Fairfax County Board Approves Interim Uses for Key Tysons Site

In 2014, the Dittmar Company received rezoning approval for its 5.3 acre property at the corner of Leesburg Pike and Westpark Drive in the heart of Tysons, within an easy walk to the Greensboro Metro Station. Site of the Best Western Westpark Hotel, the land was rezoned to the Planned Tysons Corner (PTC) District and approved for a new hotel and two residential towers with up to 1300 dwelling units, referred to as Westpark Plaza. Since the approval, the hotel was demolished and the site used for parking and staging associated with the construction of The Boro located immediately adjacent to the site, as well as commercial off-street parking for Metro users. Last month the Board of Supervisors approved new interim uses for the site in advance of its ultimate redevelopment.

The new uses include new vehicle storage and a reading-themed pop-up park. The interim park includes a lending library, book-themed art, outdoor seating, painted asphalt, alphabet stepping stones, a shade structure, and space for food trucks. Walsh Colucci senior planner, Elizabeth Baker, represented Dittmar on the application. LandDesign, landscape architects, designed the multi-generational pop-park to enliven the Westpark Drive frontage and become a new amenity for residents and workers in the area. This unique theme was chosen as it reflects the commitment of Dittmar to contribute to a new Tysons community library with future redevelopment, and offers a park unlike any other planned for Tysons. The Tysons Partnership, a public-private organization with the goal of advancing the evolution of Tysons into an urban center, also participated in the pop-up park planning.

Given the number of large approvals in Tysons and the realities of market conditions, interim uses are becoming important elements in the transformation of Tysons. Accommodating these uses either with an original rezoning approval or as an amendment helps ensure productive uses now and into the future.

Courtesy of LandDesign

Image Source: LandDesign

Fairfax Supervisors Approve 420-unit Mixed-use Project in Tysons

InsideNOVA reported on the recently approved 420-unit “Hanover Tysons” mixed-use project which was guided through the approval process by Senior Land Use Planner Elizabeth Baker.


Fairfax Supervisors OK 420-unit Mixed-use Project in Tysons

Tysons will receive yet another new batch of residential units, following the Board of Supervisors’ unanimous approval March 19 of a 420-unit mixed-used redevelopment project. 1500 Westbranch Holdings LLC will build up to that many units on 5.86 acres near Jones Branch and Westbranch drives. “For Tysons, this is a relatively small application – one building, 420 units – but it does provide a number of community benefits,” said Elizabeth Baker, an attorney representing the applicant. Read more

Employee Spotlight

Source: Susan Lynch

Back in the 1970’s, growing up in a wooded neighborhood in Tysons Corner, John never imagined he would become an attorney. He imagined himself as a musician, but John’s father, who worked in the construction and development business, told him he needed to make an honest living. Hoping to buy time before committing to a career, law school seemed like a good option. Without having to sacrifice his music, John’s decision paid off.

One might assume that having a father (and a grandfather) in the construction and development business, John would have jammed to the beat of their drums. And, as a Land Lawyer, you might say that he has, except John is no ordinary Land Lawyer. John Rinaldi is a litigator who focuses on real estate title issues, construction and development, and larger business issues such as assisting foreclosure purchasers and lenders in the process of foreclosing. John’s article in this month’s Land Sense is about lender foreclosures, but we’re here to talk to him about his practice and his music.

The Land Lawyers: What types of cases do you focus on?

John Rinaldi: Litigation involving real estate title issues – and there can be a lot of them, title insurance, mechanic’s liens, and other business-related real estate issues. I also work on zoning issues and recently won a case concerning a subdivision by-right. You can read about that here.

TLL: This month, you wrote an article on homeowner’s challenging foreclosure. Have you seen a decline in foreclosures since the housing bubble burst in 2007?

JR:  There was a huge increase in the number of foreclosures after 2007 that has only recently, over the past few years, appeared to be subsiding.

TLL: Who is, and is not your typical client in a foreclosure case?

JR: We assist lenders in the process of foreclosing, and lenders with properties that have issues that make it difficult to foreclose. We also represent foreclosure purchasers, and foreclosure purchasers who are having difficulty with the prior owners. We do not represent homeowners facing foreclosure.

