The residential building coming to 6707 Old Dominion Drive will be modest — at least compared to the high-rises going up in Tysons to the south — but it has already altered the future of downtown McLean.
Contractor Trinity Group Construction anticipates beginning work next week on the nine-story, 44-unit project, which will replace the parking lot behind a three-story office building whose current tenants include Chipotle and Fresh Baguette.
“It’s great to finally be here,” property owner Winthrop Investment Group head Hans Schmidt said after a ceremonial groundbreaking yesterday (Wednesday). “…Folks conceptualized this project back in 2016, and here we are in March of 2023, and we’re finally moving dirt. We’re really excited about it. We think it’s going to be a great project.”
The 94,000-square-foot building will stack five stories of condominiums — including five units of workforce housing — on top of a parking garage with four above-ground levels and one-and-a-half underground levels, according to a Trinity spokeperson.
Per a development plan approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in 2018, amenities will include a 3,850-square-foot roof terrace for residents and a combined 6,100 square feet of public open space from a corner park and a plaza park.
The garage will serve the new residents as well as tenants and visitors at the adjacent office building, which will remain in place, Schmidt confirmed.
Both the developer and local officials admit that shepherding this particular project into being was difficult, from a fraught battle to amend the county’s comprehensive plan to more recent supply chain issues and related cost increases.
“We’ve been working for the past eight months with [Winthrop], finally got it to where it was affordable,” Trinity CEO Mil Wallen said.
One of the biggest challenges was the need to establish a temporary parking plan for office tenants during construction, according to Schmidt, who said the development “would’ve been dead” if no parking sites were found.
Fortunately for Winthrop, three local churches — St. John’s Episcopal Church (6715 Georgetown Pike), St. Luke Serbian Orthodox Church (6801 Georgetown Pike) and St. John the Beloved Roman Catholic Church (6420 Linway Terrace) — have agreed to let commuters use their parking lots, providing a total of 140 spaces.
During construction, which is expected to take about 18 months, drivers will have access to valet service as well as a shuttle that will travel to and from the off-site parking areas. Some on-site spots will also remain available.
Wallen says the shuttle and valet service will “start as soon as necessary,” which may not be the instant construction begins next week.
“We’ll have fencing up that will guide traffic all over the place,” he said. “It’ll be a little congested, but I think it’ll be okay.”
Potential parking and traffic issues were part of why the project initially struggled to win over some community members, who argued it was incompatible with the surrounding, mostly lower-lying buildings.
That debate helped inform the county’s roughly four-year-long overhaul of its plan for downtown McLean.
“I think we learned some good lessons along the way, and hopefully, the next project that comes forward will move much smoother,” said Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust, who represents McLean.
The residential building “will be a fantastic example” of what a revitalized downtown could look like, Foust says, telling FFXnow that the planned parking garage “is the way to go” compared to the “ugly” surface lots currently prevalent for commercial properties.
“This project will contribute to helping us achieve our vision for downtown McLean, which is more vibrancy, more pedestrian, ground-level activity, more people actually living in downtown McLean,” Foust said. “On top of that, it’s going to be a beautiful addition to the visual of downtown McLean.”
Hundreds of residential units on two parcels on Association Drive could be on the horizon.
The plan by JLB Realty and Toll Brothers calls for a six-story, 400-unit building on the northern end of the horseshoe-shaped road, along with a 39-unit triplex on the southern end, according to Brian Winterhalter, land use attorney with DLA Piper.
The proposed development is the first of several that could come forward on Association Drive, which consists of 10 different office parcels owned by multiple owners near the Dulles Toll Road in Reston.
Winterhalter said it’s unlikely a consolidated plan will be proposed, but the development team will coordinate with other owners if and when opportunities for collaboration arise.
“We are hoping that it will be formally accepted for processing any time now,” Winterhalter said, referring to the county’s formal acceptance of the plan.
At a Reston Planning & Zoning Committee meeting on Monday (March 20), some members expressed concern about the density and overall design of the project.
