The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has agreed to let a planned office building near the Spring Hill Metro station become an apartment high-rise instead.
At a public hearing on July 25, the board unanimously approved American Real Estate Partners’ City House proposal, a move that both the county and developer hope will catalyze change in a largely dormant part of Tysons.
“I think we’re optimistic that these improvements will ensure a revitalization of this area,” Walsh Colucci land use lawyer Lynne Strobel said, representing the developer. “It’s an area that has been rather slow to redevelop under the Tysons plan. Even though there have been approvals, not much has been built, so we’re hopeful this will activate this part of Tysons.”
Part of the 31.5-acre Spring Hill Station demonstration project approved in 2011, City House will bring a 410,000-square-foot high-rise residential building with up to 410 multifamily units to the Highline at Greensboro District office complex (8401 Greensboro Drive).
Dubbed Building E3 in the demonstration project plan, which called for 7.5 million square feet of mixed-use development, the site was approved for a 20-story office building in 2013, but that’s no longer viable, given the current state of the office market, Strobel told the board.
The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority shared last month that the county’s office vacancy rate of 16.7% is its highest in 10 years. In Tysons, residential development has surged past office development over the past decade, raising some concerns among county officials about maintaining the balance between housing and jobs sought by the comprehensive plan.
The two office buildings currently standing in the Highline at Greensboro District will remain. Two other residential buildings planned for the future neighborhood could also become a hotel or retail and service space.
While no commercial space is proposed in City House, the building will come with a Highline Plaza outside the main entrance, a pocket park called Highline Square, and an urban park with recreational amenities and a performance stage on top of the existing, 1,500-space parking garage. The three publicly accessible parks will total approximately 1 acre in size.
Other improvements promised by American Real Estate Partners include new sidewalks, a designated left-turn lane into the Spring Hill Business Center on Spring Hill Road, a 5-foot-wide bicycle lane, and a two-lane extension of Broad Street from Spring Hill Road to a future Logan Street.
Though they support the City House project overall, the nearby Rotunda Condominiums residents remain disappointed that the Broad Street segment won’t be in its final four-lane configuration, according to William Lawson Jr., an attorney representing the condo association’s board of directors.
“We understand after meeting with the applicant on site why that is not possible,” Lawson said, reiterating concerns about the county’s reliance on developers to build out the Tysons street grid that he also shared at a planning commission hearing on July 12. “…The completion of Broad Street, we believe, would relieve a lot of traffic on Greensboro [Drive].”
County planner Sunny Yang confirmed that the full construction of Broad Street “will depend on the redevelopment of adjacent properties,” including the former Container Store that the county turned into The PARC at Tysons.
Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik said she sees City House as an opportunity to “turn existing, less useful space” into urban space with housing and amenities for both residents and the wider community.
“They’re bringing more opportunities for people to be able to stay and enjoy, live or work in Tysons,” she said. “I think it’s important that we be flexible, knowing that there’s a need for housing and a little less in office space now, so I think this is a creative solution.”
Fairfax County’s efforts to become more energy efficient will get a power boost this week, as work begins on improvements at McLean’s Spring Hill Rec Center.
Set to break ground at 2 p.m. tomorrow (Wednesday), the project will add the recreation center at 1239 Spring Hill Road to a growing list of county facilities supported by solar panels. Other planned changes include pool dehumidification unit replacements, LED lighting upgrades, improved building automation systems and a new geothermal HVAC system.
“The project represents a significant step forward toward meeting the county’s goals for carbon neutrality in its facilities, fleet vehicles and operations, including 50% of county electricity from renewable sources by 2040,” the Fairfax County Park Authority said.
Adopted in July 2021, the county’s Operational Energy Strategy set 2040 as the target date for achieving carbon neutrality in its energy use — the point when it will remove as many greenhouse gas emissions as it releases.
In addition to getting half its electricity from renewable sources by 2040, the county hopes to reach carbon neutrality by cutting overall energy usage in half, transitioning to fully electric or non-carbon-emitting vehicle fleets by 2035 and producing zero waste by 2030, among other goals.
After running into some early roadblocks, particularly when it came to solar panels, the push to make the county’s facilities more energy efficient has picked up steam in recent months.
There are 22 solar projects in progress, including the Spring Hill one as well as five others that are under construction and expected to be completed this year, the Fairfax County Office of Environmental and Energy Coordination reported to the Board of Supervisors at a July 18 committee meeting.
