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Morning Notes

Plants grow over Vienna Metro station sign and fence (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Police Arrest Suspect in Car Part Thefts — “A 33-year-old Alexandria man is being held without bond after allegedly stealing thousands of dollars worth of vehicle parts in residential parking garages in Fairfax County and Fairfax City…The first theft was reported on April 19 in the 5800 block of Trinity Parkway in Centreville.” [ALXnow]

Fairfax Man Charged for Loudoun County Bomb Threat — “An 18-year-old man from Fairfax was arrested on Tuesday and charged in connection with a bomb threat that was emailed to Dominion High School on May 19.” [Patch]

Fairfax County to Study Free Bus Service — The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors directed staff to analyze the pros and cons of making Fairfax Connector buses fare free for all riders, building off of a recently approved program providing 50% discounts to low-income riders. The results will be presented to the board at its transportation committee meeting on Sept. 30. [Patch]

Affordable Housing Units Open for Rent — The Fairfax County Department of Housing and Community Development was recently notified of potential vacancies in apartments targeted toward lower-income residents. There are currently available units in Oakton’s Dwell Vienna Metro Apartments, the Passport Apartments in Herndon, and The Kingston and Hanover in Tysons. [HCD]

Construction Firm Makes Reston Office Its HQ — “General contracting firm Winmar Construction Inc., one of the largest private companies in Greater Washington, is moving its headquarters from Georgetown to Reston. Rockville commercial real estate firm Edge said Tuesday it represented Winmar in a lease for 7,000 square feet at 2100 Reston Parkway.” [Washington Business Journal]

Vienna Proposes Change to Historic Register Criteria — “At the request of Historic Vienna Inc., the Vienna Town Council on July 11 will hold a public hearing to change the definition of ‘historic’ as ‘at least 100 years old.'” The town currently limits its register of historic sites and places to properties that existed before 1900. [Sun Gazette]

Repaved Wakefield Courts to Reopen — “After months of repairs and conversion of existing courts to pickleball courts, it’s time to officially open the renewed and renovated Wakefield Park tennis and pickleball court complex…Please join us on Saturday, June 25, 2022, at 9 a.m. for a brief ribbon-cutting ceremony, followed by a demonstration of [pickleball] and light refreshments.” [FCPA]

It’s Thursday — Possible light rain in the morning. High of 75 and low of 66. Sunrise at 5:45 am and sunset at 8:35 pm. [Weather.gov]

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The Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) is scaling up its ambitions for Tysons.

The nonprofit has submitted a new plan to Fairfax County for its much-touted affordable housing project in Dominion Square West, the planned redevelopment of a strip of car dealerships on the west side of Spring Hill Road.

After getting the county’s approval in January for a 175-unit, nine-story residential building at 1592 Spring Hill Road, APAH wants to bump that up to 225 units and 20 stories in height in order to match a second tower that it can now construct, thanks to a $55 million investment from Amazon.

Collectively, the two buildings will deliver 516 units — all aimed at people earning 60% or less of the area’s median income, according to the application, which the county received on Thursday (June 2).

“This important project addresses a key objective for the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors by providing significant affordable housing opportunities within close proximity to Metro,” Scott Adams, a McGuireWoods land-use attorney, wrote on APAH’s behalf in a statement of justification dated May 31.

The final development plan for the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing’s Dominion Square West affordable housing high-rises (via Fairfax County)

Designated as C5 in the plan, the second building will allocate up to 33,500 square feet on its ground floor to a community center that will be operated by the Fairfax County Department of Neighborhood and Community Services.

The community center will be much larger than the 15,000 square feet of retail currently allowed by the existing Dominion Square West plan. Despite the increase in units and height for the approved building C6, the developer says it’s proposing 69,000 fewer square feet of residential space than what it could have to compensate for the additional commercial use.

The buildings will be constructed on top of five levels of underground parking, which will provide one space for each housing unit as well as 140 spaces for the community center. There will be two loading spaces and 209 bicycle storage spaces, including 15 for the community center.

