The accessibility of Tysons Corner Center and other attractions will make the property enticing to residents and workers, who can now cross I-495 with a pedestrian bridge, McGuireWoods land use lawyer Greg Riegle argued on developer Madison Highland’s behalf at a Fairfax County Planning Commission public hearing on Sept. 14.
However, county staff fear noise from the adjacent highway could deter those same residents and workers from utilizing the park and amenity spaces proposed to replace most of the 8-acre site’s surface parking.
The developer, going under the name McLean Corporate Ridge Property LLC, has committed to some mitigation measures, including window upgrades and evergreen tree plantings to separate the public park areas from an existing sound wall along the Beltway, according to a staff report.
“There still remains outdoor recreation and park space that is encumbered by noise impacts that exceed Policy Plan guidance,” staff said in the report. “Staff continues to recommend creative solutions, like artistic walls, to further mitigate noise impacts to better be in conformance with the Policy Plan or to increase the useability of the space of future residents should be further explored by the applicant.”
Despite those concerns, which Riegle noted could be further addressed at the more detailed site plan phase, county staff and the planning commission recommended that the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approve Madison Highland’s rezoning application.
Following up on similar projects in Bailey’s Crossroads and Merrifield, the developer is seeking to convert the 10-story office building northeast of the Beltway and Route 7 (Leesburg Pike) into up to 250 live/work units, which can serve as housing, a workplace or both. Between 10 and 13% of the units will be designated as workforce dwelling units, in accordance with the county’s guidelines for Tysons.
Even after recent renovations, 2000 Corporate Ridge is struggling with vacancies in a slow office market, according to Riegle. Compared to a full replacement, the proposed conversion would be a more efficient and environmentally friendly way to put the building “to productive use,” while keeping the door open for future commercial uses, he told the planning commission.
“The building as it exists doesn’t contribute anything to the fabric or economy of Tysons, and there’s not a good way forward, absent repositioning here,” Riegle said. “The tactical repositioning is good for the site, it’s good for the community, and frankly, it’s good for the remaining office opportunities in Tysons.” Read More
An office building near the Innovation Center Metro station is on its way to becoming 348 apartment units.
Last week, the Fairfax County Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval of a plan to replace the ePlus headquarters at 13595 Dulles Technology Drive in McNair with a new residential building.
It would be up to six stories tall with a partial basement and 41 workforce dwelling units. A 418-space parking garage is planned on the site, along with a 4-foot-wide pedestrian pathway next to the apartment building.
At the Sept. 14 public hearing, several residents testified against the development proposal, criticizing its density, impacts on environmentally protected areas, and other neighboring developments.
The area surrounding the proposed apartments has been the focus of increased residential development, including Stanley Martin’s Overlook at Dulles Tech project.
Kathryn Taylor, a lawyer for Walsh, Colucci, Lubeley & Walsh who represented developer H/F Techpointe, said the project creates a distinct community.
“The proposed development has been thoughtfully designed with high quality architecture, well landscaped public spaces, the preservation and restoration of onsite environmental features, an improved sidewalk and roadway network that enhances connectivity and facilities safe and convenient access to the Innovation Metro Station,” Taylor said.
But several residents said they were unconvinced of the project’s value to the community.
The Dulles Technology Building Association plans to seek a restraining order to stop the project if it moves forward, according to president Carl Strauss. He expressed concern about improper notification of the project, widening of a road that he said would encroach on eminent domain of his office building next door, environmental damages, and other issues.
He called the requested reduction in parking “stunningly disrespectful.”
His testimony was echoed by another resident who lamented the loss of environmental areas — including a runoff lake — caused by neighboring projects and the buildout of housing in the area.
“It’s like Moscow there,” one resident said, referring to the number of new residential units in the area.
Taylor emphasized that the proposal protects environmental areas and preserves as many trees as possible.
“The proposal will not encroach on any environmentally sensitive areas at all,” she said.
The commission approved the application after considering a motion to defer. Staff noted that a deferral would push a decision by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to January.
Braddock District Planning Commissioner Mary Cortina said several of the problems voiced by residents were linked to other surrounding projects.
“The damage has already been done on this other area,” Cortina said.
For its next phase, Tysons Corner Center is keeping its eyes on the ground.
Property owner and developer Macerich secured the Fairfax County Planning Commission’s support last Thursday (Sept. 14) for a proposal that concentrates future development at the D.C. area’s largest mall closer to the Tysons Metro station than previously planned.
By repurposing the building that Lord & Taylor vacated in 2020, Macerich hopes its second phase of development will better integrate the first phase — which was completed in 2015 and centered around an elevated plaza — with the street below, according to DLA Piper land use planner Brian Clifford, who represented the developer at last week’s public hearing.
