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The Koons Chevy auto dealership at 2000 Chain Bridge Road (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

The developer behind Reston Station and Herndon’s stalled downtown redevelopment has turned its sights to Tysons.

Comstock is seeking to replace the massive Koons Chevy and Chrysler dealerships at 2000 and 2050 Chain Bridge Road near the Route 7 (Leesburg Pike) interchange with a “vibrant, mixed-use, multi-block neighborhood,” according to a new application.

Submitted on Oct. 27 as part of Fairfax County’s Site-Specific Plan Amendment (SSPA) process, which considers possible land use changes to the comprehensive plan, the proposal says the new development would be 85% multifamily residences and about 15% retail. Open space and amenities would also be provided.

“The Nominator respectfully suggests that this infusion of residential mixed use is needed to redress the balance of uses in Tysons, specifically in the office-heavy area in and around the Greensboro Metro Station Transit Station-Mixed Use area,” DLA Piper Senior Land Use Planner Brian J. Clifford said in a statement on Comstock’s behalf.

A concept plan in the application depicts a single multi-level retail building on one block and another with four residential buildings. Heights range from 175 feet to 400 feet, increasing as the buildings get closer to Route 7.

Comstock says the adjacent interchange where Chain Bridge (Route 123) passes over Route 7 needs to be replaced with an at-grade intersection. The developer argues that would allow Boone Blvd to be extended into the Koons property across Route 123, stating that the road can’t be constructed as currently planned by the county.

The Tysons Koons auto dealership property could be redeveloped with retail (in red) and housing, in yellow (via Comstock/Fairfax County)

“The proposed location of the Boone Boulevard/Route 123 crossing is too close to the steep slope of Route 123 as it heads south from this interchange and would create an inherently dangerous situation,” the application says. “There simply isn’t enough distance to add a major intersection at the location depicted in the Comprehensive Plan’s street grid maps.”

The 14-acre property consists of two parcels that have been developed with the Koons dealership since 1975. Fairfax County property records show that Home Depot purchased the Chevy dealership for $30 million on Jan. 8, 2021.

The site was previously owned by Sherwood Tysons LLC, a company belonging to descendants of Tysons namesake William Tyson, according to the Washington Business Journal. The Chrysler portion of the dealership is owned by an affiliate of the Caldow family, which is also related to Tyson.

With the owners’ consent, Comstock intends to consolidate the two parcels. The Tysons Comprehensive Plan designates them as residential mixed-use — where housing should make up 75% or more of the overall development — and transit station mixed-use, which calls for a mix of retail, office, residential and other commercial uses, leaning toward 65% office and 20% residential overall.

The application argues more residential development is needed around the Greensboro Metro station, which is currently 70% office space despite a reported 20% vacancy rate.

“With the office market in a state of flux thanks to the COVID-driven changes in work location and commuting patterns, maintaining an office-heavy focus in this area risks delaying significant investment in redeveloping the existing auto dealership,” Clifford wrote.

Clifford’s statement describes the plan amendment application as a “placeholder” while county officials reevaluate the current and future mix of land uses in Tysons. Comstock declined to comment on the proposal for now, saying it “would be happy to discuss this down the road at a later date.”

The Koons redevelopment is among 75 SSPA nominations that the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will weigh for possible acceptance on Tuesday (Dec. 6). Other sites up for consideration include Fallfax Center in Idylwood and Reston’s two golf courses.

“It is the Nominator’s intention to proceed to rezoning as quickly as possible and overlap that rezoning with as much of the Evaluation Phase of the SSPA process as is practicable,” Clifford said.

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Sunrise at Reston National Golf Course (photo by Terry Baranski)

Developers are seeking permission to redevelop Reston’s two golf courses through a process where Fairfax County considers land use changes to its comprehensive plan.

The county is currently considering dozens of nominations throughout the county for the Site-Specific Plan Amendment process, including the redevelopment of Reston National Golf Course and Hidden Creek Country Club.

Currently, the county’s comprehensive plan states that both areas are planned for private recreation uses — more specifically as golf courses. For years, community organizations like Rescue Reston have vehemently opposed the redevelopment of both golf courses.

