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What will Metro mean for our community in 2020 and beyond?
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FROM THE PUBLISHER ALL ABOARD!
moved to Loudoun County in the spring of 2012, just as the debate was heating up over whether to extend Metro’s Silver Line from Reston to Dulles International Airport and beyond. Previously I lived in Prince William County, which like Loudoun, was largely a bedroom community, where nearly twothirds of the workers commuted outside the county every day. Although Prince William has Virginia Railway Express service, those trains can carry only a minimal number of passengers, are subject to rail delays, and serve only two stations in downtown Washington. For most Prince William residents, commuting means battling the traffic nightmares known as Interstates 95 or 66 each day. For that reason, Prince William has long coveted Metro, and local candidates frequently campaign on a platform of extending the Blue Line to Woodbridge or the Orange Line to Haymarket. So imagine my surprise upon landing in Loudoun to find there was actually a debate over whether the county wanted Metro service. In fact, the Board of Supervisors’ vote in July 2012 approving the extension was 5-4, the slimmest margin possible. Looking back, it’s easy to understand why there was such contention. For Loudoun generally and Ashburn specifically, the arrival of Metro is indeed “transformational,” as Economic Development Director Buddy Rizer says in our cover story this month. Assuming no more major delays, the first “doors closing” announcement at Ashburn Station will be late this summer
or early fall. From the Loudoun Station development to the increase in home prices, we have already seen many of the effects. And our cover story addresses many more – both tangible and intangible. One of the effects of Metro is to cement Ashburn’s status as its own community, which is why we are excited in 2020 to introduce the first “Best of Ashburn” contest. Nominations and voting will begin Feb. 1 and continue throughout that month in 100 different categories – from “Best Accountant” to “Best Yoga/Pilates Studio.” To nominate or vote for your favorite business, organization or person, go to AshburnMagazine.com and look for the “Best of Ashburn” link. Winners will be announced in our May/June issue. And as we wrap up our first year of Ashburn Magazine, we thank you again for reading the magazine and supporting our advertisers. We hope you’ve learned something about our community and about your neighbors – and we’ll see you again in early spring!
BRUCE POTTER, PUBLISHER PUBLISHER@ASHBURNMAGAZINE.COM
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contents 08 amazing kids NEED FOR SPEED Local boy wins big racing motorcycles BY CHRIS WADSWORTH
14 more amazing kids Highlighting local kids doing great things
16 our neighbors VOLUNTEER EXTRAORDINAIRE Meet the president of Ashburn’s fire and rescue squad BY CHRIS WADSWORTH
24 cover story NEXT STOP: ASHBURN What Metro’s arrival means for our community BY JOSEPH DILL
30 feature story THE ART OF EXPERIENCE Broadlands painter creates her own masterpieces BY JOE MOTHERAL
34 time travel feature story LIVING HISTORY Ashburn Colored School teaches a new generation BY SARAH SMITH
20 business boom GRABBING Z’S Dulles offers a micro-hotel for weary travelers BY JILL DEVINE
42 wine & dine FUSION PIZZA America and India come together at two Ashburn pizzerias
46 great escapes GREEK GETAWAY Ashburn family chases Olympic dreams BY CHRIS WADSWORTH
50 An album of Ashburn area events
home sweet home
the burn The latest restaurant, retail and other cool news
BY ANGELA MARSH
ON THE COVER: The Metro entrance to Ashburn Station is nearly complete. Photo by Andrew Sample of Andrew Sample Photography. 6 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2020
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amazing kids Sacha Agam, 8, with one of the youth-sized motorcycles that he raced on in 2019.
Need for Speed
PHOTO CREDIT: CODY DARR
Sacha races around a curve, his knee pads scraping on the track surface.
Local boy wins big racing motorcycles BY CH R I S WADSWO RT H
-year-old Sacha Agam had a perfectly good reason for wearing a boot covered in a piece of old carpet. “We were at a flat track, but it wasn’t dirt. It was hard, indoor concrete,” he said. “My foot couldn’t slide — our boots are rubber — so we added carpet so we could slide.” Making sure your foot can slide is important when you’re taking
corners at 45 mph in a motorcycle race. And Sacha — a third-grader at Discovery Elementary in Ashburn — is an amateur motorcycle racer who is coming off one heck of a season. 2019 was Sacha’s first full race season. Weekend after weekend, he traveled to racetracks in Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey to compete in both mini moto races (paved tracks) and flat track races (dirt tracks). How did he do? Let’s just say he became well acquainted with the winner’s podium. Out of 60 races in his age group,
8 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2020
Sacha came in first an amazing 24 times. He got eight second places and seven thirds. That’s 39 climbs up onto the podium in one season. So, he must be super talented? “Talent is an interesting word,” said Sacha’s dad, Omesh Agam. “Since he’s been winning a lot, people say he’s really talented and I pause at that. They don’t see the crashes and the blood on his face and the hurt knee. But he just wants to get back on the bike because he loves racing. It’s some talent, but it’s also a passion to just keep riding.” Omesh Agam has always liked
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(Left) Sacha racing on a dirt track at the Airport Speedway in Delaware; (right) The Agam family, including dad Omesh, mom Jennifer, Mila, Sacha and Julian. motorcycles and he’s ridden sports bikes on tracks before. But he’s never raced. Still, Sacha and his little brother Julian, 6, have grown up watching dad tinker with motorcycles in the garage at their home in Ashburn’s Farmwell Hunt neighborhood. “I think both of them started riding a
motorcycle before they rode a bicycle,” Agam said with a laugh. Sacha first got on a motorcycle — what’s known as a “youth bike” due to its smaller size — at age 3 and after several years of letting him learn to ride in open fields around Loudoun County, his parents enrolled him in a three-day summer camp
10 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2020
in New Jersey when he turned 6. That’s the minimum age for kids on a paved track and that’s where he got his first real taste of racing. He was hooked. “I like going fast,” Sacha said. And what is he thinking about when he’s zipping along at 40 mph or more? Is he nervous? Nope. This kid is in the zone. “I’m thinking what I’m going to do next, where the next turn is, looking far ahead.” Robert Miller is the operator of the Sandy Hook Speedway in Street, Md., one of the regular stops for the Agams. He’s been amazed by what he’s seen in Sacha. “Sacha is very quiet and reserved in the paddock area … he is watching everyone and listening to everything being said, which is a good sign for a racer,” Miller said. “Because when he is on the track, he shows virtually no fear in chasing down other competitors.” Today, the Agam family — which also includes mom Jennifer and little sister Mila, 4 — spends their weekends on the go. Sometimes the whole
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family loads up the car and heads off to Sacha’s latest date with the checkered flag. Other times, they split up — with one taking Sacha to his race, while the other takes his siblings to soccer and other activities here in Ashburn. 2019 was a test season for the Agams — to see how Sacha really liked it and how he did. Now, looking ahead to 2020, the family feels they’re going all in. They’re already looking at races at tracks in South Carolina, Georgia, possibly even South Florida. Now that brother Julian has turned 6, he has started riding a motorcycle, too, so big brother might have some competition soon. And don’t count out little Mila. She’s taken her first rides on a “bike” as well. “She’s grown up at the racetrack,” Jen Agam said. “There are a lot of girl racers, and they have already started handing down their pink gear to her in hopes that she starts racing, too.” The world of racing has many dynasties — your famous families — like the Andrettis, the Earnhardts and the Busches. And now, Ashburn has the Agams. A
(Top) Sacha relaxes in his home surrounded by many of the trophies he won during the 2019 racing season; (bottom) Sacha on the winner’s podium after coming in first at an event at the Sandy Hook Speedway in Maryland.
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OK, we know all kids are amazing, but if you know of a kid who’s so amazing that he or she should be featured on this page, please email information to email@example.com.
(from left to right) Mackenzie Cunnane, 16; Alyssa VanLandingham, 16; Carly Ratcliffe, 15; Anna Osborne, 15; Dorey Heyer, 16.
