For a small development, a proposal for 86 condominium units near the Fairfax Square shopping center in Tysons has turned out to be surprisingly vexing.
Fairfax County’s planning staff recommended denying developer Pulte Group’s rezoning application for a Flats at Tysons Corner last Wednesday (Nov. 2), taking issue primarily with the size and location of sites for loading and trash collection.
“Operationally, the on-street loading has the potential to negatively impact and disrupt the pedestrian experience and safety and has the potential to impede vehicular travel,” planner Mary Ann Tsai said at the Fairfax County Planning Commission public hearing. “Design-wise, the on-street loading spaces do not meet the geometric size or location requirements in the zoning ordinance or public facilities manual.”
Pulte hopes to replace a parking lot at 1953 Gallows Road, right behind Patsy’s American, with two multifamily residential buildings and about 17,000 square feet of park space, including publicly accessible urban and pocket parks and a Gateway Plaza on Gallows.
The plan also calls for a 10,700-square-foot pop-up plaza in the parking lot between the residences and an existing, 8-story office building owned by The Meridian Group.
The property would have a new, private street and a Road A extending from what’s currently an entrance off Gallows Road. Initially designated as private, Road A would be the beginnings of a public grid street envisioned in the Tysons Comprehensive Plan as eventually connecting Gallows to Route 7.
In addition to 111 garage parking spaces on the ground floors of the residential buildings, the developer has proposed two on-street loading spaces: one on the private street and one on Road A that would be removed once it becomes a public street.
County staff objected to having loading spots on the street and noted that they would only be 8 feet wide — below the 15 feet required for off-street loading spaces in the county zoning ordinance and the 10 to 11-foot minimum in the public facilities manual.
“I just think the loading dock…doesn’t work well for a whole variety of reasons, not least of which it’s not wide enough, it’s at somebody’s front door, and it conflicts with the impression of this project,” Hunter Mill District Commissioner John Carter said, noting a semi-truck wouldn’t fit in the spaces.
Staff have been trying to work with Pulte, but the 5.4-acre site is too small for a service road, and the developer has been “unwilling” to redesign the buildings to allow interior loading, Tsai told the planning commission.
Notably, Pulte can only redevelop a portion of the site, since Meridian plans to keep its office building and an accompanying 3-story parking garage. Other neighboring property owners also declined to sell.
DLA Piper attoreny Antonio Calabrese, who represented Pulte at the hearing, argued the development would enhance the property, bringing residents to a block intended as a transition between residential neighborhoods south of Gallows Road and Tysons Corner Center to the north of Route 7.
It would also provide gathering spaces for residents, visitors and workers at the adjacent office building with food trucks, outdoor seating, art and landscaping, including along Gallows.
“I think it was Voltaire who talked about not letting perfection get in the way of very good. From my perspective, looking at this site, which is just asphalt parking…this is a much better use,” Calabrese said. Read More
Metro anticipates reducing the parking capacity at its West Falls Church station by over 700 spaces in order to accommodate a planned redevelopment of the property between I-66 and Haycock Road.
Under review by Fairfax County, the project would replace the Metro station’s surface parking lots with 24 acres of mixed-use development, including up to 900 residential units, 110,000 square feet of office, and 10,000 square feet of ground-floor retail.
Working with private developers known collectively as FGCP-Metro LLC, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) has proposed eliminating a south parking lot off of Falls Church Drive and reducing the number of bus bays and Kiss & Ride spots at the station.
“Proposed changes are intended to promote transit-oriented development, increase Metro ridership, enhance bicycle and pedestrian access to the station, and modernize transit facilities,” WMATA says.
Park and Ride
Taking out the south parking lot will reduce the station’s park-and-ride capacity from 2,009 to 1,350 spots, according to an environmental evaluation by the consultant WSP.
The evaluation found that demand had dropped from an average of 1,500 vehicles per day when the Silver Line opened in 2014 to 850 per day in 2017. Prior to the pandemic, the average rebounded to 950 in 2018 and 1,100 in 2019.
About 1,350 to 1,400 spaces are projected to be sufficient to meet parking demand through 2045, the report says. The station’s existing 1,200 garage will be retained, while construction on the office and multifamily residential buildings planned on the north parking lot won’t begin for another 10 years.
