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Flats at Tysons condo plan poised for approval despite staff objections

The proposed Flats at Tysons Corner condo development includes a 14,500-square-foot urban park (via Fairfax County)

(Updated at 3:25 p.m.) Plans for an 86-unit condominium development by Fairfax Square in Tysons will go to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors for a public hearing this afternoon after securing the planning commission’s support last week.

The commission voted 9-0 on Wednesday (Nov. 30) to recommend that the board approve Pulte Group’s Flats at Tysons Corner on the 1953 Gallows Road parking lot, despite county staff’s continued objections to loading spaces being on a street rather than inside the buildings.

“This is an imperfect proposed infill development,” Providence District Commissioner Phil Niedzielski-Eichner said. “However, when I weigh the opportunities against the limitations of this unique and heretofore undevelopable site, I believe the balance is on the side of opportunity and is worthy of our recommendation for approval.”

Four commissioners abstained from the vote, three of them because they missed the Nov. 2 public hearing on Pulte’s application. At that meeting, county planners and residents of the townhomes to the west across Gallows Road worried that the two proposed on-street loading spaces were too small and could impede vehicular travel, potentially exacerbating existing traffic issues on Gallows.

Staff especially opposed a space on a future public road off Gallows that will eventually be extended to Route 7, per the Tysons Comprehensive Plan.

In response to the public hearing, Pulte has revised its plans to consolidate both loading spaces into one larger space on the north side of a private street in the development. The space will be 11 feet wide and 41 feet long, and it will accommodate trash collection trucks as well as residents’ loading needs.

The two planned loading spaces shown on the left have been consolidated into one (via DLA Piper/Fairfax County)

The two planned five-story buildings will have enclosed, central trash receptacles. Pulte has similar waste pickup arrangements at other properties, its representative noted.

“It’s very efficient,” DLA Piper attoreny Antonio Calabrese said. “…It takes about seven or eight minutes for these two buildings.”

Braddock District Commissioner Mary Cortina seemed skeptical that the design tweaks would resolve concerns about disruptive loading activities.

“It’s not ideal, to say the least, and I’m inclined to support staff’s position on this,” she said, opting to abstain from the vote.

Niedzielski-Eichner, whose district includes Tysons, emphasized his respect for staff’s opinion but argued that the proposed development would help further the comprehensive plan’s vision for an Old Courthouse District as a smaller-scale, mixed-use transition between the nearby single-family homes and Tysons Corner Center.

“With additional infill and redevelopment, portions of this district will evolve into a neighborhood that supports an active 24-hour environment where people go to restaurants or stores after work,” the Tysons plan says.

Noting that he wouldn’t support the development if it was rental apartments, which would see more resident turnover than condos, the commissioner highlighted the promise of 17,000 square feet of park space and a streetscape enhanced with art, trees and landscaping, and pedestrian amenities, including sidewalks and crosswalks.

The condos will include nine workforce dwelling units and six affordable dwelling units.

Pulte has also agreed to work with ArtsFairfax on a mural along Gallows, refined its plan to construct sewer improvements to reflect potential county policy changes, and raised its cap from $2,500 to $5,000 for getting an easement so it can build a sidewalk north to the retail building at 8027 Leesburg Pike.

Niedzielski-Eichner’s argument for the project convinced some other commissioners to support it, despite their reservations about the loading situation.

“It could be and hopefully will be a very positive [development] for this area of Tysons,” said Vice Chair John Ulfelder, who represents the Dranesville District. “As Commissioner Niedzielski-Eichner suggested, maybe it could be a catalyst for additional development by others that will help further this area under the Tysons plan and our goals for Tysons.”

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