Makers Union in Reston Town Center will feature a special holiday bar (courtesy Thompson Hospitality)

Makers Union, a restaurant and pub based in Reston Town Center, is welcoming the holidays with a twist to their traditional offerings.

The Blitzen Bar opens today (Friday) and will continue through Dec. 25. A playlist with holiday tunes ranging from classics to Snoop Dogg will be featured at the bar.

Makers Union is offering 12 crafted cocktails as part of the festive pop-up. Customers can order a “naughty or nice” cocktail, and a team of elves will offer them an envelope sealing their fate as naughty or nice.

“It wouldn’t be the holidays without a holly jolly cocktail, and lucky for you Makers Union is offering twelve crafted cocktails full of holiday cheer,” a spokesperson for Makers Union told FFXnow.

The bar kicks off tonight with holiday karaoke from 9 p.m. to midnight.

Thompson Hospitality, the Reston-based restaurant group behind Makers Union, will also kick off at the location in The Wharf on tomorrow (Saturday). Other restaurants in the group include Hen Quarter, Milk & Honey, and The Delegate.

Cocktails include white Christmas, sugar cookie martini, apple crisp martini, and mistletoe fizz.

Makers Union is located at 1811 Library Street. It’s open from 11 a.m. to midnight on Fridays, though hours vary on other days of the week.

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The Foster Glen townhomes in Oak Hill are the only development in Fairfax County currently selling workforce dwelling units at 120% AMI (via Google Maps)

In the future, people who earn more than Fairfax County’s median income will likely no longer be able to buy workforce housing.

A task force recommended to the Board of Supervisors housing committee on Tuesday (Nov. 28) that the top income bracket be dropped from the Workforce Dwelling Unit (WDU) Homebuyer Program, which currently provides price-controlled townhouses and condominiums to people who make 80% to 120% of the area median income (AMI).

Building on a revision of the county’s rental WDU program in 2021, the task force proposed dropping the 120% AMI tier and adding 70% AMI households — which are already offered at some properties — as part of a general policy overhaul intended to make the homebuyer program more efficient and effective.

“The recommendation that came out of the task force was really to reset the program and shift everything down by a third,” Anna Shapiro, the county’s deputy director of real estate finance and development, said. “…It was recognized that there is a financial impact to resetting the program, but it would be balanced by the predictability of having the policy reset in a way that developers understood going into the program what they’d be required to do.”

Initiated by the Board of Supervisors in February, the 13-person WDU For-Sale Policy Task Force included county staff, residential developers, affordable housing advocates and other industry experts. With help from the consultant HR&A Advisors, it met from April to October to evaluate the existing program, research best practices and develop recommendations for improvements.

Right now, the county grants residential developers bonus density if they designate at least 12% of all units as affordable or workforce housing, except in Tysons, which has higher requirements. For WDUs, the countywide policy requires that 4% of the total units target each of the 80%, 100% and 120% AMI tiers.

According to Shapiro, the 120% AMI WDUs are more difficult to sell, staying on the market for 419 days on average — almost twice as long as even the 100% units, which average 235 days. In comparison, units at 70% and 80% AMI sell in around 74 and 104 days, respectively.

In general, the county’s supply of for-sale WDUs is limited, but of the 12 units for 120% AMI that have been produced, 42% remain unsold. The lack of demand reflects stronger competition from market-rate housing, Shapiro explained, noting that 46% of the homes sold in the county since 2020 are affordable to those in the 100-120% AMI range.

There’s a gap between what the county’s for-sale WDU policy requires and what developers are actually building (via Fairfax County)

With developers shouldering the cost of any unsold units, they have shifted toward units aimed at lower income levels during proffer negotiations, where the county can set conditions for a project’s approval.

“There is a huge demand that we see for units below 80% AMI, so we really wanted to see how we can serve that population better,” Shapiro said.

In addition to adjusting the AMI range, the task force recommends requiring that the number of WDUs with three or more bedrooms be proportional to the number of similarly sized market-rate units.

“If you then produce a lot of two and three-bedroom market rate units but then a lot of your WDUs are one-bedroom or studio, it’s really an equity issue as well as a marketability issue for the property,” Shapiro told the committee.

