Supervisor John Foust, D-Dranesville, and Benjamin Wiles, his staff aide who works on land-use issues, identified some of the developments within the Dranesville District — and specifically in McLean — that they will be focusing on over the next couple of months.
Sunrise Senior Living Facility Will Finally Be Settled
This is the last chance for Sunrise Senior Living to have its proposal approved by the county to construct a 73-unit assisted living facility on a 3.7 acres of land at the northwest corner of Kirby Road and Westmoreland Street.
This is the organization’s second attempt to build the facility. After receiving significant push back from the community for its first design years ago, Sunrise withdrew its application.
Now Sunrise has submitted a new proposal, it has not had any easier of a time with community members.
In January, homeowners in surrounding communities and homeowner groups continued to voice concerns. Their primary concern was the traffic at the intersection. Due to these traffic concerns, Sunrise submitted an amended plan to the county. It moved the proposed entrance to the facility from Kirby Road to Westmoreland Street. The company also committed to providing a shuttle to and from the metrorail for its employees.
Community members also objected to the facility’s proposed three-story height. With this feedback, Sunrise lowered the height of the building to 35 feet. It did this by moving one of the building’s proposed floors underground. The newest version of the proposal also moved 33 of its 55 parking spaces to an underground parking garage.
Still, the Fairfax County Planning Commission voted 10-1 at its March 29 meeting to recommend that the Board of Supervisors deny the application.
A recurring theme at the Planning Commission hearings was that the cumulative impact of institutional uses in the area is beginning to have a negative impact on the community, according to Wiles. The commission was also concerned that adding an intense institutional use at a prime intersection of the community will alter the residential character of the area, as described in the county’s Comprehensive Plan, according to Wiles.
“The Board of Supervisors definitely respects the recommendations coming out of the Planning Commission, but we don’t have to follow them,” says Foust.
However, he agrees with the commission in this instance.
“I typically reserve judgement until the final hearing, but this thing has been vetted quite a bit and I am very convinced that it should be denied.”
Whether his colleagues on the board agree will be determined at the hearing, which is scheduled for May 2.
Amending the Tysons Comprehensive Plan Amendment
On March 14, the Board of Supervisors adopted an amendment to the Tysons Comprehensive Plan, which was originally amended by the county in 2010.
The purpose of the new amendment was to make editorial changes, update sections of the plan related to monitoring of development and infrastructure, and incorporate the findings of several studies related to urban design standards and public facilities, according to Wiles.
Two proposed changes received considerable attention.
The first was an update to the “Initial Development Level” for office development. When the Tysons Plan was approved, the Board of Supervisors included a list of transportation improvements that would be needed to accommodate the planned 113 million square feet of development by 2050.
The board agreed to review whether the funding and construction of transportation projects were keeping pace with development once 45 million square feet of office development was approved. The county recently met that threshold.
Based on the approved funding plan and projected pace of infrastructure projects, the board determined that needed transportation projects could keep pace with development. However, it agreed to revisit the plan again when the development level meets 55 million square feet.
The second item was proposed language related to athletic fields that added flexibility in where the 20 athletic fields planned for Tysons could be located. Foust opposed this proposed change because it would have allowed Tysons developers to propose projects in McLean to meet their athletic field requirement.
This change was not adopted as part of the amendment.
Under the normal formulas used by the Park Authority, the level of density that Tysons is expected to reach would require something in the order of 60 fields, according to Foust.
“However, everyone agreed that 20 would be enough to work in Tysons because of its urban setting and the fact that the fields would be artificial turf, lit and operated later than you would operate them at a community setting,” Foust said. “That was a big compromise, to agree on just 20 fields in Tysons.”
The alternative that was floated by developers would have just been to pay to improve existing fields around Tysons.
“The alternative would be unfair to the surrounding communities,” Foust said. “Most people realize our fields are already way over-booked. If we’re adding 100,000 residents to Tysons, we’re going to have to include the athletic fields they’ll need to create a community.”
The McLean Citizens Association has been interested and involved in Tysons development for nearly two decades, according to Lisa Horn, the association’s Tysons Liaison Committee co-chair.
Horn testified during the Board of Supervisors public hearing on the amendment on March 14.
“This has been a long and good process,” Horn said. “We didn’t get everything we wanted, but it was a very fair and transparent process.