Reston National

Weller Development and War Horse Cities, the owners of Reston National, want to convert the “obsolescent golf course” into a 100-acre open space conservancy with an 8-acre linear park and a “mixed-use village.” The concept is not new and was initially floated several years ago.

The application says the development team could pursue a more intense development plan with more residential development, given its “substantial, longstanding zoning rights.”

“Repurposing the property to provide much needed community amenities, a range of housing and shopping opportunities, and permanent useable open space with covenants, so as to preserve that open space in perpetuity, better utilizes one of Reston’s premier assets,” the application says.

But the prospect has previously drawn backlash from community groups. Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn also publicly stated that he would not support redevelopment, unless there is existing community support.

The owners say the golf course is the “very definition of underutilization,” averaging 95 people per day on an annual basis across its 168 acres.

“To remain a dedicated ‘golf course’ is counter to the vision set out by Robert E. Simon in his founding principles, as his was a uniquely inclusionary vision,” the application argues. “Far worse, this serves to delay or potentially forfeit a timely opportunity to accomplish key goals set out by Fairfax County leadership.”

The application proposes converting the golf course into a “village” with new houses and retail and permanent open space dubbed the Conservancy, joined by a linear park that could have nurseries for native plants, vegetable gardens, and pollinators.

The Conservancy is described as a “generational opportunity” to create publicly accessible open space with restored meadows, a performance pavilion, other pavilions, seating areas, community gardens, a dog park, waterfront pier, and new trees.

“Reston National Golf Course has been the focus of intense debate within the community going back more than a decade,” Steve Siegel, a partner at Weller Development, wrote in the application. “While this Owner respects and understands the perspective of Reston National’s immediate neighbors, we contend that, as wonderful as the game of golf is for the few who actually play it, a private pay-to-play golf course is the wrong use for this site in 2022 and moving forward.”

Hidden Creek

Wheelock Communities, the owner of Hidden Creek Country Club, also contend that the golf course “no longer contributes appropriate to the live, work and play principles on which Reston was based,” adding that the country club has roughly 500 members.

The application notes that a significant number of the club’s membership lives outside of Reston.

“The reality, therefore, is that the combination of weakening economics and competing country club and golf course options, together with ongoing and significant need for capital reinvestment not supported by current revenue, means the Country Club’s future in its current form is shaky, at best,” wrote Mark Cooley, a land use lawyer representing Wheelock.

Instead, the developer pitches turning roughly 100 acres of the property into recreational open space and adding residential units, which could include a range of housing types at several price points to address the “missing middle” of affordable housing.

In July, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors tweaked the SSPA process by allowing more frequent opportunities for nominations, new submission criteria with more information, and enhanced community engagement.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is expected to decide which nominations will move forward — and which ones will be killed — at a meeting on Dec. 6.

The first SSPA cycle kicked off in 2017 for the North County area followed by a second cycle in 2019 for the South County area.

In October, the county accepted nominations for all nine supervisor districts in the current SSPA cycle.

A complete list of other SSPA nominations for the Hunter Mill District is available online.

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The Georgia-based pizza restaurant Mellow Mushroom will open a location in Vienna (courtesy Shannon Curl/Mellow Mushroom)

Mellow Mushroom is officially coming to the Town of Vienna.

The Atlanta, Georgia-based pizza restaurant has signed a franchise agreement to open a new location at 444 Maple Avenue, the four-story, mixed-use development replacing the now-demolished Vienna Wolf Trap Hotel and Tequila Grande at the corner of Nutley Street.

FFXnow’s sister site, Tysons Reporter, noted early this year that Mellow Mushroom was featured as a leased tenant in a property brochure for the project, but the business didn’t confirm that the location until Monday (Nov. 28).

“We are extremely excited to bring the Mellow Mushroom brand to Vienna,” franchise owner Jay Shah said in the press release. “The support of this community and the Mellow Mushroom team have helped us grow four successful Mellow Mushroom restaurants.”

The restaurant will be operated by the franchisee Vienna Pizza LLC, whose owners also have Mellow Mushrooms in Short Pump, Chantilly, Virginia Beach and Fredericksburg.

