Map of the impacted section of the Dulles Airport Access Highway (via MWAA)

Approximately seven miles of the Dulles International Airport Access Highway going westbound will be closed this weekend (Sept. 11 and 12) for maintenance work on pedestrian bridges.

Starting just east of Reston at mile marker 8.3, traffic will be diverted to the left lane of the Dulles Toll Road. Drivers will be able to enter the airport access road again at mile marker 1.7, near the Route 28 toll plaza and right past the soon-to-be-opened Innovation Center Station.

Ramps at mile marker 9 and 3.3 for the westbound portion of the airport access highway will also be closed.

The closures will run from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day.

All work is weather-dependent, though weather does not appear it will be a factor this weekend.

This work is being done by contractor Capital Rail Constructors as part of its preparations for the opening of Silver Line Phase 2, a Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority official says.

A weekend was chosen to conduct the maintenance work in the hopes of minimizing the closure’s impact on traffic, the MWAA official notes.

Photo via MWAA

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Vacant property owned by Fairfax County by the Dulles Toll Road (via Google Maps)

Faced with challenges from providing affordable housing to mitigating flooding, Fairfax County has its hands full, but it’s currently armed with vacant property assessed at tens of millions of dollars.

Currently tax-exempt, the properties could be used for commercial development, environmental preservation, housing projects, recreation, or stormwater drainage, among other purposes.

“There is a critical shortage of affordable housing options in Fairfax County,” Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust said when asked about what the county should do with its vacant properties.

The total financial value of vacant, county-owned properties exceeds $50 million, as calculated based on a public records request and assessments in an online county database for over 100 parcels that could be used for commercial, residential, or other uses.

It wasn’t immediately clear if other restrictions, such as environmental issues, setbacks, and prior plans, limit the use of those properties.

The $50 million-plus figure includes at least $10 million in assessed property that was listed as vacant but nonbuildable, but it excludes properties in floodplains as well as parcels already in use, such as parking lots, parks, or school areas.

One of the largest vacant property acquisitions is across from the Fairfax County Government Center: a 2.6-acre property bordered by Legato Road and Post Forest Drive that cost around $50 million in 1994. It currently has an assessed value of around $11,450.

“One of the elements of the County’s Housing Strategic Plan is to utilize vacant parcels as well as to repurpose land, such as existing parking lots, to increase the supply of housing,” Foust noted by email.

Created in 2018, the Communitywide Housing Strategic Plan calls on Fairfax County to make vacant or underutilized, publicly owned land available for affordable and mixed-income housing “to expand housing options without direct public financial subsidy” through public-private partnerships.

Currently, the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority has three such properties that are slated to be developed through public-private partnerships:

The county’s more sizable vacant lots include five adjacent properties along South Van Dorn Street in Franconia that occupy around 3.7 acres located near Thomas A. Edison High School.

The county also has a 9.63-acre parcel near the Innovation Center Metro station that will eventually open in Herndon as part of the much-delayed Silver Line extension.

Foust says part of the property includes a community playing field, but its proximity to the Metro station could make it a candidate for future affordable housing.

“Placing affordable housing on the site could be a good use of the land,” he said. “If that came about, the playing field would need to be relocated.”

In McLean, the county has two properties in a residential neighborhood at 7135 and 7139 Old Dominion Drive that have been assessed at a combined $2.06 million. They are slated for a traffic improvement project at the intersection of Old Dominion and Balls Hill Road. The project is currently in the design phase.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said in a Washington Business Journal story about affordable housing that land is the county’s “single most useful tool.”

“Reallocation of Board-owned property can occur in a number of ways,” McKay said in a statement. “However it is often at the request of a County agency and is followed by an extensive review of the property. Within the last year, the Board was proud to authorize the transfer of two properties to the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority for the potential creation of affordable housing.”

Photo via Google Maps

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(Updated 12:20 p.m.) A new restaurant and day spa are opening nearby the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station around the holiday season.

Eve’s Garden Lounge & Bar and Emiline’s Day Spa are opening next to each other at the new Faraday Park development at 1831 Michael Faraday Drive, about a 10-minute walk from the Metro station. Both businesses are from the same ownership group, which also own Alo Vietnam in Herndon.