Main Street McLean
McLean Properties, the owners of the Old Dominion Shopping Center and the Chain Bridge Corner Shopping Center, is working to redevelop the spaces into one combined mixed-use development.
Hundreds of community members attended a public meeting to learn about the preliminary designs at the McLean Community Center in February. The proposal is calling for a pedestrian-oriented mix of office, retail and residential uses and is based on a "Main Street" concept. This street would connect the residential and commercial spaces together and would run north-south through the development.
However, the proposal requires an amendment to the Comprehensive Plan as well as rezoning.
McLean Properties is planning to have more meetings with the McLean Citizens Association and the McLean Planning Committee. Another community-wide meeting will also be scheduled for late May.
McLean Properties submitted its application for review by the county.
“I think their plan is consistent with their concept, which I like,” Foust said.
The initial plan included buildings as tall as eight stories, with 425 residential units, approximately 470,000 square feet of office space and about 125,000 square feet of retail space, not including the Giant grocery store.
“I think they have listened to a lot of the feedback that they’ve gotten from the community and they have downsized it somewhat,” Foust said. “It’s still a very significant development for McLean, but the scale has been adjusted down. We will continue to evaluate it and talk about it.”
A Planning Commission hearing on the plan amendment for the development has been scheduled for July 13.
McLean Community Center Closed For Renovation
Ground was broken for the 18-month renovation of the McLean Community Center on Wednesday, March 22.
“The McLean Community Center is certainly a hub for McLean’s community, but that hub has been looking a bit tired lately,” Foust said at the groundbreaking. “But that is going to change very quickly.”
The Sorensen Gross Company will be doing the work for the renovation for $5.1 million. The center’s budget for the renovation project and temporary relocation of all its programs is $8 million, which has already been allocated and is ready to be spent.
The current building, built in 1975, is approximately 51,000 square-feet. The project will renovate approximately 33,000 square-feet of the original building.
The indoor work will improve the administration suite and bring the building up to compliance with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. The work will allow the consolidation of all staff members into one administration office area.
New meeting rooms, a multipurpose room and an expanded lobby will also be added to the building, providing it with 7,700 square-feet of additional space.
The multipurpose room will be outfitted with flooring and mirrors to accommodate the center’s dance programs, according to Sachs.
The Duval Art Studio, Alden Theater and recently-renovated kitchen will not be worked on during the project.
Exterior work includes an upgrade to the center’s existing stormwater management system, additional parking spaces, a new front entrance design and the enclosure of the existing outdoor courtyard.
During the renovation, most of the center’s classes will be held at 6645 Old Dominion Drive in the McLean Square Shopping Center. The temporary location has four classrooms and will also house the center’s registration office.
However, all the center’s dance programs will need to be moved to a separate location in the Langley Shopping Center at 1374 Chain Bridge Road. Last week, the community center announced that these classes will be held at the Color Wheel, a paint store.
The community center’s administrative offices will also be temporarily moved to the shopping center at 6631 Old Dominion Drive on the first floor of the Century 21 New Millennium building. This space will house the executive director, finance, facilities and public information offices.
New Downtown Condominiums For Sale
The JBG Companies real estate investment and development firm started selling upscale condominiums at 6900 Fleetwood Road in the heart of downtown McLean on Wednesday, April 19.
The Signet offers 123 condos on six floors above 5,000 square feet of street-level retail. The Signet is comprised of one-, two- and three-bedroom floor plans, as well as dens. Many also feature terraces or balconies.
Designed by Franck & Lohsen Architects, Page Architects and New York-based interior design firm Bill Rooney Studio, the residences will range in size from 950 square feet to more than 2,800 square feet with prices ranging from $800,000 to more than $2 million.
The Signet also includes lobby space, a fitness center, a courtyard, a resident lounge and concierge services.
“The Signet residences and common areas can be described as generously proportioned and appointed with forward-looking luxury,” Bill Rooney said in a press release. “The aesthetic is balanced and anchored with heritage detailing.”
The ground-floor retail is designed to accommodate a restaurant with sidewalk café seating and parking for visitors and users of the public amenities. The property will also include gardens, walking paths and a public park.
“The Signet will become McLean’s landmark community offering area residents the opportunity to move up, but not away,” Greg Trimmer, a principal at JBG, said in a press release. “The property raises the bar in luxury living that presents a high level of services and amenities.”