Later this afternoon, the board will hold a public hearing on whether to lease some upcoming facilities, including the new Franconia Governmental Center and planned Mason District Police Station addition, for solar photovoltaic (PV) array installations.
The county has also finished installing 96 electric vehicle charging stations at 11 facilities and has another five locations and 116 charging spaces on the way through 2024, though the Spring Hill Rec Center isn’t on that list.
The rec center will be the county’s fifth energy efficiency retrofit project, following completed upgrades at the Cub Run and South Run rec centers and the City of Fairfax Regional Library. Improvements to the Pender Building that houses the Department of Housing and Community Development are on track to finish this November.
According to the park authority, the Spring Hill Rec Center’s new solar PV array will produce 307 kilowatts of energy, providing 13% of the building’s annual electricity.
“That’s enough energy to power 33 homes, annually,” FCPA spokesperson Benjamin Boxer said.
Coordinated by energy service contractor CMTA, the upgrades are collectively expected to reduce the facility’s electric consumption by 19% and gas consumption by 29% each year, the FCPA says.
The park authority anticipates finishing work on the project by late summer 2024.
“There may be occasional, temporary disruptions to Rec Center operations due to construction activities, but the Park Authority will work to minimize any impacts to our patrons,” Boxer said.
Offering classes, camps and one of the FCPA’s three licensed preschools, the Spring Hill Rec Center hosts a 15,000-square-foot fitness center, an indoor gym, a swimming pool and spa, and various outdoor facilities, including a playground and baseball and soccer fields.
(Updated at 7:10 p.m.) Permanent closures are coming for three auto dealerships near the Spring Hill Metro station in Tysons.
The Priority Nissan and Mazda shops, which share a building at 8525 Leesburg Pike, will close at the end of this month with either July 31 or Aug. 1 as their final day of business, a customer service representative told FFXnow.
Next door, Sheehy Infiniti of Tysons is set to leave 8527 Leesburg Pike on Aug. 10, an operator confirmed.
“All our services will be transferred to Chantilly,” the operator said, referring to the Sheehy Infiniti dealership at 4145 Auto Park Circle.
While unsure of the reason for the closures, the Priority representative said warranties for vehicles purchased in Tysons will continue to be honored, and customers can access services at other locations. The closest dealership is the Safford Brown Mazda and Nissan (11010 Fairfax Blvd) in Fairfax.
According to the Sheehy Infiniti operator, there are plans to build apartments on the site.
The roughly 12-acre parcel south of Route 7 near the Vesper Trail is part of the massive Dominion Square redevelopment plan approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in 2017.
Split into “east” and “west” portions along Spring Hill Road, the proposals from then-property owner Capital Automotive Real Estate Services (CARS) collectively envisioned replacing the existing auto dealerships with as much as 3.6 million square feet of mixed-use development.
About 2 million of that will be in Dominion Square East, which includes the Sheehy and Priority dealerships. The plan calls for six buildings, including multifamily residential, office, hotel and retail space, as well as new streets and recreational amenities, such as a public trail connection from the Old Courthouse Spring Branch Stream Valley to the Spring Hill Metro station.
It’s unclear what the impending dealership closures mean for the future development. Algin didn’t return a request for comment by press time, and no new applications have been filed with the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Development.
“[DPD staff are] not aware of any proposed development,” a county public information officer said.
While there has been little movement on Dominion Square East since the development was approved, construction on at least part of the 7.6 acres to the west could begin as soon as December.
That’s when the nonprofit Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing anticipates breaking ground on two 21-story, all-affordable residential buildings at 1592 Spring Hill Road. The plan, which includes a community center for Tysons, was approved by the Fairfax County Planning Commission in February.
Correction: This article originally misstated the closing date of Sheehy Infiniti as July 10, and apologies to Adam Rubinstein for the initial misspelling of his name.
While new buildings continue to transform the Tysons skyline further east, the Spring Hill Metro station area has yet to see the same frenzy of development.
Developer American Real Estate Partners hopes to change that with City House, pitching the high-rise apartments to the Fairfax County Planning Commission last week as a way to revitalize its Highline at Greensboro District office complex at 8401 Greensboro Drive.
