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The West Falls Church Active Transportation Study area (via FCDOT)

The general public’s last chance to weigh in on Fairfax County’s ongoing study of the bicycle and pedestrian network in the West Falls Church Metro station area will come later than anticipated.

Two community meetings that had been scheduled for next week will instead be held on Oct. 26 and 27, the Fairfax County Department of Transportation announced yesterday (Thursday).

A virtual meeting has been set for 7:30-9 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 26, and county staff will also host an in-person meeting in Longfellow Middle School’s cafeteria at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 27.

“The team felt like we had not given the amount of notice we had planned that we would ensure the most participation by residents and stakeholders in the community,” FCDOT told FFXnow. “This is the final round of community input and attendees will hear about the survey results on active transportation alternatives.”

Launched last December, the West Falls Church Active Transportation Study is intended to identify needed safety improvements and gaps in the bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure within a 2-mile radius around the Metro station (7040 Haycock Road).

After paving the way for over 1 million square feet of new development, the county hopes the study will result in projects that can mitigate traffic and safety concerns raised by residents, some of whom have argued that the area can’t support the anticipated growth.

Replacing parking lots with housing, office, and retail construction, the proposed West Falls Church Metro redevelopment will include a new grid of streets that EYA — one of three developers involved in the project — has said should help alleviate pressure on the existing local streets.

However, that won’t address the missing sidewalks and lack of safe street crossings that community members highlighted during an initial round of public engagement on the transportation study in February.

The feedback will be used by county staff and a 13-person advisory group to develop recommendations for the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on the future of non-motorized transportation in the area.

Adjacent to the Metro station redevelopment site, construction is underway on the West Falls project in neighboring Falls Church City, and plans were submitted last week for a major buildout of Virginia Tech’s Northern Virginia Center campus.

Map via FCDOT

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Converge West Falls LLC has proposed redeveloping Virginia Tech’s Northern Virginia Center (via Fairfax County)

A developer has officially filed plans with Fairfax County to bring housing, retail, and new office and academic facilities to Virginia Tech’s campus in Idylwood.

As a joint entity named Converge West Falls LLC, real estate investment firm Rushmark Properties and the construction company HITT Contracting have proposed replacing the existing Northern Virginia Center at 7054 Haycock Road with a 283,000-square-foot office building, up to 440 residential units, and a 2,000-square-foot retail pavilion.

Submitted last Thursday (Sept. 22), the application fleshes out an agreement made earlier this year between Converge and the City of Falls Church, which intends to sell the approximately 7.5-acre site to the developer.

The project will “serve as a logical connection” between the West Falls development on Falls Church’s former George Mason High School property and a planned redevelopment at the West Falls Church Metro station, Walsh Colucci land use attorney Andrew Painter wrote in a statement of justification on Converge’s behalf.

Rushmark is also involved in the Metro project, which will turn the Metro station’s existing parking lots into housing and office buildings with some retail.

Reviving a stalled plan between Virginia Tech and HITT, Converge’s Northern Virginia Center proposal features roughly 820,000 square feet of development across three buildings on two blocks west side of Falls Church Drive and north of Haycock Road:

  • Building A: A 283,000-square-foot office and education facility that will house HITT’s corporate headquarters and a 40,000-square-foot laboratory space for Virginia Tech, dubbed the National Center for Smart Construction (NCSC)
  • Building B: A residential building with up to 440 units and approximately 16,000 square feet of ground-floor retail uses. It will have a maximum height of 15 stories and 145 feet, providing parking in a 2.5-story underground garage.
  • Building C: An approximately 2,000-square foot one-story retail kiosk/pavilion

If approved, the project would link the West Falls and Metro developments by extending the former’s central West Falls Station Blvd through the property. Building C would be in the center of the street’s 12,300-square-foot, publicly accessible median.

Straddling the boundary between the city and Fairfax County, the “Median Green” will also serve as a green space with landscaping, trees, movable tables and chairs for “informal gatherings,” open lawn areas, an outdoor stage or performance space, and public art.

Other proposed amenities include entry plazas for both the office and residential buildings and public gardens on Haycock Road and Falls Church Drive. The latter’s garden would feature a bio-retention rain garden.

The developer says it will also provide approximately 0.29 acres of publicly accessible open space on the Metro redevelopment site as well as private, “vegetative” roof decks for the office and residential buildings.

“Building A’s office roof will, for example, feature outdoor working and social spaces with lush planters and stormwater areas,” the application says. “The Building B’s residential roof deck will include a pool, recreation lawn, and seating terraces.”

As part of its transportation commitments, the applicant says it will upgrade the existing sidewalks on Haycock Road and Falls Church Drive, provide bicycle racks, and extend bicycle lanes planned for West Falls Station Blvd through the development. A total of 1,138 parking spaces will be provided.

“When constructed, this new neighborhood will function as one larger transit-oriented neighborhood,” Painter wrote. “The proposed NCSC facility will serve as a hub for research and testing of emerging construction methods, materials and technology that will inform Northern Virginia’s construction and real estate industries. Further, the proposal will attract individuals who think creatively, share ideas, and drive daytime demand locally-serving office and retail uses, as well as Metrorail ridership.”

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Virginia Tech’s Northern Virginia Center in Idylwood (via Google Maps)

A redevelopment of Virginia Tech’s Northern Virginia Center (7054 Haycock Road) in Idylwood is back on the table.

The Falls Church City Council authorized agreements on Monday night (July 25) that will terminate the university’s 40-year lease for the 2-acre parcel and allow the city to sell the land to Converge West Falls LLC, an entity of developer Rushmark Properties.

Advanced by Virginia Tech’s board in April, the exchange will revive a plan to build a new design school, a headquarters for the construction company HITT Contracting and more on the Northern Virginia Center campus that abruptly collapsed in early 2021.

“Virginia Tech has a long history in the City of Falls Church and we are excited about this new chapter,” Virginia Tech Media Relations Director Michael Stowe said. “This vote moves us a step closer to creating a world-class smart construction research center in collaboration with HITT Contracting, and it means the community will benefit from a vibrant, mixed-use district that will transform the neighborhood.”

According to a city staff report, the Northern Virginia Center is a 101,000-square-foot office building on a larger, 7.4-acre site located in Fairfax County but owned by Falls Church, which has leased a portion of the land to Virginia Tech since 1995.

Under Falls Church’s new agreements with Virginia Tech and Rushmark, the city could sell the full site to the developer for $25 million, including $16.57 million that it would then pay to the university. The resulting development must feature:

  • A 240,000-square-foot office building for HITT’s corporate headquarters, including at least 40,000 square feet for a Virginia Tech National Center for Smart Construction
  • 440 residential units with ground-floor retail
  • Construction of a West Falls Station Blvd through the site, among other road improvements

The project still has to go through a number of steps to come to fruition. First, Virginia Tech has to get the governor’s approval for its planned land transfer to the city, and then, Rushmark must submit its plans to Fairfax County.

“Virginia Tech will continue to occupy the site, with no rent payments to the City, until the final closing date, which is no later than March 31, 2025,” the staff report said. The agreements are expected to be closed sooner than that, coming within 30 days of zoning and site plan approvals from the county. Read More

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