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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Working Group agrees on reduced residential density for Sears site



The Working Group's final meeting, at Bailey's Elementary School.

The Seven Corners Special Working Group on Opportunity Area C (the Sears site) endorsed a plan for redeveloping the Sears site with less residential density than its earlier draft. The group’s final recommendation, approved March 4, calls for 275 multifamily units and 60 townhouses.

That’s a compromise between the draft plan endorsed by the group Feb. 5, which called for 375 multifamily units and 72 townhouses, and an alternative plan from members of the group representing the Ravenwood Park, Ravenwood, and Buffalo Hills neighborhoods. That alternative plan called for 200 multifamily units and 55 townhouses. 


An illustration of the development concept for the Sears site.
The working group didn’t change the amount of square feet for nonresidential development in its earlier draft, which would be 40,000 square feet of retail, 50,000 square feet of office space, and 45,000 square feet for  entertainment uses.

The lower density in the neighborhood plan “is not meant to close the door” on development, said Marty Machowsky of Ravenwood Park. Developers that want more density would come to the community to explain why, he said. “This will move the process forward,” and it offers the best opportunity for the community to establish a baseline, he said; once the plan amendment goes to the planning commission, the community will have less influence.

“This is realistic and appropriate,” said Catriona McCormack of Ravenwood. “We’re not trying to make this impossible.”

Some members of the Working Group preferred the density amounts tentatively approved last month because they felt setting them too low would discourage developers. The members who came up with the neighborhood plan, however, said their plan took into account the land value after development and found it would be in the ballpark of what consultants Jones Lang LaSalle said is needed to attract developers.

In the end, the Working Group easily agreed on the compromise. Marty Faga, the group’s chair, said the final numbers of residential units are far less than what was proposed a year ago and are still economically feasible.

The Working Group didn’t make any other changes in the general concept and overall layout of the draft plan approved last month, although it did revise some of the language in the proposed comprehensive plan amendment for the entire Seven Corners area.

The Sears site proposal envisions the area as a “mixed-use village” with buildings up to six stories along Leesburg Pike and tapering down to three stories next to the existing neighborhoods. There would be a new internal road network within the site with access from Leesburg Pike.

Development would consist of a mix of neighborhood-serving retail, offices, and multifamily housing. Amenities would include publicly accessible park spaces, street-level retail, and cafes with outdoor seating. The area between Juniper Lane and Patrick Henry Drive, known as the “orphan parcel,” would be accessible from Juniper, and not Patrick Henry. Twelve percent of residential units would be “affordable housing” for households with a range of incomes up to 100 percent of the area median.

The proposed plan amendment for Seven Corners includes several follow-on motions to be presented to the Board of Supervisors.

The Sears Working Group revised the one on transportation. They recommend the county conduct a transportation study to evaluate various options, such as closing Juniper Lane and strategies for avoiding cut-through traffic in neighborhoods. Transportation improvements would be phased in as development occurs. Funding would come from a variety of state, regional, federal, and county sources, plus proffers from developers.

The group also amended the follow-on amendment addressing school capacity needs. The new text lists the “traditional” means of increasing capacity and calls for FCPS to evaluate other means, such as “private buildings to accommodate adult education classes and government and quasi government-related programs such as after-school programs and Head Start.

“The impact of development on schools should be mitigated by developers and the county,” it says. “Any impact on public facilities (particularly schools), services, and transportation necessitated by any increased density must be addressed with provisions for mitigation before work begins. Under the envisioned plan for growth, there will be a need for a new elementary school, as well as capacity enhancements at the middle and high school levels.”

“This puts the group on record as saying we need a new school,” said school board member Sandy Evans (Mason).  

66 comments:

  1. Is there any recommendation about tying this and future development to the East Falls Church metro? Considering its close proximity, it would appear reasonable to incorporate small scale shuttle or Fairfax Connector service to EFC as part of the development plan. It might also be useful to look into restoring limited rush hour bus service along Sleepy Hollow Road. The previous 4s metrobus route down Sleepy Hollow was cancelled long ago. That's probably because it ran to Rosslyn instead of the much closer EFC.

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    1. Well lets see what they implement for Route 7 according to the study. I havn't seen any updates in well over a year but I think there was some options to run BRT-type system on route 7 From alexandria to Tysons going via EFC. That would certainly connect Sears site to EFC not to mention alleviate some traffic problems.

      http://route7corridorstudy.com/

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    2. 7 Corners 73/9/15, 7:12 AM

      I find this area is well served by the Metro bus system. There are buses going to and from Tysons, East Falls Church, Ballston and Rosslyn plus some that go east down Rt. 7.

      As a matter of fact this is one of the best areas I personally know of to catch a bus.

