The nearly 24-acre, mixed-use development planned for the West Falls Church Metro station will come with at least a few upgrades to the surrounding transportation network in Idylwood, if it’s approved.
Developers EYA, Rushmark Properties, and Hoffman & Associates — known collectively as FGCP-Metro LLC — have agreed to construct a shared-use trail along the north side of Haycock Road over I-66, according to a draft proffer agreement in Fairfax County’s Jan. 24 staff report on the development plans.
The proposed trail would replace the road’s existing asphalt sidewalk and one of its westbound lanes. It would be at least 10 feet wide — exceeding the 8 feet recommended by a county study of the area’s pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure.
A concept plan shows the trail being separated from the road by a 3-foot-wide jersey barrier on the I-66 bridge and a guardrail and buffer strip to the east of the bridge. With the trail, the developers would also add a crosswalk across Turner Avenue, where the trail would begin.
Under the proffers, which are conditions tied to the development, the Haycock Metrorail Connector Trail must open before the county issues a 40th residential-use permit for the townhouses planned on the Metro station site, though the deadline can be deferred if needed to get required approvals and easements.
Other improvements that the developers say they’ll provide include:
- Falls Church Drive: pedestrian crosswalks, installation of pedestrian-actuated signalization, and modifications to the existing median, including an eastbound left turn lane
- Haycock and Great Falls Street intersection: an exclusive left-turn lane and a single shared through/right-turn lane in each direction along Haycock
- A right-turn lane along Grove Avenue at its intersection with Haycock Road
- An extension of West Falls Station Blvd through the Metro property, with $2 million offered to help pay for the new road’s construction in Falls Church City’s nearby West Falls development
- On-road bicycle lanes on both sides of West Falls Station Blvd
- Up to four bus shelters
- A concrete pad for a future Capital Bikeshare station
The developers have also agreed to conduct a traffic signal timing analysis and contribute $20,000 that the county can use to install traffic signal preemption devices on traffic lights within a 5-mile radius of the development site.
The development’s traffic impacts have been a top concern for many in the community, who argue that the existing infrastructure is insufficient even without the over 1 million square feet of residential, office and retail space that FGCP-Metro hopes to build on the Metro station’s parking lots at 7040 Haycock Road.
Another 820,000 square feet of development has been proposed on Virginia Tech’s adjacent Northern Virginia Center campus.
Metro’s West Falls Church redevelopment will bring up to 810 multifamily units, 90 townhomes, and a 110,000 square feet office building with up to 10,000 square feet of ground-floor retail.
The developers intend to build the project’s eight blocks in four phases. Individual plans have been submitted for the grid of streets, townhouses, the office building and one multifamily building, along with two proposed parks, but the blocks could be completed in any order under the proffer agreement.
Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust’s office will hold a virtual community meeting on the project at 7 p.m. today (Tuesday). The application is set to go to the Fairfax County Planning Commission for a public hearing on Wednesday, Feb. 8.
A proposed shared-use path on Haycock Road over I-66 is among several pedestrian and bicycle projects in the West Falls Church Metro station area that the McLean Citizens Association believes Fairfax County should prioritize for funding.
The organization, which routinely weighs in on issues affecting the greater McLean area, approved a resolution on Wednesday (Jan. 4) endorsing 19 projects recommended by an advisory group that the county convened to study the West Falls Church Transit Station Area’s (TSA) active transportation infrastructure.
“We believe these projects will improve access to the West Falls Church Metro station and area schools, and will likely be cost effective,” Glenn Harris, who chairs the association’s transportation committee, said.
Released in November, the advisory group’s final report backed community complaints that the area is congested and unsafe to travel for those not in cars, proposing 20 projects that could help address those issues in anticipation of future development.
In its resolution, the MCA board of directors highlighted seven pedestrian projects that it says deserve “rapid identification and allocation of funding for placement” on the county’s Transportation Priorities Plan:
- Pathway improvements along Haycock Road from Great Falls Street to the Metro Access Road
- A sidewalk along Redd Road to Idylwood Road and related improvements, including a crosswalk, to provide safe access to Lemon Road Elementary School
- A pedestrian refuge on Idylwood Road near Lemon Road Elementary
- High-visibility crosswalks at the Pimmit Drive and Leesburg Pike intersection
- A mid-block crossing on Haycock Road near Casemont Drive with flashing beacons
- Pedestrian improvements at the Westmoreland Street and Haycock Road intersection
- A crosswalk on Great Falls Street at Moly Drive
The Haycock pathway improvements would consist of a new shared-use path that’s at least 8 feet wide. To make room where it passes over I-66, the road could be reduced from two southwest travel lanes to one, according to MCA board member Bruce Jones.