According to the submitted development plan, the buildings will abut each other, but they will have separate lobbies. Proposed amenities include:

  • Private skyparks for both buildings, totaling 12,900 square feet, with swings, an outdoor kids’ play space, lawn games, a community garden, and movable tables and seating
  • A 1,900-square-foot skypark for the community center
  • A 14,800-square-foot interim park with publicly accessible seating on turfed areas along a planned Boone Boulevard that will extend west off of Spring Hill Road

The interim park will eventually become a 3,700-square-foot urban park once the property on the other side of Boone Boulevard is redeveloped, shifting the road’s final alignment.

APAH’s proposal covers two of the six buildings envisioned in the Dominion Square West conceptual plan that the county adopted in 2017. Final plans for the other four buildings — two office buildings and two residential — haven’t been submitted yet.

While the new application hasn’t been formally accepted yet, the county has previously said construction on the all-affordable housing project could begin by the fall of 2023.

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Construction continues on Heming, a 410-unit apartment building in Scotts Run that will include 82 affordable dwelling units (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

The conundrum of how to provide affordable housing in Tysons won’t be solved in a day, but the Tysons Partnership hopes to at least start a conversation about how it might be tackled.

About 100 developers, community advocates, property owners, policymakers and employers are expected to convene tomorrow afternoon (Wednesday) at the Boro Station Conference Center (1765 Greensboro Station Place) for a workshop on how to “solve” the area’s affordable housing issues, according to a media advisory.

During the interactive workshop, participants will be given different affordable housing proposals and tasked with coming up with ways to make them a reality using existing resources and Fairfax County policies.

The idea for the event came from the partnership’s housing subcommittee, which meets every month and was looking for an alternative to its typical seminar presentations, according to Tysons Partnership Land Use Council co-chair and board member John McGranahan.

“We hope participants will gain a better understanding of the complexities and challenges of providing affordable housing, but also the opportunities for real success,” McGranahan said. “We intend to follow-up this event with quarterly meetings to continue the dialogue we will begin with this workshop.”

Affordable housing is a key element of the county’s comprehensive plan to transform Tysons from a largely commercial center into a more livable community.

The plan calls for 20% of new residential units to be designated as affordable or workforce housing, a higher bar than what’s required elsewhere in the county. It also recommends that nonresidential developers contribute $3 per square foot to a Tysons Housing Trust Fund.

The county is dipping into that $8.7 million fund for the first time to help build the Dominion Square West all-affordable housing project that’s also being financed by Amazon, federal COVID-19 relief funds, and local tax revenue.

Fairfax County sees the planned Dominion Square West buildings as an example of how creative partnerships between the public, private, and nonprofit sectors can boost its affordable housing stock, but one project can only make so much of a dent when overall real estate prices continue to rise.

According to the real estate firm Redfin, the median sale price for housing in Tysons was $500,000, as of April, a 7% increase over 2021. The current average rent is $2,444 — well above the national average of $1,628 — even though the average apartment is only 926 square feet in size, according to RentCafe.

In addition to raising equity concerns, the limited availability of affordable housing poses an obstacle to employers and the county’s efforts to make Tysons more walkable and transit-oriented.

“There is a tremendous employment base in Tysons, and providing the broad range of employees who work in Tysons with opportunities to live in Tysons is important,” McGranahan, who also works as a land-use attorney, said. “Tysons employers want affordable housing for their employees. It is both an economic development and a quality of life issue.”

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Residence Inn could shift into a multi-family housing project (via Town of Herndon)

Herndon will have to wait a little longer to see whether the local Residence Inn will be redeveloped into residential units.

At a Herndon Town Council meeting on Tuesday (May 24), the council deferred a decision on the project, which converts the aging facility into a 170-unit project with at least half of the units set aside as workforce housing.

The applicant’s representative, Ken Wire, said the deferral was necessary because the applicant was not able to sufficiently gather formal feedback from neighboring residents and stakeholders. Wire said some notices about the project were not sent out in time.

The issue was caused by a planning fluke, Wire told the council.

