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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Housing development proposed for Sears site in Seven Corners




There’s a plan in the works to build a large housing development in Seven Corners along Leesburg Pike between Juniper Lane and the office building being converted to Bailey’s Upper Elementary School. The Sears store and two office buildings on that site would be demolished.

The 847,000 square-foot project would include 748 apartments and 52 townhouses, Dick Knapp, senior vice president of Foulger-Pratt Cos. told members of the Seven Corners Land Use and Transportation Task Force May 13.

There would be three six-story apartment buildings facing Route 7. The four-story townhouses would be at the rear of the property. A retail zone—with restaurants and convenience stores such as dry cleaners—would line a street through the center of the development perpendicular to Leesburg Pike.

In 2009, one of the site’s property owners, J.L. McIlvaine Co., proposed but later withdrew a smaller development on the site with 425 units. That project generated strong opposition among nearby communities.

The current plans call for a wall and narrow park separating the development from the single-family houses behind it, Knapp said. The project would also include several small parks throughout the site and transportation improvements aimed at better circulation for school buses and cars at the new Bailey’s school. The service road in front of Sears would be eliminated, and there would be a new entrance to the development on Juniper Lane.

Knapp has already met with neighborhood leaders from the surrounding area and is planning larger public meetings on the project.

Based on preliminary discussions with residents, Knapp said the size of the proposed project has been reduced from an earlier draft that call for a total of more than 1 million square feet of development.  He also plans to adopt a suggestion from residents for ground-floor medical offices for physicians displaced from the two existing buildings on the site.

The Seven Corners task force will evaluate the proposal to see whether it will fit in with the land use plan the group is developing, said task force co-chair John Thillman. If that means the developers would have to make substantial changes—such as reducing the building heights or increasing the percentage of affordable units—they would then determine if the project is still economically feasible. 

The June 23 meeting of the task force will have a public comment period.

71 comments:

  1. Awesome but didn't the last proposal for that site get shot down by neighbors living behind the site?

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  2. And where are all those kids going to attend school?

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    1. According to our BOS people in high end buildings do not have kids. They are all young single professionals.

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    2. That has been my question for a while. Our schools have no space.

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    3. They can go to school in a mobile building like all the thousands of other kids in the area we don't have room for...

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  3. Where are these people going to go to school?? Stuart is projected to be at 130% capacity in 2017! Elementary and Middle school are close to that number too.

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  4. Could we get FCPS to weigh in on this? The increase in traffic in and around Seven Corners and in the school population in Cluster 3 would be insane.

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  5. "Knapp has already met with neighborhood leaders from the surrounding area and is planning larger public meetings on the project."
    Um, this has not happened. No meetings with the two adjacent neighborhoods has taken place. This has come out of the clear blue sky.

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    1. Typical PR lies. We live right behind it and haven't heard a thing until now

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    2. Ellie, could you please do a follow up piece on this? There has been no community engagement at all about this issue.

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  6. The developers insist most renters would be childless young professionals and empty nesters.

    This project should be viewed as just one of many new multifamily development projects planned or already under construction in the area, which together will produce thousands of new units and lots more traffic.

    For more information on how development affects school facilities planning, see the Q&A with FCPS COO Jeffrey Platenberg:


    http://annandaleva.blogspot.com/2014/03/q-and-new-housing-projects-and-impact.html

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    1. You mean this "non answer" from Mr. Platenburg?

      "AB: How accurate is the formula compared to actual numbers of children in apartments?

      JP: We have only broadly looked at histories of students by housing types. The accuracy of the estimated student yield using the county-wide average has not been analyzed in detail comprehensively."

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  7. Bad Idea! Why pick such a highly commercialized traffic area to put homes in? 7 Corners is already congested!

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    1. other than commercial areas where can you build new high density apts?

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  8. What? "The developers insist most renters would be childless young professionals and empty nesters." How in the world could anyone control (discriminate) who rents properties in this proposed community? That makes no sense.

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    1. It's not a requirement, that's just who they think would be most interested in living there.

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    2. I get that. It's just a ridiculous statement. The surrounding areas are full of kids and families. Why would empty nesters and childless young professionals want to live there?

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    3. because its not far from EFC metro station, its generally close to DC, its near the Eden Center restaurants, etc. New apts with amenities in closer in locations are insanely expensive. Tried to price a new apt in clarendon or even shirlington lately? I have, cause I AM an empty nester. I would consider this at the right price. Damned good idea. (though it will be better if a transit way down Rte 7 is ever built and ever connects to Pike Rail)

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    4. Are you kidding me?! Pick Seven Corners over ballston, clarendon, courthouse, rosslyn etc., which are all on the metro line, close to nightlife, and restaurants. Not seeing it.

