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New retail building proposed at Huntwood Plaza on Richmond Highway

A new retail building has been proposed on Richmond Highway (via Fairfax County Government)

A 6,000-square-foot retail building could be coming soon at the corner of Fort Hunt Road and Richmond Highway in Belle Haven.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission is set to consider the proposal by Huntwood LLC this Wednesday (April 27) to build a retail addition to the site, which is located at Huntwood Plaza (5845 Richmond Highway).

Because the project is in a floodplain area and slightly exceeds the allowed floor area ratio, the county is considering a special exception for the application. The structure would have to be raised 18 feet above the flood elevation to receive the county’s approval. The project is also within a resource protection area.

The site is located in the North Gateway Community Business Center and will include additional surface parking and landscaping. The current eight-story office building overlooks the Belle Haven Country Club and was built in the late 1980s.

In an April 13 report, staff noted that the environmental components trigger a number of special requirements for the application to move forward.

There is no word yet on exactly what would fill the retail building, if it’s approved.

The existing eight-story office building on the site will connect to the new retail building through an outdoor dining area and plaza. Most of the new development is proposed on the western portion of the property.

Initially, staff noted they were concerned that the building contributed to the strip-mall-like nature of Richmond Highway — an image that the county is working to avoid in an effort to revitalize the corridor into a more cohesive and vibrant area.

“Staff’s concerns about the building appearing as a strip-commercial retail center were addressed with the architectural details contained in the elevations,” the staff report said.

Staff also encouraged the applicant to move the retail building closer to the office building to improve connectivity — a recommendation that the applicant did not accept. But the applicant did agree to provide a more robust pedestrian connection.

Still, the county has to iron out a few issues, including the lack of a sidewalk from the Richmond Highway trail into the site. It also wants six parking spaces at the western end of the property removed to improve the corner’s appearance with landscaping and reduce the amount of impervious surface.

“Developing this highly visible corner with surface parking spaces does not align with the vision for future redevelopment along Richmond Highway,” staff wrote.

The plan is up for a public hearing on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

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