The council has been working with the applicant to sort through a number of details, including beefed-up proffers, for the project. The plan includes 72 new bicycle spaces, a new cycle station facility, and improvements like ADA-friendly crosswalks and $10,000 for bus stop improvements.

Wire said the applicant first came to the Town of Herndon with this project in 2019 to redevelop an asset that was built 32 years ago and “doesn’t fit its purpose.”

“The good news about this sister is that it does lay out quite well for housing units,” Wire said.

Roughly half of the units will be available to residents who earn up to 80% of the median area income.

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Residence Inn could shift into a multi-family housing project (via Town of Herndon)

The proposed redevelopment of an aging Residence Inn in the Town of Herndon is barreling toward a final approval before the Herndon Town Council this month.

The property owner, identified as Elden Street Owner LLC, is repurposing the hotel at 315 Elden Street into a 170-unit project with at least half of the units set aside as workforce housing, according to application materials reviewed before the Herndon Town Council on Tuesday (May 17).

“They’ll go through and renovate every unit,” David Stromberg, the town’s zoning administrator, said.

Councilmember Sean Regan said he was pleased the applicant did not alter its plan — particularly the workforce housing component — as it moves through the approval process.

“It’s wonderful to see it stick with that original vision,” Regan said.

The plans include 184 parking spaces and 72 new bicycle spaces. Roughly 48 spaces are planned within a cycle station facility, and 24 spaces are planned on racks throughout the site. The applicant’s traffic demand management plan must be approved before occupancy begins.

Other improvements include new ADA-friendly crosswalks, the dedication of roughly 885 square feet of street frontage for future road improvement, and roughly $10,000 for bus stop improvements.

Because of the change of the property’s use, the plan now falls within a floodplain overlay in FEMA’s current flood maps. But the property was removed in the latest floodplain draft and a flood study is no longer required as a result.

Councilmember Jasbinder Singh said he was concerned about ambient noise from the neighboring Outback Steakhouse that is currently under construction.

“I wonder whether we could make sure any noise… doesn’t effect these units,” Singh said.

Stormberg said the addition of parapet walls around the building’s mechanical units “does function to keep some of the noise in.”

The town council is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the project during its session on May 24, which could result in a vote.

Mayor Sheila Olem encouraged council members to bring up any proposed amendments in a speedy fashion in order to move forward with the application.

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The Fairfax Presbyterian Church wants to repurpose 1.6 acres of its parking lot for 10 townhomes for lower-income people.

It’s holding another open house tomorrow (Saturday) at 10 a.m. in its fellowship hall with a question-and-answer session about the proposed project, which requires Fairfax City Council to rezone the area.

The church is seeking to partner with three nonprofits and help house individuals currently making $79,700 or less as well as families of four with an income of $113,850 or less, targeting people in the 40% to 80% range of the area median income.

The church envisions offering a 30-year mortgage, but with land leased at $1 per year, it will remove some $100,000 to $300,000 in land costs that other homeowners might face. Building height and design would be comparable to nearby buildings on the eastern border of the property, according to an application.

The proposed project comes through a partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia, homeless services organization Homestretch and HomeAid Northern Virginia, which is tied to the Northern Virginia Building Industry Association.

“Eight units will be sold with a long-term ground sublease to income eligible Habitat NOVA families and two of the units will be sold to Homestretch for their Sacred Homes Program,” the church’s application says.

However, a representative of a local advocacy group for affordable housing says city staff seem to be catering to a handful of vocal opponents, thereby putting up roadblocks.

Judy Fisher said the city has required two traffic studies so far to understand changes from the pandemic, but then asked for a third traffic study. She said it’s creating hardship for the project, which has relied on pro bono work for the studies.

City spokesman Matthew Kaiser said the project’s application was received May 6, 2022, and is currently under its first round of review.

“There will be only one traffic study,” he wrote in an email.

But Fisher said the church decided to pursue the project five years ago, and the partnership submitted two applications in 2021, receiving staff comments.

“There has been what feels like not very good cooperation from the city,” she said. “It feels like obstruction.”