The businesses will open sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, co-owner Don Lee confirmed to Reston Now. They will occupy two 1,746 square-foot spaces — about 3,600 square feet in total — and operate next to each other.

“We were supposed to have construction late last year, but that was delayed because of COVID. So, we just started construction,” Lee said in June.

The day spa will offer services for both men and women like pedicures, facial treatments, hair salon, and massages.

The restaurant has yet to reveal its menu, but Lee says it will be similar to Herndon’s Alo Vietnam, which offers modernized Vietnamese fare like pho, banh mi, and rice vermicelli. The difference, Lee says, is that Eva’s will be “more Asian fusion and focus more on presentation and will be higher end.”

Lee told Reston Now in June that the ownership group’s ultimate goal is to have a business located within walking distance of all the Silver Line stations, extending out to Dulles Airport.

Alo Vietnam opened within a five-minute walk of the future Innovation Center Metro station in late 2019 in anticipation of Silver Line Phase 2’s opening. Of course, the line has yet to open, leaving businesses like Alo Vietnam in the lurch.

Lee hoped that, by being near a Metro station, the business would be buoyed by commuters, office workers, and tourists.

“We did invest in 2019…thinking that we will carry the load the first year until the Metro opens,” Lee said in June. “Then, we will have a good location with a lot of foot traffic with tourists and from all the businesses around.”

But between the long-delayed $2.8 billion public transportation project and the pandemic, that dream has yet to be realized for Lee and Alo Vietnam. Now, Silver Line Phase 2 is looking like it may not open until mid-2022.

When Eva’s Garden Lounge & Bar and Emiline’s Day Spa opens in Reston by the end of the year, they will be the first of Lee’s businesses to be open near a currently operating Metro station.

The businesses are two of four confirmed retailers coming to Faraday Park, which opened one residential tower for move-ins in April with a second tower expected to be completed in the next few months. The gym F45 and the salon A+ Nails are the others.

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Paul Olsen opened a second location of Weird Brothers Coffee at Worldgate Metro Plaza in October 2019.

The shopping center on Worldgate Drive was specifically marketed and named in anticipation of the Herndon Metro Station opening less than a quarter of a mile away as part of the Silver Line’s second phase.

Two years later, the Herndon station and the other Silver Line Phase II stops still won’t be operational for at least another eight months.

“At the time, we weren’t even considering expansion,” Olsen tells Reston Now. “We saw the Metro and…figured this is a great situation. But, then, obviously things changed. COVID hit a few months later. Then, we saw more Metro line delays.”

Weird Brothers Coffee on Worldgate Boulevard in Herndon (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Olsen’s situation isn’t unique. Many businesses specifically set up shop near a future Silver Line Phase II Metro station thinking it would provide a boost, only for Metro’s opening to be continuously delayed.

“We initially thought that the Metro would open, at the latest, early 2020,” said Don Lee, co-owner of Alo Vietnam Restaurant in Herndon.

The restaurant is about a five-minute walk from the not-yet-opened Innovation Center Metro station. Alo Vietnam is also expected to start a location in Reston at Faraday Park.

“We did invest in 2019…thinking that we will carry the load the first year until the Metro opens,” Lee said. “Then, we will have a good location with a lot of foot traffic with tourists and from all the businesses around.”

Seven years ago this July, the most expensive transportation project in the D.C. region’s history began operations. The opening of the Silver Line and its five new stops brought Metro into Tysons and up to the Wiehle-Reston East station.

However, the intention was always to extend the transit system further into D.C.’s growing Northern Virginia suburbs. Construction on five additional stations, including one at Reston Town Center and two in Herndon, began even before Phase I opened and originally had a completion date of 2018.

However, issues proliferated, from design changes and defective panels to flawed rail ties and bad concrete. Soon, the opening got pushed to early 2020, but the problems kept coming and coming. Read More

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A new neighborhood is coming to Herndon this summer.

Reston-based homebuilder Stanley Martin will open the Liberty Park neighborhood in Herndon in July. It will feature 155 two-over-two condo and townhome options.

The townhomes will start in the $700,000 range, while condos start in the mid-$500,000 range. The housing will include options for two to four bedrooms, two to four baths, and up to 2,700 square feet of space.

