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Planning Commission defers vote on Fannie Mae redevelopment again

Staff raised several issues with the cohesion of the former Fannie Mae site in Reston (via Fairfax County)

The redevelopment of the former Fannie Mae campus in Reston is still waiting to clear the docket of the Fairfax County Planning Commission.

At a meeting last night (Wednesday), lack of agreement on whether or not part of the nearly 9-acre townhouse project should have security gates led the group to defer a vote to June 22.

Instead of the two additional office buildings currently approved for the site at 11600 American Dream Way, the applicant is seeking the county’s permission to build up to 74 townhouses and eight two-over-two units. The existing 396,074-square-foot office building will remain on the site.

The deferral was hung up by a discussion on whether or not it was appropriate for the applicant to retain a gate along American Dream Way around the existing office building. This is the second deferral for the project, which was delayed by six weeks to work through a litany of issues.

Developer Wheelock Street Capital said discussions are underway with a prospective tenant that has a strong need for security gates around the road.

As a compromise, the county attempted to draft a proffer that would let the owner put in and take out gates, depending on the needs of future tenants.

But county staff and planning commissioners called that approach confusing for the area, particularly for residents of the townhomes whose access could be cut off sporadically.

“It’s coming and going and coming and going…There’s no consistency there,” said Mary Cortina, planning commissioner for the Braddock District.

Mary Ann Tsai of the Department of Planning and Development’s zoning evaluation division also said allowing the removal and reinstallation of the gates was contrary to the county’s vision for a mixed-use project in a transit area.

“We felt it was a very confusing situation,” Tsai said, particularly regarding getting in and out of the facility.

Ultimately, Wheelock agreed to drop the proffer and instead apply for a final development plan that could retain the gates, prompting the deferral to give staff the time to draft language for the revision.

Although the gates issue held up a vote on the project, Hunter Mill District Commissioner John Carter said the developer agreed to a number of changes to the project.

“The project has come a long ways over the years and especially since the initial application,” he said.

According to Carter, the changes include ensuring that residential units are not built inside the site’s ponds, that the site isn’t completely gated off, and that appropriate setbacks are put into place.

He noted that the plan now ensures that adequate setbacks are provided, public access is provided for ponds and trails, and the ponds are preserved with a joint maintenance agreement is in effect. Between eight to 10 units were shaved off of the project to accommodate the changes.

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