“The pedestrian walkways along the bridge are woefully deficient and dangerous, in our opinion,” Harris said. “But as I understand it, there’s some consideration to narrow the lanes on the bridge to allow for a wider pedestrian infrastructure without the need to actually rebuild the bridge.”
Though estimated to be one of the more expensive proposals in the report, the project is one of two that MCA has advocated for in the past, along with the Redd Road sidewalk.
While the board gave its support to all four proposed bicycle projects, it didn’t endorse one pedestrian project that would add a pathway from Idylwood Road to the Metro station through or along the railyard.
According to Harris, county staff told the advisory group that the project could cost over $10 million, and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority had “expressed considerable concern” about the path as a potential security risk for its railyard.
“Given the limited amount of funds that are currently allocated, we don’t think that it makes sense to be funding this particular project, particularly when WMATA has expressed concerns, if not outright opposition to the project,” Harris said. “The available funds should be used for the other projects.”
Launched in late 2021, the West Falls Church Active Transportation Study served as a follow-up to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors’ approval of a plan allowing more mixed-use development around the Metro station.
The West Falls development in Falls Church City is under construction. Plans for over 1.8 million square feet of development on the Metro station property and Virginia Tech’s nearby Northern Virginia Center are being reviewed by county staff.
The Board of Supervisors accepted the study report on Dec. 6 and directed staff to incorporate its recommendations into the county’s active transportation plan.
Image via Google Maps
The pedestrian and bicycle network around the West Falls Church Metro station in Idylwood is uncomfortable to use in some places and nonexistent in many others, a newly released report found.
The West Falls Church Active Transportation Study confirms community complaints that local roads are unsafe and inadequate for current residents, let alone the influx of newcomers anticipated with 1.8 million square feet of new development planned in the transit station area (TSA).
Faced with transportation infrastructure often designed to move drivers at the expense of other road users like pedestrians and bicyclists, the report proposes an array of potential improvements, from new sidewalks to a road diet on Haycock Road.
“Providing active transportation accommodations in a built-environment can be challenging and costly, but it is vital, especially for areas that are focused on transit-oriented development,” the report said. “Safe and comfortable sidewalks and bicycle facilities may encourage transit usage as they can provide access to more people within transit station areas.”
Developed by Fairfax County staff and an advisory group of residents and road safety advocates, the study launched last December after the Board of Supervisors set the stage for redevelopments of the Metro station and Virginia Tech’s Northern Virginia Center campus, raising concerns that the added density will exacerbate safety and congestion issues in the area.
With major construction already underway on the former George Mason High School campus in Falls Church City, the report states that the new developments will “likely result in an increase in traffic on the area’s roadways.”
For example, on Route 7 (Leesburg Pike), where the majority of crashes in the TSA over the past five years are concentrated, daily traffic volumes are projected to rise from about 30,000 vehicles prior to the pandemic in 2010 to over 50,000 vehicles in 2045.
Projects recommended by the report include sidewalks, shared-use paths and paved trails on several roads. It also proposes safety measures at key intersections, such as flashing beacons for the Washington & Old Dominion Trail crossing at Virginia Lane and a pedestrian refuge on Idylwood Road near Lemon Road Elementary School.
Some of the recommended high-visibility crosswalks on Leesburg Pike at the Idylwood, I-66 and Pimmit Drive intersections have already been added, as of October, according to footnotes in the report.
The report also suggests considering road design or operational changes, including road diets, one-way streets near the Metro station, and “slow streets” with lower speed limits, traffic barriers and limited access.
Road diets repurpose existing travel lanes for bicycle lanes, transit, parking or other uses, though the Virginia Department of Transportation typically uses them to create center left-turn lanes. The report proposes Haycock Road between Turner Avenue and Falls Church City, and Great Falls Street on the I-66 overpass as possible candidates.
Slow streets would be a new concept for Fairfax County, but D.C. experimented with them during the first year of the pandemic, and some cities, particularly in California, are adopting them permanently.
The report suggests testing the idea with one or two local streets, such as Chestnut and Gordons Road between Dale Drive and Shreve Road or Highland Avenue between Haycock and North West Street.
“As with road diets, slow street projects would require an assessment of the potential traffic impacts and must be closely coordinated with VDOT and affected members of the community,” the report says.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors formally accepted the report yesterday, directing county staff to incorporate the recommendations into the countywide active transporation plan and identify possible funding sources.
Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust, who represents the TSA, along with Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik, said he’s “absolutely confident” that the report accurately reflects the needs and priorities of the community.
“I frequently walk those areas personally, and I believe this study does a good job of describing existing pedestrian and bicycle conditions and needed improvements in the area and of prioritizing safety and access improvements that are needed,” he said.
A massive array of solar panels could provide cover for the office building that developer Rushmark Properties and the construction company HITT Contracting are planning to build at Virginia Tech’s campus near the West Falls Church Metro station.
