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From the Ground Up - October 26, 2022

From the Ground UpA look at economic development, rezoning, and residential and commercial projects happening in Northern Virginia. 


Upcoming Arlington Site Plan Review Committee (SPRC) Meetings:
The Site Plan Review Committee (SPRC) was formed in the early 1970’s at the request of the County Board as a Committee of the Planning Commission. The SPRC reviews all site plans and major site plan amendments requests. SPRC Members consider and try to resolve site plan issues before proposals go to public hearings. The Site Plan Review Process is a forum for the public to review and comment on plans.
November 7, 2022: 701 N. Glebe Road – Ballston Macy's
The applicant, Insight Property Group, proposes the demolition of the existing Ballston Macy’s department store and vacant office space above the store and the development of a residential building with grocery store anchor on the ground floor.
November 10, 2022: 2250 Crystal Drive / 223 23rd St. S. – Crystal Plaza 5
The applicant, JBG Smith, proposes to redevelop the site (“Crystal Plaza 5”) and construct two new multifamily residential towers with ground floor retail space.
November 28, 2022: 1400 Richmond Highway (Americana Hotel)
The applicant, JBG Smith, proposes the demolition of the former Americana Hotel building and the development of a 19-story residential building with ground floor retail. The proposal consists of a 636-unit building with approximately 529,132 square feet of total gross floor area (8.61 FAR).

Construction Begins for Army Navy Drive Complete Street Project
Arlington County officials, representatives from state and regional transportation agencies, and business organizations broke ground to mark the beginning of construction on the Army Navy Drive Complete Street project. The Army Navy Drive Complete Street project will enhance transportation facilities for all road users on a key 1.2-mile segment between the Pentagon City and Crystal City neighborhoods by delivering safety and access improvements. These include widened sidewalks, shorter pedestrian crossings, a two-way curb-protected cycle track, and additional segments of dedicated bus lanes that will form part of the Transitway Extension to Pentagon City.

NVAR Panel Mulls Hot ‘Missing Middle’ Issue
Portland, Oregon, a frequently cited model among advocates of looser zoning to encourage less-pricey home ownership, took centerstage at an Oct. 13 panel on Arlington’s debate over “Missing Middle” at which a variety of organizations called for action to address the regional housing shortage. Hard data was presented at a session at George Mason University’s Arlington campus titled “Exploring Missing Middle: The Economic and Market Impact of Infill Development,” sponsored by the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors®, GMU’s Center for Regional Analysis and its Center for Real Estate Entrepreneurship.

As housing prices soar, a wealthy county rethinks the idea of suburbia
The email from the mortgage loan officer was supposed to be good news for Maureen Coffey. A 27-year-old nonprofit employee, she never thought she would be able to afford to buy in Arlington County — a wealthy, liberal suburb across the river from D.C. — until he told her otherwise. Her steady income and strong credit would qualify her for a condominium costing as much as $300,000. But the properties within her budget in this slice of Northern Virginia were all nonstarters . . . “I had done everything right,” Coffey said, “and that still was not enough to buy something.” Across the country, low housing stock and skyrocketing prices mean plenty of others are facing a similar reality. With new units hardly being built fast enough in Arlington to fix the problem, local lawmakers are hoping one possible solution to these woes may lie in the county’s zoning code.
Related: Missing Middle debate continues amid dueling rallies at County Board meeting

Disagreements surface over county vision of greener, denser Langston Blvd
As Arlington County continues collecting feedback on the preliminary concept plan to turn Langston Blvd into a “Green Main Street” over several decades, a few disagreements have emerged. Some say county staff need to coordinate more with existing plans for two neighborhoods along Route 29, as well as the Missing Middle Housing Study. Others say the building heights should be taller — to allow for more affordable housing — or are too tall already. Late in August, Arlington County released a draft plan showing what Langston Blvd, formerly Lee Highway, could look like if the county encouraged denser housing and more walkable, greener streets, and planned for future infrastructure, transportation and facility needs. Since then, the county posted an online feedback form and launched in-person feedback opportunities called Design Studio sessions and virtual neighborhood meetings.



The Alexandria Planning Commission will consider the following item(s) at the November 1 meeting2172 Duke Street - Witter Place: Consideration of a request for redevelopment of an existing automotive sales and service dealership located at 2712 Duke Street. The proposed development consists of a new 94-unit affordable residential multifamily building, with partially buried parking and associated infrastructure.

