County staff take issue with planned townhouses at former Fannie Mae campus

Fairfax County staff have flagged a number of issues with a proposal to bring townhomes to Fannie Mae’s former campus in Reston.

Wheelock Street Capital, a Connecticut-based company, wants to build up to 90 townhomes on the site, which was previously approved for three office buildings.

The development houses one office building at 11600 American Dream Way but hopes to replace the approved yet unbuilt offices with residential units.

In a 237-page report, county staff raised a litany of issues with the rezoning proposal, including lack of pedestrian walkability and connections to the surrounding community, poor integration of the townhomes on the site, and too many parking spaces.

The move from office to residential is fairly common in Reston, particularly given the community’s close proximity to the anticipated Silver Line extension.

Roughly 24 of the proposed units are located on protected open space and Environmental Quality Corridor areas, which are given a higher level of scrutiny due to their environmental value.

“Staff has significant concerns with the proposal that have not been adequately addressed,” the report states.

Other aspects of the proposal do not conform with the county’s desire to ensure the development connects seamlessly to surrounding areas, particularly since the development is located within a half-mile between two new Metro stations.

Major concerns include:

  • Over-parking by 213 spaces
  • Trails are disconnected from American Dream Way
  • The installation of a gate on the property is “unacceptable” and limits public access
  • Vehicles could overhang on proposed driveways, creating a safety issue for pedestrians
  • Sidewalk widths are not appropriate on American Dream Way

In the initial application to the county, the developer’s land use attorney, Scott Adams, said the change would complement the existing office development.

“The introduction of an option for residential use will help to complement and balance the existing office use on the property, and will create positive traffic impacts relative to the full office build-out option,” Adams wrote in the proposal.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission delayed a decision on the proposal this week. A rescheduled meeting is expected to take place on April 27.

Fannie Mae has moved its offices to Boston Properties’ Reston Gateway development, where it occupies one office tower and part of a second tower.