Founded in Atlanta in 1974, Mellow Mushroom now has locations in 21 states, including restaurants in Herndon and Chantilly. In addition to pizza, it sells calzones, hoagies and other sandwiches, burgers, salads, and both cocktails and “mocktails”:

Each Mellow Mushroom is unique in its design and décor and frequently captures unique aspects of the local community. The cornerstone of the Mellow Mushroom menu is stone-baked pizzas featuring a crust made from five simple ingredients, including water from Appalachian Mountain springs. Other menu highlights are freshly made salads, handcrafted cocktails, and a wide selection of beers, many of them local.

Mellow Mushroom didn’t return an inquiry about a possible opening timeframe by press time.

The vacated hotel and Tequila Grande buildings were razed this spring, but nothing appears to have been built on the 2.79-acre site yet. Developer Hekemian & Co. estimated in February that construction would take 18 to 20 months.

The 444 Maple project will consist of a four-story, 151-unit residential building with approximately 20,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space, supported by plazas and two levels of parking.

In addition to Mellow Mushroom, Hekemian’s marketing brochure indicates that space has been leased to the restaurant Tom Yum Thai and Gloss Nails salon. There are still three available commercial suites.

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The Franconia-Springfield area is concentrated around I-95 and Old Keene Mill/Franconia Road (via FCEDA)

A decade after Springfield Mall was torn down, reemerging two years later as Springfield Town Center, Fairfax County officials are still trying to figure out how to make the reality of the development match that rebranding.

Progress on transforming downtown Springfield from a commercial hub into the more mixed-use, walkable environment envisioned by county planners has been slow, even nonexistent when it comes to housing, a recently released study found.

In fact, the area hasn’t added a single multifamily residential unit since the Springfield Crossing apartments were built in 2001, according to the Springfield-Franconia Market Study commissioned by the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA).

“That’s insane,” Franconia District Supervisor Rodney Lusk said. “Think about it for a second. Every market has had some sort of residential construction. We have had zero. So, that’s something that we have to obviously think about and figure out where we might allow more residential options…in the areas that make up the Franconia-Springfield market.”

Attributed at least in part to lower rents compared to areas like Tysons or Bethesda, the lack of housing isn’t the only challenge facing downtown Franconia-Springfield, which is concentrated around the I-95 and Old Keene Mill/Franconia Road interchange.

HR&A’s Springfield Market Study found that the area hasn’t added any multifamily housing units since 2001 (via FCEDA)

According to the study, which was conducted by the consultant HR&A, Springfield has 3.2 million square feet of retail development, 2.7 million square feet of office space, 978 multifamily units, 1,843 hotel rooms, and 0.3 million square feet of industrial space.

While the existing shopping centers, including the town center, are performing well overall, retail growth has slowed with just 22,000 square feet added since 2010, and vacancies have jumped to 6.4% during the pandemic.

Covid also drove up vacancies in the office market, where the rate climbed from 13% pre-pandemic to 19% as of early 2022, and sent hotel occupancy rates tumbling from 73.7% in 2019 to 28.4% in 2020 before bouncing back to 51% this year.

Aside from industrial construction, which has stalled since 1988, the study projects room for growth across all markets over the next 10 years, including 1,000 to 1,600 multifamily units, but mixed-use development is necessary to achieve that potential.

The new Springfield Market Study found the area could support more development (via FCEDA)

“There have been significant private investments in Springfield, most notably at Springfield Town Center and the TSA headquarters,” the report said. “However, growth has been focused on site-specific investments, not mixed-use development supportive of County goals or catalytic growth.”

Mixed-use development would require not only more housing, particularly mid-rise buildings less than eight stories tall, but also amenities and public infrastructure to draw residents, workers and the tourists that the study says are needed to offset declining business travel. Read More

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A solar panel array has been proposed on the future HITT Contracting headquarters building at Virginia Tech’s Idylwood campus (via Fairfax County)

A massive array of solar panels could provide cover for the office building that developer Rushmark Properties and the construction company HITT Contracting are planning to build at Virginia Tech’s campus near the West Falls Church Metro station.