“As we all know, office is not feasible in many locations, and not in this location either,” Walsh Colucci land use lawyer Lynne Strobel told the commission on July 12, reporting double-digit vacancy rates at the development’s two existing office buildings. “…I appreciate that that is the state of the market right now, but we think this conversion might help revitalize this corner of Tysons.”
Recommending approval of the application, the commissioners agreed that housing seems like a more promising match for the 2.65-acre site than the 20-story office building anticipated by a development plan the county greenlit in 2013.
City House will feature up to 410 multifamily rental units and three publicly accessible parks:
- A 4,009-square-foot Highline Plaza outside its main entrance, with benches, landscaping and an art installation
- A 6,708-square-foot pocket park dubbed Highline Square with seating
- A 32,778-square foot urban park with recreational amenities on top of the existing, 1,500-space parking garage that City House will share with the offices
It’s just one piece of the 31.5-acre Spring Hill Station demonstration project, which was approved in 2011 and envisioned 7.5 million square feet of mixed-use, transit-oriented development north of the Spring Hill Road and Route 7 (Leesburg Pike) intersection.
The Spring Hill project was supposed to be at the forefront of the county’s efforts to turn Tysons into a vibrant downtown, but construction in Tysons West as a whole has largely ground to a halt since the Adaire apartments opened in 2016.
Bounded by Spring Hill Road, Greensboro Drive and Broad Street, the Highline portion will have five buildings, including the two office towers and City House. A possible residential or hotel building and a residential building with retail are approved but unbuilt.
“When you come around from Route 7 onto Spring Hill Road and look at the site right now, I mean it’s eh,” Dranesville District Planning Commissioner John Ulfelder said. “It really does need something, and it needs something that ties it back to the rest of Tysons and looks like the new Tysons, the modern Tysons. I think this is a good step in that direction.”
While hopeful that the building will be “a catalyst for redevelopment,” Providence District Commissioner Phil Niedzielski-Eichner raised concerns about its accessibility to residents, workers and members of the surrounding community, stressing the need to make clear that the parks are there and open to the public. Read More
(Updated at 12:15 a.m. on 4/27/2023) Preliminary construction activities will kick into gear this weekend on a long-gestating project to move part of an electric transmission line underground in the Spring Hill area of Tysons.
Starting this Friday (April 28) evening, Dominion Energy will close the Vesper Trail from Route 7 (Leesburg Pike) to Vesper Street so its crews can install a manhole needed for the project, spokesperson Peggy Fox said. The trail closure will last until Tuesday (May 2).
“This closure is necessary to keep community members safe while we install a manhole,” Fox told FFXnow.
Replacing an existing above-ground line, the new 230-kilovolt transmission line will span approximately half a mile from Dominion’s Tyco Road substation to the vicinity of a planned Spring Hill substation just southwest of Leesburg Pike and Spring Hill Road.
An underground line will be safer and less visually obtrusive, while helping Tysons meet the demand for electricity as the area continues to develop, Dominion has said. Removal of the existing overhead line will also “facilitate” construction on The View, a mixed-use development planned next to the Spring Hill Metro station, according to documents filed with the State Corporation Commission.
The project was endorsed by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in March 2020 and approved by the SCC on June 24, 2021.
Dominion notified residents in the area on April 14 that construction on the power line would begin this month, noting that the county has waived noise restrictions for the project until Oct. 31 since some work will occur at night.
“To limit traffic impacts on major roadways, particularly Leesburg Pike, construction will be performed at night,” the utility company said. “This allows our crews to obtain necessary lane closures to complete the work safely and efficiently.”
Split into five phases, the project includes the installation of two manholes, which will occur throughout the day and night so they can be completed “as expeditiously as possible.”
“There will be more impacts to the trail in fall 2023 when we begin installing the underground line in this area, and outreach will take place prior,” Fox said by email. “No impacts to electric service are anticipated as a result of this work.”
Including the addition of a transition pole at the end of the new line and removal of the old overhead line, the project is expected to finish in late 2024. At that point, Dominion says it will begin construction on the Spring Hill substation, which will occupy a 1-acre site near Raglan Road Park.
The new substation will support customers south of Route 7 (Leesburg Pike) and outside of I-495, according to Dominion.
