Housing could be on the horizon for Roger Bacon Drive in Reston.
At a meeting on Tuesday (Dec. 5), the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a motion to initiate a review of a development proposal for 11260 Roger Bacon Drive, adding it to the county’s existing Comprehensive Plan Amendment Work Program.
The proposal would add the option of residential mixed-use development at the site, which is currently developed with a five-story office building that was constructed in 1980. Existing tenants of the building, which is across the street from a McDonald’s, include FVC Bank.
The preliminary plan pitches roughly 275 units and 3,000 square feet of ground-floor retail.
Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn said that if the proposal moves forward, a “coordinated analysis” would be necessary to ensure that the project is in harmony with neighboring areas.
“The addition of this plan amendment to the work program was coordinated with staff and it did not raise issues with staff resources,” Alcorn said.
The county’s comprehensive plan currently envisions a pedestrian-oriented environment with mid and-high-rise buildings and a mix of uses, including ground-floor retail. Parcels on Roger Bacon Drive are developed with office buildings, a 23-unit condominium building and three restaurants, along with surface parking.
The potential amendment would also include a planned grid of streets linking Roger Bacon Drive, Michael Faraday Court, and Lake Fairfax Business Center.
Alcorn also asked the county to remove a proposal by Brookfield Properties from the work program. The developer had requested an increase in the amount of housing allowed around the Sunset Hills Road and Hunter Mill Road intersection.
The nomination, which also suggested the possibility of retail, was one of several Reston-related proposals accepted by the county board in April as part of its Site-Specific Plan Amendment (SSPA) process, which allows particular properties to be submitted for land use changes.
Many of the Reston nominations were prioritized for review in an overall study of the Reston Transit Station Area, but the Brookfield proposal had already been deferred in the lowest, third tier of the work program.
“Review of this area could be considered during the next Site-Specific Plan Amendment nomination period if a nomination is received at that time,” Alcorn’s board matter said.
The SSPA process kicked off in October 2022. Nominations for site-specific evaluations were accepted following a screening phase in December last year.
Image via Google Maps
A 93,100-square-foot office building in Fairfax City may soon have a new future on its horizon.
The Fairfax City Council is meeting tonight (Tuesday) to discuss a preliminary proposal to redevelop the office building on 1201 Fairfax Blvd into a six-story residential building with roughly 300 apartment units and about 20,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial retail.
Two levels of underground parking and amenities on the first floor, including a central courtyard, are also planned, according to the preliminary proposal.
Each unit would be “efficiently designed” with space-saving beds that drop down from the ceiling and dining tables that can be folded away for storage, according to the Nov. 17 pre-application.
“The smart home technology includes features such as the ability to control appliances ranging from the washing machine to the dishwasher to the vacuum with a smartphone, dry cleaning system built into closets, the ability to see inside of the refrigerator without opening the refrigerator door and mirrors that display the date, time and temperature,” Odin, Feldman & Pittleman attorney Sara Mariska wrote in a letter to the city’s community planning and development director on the developer’s behalf.
The nearly 3-acre parcel is located in a primarily commercial corridor. Preliminarily, staff noted that residential uses aren’t recommended in commercial corridors.
The city’s planning commission also noted that the “proposed use might not be the best use at the site,” questioned the “need for a well occupied office building to be repurposed,” and raised concerns about the proposed height and distance from single-family homes, according to meeting materials.
Transwestern Investment Group sold off the building in August. At that time, the company reported that the property was 96% occupied.
Fairfax County is looking to update its guidelines for how rental and mobile home developers can assist displaced tenants for the first time in a decade.
Director of Fairfax County Department of Housing and Community Development Tom Fleetwood presented the proposed guidelines to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors at a housing committee meeting last week (Nov. 28).
“The goals are to maintain our commitments to affordable housing, to ensure that as many of our existing residents who depend on affordable housing are able to stay in it, and that we’re able to also move forward with redevelopment as we need to,” Fleetwood said.