Lots of kids love to play games, but not every kid goes out and makes their own. That’s what Brambleton resident Jordanna Santiago, 10, did with the help of her father, David Santiago. The dynamic duo have designed “Jujo” — what they describe as “an action-packed, strategic tile-laying game for two to five players, ages 8 and up.” The game is named after Jordanna and her sister Julianna, and the Santiagos spent countless hours brainstorming ideas, playing variations of the game, making improvements, taking constructive feedback, developing marketing strategies, and advancing their goal of bringing Jujo to market. The Jujo team is planning to launch a Kickstarter campaign this month — January 2020. “My favorite part of making the game was the creative process of designing something new and fun. I also enjoyed doing the voiceover for the Jujo Kickstarter video,” said Jordanna, a fifth-grader at Legacy Elementary.
A few years ago, five young ladies attending Eagle Ridge Middle School in Ashburn decided to form an a capella group. They called themselves “The Melodies.” Now, what could have been a brief, fleeting interest has turned into an ongoing sensation that is enriching the girls’ lives — and the lives of everyone who hears them. Today, The Melodies are sophomores at Briar Woods High School. They perform in local talent shows, appear at business conferences and sing at sports events around the region. Last fall, they sang the National Anthem before a DC United game at Audi
Field. Indeed, their rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner has become one of their trademark songs. “Singing the National Anthem is a surreal moment because we get to experience the buzz of energy as a hush falls over the crowd before we start our piece,” said member Alyssa VanLandingham. “At Audi Field, being able to hear our voices echo back over the loudspeakers and see our faces on the jumbotron, it was something that we are so thankful to have experienced.” Next up on the “to do” list — record a CD of “The Melodies” performing their hits.
LEFT: Jordanna Santiago with her father, David. RIGHT: Cover of board game box.
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our neighbors HR/personnel type issues … and I’m essentially CEO of the corporation. The chief is essentially the chief operating officer responsible for our operational readiness and making sure that we do the right thing when our neighbors call for help.” BUT YOU’RE NOT JUST A SUIT. YOU’RE ALSO A FIREFIGHTER YOURSELF.
“I’m a firefighter and an EMT.”
Volunteer Extraordinaire Meet the president of Ashburn’s fire and rescue squad BY C H R I S WADSWO RT H
osh Townsend wears many hats. He’s a husband and father of two young boys. He’s a remote employee of a huge California tech company. And he’s a firefighter with the Ashburn Volunteer Fire & Rescue Department, as well as the organization’s president. Despite his seemingly endless list of responsibilities, the 41-year-old Ashburn Village resident exudes calm and even grace when he sits down to talk with Ashburn Magazine. Here are portions of our interview. 16 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2020
ASHBURN MAGAZINE: YOU’RE PRESIDENT OF THE VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENT. I THOUGHT FIRE DEPARTMENTS HAD CHIEFS. WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A CHIEF AND A PRESIDENT? JOSH TOWNSEND: “As
a corporation, we have to do all the stuff that any business would do. We’re a multimilliondollar nonprofit organization so with that, we have a whole lot of accounting, audit requirements. We have legal concerns,
IS YOUR POSITION AS PRESIDENT PAID OR VOLUNTEER? BECAUSE THAT SOUNDS LIKE AN AWFUL LOT OF WORK FOR A VOLUNTEER.
“It’s all volunteer. We have to report what our executives do and the amount of time invested and I came in just shy — something like 39.8 hours average per week. It’s a full-time job to run this place.” WHAT WAS YOUR MOST MEMORABLE OR IMPACTFUL INCIDENT YOU’VE RESPONDED TO?
Each call has its own unique aspect to it. Every call has all the emotions coming together when things happen. Probably the most impactful for me so far was a call I ran just a few weeks ago. It was a fatal auto accident and the scene
was hard. It was very hard to take in and understand what was happening because of how bad it was.” HOW DO YOU AND THE OTHER FIREFIGHTERS AND EMTS PROCESS THOSE TYPES OF THINGS? YOU DEAL WITH A LOT OF TRAGEDY.
“We often say when we’re called, the bad thing has already happened. It’s not our fault that it’s happened. We didn’t put our neighbors in that position. It’s happened and we just have to respond to it with all the resources we have and in the best way that we know how. When you’re done, you have to wash your hands and say, ‘I did my best.’” IF YOU COULD TELL ALL OF ASHBURN ONE KEY THING ABOUT THE FIRE DEPARTMENT, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
“That we’re volunteers. A lot of times people don’t understand that we are volunteers. On a call, that can be a good thing. Oftentimes, volunteer firefighter may have a connotation that you are the country bumpkin, coming out of the fields or the factory — doing your best because you care. But here it’s very different. We are volunteers, but we are trained at the same level as the career staff.”
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EXTrA chill Winter Ice Festival and Mega Block Ice Carving Competition | Saturday, January 18
This event is sure to give you shivers. Join us for our Winter Ice Festival and Mega Block Ice Carving Competition. You’ll see six worldrenowned ice carvers create amazing sculptures as they compete for prizes. Stroll the boulevard to music, chill out in our igloo lounge, and warm up with to-go cocktails and merchant specials. Plus, take part in all kinds of fun interactive ice games or try our iceless skating rink.
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18 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2020
YOUR DEPARTMENT CATCHPHRASE IS “NEIGHBORS HELPING NEIGHBORS.”
“It’s on the side of our apparatus, and it really struck a chord with me. We are volunteers, but we are your neighbors here in Ashburn and we do it because we care about you. And when a neighbor cares about a neighbor and it spreads, and it catches on, it’s harder for people to fall through the cracks because we are looking out for each other.” MEANWHILE, YOU LIVE HERE IN ASHBURN, BUT YOU ALSO WORK FOR A SILICON VALLEY-BASED TECH FIRM. HOW DOES THAT WORK?
“I’m a senior technical marketing architect … for VMWare. We’re a multibillion-dollar international software company that provides software to run the cloud. I’m fortunate enough to work from home for a West Coast company, so that means I can wake up a little bit later because they’re all sleeping in by my time. I can see the kids out the door to school … and then do some fire department work before my workday starts.” FESS UP, DO YOU EVER WORK IN YOUR PAJAMAS OR ARE YOU MORE DISCIPLINED THAN THAT?
“Every day. It’s very rare that I’m not in pajamas -- which has become awkward now
that we’re doing more video conference calls.” SO, I DID SOME SNOOPING. YOU’RE A WOODWORKER, A VERITABLE CRAFTSMEN. WHAT TYPE OF THINGS DO YOU MAKE?
“My father was a woodworker, a carpenter — made a lot of cabinetry. That’s a little too much for me, so I make smaller things. I bought a lathe on a whim about six years ago. I taught myself to use it and I’ve been making bowls, pens, bottle stoppers, snowmen — ‘tis the season. It’s cathartic to sit there and see a
beer. Unfortunately, I’m on duty so much. I run three or four nights a week here. Drinking and firefighting — they don’t go together so well. It’s probably done well for my weight and my liver.” WHAT STYLE OF CRAFT BEER IS YOUR FAVORITE AND WHY?
shape emerge from something natural. When I need to escape the realities of work and the fire station and family troubles and everything else, the woodworking gives me an outlet.”
YOU’RE ALSO A CRAFT BEER LOVER. IS LIVING IN ASHBURN AND LOUDOUN WITH ALL THESE BREWERIES AROUND HEAVEN FOR YOU?
“It’s certainly a good place to enjoy craft
“Generally, an IPA. It awakens the senses. So many flavors can be packed into it. Whether it is citrus or floral or sweet or bitter — you can do all sorts of fun stuff with it. I taught my mom to like beer. She never drank beer before and I gave her
an IPA and she said, ‘Oh my, this is great.’ So now that’s family time.” WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT LIVING IN ASHBURN?