Both townhomes and condos will have private garages, balconies, and rooftop terraces.

Neighborhood features include garden parks, playgrounds, electric vehicle charging stations, and dog stations. The site also has active recreation areas that include a playing field and basketball court.

MRP Realty originally acquired the property at 13605 Dulles Technology Drive in 2016 as a part of a reported $97 million purchase from Liberty Property Trust, according to the Washington Business Journal.

The purchased Liberty Park portfolio encompassed the entire 32-acre business park with eight buildings and 532,041 square feet, according to MRP Realty’s website.

MPR Realty says that it plans to bring “Class A amenities” to the buildings at Liberty Park, including a “community tenant lounge and conference facility, a fitness center, and outdoor experiences to set them apart from other properties in the market.”

The new residential neighborhood is part of a larger effort by MPR Realty to transform the Liberty Park office complex into a mixed-use development to take advantage of the area’s proximity to the upcoming Innovation Center Metro station.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission approved the developer’s application to rezone the site for mixed-use development on Nov. 8, 2018. According to a final development plan published in March 2019, MPR Realty ultimately hopes to bring up to 530 residential units and up to 6,000 square feet of retail space to Liberty Park.

Image via Fairfax County

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Eight Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Service infrastructure projects have received awards from the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the American Public Works Association.

Five of those projects were named “project of the year” in their respective categories, including the renovations done at the Reston Community Center Aquatics Facility and the Innovation Center Metro Station parking garage in Herndon.

Three other projects were named as “honorable mentions.”

DPWES received more accolades from APWA than any other municipality in the Mid-Atlantic Chapter.

“Having Mid-Atlantic APWA recognize the work of DPWES and our partners with these awards acknowledges the excellence in the building and enhancement of the county’s infrastructure,” said DPWES Assistant Director Juan Reyes.

Renovations at RCC’s Aquatic Facility (Terry L. Smith Aquatics Center) were completed early last year. They included the installation of a new lap pool, warm water pool, zero entry pool with water features, mosaic artwork, updating ADA accessibility, and a new roof.

In total, the project cost about $5 million.

The work earned the department an award for “project of the year” for structures costing between $5 million and $25 million.

The parking garage at the Innovation Center Metro Station was also completed in the first quarter of 2020 and was a more expensive project.

Costing $52 million, the eight-level, 2,100 space parking garage was built with the intention of serving the Innovation Center Metro Station in Herndon. That station is part of Silver Line Phase 2 which is not yet operating due to delays.

The project actually came about 10% under budget despite the garage having problems with it “sinking” back in 2018.

It won “project of the year” for structures costing between $25 to $75 million.

Other Fairfax County projects to win awards include Scott’s Run Trail in McLean, a sewer emergency construction project at Backlick Run in Springfield, and Tertiary filter rehabilitation project at the pollution control plant in Lorton.

Photo courtesy of Fairfax County

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Work on a new walkway for Innovation Center Metro Station to Dulles Green Boulevard has been completed.

Roughly 270 linear feet of sidewalk were installed at the site, including a handrail and a two-curb ramp.

The project connects with the existing sidewalk from the new Metro station. A community review process was jumpstarted in 2017 by the Fairfax County Department of Transportation.

Work on ensuring other Silver Line Metro Station continues to support pedestrian walkability is also underway.

Recently, Fairfax County completed the construction of a 10-foot wide concrete walkway along Dolley Madison Boulevard in Tysons. The project added 2,400 feet of liner walkway and allows for a safer connection between downtown McLean and area Metro stations.

Photo via FCDOT

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Virginia has sold off the Center for Innovative Technology office building in Herndon, Gov. Ralph Northam announced today.

The 149,000-square-foot office building that’s located on a 26-acre parcel near the Washington Dulles International Airport and the future Innovation Center Metro Station was sold for $47.4 million to Origami Capital Partners and Timberline Real Estate Partners.

The sale will help fund the Virginia Innovation Partnership Authority, a new entity for “innovation ad new technology-based economic development,” according to a release. Funds will be allocated directly to the Virginia Research Investment Fund.

The building housed the nonprofit Center for Innovative Technology, Northern Virginia Technology Council and other private technology firms.