Last updated in 2012, the Relocation Guidelines provide a plan for residential developers to follow for multi-family rental buildings or mobile homes that are going to be demolished, rehabilitated or converted.
Under the new guidelines, owners would be required to engage with the existing tenants and develop a relocation plan for them. The guidelines will also apply to all affordable housing owned, managed or funded by the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority and properties subject to the Preservation Policy adopted in March.
“Our expectation is that [the developers will] provide moving cost reimbursement and housing counseling, and that they will provide staffing to conduct these activities,” Fleetwood said. “We want the owner to create a property profile so that we understand who’s living there, what the rent rolls look like, what opportunities there are for tenants to move into units that best match their needs.”
According to Fleetwood, another goal is for every tenant who is relocated to be able to return.
“In the event all tenants are unable to return, a priority ranking system tool will help property owners prioritize those with the greatest need,” the presentation said.
For example, priority could be given to a household with children or a disabled person living in it.
Developers could also be required to make up any differences in security deposits.
“If someone has to move, and the security deposit at their new home is higher than their existing security deposit, we would expect that a developer would pay that difference,” Fleetwood said.
Tenants facing permanent and temporary relocation will receive both relocation services and reimbursement of moving costs. Those who have to permanently move would also get relocation payments or a tenant assistance fund that would provide a time-limited rental subsidy.
Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck questioned how the guidelines and expectations would be enforced, which he said could be one of the biggest challenges.
Fleetwood said there are plans to hire a specialist who will be in charge of monitoring relocation plans.
The county will now conduct outreach and collect feedback before releasing a revised draft of the new guidelines next April. The proposal will be submitted for the board’s final approval in June.
Image via Google Maps
In the future, people who earn more than Fairfax County’s median income will likely no longer be able to buy workforce housing.
A task force recommended to the Board of Supervisors housing committee on Tuesday (Nov. 28) that the top income bracket be dropped from the Workforce Dwelling Unit (WDU) Homebuyer Program, which currently provides price-controlled townhouses and condominiums to people who make 80% to 120% of the area median income (AMI).
Building on a revision of the county’s rental WDU program in 2021, the task force proposed dropping the 120% AMI tier and adding 70% AMI households — which are already offered at some properties — as part of a general policy overhaul intended to make the homebuyer program more efficient and effective.
“The recommendation that came out of the task force was really to reset the program and shift everything down by a third,” Anna Shapiro, the county’s deputy director of real estate finance and development, said. “…It was recognized that there is a financial impact to resetting the program, but it would be balanced by the predictability of having the policy reset in a way that developers understood going into the program what they’d be required to do.”
Initiated by the Board of Supervisors in February, the 13-person WDU For-Sale Policy Task Force included county staff, residential developers, affordable housing advocates and other industry experts. With help from the consultant HR&A Advisors, it met from April to October to evaluate the existing program, research best practices and develop recommendations for improvements.
Right now, the county grants residential developers bonus density if they designate at least 12% of all units as affordable or workforce housing, except in Tysons, which has higher requirements. For WDUs, the countywide policy requires that 4% of the total units target each of the 80%, 100% and 120% AMI tiers.
According to Shapiro, the 120% AMI WDUs are more difficult to sell, staying on the market for 419 days on average — almost twice as long as even the 100% units, which average 235 days. In comparison, units at 70% and 80% AMI sell in around 74 and 104 days, respectively.
In general, the county’s supply of for-sale WDUs is limited, but of the 12 units for 120% AMI that have been produced, 42% remain unsold. The lack of demand reflects stronger competition from market-rate housing, Shapiro explained, noting that 46% of the homes sold in the county since 2020 are affordable to those in the 100-120% AMI range.
With developers shouldering the cost of any unsold units, they have shifted toward units aimed at lower income levels during proffer negotiations, where the county can set conditions for a project’s approval.
“There is a huge demand that we see for units below 80% AMI, so we really wanted to see how we can serve that population better,” Shapiro said.