In a final development plan recently submitted to Fairfax County, the two companies — collectively known as Converge West Falls LLC — propose installing a photovoltaic array canopy on top of the building, which will house HITT’s corporate headquarters and laboratory space for Virginia Tech’s planned National Center for Smart Construction.

Standing approximately 117 feet tall, the canopy would encompass approximately 112,000 square feet, making it larger than the roof of the 270,000-square-foot building. It would have nine support columns ranging in height from 91 to 111 feet, per the application.

“The tree-like columns provide a structural solution while also creating the sense of lift and grandeur emulating a modern woodland canopy,” Walsh Colucci land use lawyer Andrew Painter said in a Nov. 22 statement for the applicant. “The multifunctional solar array canopy also shades the building from the sun, as one of the proposed building’s energy-reduction measures.”

The array is expected to generate between 1,100 and 1,400 megawatts of electricity — enough to supply most of the building’s energy, the application says.

The solar panels are one of several amenities detailed in a trio of plans filed last week to expand Virginia Tech’s Northern Virginia Center at 7054 Haycock Road.

Block A

Most of the office building — 230,000 square feet — would be devoted to HITT’s headquarters, but Virginia Tech would have up to 40,000 square feet on the northern side for educational purposes. A maximum height of 97 feet and six stories has been proposed.

Under the submitted plan, the building would be served by a below-grade parking garage and a 23,500-square-foot entry plaza on the south side with built-in benches, movable tables and chairs, “playful” lighting, and garden areas with native tree, pollinator and flower plantings.

“A large depression pond that exists on the site will be repurposed into a bioretention garden to treat stormwater run-off and provide visual interest along Falls Church Drive,” Painter wrote.

Block B

Further south on the 7.5-acre site between Mustang Alley and Falls Church Drive will be a 532,000-square-foot multifamily building with 440 residential units and 18,000 square feet of ground-floor retail.

A multifamily residential building proposed for the redevelopment of Virginia Tech’s Northern Virginia Center campus (via Fairfax County)

Converge is planning to offer a mix of one, two and three-bedroom units that “will be larger than the current industry trend to better accommodate families,” according to the application. The building will be up to 139 feet tall, descending to 82 feet along Falls Church Drive. Read More

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The former private venue will be preserved as part of the overall infill residential proposal (via JR Catering/Facebook)

A nearly 9-acre property near Lake Fairfax Park in Reston could be the sight of future infill residential development.

SEM Fairfax Land Associates is seeking Fairfax County’s blessing to build eight single-family homes on the property and preserve a 1790s building on the land, according to the Nov. 22 application.

The building known as the Fairfax Hunt Club — a 3,064-square-foot private avenue venue for up to 300 guests — will remain on the site alongside the original log house, which was built in the 1790s after it was relocated on the property from a farm in Vienna. The venue, which incorporated the log house, was affiliated with JR Custom Catering.

The property also includes a small cemetery that is roughly 14,106 square feet in size.

To move forward with the change, the county would need to approve the zoning from the Residential-Estate District to a more intense use — Planned Development Housing District, according to he application.

The community would be called Fairfax Hunt Estates. The applicants hopes to preserve the log house “in perpetuity” by imposing covenants on the lot that houses it.

“The Applicant will require preservation of the Log House by imposing covenants on Lot 3, which will ensure that it is maintained and preserved in perpetuity, without burdening the Fairfax County Park Authority with additional facilities to incorporate into their fiscal and administrative portfolio of various parks, historical sites, and recreational areas,” the application said.

A 5-foot-wide sidewalk along Lake Fairfax Drive is planned to complement the existing path along the east side of the road. The applicant also plans to extend the sidewalk from its southern property line along the Fairfax County Park Authority’s western frontage to the existing striped crosswalk at the entrance of Lake Fairfax Park.

The application has not yet been accepted for review by the county.

Photo via JR Catering/Facebook

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Tenants at Fallfax Center on Route 29 include El Tio Tex-Mex Grill (via Google Maps)

A major redevelopment has been suggested for Fallfax Center, a retail strip anchored by El Tio Tex-Mex Grill on the edge of Idylwood near Jefferson District Park.