According to a church flier, it submitted a rezoning application last year in February and resubmitted it Oct. 27.

The flier says the church has committed up to $400,000 with the land to serve families needing affordable housing.

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Wesley Housing’s The Arden apartments, currently under construction near the Huntington Metro station, is a recent recipient of Fairfax County’s annual federal funding from HUD (via Fairfax County Housing and Community Development)

Fairfax County has gotten a little help from the federal government for its efforts to increase the availability of affordable housing.

The county was awarded a total of $8.9 million in grants and other funds by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner announced on Friday (May 13).

The funding comes from three different programs:

  • $5.9 million in Community Development Block Grants, which can be used for housing construction, homeowner assistance, infrastructure, economic development, and other community projects
  • $2.5 million from the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, which supports partnerships with nonprofits to provide affordable housing and direct rental assistance to low-income individuals
  • $515,135 from the Emergency Solutions Grant program, which funds emergency shelters, services for people experiencing homelessness, and homelessness prevention programs

The county typically receives approximately $8.5 million each year from those programs, according to the Fairfax County Department of Housing and Community Development.

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay says federal funds “are critical” to helping the county achieve its affordable housing goals, which was recently doubled to 10,000 new units by 2034.

“I thank Senators Warner and Kaine for helping us to advance housing opportunities for veterans and their families, providing supportive housing for those with special needs, enabling older adults to age in place, and much more,” McKay said. “Fairfax County is working every single day to ensure that everyone here access to a safe, secure, and affordable home.”

With the block grant and HOME funds, the county says it has been able to create or preserve over 800 affordable housing units, along with 220 affordable rental units, in the past five years. Projects that have benefitted include Wesley Housing’s The Arden in Huntington, the new Lee District Community Center, and a planned acquisition of 12 condominiums by the nonprofit Pathway Recovery.

According to Housing and Community Development spokesperson Benjamin Boxer, the new funds will be allocated in accordance with the county’s Five-Year Consolidated Plan and the related One-Year Action Plan, which set housing goals and establish services for older adults, people with disabilities, people experiencing homelessness, and households earning 30% or less of the area median income.

The newest One-Year Action Plan, which is currently under review and will take effect for fiscal year 2023 on July 1, calls for funding for 13 different projects, ranging from rental assistance vouchers to home repairs for seniors and people with disabilities in Falls Church and Herndon.

Overall, Virginia will receive $114.7 million from HUD.

“All Virginians deserve access to safe and affordable housing, but rents and home prices have skyrocketed across Virginia in recent years,” Kaine and Warner said in a joint statement. “We’re glad that this funding will go to supporting the construction of new affordable housing units and help Virginians access more housing options.”

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A developer is proposing to turn a park into affordable housing.

Project renderings show a five-story building at 6858 Richmond Highway, which is next to The Beacon of Groveton luxury apartments.

It would create up to 52 age-restricted units, an interior courtyard, fitness areas and conference as well as community rooms, according to a proposal called Beacon Hill Senior Housing recently made available through a public portal May 4.

The property would have a parking garage. It wasn’t immediately clear if all of the property’s 34 spaces would all be inside the garage.

The developer is listed as “RH Senior Housing LLC.” Its address is the same as that of the nonprofit NFP Affordable Housing Corp, based in Bethesda.

A lawyer for the applicant didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

The proposal will require Fairfax County to approve rezoning applications and amendments.

The county previously approved a mixed-use development for the site in 2009. That involved the possibility for approximately 70,000 square feet of office and retail uses with buildings up to 85 feet in height, according to a statement of justification by the developer’s attorneys.

The proposed building would be approximately 65 feet, the attorneys wrote.

Photo via Google Maps

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The Little River Glen IV project includes 60 new affordable housing units for seniors (via Fairfax County)

An affordable housing option for seniors will soon be available in an area of Braddock District where housing stock has been limited.

At a board meeting on Tuesday (May 10), the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a financing plan to rehabilitate 120 senior affordable housing units and construct 60 new units at a project known as Little River Glen.

Financing on the project is expected to close in October. The county will likely begin once financing is secured following a two-year schedule. 