The task force also proposed expanding the WDU for-sale policy to all sites zoned or planned for medium or high-density residential development, defined as eight or more dwelling units per acre.

According to county staff, the expansion would create relatively limited but still valuable opportunities for workforce housing, particularly in the central and southeastern parts of the county. Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay asked for an estimate of how many units could potentially be added.

“Just to expand it to expand it without any idea of what we’re actually talking about concerns me a little bit,” he said.

The For-Sale WDU Policy Task Force recommends expanding the program to all sites zoned or planned for at least eight residential units per acre (via Fairfax County)

Other recommendations are more focused on administrative changes, including tweaks to how the county calculates both initial and resale pricing for WDUs.

While the board generally seemed impressed by the task force’s work, some supervisors questioned whether the 100% AMI tier should also be eliminated to encourage more units at lower incomes, possibly even down to 60% AMI.

“If that number is reduced, we can serve even more people,” Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck said. “The core of what I think the county’s responsibility is [should be] to support folks at the lower income level first and help those folks build that generational wealth.”

Shapiro noted that 60% AMI households can utilize the county’s Affordable Dwelling Unit (ADU) rental program, which has two tiers for households earning up to 50% and 70% AMI.

Even though the county’s AMI has climbed to $152,100 for a family of four, residents at that income level or lower could only afford 28% of the homes sold between 2020 and 2023, according to sales data collected by HR&A Advisors.

“That’s a lot of people,” Fairfax County At-Large Planning Commissioner Candice Bennett, who chaired the task force, said. “…This is actually, oddly enough, the ‘missing middle.’ So, think about the three out of four people that we are not able to serve because the market is so astronomically high.”

The Board of Supervisors is expected to endorse the task force’s recommendations, potentially as soon as its meeting next Tuesday (Dec. 5). From there, the board will direct county staff to draft a comprehensive plan amendment revising the WDU for-sale policy.

Image via Google Maps

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The restaurant Indochen is slated to open in Reston Town Center next spring (courtesy Indochen)

A restaurant that fuses flavors from a different continent is coming soon to Reston Town Center.

Indochen, a restaurant based in Alexandria City, is planning to open its third location at 1800 President Street this coming spring, a company representative told FFXnow.

Run by chef Ram Thapa, the restaurant currently operates two locations in Alexandria’s Cameron Station and Old Town.

A native of Nepal, Thapa discovered a passion for cooking while helping his grandmother in her kitchen, where he became particularly enamored by Indian and Chinese cuisine, per Indochen’s website. Before starting Indochen, he served as executive chef at McLean’s Masala Indian Cuisine and opened Urban Tandoor, an Indian and Nepali restaurant in Ballston.

Indochen’s menu features traditional Indian dishes like butter chicken and biryani, along with chow mein, vegetable manchurian and chop suey.

All dishes are accompanied by a sharing spoon in an effort to encourage “sharing and a communal atmosphere,” according to the restaurant’s website.

It’s unclear whether the Reston location will be exactly the same as the Alexandria ones. A permit application for the restaurant’s construction was submitted to Fairfax County earlier this month under the name “The Himalayan Restaurant by Indochen.”

Indochen declined to comment on the branding, stating it doesn’t have any more information to share at the moment.

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Morning Notes

Behind the Rotunda Condominiums in Tysons (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Low Interest in Virginia’s Medical Cannabis Program — “A new study that takes a close look at Virginia’s medical marijuana program showed that many marijuana users are simply ignoring the program and finding the drug elsewhere…The average price per gram for marijuana flower in Virginia is around $14, the study found,” which is more expensive than both D.C. and Maryland. [WTOP]

Fair Oaks Mall Owners Miss Loan Deadline — “The owners of Fair Oaks Mall in Fairfax — the region’s second-largest shopping center — have missed an extended payoff deadline on distressed loans totaling about $239 million…Notes to bondholders indicate negotiations and efforts to stabilize the property are underway, but they also note that foreclosure proceedings could be on the table as early as February.” [Washington Business Journal]

