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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Seven Corners group to host open house on design concepts for Sears site

Three teams developed concepts for redeveloping the Sears site during a design workshop last month.
The public will have a chance to examine three preliminary designs for redevelopment of the Sears site on Leesburg Pike in Seven Corners Dec. 9, 3-9 p.m., in the conference room at the Barnes & Noble bookstore in the Seven Corners Shopping Center.

The three development designs have different mixes of residential, office, retail, and community uses. They were formulated at a Nov. 19 design workshop hosted by the Seven Corners Working Group for Opportunity Area C.

County staff will be available with easels and graphics to explain the various concepts, and residents will have an opportunity to ask questions and submit comments. People can also send comments to Aaron Frank in Mason Supervisor Penny Gross’ office, and he will forward them to the working group members.

At the group’s Dec. 2 meeting, “there was a good bit of discussion about road issues surrounding the site, the nature of site access onto Route 7, and the best treatment of the relatively small piece of property between Juniper and Patrick Henry,” reports the working group’s chair, Martin Faga.

Group members also talked about “how to get a sense of the market and economic realities of the site,” Faga says. They plan to follow up with experts on how “to gain a sense of balance between community desires and market reality.”

At the meeting Faga gave a presentation outlining seven “big questions” that need to be addressed:
  • How big should the plan be?
  • How large does the project have to be to generate a successful, walkable, mixed-use project that is a “place”?
  • How much residential should there be?
  • What is the appropriate mix of residential, office, and retail?
  • What kind of transition is needed between the project and adjacent neighborhoods?
  • What are the impacts on transportation and roadways?
  • How many students will the project generate?
Faga offered a few facts about the 12-acre site, which is currently occupied by two office buildings, as well as the Sears department store:
  • It’s valued at $2 million per acre.
  • The two 50,000-square foot office buildings on either side of Sears are valued at roughly $10 million.
  • The 150,000-square foot Sears store is valued at roughly $15 million.
  • The floor area ratio (FAR), a measure of density, of the current buildings is 0.5, and under current commercial zoning could go as high as 0.8 to 1.0.
  • About 10 percent of the property is buffering greenery; everything else that is not a building is covered by parking lots.
An illustration of a high-density project with plenty of open space planned for Route 50 in Seven Corners.
Faga also described several nearby redevelopment projects on similar-sized properties. “The  interesting thing I learned from the research for the presentation relates to the open space and amenities provided by mixed-use projects despite high density,” he said. 

He noted that the forthcoming JBG project at 6406 Arlington Boulevard in Seven Corners squeezes a fair amount of landscaped green space into a site that’s a quarter of the size of the Sears property. That development will have 174 apartments, 14 townhouses, and 15,000 square feet of retail (about six small stores or restaurants) on 2.58 acres. 

Mason Row
Twenty-seven percent of the JBG project site would consist of open space, including two landscaped courtyards for residents and landscaped open space and areas for outdoor dining for the public, a water feature, and two pocket parks by the townhouses along South Street. Construction on that project hasn’t started yet, but a hotel next to it is well under way.

Another similar example of a nearby mixed-use project of similar size is the Mason Row complex on Broad Street (Route 7) and West Street in Falls Church proposed by Spectrum Development. It has 320 apartments, a 140-room hotel, 35,000 square feet of office space, 59,000 square feet of retail, a movie theater, and a four-story garage with 989 spaces. It has a FAR of about 2.5. 

A third example is the proposed 301 West Broad project in Falls Church, under development by Rushmark Properties LLC and Falls Church Development LLC. The 2.6 acre project, at the intersection of West Broad Street and Little Falls Street, has 282 residences, 65,000 square feet of retail including Harris Teeter, a three-level underground parking garage, and a FAR of about 2.8.


8 comments:

  1. "A Premier Mixed Use Development"

    Quite the sense of humor these planners have!

    ReplyDelete
  2. The discussion MUST focus on transportation improvements and here's why.

    The projects referred to in this article represent nearly 1,000 UNITS of housing (and it still doesn't factor in the development on Cherry St btwn Rt50 and Hillsdale St)

    Minimum occupancy of the average family (2 adults, one child) increases the population around Seven Corners to 3,000 people. Let's assume 1K go to work using personal or public transportation and 1K go to school on buses (more than 30 buses needed).

    The traffic through seven corners is currently bumper to bumper at least twice a day, and all day on Saturday.

    Granted some people living in these developments will use metro. The E. Falls CH. station, according to Google maps, is over a mile and a 20-30 min. walk from all locations mentioned.

    Planners want Seven corners to be the next Rosslyn, Clarendon and Ballston. But with Mason District demographics it will become the next Skyline. (not that there's anything wrong with that) But we now see the problem with adding mass transit years after the area is developed. (as in the streetcar)

    Let's do it the right way for a change.

    This only addresses transportation issues, next diatribe ... schools!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I strongly agree. Transportation and walk ability must be addressed. Have they considered how pedestrians are going to cross over 7? I like the concept of mixed use and I think it's very appropriate for the area but transportation infrastructure should be addressed.

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    2. these issues are 10x more important than "green space"

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    3. 1. Move ahead with the rte 7 transitway study for BRT or LRT, adding a quality transit option from 7 Corners to Tysons and Mark Center.
      2. Improve bus transit on rte 50 - consider a BRT line between Rosslyn or Pentagon and Fairfax
      3. Look at concepts to improve access to EFC metro - possibly a circulator bus
      4. Improve biking access to EFC metro. Also look at WABA proposal for a bike trail along Rte 50.

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  3. Ellie,
    Could you write an article letting folks know the answers to the 7 big questions.

    How big should the plan be?
    How large does the project have to be to generate a successful, walkable, mixed-use project that is a “place”?
    How much residential should there be?
    What is the appropriate mix of residential, office, and retail?
    What kind of transition is needed between the project and adjacent neighborhoods?
    What are the impacts on transportation and roadways?
    How many students will the project generate?
    Thanks, a loyal reader.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This has been kicked around for a while but I don't know that a timeline has been discussed. Or has it?

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  5. Could new development be more eco-friendly with green roofs and LEED-certified buildings? Are they that much more expensive? Green roofs could include tenant tended organic gardens (charge a modest fee for use of the space to cover cost of extra roof support). This would create green space for tenants without increasing the property footprint and act as rain gardens lessening harmful runoff that pollutes our water supply.

    ReplyDelete