Matt Stevison, a committee member, said he was concerned about the way the triplex units — which would be for sale — are designed without any architectural cohesiveness.
“The way the units are stacked from an architecture standpoint.” Stevison said. “It just doesn’t work for me.”
Committee member Tammi Petrine said she were concerned about the residential units’ close proximity to the Dulles Toll Road. She also said the impact of the applicant’s proposed grid of streets would have a detrimental impact on specimen trees on the property.
“Basically, this Association Drive area has some of the most beautiful trees in Reston and you all are talking about a grid of streets that has not taken into account where the specimen trees are,” Petrine said.
A total of 57 affordable units are planned on the property, along with a little over two acres of open space and 1.2 acres of urban parkland.
Winterhalter said the development plan includes a grid of streets that is in Reston’s comprehensive plan.
That grid is different from one suggested by a task force that recommended revisions to the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan for Reston last year. A draft of the new plan is currently under review by the county and slated for discussion by the Fairfax County Planning Commission later this month.
Winterhalter said seven of the 10 property owners on Association Drive are in support of the county’s current proposed grid of streets.
The proposal is moving alongside a Site-Specific Plan Amendment currently under review for Association Drive. That proposal calls for shifting the zoning from office uses to residential uses — including at 1900 and 1920 Association Drive.
“We can develop this property prior to the development of the other properties,” Winterhalter said.
The first few hundred of more than 2,000 residential units planned in Reston’s Isaac Newtown Square development are slated to come online.
At a Reston Planning and Zoning Committee meeting on Monday (March 20), APA Properties and Peter Lawrence Co. offered a glimpse of a final development plan for the apartment building.
Andrew Painter, a representative for the development team, noted that a previous plan for townhouses on another portion of the property was dropped due to rising mortgage rates and changes in the housing market. Amid ongoing negotiations, the team then shifted to the current development plan.
“It’s basically 10 pedestrian-friendly development blocks,” Painter said, referring to the entire development.
The first building will have a maximum of seven stories with up to 345 residential units, 47 of which will be set aside as workforce dwelling units. The site is currently in the process of being razed and cleared.
The development is bounded to the south by the Washington & Old Dominion Trail, the west by Hidden Creek Country Club, and the east by Wiehle Avenue.
The apartment building is part of a 32-acre development approved by the county in 2019. Once completed, the mixed-use neighborhood will include 2.8 million square feet of new construction, including 2,100 residential units, 300 hotel rooms, 260,000 square feet of office space and nearly 69,000 square feet of retail uses.
An on-road bicycle lane and 10-foot-wide shared-use path is proposed on the western side of Wiehle Avenue, along with an 8-foot trail as part of open space on the northern side of the building called Nature’s Edge Park. A 6-foot elevated sidewalk is proposed as part of Willow Oak Park — another park on the southern front of the building.
The conceptual development plan was approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in 2019, followed by work with an arborist to find ways to maintain willow oak trees on the property. A final plan for road and infrastructure work was approved by the Fairfax County Planning Commission in October 2021.
The applicant is now working through the county review process on the final development plan for Block N2, which consists of the apartment building. Final development plans only require planning commission approval.
Planning and zoning committee memebers lauded the development team for the design of the buildings.
Mike Jennings, a committee member, said he was happy the architecture did not mirror what he called a “spreadsheet facade” that looks like an Excel spreadsheet with darkened areas.
“I really like this plan, this design…the amount of park and dog space and recreation…things that we commonly we don’t get any of,” Jennings said.
One of Fair Lakes’ first office buildings — Parkway Woods — could flip into a residential development.
TPC Hornbaker LC is seeking the county’s permission to redevelop the three-story office building and parking lot spread across nearly 4.4 acres into an apartment building.
The development application, which targets 12801 Fair Lakes Parkway, argues that higher office vacancies and lower office and retail demand justify the need for redevelopment.
The existing office building was first built in 1987 and is roughly 64,000 square feet in size.