Great Falls Residents Challenge Mental Health Group Home — “A Great Falls group home has drawn the ire of neighbors who say the facility offers services exceeding those approved by the Fairfax County government and lets its charges wander around the vicinity.” After Mission for Michael officials didn’t testify on Nov. 15, the county’s Board of Zoning Appeals “set a new public hearing for Jan. 31 next year, but demanded a representative of the group home be present.” [Gazette Leader]

Annandale Getting Another Hot Chicken Restaurant — “Crimson Coward Nashville Hot Chicken is coming to the vacant storefront at 7004 Columbia Pike in the Annandale Shopping Center between Collector’s World and Sweet Frog…The chicken is prepared with a ‘crimson rub’ consisting of dozens of spices. There are five levels of heat.” [Annandale Today]

Renovated Hotel Near Fort Belvoir Celebrates Reopening — “The Hampton Inn & Suites Fort Belvoir Alexandria South, which broke ground along the Richmond Highway Corridor 15 years ago and opened in 2009, held a grand reopening celebration Nov. 29 after a complete interior and exterior renovation earlier this year.” [On the MoVe]

Santa Events Coming to County Parks — “Enjoy the spirit of the holidays with Santa at Fairfax County Parks beginning this weekend.” The “jolly old elf” will appear at Sully Historic Site tomorrow (Saturday), Frying Pan Farm Park on Fridays and Saturdays throughout the month, and at Burke Lake on Saturdays and Sundays. [Fairfax County Park Authority]

Santa Fire Truck Rides Start in McLean — Continuing a decades-long tradition, the McLean Volunteer Fire Department will transform its antique fire truck into a sleigh for Santa, who will hand out free candy canes throughout McLean. The sleigh will visit different neighborhoods, starting at 5 p.m., from Dec. 2-6 and can be tracked in real time on the department’s website. [McLean VFD/Facebook]

Swearing-In Ceremony Planned for County Officials — “The Board of Supervisors invites you to the Inauguration Ceremony for Fairfax County’s 15th Urban County Board of Supervisors, Fairfax County’s Constitutional Officers, and Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District Directors. Reception begins at 5 p.m. Ceremony begins at 6 p.m.” on Dec. 13. [Fairfax County Government]

It’s Friday — There’s an 80% chance of rain, mainly after 2pm, with a high near 51 and south winds of 5-13 mph, gusting up to 18 mph. Friday night, rain is likely before 7pm, followed by cloudiness and a low of 46. []

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Algae blooms at Lake Thoreau and Lake Audubon, seen in mid-November, appear to have resolved (via Reston Association/Twitter)

With a new month on the horizon, algae blooms at three lakes in Reston appear to be turning a leaf.

Warnings to avoid making contact with Lake Anne and Lake Audubon have been lifted after an algae bloom took over some parts of the lakes since mid-November.

A spokesperson for Reston Association, which manages the lakes, told FFXnow the decision was made after evidence of algae was no longer present.

Out of an abundance of caution, however, a warning for Lake Thoreau remains in place, according to Reston Association.

Blooms of algae emerged in Thoreau and Audubon early this fall and lingered as a result of the season’s warm weather, according to RA. Another bloom was spotted in Lake Anne on Nov. 16.

At that time, RA urged residents to avoid contact with the water, though the risk of incidental exposure risk is low during this time of the year.

Staff decided against treating the bloom, which would have disrupted oxygen levels in the lake, potentially harming fish and other wildlife.

Photo via RA/Twitter

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The Fairfax County Government Center (file photo)

Anticipating slow growth in the real estate tax base and only a modest increase in general fund revenues, local officials are preparing for a slim budget in the next fiscal year.

At a joint meeting on Tuesday (Nov. 28), the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and the school board got an early forecast of projected revenues, expenditures and general priorities for the county government and public school system’s fiscal year 2025 budgets.

Christina Jackson, the county’s chief financial officer, emphasized that the forecast is an early estimate of the budget.

“We recognize that this was going to be a challenging year,” said Jackson.

County officials anticipate a combined net budgetary shortfall of $284.5 million.

Based on last month’s projections, non-residential tax revenue is expected to grow by 1.9% from the current fiscal year 2024 rate of 3.6%. In fiscal year 2023, non-residential tax revenue stood at 7.3%.