Alexandria West Community Planning Process Kick-Off Meeting (Virtual)
On Tuesday, November 15 at 7 p.m., community members, businesses and organizations are invited to attend a virtual kick-off meeting launching the City’s 18-month Alexandria West planning process. This planning process will engage the community to create a vision for the area’s long-term future and explore topics such as housing affordability, equity, culture, land use, mobility, pedestrian and cyclist safety and accessibility, and connecting existing and future open spaces.

Agenda Alexandria Tackles Building Height Concerns
Should Alexandria city officials be allowing increased height for new buildings in exchange for affordable housing?  The Alexandria City Council has been considering adjusting the rules surrounding building height as a means to help increase much-needed affordable housing in Alexandria. But the change could alter the skyline in many Alexandria neighborhoods and residents are pushing back hard on the proposal. Monday evening, Agenda Alexandria, an organization that looks at issues facing the city of Alexandria without taking sides, hosted a discussion about the issue.

Inova Reveals Designs for New Hospital on Former Landmark Site
Walsh, Colucci, Lubeley & Walsh revealed new, more detailed designed for the new Inova hospital in Alexandria. The company hosted a virtual community meeting to present an update on the hospital, which is set to open in 2028 at the former site of Landmark Mall in Alexandria’s West End. The hospital will eventually replace the current Alexandria Hospital on Seminary Road. The hospital is expected to be the anchor of the Landmark Mall redevelopment which has been dubbed “WestEnd” and will take up more than one-fifth of the 50-acre site. There will be approximately 933,500 square feet of hospital space with room for expansion in the future if needed.



Item(s) Scheduled for Public Hearing November 2, 2022 at Fairfax County Planning Commission: Dulles Station – Building D; FDPA C-696-06 to allow the development of 510 mutli-family dwelling units on the West Side of Dulles Station Boulevard and East Side of Carta Way, South of Sunrise Valley Drive. CM Vantage LLC; PCA A-502-04/DPA A-502-10 to redevelop the southwest portion of the property with 28 single-family attached dwelling units along Vantage Hill Road, East Side of Wainwright Drive and South Side of Baron Cameron Avenue.

Decision on MetroWest mixed-use project in Fairfax delayed
The Fairfax County Planning Commission will soon decide whether to remove a condition that could allow construction to start on the planned town center at MetroWest. The proposed buildings would bring up to 900 residential units and retail amenities to the 56-acre community south of I-66 and the Vienna Metro Station.

Virtual Meetings To Focus on How Public Facilities Are Planned and Reviewed
The Public Facilities Element of the Policy Plan provides recommendations as to where new public facilities like schools, libraries, community centers, police and fire stations are built. These policies guide agencies and decision makers on where and how to locate new and expanded facilities throughout the county. Residents interested in learning more about this policy plan update and offering feedback on how public facilities are being incorporated into their communities are encouraged to attend a meeting this November. The virtual meetings are scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 2, noon-1:30 p.m.; Thursday, Nov. 3, 6:30-8 p.m.; and Wednesday, Nov. 9, 6:30-8 p.m.

Plan Ahead: Land Use Legacy System Convert to PLUS
Fairfax County is converting all of its legacy land use permitting, plan review, inspections, and complaint systems(FIDO, ProjectDox and PAWS) to the Planning and Land Use System ( PLUS ). During the conversion, beginning Friday, Oct. 21, PLUS and ProjectDox will be unavailable, while FIDO and PAWS will only be available in view mode . Legacy systems (FIDO, ProjectDox and PAWS) will not return to use after the outage and will be replaced by PLUS beginning Monday, Oct. 31, 2022. The outage will impact customers conducting business with the agencies below

Maryland’s governor calls FBI HQ selection process ‘outrageous and disappointing’
The General Services Administration quietly made public the process it will use to score the three sites competing for the new FBI headquarters complex last month, and it probably astonished local, state and congressional leaders when they saw it. Now, with a final decision imminent, local leaders are speaking out and putting pressure on the White House. For years, access to transit, overall cost and the ability to secure the site were all thought to be the most important factors — and they’re still part of the evaluation. But the site in Springfield, Virginia, has one thing that sites in Landover and Greenbelt, Maryland, don’t — proximity to FBI facilities that already exist in Virginia, including a site in Quantico, where the bureau’s training academy and lab are. Now, that matters more than anything else, and those involved in the negotiations in Maryland don’t think that was an accident.