In a final development plan recently submitted to Fairfax County, the two companies — collectively known as Converge West Falls LLC — propose installing a photovoltaic array canopy on top of the building, which will house HITT’s corporate headquarters and laboratory space for Virginia Tech’s planned National Center for Smart Construction.
Standing approximately 117 feet tall, the canopy would encompass approximately 112,000 square feet, making it larger than the roof of the 270,000-square-foot building. It would have nine support columns ranging in height from 91 to 111 feet, per the application.
“The tree-like columns provide a structural solution while also creating the sense of lift and grandeur emulating a modern woodland canopy,” Walsh Colucci land use lawyer Andrew Painter said in a Nov. 22 statement for the applicant. “The multifunctional solar array canopy also shades the building from the sun, as one of the proposed building’s energy-reduction measures.”
The array is expected to generate between 1,100 and 1,400 megawatts of electricity — enough to supply most of the building’s energy, the application says.
The solar panels are one of several amenities detailed in a trio of plans filed last week to expand Virginia Tech’s Northern Virginia Center at 7054 Haycock Road.
Most of the office building — 230,000 square feet — would be devoted to HITT’s headquarters, but Virginia Tech would have up to 40,000 square feet on the northern side for educational purposes. A maximum height of 97 feet and six stories has been proposed.
Under the submitted plan, the building would be served by a below-grade parking garage and a 23,500-square-foot entry plaza on the south side with built-in benches, movable tables and chairs, “playful” lighting, and garden areas with native tree, pollinator and flower plantings.
“A large depression pond that exists on the site will be repurposed into a bioretention garden to treat stormwater run-off and provide visual interest along Falls Church Drive,” Painter wrote.
Further south on the 7.5-acre site between Mustang Alley and Falls Church Drive will be a 532,000-square-foot multifamily building with 440 residential units and 18,000 square feet of ground-floor retail.
Converge is planning to offer a mix of one, two and three-bedroom units that “will be larger than the current industry trend to better accommodate families,” according to the application. The building will be up to 139 feet tall, descending to 82 feet along Falls Church Drive. Read More
If the proliferation of major developments planned around the West Falls Church Metro station is making your head spin, an upcoming community meeting may provide some clarity.
The developers seeking to redevelop the Metro station property and expand Virginia Tech’s nearby Northern Virginia Center campus will present their proposals and answer questions at an informational meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 15.
Sponsored by Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust’s office and the McLean Citizens Association, the event will take place at Longfellow Middle School in McLean. It will start at 7 p.m. with an open house, where attendees can look at informational boards and talk directly to the developers.
The main meeting will last from 7:30-9 p.m. and include presentations on both projects, an overview of Fairfax County’s zoning review process, and a Q&A period.
“Participants will have the opportunity to provide feedback and ask questions and remote participants will be able to submit written questions or comments during the meeting,” Foust’s office said in a community notice, noting that a Zoom link for those who want to follow virtually will be provided a week before the meeting.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors opened the door for mixed-use development in the West Falls Church Transit Station Area (TSA) with an amendment to the county’s comprehensive plan in July 2021.
The FCGP-Metro Development (RZ-2022-DR-00006) application by EYA, Hoffman and Associates, and Rushmark Properties proposes to rezone the 24-acre West Falls Church Metrorail Station (7040 Haycock Rd, Falls Church) to the Planned Residential Mixed Use zoning district. The proposed development would include up to 810 multifamily units, 90 townhomes, and a 110,000 square feet office building with up to 10,000 square feet of ground floor retail.
The Converge West Falls (RZ-2022-DR-00018) application by HITT Contracting and Rushmark Properties proposes to rezone the 7.5-acre Northern Virginia Center (7054 Haycock Rd, Falls Church) to the Planned Residential Mixed-Use zoning district. The two-block mixed-use project consists of three buildings totaling 820,000 square feet of development and includes a six-floor office building that would serve as HITT Contracting’s corporate headquarters, a 440-unit residential building, and a 2,000 square foot one-story retail kiosk. The office building would include the approximately 40,000-square foot National Center for Smart Construction laboratory space to support Virginia Tech university’s mission as an academic and research institution.
The prospect of approximately 1.8 million square feet of new development — plus the separate West Falls project that’s already under construction in Falls Church City — has some in the community worrying that navigating the area by car and foot or bicycle could become untenable.
In the hopes of finding solutions, the county has been studying the TSA’s pedestrian and bicycle network. The most recent community meetings on the study were held Oct. 26 and 27, and an advisory group met for a seventh time on Wednesday (Nov. 2).
Metro is also accepting public comments until next Thursday (Nov. 10) on its proposal to overhaul the West Falls Church station’s parking lots, which will be partly replaced by the FCGP-Metro development.
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
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.”
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
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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