“Many of Fair Lakes’ first generation office buildings, including Parkway Woods, must now compete with newer buildings in transit-served mixed-use submarkets in Northern Virginia which have a strong brand identity, modern infrastructure, floor plates, and amenities, and closer proximity to Metrorail,” the March 17 application says.
The plan lays out two options for redevelopment.
The first option would include two phases with two residential buildings totaling 317 units. The first phase would include a nine-story, 204-unit building, including 16 workforce dwelling units (WDU), and the second phase would include 113 units with nine WDUs across seven stories.
The proposed building heights are around 110 feet and 80 feet, respectively.
The second option stipulates a single 289-unit residential building with 23 WDUs. That building would be roughly 75 feet tall.
Both options will include a fitness center, meeting rooms, outdoor recreation areas and seating areas.
“The proposed residential development has been designed to be cohesive with adjacent parcels and does not increase the overall intensity of Fair Lakes as a whole,” the application says.
Approval of the project would require rezoning. The application is in the early stages of the county’s redevelopment process and has not yet been accepted for review.
The redevelopment of the West Falls Church Metro station secured the Fairfax County Planning Commission’s endorsement last week, a critical step forward for a project that could serve as a guide for other transit-oriented developments in the D.C. region.
The commission voted unanimously on Wednesday (March 15) to recommend that the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approve a rezoning of the 24-acre property to allow over 1 million square feet of development, including 810 multifamily residential units, 85 townhouses, a 110,000-square-foot office building and up to 10,000 square feet of retail.
As seen at a public hearing in February, the proposal from developers EYA, Rushmark Properties, and Hoffman & Associates (FGCP-Metro LLC) has divided the community. Some hope the new housing and infrastructure will energize the neighborhood, while others worry it will fuel traffic and parking issues.
“It’s going to be a big change, and that’s difficult for some people, but I think it’s going to be a positive change in the long run,” Dranesville District Planning Commissioner John Ulfelder said. “We’re going to have to break a few eggs on the way to get there, but I think, in the long run, it’s going to be great for the neighborhoods, for the people who’ll be living there, and for the county.”
The commission’s vote followed weeks of negotiations involving the developers, the county, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) and neighboring residents, primarily over an existing stormwater pond on the site.
Expected to be retained with the redevelopment, the pond manages stormwater runoff from Metro’s facilities and the Village and Pavillion condominiums southeast of the station along Haycock Road.
The agreement between WMATA and the condo associations granting residents access to the pond is set to expire in 2026. Condo representatives asked the planning commission last month not to approve the redevelopment until they get a permanent extension of the easement.
While Ulfelder said then that he couldn’t delay the rezoning for “really an off-site issue,” FGCP-Metro LLC has agreed that its development won’t use the pond for stormwater detention and to “reserve sufficient detention capacity” for stormwater from Metro’s facilities and the condos, according to a draft proffer agreement updated on March 13.
Walsh Colucci lawyer Andrew Painter, who is representing the developers, confirmed that the proffer essentially guarantees that the condos will have perpetual access to the pond.
“It is very close,” Painter said regarding WMATA extending the stormwater agreement. “…We received an email earlier this evening…from counsel for the Villages and Pavillions saying that we are very close and they’re confident they will be able to resolve this issue shortly.”
Ulfelder acknowledged the lingering anxiety from some neighbors over the developers proposing 40% fewer parking spaces on the site than what the county requires, but he noted that the parking reduction request will be voted on by the Board of Supervisors separately from the overall development plan.
If the request is rejected, the developers must provide parking in accordance with the county’s zoning requirements, which could soon be lowered.
Metro’s board of directors is scheduled to vote on a plan for reducing parking and other transit facilities at the station this Thursday (March 23).
Ulfelder thanked the developers for working with county staff and the community on their application, which he said was made “better, stronger and more fitting” by the public input. A county-led study of potential pedestrian and bicycle improvements in the area, for instance, led FGCP-Metro LLC to agree to build a shared-use trail on Haycock Road.
