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County approves parking cut at West Falls Church Metro development

A proposed redevelopment of the West Falls Church Metro station property (via Fairfax County)

Fairfax County will ease up on its parking requirements for the planned redevelopment of the West Falls Church Metro station.

However, the 29% reduction in spaces that the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved yesterday (Tuesday) was lower than the 34% reduction requested by developers EYA, Rushmark Properties, and Hoffman & Associates, known as FGCP-Metro LLC.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust, whose district includes the 24-acre site, said FGCP-Metro appeared “receptive” to an agreement with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority allowing the development to use up to 120 parking spaces in the Metro parking garage.

“There is…a lot of capacity of parking in a Metro parking lot at this site, and the parking study suggested that that was a justification for reducing the parking factor even more,” Foust told the board. “…I think there is going to be an opportunity to use that to some extent, but to finalize and make this permanent, I asked that the applicant enter into an agreement with Metro for parking spaces, if they are to get the reduction they initially sought.”

Approved by the Board of Supervisors on June 27, the project will replace parking lots at the Metro station in Idylwood with over 1 million square feet of mixed-use development, including 810 multifamily residential units, 85 single-family townhouses, 110,000 square feet of office and up to 10,000 square feet of retail.

That will reduce the station’s park-and-ride capacity from 2,009 to 1,350 spots, including an existing 1,200-space garage, according to a staff report accepted by WMATA’s board of directors in March.

FGCP-Metro proposed providing 1,052 spaces in the development — 34% fewer than the 1,598 spaces required under the county’s zoning ordinance. A parking study from the development team posited that the site’s proximity to transit and planned pedestrian and bicycle improvements will make future residents less reliant on cars.

While some community members have objected to the loss of parking, county staff generally supported the study’s argument that the demand for parking is partly driven by its availability.

“When walkable locales are provided, behavioral changes occur that support use of non-auto travel modes such as walking and micromobility devices,” staff said in a memo to the Board of Supervisors. “…Reducing incentives to drive because parking is freely available reduces emissions, which is the primary source of pollution in our region.”

According to the parking study, the existing neighborhoods adjacent to the property generally restrict parking to residents, and Metro “indicated it was open to sharing arrangements” with the development.

Under the reduction approved by the Board of Supervisors, the developers will provide 1,140 spaces. The additional spaces come from an increased minimum rate of 0.9 spaces per unit, or 522 spaces total, for 579 one-bedroom apartments, which were previously set at a rate of 0.75 spaces per unit.

If WMATA agrees to share part of its garage, those spaces could be counted toward the total, reducing the amount of new parking that the developers need to build, according to Foust.

A representative for FGCP-Metro didn’t return a request for comment by press time.

The county is revamping its off-street parking policies for the first time since 1988. Set for a planning commission public hearing on July 26, Parking Reimagined would create a tiered system for parking requirements based on density, among other changes.

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