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MetroWest developer asks to remove barrier to town center construction

Developer CRC plans to build a town center at MetroWest (via CRC Companies/Fairfax County)

Fairfax County is currently reviewing a proposal that would clear the way for work to finally begin on the planned MetroWest town center near the Vienna Metro station.

Developer CRC Companies wants the county to revise its conditions for the mixed-use project on Saintsbury Drive so it can start construction on three residential buildings with ground-floor retail space, according to an application submitted on Jan. 28.

As presented at a community meeting in September, the proposed buildings — known as Buildings 6, 7, and 10 — would bring up to 900 residential units and retail amenities to the 9.8-acre site, which is part of the 56-acre MetroWest community that CRC is building jointly with Pulte Homes south of the Metro station and I-66.

However, a condition dating back to the county’s original approval of MetroWest in 2006 limits the amount of housing developers can build without also providing the 300,000 square feet of office space planned for the site.

Under the current development conditions, known as proffers, the county won’t issue more than 1,100 residential occupancy use permits (RUPs) until construction begins on the office space, which will be concentrated at the town center in buildings 8 and 9.

While the cap was intended to ensure a mix of uses in the community, CRC argues in its application that the real estate market has changed since the proffer was approved, making office less viable, so it is now preventing the delivery of retail, open space, and other amenities for existing residents.

“The additional residential and retail density could improve the demand for office in MetroWest,” McGuireWoods managing partner Gregory Riegle wrote in a statement of justification on CRC’s behalf.

The developer says it could construct the more than 500 residential units planned for buildings 6 and 10 without exceeding the 1,100 RUP limit, but it would hit that ceiling with building 7.

Pulte also got the county’s approval in January to construct five residential buildings of its own, totaling 480 units.

“[CRC] cannot obtain financing for its buildings if there is a risk that RUPs cannot be issued,” Riegle said. “Without financing, the Applicant cannot construct the third mixed use residential building in the Core Area (likely Building 7) until Buildings 8 and 9 begin construction.”

CRC filed a site plan with the county for buildings 6 and 10 in August 2021, but a land-use record indicates that it was disapproved on Oct. 29. The developer did not return FFXnow’s requests for comment.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission is currently scheduled to hold a public hearing on CRC’s proposal to remove the construction cap on July 20.

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