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Mixed-use ‘donut’ building floated to replace Idylwood shopping center

Tenants at Fallfax Center on Route 29 include El Tio Tex-Mex Grill (via Google Maps)

A major redevelopment has been suggested for Fallfax Center, a retail strip anchored by El Tio Tex-Mex Grill on the edge of Idylwood near Jefferson District Park.

Property owner Schupp Companies has put forward a proposal to replace the existing shopping center with a residential and retail “donut” building.

Schupp is asking Fairfax County to amend its comprehensive plan to allow multifamily residential uses and increased density on the 4.6-acre property at 7630 Lee Highway, one of 75 sites submitted to the county for a potential amendment in October.

“Leveraging its proximity to the bus/transit lines and depth/size of the subject property, this proposal will replace aging structures with attractive new development, that includes robust green space and modern stormwater management controls,” the developer said in a summary of its nomination.

The proposed 385,000-square-foot building would have 380 residential units with about 6,000 square feet of first-floor retail in a 6-story section facing Route 29 (Lee Highway). A section to the rear would start at five stories and drop to four next to the Lee Landing townhouses to the north and west of the property.

Both sections would have internal courtyards, according to a concept plan included with the nomination. They would be connected by a five-story residential structure with an internal parking garage and community swimming pool.

Owner Schupp Companies is hoping to redevelop the Fallfax shopping center with a mixed-use residential building (via VIKA/Fairfax County)

The development would “activate” Route 29 with a large adjacent patio and landscaped open space, and a “natural” buffer would be provided to separate the site from the adjacent townhomes, according to a statement of justification from Mark Viani, a land use agent representing Schupp.

“Collectively, these areas and the open space along Lee Highway, will greatly reduce the impervious nature of the Property and the proposed development will also include modern stormwater management controls,” Viani wrote.

Purchased by Schupp in 1989, the Fallfax shopping center dates back to 1955, per county land records, has evidently not been significantly renovated since it was constructed. The owner says the one-story buildings “are no longer efficient” and becoming “difficult to maintain.”

Current tenants include Settle Down Easy Brewing, Victor’s Grill, a Pizza Hut and Huqqa Lounge. The brewery could remain with the redevelopment, according to Viani.

The site also has two industrial buildings — Happy Tails dog day care and a vacant building once occupied by the commercial printer HBP — that are “an occasional source of concern” due to their proximity to the neighboring townhouses, the nomination says.

“The Nominator’s proposal will address Fairfax County’s need for housing and diversify the type of housing in the area,” Viani wrote, noting that a bus stop in front of the property provides access to Merrifield and the Dunn Loring Metro station.

The Fallfax redevelopment is one of dozens of proposals jockeying for inclusion in the county’s site-specific plan amendment program, which considers land use changes to the comprehensive plan for individual properties.

The process was revised this summer to have a shorter timeline, new submission criteria, and more frequent nominations countywide over two-year periods, as opposed to the previous four-year cycle that alternated between the north and south sides of the county.

The Board of Supervisors is expected to determine which site nominations to accept for review at its next meeting on Dec. 6. If the Fallfax proposal advances, Viani wrote that Schupp intends to file a rezoning application for review.

Photo via Google Maps

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