“I believe it is an excellent example of how the county can and should address large and complex applications, while making sure they are consistent with the county’s long-range plans for development and redevelopment,” Ulfelder said. “We don’t need to fall into the trap of development for development’s sake to make progress on long-term county goals.”
The proposal is now set to go to the Board of Supervisors for a public hearing and vote on May 9.
Cityline Partners, the real estate company overseeing the development of Scotts Run, is changing up its approach to a still-vacant portion of the Tysons East neighborhood.
The developer KM Hotels has partnered with Hilton to combine two of the latter’s brands in one high-rise building at the southwest corner of Route 123 (Dolley Madison Blvd) and Anderson Road, a legal agent for Cityline said in a rezoning application filed with Fairfax County on Monday (March 13).
The proposed Hilton hotel building will occupy half of a nearly 1.8-acre site known as the Westgate Block, replacing an 18-story office building envisioned by the Scotts Run South master plan that the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors originally approved in 2013.
With the change in plans, Cityline is “just responding to the market,” the developer’s managing director Donna Schafer told the Washington Business Journal, which first reported the application.
At 17 stories or 225 feet tall, including a penthouse, the hotel will have a Home2 Suites — an “extended stay concept” from Hilton — on floors six through nine, while floors 11 through 17 will be devoted to the boutique Canopy.
“Canopy is a relatively new offering by Hilton and is designed to draw on the spirit and character of the surrounding neighborhood. This includes food and drink options that will complement the area,” Walsh Colucci lawyer Lynne Strobel wrote in a statement of justification.
Planned amenities include a rooftop restaurant and bar, meeting rooms and courtyards for guests of the 263 hotel units.
With a maximum square footage of 227,312, the building will also have 4,846 square feet of ground-floor retail or service space and a four-level parking podium to serve hotel guests and visitors. It will have 172 parking spaces and two loading spaces.
According to the application, the switch from office to hotel won’t increase Scotts Run’s density, since the developer is instead shifting over space that was allocated but ultimately not needed for Archer Hotel, which opened just two blocks away in September 2021.
In addition to drawing visitors to the area, the application argues that the proposed hotel will benefit Tysons by adding “a number of employees,” contributing to the tax base, and providing conference rooms and other work-related amenities while having less of an impact on traffic than an office building would.
The developer projects that its new proposal will generate approximately 167 fewer vehicle trips during the morning rush hour on weekdays and 131 fewer trips in the afternoon than the existing plan.
“The Applicant’s proposal represents an essential stepping stone in the development of Scotts Run South and Tysons,” Strobel wrote. “The proposed hotel acts as a gateway to Tysons, and will add to the uses that have already begun to transform the Tysons East District into a vibrant mixed-use community.”
For the other half of the Westgate Block, Cityline has proposed either a 255,759-square-foot office building with up to 12,970 square feet of retail or a 259,412-square-foot residential building with up to 15,482 square feet of retail.
If approved, the block will be built in two phases, with the hotel coming first. Last year, Cityline got the county’s approval to create an temporary park on the lot at 1600 Anderson Road until construction begins.
Fairfax County hasn’t officially accepted the application for review yet.
Spring Hill Road in McLean has no townhouses now, and at least some area residents are unconvinced that there should be any in the future.
During a workshop on Thursday (March 9), the Fairfax County Planning Commission preliminarily advanced a request for more density at the northwest corner of Spring Hill Road and the Dulles Airport Access Road, but said the concept plan must be revised before it’s fully considered.
The decision came after homeowners spoke in opposition to the Spring Hill Assemblage development proposed for the 4.97-acre site.
“There are a number of issues, and they need to be thoughtfully viewed,” Dranesville District Commissioner John Ulfelder said, pointing to compatibility with the surrounding neighborhoods, site access and open space utilization as factors that need to be reviewed.
