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Virginia Tech’s proposed expansion near West Falls Church Metro will require change to county plan

Virginia Tech’s Northern Virginia Center in Idylwood (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Less than two years after overhauling its plan for the West Falls Church Metro station area in Idylwood to allow more development, Fairfax County needs to make a relatively limited but critical revision.

During its meeting last Tuesday (March 21), the Board of Supervisors authorized a study of an amendment to the comprehensive plan for the West Falls Church Transit Station Area (TSA) that would allow more office on Virginia Tech’s Northern Virginia Center at 7054 Haycock Road.

The amendment would also reduce the amount of institutional space proposed for the 7.5-acre property, reflecting changes to developer Rushmark Properties and the construction company HITT Contracting’s plan to expand the campus.

“The rezoning application by HITT Contracting and Rushmark Properties proposes a decrease in the planned institutional use by 120,000 square feet and an increase in general office use by approximately 62,000 square feet,” Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust said in his motion asking the board to authorize the study.

Plans to redevelop Virginia Tech’s Idylwood campus have been percolating since 2018, when the university received an unsolicited bid from Rushmark. HITT got involved a year later, seeking to relocate its headquarters to the site.

That original pitch also called for a new academic building and a design and construction research center, along with an additional 250,000 square feet of office space, 500 residential units and 50,000 square feet of retail.

However, Virginia Tech announced on Feb. 28, 2021 that it and HITT had agreed not to move forward with the project. Despite that termination, the proposed development was still incorporated into the new West Falls Church TSA plan approved by the Board of Supervisors on July 12, 2021.

The plan allows 1,720 dwelling units, 301,000 square feet of office use, 48,000 square feet of retail, and 160,000 square feet of institutional use across the TSA, including on the adjacent Metro station property.

Rushmark and HITT put forward a new redevelopment plan last fall that would replace the existing Northern Virginia Center with a 283,000-square-foot office building, up to 440 residential units, and a 2,000-square-foot retail pavilion.

The newly requested plan amendment will be considered at the same time as that rezoning application, which is scheduled for a public hearing before the Fairfax County Planning Commission on June 7.

According to Foust, the use changes won’t affect the 2.5 floor area ratio now allowed on the Virginia Tech site or the overall development limits for the TSA.