“The fire department. That there’s … a place where my kind of people exist, people who give a damn about their world, who just want to just help people. We have it here at the fire department and we’re very fortunate.” LIGHTNING ROUND
Favorite Food: Steak Favorite Drink: Coffee Favorite Restaurant: Blue Ridge Grill
Favorite Movie: “It’s a Wonderful Life” Favorite TV Show: “Scrubs” Favorite Singer or Band: Metallica to Green Day to Nirvana — depends on the mood Favorite Book: “Atlas Shrugged” Favorite Color: Black Favorite Animal: My two pit bulls Favorite Fire Truck: We have two different fire trucks — there’s an engine and there’s a ladder truck and they do very different jobs. I think I’m more of an engine guy. A
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Grabbing Z’s Dulles International offers a micro-hotel for weary travelers BY JI L L DE V IN E
magine this scenario. You’ve driven to Dulles International Airport, parked in the long-term lot, checked your luggage, made your way through security, hopped a train and finally arrived at your gate — only to hear an announcement that your flight is delayed. Maybe it’s just a short delay. Maybe it’s a few hours. Maybe the duration is unknown. What do you do? Head home? Find a bar to camp out in? Try to get comfortable in a waiting area? Now you
have a new option at Dulles — a Sleepbox. Dulles International just southeast of Ashburn is on the frontline of this major new amenity that could soon be coming to airports across the country. In April, Dulles proudly welcomed the first and only Sleepbox airport lounge in the United States. The name Sleepbox fits the minimalist product — the onsite concession consists of 16 stand-alone modular units, which patrons can rent by the hour to nap, recharge or use as an office to get some work done.
20 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2020
Sleepbox general manager Passion Martin said the micro-hotel, located postsecurity above the AeroTrain in Concourse A, gets a lot of attention. “Passengers are fascinated — they stop to ask questions, take photos, or peek at one of the units.” Through early December, Sleepbox had topped 4,000 bookings with an average stay of two to four hours. Available in standard, compact or ADA-compliant variations, each singleoccupancy unit provides a memory foam bed with clean sheets, a flip-down
lap desk, a reading light and a strong Wi-Fi connection, plus a few frills like colorful mood lighting, Bluetooth speakers, and ports to charge electronics. Sleepbox CEO Mikhail Krymov was an architect in Moscow when he was stranded overnight in an airport in France. “People were in misery, sleeping on the floor, and I wanted to solve that problem,” he said. He helped design a prototype and took that concept to Boston in 2016 while studying as a research fellow at MIT. There he met and became business partners
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Accelerate Your College Applications Sleepbox CEO Mikhail Krymov and COO Peter Chambers stand in their micro-hotel at Dulles International Airport.
with COO Peter Chambers to co-found Sleepbox, which is based in Boston. The duo brought Sleepbox to Dulles after winning a contract to provide a concessions nap lounge in the busy airport. Although it is the first airport Sleepbox in the United States, short-term sleep lounges have been a feature in airports in other countries for years. Stacey Armstead, general business specialist for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which operates Dulles, said Sleepbox is a popular
concession for passengers. “Sleepbox’s offering of quiet, private space postsecurity makes it a unique amenity for passengers beginning or ending their trip at the airport,” she said, noting that MWAA has received positive feedback from many passengers using the facility. Ashburn Magazine visited the Sleepbox lounge over Thanksgiving weekend to gauge the reaction of travelers. “Oh, my, I was so tired, but I got the rest I needed,” said a nurse named Elaine on her way from San Jose, Calif., to Columbia S.C., after her first time trying Sleepbox. “I’ll definitely use it again.” A traveler named Alex stopped for a nap on his way from Woodbridge to Guadalajara, Mexico.
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BUSINESS BOOM “I was already tired from waking up too early, so I looked online to see if the airport had anywhere to rest and found this,” he said. Krymov employs a local operational team to staff and clean the units 24/7. He pointed out that the concession makes practical use of what had been dead space at the airport. Everything from choosing, reserving and paying for a room to unlocking the door and adjusting temperature and lights can be controlled through the company’s smartphone app. “Ninety-nine percent of our customers use the app,” said Krymov. Downloading the app offers discounts, bringing costs to as low as $20 an hour. Priority Pass members enjoy the first hour
free, and all customers can increase stays by 15-minute increments after the first hour. Overnight stays have a flat fee, which varies according to the room and applicable discounts. Because Sleepbox is located post-security, delayed travelers can find the solitude they need and still stay close to their gate. “It’s less expensive and easier than taking a cab home or to a local hotel,” Martin said. Sleepbox is also popular with tired airport staff and flight crews. Airports like Dulles are just the tip of the iceberg for Sleepbox. “It’s more about privacy and finding a quiet space to work or simply think,” Krymov said. He said the
Sleepbox units include memory foam mattresses, fresh sheets, a lap desk, mood lighting, a reading light and more. company recently entered agreements to sell and lease Sleepbox units to companies to install at their own facilities as rest areas for employees. “We can quickly install Sleepbox anywhere it’s needed, such as hospitals, convention centers, offices, expos, festivals and in the center of cities, and still
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What will Metro mean for our community in 2020 and beyond? BY JOSEPH DILL
hey call it the Silver Line, but it could be a gold mine for Ashburn. The eagerly anticipated new Metro service is expected to open later this year, extending northwest from Reston through Dulles International Airport and along the Dulles Greenway to its terminus in the heart of Ashburn. With the new commuter line comes a wealth of opportunity for Ashburn — none bigger than the ability to attract major companies to set up shop here. Major companies bring major development and new residents, all of which boosts the tax base, something that has made Loudoun County the envy of other counties across the region and even nationwide. And small businesses should benefit, too. Angela Goodman is the owner of Famous Toastery, a restaurant in the Loudoun Station development next to the new Ashburn Station Metro stop. She and her husband, Steve, looked at multiple sites before settling on their current spot. The impending arrival of the Metro was a key factor. “Our choice of Loudoun Station was 100 percent because of the potential of the location with the
Metro and all the development the county had planned for the area,” Goodman said. Indeed, plans for extending the Metro past Dulles International and into Loudoun County date back to at least the 1990s. Early timelines called for the Silver Line extension into Loudoun to open in 2018, but construction delays and changes to stormwater regulations pushed the date back, and the extension should open later this year. Goodman says many of the street-level businesses in Loudoun Station would thrive with more foot traffic. She wonders whether her former neighbors, such as Basil Leaf Grill and Firenza Pizza, would have closed if the Metro had been open, bringing thousands of commuters through the area each day. “The restaurant business isn’t full of profits,” Goodman said. “It’s just a matter of making sure you have enough to hang on until that point.”
New Development The projections for the Silver Line’s effect are significant. In the wake of a ten-fold population increase in Loudoun County over the past 50 years,
the line is expected to be a catalyst for even more growth in the next 20 years. “We want to make sure we are maximizing our development around our Metro stations. It’s a oncein-a-lifetime opportunity to get this right,” said Buddy Rizer, the Executive Director of Loudoun County Economic Development. A study commissioned by Loudoun Economic Development projects the following growth through 2040 as a result of the Silver Line – over and above what would be expected without the extension: • 4,837 more homes (9 percent increase) • 1.4 million more square feet of office development (7 percent increase) • 670,000 more square feet of retail development (9 percent increase) • 294 more hotel rooms (6 percent increase) Although those numbers are for Loudoun as a whole, much of the activity will occur within a mile or so of the new Ashburn Station, which sits between Exits 6 and 7 on the Greenway. Besides the station itself and the tracks running down the middle of the highway, there’s development underway or planned on both the north and south sides of the highway near the station.
North of Ashburn Station
PHOTO CREDIT: ANDREW SAMPLE
Loudoun Station was one of the first retail and residential developments specifically built with Metro in mind. The first residents moved in back in 2012. From its streets filled with restaurants, offices and a movie theater, to the new nine-story parking garage, to its very name — Loudoun Station has been waiting some eight years now for the trains and their thousands of passengers to arrive. Between Loudoun Station and the Greenway is another large parcel of empty land. This is supposed to be the future home of the much-touted Gramercy District — a huge conglomeration of buildings filled with condos, offices, hotels, retail shops, restaurants and more. “Our vision is for the Gramercy District to be the densest and most integrated development possible,” said Rizer. “We want it to be the absolute hub of residential and commercial growth around Ashburn Station.”
