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Plan for new residential buildings at The Boro tweaked to improve bridge design, accessibility

Updated at 5:50 p.m. on 5/12/2022 — The Fairfax County Planning Commission approved the final development plan for The Boro’s Buildings I and K yesterday (Wednesday).

Earlier: With construction underway on one part of The Boro’s expansion in Tysons, plans for three more buildings in the five-block development are about to be finalized.

A centerpiece of the 9.37-acre project to extend the mixed-use community north of Westpark Drive will be a pair of mid-rise residential buildings connected by a glass bridge over Boro Place.

Designated as Block K, the 90-foot-tall, seven-story buildings will have between 350 and 430 housing units — an increase from the 270-unit minimum in the conceptual plan that the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved in November.

In its proposed final plan, which will go before the Fairfax County Planning Commission tonight (Wednesday), developer The Meridian Group also reduces the amount of ground-floor retail in the block to 10,000 square feet each in the north and south complexes. The north building was approved for up to 15,000 square feet.

Some of the residential units will be contained within the bridge, which will be five stories tall with a glass façade, internal hallways, and a “graphic art feature” looking over Boro Place. The plan shows the bridge elevated more than 22 feet in the air by pillars.

The county’s planning staff previously took issue with the bridge’s size as a potential “visual barrier,” according to a staff report. While the design has been refined with the illuminated art, lighting, and recessed balconies, staff still recommends making the inclusion of public art and glare reduction conditions of approval.

“Staff notes that the applicant also has an accepted proffer commitment to provide bird friendly building design, and recommends the applicant commit to a creative design approach by integrating public art with bird friendly features,” the report says. “Having these two design elements work in tandem on the façade will enhance the design outcome for the bridge structure.”

A map of The Meridian Group’s planned extension of The Boro (via Fairfax County)

The third building in the final development plan, dubbed Block I, will be another seven-story residential building with up to 130 units and 25,000 square feet of retail. No changes from Meridian’s original plan are proposed.

All three buildings will have private, elevated courtyards, and a bicycle room and pet spa are planned in Buildings I and K North.

Publicly accessible amenities provided by the plan include 5,708 square feet of the Tysons Community Circuit — a shared-use trail that will eventually extend throughout Tysons — as well as a 26,848-square-foot Allsboro North park with an open lawn, gardens, play and climbing elements, and artwork.

The developer says it will also construct 4,455 square feet of a paved plaza called Allsboro South that will primarily be built as part of The Trillium, the senior living high-rise that got approved as Block J of The Boro expansion in October and is now under construction.

Streetscape modified to address accessibility criticisms

In response to accessibility concerns raised by the county and community members, Meridian has added an ADA-compliant parking space in front of Building I and widened the sidewalks in the development from 8 feet to 12.5 feet.

“The new drop-off lane and new underground utilities necessitated removal of one street tree at the corner of Westpark Drive and Boro Place,” the staff report says. “A new tree has been added to Allsboro North to compensate.”

To accommodate the new ADA parking space and drop-off lane, the developer tweaked an 8-foot-wide landscape amenity panel in front of Building I, but the addition of new plantings resulted in the elimination of proposed bicycle racks.

“Staff appreciates the applicant’s diligence in providing the additional plantings, but staff recommends bicycle racks in the vicinity of the pocket park in front of Building I due to its proximity to retail and the Community Circuit,” the report said.

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