In addition to adjusting the AMI range, the task force recommends requiring that the number of WDUs with three or more bedrooms be proportional to the number of similarly sized market-rate units.
“If you then produce a lot of two and three-bedroom market rate units but then a lot of your WDUs are one-bedroom or studio, it’s really an equity issue as well as a marketability issue for the property,” Shapiro told the committee. Read More
The 15-story, 181-unit apartment building geared toward older adults is expected to welcome its first residents in early summer 2024, according to owner and developer Silverstone Senior Living.
Silverstone says interest in the new community has been strong so far, with more than 100 people committing a $100 deposit to join a priority list. In addition to the chance to choose the location and size of their unit, benefits offered to priority list members include a discount on a one-time community fee charged to residents.
“We are thrilled by the attention we are getting from prospective independent living residents,” The Trillium’s sales director, Kell Flood, said in a press release. “The strong interest is an indication that there is demand for quality senior living that includes sophisticated amenities and programming for today’s active senior adult.”
Located at 8400 Westpark Drive, The Trillium will have one and two-bedroom independent living units that could range in size from 772 to 2,100 square feet. Assisted living and memory care support services will also be available.
Amenities will include six restaurants and lounges, a day spa and salon, a fitness center, rooftop gardens, art studio, a community theater and underground parking, according to Silverstone, which says it’s seeking “to break the mold of traditional senior living by providing a lifestyle beyond expectation.”
Construction on The Trillium began in spring 2022 after the site’s previous occupant — the former National Automobile Dealers Association headquarters building — got demolished.
The senior living community constitutes one of five blocks planned for The Boro’s expansion, along with three residential buildings with ground-floor retail and a block that could become either a health club or townhouses.
Approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in 2021, the project will deliver 1.1 million square feet of development, about 1.5 acres of public park space and a portion of the Tysons Community Circuit, a recreational trail that will eventually loop through the urban center.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a plan for single-family homes near a historic area of Lake Fairfax Park at a Tuesday meeting.
The plan by developer SEM Fairfax Land Associates calls for eight single-family homes at the site of J.R.’s Custom Catering’s former Fairfax Hunt Club along Lake Fairfax Drive in Reston. The property features a historic log house that will be preserved as part of the redevelopment and an unmaintained and unnamed cemetery.
John McGrahan, the applicant’s attorney, said the applicant changed several features of its plan in response to pushback from neighbors, including Hunt Club Cluster residents concerned about preserving the cemetery.
At the request of residents, McGranahan said the location of the development’s sixth lot — which previously wrapped around the cemetery — was changed in order to avoid disturbing the cemetery and create a buffer between surrounding areas.
“The location of lot six and protection of the cemetery were the two big issues that we had at the community meeting,” McGranahan said.
The applicant also plans to plant more trees along Lake Farifax Drive in response to a request from Planning Commissioner John Carter.
Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn said he was pleased with the outcome of what he called a small but “tricky” case.
As Virginia Commonwealth University rolls out a program that grants admission to any high school senior with a certain GPA, it’s the latest school to face challenges ensuring its facilities and infrastructure can keep up with the influx of students.
VCU, along with George Mason University and at least four other Virginia universities, have begun offering guaranteed admissions to address declining enrollment numbers and help bolster populations of underrepresented students.
“While this is launching as a pilot program, we do expect an increase in admissions,” said Michael Porter, a spokesman for VCU. “Short term, we are working across the university to anticipate and address housing needs, including how we allocate residence hall space.”
Virginia public universities previously offered guaranteed admission to students who completed two years of study in the Virginia Community College System and had a certain GPA. But schools are increasingly eyeing more expansive programs that target high school students.
Enrollment at Virginia’s public colleges and universities has steadily declined overall to a low of 368,174 students in the fall of 2021 from 409,075 in 2012, according to data collected by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, the coordinating body for the state’s colleges and universities.
There have been some rebounds. The enrollment totals rose to 369,813 in fall 2022. And since the pandemic, some schools have seen enrollment increases, with student bodies growing at the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, George Mason University, William & Mary and Norfolk State University between the fall of 2020 and the fall of 2022, according to data collected by SCHEV. But that growth hasn’t been uniform: VCU lost approximately 1,000 students during the same period.