CURRENT AND FUTURE PLANS
1 Ashburn Station
AG N VILL HBUR
O E B
2 Gramercy District, residential and commercial
6 Area generally known as Moorefield, includes residential and commercial projects from multiple developers 7 Silver District West, residential and commercial 8 Widening of Loudoun County Parkway to six lanes between Shellhorn Road and Ryan Road
South Of Ashburn Station
Mooreview Parkway, which opened in 2018, was a major north-south connection linking Broadlands directly to Loudoun County Parkway. Other roads will crisscross the area, including at least two additional roads over the Dulles Greenway, giving drivers more options to get around Ashburn and to and from nearby communities. “Loudoun is investing hundreds of millions into road and pedestrian transportation near the Metro stations — including parallel roads to the Greenway to connect to Route 28, which connect people to Metro and allow for people to bypass the tolls,” said former Broad Run District Supervisor Ron Meyer. Meyer’s district included Loudoun’s portion of the Silver Line, and he served on the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission. “Construction to connect Shellhorn Road to Route 28 starts this year, Prentice Drive will be extended, and every community within three miles will have pedestrian and bike access to the stations and the W&OD Trail,” he said.
High Rises Rizer is in a good position to see the big picture when it comes to Metro. He has guided growth and watched as Ashburn has become the world’s leading
26 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2020
Hop over the Greenway and a large six-story parking deck has also been built for future commuters. From there, you enter a huge expanse of land — some 600 acres — that is the world of Moorefield. This massive area spans from Loudoun County Parkway to Old Ryan Road. Here, too, plans call for a retail center of shops, offices and restaurants surrounded by schools, parks, singlefamily homes, townhomes and apartments. Much of the original Moorefield land has been sold to other developers, but it is all still zoned for mixed use — commercial and residential. Some of the pieces are already built — the Harris Teeter-anchored Shoppes at Moorefield Village, the Westmoore townhome community and Moorefield Station Elementary School are just three examples. Other pieces are still coming. Other projects planned in the area south of the Greenway include new townhomes and a new elementary school along Demott Drive, a tract of land earmarked for a future George Mason University satellite campus, and the large mixed-use Silver District West straddling Loudoun County Parkway. And of course, to service all these new communities and business come new roads.
Y W PA R K WA
5 Van Metre development, to include residences, commercial and future George Mason campus
4 Van Metre development, to include residences, an elementary school and nature area
3 Loudoun Station, residential and commerical
WHAT’S IN A NAME? data center hub. And his office at Loudoun County Economic Development is in Loudoun Station — literally a stone’s throw from Ashburn Station. “Twenty years ago, Ashburn was the poster child for an internet boom town,” Rizer said. “Now, Metro gives Ashburn and Loudoun County a chance to dy Rizer enter a new phase, with vertical development ud B and an additional lifestyle opportunity.” Did you catch that? Vertical development? As the Silver Line is completed and the local stations open, one of the biggest changes Ashburn residents can expect are increasingly populated skylines, particularly around the Metro stops. Currently, the tallest buildings in Loudoun County are around the 12-story mark in Lansdowne. But new projects around the Ashburn Metro station could dwarf that. Comstock, the developer of Loudoun Station, has a building on the books that could be more than 200 feet tall. Rizer says new buildings surpassing 20 stories are coming soon. “The reason we opted into Metro is the vision of creating a new product type in Loudoun County,” Rizer said. “It doesn’t help us to have low-rise residential and low-rise commercial around Metro. To realize the real value in it, we need to have density. We need to have tall buildings and
There’s an interesting backstory to the names of the two Metro stations in Loudoun County proper — specifically the “Loudoun Gateway” station by Route 606/Old Ox Road and the “Ashburn Station” here in Ashburn. Metro collaborates with local leaders on the names but ultimately makes the final decision. With the Silver Line, Metro chose the names that Loudoun County requested. The county wanted the first station after Dulles International to be the “gateway” to the county, thus Loudoun Gateway. Ashburn Station was a no-brainer and also, there was reportedly a desire to not endorse one surrounding project over another. So, the retail and residential development on the north side may be “Loudoun Station,” but the station itself is “Ashburn Station.” Meanwhile, at one time, the large development on the south side was known as “Moorefield Station.” However, once Metro settled on the name “Ashburn Station,” Moorefield Station quietly dropped the word “station” from its name and now the area is simply known as “Moorefield.” But we will forever have Moorefield Station Elementary School, a school named after a station that never existed.
ASHBURN MAGAZINE • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2020 • 27
lots of residential units and lots of office space for workers. We need an environment that is attractive for businesses and their future workforce.”
LOCAL SHERIFF’S OFFICE, FIRE DEPARTMENTS PREPARE FOR METRO AS WELL
One of the old chestnuts of mass transit is that when it expands into a new neighborhood, it brings crime. Many of us have probably heard it at cocktail parties and cookouts. Criminals will ride the rails to Ashburn, commit crimes, and then flee via Metro.
Is it true? No one knows for certain, but academic studies have shown little to no correlation between new mass transit stops and crime. A study in Denver in 2006 analyzed crime patterns near stations on that city’s light rail transit system and found no increase in crime. A 2009 study in San Diego found the expansion of that community’s Green Line had no significant effect on crime rates or the distribution of crime. Still, every community is different, and every mass transit system is different, so what will happen here remains to be seen. Nevertheless, the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office has been preparing. “Over the past five years, the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office has been coordinating with the WMATA [Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority] and has partnered with multiple jurisdictions who have end-of-the-line stations to determine and anticipate the impact they had in the area when the new station opened,” the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. “We are preparing to add personnel to our community resource units in Ashburn and Sterling to specifically deal with the Silver Line and surrounding parking areas and neighborhoods.” It’s not just police who have to be ready. Imagine there’s an emergency on a train when it’s high on the tracks between stations. The Metro brings new challenges for fire and rescue personnel. Local departments have been preparing for years. “The biggest concern is that powered third rail,” said Chief Miguel Quijano of the Ashburn Volunteer Fire & Rescue Department.
“We’ve gone through training not just on the tracks but how to work with the actual train cars as well,” Quijano said. “We have procedures for how to force doors open, or access the cars from the front, or the back or the side.” Interestingly, fire crews in all parts of Loudoun County are trained for incidents on Metro, even if the rail line comes nowhere near their jurisdiction. That’s because crews are regularly called in as backup and support during incidents, so every firefighter needs to be ready for any situation in the county. 28 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2020
Indeed, the electrified rail that powers trains is an ever-present danger to anyone working on or around tracks. So, Ashburn and other local fire departments have a new piece of equipment called a WSAD, or Warning Strobe Alarm Device. They attach it to the third rail, and it tells them whether power is flowing through it. If the rail were to suddenly power back up after it had been turned off, a loud alarm would sound. The local fire training center in Leesburg has had practice rails and train cars for several years.
Eddie Morris grew up in Northern Virginia. For the past 20 years, he lived in the Oak Hill area of Fairfax County, what he calls “the other side of the airport from Ashburn.” Over those two decades, he’s watched the changes in Loudoun. Eddie M “Every year — the growth in or Loudoun, with One Loudoun and the wineries and all these wonderful things — over time, Loudoun didn’t seem so far away anymore,” Morris said. So in March 2019, Morris made the leap and moved to Ashburn, into a townhouse in fast-growing Brambleton. A key factor in his decision — the effect of the Silver Line on both the value of home and on his lifestyle. “I figured that a bump in the value was already priced into the market a little bit. But I do feel as they are finishing it up, there is still some value to be had,” Morris said. “It really connects Ashburn with the rest of the DC market. I can drive five minutes, jump on the train and spend the day in Bethesda. It makes Tyson’s Corner much closer. It’s just super convenient.” For years now, just about everyone who has bought a home in Ashburn has speculated, pontificated and prayed about the effect the Metro would have on home values. The basic gist — being near a mass transit facility with easy access to the greater D.C. area would make already desirable Ashburn even more desirable, giving home values a nice bump. Is this dream a reality? It appears the answer is yes. A study by the National Association of Realtors of homes sold between 2012 and 2016 found that the price of homes in areas served by mass transit were up to 24 percent higher than those in areas with no such service. On top of that, the study also found that homeowners in those areas saw annual transportation savings ranging from $2,500 to ich Ettr $4,400 for a typical household. ll y Kelly Ettrich is an Ashburn-based Realtor with Century 21 Redwood. She said interest in the Metro has been high among buyers and sellers for years now. “I believe the impact started immediately after the announcement was made,” Ettrich said. “There was an immediate uptick in housing prices, and prices have continued to rise. I don’t think it’s solely because of the Metro, but that has definitely been a positive factor.”