At that time, Metro will “reassess” whether to keep as parking or give the developers permission to redevelop it, on the condition that private garages for the new buildings include 150 to 200 spots for commuters.
“Several factors could affect commuter parking demand, including post-COVID changes in commuter travel patterns, the planned openings of Silver Line phase 2 and the I-66 toll lane project, and efforts by Metro to manage parking demand,” the evaluation says, noting that FGCP-Metro will construct approximately 700 parking spaces. Read More
(Updated at 10:45 a.m. on 11/3/2022) Metro is waiving fares on a local bus line and parking fees at several stations starting next month because of upcoming construction.
On Sept. 10, all Blue and Yellow stations south of the DCA Metro station will close for two major projects to complete the new Potomac Yard Station and repair the Yellow Line bridge and tunnel. The closure is expected to last six weeks, until Oct. 22.
The Metro Board of Directors voted late last week to waive all fees for those six weeks at the three stations with parking lots — Van Dorn Street, Huntington, and Franconia-Springfield. This is to allow riders to use the free shuttle service that’s being offered.
At the Franconia station, parking fees for non-riders will be waived until early summer 2023, when the Yellow Line bridge rehabilitation is expected to finish. This is to “encourage use of the Metrobus or Virginia Railway Express, transit alternatives available at Franconia-Springfield.”
(Correction: This article previously said parking fees would be waived at all three stations for the duration of construction.)
The board also did away with fares on the bus rapid transit Metroway-Potomac Yard Line through Oct. 22.
All of this came at the urging of Fairfax County staff, notes the Metro report.
While the waiving of the $4.95 parking fee and bus fare will save riders money, it will cost Metro nearly $611,000 in lost revenue, per the report.
Expected to open to riders in late fall, the Potomac Yard Metro station in Alexandria will serve both the Blue and Yellow lines. In September, new tracks will be constructed to connect the station to the main tracks along with performance and safety testing.
The Yellow Line Tunnel and Bridge rehab project will shut down the line for longer. That work is expected to take eight months, so the Yellow Line won’t operate again in Virginia until at least May 2023.
In June, Metro announced several alternative methods to get commuters where they need to go. That includes free shuttle service and increased Blue Line service for the first six weeks.
Then, on Oct. 22, all the Blue Line stations will reopen, and service will extend to Huntington until May 2023.
An initial concept for the upcoming Patrick Henry Library renovation is here, and the Vienna Town Council has some reservations.
At a Town Council conference session on Monday (June 13), Fairfax County public works staff unveiled a conceptual site plan for a one-story library and a four-level parking garage to replace the existing facility and parking lot at 101 Maple Avenue East.
The county hopes to expand the community library from 13,817 square feet to about 18,000 square feet — smaller than the previously expected 21,000 square feet — to accommodate its programming plans, including a larger children’s section and upgraded technology.
The project will also add a public parking garage to the 1.4-acre site. The current concept provides 216 spaces, including seven accessible spots and five with electric vehicle charging stations — more than the 209 spaces required by the county’s agreement with the Town of Vienna.
With an access road planned from Maple Avenue and a driveway to the garage from Center Street, the two structures will essentially take up every available inch of space.
“The site is quite constrained in size for the uses proposed,” Vienna Planning and Zoning Director David Levy said. “Parking garages in particular have minimum dimensions related to turning radii and efficient layouts. As a result, there’s not really many options for the concept design.”
The limited space will make it difficult to meet Vienna’s tree canopy requirements, which may have to be waived, Levy told the council.
The concept provides open space in the form of a plaza at the corner of Maple and Center. A rooftop terrace to provide outdoor reading and classroom space has been considered, but it would be “cost-prohibitive” to include initially, according to county staff.
Though staff said the setback from Maple Avenue will be slightly increased, council members urged the design team led by the firm RRMM Architects to find ways to use less space and reduce the height of the garage. Read More
As new development starts to emerge in Vienna’s commercial corridor, the town wants to make sure it’s staying in the lines when it comes to parking.
The Vienna Town Council approved $115,000 in funding on Monday (June 6) for a parking supply and demand study that will assess the current availability of parking, future needs, and potential strategies for managing parking going forward.