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    5. all the places you mention are VERY VERY expensive. For a college grad ready to live with roommates, maybe they are preferable - for empty nesters like us, who want more space, and don't need to be next door to bars, seven corners could work great. You clearly have not been active in the rental apartment market lately.

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    6. Actually have been active in the rental market just this past month helping a young grad look for housing. Courthouse wins!

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    7. What makes you assume these condos will be cheaper or more affordablle -- just because they are in mason district?

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    8. most definitely they will be cheaper. Given the current state of the area there is nothing really appealing. Live next to a school? Yeah, I am sure you professionals want that. EFC metro is close but still a good distance. These units will be cheaper and then before long housing multiple families, Then we will read about on the blog, There is a reason the area will never resemble Clarendon, Ballston

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  9. If the BOS would commit to mass transit-the metro, this would make tremendous sense. Arlington built the metro first and the developers came piling in with infill development, that boosted its neighborhoods and home values. This is the reverse and all backwards.............typical FFX!

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    1. Time for ellie to post something about the rte 7 transit study? People here seem not to be aware of it. Or of pike rail.

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    2. I would like to hear about it. Now that is newsworthy. It would be nice to hear that something smart is being done for our IGNORED district. All the County's attention has been on Tysons, Tysons and Tysons while the older areas have been debilitatingly ignored.

      So please tell us!

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    3. The route 7 study is actually looking at transti FROM Tysons to Baileys and beyond. Depending on route selected it would also connect 7 corners with EFC metro

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  10. Yep, where will they go to school? Hopefully not mine. I feel for the people who are buying in Fairfax County, thinking that the schools will still be top-notch 10 years from now. They won't be, and the slide has already begun.

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    1. If I was in a position again to invest in home owner ship it would not be in Farifax. BOS is too disconnected to what the County needs to economically grow its commercial base and to stabilize its demographic mix. The booming 90's are over, the BOS is stuck on outdated planning models. And when they copy they are too late. Time to get visionary and creative and make some draconian changes to the way the County grows or it will digest itself into irrelevancy.

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    2. I am a dreamer! Corporate Sears should donate the buildings to the Fairfax County Public Schools! A county wide High School for Music and the Performing, and Visual Arts should be built!

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    3. Sure beats hundreds of additional cars on the road

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  11. Build the Metro and tax paying single professionals will come. Otherwise we will end up with congested roads. As for the renters being empy nesters, FAT CHANCE: the area will be filled up with White Vans and RSUs falling from the skies. No mass transit=suburban high rise vertical slums.

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  12. Penny Gross loves the tax revenue, so watch carefully -- she will be fully in favor of it, no matter that it is literally right next door to a new elementary school that was created to compensate for unbelievable overcrowding in Mason District already.

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    1. Apparently the over crowding in the Mason District is not a problem now because we have Mason Crest and Upper Baileys. That is what has been indicated to me.

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    2. Absolutely not true. I was told directly by head of facilities for Fairfax County Schools that even with the addition of Upper Baileys, that Mason District is at full capacity until they find land to build another elementary school within district. All this does is get rid of the trailers at Baileys. And, within a few years, Glasgow and Stuart will also be over capacity as well. Mason District doesn't need more people -- the schools and roads can't handle any more. But, apparently tax revenue outweighs quality of life for many.

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    3. Amen -- Quality of life has become a huge issue for most in Mason District

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    4. FCPS has all the statistics showing that Cluster 3, which is Mason District is and will continue to be overcrowded, even with the addition of Mason Crest and the Bailey's annex (Upper Bailey's Elementary). CD, you should check out the FCPS stats on this. The Upper Bailey's School is projected to be over 100% capacity in less than five years.

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    5. I think I was being misunderstood because I was being sarcastic. I was surprised that was an answer I was recently given for the same question regarding school capacity. I could not believe this was an answer from our BOS regarding our schools being over capacity.

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    6. Thanks for clarifying, CD. Who on the BOS told you we don't have capacity issues in Fairfax County Pubic Schools? That's all they can talk about. You should definitely gently correct that individual so they don't continue to spread this misinformation.

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  13. I am curious to know if they mentioned the additional housing and development that was also in one of the drawings, that would replace the shopping center and the Willston Community Center. How many more houses would be there in addition to the 700 plus in just the sears building area? Did they talk about eliminating the existing Willston apartments behind the community center - or will they still exist? Are these new apartments going to be fair market with the required affordable housing? Many of the school overcrowding issues are because of the multiple families that live in one apartment. There is no way the schools can handle more apartments without eliminating some.
    I agree metro would be great, but in the traffic study presentation, there was a piece that included having a large bus depot at 7 corners, which makes sense, since the east falls church metro is basically just down one road from 7 corners - but it would need to be marketed properly with possible incentives for getting the busses to the metro quickly and affordably.