Although Ettrich believes the bulk of the “Metro bump” has already been felt, she said there may be room for small additional increases when the Silver Line actually opens. Another factor that has driven Ashburn’s housing market is that the community suddenly became a real possibility for people who had previously ruled it out as “too far.” “They think it’s a more desirable community now because there will be this public transportation,” she said. “Even though it’s not here yet, they know it’s coming.”
Besides new shopping centers and roads and higher home values, Metro will bring less tangible effects that are still critical to the area. Loudoun’s expensive home prices and high cost of living have made living locally a challenge for ABOUT ASHBURN STATION many workers. Ask any area restaurant or retail business what their biggest problem is and most PARKING: 3,000 parking spaces total, divided evenly Angela will say finding and keeping employees. between the two sides of Ashburn Station, with “Kiss-and-Ride” Go Much hourly workers — heck, many drop-offs on both sides. salaried workers, too — drive here from BIKING: 24 bike racks on the north side, 27 bike racks Leesburg, Sterling and further afield. on the south side “What I expect to get from the EXPECTED USAGE: Early estimates predicted about 7,000 Metro is actually an increase in people would board the trains at Ashburn Station each day by the employment pool,” said Famous 2025. By comparison, the Wiehle-Reston East station, where Toastery’s Goodman. “I have employees the Silver Line currently ends, averaged 8,142 passengers per coming from Culpeper, Bluemont, weekday in 2019. Purcellville and Hamilton, and maybe two that live close to the restaurant. There is a huge employment HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE? There are no official time pool in the Herndon-Reston-Sterling area that we are estimates for the trip from Ashburn into DC. Wiehle-Reston East missing out on because they don’t have a car. I am to Metro Center is 52 minutes. hoping the Silver Line will bring more of those type HOW MUCH WILL IT COST? Exact fares to and from Ashburn of employees to me.” are still to be determined and will vary based on the time of day and On the flip side, another potential big benefit to week. Currently, Metro fares during peak travel times range from the arrival of the Silver Line could be more major $2.25 to $6, and off-peak fares range from $2 to $3.85. employers locating here. This benefits the tax base as well as residents who might find jobs in the county instead of heading east on the Greenway every morning. “Our entire strategy is to make Loudoun a The changes discussed here — new homes, new jobs hub,” Meyer said. “Major companies and businesses, new roads, new workers — these are just governments want to move to Metro stations with the most obvious of thousands of impacts big and vibrant town centers and access to nearby housing small — the proverbial pebble in a pond. for their employees — that's exactly what we've “Metro has the opportunity to be a planned for in our 2019 Comprehensive Plan.” transformational occurence in Loudoun’s history,” He noted that U.S. Customs and Border Protection Rizer said. “When you look at everything that has is bringing 3,700 new jobs to Quantum Park on come before — from the arrival of Dulles Airport to Loudoun County Parkway near the Ashburn Station. the arrival of AOL, which brought the fiber which “More employers in Loudoun means shorter brought the data centers … I think now the arrival of commutes for our residents." Metro is a third major economic driver that will set The arrival of the Silver Line in Ashburn has been Loudoun apart for years to come.” A brewing for decades, in the works for years and is finally here — probably just months away, even if the Joseph Dill is a journalist with more than 25 years of actual opening date is pushed back. experience, including 13 in his native Wisconsin. He Simply stated, it will be one of the biggest things lives in Sterling with his wife, Carolina, and twin sons, to ever happen in Loudoun County. Niko and Issac. m an
ASHBURN MAGAZINE • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2020 • 29
THE EXPER OF ART Broadlands artist Deb Keirce creates masterpieces and teaches others BY JOE MOTHERAL
ebra Keirce hunches over her easel, peering through an oversized magnifying glass. Captured between her fingers, a delicate brush thrusts and parries with the canvas in front of her. She’s surrounded by her armaments — a rough-hewn cabinet, 15 drawers in all, filled with paint tubes galore, gleaming silver canisters holding brushes of every size. And staring down from the walls are a riot of paintings — some by her, some by her friends. It is literally the quintessential painter’s studio — and it’s tucked away in a corner of the basement in Keirce’s
30 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2020
Broadlands home. But Keirce is not just any artist — she’s not a graphic artist, nor a cartoonist, nor an animator. And she’s certainly not a hobbyist or dabbler. She’s what many — including herself — call a “fine artist,” and it’s a passion that has consumed her for most of her life. “I create art that is meant to be experienced,” Keirce said. “I am hoping to convey the magic in my life experience in a way you can sense — whether it is through emotion or one of your five senses. That’s what distinguishes it from other forms of art.”
From her home studio, Keirce has slowly and steadily created a burgeoning business centered around her art. She paints subjects that move her and offers them for sale at venues around the country. She also takes commissions — meaning clients can hire her to paint something that is special to them, such as a portrait of a loved one or a favorite home. Finally, Keirce shares her talent with others by teaching online classes as well as holding periodic workshops at her home studio. “I don’t have a typical student. Each is unique,” said Keirce, who has taught a wide range of individuals, including a 12-year-old and an
“About That Hat”
82-year-old. “They come from all different socioeconomic backgrounds and ethnicities.” Abby Payne is originally from Germany and now lives in Sterling. She has been an artist since high school, primarily just as a side gig. But in 2018, she decided to pursue art as a career and began taking art lessons with Keirce. After 12 months, Payne says the progress in her art is remarkable. “If you could see the paintings I did at the beginning versus now, it’s a world of difference,” Payne said. Keirce was born and raised in the Detroit suburbs. Her interest in art came early, when she was about 7. Her mother always had art supplies around the house, and Keirce recalls taking some of her mom’s charcoal sticks and sketchbooks
Deb Keirce uses magnifying glasses and other instruments to paint miniature works of art.
and sneaking downstairs with them to draw a train she had seen in a book. “In truth, I’m sure my mom would have let me do it in the wide open, but it felt more special because I was being sneaky,” she said. After finishing high school in 1979, Keirce was offered a scholarship at a prestigious art school, the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan. It should have been a dream come true for an aspiring artist, but Cranbrook didn’t feel right to Keirce. “They were not
32 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2020
teaching students how to paint and draw realism,” she said. “They were teaching concept art and graphic arts. They were teaching the types of art people could make a living doing. The only place they were teaching classical realism and draftsmanship was in Europe and I couldn’t afford to go there.” Keirce went on to attend the University of Michigan, where she earned a degree in biochemical engineering. She says the 1980s were an exciting time to work with companies in cutting edge biotechnology research, and she enjoyed a long and successful career in the field. She married, settled in Ashburn and raised a family. Husband Cliff, an air traffic controller, is well known in Loudoun County for his many leadership positions, including serving on the county’s Planning Commission. The couple has three children — now grown and out of the nest. But Keirce never relinquished her love of art. Over the decades, she kept painting as a hobby and also took commissions for work. “She always still dabbled in art — she kept trying to do something,” Cliff Keirce said. “Once the kids got to the point where they didn’t want mom and dad around anyway, I encouraged her and said, ‘Go back into it as much as you want and
“Paddle Your Own Canoe”
take it as far as you want.’ That is her true love.” Finally, in 2010, she decided she was ready to make the leap and become a full-time artist. It was an exhilarating moment. “I was excited to finally paint the subjects I wanted to paint,” she said. “Until then, I drew and painted only the portraits, pets, homes, churches, landscapes, etc. that people commissioned me to paint. The transition wasn’t from engineering to art. It was from a commission-based part-time art to a full-time, professional fine artist career.” The artistic movement known as realism has always been central in Keirce’s works. Realism is generally described as the attempt to represent subjects as they really are, without artificiality. The Dutch masters of the 17th century — Rembrandt and Vermeer are the two most famous names — were early proponents of this style. Today, those Dutch masters provide the basis for many of Keirce’s paintings. “The Dutch masters improved on the level of realism portrayed by the masters in their historical
era, like Da Vinci and Verrocchio,” she said. “Also, they famously painted average people in everyday scenes. Their flowers have bugs on them. Their people are often peasants. They put the ‘real’ in realism.” Her paintings run the gamut — from still lifes to landscapes to portraits — all inspired by classical realism, all pulsating with life. The sheen of reflection off a chilly puddle on a fall day. The warmth of a rock wall glowing with illumination from an unseen source.