      Since there are a significant amount of buses going to an orange line station it is much easier to recover from a missed bus. You just take the next bus to come along...though you have to weigh if you want to chance the traffic to Rosslyn.

      I also appreciated the 4B(?) that would take you almost to Clarendon and back.

      Return trips are a little more difficult and can involve much more waiting but overall I was very happy with the bus service in this area.

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  2. Thanks again, Ellie for keeping us up to date!

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  3. Penny Gross must be fuming about this compromise!!!

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    1. You seem to have a sick obsession with Penny Gross. I don't think Gross cares one way or another, it is just part of the land planning process. It is not a final decision and as noted in the article a developer can propose greater residential density.

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    2. Of course the developer can ignore the community's input. Gross is probably planning on that. That's exactly why she should be voted off the Dem's ticket in June.

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  4. sounds like a bunch of NIMBY. what is wrong with some more residential ? would just help attract more retail and keep people out of their cars.

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    1. That's a pretty simple minded view of the potential impact of even higher density on the crowded tangle of Seven Corners.

      The empty "NIMBY" label is inane. It's more suited to middle school text messages than reasoned debate about the serious issues and interests at play.

      Development carries risk. People care about the neighborhood.

      ...and YOLO!!!! :)

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    2. Your comment is inane. NIMBY is more relevant and fact-based than all the charges of racism, sexism, and protests based on lies such as "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" that are trotted out by liberal activists and the media.

      You don't like the term NIMBY because it accurately represents your stance on development, and all the rabid commenters on this site who think there is a groundswell of opposition to Penny Gross have lost touch with reality.

      If Gross loses it will be in the primary if the activists who want to increase taxes to fund public prep schools by increasing tax rates, but not the tax base by encouraging development, have enough numbers to defeat traditional blue-collar working class Democrats.

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    3. NIMBY is a perfect description of residents whose egocentric view of development is completely devoid of reason. Their "my way or the highway" approach doesn't lend itself to debate. They'll eventually be shoved out of the way, but they're still an obstacle to progress. STBY NIMBYS!.

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  5. Dear Negative Zeros:

    Any expert in the field of Urban/land planning, transportation planning, revitalization, architecture and economics must think that Mason is the keysone cops of any one of these professions.

    I have yet to hear the voice of an expert. And for you Penny complainers, perhaps the only thing Gross has done wrong here is permitting too much democracy and allowing for the KNOW NOTHINGS to hijack and get in the way of the planning process. How many times are we going to bake this cake? Until the cake burns and collapses? The only thing these folks know how to do is build obstacles, block by block, slowly and painfully, until some developer eventually says: I am out of this relationship-we are done!

    Really folks, this has become laughable. I live 1.5 miles away and although I am not directly affected by this it does affect my property value, quality of life and ability to commute and shop. And although I agree that community participation is a good thing, here it is over the top, its out of control, its becoming counter productive.

    These are the basic requirements:
    - Get a density that will support smart growth and sustained economic development.
    - Provide transportation options that put in place dedicated bus lanes to and from metro. The County and VDOT need to wake up here, they have been sleeping for 30 years. If we can't have street cars then for goodness sakes do the next best thing, run express bus lanes so people have an incentive to keep their vehicles parked. These should be considered on Route 7, 50 and Columbia Pike. If you can get residences to and from this development conveniently, they will pay the rent and support the commercial/retail development you are all asking for and keep the vehicle traffic down.
    - Provide dedicated bike lanes to major bike arterials. Millenniums and singled nesters love this, they want pedestrian, cycle friendly communities.
    - Stop putting the school and immigrant housing issues in the way, most of these millenniums are young and demand mobility. They are not your 50s model and they are not your white van soccer tribes. They need places of interest, convenience, mobility, not schools. Schools should follow not lead this discussion. I'm not saying that is not an issue, I'm saying lets not put the cart before the hoarse and knock down the entire deck of cards.
    - Bring the experts in so that this development has connectivity and tentacles to the overall District and beyond.
    - Build on what we have, make this place the next Chinatown, restaurant row of NOVA. We already have so much of this in place, let's build on it and celebrate our assets.
    - And let's get something done instead of all this talk, I'd like to see this happen before I move to Goodwin House.

    Positive Zero - let's go!

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    1. "I'd like to see this happen before I move to Goodwin House." I hope you are in your 20's and plan on moving to Goodwin in your 70's. Then your wish may come true if you pick the right star to wish on.

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    2. "Get a density that will support smart growth and sustained economic development."
      That's a developer talking. We had smart growth until you guys took over and wrecked Mason District. We are not done with the place so stop trying to push us out. Change sucks, what we got was a transformation of a once excellent Mason District with excellent schools into a third world look-alike complete with human trafficking and a slave wage labor force.That is the progress you are talking about. The right course would be to fire the Department of Planning and Zoning, give their budget to Fairfax County Public Schools and return to a responsible immigration policy. What we got was too much too much.