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    1. The existing number of residential units in the plan areas is 590. This will jump to an extraordinary 6000 residential units in the plan areas including Sears parcel. There is a great deal of information at: http://www.fcrevit.org/baileys/7corners.htm

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  14. People don't want busses, they want light rail or underground trains. Why does FFX have to be so blatantly backwards to what was once the backwaters of Arlington. Is there something in FFX water that makes this place so backwards or did they put something in the Arlington water that made them so wise 25 years ago?

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  15. We can not build anymore. The Mason District is full and we need to close our doors until they start enforcing our hoarded houses laws. Our schools are way over capacity and our children are in trailers. The classes have 26 to 30 students in rooms meant for no more than 20 kids. I was asked the other night what should we do just tell people they can not come and my answer was "YES!, We are full and our district can not take anyone else."

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    1. Why aren't owners of the Culmore apartments held responsible for "managing" these units and enforcing zoning laws. One of the owners is in Georgia and makes so much HUD money, they don't care! They live in sprawling green grass!

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    2. Why aren't the owners of all of those apartments in Culmore and Wilston held accountable to enforcing the zoning laws? The buildings have "managers." One of the owners is based in Georgia. Why do these realtors and developers care about our overcrowding? They live in sprawling green communities in Georgia.

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  16. Horrible idea. The school overcrowding and already clogged traffic situation alone makes me wonder why anyone would consider green-lighting such a project. Oh yeah, it's all about the revenue. We continue to pay more taxes and get nothing to show for it. I hope that local leaders will fight it.

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  17. I'm a lifelong resident and I live in the neighborhood. I can't think of a better use for the old Lord and Taylor / Sears site. Bringing in more density and services to the community will be a real improvement over the sprawl of check-cashing and title-loan pop-ups. With the possibility of improved mass transit, more services, and entertainment options, there is so much that needs to be done to the entire 7 corners area and the route 7 corridor.

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    1. 1600 extra cars at Juniper Lane.

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    2. Anonymous, I wonder how often you drive in and shop in Seven Corners? The traffic is terrible, accidents and near misses all the time. As a lifelong resident of this neighborhood, you should know that. What services to the community would come along with this kind of project? It's housing. All it would bring is more people, more traffic, more students; and we just don't have the capacity in Mason District to handle the population we have now -- inviting more people is irresponsible to them and to our current residents.

      With the addition of all these cars and pedestrians, I shudder to think of all the safety concerns. Route 7 already can't handle the traffic -- this proposed use of the Sears building is just nuts.

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    3. I wonder if this person really lives in the neighborhood or the Mason District to give this answer.

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  18. If any of you think these apartments are going to be littered with kids you are retarded. Its not gonna be like the apartments across the street that are old and where many immigrants live. The townhouses may have a few kids but this is not going to change enrollment much for the surrounding schools.

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    1. Please share your analysis. The school system has a formula for calculating additional students, but what is yours? Also, what would stop 3 or 4 families from sharing a townhouse like they share apartments in the places you mentioned that are nearby? Townhouses seems like a much more desirable accommodation for that setup.

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    2. Yes, please share your analysis. Jeff Platenburg's formula is, by his own statement "The accuracy of the estimated student yield using the county-wide average has not been analyzed in detail comprehensively." Which pretty much means, they have no idea what the demographics of the population would be. So, who is willing to roll the dice and risk giving our students less than the little they have right now? It impacts all of us.

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    3. I love the name calling. If you want to make an argument trying using logic and data. Since when does name calling solve any issue. Thank you for the well thought out comment.

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    4. I wish what you say were true, but this in time will follow the culmore script and you will end up with units, townhouses filled with multiple families further cluttering the schools while taxpayers flip the bill to provide more and more space. Wash, rinse, repeat.

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    5. Maureen Kiser6/7/14, 1:18 AM

      As a former Bailey's teacher, I can honestly say that we are no longer helping children in need, as Penny really believes. We are just watering down our services so that all are mediocre. More students quit school before graduating because they just can't get the attention that all deserve. No amount of Reading Recovery or Step UP Math, etc. etc. will help when we have 30 children per classroom, severe teacher burnout and low moral of our FCPS employees. I'm ready to move.

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  19. Shift all of this down to Culmore and revitalize that area. What a dump.

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    1. Would be nice if they did look down the road but sadly that will never happen. It would be nice to see the sears area turned into a "Clarendon Type area" with Upscale apartments, businesses, restaurants but sadly that too will never happen. Those believing young professionals or empty nesters will occupy the units proposed are kidding themselves as well. Sadly this will follow the Culmore script, multiple families occupying one unit further overcrowding schools and area roads as taxpayers continue to foot the bill. As far as the schools better code enforcement and family planning education. If you can't afford one child don't have 3, 4 etc.. and if you do then flip your own bill. just sayin.