The contract will go to Nelson/Nygaard Consulting Associates, Inc., a transportation firm that’s also involved in the town’s first comprehensive zoning code update in half a century.
Utilizing the same consultant will allow staff to “seamlessly” integrate the study’s findings into the Code Create Vienna project, Andrew Jinks, a transportation engineer and planner for the town, told the council.
“Right now, the schedule is for this to be wrapped up at the end of January,” Jinks said of the parking study. “If it trails into February, the data would already be available.”
The Code Create website suggests a public hearing process could start this fall, but Town Manager Mercury Payton told the council that the new code isn’t expected to be finalized for another 12 to 14 months.
While all five present council members voted to fund the study, some initially questioned whether it’s necessary given the similarities with the Code Create process, which includes a review of the town’s existing parking standards.
Nelson/Nygaard’s proposal breaks the study into three phases:
- Review the town’s existing parking situation
- Forecast future demand based on projected development, travel patterns, and other factors
- Develop an overall parking strategy — a top recommendation of the economic development report that Vienna commissioned last year
The consultant plans to conduct stakeholder workshops, public meetings, and an online survey.
Councilmember Ray Brill argued that some of those efforts seem “duplicative” of what the town has spent more than a year doing with the zoning code update, suggesting the study could instead hone in on areas like Church Street and the Vienna Shopping Center with well-known challenges.
“There’s some fluff in there,” Brill said. “We have a parking problem in certain areas. We don’t in others. Focus on the ones we have, come up with a solution, and don’t take eight months to do it.”
Though public parking concerns have come up in Vienna before, Councilmember Nisha Patel expressed skepticism that another study will add enough new information to justify the cost. She noted that upcoming projects, such as the Patrick Henry Library renovation and a proposed Church Street development, could alleviate current space shortages.
Councilmembers Chuck Anderson and Steve Potter countered that updated data is needed to help the town plan for the future.
“Given the number of changes in our society, especially since Covid, on where [people] work and where they drive and a lot of things being delivered, we need to really go in with our new zoning [code], with realistic numbers for parking,” Anderson said.
Patel said Anderson’s clarification of the study’s goal helped, and she and Brill ultimately supported allocating the funds.
Residents of Leona Lane in Herndon are seeking the town’s help to rectify long-term parking issues in the area.
The neighborhood is constrained by limited curbside parking, limited space for emergency vehicles, sight line issues, and trash and litter, according to residents. They also say they’ve had trouble getting town services like trash, recycling, and snow and leaf removal.
After investigating the matter, Town Manager Bill Ashton II said he discovered residents of an adjacent neighborhood have been taking up most of the available parking space along Leona Lane from the intersection with Marjorie Lane and its associated cul-de-sac.
An April petition from the Runnymede Manor Homeowners’ Association with 14 signatures made its way to the town, asking officials to consider creating a residential parking permit zone on Leona Lane. The Herndon Town Council is considering the proposal — which would restrict parking from midnight to 7 a.m. daily — at a meeting tomorrow (Tuesday).
“Staff will work with the homeowners to implement the program in the affected areas and will watch carefully to determine if additional action should be taken,” Ashton wrote in a statement.
The town’s engineering staff found that restricting parking is necessary for safety reasons. They recommended removing 13 spaces to improve sight lines and access for emergency vehicles as part of the parking zone.
The implementation of the parking zone is the first planned step in rectifying ongoing issues in the neighborhood.
Ashton said town staff will monitor the area to determine if implementing parking restrictions shuffles issues to another section of Leona Lane.
The zone would only apply to Leona Lane from its intersection with Marjorie Lane to the cul-de-sac where Leona ends.
A vote is expected on June 14.