The sparkling eyes and Cheshire grin of a behatted woman named “Jenny” with whom you immediately want to be friends. “My personal goal in my art is to give the viewer an experience,” Keirce said. “I try to stimulate all the senses. I want them to feel they are in the painting — feeling the heat, or the splash of the wave, smelling the flowers, hearing the birds chirping in the distance." Keirce’s students benefit from the two sides of their teacher’s brain — the scientific half and the artistic half. “With her background in chemical engineering, she definitely stands out from other artists in the sense that she understands the chemical background and how these paints behave and work on the micro-level,” said Payne. Among the more unusual aspects of Keirce’s art is her love of “miniature” fine art painting. This is defined as a painting that is smaller than 25 square inches, or basically 5 inches by 5 inches. Thus, the need for special
“A Family of Roses”
equipment such as magnifying lenses and close range binoculars. “I can paint suggestions of details in miniature that fool the eye into thinking I have depicted more,” Keirce explains on her website. “Another trick I employ is using sculpting tools instead of brushes during my final painting layer. The impasto creates shadows that come alive
and dance in natural light with the slightest change in perspective.” Despite being a fullfledged business with sales and commissions and workshops, “DebKArt,” as she calls it, will always be more about passion than profit. “I choose to be a professional artist because it is my goal to be the best classical realist painter I can be in my lifetime,” she said. “I prefer to measure my success by experiences, and I wouldn’t trade my experiences in this art career for anything.” A Joe Motheral has been a writer for more than 50 years and has written for many local publications. He’s a member of the National Press Club and lives in Lansdowne Woods with his wife Marjorie.
To learn more about the artwork of Debra Keirce, or for information about her classes and workshops, check out her website: www.DebKArt.com. ASHBURN MAGAZINE • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2020 • 33
time travel feature
Living History The Ashburn Colored School teaches a new generation BY SA R AH SMI T H
(Left) The Ashburn Colored School back in the early 20th century; (right) Lola Jackson, seen here, was the teacher at the Ashburn Colored School for many years.
34 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2020
The fully repainted and renovated Ashburn Colored School stands proudly along Ashburn Road in the area known as “Old Ashburn.” A historical marker commemorates the school’s role in local history.
hen Loudoun School for Advanced Studies founder Deep Sran requested an Uber ride one day in September, he had no idea that — after several years — one of the biggest projects of his life was about to come full circle. Five years earlier, Sran had set out to find a new location for the Loudoun School for Advanced Studies. His school was then known as the Loudoun School for the Gifted and was in a street-level office park off Loudoun County Parkway. After looking around the area, Sran stumbled upon a nearly empty piece of land on Ashburn Road. The only thing there was what appeared to be an old
shed. But that shed was actually the Ashburn Colored School, a one-room schoolhouse used by African-American students in Loudoun County from the late 1800s through 1958. Sran bought the property and began planning to build a new dream facility for his school while also restoring the Ashburn Colored School. “The [Ashburn Colored School] embodies something I’ve always tried to embody — justified optimism. Things aren’t great, but with effort and time, things can be better,” Sran said. “I don’t know if there is another site like this in Northern Virginia. It is really a significant site for African Americans in
the county from the 1880s and onward.” Although the school remained standing all these years, the property went through several hands between 1958 and Sran’s 2015 decision to buy it. Longtime Ashburn resident Harry Saville, now in his 90s, had purchased the land from The Empowerment Church. When Saville decided to sell it to Sran, he said, it had long been his and his late wife’s dream to restore the schoolhouse. So that’s exactly what Sran and the Loudoun School did. Eighth-grade students at the Loudoun School began working with staff at Morven Park and local libraries to restore and redecorate the Ashburn Colored School.
ASHBURN MAGAZINE • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2020 • 35
Members of the Ashburn community turn out in October 2016 to repaint the Ashburn Colored School after vandals struck. According to Loudoun School history teacher Jim Percoco, the students evaluated primary and secondary sources to piece together what the building once looked like. Then, they interviewed former students. “Working in this capacity you become a public historian, and the kids learn what a public historian does,” Percoco said. “They learned the human dimensions of segregation through firsthand accounts. It was a matter of accounting for people that had experienced history in a very different way from how young people today experience history.” Then, in October 2016, something happened that once again changed the history of this site. While restoration work was underway, vandals hit the Ashburn Colored School with what many have called “white power” and “Nazi” graffiti. When news of the vandalism hit the media, the Ashburn community rallied, raising $100,000 to complete the restoration. It put the project into high gear. “The whole community came together to stand up to that kind of hatred,” Percoco said. “We are not going to let this happen. That weekend was really pretty cool when dozens of parents and students showed up to clean the place and get rid of the nasty messages that had been left behind.” September 2017 marked a major milestone in the restoration process – the interior was complete. The Loudoun School hosted a dedication ceremony and invited 200 guests,
including six former students. Two years later, another milestone — the new Loudoun School facility opened to students, right next to the restored Ashburn Colored School. That milestone was exactly what Sran was celebrating when he requested an Uber ride home in September 2019. To his surprise, the driver — Wayne Bowles — was familiar with the property in a pretty intimate way. It turns out that Bowles, now a 69-year-old Herndon resident, had been a student at the Ashburn Colored School during its last year in operation. “[Getting that call] was something else, and to see the school now, knowing the way it was — it’s a whole different thing,” Bowles said. Local historians believe the school was built between 1887 and 1892, marking the impact of Jim Crow laws in Virginia. Even when the Supreme Court ruled in 1954 that segregated schools were unlawful, the Ashburn Colored School and others like it remained open for several years. Bowles’ first-grade year ended in 1958. Just a few months later, the schoolhouse was sold at an auction, and he and his siblings were bused to Leesburg to start fresh. “It was a big transition,” Bowles said. “We had probably 11 students in the whole school and then there were 30 just in second grade [in Leesburg].”
36 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2020
The Loudoun School plans to turn the restored site into a kind of living museum. Officials hope to one day offer public events there and to partner with the Ashburn Public Library to develop an exhibit about its history. “By 1892, the promise of the Civil War is over and there is real darkness until the Civil Rights Act,” Sran said. “In the midst of that, there is a site where students recount the love, this idea of love in the midst of hate. These students had so much affection for their teacher. There is so much to this story because there is so much to learn from it and so much to share. I feel a personal responsibility to make sure this history is told.” At Sran’s invitation, Wayne Bowles has already visited the site of both schools as a guest speaker. He’s looking forward to more opportunities to spend time at the schoolhouse he remembers fondly, and he’s especially excited to one day share this piece of his history with his grandchildren. “I would like for them to know that that’s where I started,” Bowles said. “I just would like for them to see it and know that it’s a part of their history now too.” A Sarah Smith is a freelance writer in Ashburn who recently graduated from the College of William & Mary. Wayne Bowles, who attended the Ashburn Colored School in the late 1950s, speaks with students at the Loudoun School for Advanced Studies.
