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Thursday, February 5, 2015

Planning Commission endorses apartments at 5600 Columbia Pike


The Bailey's Gateway project would replace this vacant office building. 

A proposed Comprehensive Plan amendment to allow a 433-unit apartment complex at 5600 Columbia Pike in Bailey’s Crossroads got the green light from the Fairfax County Planning Commission Feb. 4.

The proposal calls for a 10-story vacant office building on the 3.8-acre parcel, located at the intersection of Carlin Springs Road, to be torn down. A five-level parking deck would be retained

The project would create an “appealing, welcoming gateway” to Bailey’s Crossroads and spur more revitalization, Scott Adams of McGuire Woods, told the Planning Commission. Adams represents the developer, Foulger-Pratt.

While the Bailey’s Crossroads/Seven Corners Revitalization Corporation endorsed the project, the Mason District Land Use Committee did not – citing the impact on traffic and already-overcrowded schools.

At the Planning Commission hearing, Commissioner Julie Strandlie (Mason) said the impact on schools will be addressed during the rezoning phase, which will take place following the Board of Supervisors approval of the plan amendment. The BoS public hearing is scheduled for March 3.

Adams told the Planning Commission high-rise apartments generate fewer school-age children than any other type of housing and that a comparable project built by Foulger-Pratt in Silver Spring, Md., only has .054 students per unit. Seventy percent of the units in the building at 5600 Columbia Pike would be efficiencies and one-bedrooms.

The proposal calls for pedestrian amenities, including a plaza that would serve the community and a walkway to Spring Lane Park. If the approval processes go smoothly, Adams said people could begin moving in in three years.

Only one local resident spoke at the Planning Commission hearing. Laura Koschny, who’s lived on Robinwood Lane since 1960, lamented the creeping urbanization of “the beautiful residential neighborhood I love.” She expressed concerns about residents of the new building parking on neighborhood streets and wondered why there hadn’t been a plan to renovate the existing office building.

25 comments:

  1. Mrs. Koschny,

    This is one building replacing another with similar traffic impact. I dont know how this constitutes creeping urbanization any more so. Maybe the building wasn't there in 1960 but its been there for decades.

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    1. There are a bunch of Mason residents who still foster the illusion that there's some way to fight progress. The bucolic Mason of thirty or forty years ago is obviously gone. Going forward, the best strategy is to avoid the sort of haphazard planning that's been responsible for much of the congestion and blight currently affecting Mason.

      This project is a good start, but it's going to take a real effort to maintain the pace of orderly development. Hopefully, the BOS will ignore the NIMBY's and self-proclaimed urban planning experts who dog the development process at every opportunity yet rarely grasp the pertinent facts.

      I hate to say it, but recent events in Mason almost make me feel sorry for Penny Gross. For some reason, a number of her supporters have suddenly decided to make her accountable and she's clearly not up to the challenge. - Tom

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    2. Hardly true. Residential replacing (vacant) commercial. Impact on traffic is greater, impact on schools MUCH greater.

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    3. Well yes occupied building compared to vacant one will generate more traffic. But when this building was occupied it generated plenty of traffic. I know I’ve lived close to this building going on 27 years now. As to Anonymous 2/6/15, 1:08 AM below, I think 1000 residents is a stretch, I suspect more like 600. Invariably we should utilize several forms of transit. Hopefully that includes better mass transit along Columbia Pike such as Enhanced Bus (BRT-Lite) that Arlington is proposing and the same for RT. 7. The location for this building is also judicious in that this intersection has multiple bus routes that go to Alexandria, Tysons, Pentagon and Ballston.

      Increased impact on schools is a valid point even though this development is not supposed to generate as much. I am glad people are bringing this up because I don’t think this side of the county gets enough attention from the BOS. But all the traffic and school issues can be addressed while having more development. It's doesn’t have to be an either or proposition.

      Depending on your source, the DC Metropolitan area is going to add 1 to 1.5 Million residents by 2030. At least half of that growth will come from natural growth amongst the current residents and not due to migration, domestic or international. You know we will get our share here being inside the beltway. Not everyone is going to want to move to the boonies. If we just throw are hands up and say we can’t handle the associated development while addressing school overcrowding, traffic and other concerns than we are in trouble.

