Developer details plan to replace ICF office buildings in Oakton with housing

The Hunters Branch office buildings in Oakton could be redeveloped with an apartment building and townhomes (via Fairfax County)

A redevelopment plan for the former ICF headquarters in Oakton has officially been submitted to Fairfax County.

Filed in late December, the application from IBW HB LLC — an apparent affiliate of Arlington-based developer Insight Property Group — envisions replacing the 1980s-era Hunters Branch office complex at 9300 and 9302 Route 29 with a 8-story apartment building and townhomes.

With a comprehensive plan amendment to allow the redevelopment already in the works, the developer says a change is needed for the property “to contribute positively to the community and to better serve the local economy” after its longtime tenant, the consulting firm ICF, moved to Reston.

“IBW HB LLC is excited for the opportunity to put forward a thoughtful and high quality redevelopment that will replace obsolete and predominantly vacant office uses with modern residential uses within close proximity to transit,” a statement of justification for the application says.

Developer requests to turn commercial properties into residential ones have become common, as offices struggle to rebound from the pandemic, which fueled an embrace of telework. A similar redevelopment has been proposed for AT&T’s Oakton campus, and nearby, the Pan Am Shopping Center is poised to add housing in an effort to rejuvenate the strip mall.

“Extending this pattern to the Hunters Branch Property is logical and creates inherent compatibility and additional opportunities to deliver meaningful connections and open spaces that will benefit the new and existing residences of the Vienna [Transit Station Area] alike,” McGuireWoods land use agent Scott Adams wrote in the statement.

Pitched as a “gateway development” for the Vienna Metro station area, the proposed apartment building at Hunters Branch would have up to 485 dwelling units across 485,000 square feet of space. It would be located on the western side of the 13.9-acre property along Hunters Glen Way, replacing an existing, four-story parking garage.

The proposed layout for the Hunters Branch office complex redevelopment in Oakton (via Fairfax County)

A second five-story garage would remain, but in a change from an initial concept that exclusively suggested residential uses, the developer proposes converting the eastern portion into up to 2,000 square feet of retail space — potentially “a small coffee shop or eatery.”

“This retail/restaurant space softens the exposed portion of the garage, activates the adjacent public plaza and uses some of the excess parking spaces in the garage for additional density,” the application says, noting that the immediate Vienna Metro station area is currently lacking in retail.

Approved plans for retail and commercial development elsewhere in the TSA have largely failed to materialize so far.

The plan also calls for around 76 townhomes as a “logical transition from the multifamily building to the large open space and environmental corridor on the eastern portion of the site.” While the units are described as “stacked” townhomes, they could be built as conventional side-by-side townhouses instead.

To reflect a theme of “enhancing human-scale connections with nature,” the developer has offered to reposition the Hunters Branch stream valley corridor as a natural park with reconstructed trails, a dog park, children’s playground, and other recreation areas.

Proposed road improvements to enhance pedestrian safety and connectivity include a redesigned Hunters Glen Way and Route 29 intersection with better crosswalks and a “Multi-modal Transportation Amenity Plaza” that could have bicycle racks, a bicycle repair station, electronic charging stations, seating, wayfinding signs for the Metro station and more.

Changes to the Route 29 and Nutley Street intersection are also being considered.

“Expanded pedestrian landing areas at the Nutley Street and Route 29 intersection will provide new pedestrian refuges and create a sense of arrival to the Vienna TSA,” Adams wrote. “Additional pedestrian and bicycle enhancements on the Property will further establish safe and accessible connectivity towards the Metro.”

The county hasn’t formally accepted the application for review yet.