“Part of the connective tissue we envision here is enhancing this pedestrian ground plane experience,” Clifford said. “Phase 1 and 2 as approved are mostly elevated, and now we have a chance really to fix that.”
Visitors coming to the mall from the Metro station or Route 123 are currently greeted by a blank white wall where Lord & Taylor once stood, Clifford noted, though the building has temporarily hosted a mass COVID-19 vaccination site and a Spirit Halloween store since the retailer closed.
Macerich has proposed revitalizing that portion of the 78-acre property by replacing the retail building with either a 26-story office building or a 34-story, 292-unit office and residential building. Both options would include about 36,000 square feet of retail at the plaza level.
The retail space will likely focus on food and beverage offerings, similar to Barrel & Bushel, Eddie V’s and other tenants that can be found on the Plaza at Tysons Corner Center, Clifford said.
On top of the adjacent four-level parking garage, phase 2B will add a 20-story, 306,600-square-foot office building and 27-story, 320-unit residential building with retail space. This phase also includes a private amenity terrace and a 1.8-acre park connecting International Drive to the Tysons Metro station.
Extending a quarter-mile along Tysons One place, the park will feature a dog park, a 10-foot-wide multi-use trail, a Metro plaza area and active recreation zones, including a children’s play area, according to the application. Read More
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a motion on Tuesday (Sept. 12) by Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn asking the county executive to move forward with a real estate exchange agreement with Inova.
The step — which has been contemplated for years — would facilitate the construction of a new Embry Rucker Shelter, affordable housing and Reston Regional Library.
The expedited review comes as a task force has assembled to analyze the proposed public uses at Reston Town Center delivers its final recommendations this fall. Alcorn assembled the task force in April 2022.
If the project goes through, the Embry Rucker Shelter will be replaced with a new facility. Built in 1986, the 10,500-square-foot shelter would be expanded with medical beds, day-use services for training and workforce development, and permanent supportive housing units.
Alcorn noted that the replacement of Reston Regional Library is also a critical need.
“As recently noted by the County Executive, this library has numerous critical systems that are nearing the end of their operational lives, and the timing for the replacement of this popular County facility is also becoming critical,” Alcorn wrote in the board matter.
An interim real estate exchange agreement was approved in September 2015. That concept worked toward a grid of streets and a one-to-one land swap, which would provide the county and Inova with developable blocks.
The future of RTC North was muddied when developer Foulger-Pratt scrapped its plans for a public-private partnership to redevelop the site in February. The unsolicited proposal would have included up to 350 affordable apartments and a new 40,000-square-foot library at the intersection of Bowman Towne Drive and Town Center Parkway.
RTC North is a hodgepodge of irregularly shaped parcels owned by the county, the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority, and Inova. The Fairfax County Park Authority conveyed a 5-acre parcel to the county in exchange for 90,000 square feet of development rights.
The land currently hosts the library, the shelter, the North County Human Services building, the Reston Police Station and the North County Governmental Center.
Fairfax County has opened the door for mixed-use development at the Pan Am Shopping Center in Merrifield.
The county’s Board of Supervisors unanimously approved an amendment to its comprehensive plan yesterday (Tuesday) that will allow housing and additional retail to supplement the existing strip mall at 3089 Nutley Street SW.
Endorsed last month by the Fairfax County Planning Commission, the amended plan will permit up to 585 multifamily residential units and 140,000 to 187,000 square feet of retail uses on the 25-acre site, paving the way for a redevelopment proposed by property owner Federal Realty.
“It is not Mosaic. It is not a large development,” Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik said of the envisioned changes. “But it is…thinking very thoughtfully about how you make that place that benefits residents who are there, those who will be moving there and those who will continue to work in this area.”
Federal Realty still needs to get separate county approvals for its submitted development plan, which calls for three multifamily apartment buildings supported by ground-floor retail and parking garages. The buildings will be located on the southern side of the lot and range in height from four stories, or 70 feet, to five stories, or 85 feet.
The apartments would replace the building that currently houses MicroCenter and Michael’s, though the developer has indicated that it hopes to relocate those popular tenants.
In addition to incorporating retail space in the residential buildings, the application proposes expanding the existing, Safeway-anchored shopping center by 10,900 square feet, including 400 square feet to accommodate a drive-thru pharmacy window.
The Safeway gas station and a drive-through bank currently filled by Wells Fargo will also be retained, according to the application.
“The Applicant’s objective is to work with the County and the community to evolve the center into a more vibrant mixed-use space that will prevent further decline and ensure the Center can remain a source of convenient retail for the community, and also serve as a place for gathering and general community identity,” McGuireWoods land use lawyer Greg Riegle wrote in a May 5 statement of justification on Federal Realty’s behalf.
To make the shopping center more accessible, Federal Realty has proposed adding a 10-foot-wide shared-use path on the east side of Nutley Street.
