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Major Church Street development gets blessing of Vienna Town Council

A mixed-use development that will bring apartments, retail, and additional parking to Church Street in Vienna is moving forward.

During its meeting on Monday (July 11), the Vienna Town Council unanimously approved the project from developer Bognet Construction to replace two commercial buildings at 139 and 145 Church Street with a three-story building and two-level parking garage.

“I think it’s going to add a lot to Church Street, a lot to our town and a lot to that corner,” Vienna Mayor Linda Colbert said after a town staff presentation on the project.

The approved project was downsized from Bognet’s original proposal, eliminating a planned basement with 10,891 square feet of commercial space and reducing the number of residential units from 18 to 11.

The provided parking has also shrunk from 72 spots to a total of 46 spaces, including 14 designated public parking spaces on the lower level and nine compact spaces. The garage will be behind the building, backing up to a 15-foot-wide alley owned by the town.

The development will comprise a total floor area of 25,101 square feet with 13,055 square feet for the residential units and 14,152 square feet of non-residential space, including the public parking spaces, according to a staff report.

The ground floor will be exclusively commercial uses, while the second floor is expected to have a mix of office suits and multi-family units. The third floor will consist entirely of apartments.

The 145 Church Street development will include a two-level parking garage (via Town of Vienna)

A rendering depicts Texas Burger as the tenant in a ground-floor suite at the corner of Church Street and Lawyers Road, but Verity Commercial, the leasing company for the development, says the name is just a placeholder.

“We do want a fun community servicing restaurant on the future corner space though,” Verity Commercial Senior Vice President Ellie H. Bechtle told FFXnow by email.

The development will be a significant change for the 0.62-acre site, which currently hosts a pair of two-story buildings with consignment shops, House of Vape, and other small tenants. 139 Church Street was constructed in 1976, and 145 Church Street was built in 1955, according to Fairfax County land records.

However, the Town of Vienna believes the new building will be in keeping with its vision for Church Street:

The approved development is the fifth in a series of projects designed to enhance the economic vitality of the historic Church Street commercial corridor. The latest project will include restaurants, office space and residential space in a bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly design that is reminiscent of late 19th and early 20th century, small-town America. The approved project is consistent with the Church Street Vision that the Vienna Town Council adopted in July 1999.

Projects in the town’s Church Street Vision overlay zone must meet specific architectural requirements intended to maintain the street’s historic character in exchange for additional square footage, lower parking requirements, and a faster review process.

Development plans can be approved by the town council and mayor without having to go through the planning commission or Board of Architectural Review first.

Bognet’s project has a floor area ratio of 0.93, slightly higher than the maximum of 0.7 permitted by the Church Street Vision, but it won’t be the first development to get a modification of that requirement.

The 111 Church Street development — now home to the restaurants Blend 111 and Bazin’s on Church — got approved with a ratio of 0.923 by providing additional parking, Kelly O’Brien, a principal planner for Vienna, told the town council.

“This project will enhance Church Street’s growing reputation as a destination for high-quality restaurants, shopping and tourism,” Vienna Economic Development Manager Natalie Monkou said in the news release. “It will contribute to our efforts to further strengthen our local economy and enhance the quality of life for the town’s residents.”

The developer will now go through the county’s permitting process and prepare the site for construction, according to the town. Owner and CEO Jim Bognet said in June 2021 that he anticipated construction will take 12 to 15 months, with a potential completion in the summer or fall of 2023.

FFXnow didn’t get a response to its request for an update on the potential timeline by publication time.

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