Universities and colleges “know the demographics, they know what’s happening, and so they’re making adjustments based on what they think they need to do to maintain their enrollments or if they’re looking to grow,” said Bob Spieldenner, a spokesman for SCHEV.
Guaranteed admission requirements
Under VCU’s new program, first-year freshman applicants who are among the top 10% of their high school graduating class and have at least a 3.5 GPA will automatically qualify for admission, although some programs, such as arts and engineering, have major-specific requirements.
“The guaranteed university admission program will easily connect top-performing high school graduates with a nationally ranked major research university,” said Hernan Bucheli, an interim vice president with VCU. “And this program will have a positive impact on Virginia’s economy because we know that our talented graduates are career-ready and a majority stay here in Virginia.”
Other four-year public institutions, including George Mason, Radford University, the University of Virginia’s College at Wise and Virginia Military Institute, offer similar admissions programs. Old Dominion University is working on a similar offering but has not finalized the details, according to school spokeswoman Kenya Godette. Read More
Herndon Corporate Center could become the latest local office park to give way to a new housing development.
Reston-based developer Stanley Martin Homes is looking to replace three of the four office buildings at 1145-1175 Herndon Parkway with condominiums and townhouses, according to an application set for a Herndon Board of Architectural Review public hearing tonight (Wednesday).
Located directly behind Elden Street Marketplace, the shopping center anchored by H Mart, Herndon Corporate Center was built in 1986 and consists of one-story, brick office buildings that total 135,756 square feet of rentable space, per its website.
If its plan is approved, Stanley Martin would demolish all of the existing office buildings except for the one at 1165 Herndon Parkway, whose current tenants include the Score Foundation and a National Guaranty Purchase Center run by the Small Business Administration.
“This fourth office building will remain for an undetermined period of time,” Tamsin Himes, a lead planner for the Town of Herndon, said in a staff report, noting that the untouched building is under different ownership than the rest of the office park.
According to submitted project renderings, the developer plans to construct 56 two-over-two condo units on the eastern side of the property adjacent to Elden Street Marketplace. The rest of the site will be filled with 55 three-floor townhomes.
Proposed open space amenities include a plaza with outdoor seating by the development’s entrance on Herndon Parkway, an asphalt trail with exercise stations along the northwestern perimeter, a tot lot near the condos, and two smaller seating areas.
A site plan for the development was approved on June 23, according to Stanley Martin’s presentation.
In her report, Himes said staff “is supportive” of the project but hasn’t made a recommendation yet, because it’s seeking clarification on a few items, such as which of the several submitted color schemes and elevations will actually be pursued.
“Staff believes that a valuable conversation can be had with the applicant regarding the design items mentioned above,” Himes wrote.
Tonight’s public hearing will likely be continued to Nov. 15 “given the need for additional materials and additional time for review,” town staff said in a memo.
Dubbed “Park Place,” this would be Stanley Martin’s third development in the Herndon area. The company also built the Liberty Park neighborhood in McNair, and construction began this spring on the Overlook at Dulles Tech condos near the Innovation Center Metro station.
An homage to Ellanor C. Lawrence Park could take root in place of a partially developed business center in the Westfields area of Chantilly.
Developer Pulte Homes is seeking to transform the Park East Corporate Center (14150 Parkeast Circle) into a new residential neighborhood with green spaces “that follow a theme designed to be consistent” with the 650-acre park south of the property, according to a rezoning application submitted to Fairfax County.
While totaling a comparatively small 5.5 acres, the proposed common green and linear and pocket parks will reflect Lawrence’s identity as “an avid gardener” who appreciated “the beauty of nature,” an Oct. 12 statement of justification for the application says.
“The amenity system within Park East commemorates her passion by creating a network of different intimate gardens where not only residents, but also the community at large, can experience passive spaces to retreat from everyday life,” the development plan says. “It also provides active recreation opportunities through several fitness stations.”