That’s coupled with substantially lower growth in the real estate tax base for next year — a mere 1.7% compared to 6.6% in the current fiscal year. The residential real estate market has softened as a result of high mortgage rates, but values are still expected to increase by 2.1% due to low supply, county staff said.

Funding conversations continue in the background of a study that found Virginia’s school divisions receive 14% less funding from the state than the average for all 50 states.

Calling the state’s underfunding “a generational wrong,” McKay said the report by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) is a critical opportunity to shift the statewide conversation about the state’s funding formulas.

“This study can either collect dust and be ignored, or this study can be acted on and Virginia can get ahead of West Virginia and Kentucky, which frankly should embarrass everyone who lives in Virginia,” McKay said.

Ricardy Anderson, who represents Mason District on the school board and chairs the board’s budget committee, highlighted the space constraints that Fairfax County Public Schools already faces.

“We cannot trailer our way out of this issue, because the schools are growing,” she said, noting that at one school, the entire fifth grade is housed in trailers.

She suggested that the county restart a conversation about adopting a meals tax in order to generate revenue. County voters rejected a referendum in 2016, but the General Assembly approved a bill in 2020 that gave counties the authority to tax food and beverages without a referendum.

Further clouding the less-than-rosy forecast for the county, Metro has projected a deficit of $750 million in fiscal year 2025. Possible efforts for short-term relief include fare increases, service reductions and preventative maintenance transfers. Metro’s general manager is expected to release the draft budget this month.

This year’s budget includes an additional $37.5 million to support collective bargaining with the police and $23.7 million for the fire and emergency services bargaining unit. Overall, the county is planning to increase its employee salary and benefits funding by roughly $180.5 million.

To prepare for the shortfall, all county agencies were asked to slim down their proposed budgets by 7% — resulting in roughly $20 million savings.

Priorities that the county doesn’t expect to fund include information technology initiatives, infrastructure upgrades and renewals, and increased investments for affordable housing and environmental and energy programs. On the schools side, affected needs include an expansion of middle school athletics and a special education enhancement plan.

Franconia District Supervisor Rodney Lusk said the county must look into ways to shore up revenues in the future.

“We’ve definitely got to be thinking about how we do things a little differently,” Lusk said. He also asked the school system to explore ways to remove the cost of reduced lunches for students and a fine arts stipend review.

FCPS Superintendent Michelle Reid said the school system is actively looking for ways to address food insecurity.

Braddock District Supervisor James Walkinshaw said that if the county wants to raise user fees — a possibility floated in the budget forecast — it should consider establishing a “regular cadence” to increases in fees.

“If it is ad hoc, it could create the impression that when we need revenue, we jack them up,” Walkinshaw said.

Reid will release her proposed budget for FCPS on Jan. 25. County Executive Bryan Hill will then present the county’s advertised budget on Feb. 20. After several months of deliberation, the Board of Supervisors adopts the budget on May 7 and school board adopts the budget on May 23.

The budget year begins on July 1.

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Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department (file photo)

The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department is working on ways to improve service by reorganizing units and tackling recruitment and staffing challenges.

The changes were discussed at a Fairfax County Board of Supervisors’ safety and security committee meeting on Tuesday (Nov. 28).

The FCFRD is focused on using data to inform changes to operations, guiding how and when medics are converted to ambulances and where units are located, department officials told the committee.

According to a presentation delivered by Fairfax County Fire Chief John Butler and Operations Chief Dan Shaw, the department reorganized and reassessed its emergency medical services delivery between 2021 and 2022.

In January 2022, eight advanced life support units were converted to basic life support units. The following month, four more advanced life support units were converted.

The FCFRD has also studied ways to improve its EMS dispatch protocol and overall service delivery and deployment. In September, for example, the department implemented a new emergency medical protocol to ensure needs are properly understood as resources are dispatched to handle emergencies.

In January, the department plans to convert another eight advance life support units to basic life support. A paramedic will remain at each fire station.

The department also plans to introduce a new EMS specialist position that can offer a higher skill set and bring more advanced intervention and equipment to the incident. Shaw said the position is a big moment for the fire department.