Photo via Google Maps
FCPS Condemns Recent Mass Shootings — “Fairfax County Public Schools remains steadfast in our commitment to speak up and speak out against such acts of hatred and domestic terrorism. This past weekend, the Buffalo, New York, and Laguna Woods, California communities experienced unthinkable acts of violence. We grieve with the families who lost loved ones and are suffering.” [FCPS]
Metro Veers Into Another Safety Issue — “Metrorail repeatedly powered the electric third rail while workers were still on the roadway in recent weeks, bypassing safety procedures and putting people at risk of injury and death, according to a new report issued by the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission.” [DCist]
County Bus Workers Win Statewide Competition — “Fairfax Connector Operators and Maintenance Professionals excelled at the Virginia State Bus Roadeo last month…The Fairfax Connector/ Transdev Maintenance Team placed first in the maintenance team category and will represent the Commonwealth of Virginia in the International Bus Roadeo next year.” [Fairfax Connector]
Local Vietnamese Community Recognized — A Virginia Historical Marker recognizing the significance of Vietnamese immigrants in Northern Virginia will be dedicated at Eden Center in Falls Church on next Tuesday (May 24). The community was nominated by Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School students last year as part of a statewide Asian American and Pacific Islander History Month contest. [City of Falls Church]
Descano Left Out of Virginia Violent Crime Task Force — “Commonwealth’s attorneys Buta Biberaj, of Loudoun County; Amy Ashworth, of Prince William County; and Steve Descano, of Fairfax County, told WTOP they were unaware a task force was being assembled until Youngkin’s news release Monday. All three prosecutors are progressive Democrats.” [WTOP]
Food Trucks Pop Up at Courthouse — “NEW! Starting TOMORROW, 5/18 food trucks will be visiting the Courthouse Grounds THIS week, from 11:30am-2:30pm to offer lunch options.” [Fairfax County Circuit Court/Twitter]
Lake Anne Parking Lot to Close Next Week — “The Lake Anne Park parking lot will be closed off next week due to required warranty work, starting on May 23 through the 25th (weather dependent). A contractor will be seal coating and restriping the entire lot. Any vehicles left overnight will be towed.” [Reston Association/Twitter]
Sale of Tysons Broadcasting Company Approved — Tegna stockholders voted yesterday to approve a sale of the Tysons-headquartered company to investment firm Standard General. Expected to close in the second half of this year, the $5.4 billion deal will turn the broadcaster, which owns 64 TV stations in 51 markets across the country, into a private company. [Deadline]
“Wheel of Fortune” Coming to Tysons — “‘Wheel of Fortune Live!,’ a new live stage show, is kicking off a tour in September that includes a stop at Capital One Hall…Guests can audition to go on stage and will have the chance to spin a replica of the iconic wheel and solve puzzles to win prizes, including $10,000 and trips to Paris and Hawaii. Audience members will also have the chance to be randomly selected to win cash and prizes.” [Inside NoVA]
It’s Wednesday — Rain overnight. High of 72 and low of 52. Sunrise at 5:55 am and sunset at 8:19 pm. [Weather.gov]
Vehicles parked long-term in two Springfield commuter lots are preventing those spaces from being properly used, an organizer of the area’s sluglines program says.
Fairfax County pays for 235 spots at Springfield Plaza (7025 Old Keene Mill Road) through two leasing agreements worth over $199,000 per year. The spots are supposed to be reserved for commuters, but sluglines organizer Nicole Miller says several vehicles stay parked there for weeks.
“Those cars have been there 30 days plus,” she said in an email to FFXnow, citing four vehicles and an ice-cream trailer.
The ice-cream trailer, which is acting as a pop-up food truck, and other vehicles are using the premium commuter parking spots, making them unavailable for commuters, says Miller, who has tried to get the county to have them towed.
Both lots must have the spaces available for commuters between 5 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The Fairfax County Department of Transportation says staff have talked about the issue with the lot owners, who are responsible for enforcing those hours, according to their lease agreements.
The lower lot where the ice-cream truck parks must have 127 spaces for commuters, delineated by blue parking space lines. The county currently pays over $648 per each spot there for the year as well as paving work under a 2019 lease agreement.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved the agreement in June 2019 to give commuters a substitute for the nearby Old Keene Mill Park and Ride, which was rendered unusable by construction of the new six-level Springfield parking garage slated to open in 2023.
The Springfield Plaza lot appears to be owned by property management company Rappaport under the name Springfield Plaza LLC. A Rappaport executive responsible for shopping centers declined to comment, saying he’s “not the right person to answer those questions” and has “forwarded your email along to the appropriate person.”
