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A new retail building has been proposed on Richmond Highway (via Fairfax County Government)

A 6,000-square-foot retail building could be coming soon at the corner of Fort Hunt Road and Richmond Highway in Belle Haven.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission is set to consider the proposal by Huntwood LLC this Wednesday (April 27) to build a retail addition to the site, which is located at Huntwood Plaza (5845 Richmond Highway).

Because the project is in a floodplain area and slightly exceeds the allowed floor area ratio, the county is considering a special exception for the application. The structure would have to be raised 18 feet above the flood elevation to receive the county’s approval. The project is also within a resource protection area.

The site is located in the North Gateway Community Business Center and will include additional surface parking and landscaping. The current eight-story office building overlooks the Belle Haven Country Club and was built in the late 1980s.

In an April 13 report, staff noted that the environmental components trigger a number of special requirements for the application to move forward.

There is no word yet on exactly what would fill the retail building, if it’s approved.

The existing eight-story office building on the site will connect to the new retail building through an outdoor dining area and plaza. Most of the new development is proposed on the western portion of the property.

Initially, staff noted they were concerned that the building contributed to the strip-mall-like nature of Richmond Highway — an image that the county is working to avoid in an effort to revitalize the corridor into a more cohesive and vibrant area.

“Staff’s concerns about the building appearing as a strip-commercial retail center were addressed with the architectural details contained in the elevations,” the staff report said.

Staff also encouraged the applicant to move the retail building closer to the office building to improve connectivity — a recommendation that the applicant did not accept. But the applicant did agree to provide a more robust pedestrian connection.

Still, the county has to iron out a few issues, including the lack of a sidewalk from the Richmond Highway trail into the site. It also wants six parking spaces at the western end of the property removed to improve the corner’s appearance with landscaping and reduce the amount of impervious surface.

“Developing this highly visible corner with surface parking spaces does not align with the vision for future redevelopment along Richmond Highway,” staff wrote.

The plan is up for a public hearing on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

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Lee District Supervisor Rodney Lusk talks to Fairfax County Economic Development Authority President and CEO Victor Hoskins (via Fairfax County)

A new innovation hub in the Lee District Community Center (7950 Audubon Avenue) is expected to open in May.

With the support of private partners and state and federal funds, the Workforce Innovation Skills Hub (WISH) is intended to expand job opportunities for residents living along the Richmond Highway corridor.

“With Amazon and Virginia Tech making significant investments a few miles to our north and the proximity to Fort Belvoir and their stream of contracting opportunities, the Richmond Highway Corridor is the ideal location for a workforce development program,” Lee District Supervisor Rodney Lusk’s office said.

Lusk hopes the workforce training program will give residents a chance to earn a middle-class income and end generational poverty.

“The ultimate goal of the WISH is to create an accessible community hub where residents can walk to and receive training in the trades and technology jobs of the future,” he said.

The hub in Groveton received $2.4 million from the county’s coffers and is in the process of securing $800,000 in supplemental state and federal funding.

County funds were primarily used to acquire and renovate the space, including bringing the center up to code.

Lusk and his office have been working with Amazon for more than year to determine how the online retail and web services company will support the project.

So far, as part of a recent land-use application to build a data center in Springfield, Amazon plans to work with Lusk’s office on contracting related to the construction and build-out of the data center.

Amazon received the county’s blessing in February to construct a roughly 242,000-square-foot data center at 7961 Loisdale Road in Springfield.

The company will also provide the office with the number of jobs available in the data center. Program constructors will then build a model to connect job training to existing jobs in the Lee District.

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The bingo card to participate in Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation’s Richmond Highway restaurant bingo (courtesy SFDC)

Frequenting local restaurants in the Richmond Highway corridor could pay off in gift cards.

The Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation, a nonprofit that promotes revitalization of the corridor, is running a bingo campaign through April 11 to encourage residents to eat at the area’s establishments.

This is the first time the SFDC is running the contest. The idea came from a community volunteer on its committee that focuses on public outreach, the nonprofit’s marketing and communications specialist Alexis DeFrancisco told FFXnow.

“Part of SFDC’s mission is to design projects designed to stimulate economic growth in the Richmond Highway corridor by working closely with business owners,” she said. “Bingo is a fantastic way to get people to visit local businesses and generate economic growth with the added incentive of winning prizes.”

Among the 24 restaurants that are listed on the bingo card are Mamma’s Kitchen, Woodlawn Press Winery, Cedar Knoll, Mezcalero Cocina Mexicana, Grounded Coffee Shop, and more.

Anyone who makes a qualifying purchase — $10 or more at participating restaurants — at five places that line up horizontally, diagonally or vertically, is entered into a raffle for the chance to win a $50 or $100 gift card. Three winners will be chosen. The first person to cross out the whole card will win a $100 gift card.

The SFDC promotes businesses from the Capital Beltway to Fort Belvoir, including in the communities of Penn Daw, Huntington, Beacon/Groveton, Hybla Valley, South County, and Woodlawn. Since 1981, it has helped direct nearly $2 billion of private investment to the area, according to its annual report.

Over the next five to 10 years, the corporation expects residents will see a transformation of the Richmond Highway corridor as multiple multifamily housing projects have started construction and there are plans for a revitalized mixed-use Metro station.

“New businesses are looking for space and most legacy businesses have survived the hardships of the last couple years,” DeFrancisco said. “With everything that’s in motion, the future of the Corridor looks bright.”

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