“This allows the opportunity to employ a paramedic and deliver a higher level of service,” Shaw said.

Still, a national shortage of paramedics is a challenge due to a notable decrease in people pursuing public safety professions overall, officials said. To maintain its minimum staffing of 363 personnel, the FCFRD relies heavily on mandatory overtime.

The department has around 100 vacancies, according to FCFRD spokesperson Ashley Hildebrandt.

“While we are not immune to the recruitment challenges being experienced nationwide throughout the fire service, our department has worked, and continues to work, diligently to increase recruitment efforts to ensure the residents of Fairfax County continue to receive the high quality services the department is known for,” Hildebrandt said.

Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity said he continues to be concerned by the drop in the number of paramedics.

“Fairfax County needs to do better than the national trend and the national average,” he said.

The fire and rescue department is currently in the midst of analyzing its staffing model and hours of overtime recorded by personnel.

At the meeting, Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay countered Herrity’s assertion that the county needs to step up its efforts to address staffing challenges by stressing that the county and its public safety agencies are investing time and resources to tackle the issue.

“It is disgraceful to the people who are killing themselves recruiting people,” McKay said, adding that he’s “tired of this nonsense.”

McKay said repeating incorrect statistics about the number of vacancies — particularly in the police department — works against the county’s goal of recruiting more people and establishing the progress that has been made.

After reporting 206 vacancies in early April, the Fairfax County Police Department welcomed over 100 new trainees across two academy classes this year. A cohort of 56 recruits this spring was trumpeted as the FCPD Academy’s largest class in almost 10 years, and it was followed in the summer by an even bigger session with 59 people.

According to McKay, the FCPD’s vacancy rate is now closer to 127 positions.

The county’s Department of Public Safety Communications, which operates the 911 center, has also chipped away at its vacancies to the point where the department anticipated reducing required overtime this fall.

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Paris Baguette has officially opened its first location in Herndon.

Located in Arrowbrook Centre at 2324 Silver Arrow Way, the French-inspired bakery serves pastries, croissants, sandwiches, cakes and coffee.

The franchise location is owned by Alma Siddiqui, a local construction estimator, who dreamed of owning her own bakery since childhood.

Siddiqui says that her passion for architecture and design are interconnected with her love for baking.

“When I stumbled upon Paris Baguette, I immediately fell in love with the quality and variety of its products and knew I wanted to bring it to my local community,” Siddiqui said. “With a strong global reputation for high-end bakery café, Paris Baguette had a business model that would offer us great support throughout the process.”

She called Herndon the “perfect place” for Paris Baguette.

“With continued growth of Herndon’s population, there will be an increase in businesses opening as well. I hope both residents and visitors will make it a point to visit Paris Baguette Herndon,” she said.

Siddiqui said she hopes the company will expand to other locations throughout the region. Started in South Korea in 1988, Paris Baguette can now be found around the world, including in Tysons, Fairfax, and Centreville. The company’s U.S. operations, which are based in New Jersey, are expected to reach 200 stores by the end of this year.

An official grand opening is slated for tomorrow (Friday). The bakery is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Sunday.

Read more on FFXnow…

Morning Notes

The Mosaic District has put out a star-shaped sculpture and other holiday decor (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Wells Fargo Office Building in Annandale Eyed for Housing — Nicholas Development “is in early discussions with Fairfax County planning staff about a residential conversion for 7620 Little River Turnpike, says Senior Vice President Timothy Sachs. The six-story building is vacant except for a Wells Fargo bank branch on the ground floor.” [Annandale Today]

Reston Robotics Team Heads to National Championships — “Students from Reston’s Ideaventions Academy for Mathematics and Science are traveling to Arlington, Texas on Thursday to compete in the Bell Advanced Vertical Robotics national championships. This is the second year in a row that the school’s robotics team has made it to the nationals.” [Patch]

Lorton Water-Cleaning Plant Opens for Tours — “For anyone who’s ever wondered what happens to our water after we’ve used it, you can find out on Saturday. From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on December 2 there will be an open house at the Noman Cole Pollution Control Plant…Visitors will learn how water is cleaned after it goes down the drain in homes and businesses, or even down sewers on County streets.” [DPWES]