The county has to keep leasing the blue-marked spaces until it has completed the new Springfield parking garage and transportation center. Read More
As part of an ongoing review of off-street parking rules, Fairfax County is considering an overhaul of its parking requirements for new development.
Under the proposed tiered system, the number of parking spaces required for a particular development would vary depending on the density of the surrounding area.
Currently, developers must provide a certain amount of parking based on the type of use and how many people their building will serve. The same standards are applied throughout the county, though a special planned district for Tysons has its own rules.
The new system would leave standards for low-density areas largely unchanged, but it would impose a ceiling on the amount of parking allowed in medium-density areas and significantly limit parking in high-density, transit-oriented developments.
Those developments need less parking, because they are designed to be walkable and accessible by transit, so people can get to work, shop, and engage in other activities without having to get into a car, the county’s land-use and planning staff argues.
However, with Metro still reeling from last year’s train derailment and Fairfax County’s efforts to build more pedestrian and bicycle-friendly infrastructure a work in progress, transportation experts say signs point to people driving more frequently than they did before the pandemic as more workers return to offices.
According to The Washington Post, experts attribute the shift toward driving over mass transit to the rise in remote and hybrid work. Commuters might be more willing to drive now — and put up with increasing rush-hour congestion — when they only have to make that trip a couple of times a week.
Do you think having less parking in more developed, transit-oriented areas will help reduce Fairfax County’s reliance on cars, or will it just inconvenience people without producing the desired changes in behavior?
As part of the first comprehensive overhaul since 1988, Fairfax County officials are proposing a tiered system for parking requirements based on development density.
The effort, dubbed Parking Reimagined, kickstarted in response to changing patterns of behavior, technology demographics, and 34 years of development, particularly bus service and Metrorail.
At a Land Use and Policy Committee meeting yesterday (Tuesday), the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors concurred that a tiered system would be an appropriate approach to modernize how the county regulates parking and determines requirements for development.
Board Chairman Jeff McKay lauded staff for not pursuing a “one-size fits-all approach.”
In tier 1, which covers most of the county, low density areas would see only minor changes and modest parking rate reductions. Medium density areas — which are not located in transit areas — would be subject to maximum parking requirements.
But in tier three — high-density areas with urban, mixed-use, and multimodal-oriented development — parking requirements would be significantly reduced to discourage the use of cars and encourage walkability and pedestrian-oriented development.
The county kicked off a month-long series of town halls in November, courting pubic feedback on its first comprehensive parking review in decades.
Public hearings are slated to begin in the fall following community engagement on the draft proposal this summer.
“It is recognized that driving a car will continue to be common activity and that parking will continue to be necessary,” a March county memo says. “However, parking should be considered with other community and personal values.”
Parking requirements can be further reduced in Transit Station Areas and Commercial Revitalization Districts, including the Tysons Urban Center, community business centers, and suburban centers like Dulles, Fairfax Center, and Merrifield.
For example, current requirements state that developments must provide one space for every three people served, along with an additional space per employee.
The new system would set rates based on the tiered system and calculate parking based on the structure’s square footage instead of the number of people served:
The county is also contemplating adding other components to its parking regulations, including bicycle parking, parking lot landscaping, off-street loading, and electric vehicle charging.
Parking Reimagined could set a minimum required number of spaces for electric vehicles. Last year, the county allowed parking spaces for EVs to be used in calculations for total parking requirements.
The overhaul could also establish minimum bicycle parking requirements in order to encourage the use of bicycles in specific areas of the county.
“Not every transit center is the same as the one in Tysons,” said Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik.
The county hired consultant Clarion-Nelson/Nygaard to review nine regional and national municipalities to assess best practices used in other communities. That framework was used to guide the county’s effort.
Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn encouraged the county’s planning and development staff to coordinate changes to off-street parking requirements with other departments. He also suggested that the county consider ways to open up private parking to the public.
“We do have communities in the county that do not have parking shortages and parking challenges,” Alcorn said.
Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust suggested establishing a parking authority to enforce parking-related issues and regulations in areas like Tysons.
“I think it’s something we should absolutely be looking at even if its just to come back and say it’s not going to work,” Foust said.