TLL: When does a lender or foreclosure purchaser typically involve you in the process?

JR:  Every case is different depending on the parties and properties involved.  We have had a lot of cases recently in which the local counties have tried to limit the ability of lenders to foreclose on properties identified as Affordable Dwelling Units.  We also often see cases in which there are errors in the deed of trust.  Also, we see quite a few foreclosed owners that want to challenge the validity of the foreclosure.

TLL: Your clients think of you as a rock star litigator but do they know that you really are a rock star? Tell us about your band, Larry & The Land Lawyers, and when you first got interested in music.

JR: I got interested in the trumpet in fourth grade, but wanted to learn a second instrument when I got into high school.  There were tons of guitar players in my school but there weren’t as many bass players, so I picked up the bass guitar and improved my odds of getting into a band by simple supply and demand. Besides, I am not nearly coordinated enough to play guitar.

I played in a few bands in college and law school and met a drummer, Larry Clark, through mutual friends.  In 1993, I joined the firm and met Mark Goetzman, a Land Lawyer who also plays guitar and sings.  Years later, Larry introduced me to guitarist Mike Kieffer before he went to law school and before he became a Land Lawyer. The three of us played together a few times a year with other friends just for fun. It’s actually Larry’s fault that Kieffer ended up working for the firm—I mean that in a good way!—and without Larry there would be no Larry & The Land Lawyers.

TLL: How did you become rock stars?

JR: One of our many gigs included playing the Walsh Colucci holiday party and other firm events. A few years ago, Mike found out about a battle-of-the-law-firm-bands fundraiser to benefit Gifts for the Homeless and we participated in the fundraiser every year since. This past year, because of a scheduling conflict, we were given the opportunity to participate in the 2nd Annual Law Rocks fundraiser at the 9:30 Club. We played on the same stage as the Ramones, Psychedelic Furs, R.E.M, Cyndi Lauper, Marshall Crenshaw, Root Boy Slim, and the list goes on. We played for HomeAid Northern Virginia and the event set a one-night record, raising more than $115,000 for charity.

It was a great night. You can read about it here, and here, and watch our performance here.

TLL: Aside from preparing briefs and jamming with The Land Lawyers, what else do you like to do in your spare time?

JR:   Sailing and fishing.

TLL: Do you have a hero or heroine?

JR:  My father and both of my grandfathers.

TLL: A favorite meal?

JR: A big pile of Chesapeake Bay blue crabs.

TLL: Why do you think Walsh, Colucci, Lubeley & Walsh is a great place to work?

JR: The collegial atmosphere, everyone here is great to work with.

TLL: One final question. Do you still play the trumpet?

JR: No, but I can play the ukulele.

TLL: Thank you, John!

The Boro – Work, Live, Play Community Will Transform 18+ Acres in Tysons

Illustrative Representation of The Boro
Source: The Meridian Group and LandDesign, Inc.

On January 12, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a large rezoning and redevelopment application for The Meridian Group next to the Greensboro Metro Station in Tysons. Known as “The Boro,” the 18+-acre site was rezoned from the High Intensity Office (C-4) District to the Planned Tysons Corner (PTC) District to permit a mixed-use, transit-oriented development of 4.25 million square feet.

In addition, two final development plans for The Boro were approved by the Planning Commission. Together, the FDPs permit approximately 2.5 million square feet of development. Shareholder Art Walsh and Land Use Planner Elizabeth Baker represented Meridian throughout the process.

The vision behind The Boro is to transform this suburban-style office park into a vibrant mixed-use environment where people can work, live, and play. A central urban park, called Magnetic Park, is the organizing element of the development plan. Meridian will be constructing a new grid of streets to divide the property into five urban blocks. Three existing offices buildings on the site will be retained and 11 new buildings, ranging in height from 75 to 400 feet, will be constructed. Overall, the development is permitted up to 1.9 million square feet of office uses, 2,010 residential units, and 430,000 square feet of retail/service uses.

Graphic representation of project
Source: The Meridian Group and LandDesign, Inc.