Fairfax County Rescue Dog Dies — “We regret to announce the passing of #canine Phayu after a long illness. An 8-year veteran, he deployed worldwide including to quakes in Haiti & Nepal, and hurricanes in the Bahamas & USA. We thank Phayu for his service and extend condolences to his family and our #K9 section.” [Fairfax County Urban Search and Rescue Team/Twitter]
County Firefighters Deliver Free Shoes to Kids — “The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department along with Firefighters and Friends to the Rescue on Thursday gave away more than 300 pairs of new shoes to children and families in need. The giveaways were held at Gum Springs and Lee District community centers in Alexandria.” [ABC7]
Route 28 Lanes Closed for Skewed Sign — A Route 28 sign for the Willard Road exit in Chantilly got knocked out of place during the morning rush hour yesterday (Thursday). Crews had to block off two southbound lanes for almost five hours while they addressed the situation, which required a removal of the sign pole. [VDOT/Twitter]
Free School Meals to End This Fall — “For the past two years, the federal government has provided no-cost meals to all public school students without the need to complete the annual Free and Reduced-Price Meal application. The extension of the no-cost meals benefit to all students is expected to expire at the end of this school year, meaning families must submit an application and be approved to be eligible for free and reduced price meals for the 2022-23 school year.” [FCPS]
McLean Rec Center to Close Tomorrow — “Spring Hill Rec Center will close June 4 through 7 to address electrical maintenance issues. This project was planned for August but has been moved up to ensure continuous site operation and safety.” [Supervisor John Foust/Twitter]
Herndon Man Charged With Assault — A 43-year-old man faces aggravated assault and burglary charges after Herndon police say he allegedly “entered a home in the 600 block of Center Street without permission on May 23 and assaulted one of it occupants.” The man is currently being held without bond at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center. [Patch]
Asian Fusion Eatery Joins Tysons Biergarten — “RollBär, an Asian fusion restaurant, opens TODAY at @shipgarten! Shipgarten, a new pop-up located at the future site of Scotts Run’s ‘Taylor’ block, launched last Thursday with the reopening of #TysonsBiergarten.” [Tysons Partnership/Twitter]
The St. James Plans Maryland Expansion — After unveiling a performance club at Reston Town Center in April, the Springfield-based sports complex announced yesterday (Thursday) that it will bring a similar facility to downtown Bethesda this winter. The new club will be smaller than The St. James’ flagship site, which is the largest athletic facility in the region, but it will include a Vim & Victor Café. [Washingtonian]
Charcoal Chicken Restaurant Coming to West Falls Church — “Super Pollo Charcoal Chicken is moving into the spot vacated by DC Steakholders at 6641 Arlington Blvd…Juan Carlos Hernandez, manager of the Barcroft Plaza Super Pollo expects the new place will open in two to three months.” [Annandale Today]
It’s Friday — Mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 75 and low of 63. Sunrise at 5:46 am and sunset at 8:31 pm. [Weather.gov]
The Highline at Greensboro District office complex in Tysons has been destined for more development for a decade now, but in terms of office space, it appears to have reached capacity.
Instead, American Real Estate Partners, which owns the property at 8401 Greensboro Drive, is seeking to build a 410-unit multifamily residential high-rise on a parcel at the corner of Broad Street and Spring Hill Road currently occupied by tree-lined footpaths and parking.
Dubbed “City House,” the proposed building would be constructed in lieu of a 22-story office tower with retail that Fairfax County approved for the 2.38-acre site in February 2013 as part of the massive Spring Hill Station project that became Tysons’ first major planned redevelopment.
A new final development plan submitted to the county on April 25 would allow for a 410,000-square-foot residential building with 350 to 410 multi-family rental units, 20% of which will be designated as workforce dwelling units in keeping with the Tysons Comprehensive Plan. Its height could be between 200 and 270 feet, or 19 to 29 stories.
With remote work becoming more accepted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, City House is envisioned as a complement to the existing Highline buildings, a pair of 10-story office towers that were built in 2000, according to county property records.
“The residential units are being designed to accommodate ‘working from home’ as that has become a growing trend in today’s economy,” Walsh Colucci senior land use planner Elizabeth Baker wrote in a statement of justification on American Real Estate’s behalf.
Parking for all three buildings will be provided in the complex’s existing garage, per the application, which says the shift from office to residential will result in fewer vehicle trips to and from the property.
As part of the application, the real estate firm proposes creating a pocket park and plaza along Broad Street and converting private amentity space that it’s currently renovating at Highline into publicly accessible park: Read More