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Cellar Dwellers Oenophiles make wine storage a key part of their home BY A N G E L A M AR SH
f you are such a wine enthusiast that you take wine vacations and collect beautiful bottles from around the world, where do you keep your treasures? In your very own wine cellar, of course. At least, that’s what John McMahon does at his home in Ashburn’s Village of Waxpool neighborhood. He and his wife, Leslie, have built a room that holds 2,500 bottles and despite being
38 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2020
The wine room at John and Leslie McMahon’s home can hold 2,500 bottles and includes a variety of features meant to make the room perfect for storing wine and entertaining guests.
tucked away in the basement, it’s a centerpiece of the home. “It’s a real conversation-starter,” said John McMahon, who loves to share the room with others. He has been seriously collecting wines since the mid-90s and can regale guests for hours with tales of his wine-tasting adventures. The McMahons aren’t alone. Across Ashburn, wine enthusiasts — the technical word is “oenophile” —
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HOME SWEET HOME collect their favorite styles and vintages and store them in carefully crafted spaces — be they full-on wine rooms or lovely refrigerated wine spaces. Wine experts say three of the most important factors in a wine room are temperature, humidity, and bottle care. Ideally, the room should be between 55 and 60 degrees and hovering around 60% to 70% relative humidity. However, maintaining a consistent and controlled environment is more important than the specific numbers. Bottle care simply means keeping them in low light and letting them rest undisturbed. A wine room or wine space can help you do all three. John McMahon has built wine rooms in three different homes over the years, and his latest is a beauty. You enter through a wood and glass door framed out with heavy duty weather stripping and a door sweep to
prevent air from sneaking in when the door is closed. Inside are three walls covered in wine racks from floor to ceiling. McMahon’s are made of painted cedar, one of the most popular woods used in wine racks. Other common woods are redwood and mahogany. The racks in the McMahon wine room are two bottles deep, so the amount of wine you see is only half of their collection. Because this cellar was constructed in an unfinished basement, the McMahons wrapped the room in a vapor barrier and added extra insulation during construction. They also used a ducted cooling system outside the room where it can be serviced without disturbing the collection. The fourth wall of the wine room is reserved for larger bottles and other wine accoutrements. In the center of the room stands a beautiful island with dimmable
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pendant lights where the McMahons hold intimate tastings with friends. Underneath the island, there is additional storage for even more bottles. If a wine room or wine cellar is too much — be it space, cost, or size of collection — there are still many
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(Left) A few of the wines and wine tags in the McMahon’s wine room; (right) A wine column that can be incorporated into a kitchen or bar space in a home.
amazing refrigerated wine space options — such as a sealed off-nook in a corner, an unused closet, or an elegant space under a stairway. They can be an attractive element of a home’s décor while also being perfectly functional. “With a good designer, there are
many options available,” said Hope Hassell with Case Architects and Remodelers. She recently designed a 50-square-foot wine room in a small condo that holds 500 bottles. Another alternative is getting creative with a “wine column.” These are the tall, glass-fronted refrigerated wine units seen in restaurants and high-end homes. They come in many sizes and styles. You could even put several of them next to each or fill an entire wall with them for a showcase spot in your home. “Wine columns are typically not something to be added to an existing kitchen,” said Chip Lenkiewicz with
Bray & Scarff, a regional kitchen appliance dealer. “Most people use them in new builds or a full kitchen remodel.” There’s really no wrong answer — as long as you’re treating your wine with the proper care, any type of space will work and add a touch of grace to a home. John McMahon definitely suggests working with a builder or designer who specializes in wine rooms. He also suggests planning for more storage than you think you will need. Finally, he says, do lots of research — and don’t hesitate to be a little brazen. “You’ve got to talk to a lot of people and steal some ideas,” he said. Maybe we’ll all steal a few from you, John. A Angela Marsh is a freelance writer living in the Broadlands with her husband, Dan, and their two children. She’s also the owner of CoolMama, a local purveyor of gourmet granola products.
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Fusion Pizza America and India come together at two Ashburn restaurants BY C H R I S WADSWO RT H
izza may have its roots in Naples, Italy, but let’s face it. It’s as American as baseball and apple pie. And Ashburn is replete with pizza joints — from the national chains (Domino’s, Papa John’s, Ledo, MOD) to the locally grown brands (Manhattan, Paisano’s, Rubino’s, etc.) to the upscale (Matchbox). But if pizza originally came from Italy and became an American standard, what happens when another culture decides to throw its flavors into the mix and make something both instantly recognizable and completely new?
42 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2020
Anish Suresh enjoys a slice of Indian-style pizza. We’re talking about the new trend that’s come to Ashburn — Indian pizza — as in pizza pies with toppings and seasonings from the cuisine of India and South Asia. “They are becoming part of the culture now,” said Suresh Sagadevan, who lives in Ashburn’s Overland Park neighborhood. He’s originally from Tamil Nadu, a state in
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WINE&DINE southern India, and he says he sees Indian flavors mixing with American flavors both in India and here in Ashburn. “We had pizza before, but now they are fusing it with the Indian flavors. Even in McDonald’s and KFC, you can get the Indian flavors. McDonald’s has paneer [a soft cheese] in some of their dishes.” Ashburn has not one, but two restaurants that specialize in Indian-style pizzas. But you wouldn’t know it from their names: Chicago’s Pizza with a Twist and Pizza 360. In the name of research, I ventured out to try these relatively new entrants into the local pizza scene. I took my son, Sean, 14, with me. We met up with Sagadevan and his son, Anish Suresh, 15. Sean and Anish both attend Briar Woods High School and have been friends since kindergarten. Our first stop was Pizza 360, on Beaumeade Circle off Loudoun County Parkway. The restaurant is mostly carry-out and delivery focused but does have a few We had pizza tables in the tiny dining room. The menu has all the before, but now items and dishes you would they are fusing expect to find at any pizza it with the joint in America: Supreme, Indian flavors” Hawaiian, Steak and Cheese, All-Meat, Four Cheese, plus fried mozzarella, wings, garlic bread and more. But one section on the menu is different: Indian Specialty Pizzas. We’re talking pizzas with tikka sauce, tandoori sauce, malai sauce, and toppings like paneer cheese and fried veggie balls called kofta. We ordered a Chilli Chicken Pizza (“chilli” is the British spelling), which had a piquant green chili sauce as a base instead of a traditional tomato sauce. It was topped with grilled chicken, bell peppers, red onions, tomatoes, jalapenos and fresh cilantro. We also tried a Butter Chicken Pizza with an Indian butter sauce, chicken, red onions, jalapenos, bell peppers and cilantro. Our first impression — the heat. Both of the pizzas were hot temperature-wise, and hot in spiciness, too. “Both of them are good. This one
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Bath and Body • BaBies • entertaining • Fashion • Jewelry • wedding ASHBURN MAGAZINE • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2020 • 43
WINE&DINE is spicy, way spicy,” said Anish, pointing to the Chilli Chicken Pizza. I’m a fan of Indian food and thought they were both delicious. My son, Sean, hasn’t been a big fan of Indian food, but he is a fan of spicy things. (In sixth grade, he won an unsanctioned hot pepper eating contest in his middle school lunchroom.) He went back for seconds of the Chilli Chicken Pizza. Our little international taste-testing group then made its way to Chicago’s Pizza with a Twist. It’s in a tiny strip mall on Ashburn Road in Old Ashburn and has a decent-sized dining room and even a bar. Chicago’s Pizza with a Twist is actually part of a nationwide chain. According to its website, it has 35 locations open across the country, with another 20 in the works. As you may have guessed — the “twist” in the name is that it offers Indian-style pizzas as well as pizzas with traditional American toppings, along with wings, pasta and more.