Property owner Schupp Companies has put forward a proposal to replace the existing shopping center with a residential and retail “donut” building.

Schupp is asking Fairfax County to amend its comprehensive plan to allow multifamily residential uses and increased density on the 4.6-acre property at 7630 Lee Highway, one of 75 sites submitted to the county for a potential amendment in October.

“Leveraging its proximity to the bus/transit lines and depth/size of the subject property, this proposal will replace aging structures with attractive new development, that includes robust green space and modern stormwater management controls,” the developer said in a summary of its nomination.

The proposed 385,000-square-foot building would have 380 residential units with about 6,000 square feet of first-floor retail in a 6-story section facing Route 29 (Lee Highway). A section to the rear would start at five stories and drop to four next to the Lee Landing townhouses to the north and west of the property.

Both sections would have internal courtyards, according to a concept plan included with the nomination. They would be connected by a five-story residential structure with an internal parking garage and community swimming pool.

Owner Schupp Companies is hoping to redevelop the Fallfax shopping center with a mixed-use residential building (via VIKA/Fairfax County)

The development would “activate” Route 29 with a large adjacent patio and landscaped open space, and a “natural” buffer would be provided to separate the site from the adjacent townhomes, according to a statement of justification from Mark Viani, a land use agent representing Schupp.

“Collectively, these areas and the open space along Lee Highway, will greatly reduce the impervious nature of the Property and the proposed development will also include modern stormwater management controls,” Viani wrote.

Purchased by Schupp in 1989, the Fallfax shopping center dates back to 1955, per county land records, has evidently not been significantly renovated since it was constructed. The owner says the one-story buildings “are no longer efficient” and becoming “difficult to maintain.”

Current tenants include Settle Down Easy Brewing, Victor’s Grill, a Pizza Hut and Huqqa Lounge. The brewery could remain with the redevelopment, according to Viani.

The site also has two industrial buildings — Happy Tails dog day care and a vacant building once occupied by the commercial printer HBP — that are “an occasional source of concern” due to their proximity to the neighboring townhouses, the nomination says.

“The Nominator’s proposal will address Fairfax County’s need for housing and diversify the type of housing in the area,” Viani wrote, noting that a bus stop in front of the property provides access to Merrifield and the Dunn Loring Metro station.

The Fallfax redevelopment is one of dozens of proposals jockeying for inclusion in the county’s site-specific plan amendment program, which considers land use changes to the comprehensive plan for individual properties.

The process was revised this summer to have a shorter timeline, new submission criteria, and more frequent nominations countywide over two-year periods, as opposed to the previous four-year cycle that alternated between the north and south sides of the county.

The Board of Supervisors is expected to determine which site nominations to accept for review at its next meeting on Dec. 6. If the Fallfax proposal advances, Viani wrote that Schupp intends to file a rezoning application for review.

Photo via Google Maps

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A conceptual rendering of the southern portion of the redeveloped Huntington Metro station (via Fairfax County)

The Huntington Metro area is one step closer to redevelopment with last week’s approval of a comprehensive plan, albeit with a few “modifications.”

The Fairfax County Planning Commission quickly and unanimously approved the comprehensive plan amendment for the Huntington Transit Station Area (TSA) on Nov. 16, following a lengthy public hearing in October and a site visit by the commissioners on Nov. 10.

The plan calls for a mixed-use development on the site including 382,00 square feet of office, retail, and community-use space, a civic plaza, more urban park space, a network of bike and pedestrian paths, a possible hotel, and 15,000 residential units with a minimum of 15% of those being affordable.

It was put together by county staff with input from commissioners, the Mount Vernon Site-Specific Plan Amendment (SSPA) Task Force, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), and the public.

However, “minor differences” did crop up, particularly at the public hearing, which focused on building heights and preserving wooded areas.

“At the public hearing, there were several substantive concerns raised about the proposed building heights, environmental issues, and placemaking, as well as a few clarification questions,” the approved motion said.

After nearby residents worried about a loss of privacy for their smaller homes, the plan is lowering the maximum building height from 200 feet to 85 feet in the area between the middle parking garage and the homes on Biscayne Drive. This provides a more “appropriate transition,” the motion says.

