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Kingstowne housing development moves closer to approval after county board vote

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has revised its comprehensive plan for Kingstowne, opening the door for potential new housing development at the former Topgolf site.

After a two-hour public hearing, the board unanimously agreed on Tuesday (Jan. 23) to boost the housing density at 6626 South Van Dorn Street from 3-4 units per acre to 10 units per acre.

The amendment sets the stage for EYA Development, a Maryland-based housing developer, to construct a single-family subdivision with 174 units, 18 of them designated as affordable, and a public park on the 17-acre site currently housing Rudy’s Golf and Sports Bar and an empty Ruby Tuesdays.

The developer must still gain the county’s approval for a rezoning and its official development plan, which are under review.

Franconia District Supervisor Rodney Lusk noted that the currently proposed development has generally won public support, including from the Kingstowne Residential Owners Corporation, the Friends of Huntley Meadows, and Friends of Kingstowne Lake. The planning commission and county staff also recommended approval.

“I think the proposed plan provides significant opportunities to provide a new feature for this site that would integrate well with the surrounding residential communities and the Kingstowne area,” Lusk said.

EYA is seeking to build 174 single-family homes on the former Topgolf site in Kingstowne (via Fairfax County)

Originally proposed in 2015, the development aimed to create a mixed-use area with 275 single-family homes, 16 dwelling units per acre, and up to 70,000 square feet of retail.

Since then, the application has been revised multiple times, primarily due to resident and stakeholder backlash concerning traffic, compatibility with the neighborhood and stormwater management.

However, at the hearing, most of the roughly two dozen speakers expressed support for the application.

“We opposed this. But we opposed this for very good reason,” said nearby resident Mark Engelbaum. “We’ve been very, very pleased with EYA and the development. Look, I’ll be the first to say I’d be happy to have it.”

Engelbaum, a long-time critic of the project, said he not only believes the development would blend well with the community’s aesthetic, but that it would reduce the noise and crime that he associates with the golf recreation facility.

“I can’t tell you the number of times over the last decade that I’ve had to call police,” he said. “I can go into so many things, from trespassing, illicit activities, fights, parties going on throughout the night into the early morning, continuing in the parking lot.”

Tim Nank, vice president of the Kingstowne Homeowners’ Association, said he’s also onboard with EYA’s most recent application, which he believes “sufficiently” addresses concerns like traffic and stormwater.

“I am very much in support of this,” he said. “I know several of my neighbors are supportive of this as well.”

Some resistance remains, notably from the Franconia Land Use Committee and an Edison High School student and golf team member.

Last month, the land use committee recommended the Board of Supervisors vote against the project, citing traffic congestion and environmental concerns, one committee member, Tom Rickert, testified.

“The Topgolf site does not have enough open space by a longshot to achieve EYA’s proposed density,” Rickert said during the hearing.

Another speaker highlighted Rudy’s importance as an affordable golf option and its entertainment value for locals.

“I understand the board wanting to provide an opportunity for more people to live in a great area and to access…low-income housing. But really, it’s an issue of what’s the better investment and what has more value,” he said. “And from the people that I’ve gone to, just door-to-door, really, in my community and the Kingstowne area, they would much rather see Rudy’s instead of the townhouse development and recognize its value.”

Board Chairman Jeffrey McKay acknowledged the desire to preserve the property but emphasized the need for a strategic decision.

“This is not a question between Rudy’s and Topgolf and this development,” McKay said. “It has been made very clear that the property owner will not continue their lease with Rudy’s. It has been very clear.”

“And so, we have an obligation to approve what we think will best fit into the community, will respect the community around there, and respect the wishes — that are beyond our control — of this property owner who will discontinue that use — and that has been put in writing,” McKay continued.

EYA has had a contract on the property for “several years,” an investor in the ownership group, 6625 South Van Dorn Street LLC, told the Washington Business Journal last year.

EYA’s application will undergo public hearings before the planning commission on Feb. 14 and the Board of Supervisors on March 5, per the county’s website.

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