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  20. If you build anything there, it'll generate more traffic than that Sears. The Mosaic district in Merrifield is awesome, and we hardly realize how much residential is there because the shops and restaurants are so well done. It seems like 7 Corners could really benefit from this type of development, and the neighborhoods adjacent could benefit from higher property values. That whole area needs an upgrade, and frankly, it seems like a better spot to do it than Merrifield was with proximity to shopping and downtown.

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    1. I would also look down the street at Falls Church. There are new developments like these going up all the time, right next to residential neighborhoods, and I don't see a problem. In most cases you get a new restaurant (Mad Fox) or coffee house (Panera), and the living units go unfilled. As long as the continuity of our existing neighborhoods are maintained, I don't have a problem with this.

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  21. Does Vienna, or McClean ever have to address matters such as these?

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    1. LMAO - they ship the problems here.

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  22. There is no "social good motive" in these proposals nor community renewal zeal. This is only about developer profit. As many have pointed out, there are no schools and the taxpayers will be expected to provide them. If the developers want to proceed, then the package should include developer-built and funded schools sufficient to accommodate the need. Never happen, of course, because it would be less money for developers.

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  23. One word: Gentrification. This type of development is what helped Arlington - starting with the Clarendon boom around 2001-2002, and moving west to Ballston and of course the district. It has been proven time and again that these types of condos help provide upward mobility for distressed areas as Seven Corners clearly is. Sears and the buildings next to it are dying. All three of them look run-down and do nothing to help increase the value of properties around them. My family and I live off Patrick Henry near the Sears and even if this brings traffic, I welcome it. It will help to make the neighborhood more desirable and increase property values as well as the services we receive from the county.

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  24. One can dream, but Sadly, this area will never be like or look like Clarendon or Ballston for that matter. Too much catering and concern for the affordable housing crowd around here. Combine that with lack of enforcement and you simply get a hot mess. When you have multiple families cramming into apartments, having multiple kids they can't afford further overcrowding the schools where over 70% get a free or reduced lunch well it is not hard to see where any new development is headed... Lets build a bigger school or add another school folks shout and get the developers to pay for it. Yeah, that is the solution to the school problem. When that becomes filled to capacity what next. Wash, rinse, repeat, LMAO. And now the county is looking to build more apartment like structures. Just a matter of time before you have culmore II where sears is. Gentrification - Penny Gross and county officials don't want to hear that talk...

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    1. I have to agree with you. Officials like Penny Gross are indeed hurting our community. Those of us who live nearby should be up in arms excited about this prospect, but you are correct, until the overcrowding at the affordable housing units nearby is fixed, this will be a losing battle.

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  25. Check this out -- from Jeff Platenburg, in response to a public question about the impact to the school system; don't believe him --- we can't wait to do something until the rezoning application is already on the docket -- we have to speak up now:

    The approximately 6,000 new residential units proposed are part of the Seven Corners Planning Study currently underway by Fairfax County and the Seven Corners Task Force. The Sears property is one development located in the larger Seven Corners Planning Area. Sleepy Hollow Elementary, Glasgow Middle and Stuart High schools would be the primary schools serving the new development. Some of the new development would also be served by Beech Tree Elementary School.
    FCPS is currently working with the County to evaluate the impact of the planned residential development on the school system and provide recommendations regarding school facilities. Preliminarily, FCPS anticipates the need for a new elementary school, additions to existing schools, and possible programming changes to accommodate the anticipated growth. While the most recent analysis provided by FCPS to Fairfax County was in April, 2014, review is still ongoing. FCPS is currently in the process of reviewing the draft plan text dated June 10, 2014.
    At the time a particular residential development proposal is initiated for rezoning, FCPS would again provide analysis on the impact to the school system and recommendations regarding school facilities. FCPS, with the support of the County, will look to developers for contributions to mitigate the impacts of their development. Such contributions may include land dedication for future school facilities and/or proffer fund contributions to be used in the construction/capacity enhancements of school facilities.

    Sincerely,
    Jeff

    Jeffrey K. Platenberg
    Assistant Superintendent
    Department of Facilities and Transportation Services
    8115 Gatehouse Road, Suite 3300
    Falls Church, Virginia 22042
    jkplatenberg@fcps.edu

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  26. Love the idea of redevelopment in Seven Corners - so long overdue! While there may be a few families with kids that move into the units, all the market research suggests high-rise condos are for singles and couples so our schools won't be any more crowded than they already will be regardless of where these people live. I welcome the improvements!

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    1. You are correct, Revitalization is way overdue from Bailey's/Culmore down to Seven Corners. I am not as optimistic as you, This isn't Clarendon and in time will resemble what you have going on in Culmore with multi-families living in one unit. Once that begins so will the downward spiral.

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    2. How many couples/singles would choose to live next door to an elementary school and all the kiss and ride traffic twice a day as well as evening school events?

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