With a common green as a “focal point,” the six planned park areas will be linked by sidewalks and trails. Proposed amenities include gardens for bird-watching, butterflies and vegetables, a wildflower meadow; a trail around the site’s perimeter; and “historical elements that introduce visitors to the significance” of Ellanor C. Lawrence Park.
Replacing two office buildings and a warehouse, the housing development will consist of multi-family residential buildings, 124 stacked townhomes and 86 single-family attached townhomes.
At a proposed maximum height of five stories or 56 feet, the multi-family buildings will be mid-rises with 32 units each, giving the development a total of 338 units of housing. About 40 units will be affordable or workforce dwelling units in accordance with the county’s policies.
The proposal continues a shift toward housing in the Westfields area, which was zoned to be primarily industrial in 1985.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a plan amendment in 2019 that added options for retail and residential uses in the 1,156 acres around Route 28 (Sully Road) and Westfields Blvd known as Land Unit J. A plan to build more townhomes in the area near Westfield High School got approved last summer, despite skepticism from some planning commissioners.
Redeveloping the Park East Corporate Center into a residential community would address the county’s need for housing that serves different demographics, according to Walsh Colucci land use lawyer Lynne Strobel, who’s representing Pulte.
“The multi-family residential buildings are attractive to mature Fairfax County residents who are downsizing but wish to remain in the area,” Strobel wrote in the statement of justification. “…The multi-family stacked townhomes are ideal for singles and young couples, while young families will be most interested in the traditional townhomes.”
Not everything in Westfields is going to turn into housing, though. The owner of the Westfields Corporate Park on Stonecroft Blvd wants to add more office space, per an application filed earlier this month.
The county hasn’t formally accepted Pulte’s rezoning proposal for review yet.
After the 2019 plan amendment, Land Unit J could be developed with up to 4,250 residential units and an additional 200,000 square feet of retail.
The continuation of higher mortgage rates put a damper on Northern Virginia home sales in September, which were down 18.2% compared to a year earlier, according to the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors.
That decline was worse that August’s year-over-year decline of just 12.4% and reversed a trend of an improving market that had been seen since the spring.
Mortgage rates are ranging from 7% to 7.5%, according to the Realtors’ group. Sales were down 23.1% from August and the total of 1,180 was significantly below the five-year average of 1,685 units for September.
“It’s a challenging market for borrowers and buyers, especially first-time home buyers,” said NVAR Board Member Jamie DeSimone of Keller Williams Capital Properties. “The increase in interest rates is a primary deterrent for buyers and would-be sellers. Current homeowners have no incentive to forgo their lower interest rate unless they are forced to move. That’s why homebuying options are scarce.”
Inventory in September averaged 1.22 months, down 1% from September 2022 and down from the five-year average of 1.3 months. In good news, September’s inventory figures were a bit higher than August, when inventory stood at 1.08 month’s supply. On average, homes stayed on the market for 17 days in September, down 32% from the previous September, when the average was 25 days on the market.
The tight supply continued to push prices up. The median sold price for a home in September was $650,000, up 5% from September 2022. The five-year average for median sold price in September is $594,028.
“We’ve been experiencing the ‘ouch factor’ as high mortgage rates have chilled the market. With the resulting limited inventory, sellers choosing to list their homes are receiving multiple offers and have leverage over buyers. The market remains competitive, as there are more people who want to buy than there are homes to sell,” said NVAR CEO Ryan McLaughlin.
The NVAR report covers Fairfax and Arlington counties, the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax and Falls Church and the towns of Vienna, Herndon and Clifton.
Other highlights from the September report:
- Total sold volume: $868.9 million, down 14.4% compared to September 2022.
- Average sold price: $738,772, up 6% from September 2022.
- Number of active listings: 1,661, down 29.8% from September 2022.
- New pending sales: 1,220, down 12% from September 2022.
Specific information for each jurisdiction in September is below: