Fairfax County will use eminent domain to obtain land valued at nearly $3 million so it can build a road connecting Capital One Center in Tysons to the Dulles Airport Access Road.
With Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity abstaining, the Board of Supervisors voted 9-0 after a public hearing yesterday (Tuesday) to authorize county staff to acquire the 25,374-square-foot parcel, which is currently part of the Gates of McLean property north of Scotts Crossing Road.
In exchange, the Gates of McLean Condominium Unit Association could get more than $2.9 million based on an appraisal conducted on Nov. 4, 2021, county documents show. The county sent a letter to the association with the compensation offer on March 25.
Nicole Wilson, a right of way agent in the Department of Public Works and Environmental Services’ land acquisition division, confirmed that the board’s vote allows staff to pursue an agreement, but the deal hasn’t been finalized yet.
“This is not certainly the end of the conversation from the owners’ association, but allows you to continue to proceed moving forward and negotiate some of the terms under which the acquisition would occur,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said.
Lisa Samuels, president of the condo association’s board of directors, previously told FFXnow that the group had no concerns with the county taking the land for the road.
The association’s bylaws require a majority of owners in the 624-unit development to approve any land changes, but since most units are rented out to tenants, a vote was deemed “impractical,” according to a county staff report.
As a result, the board needs to use its quick-take powers so construction can begin, staff said. The adopted resolution states that the land rights must be acquired by Sept. 3 to keep the project on schedule.
The planned public street from Scotts Crossing to the airport access road “will help to relieve traffic congestion in the area” and pave the way for a “future realignment of an existing ramp connection to the Dulles Toll Road,” Wilson told the board.
Developer Cityline Partner offered to help build the street with the Scotts Run North project it got approved in 2015. After taking over the 9.4-acre property in 2019, Capital One has proposed building a portion of the road as part of a plan for parks on the site.
Though Samuels characterized the parcel sought by the county as too overgrown to be useful for recreation or other purposes, Gates of McLean owner and resident Donald Garrett — the only speaker at the public hearing — testified that it includes a walking path used by residents and their dogs.
“There should be recognition that we are asked to give up part of our green space and recreation space for a road project,” Garrett said. “Outside of financial compensation, I believe there are policy options at the county’s disposal to offer unit owners an equitable compensation.”
He suggested the county include pedestrian enhancements in the road project or give Gates of McLean residents priority booking at a nearby park or athletic field for events.
Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik said the county will keep working with the condo association and residents throughout the negotiation process.
“We definitely want to ensure that, as the development continues in this area, that there will be definitely focus on the access to green spaces, safety for pedestrians, and ensuring that we have access to the businesses and residential communities in this area,” Palchik said.
Fairfax County could exercise its eminent domain powers to acquire land for a road planned to connect Capital One’s future campus extension with the Dulles Toll Road in Tysons.
The Board of Supervisors agreed yesterday (Tuesday) to set a July 19 public hearing on the proposed acquisition from the Gates of McLean Condominium Unit Owners Association, which represents the 624-unit neighborhood that currently owns the land.
The land is needed for the construction of “an important public grid street” that will eventually run north from Scotts Crossing Road to the toll road’s eastbound off-ramp, according to the board agenda for yesterday’s meeting.
The connector road is in the street network envisioned by the Tysons Comprehensive Plan, and developer Cityline Partners committed to helping build it as part of the Scotts Run North project that the county approved in 2015.
The 9.4-acre development site at the northwestern corner of Scotts Crossing and Dolley Madison Blvd was sold to Capital One in May 2019. In a recent proposal to redevelop the land with parks and, later, mixed-use buildings, the financial corporation said it has been working with the county to accelerate the connector road portion of the project.
“Capital One…is committed to advancing construction of this planned public street, among others in the vicinity, to frontload critical transportation infrastructure as Tysons East continues to develop,” county staff said in the board agenda. “Acquiring this piece of land will enable this process to move forward.”
The Gates of McLean has owned the parcel in question since the community was first built as apartments in the late 1990s, according to Lisa Samuels, president of the association’s board of directors.
Located on the neighborhood’s southeastern side, the land is currently undeveloped green space, and pieces of it are protected by conservation easements.
“In terms of future plans for development, we certainly didn’t have any, but we knew that there might come a time where some of it might be acquired in order to build the extension of the road,” Samuels said.
According to Samuels, Capital One informed the association’s board of its interest in acquiring the land for the road about two years ago, but the discussion was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Samuels says the board “has no concern” about the county’s plan to take the land, since heavy overgrowth prevents the community from using it for recreation or other purposes.
However, the association’s bylaws require approval from 75% of unit owners for any land changes, and because most Gates of McLean owners don’t live on-site, instead renting out their condos to tenants, the board typically struggles to get a response rate higher than 15%.
“It’s just very difficult for us to get that supermajority that would be needed to sell the land,” Samuels said. “Our owners aren’t overly responsive to communications from us.”
Taking the land through eminent domain would enable construction on the connector road to begin on schedule, according to county staff.