The approved plan amendment also recommends an internal “network of parks and plazas” to draw people into the property and break up the expansive parking lot, as well as improvements to Nutley and Route 29, including future road widenings and new pedestrian and bicycle facilities.
Despite those recommendations, some community members remain skeptical of the county and developer’s vision of a less car-dependent Pan Am Shopping Center, fearing that adding housing will only create more traffic and lead to overflow parking in their neighborhoods.
“Nutley is a nightmare for traffic. I don’t care what time of day it is. It’s a nightmare,” a resident representing the neighboring Hampton Court Homeowners Association said at a public hearing before the board’s vote yesterday.
While the proposed redevelopment is projected to generate 803 more vehicle trips per day than what the shopping center sees today, that will still be 4,271 fewer trips than what was previously allowed under the comprehensive plan, according to county transportation staff.
FCDOT senior transportation planner Thomas Burke noted that a district limiting parking on Covington Street to residents could be explored if “there’s truly an issue where people living in Covington are having issues parking on Covington.”
Federal Realty’s rezoning application is slated to go to the planning commission for a public hearing on Feb. 28, 2024.
Franconia District Supervisor Rodney Lusk is asking the owner of Rose Hill Plaza to lower the number of residential units and increase retail space in its next redevelopment proposal.
The six-decade-old shopping center located off Franconia Road is slated for significant redevelopment but has met some community opposition in terms of how exactly that will be done and what the new center will include.
The developer’s preliminary proposal submitted on Oct. 25, 2022 envisioned adding a six-story, mixed-use residential building with 56,000 square feet of retail and green space to the shopping center.
Now, Lusk is asking for specific changes to that initial plan based on “community feedback” after meeting with Combined Properties twice since April, he said in a recent newsletter. Lusk said he was set to meet with the developer again shortly.
“My message to them will be the same as it has been in the previous two meetings,” Lusk wrote. “My expectation, based on community feedback, is that the next version of their proposal should significantly lower the amount of proposed residential units and significantly increase the proposed amount of retail space.”
Lusk said he believes Combined Properties will follow this request, but if not, the proposal will be deferred once again until “I believe [it’s] ready for public consideration.”
He anticipates the new proposal to be ready by the fall or early winter. If so, the Board of Supervisors could then approve a review by staff and remove it from Tier 3 of the county’s 2023 Comprehensive Plan Amendment Work Program.
Eventually, public hearings will be scheduled, sending the plan to the board for approval — potentially by the end of the year, Lusk noted.
However, some residents oppose reducing the amount of housing proposed at Rose Hill Plaza. The YIMBYs of Northern Virginia — a budding regional group that advocates for “more and denser housing” to make housing more affordable, per its website — said it is “disappointed” in Lusk’s request in a statement to FFXnow.
Rose Hill faces the same crisis that most of NoVA faces: working class residents – including essential workers like teachers, nurses, and government employees – cannot afford to live in the area. We remain excited by plans to upzone and develop the Rose Hill development with newer retail, more green space, and hundreds of new residential units. We are disappointed to hear that Supervisor Lusk has recommended deferring the project until the plans include more retail and less housing. The two need not be mutually exclusive: by building up, there’s plenty of space for more retail and more housing.
The group said that while a “vocal subset” of locals may oppose more housing, the idea has support from plenty of others who don’t have time to speak up, use English as a second language or are currently “priced out” of living in Rose Hill.
“Building a place people want to live and linger in is more important than an arbitrary amount of square footage assigned to retail,” local resident Alexis Glenn said. “Retail space will remain empty if we continue to scale back the housing needed to support it. Rose Hill will never be able to support the kind of high-quality retail and services the community desires if there isn’t a significant increase in housing.”
On the other side of the argument is the Rose Hill Coalition, a group of private citizens fighting against reducing retail at the shopping center. Founder Sharada Gilkey says the group is “neither encouraged nor discouraged” by Lusk’s statement, which she says came after she and the Rose Hill Civic Association talked to the supervisor last month. Read More
Fairfax City’s first for-sale affordable dwelling units have officially become homes.
Residents have started moving into the designated units in the new Sutton Heights townhouse community at 3500 Pickett Road, developer EYA and the City of Fairfax announced today (Tuesday).
The 50-unit project was the first one approved under the city’s Affordable Dwelling Units (ADU) program, which was established on June 23, 2020 to promote the inclusion of affordable units in new residential developments.
“Everyone in the region is designing new ways in which to provide more housing, and more importantly, more affordable housing,” Fairfax City Manager Rob Stalzer said. “EYA, as the developer, brought significant expertise and creativity in delivering a project that supports the area’s growing housing needs.”
