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County paves way for construction on MetroWest town center — now with pedestrian improvements

The MetroWest town center will have three residential buildings, with interim open space before the final one is built, and two office buildings on currently undeveloped land (via Fairfax County)

A path has been cleared for construction to begin soon on the long-awaited MetroWest town center, promising retail and pedestrian safety enhancements near the Vienna Metro station in Oakton.

As recommended by the planning commission in late October, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted last week to remove a limit on the number of residences allowed at the mixed-use development before work also starts on planned office buildings.

Occupying approximately 9.8 acres directly south of the Metro station, the future town center will bring up to 900 residential units, 300,000 square feet of office, and at least 55,000 square feet of retail to the 56-acre MetroWest development.

Developer CRC Companies said at the public hearing on Nov. 1 that the county is on the verge of approving site plans for the first two residential buildings, which will combine for more than 500 units and 12,000 to 15,000 square feet of retail space.

“To say that’s a long time coming is probably the biggest understatement of the afternoon, if you know the history and legacy of MetroWest at all,” McGuireWoods attorney Greg Riegle said, representing CRC at the hearing.

When originally approved in 2006, MetroWest was capped at 1,100 residential use permits (RUPs) until some construction is completed on one of the planned office buildings, but market changes have stalled the commercial portion of the project.

With 706 dwellings already built and 408 more units on the way from fellow developer Pulte Homes, CRC sought to have the condition removed so it can also deliver the town center’s third and final residential building — and the accompanying retail and open space that has failed to materialize.

“By continuing to develop the town center and round out the amenity package, that’s the best chance to make the office actually happen at MetroWest,” Riegle said.

As part of the updated development conditions, known as proffers, CRC will provide a 2-acre interim open space with an asphalt trail on Atlas Plaza “to create a walkway circuit,” according to a county staff report. The plaza will eventually be replaced by the third residential building.

The town center will have a permanent plaza between that residential building and the two office buildings, but CRC isn’t required to build it until the first RUP or occupancy permit is issued for the second of those buildings to be constructed.

The proposed improvements on Vaden and Royal Victoria drive (courtesy Providence District Supervisor’s Office)

The developer has also agreed to construct pedestrian safety improvements along Vaden Drive and at its intersection with Royal Victoria Drive, right in front of the Providence Community Center.

The proposed improvements will extend the existing concrete medians on Vaden Drive into the crosswalks, adding detectable warning strips and rapid flashing beacons, shown as yellow diamonds on the diagram above.

“There’s quite a bit of pedestrian, bike, family, dog activity, and improvement to that safety is definitely a priority for the community members, for the residents, and for my office,” Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik said.

Though it’s unclear when construction on the town center will begin (CRC didn’t return an inquiry from FFXnow by press time), Palchik and other supervisors expressed hope that their vote will allow the county’s vision for a vibrant, mixed-use community at the Vienna Metro to finally come to fruition.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn and Franconia Supervisor Rodney Lusk recalled discussing the MetroWest plan when they served on the planning commission back in 2006. The meeting lasted until 3:45 a.m., according to Alcorn.

“I appreciate where it’s come and see this as a very vital and necessary step for this development,” Lusk said.

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