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    4. "Going forward, the best strategy is to avoid the sort of haphazard planning that's been responsible for much of the congestion and blight currently affecting Mason"

      this is all that is going on which is the problem. there is no plan other than approve what ever is presented to the county no matter the effects it will have.

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    5. Bingo, anon 5:31 pm. This is the essence of what many people are trying to say, and we are trying to say it in different ways, but to no avail.

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  2. This will be 7 day a week traffic with multiple trips per day, not just contained to rush hour which will now be made even more chaotic with a potential of nearly 1000 additional residents in traffic with her. There will also likely be overflow parking in her neighborhood which probably didn't occur with the former office building. Glad she took the time to drive out to Fairfax and speak about her concerns.

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    1. And this corner is busy enough with pedestrians and cars as it is - I cannot imagine how it will be with 1k+ residents added. The office building, as it is, is not a blight. I hardly ever notice it when I turn on to Carlin Springs.

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  3. Let's be honest - it's hard to imagine that a new building could be any uglier than the current office building that's vacant. Tear down the current building alone would be a plus.

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  4. > lamented the creeping urbanization of “the beautiful residential neighborhood I love.”

    Right-o, wouldn't want that urbanization creeping into an asphalt plot five with a five-story parking garage buttressed by a tire dealership and half a dozen other highrise apartment complexes.

    Such a cranky senior thing to say. Anyone still pining for low-density strip-malls is free to move out to the I-95 sticks.

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  5. Bring back the circus! Turn back the clock!

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  6. I worked in that building for several years and it is a six-story building, not 10-story. As someone else said, it is indeed very ugly. However, did you know that you can see the US Capitol from the top floor? If this apartment building is built, the upper floors will have nice views -- and the developer will make tidy profits from the extra money those views will bring.

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    1. Why do you mention the profit that the developer will make with the top floors? How does that bear on the arguments for and against?

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    2. The mentions that the existing building is 10 stories (instead of the six it actually is) may be part of a plan to convince the county that the existing "10-story" building should be replaced with a 10-story building. Every floor above 5 will have nice views that people will pay extra for. If a developer is pushing for this project by trying to sneak extra height (and the significant increase in value), then we should know about it. The county should know the correct size of the existing building so that it can make an intelligent decision about the size of the new building.

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    3. The staff report says says it's 10 stories. It's hard to tell from the photo because its built on a slope.

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    4. I don't know what you all are talking about. I been in this building several times, I drive by it several times a day and this building is definitely 10 story. Look the street view of the building on Google Maps from the front side,i.e. the Columbia PIke side. You can see from the bottom most level on the left side of the building that it is in fact10 stories.

      If it was six story you couldn't see past the building on the other side of Carlin Spring towards the capital building.

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    5. I just looked at the building in the picture and from the lowest point (left) it is 10 stories. From the highest point (right) it is 6 stories above ground.

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  7. This building was originally a hotel before DISA moved in to it many years ago.

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    1. Are you confusing this with the Econo Lodge that used to be a couple of blocks away? That was torn down for a Credit Union and Dentist Office.

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    2. Sigh! I miss that Econo Lodge, what a beautiful building. I wish we could go back in time when Bailey's was full of wonderful buildings and activities; with top-notch schools and plenty of land for the kids to play.

      We should take the land the vacant building is on and turn it into a Welcome Center for all the visitors to Fairfax County who come in thru the Pike. It could be staffed with volunteers; seniors primarily, who would have an audience to share reminisces of the good old days.

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    3. I think you are right, memory is fading (like Mason District). Econo Lodge that was in the hill with a bunch of right angles facing the street. I'll check some historical records to confirm.

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    4. You guys are correct. Hotel was a block or two towards Rt7. The Army moved into that building back in 1975 Per this book "History of operations research in the United States Army", V. 3, 1973-1995
      By Charles R. Shrader Page 159

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  8. A hotel? Really? As someone who worked there in the late 90's it is hard to picture that building as a hotel.

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  9. A 3.8 acre parcel ! 433 units! OUTRAGEOUS! A townhouse development would be acceptable for that property. You can be sure that the developer will find a way to make a profit ! If not, turn the parcel into a park!

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    1. Why is that outrageous? Why wouldn't they try to make a profit?

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