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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

BoS approves motion to expedite Columbia Pike redevelopment project

This stretch of Columbia Pike is slated for redevelopment.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a motion by Mason Supervisor Penny Gross last week to “authorize the initiation of the appropriate steps for a plan amendment and rezoning” involving a proposal to redevelop a 7.4-acre property in Bailey’s Crossroads.

AvalonBay Communities has assembled the rights to 10 parcels owned by three separate entities along Columbia Pike between Moncure Avenue and Radley Acura. It is proposing to build a five-story, 251-unit apartment building facing Columbia Pike plus five townhouses on Moncure.

A key part of the project is the provision of land for the “future development of a new elementary school” at the northeast corner of Columbia Pike and Moncure, Gross said. That portion of the property could accommodate a 125,000-square foot school building, as well as structured parking and athletic facilities.

“This elementary school will further ease the significant overcrowding of Bailey’s Elementary School and provide additional capacity for the future residential growth envisioned for Bailey’s Crossroads in the Comprehensive Plan,” Gross told the BoS. “The applicant is proposing to provide an interim park facility until such time as the school is built.”

If the project goes forward, several existing buildings would be torn down. They include a five-story office building (Bailey’s International Center) next to Radley Acura, the Safari Restaurant, Falls Church Automotive Center, a trucking company, and the Bailey’s Crossroads Community Shelter. “We’re working with the county to find another location for the homeless shelter,” said Aaron Frank, Gross’s aide.

The temporary Bailey’s Crossroads Fire Station, on the corner of Columbia Pike and Moncure, won’t be needed much longer, as the new fire station, a few blocks further south on the pike, is expected to be completed in August.

The Avalon Bay project is being expedited because it’s located in the Bailey’s Crossroads Revitalization Area, Frank said. The BoS agreed to have the requests for amending the Baileys Crossroads section of the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan and to rezone the property be considered concurrently. The board also agreed to waive  the rezoning fees associated with the development of the new school.

The proposed project also calls for a new grid of streets, including possible links to Williams Lane or Seminary Road. It also would be within walking distance of the proposed Columbia Pike streetcar line.

21 comments:

  1. Great news. That strip has been an eyesore for years.

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  2. I worked for several years in the five-story office building mentioned in the article... it actually has a 6th floor. I still wave at that building when I drive by, as it holds a lot of fine employment memories. It is ugly, however... I still refer to it as the world's ugliest building.

    For many years, that building was the headquarters of IMAS Publishing, a respected publisher of trade magazines for the television and radio industry, including such popular titles as "Radio World" and "TV Technology." A few years ago, IMAS sold the magazines to NewBay Media, which still publishes the same magazines with much the same staff... but in a much prettier building.

    An era ends...

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  3. I am glad to see this was expedited, although mixed use would have been welcome in the area. It would be great if they could work in a pedestrian over pass across Columbia pike near that intersection into the plan. Our future relies on more walkable communities, unimpeded traffic lanes and more public transit.

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    1. I agree with this commenter!!!

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  4. Are there any sketches for the project? Is the five-story building going to make way for Seminary Road realignment as per Bailey's preferred concept or will that parcel also be part of the development? Either way, this is big improvement.

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  5. Will there be relief for Glen Forrest Elementary? It's way over capacity. And did they mention if the new apartments were market rate or affordable?

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    1. The new apartments will probably be market rate for ~10 years, after which point they will start to sliiiiide down towards low-income. This is the way of things.

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  6. If the project goes forward, several existing buildings would be torn down. They include a five-story office building (Bailey’s International Center) next to Radley Acura, the Safari Restaurant, Falls Church Automotive Center, a trucking company, and the Bailey’s Crossroads Community Shelter. “We’re working with the county to find another location for the homeless shelter,” said Aaron Frank, Gross’s aide.

    How many people use the shelter I wonder?

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    1. During the winter months it's at capacity and turns people away.

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    2. Sorry, but why do the Mason District projects seem to involve only more residential properties? I voted in Cook County, IL until a few years ago, and these proposals mostly involve
      real estate investors, and not the citizens living there. Sounds a bit like what I remember in the old days..

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  7. The shelter has beds for 50 people. Many more homeless people who "camp" in the area come there for meals and other assistance. The shelter also coordinates overnight stays at area religious institutions during the winter.

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  8. I think Seminary road should also be realigned/straightened at the intersection with George Mason drive to form true "T" intersection.

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    1. If I'm not mistaken years ago Seminary road was straight through with no curve and light, I believe this was before they extended George Mason from King St to Seminary, don't know why they designed it the way they did, seems kind of backwards. I agree with your suggestion.

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  9. I think this is great news and I'm glad to see this being done. I still don't understand why the Willston Center or the Library could not have been used. I thought the issue was that it wasn't zoned properly but it looks like this isn't either. Regardless, I think this is a step in the right direction.

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  10. So - how does this impact traffic in what is already the WORST section of Columbia Pike? Adding 251 apartments plus townhouses can't possibly be better for the traffic jams, nutcase driving, and erratic foot traffic in that area!

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    1. I was hoping someone would bring this up, traffic is horrible in this area and this will only add to the mess. It's all about the money. Look what Arlington is doing along Columbia Pike where Rosenthal used to be, a huge mega complex with thousands of units. Don't know why projects like this keep getting approved where it will ultimately affect the quality of lives of everyone who lives/drives in these areas, well I think I answered it earlier, all about the money.

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  11. Sounds like more heavy traffic on an already over-crowded section of Columbia Pike. Another 251 apartments right there? It also sounds like one of Penny Gross' typical "fast paced" projects set more for the developers than the people that live there. They have deeper pockets than we do

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  12. Will this be a vertical school like the office building school on Leesburg pike?

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    1. I don't think it will look like an office building, but when Dan Parris made his presentation at Baileys in 2013 he talked about how future schools in the area would be more urban (up) and less spread out. You can see some examples in his PowerPoint here starting on page 21 (I know it says Seven Corners ignore that). http://www.fcps.edu/BaileysES/docs/admin_comm/Schools_as_Change_Agents_for_Vibrant_Communities-Bailey%27s_ES.pdf

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  13. You are right. Below is a link to how Bailey's decades ago with pictures of the airport and some maps.

    http://www.airfields-freeman.com/VA/Airfields_VA_Fairfax_NE.htm

    I just think if the county is serious about revitalizing Baileys one the first things they can do is straighten Seminary and extend it all the way to Columbia Pike. And Carlin Springs Rd. from Columbia Pike to Seminary need widening. Grand View apartments are too spread out, they should be torn down and replaced with one building to accommodate just as much or a little more affordable housing. The rest of the land can be used for Carlin Springs Rd. widening and other development. The road work alone is long overdue. The county needs to start somewhere, with parcels of land at a time. As it is, all the desired development at Baileys will take 10-20 years.

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  14. What is needed is a 7.4 acre park!

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