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Tysons East affordable housing project lands $33M in public funds

Developer SCG plans to build 453 units of affordable housing at 1750 Old Meadow Road (via Fairfax County)

The proposed replacement of a Tysons East office building with affordable housing will be supported by over $33 million in local and federal public funds.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors authorized the county’s Redevelopment and Housing Authority (FCRHA) to provide $33.6 million in financing for the Somos project at 1750 Old Meadow Road by a 9-1 vote yesterday (Tuesday).

Developer SCG Development filed an application with the county last year to demolish the site’s existing office building and replace it with an 8-story multifamily residential building featuring 5,000 square feet of retail, office or community uses.

While the application seeks up to 460 units, the site and building design configuration put the final number of units at 453, according to Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik’s office.

The units will be spread across two attached buildings: a 5-story, 228-unit “rear” building over an existing three-level parking garage and an 8-story, approximately 225-unit building in the front. Rents will range from 40% of the area’s median income to 70%, with 60% as the average.

The complex will be just a half-mile from the McLean Metro station, furthering the county’s efforts to increase affordable housing, especially near transit, Palchik said before the board’s vote.

“It’s an important and welcome addition in helping us make Tysons more affordable, helping us attract young employees and the workforce that we want to be able to live and work in Tysons and in Fairfax County,” Palchik said.

According to the board agenda, the newly authorized funds include a $12.6 million loan to SCG from the county’s Housing Blueprint. FCRHA will also spend $20.7 million to acquire the roughly 3.5 acres of land under the planned building.

The building will be leased to SCG for a 99-year term, requiring all units to remain affordable during that time.

The price tag ruffled Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity, who argued that the money could be used for housing in a less expensive area of the county.

“We should be making our money go a lot further,” he said. “We’re not solving a need to put something on top of mass transit just to put it on top of mass transit, and that $33 million could be put to a lot better use on other projects or other programs.”

About $13 million will be local tax dollars, according to Fairfax County Housing and Community Development Director Tom Fleetwood. There is also $19 million from the federal American Rescue Plan Act and $1.2 million contributed by developers to the Tysons Housing Trust Fund.

Acknowledging that the project is on the expensive side, other supervisors contended that the extra cost is necessary to bring an affordable housing option to Tysons, which has been touted as the county’s “economic engine” even as high housing costs push out retail workers and others in lower-paying jobs.

According to RentCafe, the average monthly rent for an apartment in Tysons is $2,617, as of July, surpassing everywhere else in the D.C. region, including Fairfax and Arlington, except for Bethesda.

Chairman Jeff McKay said affordable housing in a place like Tysons with jobs and transit is “a true investment in Fairfax County’s economic success.”

The county is also providing some public funds for the all-affordable Dominion Square West high-rises proposed for Spring Hill Road to the west.

“There’s an environmental cost. There’s an infrastructure cost to continuing to make bad decisions,” McKay said. “…For too long, this county has decided there’s only certain areas in this county where affordable housing can go. Those days are over here.”

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