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Senior affordable housing project on Route 1 gets go-ahead from Fairfax County board

A rendering of the proposed Beacon Hill senior living facility in Groveton (via Fairfax County)

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has given the green light to new affordable housing for seniors along Richmond Highway.

At last week’s meeting, the board unanimously approved the plan amendment for the affordable senior housing next to the Beacon of Groveton apartment building. The project calls for a six-story, 70,000-square-foot affordable, independent senior living facility with a “community-serving” ground floor at 6858 Richmond Highway.

An undeveloped urban park currently sits at the site.

The county’s Planning Commission also voted unanimously to recommend approval of the project back in December, despite some traffic concerns.

While all the supervisors voted for the project, a few shared that they had initially hoped to see more office space at the site. However, with the county actively trying to convert underused commercial space due to reduced need, they admitted that affordable housing for seniors was a much better plan.

“This area, unfortunately, will not be executed in the form of office, [but] I acknowledge the market just isn’t there,” Franconia District Supervisor Rodney Lusk said during the meeting. “It makes sense to convert this to something that’s definitely needed in the community. Affordable housing — particularly affordable housing for seniors — is something that will have benefit.”

Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck agreed with that sentiment, saying that while some green space will be lost, the space was always planned for development.

“I share the regret that we don’t have office options, but equally say that I’m very pleased we can do more…senior housing,” Storck said. “It’s definitely a demand that will far exceed supply.”

The project to develop the half-acre “interim park space” into a multi-story building housing seniors was first proposed in May.

The development will sit next to the Beacon of Groveton apartment building and about a half-block from the Beacon Center, a retail area with a Giant, Lowe’s, and other stores. It will be about a half-mile from a future Richmond Highway Bus Rapid Transit station, which could begin operating around 2030.

While walkability to amenities was a point in favor of the project, an area resident at last month’s planning commission public hearing noted the proximity to Richmond Highway may pose a safety risk to residents. As a caregiver for his elderly parents, he said the traffic was so bad along the corridor that he didn’t let his dad walk in the evenings near Richmond Highway.

Commissioners overall understood this objection but said this project and other ones in the future should make the corridor more pedestrian-friendly.

The new senior housing along Richmond Highway remains far from being completed. Rezoning consideration likely won’t happen until the spring, with the building not expecting to open to its new senior residents until at least 2027.