Tex-Mex Grill Expanding to Hybla Valley — “El Fresco Tex-Mex Grill, whose first restaurant was opened by Iranian immigrant Steve Ganji in Chantilly, Virginia, in 2008, has turned to franchising for expansion, with a franchise-owned El Fresco opening in Alexandria next month.” The new restaurant will be at 7324 Richmond Highway. [WTOP]

Tysons Rental Rates Dip From Previous Month — “November apartment-seekers in Tysons ended up paying a little less than those on the hunt a month before, but more than those who were seeking leases a year ago. The median one-bedroom rent of $2,024 and median two-bedroom rent of $2,420 added up to a decrease of 1.1 percent month-over-month but an increase of 0.7 percent year-over-year.” [Gazette Leader]

Educational Center Now Open at Chantilly Park — “The Fairfax County Park Authority celebrated the completion of the new Woodlands Stewardship Education Center with a ribbon cutting on Saturday, Nov. 18. Designed to wow adults and children alike, this interpretive facility demonstrates principles of environmental stewardship that make a world of difference in the way we interact with and affect our natural environment.” [FCPA]

Oakton Students Craft and Launch Rocket — “Students at Oakton High School in Fairfax County, Virginia, have reached soaring heights through a student rocketry program, launching a high-powered rocket 34,195 feet into the sky…The team launched the rocket in September at a rocketry event in Kansas that included rocketeers from around the country.” [WTOP]

Holiday Artisan Market Set for Vienna Return — Dozens of local vendors will sell handmade gifts, food and art at the Town of Vienna’s Holiday Open Air Artisan Market on Sunday, Dec. 3. The market will be in the Vienna Arts Center’s parking lot at 243 Church Street NW from noon to 4 p.m. [Vienna Business Association]

It’s Thursday — The weather will be mostly sunny with temperatures reaching a high of 53, accompanied by a south wind at 5 to 9 mph. As the night progresses, expect partly cloudy skies and a low of around 37, with a southwest wind blowing at 6 to 10 mph. []

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Fairfax Connector has unveiled three holiday bus wraps, including one featuring cookies (courtesy Fairfax County Department of Transportation)

Fairfax Connector will pull into the Fairfax County Government Center soon for its first-ever Winterfest.

Space is quickly disappearing for the public bus system’s holiday event, which will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 9 in parking lot B of the government center (12000 Government Center Parkway).

Featuring three holiday-themed buses, free food and other treats, Winterfest is free to attend, but a general admission ticket is required for entry. As of this afternoon (Wednesday), more than half of the 500 available slots had been taken, according to the sign-up page.

Separate tickets for a planned Santa Bus, where visitors can meet jolly St. Nick, sold out within hours of going online, a Fairfax County Department of Transportation spokesperson says. In response to the demand, a second bus where attendees can get a free cookie from Mrs. Claus has been added.

Access to the “Cookies with Mrs. Claus” bus is included with general admission.

Winterfest will also feature free hot chocolate and kettle corn, games, music, a “Letters to Santa” station, and Duck donuts and Grill Cheese food trucks. Fairfax Connector will hand out coupons for free rides and other “goodies” throughout the event, according to a news release.

Following in the tracks of Metro, which has decorated a train and buses to resemble gingerbread houses, Fairfax Connector’s holiday buses hit the road earlier this week. They’re wrapped in plaid Christmas tree, Santa gnome and cookie designs.

“These buses are sure to bring a smile to your face,” the news release said. “If you spot one, safely take a picture and share with us on Facebook or Twitter. Use the hashtag #HolidayBus or #FairfaxConnector.”

People who share a photo of the buses on social media will be entered into a drawing for a $50 SmarTrip card, which can be used for Connector buses as well as Metro, Fairfax CUE buses and other local transit systems. The winner will be announced the week of Jan. 1, 2024.

During Winterfest, the tree-decorated bus will serve as the Santa bus, while Mrs. Claus will be in the cookie bus. The gnome bus will host a Stuff-a-Bus donation drive.