Sutton Heights was approved by the Fairfax City Council in the summer of 2020 after 16 months of discussion, The Connection reported at the time. During that time, EYA provided input as the city amended its zoning ordinance to add affordable housing requirements for any development with 30 or more units.
Though the project only includes five ADUs, it offered a rare opportunity for residents looking to buy a home instead of renting one. Fairfax City has three developments with dedicated affordable rental units: West Wood Oaks (10734 West Drive), Scout on the Circle (9450 Fairfax Blvd) and The Moxley (4040 Gateway Drive).
The Sutton Heights units were open to first-time homebuyers who earn 70% or less of the area median income (AMI), among other criteria. Fairfax City’s median household income is $118,492, per its 2023 fact book.
More than 200 people applied for the lottery that the city organized for the units, according to EYA. Finalists were selected in June, and the first resident moved in earlier this month, with all five ADUs expected to be occupied by the end of September.
“EYA is committed to creating mixed-income housing,” said EYA’s Chief Acquisition Officer, Aakash Thakkar. “We appreciated the opportunity to work collaboratively with the City of Fairfax to develop this ADU program, and we are proud to be the first developer in the City of Fairfax to implement it to create economic diversity and housing for a range of incomes.”
Located north of Fair City Mall and Main Street, Sutton Heights consists of three- and four-story townhomes with private garage parking, optional rooftop terraces, and a new promenade with seating and open park space.
According to EYA, more than 60% of residents have moved in. Construction is on track to be completed early this fall.
Under Fairfax City’s ADU program, single-family developments must designate 10% of their total units as affordable to those earning 70% of the AMI or less, while multifamily projects provide 6% of units as affordable to those earning 60% or less. Projects that meet those standards are granted bonus density.
Little remains known regarding when the $101 million redevelopment of downtown Herndon will officially begin.
Comstock Companies, the Reston-based developer leading the project with the Town of Herndon, declined to provide information on the timeline of the delayed project, including an anticipated groundbreaking — even after the company recently submitted a revised site plan.
The project will transform nearly 5 acres of land into a mixed-use community with 273 apartments and roughly 17,000 square feet of retail. A new arts center and a 726-space parking garage are also planned.
But the project — which was supposed start construction more than two years ago — is now more than a year into a two-year pause requested by Comstock last summer. That means it has to break ground by April 2024.
A Comstock spokesperson told FFXnow that the company does not have “any updates” on the project. A spokesperson for the Town of Herndon also said no information is available on the development timeline.
Comstock recently submitted a revised development plan for the project, which was put on pause last year due to what the company said were market constraints. Since then, few details have been released to the public.
The new site plan doesn’t include substantive changes from one approved by the town back in May 2019.
Anne Curtis, a spokesperson for the town, told FFXnow that the site plan revision was a necessary step for the company to update its designs to meet the current building code.
“Building permit drawings must be consistent with the site plan drawings. What was submitted was a revision of the site plan that incorporates design changes needed for compliance with the latest version of the building code,” Curtis wrote in a statement.
The town continues to roll over roughly $4 million that was previously appropriated for parking in the redevelopment, which will involve nearly 4.7 acres of land bounded by Elden, Center and Station streets. The town has continued to carry over this amount into the next fiscal year as part of the reappropriation process, Curtis said.
After more than a year-long pause, the redevelopment of downtown Herndon appears to be moving again.
Reston-based developer Comstock Companies has filed a revised site plan for the long-anticipated project, which will transform nearly 5 acres of land into a mixed-use community with 273 apartments and roughly 17,000 square feet of retail. A new arts center and a 726-space parking garage are also planned.
At a Herndon Town Council meeting earlier this month, acting town manager Scott Robinson said the town received the revised site plan, which he described as a “big step” in “reworking their design to bring it up to the current code.”
The revised site plan was not immediately available for review.
Comstock declined to offer any comment on the redevelopment project, which is a public-private partnership between the company and the town.
The company elected to pause the project in July last year due to “economic conditions.” The cost of the $101 million project increased by $25 million due to issues related to materials, labor and workforce restrictions, FFXnow previously reported.
The pause can be in place for up to two years since it went into effect. That means the latest construction would begin is April 2024.
The project was anticipated to break ground nearly two years ago.
A sign on a fence surrounding the site of the project has since said “excitement is building.”
Construction on two-level garage condominiums near the Innovation Center Metro Station is well underway.
The site at 13570 Dulles Technology Drive — named Overlook at Dulles Tech — will be home to the neighborhood. It includes several pocket parks, a meditation area, a tot lot and an open lawn exercise area.
“Construction began in March 2023 and is expected to be completed in early 2025,” Kiante Chapman, a spokesperson for Stanley Martin Homes, said.
The units start at roughly $603,000. A mix of units are offered, ranging from two bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms to three beds and 2.5 bathrooms. The size of the units range from 1,553 square feet to 2,507 square feet.