Another tweak addressed concerns that a southern path connecting to the Metro might negatively affect wooded areas. While the plan now notes that “the design of this connection would minimize disturbance,” the actual design will be more specifically determined when the development goes through the rezoning process.

The stormwater measures were also revised to be “substantially more extensive” than the minimum requirements, per the motion.

The other modifications address flexibility around who might be responsible for maintenance at the proposed civic plaza, the importance of public places, and the potential for increased light pollution. They also clarify that 15% of the residential units built should be affordable, in line with countywide rates.

Notably, the plan continues to preserve a tract of trees near the intersection of Huntington Avenue and Biscayne Drive. WMATA proposed selling the land to a developer to build more townhomes, but homeowners wanted to keep the trees as a buffer from the developed station and help with stormwater runoff.

Next, the comprehensive plan amendment for the Huntington TSA will head to the Board of Supervisors for a vote currently scheduled for Dec. 6.

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A developer hopes to subdivide 1800 Creek Crossing Road in Wolf Trap into three single-family lots (via Fairfax County)

A single-family house in the Wolf Trap area could be razed and replaced with three smaller homes under a development plan filed earlier this month with Fairfax County.

Caliber Development is seeking to rezone the 1.14-acre site at the corner of Creek Crossing Road NE and Ridge Lane so it can be subdivided into three lots that will range from roughly 14,700 square feet to over 16,200 square feet in size, per the submitted plan.

The developer says that layout more closely matches the surrounding residential neighborhood than the existing 49,829-square-foot house did.

“The proposed application will facilitate a modest but high quality residential redevelopment in conformance with the [Fairfax County] Comprehensive Plan that will align with the density and development pattern of the surrounding subdivisions,” McGuireWoods land use planner Mike Van Atta wrote in a Nov. 10 statement of justification for the project.

Built in 1982, the house was sold by its former resident to a company called DB Creek Crossing LLC for over $1.3 million in March. Caliber then purchased it for $1.4 million on Oct. 7, according to Fairfax County property records.

Driveways for the new houses would be located on Ridge Lane, but the developer says it plans to provide 5-foot-wide sidewalks along both streets. The Creek Crossing sidewalk would come with a right-of-way dedication in place of an on-street bicycle lane.

“Construction of a bike lane at this time is not appropriate until a safe bicycle route is constructed along adjacent portions of Creek Crossing Road,” the application says.

According to Caliber, the redevelopment would reduce the lot’s impervious surfaces and exceed tree preservation and canopy requirements, with a commitment to planting native species. The plan shows a total of 29 trees with 5,600 square feet of canopy.

A site visit by the consultant TNT Environmental Inc. found several species designated as invasive or noxious in Virginia, including English ivy, porcelain berry, mimosa and Japanese honeysuckle, the plan says.

The application says invasive species will be removed by hand where possible “until the plants noted above are no longer in abundance or until bond release, whichever is later.”

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

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The Vantage Hill townhouse redevelopment proposed in Reston (via Craftmark Homes)

A project to redevelop a portion of the Vantage Hill condominiums property in Reston with townhouses is barreling to final approval from the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

At a Nov. 16 meeting, the Fairfax County Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval of a plan to replace an abandoned swimming pool on the property at 11600 Vantage Hill Road with 28 townhouses.

Hunter Mill District Planning Commissioner John Carter said the project is critical to help stabilize an existing affordable housing community in Reston.

“It’s a small project with a significant impact on an older neighborhood,” Carter said.

The plan by Craftmark Homes will help the 152-unit condominium building on the property shore up for critical upgrades and maintenance needs. The sale of the property will address a backlog of long-needed upgrades.

In response to concerns from area residents, the developer refined its proffers to preserve more native plans and incorporate electric vehicle charging stations.

Each townhouse unit will have the opportunity to build a charging station and install solar panels, while the condo units will have the potential for five additional charging stations, Carter said.

The developer also tweaked its proffers to provide details for the timing of construction and overall management of the site when construction begins.

The change was made in response to concerns from residents of Mediterranean Villa, a residential community adjacent to the project area.

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