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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Public encouraged to comment on Seven Corners Task redevelopment proposal



Fairfax County planner Bernie Suchicital presents the draft Seven Corners plan text at the June 10 task force meeting.

The public will have a chance to weigh in on a proposal for guiding future development of Seven Corners at the next meeting of the Seven Corners Land Use and Transportation Task Force June 23. The meeting will be in the Mason District Government Center at 7 p.m.

A draft of proposed language to be submitted to Fairfax County officials, prepared by staff of the Office of Community Revitalization, was handed out to task force members at their June 10 meeting.

The document outlines three areas for redevelopment, referred to as “opportunity areas,” along with guidelines on building heights, interior street design, and urban design recommendations. A section on transportation, describing in more detail the concept approved earlier by the task force,  has not been completed but is expected to be distributed before the June 23 meeting.

The proposed “Willston Village Center” would be on the site of the Willston Multicultural Center, Willston I Shopping Center, and a section of the East Falls Church Apartments.

The task force concept calls for this area to be organized around a “village main street” with ground-floor retail, outdoor dining areas, and community uses. Upper stories would be a mix of residential uses, office space, and “a community-serving recreation/cultural space.” This area would have 2.76 million square of residential, 191,000 square feet of retail, 180,000 square feet of office/hotel uses, and 2.5 to three acres of parks. This area currently has 589 units.

The “Seven Corners Town Center,” on the site of the Seven Corners Shopping Center, would have the highest density, and the tallest buildings. The task force envisions this area having 2.45 million square feet of residential, 625,000 square feet of retail, 725,000 square feet of office/hotel uses, one acre of open space, and a new transit center. It currently has 630,200 square feet of nonresidential uses and no housing.

“Leesburg Pike Village” consists of the area occupied by Sears, an office building, and parking deck with 265,869 square feet of nonresidential development. The task force proposes 720,000 square feet of residential development and one acre of open space. The Foulger-Pratt company is already working on a residential development with limited retail uses for this site.

There wasn’t much discussion at the June 10 meeting, although a couple of the task force members sparred over the need to include a new school in the plan. One member said another new school (in addition to the Bailey’s Elementary School annex) is needed to address severe overcrowding, while another argued that market-rate apartments will attract mostly childless households.

School overcrowding, along with traffic congestion, are like to be key issues at the June 23 public meeting.

The Ravenwood Park Citizens Association (RPCA) board has already presented comments to the task force stating, “we are deeply concerned that the transportation plan presented at our community meeting, i.e., the double diamond, is both unfunded and politically infeasible.” The RPCA board said any proffers contributed by developers won’t be sufficient to fund widespread road improvements.

“We are also concerned that neither Falls Church City nor Arlington County has an interest in moving more traffic on their streets and more Metro users through their jurisdictions to and from the East Falls Church Metro station,” the letter states. RPCA recommends the county defer any changes to the land use plan for Seven Corners until the transportation plan is fully funded.

To prevent traffic from cutting through Ravenwood Park, the RPCA board urges the task force to ensure that access to and from the proposed development on the Sears site be only via Route 7 and not Patrick Henry Drive and that Juniper lane is not realigned to create an intersection with Patrick Henry.

The RCPA board also calls for the task force to revise that proposal to include more retail in the project and much fewer residential units. The letter urges the task force to “adopt a proposal for the revitalization of Seven Corners and, in particular, redevelopment of the Sears site that reflects the vision of the surrounding community, not the short-term whims of the marketplace.”

The Seven Corners Task Force was formed in fall 2012 to develop a long-term plan for revitalization. The task force plan will be submitted to the Fairfax County Planning Commission Oct. 9 in the form of a proposed amendment to the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan. It would go to the Board of Supervisors Nov. 18.

After the Seven Corners plan is approved, redevelopment proposals submitted by property owners would be reviewed within the context of that plan.

11 comments:

  1. The numbers are massive: Over 5,500 new residences in Seven Corners!

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    1. Not so bad if we implement proper mass transit on route 7(LRT), route 50(express bus) and connectivity to East Fall Church Metro. New school will invariably be needed.

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    2. are you on glue?

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    3. Is your head up your @$$? You know the meaning of "mass transit"?

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    4. Look, we live inside the Beltway in one of the stronger metropolitan areas in the country, one that was largely insulated from the recession by the impacts of government spending. People are going to keep moving to this region. Some of them are going to live in denser housing close to our neighborhoods--they can't all live in Haymarket. But the first response is right--transportation improvements need to accompany growth.

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    5. Fairfax grow up and put your money where you mouth is; the area needs reliable mass transit. Not lip service, like oh take a bus to east falls church.

      Why is it always Arlington and DC that is innovative? "Oh lets see what Arlington does with the Pike trolley." Doesn't any one in Fairfax have a brain in their head?

      Density requires mass transit that people want to take. The County needs to provide incentives for developers to build quality projects. Mixed use is not just retail and housing: its theaters, entertainment, public institutions, healthcare facilities, schools and higher educations, learning centers, cultural centers etc. I see none of this just, some small theaters.

      Fairfax if you want to be relevant you need to act relevant!

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    6. Well said!! We have to demand the same treatment that Tysons Corner and Mosaic have gotten from the BoS. Developers have to contribute but the County has to provide incentives, grants to get real mass transit. The Seven Corners Task Force has done an amazing job in developing a plan for revitalization. They are not even paid planners for heavens sake and have spent 2 years of their own time figuring out and envisioning a revitalized 7 Corners. Now we need the County to step up and make that a reality. We need a district supervisor who will demand revitalization for Mason District. Every other district has or is getting a revitalized area. I don't have all the answers but I do know it can be done!

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    7. Exactly what benefit will you derive from this level of residential density? Have you looked at the plans personally?

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  2. Ellie, can you please post a link where the public can submit written comments for the June 23 meeting in the event they cannot attend in person?

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    1. I don't think there's an official online form for submitting comments. You could try contacting the Office of Community Revitalization: revitalization@fairfaxcounty.gov

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  3. There in no mention of where a new school will be built! and what land will be used!

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