As part of the county’s Site-Specific Plan Amendment (SSPA) process, property owner Spring Hill Road Investments LLC is asking the county to allow three to four dwelling units per acre at 1336, 1340, 1344 and 1348 Spring Hill Road. The parcels are currently zoned for just one unit per acre, with a future density of two to three units envisioned by the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan.
There’s “a disconnect” what the comprehensive plan allows and “the reality of how that redevelopment can occur,” according to Matt Roberts, a principal at Hirschler Law who’s representing the developer.
Past attempts to develop the site under the existing plan guidance haven’t worked out, because they “always come in more dense,” he told the planning commission.
“What we see with the SSPA process is an opportunity to address that issue. We can also do it in a way that respects the existing neighborhood and align ourselves with county housing and planning goals,” he said, noting that the proposed concept consolidates the lots and vehicular access points while offering “ample opportunities for on-site open space.”
However, McLean residents challenged the claim that increased density is necessary to make development “economically viable,” as stated in the statement of justification for the SSPA nomination.
Many of the benefits touted by the developer — including open space, trail connections and the new site entrance — could be achieved without altering the comprehensive plan, argued representatives of the McLean Hunt Estates Civic Association and the Lewinsville Coalition, which has homeowners on Lewinsville Road to the north of the property.
“The applicant mentions on-site amenities and recreational areas without defining what they might be,” Irwin Auerback with the Lewinsville Coalition said. “It is hard to imagine how there can be much usable open space on 4.97 acres at the requested density.”
The coalition believes “the amendment is unjustified and would be detrimental to the neighborhood” and fears that “making such a change would open the way for similar actions on other properties in the future,” he concluded.
The Spring Hill Assemblage concept plan calls for 19 townhouses — five more than the maximum currently recommended, county staff confirmed. Read More
Proposed transportation changes at the West Falls Church and Franconia-Springfield Metro stations will advance to the agency’s full board, even as some raised eyebrows at the amount of public opposition to its Franconia plan.
To accommodate an upcoming extension of Frontier Drive, Metro intends to reconfigure traffic patterns at the Franconia station by adding three new bus bays and a bus layover facility, eliminating a pick-up and drop-off area, and signalizing the Metro Access Road and Frontier Drive intersections.
Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority staff recommended proceeding with the plan but noted that about 42% of community members who commented on the proposal opposed it, primarily because of the pick-up/drop-off area removal.
“That is a big number to oppose something,” Matt Letourneau, the WMATA Board of Directors’ finance and capital committee chair, said at a meeting last Thursday (March 9).
Currently on a median between the station’s parking garage and bus bays, the pick-up area needs to be removed to meet “adequate traffic flow requirements and reduce vehicular and pedestrian conflicts,” staff said in a presentation to the committee.
As noted in the report, the station has a Kiss and Ride lot on the parking garage’s ground floor with “significant capacity,” as well as a surface lot available for picking up and dropping off riders.
Staff said the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Frontier Road Extension project should provide clearer signage explaining where the lots are and that they’re free to use.
“The pedestrian bridge that goes from the garage to the station, I think, in part is blocking the view to that Kiss and Ride,” WMATA Real Estate and Station Area Planning Director Steven Segerlin said. “So, one of the things we talked about to VDOT was having a large sign on the garage or on the pedestrian bridge [that says] Kiss and Ride or pick-up/drop-off ahead.”
West Falls Church plan heralds future of Metro development
At last week’s meeting, the committee also accepted a report recommending reductions to the West Falls Church station’s parking and bus facilities, paving the way for over 1 million square feet of mixed-use development.
While the Fairfax County Planning Commission deferred a decision on the project to tomorrow (Wednesday), Metro board members seemed optimistic about its potential to transform not just that area in Idylwood, but the transit agency’s overall approach to development around its stations. Read More
(Updated at 12:05 p.m.) Fairfax County planners agree that proposed development changes to the Innovation Center area are a top planning priority in the county’s ongoing Site-Specific Plan Amendment (SSPA) process.