“Accordingly, current projections would have completion in the fall 2024,” said Benjamin Boxer, spokesperson for FCHRA.

The project is spearheaded by the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority, which owns Little River Glen I, a 120-unit building built in the 1990s and a senior center. FCHRA also owns an adjacent property that’s approved for 60 new senior affordable housing units, known in planning jargon as Little River Glen IV.

Both options will be restricted to seniors age 62 and above with incomes at or below 60% of the Area Median Income.

FCHRA is seeking multiple funding options for the project to move forward, including $7 million as a loan from the authority’s funding resources, $1.5 million from its operating fund, and $1.4 million in a loan from the county’s affordable housing development and investment fund.

Overall, the project requires up to $40 million in bonds to be authorized.

“Historically, the competing requirements tied to various funding sources have made it difficult to apply multiple resources to a project,” FCRHA Chairman Melissa McKenna wrote in a statement. “We’re proud of the fact that, over the last several years, we have led the way in rewriting the affordable housing playbook when it comes to the strategic investment of public resources to make it possible for projects like these to come alive.”

Both projects will be conveyed to LRG Apartments Limited Partnership, a limited partnership created and controlled by FCHRA as the sole controlling member.

Once completed, Little River Glen’s campus will see a boost in affordable housing options. It already includes Olley Glen, a 90-unit senior independent living building, and Braddock Glen, which includes 60 beds.

The existing community will get new cabinetry, upgraded kitchen appliances, new toilets, light fixtures, HVAC systems and bathtubs, and upgrades to the existing senior center.

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Morning Notes

The Lake Accotink dam in Springfield (staff photo by David Taube)

Oath Keepers Member at Capitol Attack Pleads Guilty — “On Jan. 5, 2021…[William Todd Wilson] drove to a hotel in Tysons Corner in Virginia with an AR-15-style rifle, a 9mm pistol, about 200 rounds of ammunition, body armor, pepper spray and a large walking stick ‘intended for use as a weapon,’ according to court records filed Wednesday.” [The Washington Post]

FCPD Seeks Help Finding Eyeglass Thieves — Fairfax County police are investigating a “smash-and-grab” larceny that occurred at My Eye Dr (6307 Richmond Highway) in Belle Haven on April 19. The suspects allegedly stole over $20,000 of eyeglass frames. Similar thefts have been reported across the D.C. area in recent months, including at a store in McLean. [FCPD]

Reston Startup Raises $9M — “Hubble Technology Inc., an early-stage cybersecurity startup based in Reston, has raised a $9 million seed round to grow its business…Hubble said in an announcement the new funding will be used to grow its D.C.-area engineering team to scale the business and meet increasing demand.” [Washington Business Journal]

Track Work to Disrupt Metro’s Orange Line Service — “During the weekends of May 7-8 and 15-16, Orange Line service will end at Stadium-Armory. The free shuttle buses offered on the Orange Line will replicate the service customers can expect to see this summer during weekdays.” [WMATA]

Fairfax Man Found Guilty After Allegedly Driving 103 MPH — “A Loudoun County jury on Wednesday returned a finding of guilt against a Fairfax man for reckless driving, a class 1 misdemeanor, by speed and recommended the maximum fine allowed under law of $2,500, according to a May 4 release from the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney.” [Loudoun Times-Mirror]

Military Veteran and Spouse Job Fair Coming — “The Veteran and Military Spouse Career Fair will be held in person from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on May 11 at the National Museum of the United States Army…A virtual career fair will be held from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on May 12 through online meeting portal Brazen. The event is free to attend.” [Patch]

Plan for Housing Voucher Program Released — The Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority has released its draft fiscal year 2023 Moving to Work Plan, which outlines how the county will administer its housing choice vouchers and other affordable housing programs. The plan is now open for written comments, and there will be a public hearing on May 19. [Housing and Community Development]

It’s Friday — Rain throughout the day. High of 64 and low of 56. Sunrise at 6:06 am and sunset at 8:07 pm. [Weather.gov]

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