifton.” [DPWES]

Springfield Sports Complex to Launch Youth Academy — “The St. James is opening an academy for young athletes at its Springfield location starting in fall. The St. James Performance Academy will combine academic instruction with athletics, conditioning, nutrition, and more for young athletes in grades 6 through 12 in a number of sports, including basketball, baseball, figure skating, golf, and swimming.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]

McLean Company Rethinking GPS — Tech firm NextNav Inc. is working to make a more precise and secure complement to GPS technology,” but it needs the Federal Communications Commission’s approval. The company is seeking access to “a small part of the 900 MHz public wireless spectrum” so it can provide location services with signals from telecommunications towers instead of satellites. [DC Inno]

Memorial Day Ceremony Planned in McLean — “American Legion Post 270 will host its annual Memorial Day Service on Monday, May 27, at 11 a.m. at the Memorial Garden in front of McLean High School, 1633 Davidson Road…The public is invited to attend the service, which will last about 30 minutes.” [Gazette Leader]

It’s Wednesday — Expect showers and possible thunderstorms after 2pm, alongside patchy fog from 7am to 2pm, with a high near 65. Precipitation is 80%, and new rainfall may reach up to three quarters of an inch. At night, there’s a 50% chance of showers and thunderstorms, with a low around 59. [NWS]

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Summerchase Court in Reston (via Google Maps)

A woman has been hospitalized with critical injuries after a car crash in Reston’s Summer Ridge neighborhood near the North Point Village Center.

Fairfax County police officers and medics were dispatched to the 1500 block of Summerchase Court around 6:19 p.m. for a two-vehicle crash “with entrapment,” according to scanner traffic on Open MHz.

Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department responders reported that an older woman was found unconscious and “pinned between her vehicle and another that’s parked,” per the scanner.

“One adult female was taken to the hospital with injuries considered life threatening,” the Fairfax County Police Department said in a tweet at 7:27 p.m.

Summerchase Court is currently closed as the FCPD’s Crash Reconstruction Unit investigates.

“Please use an alternate route,” police said.

Read more on FFXnow…

Kids play with toy cars on a carpet with a road design (via Bethlehem Baptist Church/Unsplash)

Virginia has implemented new guidelines to establish a unified rating and improvement system to assess the commonwealth’s publicly funded early childhood care providers.

Approximately 75% of child care programs that received public funding previously did not participate in the state’s voluntary quality measures, according to Del. David Bulova, D-Fairfax, who co-patroned 2020 legislation that led to all publicly funded providers being required to participate.

In the following year, a pilot system known as the Unified Virginia Quality Birth to Five system, or VQB5, was created to improve children’s school readiness and expand access to parents and support providers. Advocates say the new system is a critical tool for the state, providers and families to gauge the effectiveness of Virginia’s early childhood education programs.

“It is always important to have the data to show where young children are so that we can make the right investments moving forward,” said Alison Gilbreath, senior director for policy and programs for Voices for Virginia’s Children. “We want all children in Virginia to be ready for kindergarten when they reach that age and we also need to know what communities are struggling the most and sometimes the data can really help us understand what is working well and what isn’t.”

Kathy Glazer, president of the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation, said in a statement that the organization has been supportive of the system’s developments and implementation throughout the commonwealth.

“By focusing on providing feedback to teachers regarding effective interactions with children and use of curricula that is aligned with Virginia’s early learning standards, VQB5 drives increased quality improvement across settings and classrooms,” Glazer said.

The new rating system

Last month, the Board of Education voted unanimously to adopt the system’s guidelines, which will apply to over 3,200 birth-to-five programs including child care centers, and Head Start and Early Head Start programs.

The move is in conjunction with ongoing state efforts to prepare children for school and secure affordable child care, with the well of federal funds drying up. Read More

CitySwing at Reston Town Center (staff photo by James Jarvis)

Reston golfers can now hone their swing in a temperature-controlled, indoor environment.

CitySwing opened an indoor golf studio in Reston Town Center on Wednesday (May 8), filling a space at 11897 Market Street that Williams-Sonoma vacated more than five years ago. During its soft launch, the studio is operating from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

Patrons can now reserve times online for lessons and simulator rentals, though walk-ins are also welcome. Food and drinks are expected to become available “in the next few weeks,” CitySwing told FFXnow.

An online menu suggests the facility will serve chicken wings, sandwiches, sliders, salads and various appetizers, including chicken nachos, flatbreads and rosemary fries. The drink list includes wine, beer, cocktails and seltzers.

The Reston location represents CitySwing’s first expansion since it launched a D.C. studio in 2018. Founder Tari Cash previously told FFXnow that she started the company to create a more inclusive space for golf after hearing about an incident where someone called the police on four Black women for “playing too slow.”

She said CitySwing was excited to expand its audience and “be in the center of the vibrant RTC community” with its new location, which has a direct entrance from the town center’s pavilion.

To celebrate its opening, CitySwing is offering a 20% discount on memberships for its Reston studio and all-access memberships, which give patrons access to both locations. The promotion will be in place until June 15, according to the company’s website.

Memberships start at $120 per month and come with lessons and simulator time. Simulator rentals start at $45 for a 30-minute session, while a 30-minute lesson with one of the studio’s instructors costs $75.

Read more on FFXnow…


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