At a meeting on Thursday (March 9), the Fairfax County Planning Commission voted to preliminarily place the Innovation Center Transit Station Area (TSA) in the top tier of the county’s SSPA work program, which sets the framework for the county’s review of comprehensive planning studies and plan amendments.
All three nominations in the Innovation Center TSA seek more density and more residential uses than originally planned.
Dranesville District Planning Commissioner John Ulfelder said the area is need of closer examination and focused work by the county.
“This is an important area now that the Silver Line is open and operating,” Ulfelder said. “We really need to play close attention to it as soon as possible in order to make it viable and to maximize the appropriate uses there.”
The current SSPA cycle kicked off with applicants submitting about 70 nominations last year. Ones formally accepted for review by the Board of Supervisors in December are now being screened and evaluated.
In a white paper released earlier this month, county staff organized the nominations in three tiers, with the top tier featuring those located in key development areas and identified as the highest priority for staff resources and timing.
So far, areas flagged as Tier 1 priorities include Fair Lakes, the Franconia triangle between Beulah Street, Franconia Road and Grovedale Drive and the Innovation Center TSA north of the Dulles Toll Road.
In the Innovation Center TSA, Peterson Companies is seeking the county’s permission to add 500 apartment units — a mix of which would be affordable — and a possible child care center at 13500 Dulles Green Drive. The project, called Innovation Center, would also include a county-owned parcel.
The Innovation Avenue plan for 2214, 2205, and 2210 Rock Hill Road seeks to boost the intensity of development near the former Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) office building and remove limits on the percentage of residential and office uses in the mix of uses.
A similar development called Rock Hill seeks to switch the development plan to mostly residential uses near the Innovation Center Metro station.
All three applications would be the focus of a combined study, according to staff.
The complexity of the proposed plan at Rivana at Innovation Station — which includes Loudoun County — requires close study, said Hunter Mill District Planning Commissioner John Carter.
Franconia District Planning Commissioner Daniel Lagana emphasized the county’s need to continue collaborating with Loudoun County as planning moves forward, particularly coordination within the existing and future road networks.
Lagana said he was pleased to learn that coordination is ongoing.
“When something happens in the city of Alexandria…we sort of kind of pay the price and I’m sure kind of vice versa,” Lagana said.
Of the 75 nominations submitted for review in October, 68 have moved forward for evaluation. The planning commission has a final workshop on March 23 and a mark-up session on the work program planned for March 29. The program will face a final vote by the Board of Supervisors on April 11.
After an unsolicited redevelopment proposal was pulled by a developer, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is charting a new future for the Bowman Towne Court site in Reston.
At a board meeting yesterday (Tuesday), the board approved a motion by Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn to procure the 4.5-acre site and direct the RTC North task force to help plan its future.
“There is a pressing need for new and updated public facilities and affordable housing, including a new regional library and emergency shelter for our homeless population, as those facilities are at or near the end of their functional life,” the board matter states.
The move comes just a month after Foulger-Pratt withdrew its proposal to redevelop the property with 350 affordable housings units and a new Reston Regional Library, citing increasing construction costs. The proposal had been processed through the Public-Private Education Facilities and Infrastructure Act.
The Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority owns a little over half of the property, along with a nearly 1.6-acre parking lot for the Reston District Police Station.
Alcorn directed the Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services to develop a plan for health and human services in the RTC North area.
“This motion will, I think, really help with the process forward as the community starts to basically get its arms around what needs to happen in RTCN,” Alcorn said.
The motion also asks FCRHA to create a procurement strategy for the development of the property.
Alcorn created a task force last spring to make recommendations on the redevelopment of the 47-acre RTC North property, which is composed of several parts of land at the intersection of Bowman Towne Drive and Town Center Parkway.
The task force has been meeting this year and will also make recommendations about replacing the Embry Rucker Community Shelter and building a new county health and human services facility.
Meetings have been ongoing by the task force, which is chaired by former board chair Kate Hanley.