A new private street called Boro Place is viewed as the retail focal point of the development. This two-sided retail environment will include an urban-format Whole Foods grocery store along with other retail shops and restaurants at the street level of new residential buildings, creating a lively and pedestrian-friendly street. A 15-screen luxury theater by ShowPlace Icon will anchor Magnetic Park and will be flanked by an office tower and hotel in the future.

As part of its proffer package, Meridian will construct a 19,000-square-foot community library in a future office tower and an athletic field on another property it owns in Tysons.

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Approves Tysons Site for Construction of New Marriott Residence Inn

Source: 7799 Leesburg Pike, LLLP
Source: 7799 Leesburg Pike, LLLP

On April 7, 2015, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a special exception request to construct the new Marriott Residence Inn in the Tysons Corner area. Working closely with the applicant (7799 Leesburg Pike, LLLP) and County staff, Shareholder Evan Pritchard secured zoning approval for the 10-story, LEED-Silver Certified designed building. The new hotel will be constructed on top of what is now an underutilized surface parking lot at the intersection of Leesburg Pike and Ramada Road. Shuttle service to nearby shopping and Metro stations will be provided for guests to help reduce the effect of traffic on the area. The project has been carefully designed with several important low-impact development features to retain storm water onsite and minimize the project’s effect on area streams, thereby achieving a major environmental goal the County has set for new development in Tysons. Improved landscaping will dramatically increase the number of trees on the site.  New sidewalks and an on-street bike lane will further enhance both the appearance and accessibility of the area for pedestrians and cyclists.

WCL&W Propels Redevelopment and Rezoning Approvals for Two Sites in Tysons

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors recently approved two redevelopment/rezoning proposals shepherded by Art Walsh and planner Elizabeth Baker.

Westpark Plaza Source: MTFA Architecture, Inc.
Westpark Plaza
Source: MTFA Architecture, Inc.







Westpark Plaza

In November, the Board approved an application by the Dittmar Company to rezone the site of the former Westpark Hotel, at the corner of Route 7 and Westpark Drive, from C-7 (Regional Retail District) to PTC (Planned Tysons Corner Urban District). The site is located just over ⅛ mile from the newly opened Greensboro Metro Station. Known as Westpark Plaza, the project will include residential, hotel, and retail/service uses with a maximum gross floor area of nearly 1.5 million square feet. A hotel with up to 300 rooms and two high-rise residential towers with 1,300 multi-family rental units will sit atop a parking podium lined with ground floor retail/service uses fronting on Route 7. Reaching a height of 330 feet, the residential towers, designed by MTFA Architecture, Inc., will have a dramatic effect on the Tysons skyline.

Westpark Plaza will include a large neighborhood park in the center of the block providing a variety of active and passive park spaces for the project’s residents and the wider community. An open play lawn will accommodate pick-up games while sport courts, playground, and passive recreational areas will provide for a variety of activities. A Final Development Plan for the first tower, with 610 dwelling units and interim park space, was also approved by the Planning Commission in October.

Site Rendering
7915 Jones Branch Drive
Source: Design Collective, Inc.








7915 Jones Branch Drive

A joint venture between PS Business Parks and Kettler sought and won Board approval for rezoning a 5.7-acre parcel in the West*Park Office Park from C-3 (Commercial Office District) to PTC (Planned Tysons Corner Urban District). An existing six-story office building, consisting of 135,296 square feet of gross floor area, and associated surface parking  will be redeveloped with a 450,000-square-foot residential building including up to 400 multi-family dwelling units. Optional retail/service uses are permitted on the ground floor. Designed by Design Collaborative, Inc., this mid-rise building, located approximately ½ mile from the Tysons Metro Station, offers an alternative to the high-rise offerings being constructed closer to the transit stations.

The development of 7915 Jones Branch Drive will be the first phase of a redevelopment of the surrounding area into a new residential community with services and parks. The approval provides for three new streets that can be extended when adjacent properties choose to redevelop. A 1.4-acre park area will be constructed with the building and is the beginning of a much larger signature recreational park planned to be completed during potential future phases. A site plan was recently submitted to Fairfax County.