Legal issues, staff review could delay ‘ambitious’ rewrite of Reston’s comprehensive plan
A major rewrite of Reston’s central planning document — the Reston Comprehensive Plan — could take additional time for review due to pending legal issues and concerns flagged by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. At the board’s land use policy meeting last week, county staff noted that the update to the plan — which was led by a 31-member task force over the last two years — contains language that is at odds with some countywide policies. The county’s attorneys office is reviewing the draft, which was written by the task force, for legal issues.

Metro approved for more trains, plans to open Silver Line by Thanksgiving
By JUSTIN GEORGE, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)
Metro will be able to relieve overcrowding on trains and open the Silver Line extension for Thanksgiving travel under an agreement forged with its regulator, transit officials announced Tuesday. The plan for restoring suspended rail cars allows Metro unlimited usage of about 420 cars on certain lines with regular inspections, more than doubling the number of 7000-series trains the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission had previously permitted.

Fairfax County proposes compelling developers to replace lost affordable housing
Fairfax County is moving forward with an update to its affordable housing policy that could ensure a one-for-one replacement of affordable housing units in areas under redevelopment — signaling a major push to bind development to affordable housing preservation. Open for public feedback until 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 28, the proposal would amend the county’s comprehensive plan to require developers to replace affordable housing on sites where it’s being eliminated in order to get their project approved.

Agreement for Bowman Towne Court overhaul approved by county housing authority
Developer Foulger-Pratt‘s unsolicited proposal to redevelop Bowman Towne Court in Reston is moving forward to the next phase of planning. The Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority’s commissioners voted yesterday (Oct. 20) to approve an interim agreement with the developer for up to 350 affordable apartments and a 40,000-square-foot Reston Regional Library on the 2.9-acre property owned by FCRHA at the intersection of Bowman Towne Drive and Town Center Parkway.

County board OKs Somos project to speed up the creation of workforce housing in Tysons East
A development expected to significantly increase the availability of workforce housing in Tysons East won the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors’ approval on Tuesday (Oct. 11). The board voted unanimously in support of SCG Development’s proposal to replace a six-story office building at 1750 Old Meadow Road with two connected, 8-story residential buildings with 453 workforce housing units.



Public Process to Identify Future Housing Needs Begins Meetings Slated for November 2 and 3
The City of Fairfax, Va., has begun a comprehensive housing assessment, with the goal to recommend future housing policies to City Council. The assessment will take a wide-ranging look at recent housing trends and development patterns and provide the foundation for a strategy to build the types of housing most in demand for a full range of incomes and households. City staff want to hear what residents value and envision. There are several opportunities for residents to participate in the process. Two community engagement sessions are slated for early November, and the project team will conduct a survey this winter.

Fairfax City Breaks Ground on Two Projects to Improve Connectivity
On Oct. 24, Fairfax City began two long-awaited projects designed to improve safety and connectivity for pedestrians and cyclists: the Hallman Street sidewalk and the Hill Street Connector. City staff anticipate work at both locations will be substantially complete by early December, with minimal disruption.


Public Listening Session: Proposed "T-Zone" Updates
The Planning Commission invites you to an upcoming Public Listening Session on proposed T-Zone changes on November 2, 2022, 7:30 p.m. Transition areas, or "T-Zones," are the areas between more vibrant commercial districts and quieter single-family residences. Across the City, approximately 24 acres of land, or less than three percent of the total land area, is zoned T.

East End Small Area Plan Community Meeting
Join City staff and officials for a second community meeting on November 19 to discuss the draft East End Small Area Plan. After a presentation, share your ideas in breakout sessions.

Movie Theater Agreement For Founders Row Approved By City Council
New economic development agreement and terms for the movie theater at Founders Row were approved by Falls Church City Council Tuesday. The movie theater is a key component of the Founders Row development. The development has opened its residential units and has plans to open restaurants on site. The city negotiated with the developer on a new economic development agreement for Founders Row after a previous 2016 economic development agreement expired in 2021.