Here’s more from the release:

“This event represents a significant milestone toward the goal of delivering to Northern Virginia a development that will entice and excite major corporate tenants,” said Jeff Young, Managing Partner of Origami. “We know companies will embrace the project and resolve to focus on delivering a development to the residents of Northern Virginia they will celebrate. We look forward to our ongoing partnership with the commonwealth, Loudoun and Fairfax counties.”

The General Assembly declared the property surplus in 2016 and directed DGS, which manages Virginia’s real estate portfolio, to dispose of it. DGS and its contracted real estate broker, Divaris Real Estate, marketed the property and received 13 proposals from 12 offerors in its initial solicitation. In October 2019, a Call for Best and Final Offers resulted in 12 proposals from 10 potential purchasers. DGS began discussions with the chosen purchaser in November.

“The sale of this property in an area of Virginia where property development continues at a robust pace provided the Commonwealth an opportunity to receive the most favorable outcome from an open competitive sale process,” said DGS Director Joe Damico. “DGS worked collaboratively with many stakeholders, including the localities where the property resides, the Office of the Attorney General, building tenants, and the new owners to complete the successful surplus property sale that will further the Commonwealth’s economic development goals.”

Photo via Facebook/CIT

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More delays are expected before the 11-mile extension of the Silver Line, which includes stations in Reston Town Center, Herndon, and Innovation Center.

According to a report by NBC 4, officials say its possible trails will not be rolling until 2021.

Service was expected to begin over the summer, but due to delays with electronic testing and deficiencies in concrete panels and other structural components, opening day was pushed to December 2020.

Metro has not yet indicated when it plans to accept the project from the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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The garage at Innovation Center Metro Station is nearly complete.

The $52 million project is almost entirely built-out. Crews must now install elevators, finish installing utilities and complete the final concrete work outside the garage.

Metro officials said the project required $5 million less than what was originally allocated.

Construction on the 11-mile extension of the Silver Line is also nearly complete, but concerns about deficiencies in the concrete panels and concrete ties have stalled the project.

Currently, site inspections and safety testing are ongoing. Previously approved shutdowns for the Wiehle-Reston East Station on weekends were canceled due to pending system integration work.

Metro does not plan to accept the rail project the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority until both the rail yard and mainline tracks are complete. The start of service is expected to begin by October this year.

Photos via handout/Fairfax County Government

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The new silver line metro expansion is expected to be completed around September — instead of its July 2020 goal.

Testing is already underway for the new trains, and Fairfax County reported earlier this month that the project is about 97% complete, but several structural issues hinder project completion, according to WTOP.

The concerns revolve around cracks in concrete outside the station, deterioration of panels framing the station and uneven tracks where trains cross one another, WTOP reported in November.

“The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and its contractors who are building the rail line are confident the concrete panel issues have been addressed with protective sealant, which will be reapplied approximately once every 10 years,” according to WTOP.

Now, final construction continues around Reston and Herndon.

The Innovation Center Station garage is 92% complete, $5 million under budget and is expected to be completed in February, according to Fairfax County’s Department of Transportation (FCDOT).

For the Innovation Center Station itself, FCDOT staff told the Board of Supervisors earlier this week that crews were working on fixing communication systems and placing art in the north pavilion.

At the Reston Town Center Station, crews were installing speakers in the ceiling and working on stormwater management.

Photo via Fairfax County

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Metro plans to sell naming rights for the Innovation Center Metro Station in Herndon, which is part of the extension to the Silver Line into Loudoun County.

The organization’s board will vote on Thursday to allow a Fortune Global 500 Company to sponsor and rename the Innovation Center Metro Station, according to meeting materials.

“A unique and time-sensitive opportunity has arisen where a Fortune Global 500 Company, currently in negotiations to lease headquarters adjacent to the new Innovation Center Metro station has expressed interest in being the corporate sponsor for this new station,” the Metro documents said.

Innovation Center is east of Virginia Route 28 near Sunrise Valley Drive and Innovation Avenue.

The move is part of the organization’s attempt to offset revenue lost from ridership declines.

Selling naming rights would be part of a one-time deal. WTOP’s Max Smith reports that a change to explicitly allow other deals is likely in the next few months.

File photo

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