You can order paneer pizzas, with curry or pesto. The restaurant has Desistyle meat pizzas, including a lamb kabob pizza. It even has pizzas made on the traditional Indian naan bread that resemble what Americans often call a flatbread pizza. Sukhdeep Singh is the local franchisee who owns Ashburn’s Chicago Pizza with a Twist. While many of his customers are part of the local South Asian community, he also gets a good number of non-Indian patrons who quickly become regulars. “When people eat it, they really like it,” Singh said. “They like trying the Indian twist. They like all the fresh vegetables that we cut all day, and the fresh dough. They say it’s very tasty.” Our group ordered a Chicken Curry pizza with curry sauce, chicken, mozzarella cheese, mushrooms, black olives, red onion, garlic, ginger, fresh cilantro, green chilies and jalapeno. We also got a Paneer Tikka Masala
pizza. That had tikka sauce, paneer cheese, mushrooms, bell peppers, red onion, tomatoes, garlic, ginger and green chilies. “With the paneer, it’s more like a cottage cheese, so the flavor really gets into it. The stronger flavors get into it more,” noted Sagadevan. The Chicken Curry pizza was my personal favorite. It was creamy and reasonably mild, with just a bit of heat. And the toppings came together for a great flavor. An internet search shows similar Indian-style pizza restaurants popping up around the country in such far-flung locations as Everett, Wash., Canton, Mich., and Roseville, Calif. With Ashburn’s large South Asian population — not just those of Indian origin, but also those from countries such as Pakistan and Bangladesh — it seems likely we will soon see more places offering this fresh take on the most quintessential of American dishes. A
“Happy Birthday, You’re Dead” murder mystery “Big Bad Wolf, ACE Detective” murder mystery - Jan 25, 26, Feb Jan 11 at StageCoach Theatre • Jan 31 at Eddie Merlot’s, Ashburn 1, 2 – performances at StageCoach Theatre, Ashburn (non-dinner)
“L.O.V.E. in the U.S.A. Valentine’s Cabaret” musical revue Feb 8, 14, 15 & 22 at StageCoach Theatre, Ashburn Feb 9, 16 & 23 at StageCoach Theatre, Ashburn.(Non-Dinner)
44 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2020
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www.perioperio.com ASHBURN MAGAZINE • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2020 • 45
Greek Getaway Ashburn family chases Olympic dreams BY C HRIS WADSWO RTH
he Roberson family of the Broadlands made many wonderful memories on a recent whirlwind trip across Europe. Mom Bridgette, dad Jerome, daughter Nia, 15, and son Julian, 13, visited England, France and Italy. But the stop that resonated the most with the family was Greece. You see, the Robersons are a track-and-field family. Jerome coaches the kids. Nia does the long jump and runs the 800-meter. (She’s also a soccer player.) Julian is a sprinter — the 400-meter is his specialty. Both kids have competed at the Junior Olympics and Julian has his eye on a possible future spot on a national Olympic team. So visiting Greece — home of the ancient Olympic Games and birthplace of the modern Olympics — was a special treat indeed. Bridgette Roberson shared some of her favorite photos and memories from their stop in Greece. 46 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2020
“The Parthenon in Athens was incredible. Just thinking about the work that it took to put together a structure like that without modern technology — the size of those stones and transporting them. It was just really impressive. They did tell us that a lot of the pieces are replicas. The actual pieces are in museums right there in Greece.”
2 “This is up near the Parthenon [on the Acropolis hill] in Athens. There is a theater near the Parthenon that is open to the public where they still hold live shows and music. They were getting ready for a show. We thought that was so cool. The view was spectacular. It would be a really cool place to attend a concert.”
“This was at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens. It was the site of the first modern Olympic Games. The seats were all made of marble and they were hard and uncomfortable. And the track surface is a lot harder than what we are used to. It’s a lot harder to run on.”
4 “This was at our hotel — the Athens Gate. The views were amazing. From the roof deck, you could see the Acropolis. The hotel is in the heart of the city. The accommodations were great for a family traveling with kids, and it was centrally located to lots of shops and restaurants.”
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“This was at the top of one of the peaks on [the island of] Hydra. I’ve never been to Santorini, but the architecture was similar with some of the buildings having the blue domes on them. They had beautiful doors too and lots of nice, quaint little shops. The yogurt there was delicious. We visited three islands in one day.”
“There weren’t any cars or motor vehicles on [Hydra], so we had to ride around on donkeys. It was definitely different for city boys. Not as comfortable you would imagine, but it was unique. The roads are cobblestone and it was bumpy.”
“The food in Greece was great. There was a restaurant called ‘Gods’ Restaurant’ — as in the Greek gods. It was in a quaint part of town. There were shops everywhere. The tables were right on the street and there was entertainment. The food was really great. Overall, the food in Greece was incredible. The lamb shank was the dish we ordered every night. Someone at the table ordered it every night because it was so good.”
“We took a Jamaican water taxi to Moni Island, where the peacocks roam free. There were lots of peacocks and deer on the island. It’s bad luck to rename a boat, so you had this Jamaican water tax in the middle of the Greek islands. The owner was pretty cool — a guy with long, blond hair bobbing to the music of Bob Marley.” A
If you’ve taken an amazing trip somewhere recently and have beautiful photographs, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. We may just share your adventure in a future issue of Ashburn Magazine. 48 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2020
AN ALBUM OF ASHBURN AREA EVENTS
If you have taken fun photos at a recent Ashburn organization or community event, send them to us at email@example.com. Make sure you include the name of the event, date, location and names of people pictured (l to r). We may just share your “On the Town” photo in a future issue of Ashburn Magazine.
‘Battle of the Burn’ at Stone Bridge High School There are lots of high school football games around Ashburn each fall, but few have the storied history of the famed “Battle of the Burn” — now in its 18th year — between Stone Bridge and Broad Run high schools. This time, Broad Run came out victorious, defeating Stone Bridge 35-21. 2
1 Stone Bridge wide receiver D.J. Cobbs (11) gets extra yardage after a catch. 2 Broad Run's Tyler Smedley (56) consoles quarterback Mitch Griffis (left) after Griffis left under his own power after being injured on a fourth-quarter touchdown run. 3 Broad Run’s student section, known as the “Maroon Crew,” reacts to the action on the field.
3 PHOTO CREDIT: DOUG STROUD
Eat The Frog Fitness Studio at the Southern Walk Plaza in the Broadlands The first Eat The Frog Fitness Studio in the Washington region celebrated its grand opening on Dec. 5. The new studio offers personalized workouts in a studio setting, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 1
1 Ashburn residents and studio owners Julie and Travis Green, right, present a check to Mrs. Loudoun County and Loudoun County Chamber Ambassador Erin Lombardi to benefit the Boulder Crest Retreat as part of Eat The Frog’s commitment to giving back to the Loudoun community. They are joined by Eat The Frog Fitness co-founder Joe Culver and Regional Developers Mark and Scott Loev, far right. 2 Travis and Julie Green with Eat The Frog Fitness co-founder and Olympic gold medalist Bryan Clay in their studio. 2 50 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2020
the burn A ROUND-UP OF THE LATEST RESTAURANT, RETAIL AND OTHER COOL NEWS FROM ASHBURN AND BEYOND. CHECK OUT THE BURN AT THEBURN.COM AND FOLLOW IT ON FACEBOOK, TWITTER AND INSTAGRAM.
SIGN UP AT CHOONG MAN FRIED CHICKEN Construction is underway at the new Choong Man Korean Chicken restaurant coming to the Ashbrook Commons shopping plaza in Ashburn. The new sign recently went up on the façade.
CM Chicken, as they are known, has four locations in Northern Virginia. The Ashburn location is taking over the former Dickey’s Barbecue space and will be the fifth in the burgeoning chain.
EIGHT TESLA SUPERCHARGERS COMING TO THE BROADLANDS
new Harris Teeter Fuel gas station under construction at Southern Walk Plaza in the Broadlands. The Superchargers act like a gas station for the electric Teslas, allowing owners to recharge their car’s battery at a much faster rate than the conventional chargers they have at home.
BADDPIZZA LOOKING FOR ASHBURN LOCATION
Ashburn is getting its first Tesla Superchargers. Eight will be installed at the
52 • ASHBURN MAGAZINE • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2020
The new baddpizza restaurant (that’s how they spell it) opened in South Riding in December and the owners — one of whom lives in Ashburn — say they are actively looking for a location in Ashburn. The new brand is launching here in Northern Virginia. Baddpizza specializes in Buffalo NY-style pizza with a medium thick crust, slightly sweet sauce and toppings that go to the edge of the pie.
LARGE NATURE PARK COMING TO ASHBURN
Two large parcels of land straddling Ashburn’s Broad Run creek south of Route 7 will be merged into one large nature park with paths, bridges and potentially a good view of the great blue herons that nest in the
area. There will also be a full-size soccer field. The land is coming from Peterson Companies and Kincora, two developers who have large projects going up near the future park.
STARBUCKS MOVING NEXT DOOR
The Starbucks coffee shop in the Ashbrook Commons shopping center is moving next door into the new Ashbrook Marketplace center at Ashburn Village Boulevard and Russell Branch Parkway. The move will give the Starbucks a new space with a better configured drive-through lane, hopefully avoiding some of the traffic tie-ups at the current location. Besides Starbucks, the Rubino’s Pizzeria at Ashbrook Commons
is moving into the new center as well.
THAI BISTRO OPENS IN GOOSE CREEK VILLAGE A new Thai restaurant has opened in the Goose Creek Village shopping center in Ashburn. Thai Bistro opened its doors in the space that was previously a Chinese restaurant called East Wind China Bistro. The new restaurant has a small dining room but will focus primarily on carry-out and delivery.
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