Downtown Herndon redevelopment pause won’t affect county funding
The redevelopment of downtown Herndon by Reston-based developer Comstock has officially been put on pause. But Fairfax County’s commitment to provide $6.2 million remains unchanged, according to the county. The plan would redevelop nearly 5 acres of land into a mixed-use project with 273 apartments and roughly 17,000 square feet of retail. An arts center and a 726-space parking garage are also part of the project.



Vienna Courts duplexes split planning commission but ultimately advance
The Vienna Planning Commission made clear Wednesday (Sept. 28) that in concept, it’s in favor of redeveloping the Vienna Courts offices as duplex housing, but the lack of open space remains a sticking point. After getting unanimous support for its proposed rezoning, developer BFR Construction Company merely eked out a win from the commission when it came to requested site modifications that it argued are necessary to build the planned residences. The commission voted 4-3 to recommend that the Vienna Town Council approve reduced front and back yard setbacks, a lot area of 72,167 square feet, and an allowance for the development to cover 68% of the lot — slightly below the 70% that BFR is seeking.



Board to Consider Amendments Related to Airport Impact Overlay District November 9
At its November 9, 2022, public hearing, the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors will consider proposed changes to the county’s Comprehensive Plan, Zoning Ordinance and zoning map that would amend the county’s policies and zoning regulations pertaining to land development in areas where airport noise impacts are known to occur. Loudoun County is mailing more than 47,000 letters (PDF) and informational flyers (PDF) to potentially impacted property owners to inform them of the upcoming public hearing. Residents who live in the vicinity of Dulles International Airport can expect to begin receiving the notices in their mailboxes in the coming days.

Changes the County is Considering

  • Comprehensive Plan: The proposed changes to the county’s Comprehensive Plan consist of changes to maps within the plan that show noise contours and policy changes that would require disclosure statements as part of all future sales of properties within the AIOD. The policy changes also would allow previously approved residential rezonings to develop in accordance with their earlier approvals. 
  • Zoning Ordinance: The zoning ordinance changes involve updated maps to display the new boundaries and text changes to amend the existing zoning regulations to reflect the policy changes


Loudoun County Board Approves Residential Development Projects at October Board Meeting(s):
Proposed Conveyance of Approximately 3.2 Acres of County Property – Ashburn North Park & Ride Lot (Broad Run) The purpose of this item is to consider a proposed agreement whereby the County would sell approximately 3.2 acres of land to NRP Properties LLC. The property is currently used as the Ashburn North Park and Ride Lot, which is planned for closure. NRP proposes to combine the County property with adjacent land for construction of a mixed-income multi‐ family residential building and related amenities. As part of the proposal, NRP would also construct certain recreational facilities on land retained by the County adjacent to the Broad Run. If approved by the Board, the sales contract would be contingent upon approval of a rezoning application to allow construction of the proposed multifamily development and recreational facilities. In accordance with Va. Code § 15.2-1800, the Board of Supervisors is required to conduct a public hearing prior to disposing of any County-owned real property. The motion passed 7-0-2: Supervisors Buffington and Letourneau absent for the vote.

ZCPA-2021-0007 & SPEX-2021-0035, Ashby Ponds (Broad Run) The purpose of this item is to consider Zoning Concept Plan Amendment (ZCPA) and Special Exception (SPEX) applications to amend the number of one- and two-bedroom independent living units and increase the total square footage for an existing continuing care facility previously approved under ZMAP-2005-0026 and SPEX-2005-0030, Erickson Retirement Communities, and ZCPA-2014-0004, Ashby Ponds. The applicant proposes to increase the total approved square footage from 2.6 million square feet (SF) to 2.7 million SF and change the number of one-bedroom independent living units to be constructed from 333 to 350, and the number of two-bedroom independent living units from 1,459 to 1,442. The total number of independent living units will remain 1,792 and there will be no increase in the residential density of the property. The subject property is located on the north side of Gloucester Parkway (Route 2159), west of Loudoun County Parkway (Route 607), and east of Marblehead Drive (Route 2276). The motion passed 7-0-2: Supervisors Buffington and Letourneau absent for the vote

ZCPA-2021-0002 & ZMOD-2021-0032, One Loudoun (Broad Run) The purpose of this item is to consider a Zoning Concept Plan Amendment (ZCPA) to revise the One Loudoun Proffer Statement (Proffers) and Concept Development Plan (CDP) in order to add 1,745 new multifamily (MF) units, 250 of which can be stacked (two over two) units. The applicant is requesting Zoning Modifications to eliminate civic use requirements, modify residential use percentage requirements, and allow for a maximum height of up to 150 feet in the Planned Development – Town Center (PD-TC) zoning district. The subject site is located south of Route 7 and west of Loudoun County Parkway in the Broad Run Election District. The motion passed 7-2: Supervisors Saines and Umstattd opposed.