“To support our community, Fairfax County Department of Transportation, Fairfax Connector & Transdev are collecting new, unwrapped toys and coats for children ages 5 to 10 years old,” FCDOT said in its news release. “…The toys and coats collected will be delivered to children at three Fairfax County public schools the week of December 11, 2023.”

In a separate charitable effort, today (Thursday) marks the last day of Fairfax County’s virtual Stuff the Bus campaign, which encourages community members to make monetary donations to local nonprofits that provide food assistance.

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Sculptor Kendall Buster is bringing the exhibitions “Seed” and “Solstice” to the Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art in Reston (courtesy Tephra ICA)

A solo exhibition by sculptor and microbiologist Kendall Buster will descend on Reston’s Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art on Dec. 9.

The exhibit, SEED, is presented in conjunction with Buster’s SOLSTICE, which will be on view at The Kreeger Museum in D.C. An opening reception and artist talk will be held at Tephra ICA (12001 Market Street, Suite 103) on Saturday, Dec. 9 from 6-8 p.m.

The exhibits will be on display through Feb. 25.

Both exhibits were curated by Tephra ICA Executive Director Jaynelle Hazard and belong to a series of three shows organized to mark the 50th anniversary of Tephra, a nonprofit previously known as the Greater Reston Arts Center.

In a press release, Tephra says the exhibits are fitting anniversary tributes because they emphasize “the significance of place while examining themes of life, future, and innovation.”

“We’re so pleased for this first-time partnership with The Kreeger Museum, through their guest artist program The Collaborative, to uplift and celebrate the work of D.C. art star Kendall Buster,” Hazard said in a statement. “Tephra ICA deeply values partnership and collaboration to help thoughtfully contextualize an artist’s work in the canon and it’s wonderful to work with institution that shares these values.”

Here’s more from Tephra on Buster’s work:

Trained as a microbiologist, Kendall Buster’s work suggests ideas of budding, merging, and hybridization, using abstract forms and high-tech materials to create objects that expand what we know of natural and made environments. Her practice examines the microscopic and the monumental, from works that allude to intimate, botanical illustrations to architectural drawings to life-size biomorphic vessels. With the gallery often assuming the role of a laboratory, Buster’s work interrogates the edges of free expression and posits new ways of thinking about what can and cannot be expressed.

SEED features a large-scale sculpture called “Radial Spin.” The exhibit — which was last on display in 1997 in Berlin, Germany — has accessible spaces and envelopes the viewer, intending to challenge viewers’ sense of perception.

SOLSTICE features “Model City (Constraint),” which uses “geometric abstraction” and modernist architecture to suggest an “unpopulated cityscape that seems filled with talking shadows.”

Buster received a bachelor’s degree from the Corcoran College of Art and Design in D.C. and a master’s in sculpture from Yale University. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including at American University’s Katzen Museum and the Kemper Museum in Kansas City.

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Fairfax County police car lights (file photo)

Gunshots were reportedly fired near Snakden Branch Trail in the Glade area of Reston shortly after midnight.

Police responded to the 2300 block of Middle Creek Lane around 12:22 a.m. after several callers reported hearing the sound of multiple gunshots in the area, according to scanner traffic on Open MHz.

A dispatcher told responding officers that at least one caller confirmed they saw a person firing the gun. An area resident said they saw “a muzzle flash about a hundred feet behind his house,” an officer reported at 12:28 a.m.

A spokesperson for the Fairfax County Police Department said evidence was recovered from the scene, but no injured persons were located.

“Detectives from our criminal investigation division are assuming the investigation,” FCPD wrote in a statement.

Read more on FFXnow…

Morning Notes

Reston Town Center’s Colonial parking garage is decorated with a mural at the intersection of Freedom and Fountain drives (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Dulles Airport in Record-Long Snowless Streak — “From southern Virginia to New York City, nearly two years have elapsed since the last time an inch or more of snow fell on a calendar day. In several locations, the snow drought is the longest on record. The lack of snow has occurred during abnormally warm winters and amid a trend toward declining amounts of snow — both probable consequences of human-caused climate change.” [Washington Post]

Attack on Rep. Connolly Staff Gets Court Hearing — “A Congressional staff member who was struck in the head with a baseball bat in May continues to undergo therapy for the aftereffects of the concussion she suffered in the attack at Rep. Gerry Connolly’s city of Fairfax district office, the staffer testified Monday.” [Patch]