Loudoun Supervisors Approve Massive One Loudoun Plans
Loudoun County supervisors have approved plans to more than double the number of homes at One Loudoun. Previously the development was approved for up to 1,267 residential units, including detaches homes, townhouses and apartments, along with up to 34,000 square feet of childcare facilities, a 110,000 square foot assisted-living facility, and up to 4.1 million square feet of nonresidential uses.

Loudoun Co. Metro stations ready for Silver Line trains; new development expected
Loudoun County, Virginia’s government has been waiting, spending and building for a long time, in anticipation of Metro trains running to Dulles International Airport and beyond. Word that Silver Line trains could begin running by Thanksgiving is sparking optimism that major development projects will soon follow. “There’s only so much you can really do until you actually have the trains running,” said Dulles Supervisor and Metro Board member Matt Letourneau.

Why is Northern Va. the world’s data center capital?
Most people don’t give data centers a second thought — or even know what they are — until one affects their lives. In Northern Virginia, though, a lot of people do a lot of thinking about data centers. “It is true Northern Virginia is the data center capital of the world, the largest market in the world, by three times,” said Rob Faktorow, vice chairman of CBRE, one of the world’s largest commercial real estate services and investment firms. “It encompasses almost 50% of the data centers in the United States.”

Loudoun County approves more data center development
Data center growth is seeing no signs of easing in eastern Loudoun County, also known as the Data Center Alley. During the Oct. 12 public hearing, all Loudoun supervisors present save for one approved an application dealing with data center construction in Ashburn and moved a second one for further consideration to the Nov. 1 business meeting.



Prince William supervisors give final approval to Quartz District in Dale City
The Prince William Board of County Supervisors voted 7-0 to approve the Quartz District mixed-use project in Dale City. Supervisor Yesli Vega, R-Coles, was absent from the vote. The project is planned on 145 acres at the intersection of Minnieville Road and the Prince William Parkway. Current plans call for 235,000 square feet of office space, more than 100,000 square feet of restaurants and retail space, 1,015 residential units and a dedicated destination adventure park site.

Prince William approves $10 million Doves Landing plan; few will use the area, says parks director
Prince William County leaders approved a master plan for Doves Landing Park, with conditions. At 500 acres, the park outside Manassas will be the county’s most extensive and will cater to passive users like hikers, kayakers, and birdwatchers. The county’s parks and recreation department says the park build-out will cost about $10 million and will be completed in phases. It will pay $2.4 million to design the newly-expanded park. Plans include a $4 million pedestrian bridge over the Occoquan River, new picnic shelters, bathrooms, dual kayak launches, and a second parking lot.

Dispute between ‘PW Digital Gateway’ property owners lands in court
A dispute between property owners involved in a plan to create a major new data center corridor near Manassas National Battlefield Park known as the “Prince William Digital Gateway” is playing out in federal court – a sign that ties between some residents involved in the deal could be fraying. Back in March, GW Acquisition Co., LLC, an affiliate of data center operator QTS Realty Trust, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia against Jon Sanders Brower and his mother, Barbara Brower, for breach of contract. The lawsuit seeks $75,000 in damages and charges that the Browers failed to sign paperwork that would allow a county rezoning application for the Prince William Digital Gateway project to move forward.



Montgomery Council approves 30-year plan for denser development
The Montgomery County Council unanimously approved a 30-year growth plan Tuesday that calls for denser development, including a recommendation to allow duplexes, triplexes and small apartment buildings in neighborhoods zoned for single-family homes. The 126-page plan, known as Thrive 2050, includes broad policy goals and doesn’t change zoning. However, council members have said zoning changes will be necessary to enact the plan’s vision of making the Maryland suburb of 1.1 million residents more economically vital and environmentally resilient while less segregated by race and income. In addition to potential zoning changes, the policies will be enacted through master plans tailored to specific geographic areas.

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