Three Men Arrested for Stealing From Tysons Galleria Stores — “At approximately 4:45 p.m. [Monday], detectives received a call from loss prevention at Sak’s Fifth Avenue for suspects actively involved in credit card fraud…Through the investigation, detectives uncovered that the suspects successfully made purchases at Neiman Marcus for over $8,000 before attempting to use stolen credit cards at Sak’s Fifth Avenue.” [FCPD]

First Reston Winterfest Starts Tomorrow — “A new holiday tradition is about to begin in Northern Virginia. Check out the inaugural ‘Winterfest’ in Reston this Thursday through Saturday from 5 to 9 p.m. ‘This is a brand new event for Reston and we are really excited,’ Cara O’Donnell of the Reston Association told WTOP.” [WTOP]

Health Food Restaurant Opens Early in Hybla Valley — “The new honeygrow restaurant at Mount Vernon Plaza…opened its doors to the public Nov. 27 after a private ribbon-cutting ceremony with company management. Originally scheduled to open in early 2024, the restaurant got a jump start thanks to an accelerated construction timeline.” [On the MoVe]

McLean Book Store Plans Grand Opening — “Fonts Books & Gifts is holding a grand opening celebration on Dec. 2 at its location in Chesterbrook Plaza in McLean. The celebration begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday…The store’s website is open for online orders for in-store pickup only. Fonts plans to start shipping books in January.” [Patch]

County Library Adds Air Quality Monitors to Stock — Fairfax County Public Library launched a new service on Monday (Nov. 27), offering air quality monitors, battery testers and other meters and readers that can be used to measure everything from carbon monoxide levels to soil acidity. The free devices can be checked out for three-week periods from any branch. [FCPL]

Metro Rolls Out Gingerbread-Themed Train — “Tis the season for holiday joy! We come bearing gifts. Check out our wrapped train that entered service early. Don’t worry, there’s more where that came from! Metrobus up next, starting Dec. 1. Happy holidays!” [WMATA/Twitter]

It’s Wednesday — Expect sunshine and a high around 39 degrees, accompanied by a south wind blowing at 7 to 10 mph. The night will be mostly clear and cooler with a low temperature of 28 degrees, while the southwest wind continues at 6 to 10 mph. []

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Fire and rescue units and Washington Gas are on the scene of a gas leak in the 10600 block of Chamberlain Drive in Reston (via FCFRD/Twitter)

Nearly a mile of Hunter Mill Road in Reston has been closed in response to an outside gas leak in a residential neighborhood.

The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department says units responded around 4 p.m. to the gas leak in the 10600 block of Chamberlain Drive. Washington Gas is currently on the scene making repairs.

“There is currently a smell of gas permeating the area,” the fire department said in a tweet shortly before 7 p.m. “FCFRD units are monitoring the atmosphere to ensure no hazard exists.”

According to scanner traffic on Open MHz, Washington Gas has a 4-inch main gas line in the area.

The roadway has been shut down from Cobble Mill Road just outside the zoo Nova Wild (1228 Hunter Mill Road) to Mount Sunapee Road. Fairfax County police say an “extended” closure could be required, advising community members to “avoid the area.”

Read more on FFXnow…

The bank is slated to open at the Campus Commons development in Reston (via Google Maps)

A new bank is coming to Reston’s Campus Commons development.

Capital Bank appears to be opening a location at 1900 Campus Commons Drive in Suite 130, according to Fairfax County permits. The company did not return several requests for comment from FFXnow.

The bank has a handful of branches in the area, including in the District, Rockville, and Columbia. The bank also currently has a Reston location at 10700 Parkridge Blvd.

It’s unclear if the Campus Commons location will be new or a relocation of the bank on Parkridge Blvd.

Developer TF Cornerstone is behind Campus Commons, a two-building complex at the intersection of the Dulles Toll Road and Wiehle Avenue. A plan to transform the aging office park into a 1.3-million-square-foot, mixed-use development was approved by the county in 2019.

Image via Google Maps

Read more on FFXnow…


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