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    3. I totally agree Positive Zero - we need development, we need growth - get out of the way of progress and a better quality of life. Let's make 7 Corners an attractive area for professionals to live/work/play. It's a dump right now no matter how much we make the little improvements - it's just icing on a turd. Development can't happen fast enough for me!

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  6. Are12,000 rental units in the Baileys/7 Corners enough density for you?
    Who is going to pay for the transportation options that you mention are 30 years overdue and needed now, much less the "experts" plans for the future? Perhaps,some necessary transportation improvements should be made and the bike lanes in place BEFORE thousands of additional residents arrive?.
    What amenities are going to attract the millenialls and empty nesters? I presume that you are referring to the Peking Gourmet Inn, when you mention the next Chinatown.? It's a good beginning.
    Have you actually seen the redevelopment plans for Baileys/7 Corners? They are heavy on residential, not so much on retail,entertainment or commercial which is what the "Know Nothings" have been pointing out.
    To be a destination and an example of smart growth requires more than thousands of rental units.

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    1. You need the density to support the retail. The transportation funds needed to be supplemented by the development. You have have the entire process backwards. This is what I mean by the KNOW NOTHINGS screaming too loud and they don't have a clue about policy, economic development and what it takes to make all of these wish lists come to fruition. Go take a course at the urban institute and then come back and complain.

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    2. The area needs the density to support retail and other services. Retail will come if the demand is there, as will transportation. This is not a linear process: Smart growth is a process of cause and effect within an integrated process.

      So frustrating, no wonder PG is losing her hair, I would lose my mind with you "Know Nothings" that think you know something that scream, yammer and complain.

      Perhaps what the County needs to do is to have a better informative dialogue that educates the constituency by professionals. Other than that I think we are all doomed by the self destructive nature and ignorance within this community to cause us to fail and never succeed.

      Maybe Arlington can send some brains over the border.

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    3. " The area needs the density to support retail"
      Ha! The plan reduces the overall retail square footage at Sears and in the overall seven corners plan.
      This density proposed at Sears will increase car trips in the seven corners by at least 50% at most peak travel times.
      This development will make traffic congestion worse not better.

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  7. It's wonderful to have such "experts" on the blog, rather than involved in the process. Where have you been the last three years, attending the charetes, speaking at the Task Force meetings?.

    Its expertise like yours that have brought us to this point: we already have plenty of density and the gridlocked roads, overcrowded schools and lack of services to prove it.

    And yet you are saying that more density is the solution..

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  8. TO: Anonymous 3/6/15, 3:36 PM NIMBY??? Really?? This seems to a pat accusation for anyone incapable of understanding the economics behind density.

    Increased density = increased pressure on schools and social services. Pretty simple. Rental units do not create the tax base necessary to support our schools and the needed social services for the low income families in 7 Corners. We must be careful not to exacerbate the untenable overcrowding of our schools and overload our ability to provide social services for them. We can care for the needs of current low income residents with careful planning and prudent use of our resources.

    Other districts in FFX must step up and do the same.
    The Mason District budget isn’t big enough for us to bring the world to our doors. The annual budget is finite. Adding more people to 7 Corners without increasing the tax base through homeownership means fewer disadvantaged people will get the services they so desperately need. The money won’t be there. It also undermines those who pay their taxes and makes Mason District an undesirable place to live.

    And, don’t tell me you are willing to pay more in taxes to cover these needs. First we need prudent use of our tax dollars then we can see if we need an increase. Mason District has been mismanaged for 20 years. We are in a steady decline. Just look around at what other districts accomplished over the past 20 years: Mosaic, Reston Town Center, Tysons, Springfield, and Dulles Town Center. Why hasn’t any economically healthy development happened here? Surely within 20 years something could have been accomplished in Mason District. The Sears site will likely be redeveloped in the next 5 years, but we are being told that the rest of 7 Corners and Bailey’s Crossroads won’t happen for 40 years.

    Kudos to this SWG for standing their ground in recognition of the need for careful planning in 7 Corners.

    Back to NIMBY… Anon. Do you help stock the Mason District foods banks? Do you volunteer to cook meals at the homeless shelter? Do you donate money and clothing to the shelter? Do you donate food to Bailey’s Elementary or help bag weekend breakfast and lunch meals for the children of Belvedere Elementary? Etc., etc., etc.? Many of the people you so smugly dismiss as NIMBY do all these things and more for their disadvantaged neighbors. Get off your sanctimonious high horse.

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  9. BRAVO!

    Your sentiments echo mine as a 40 year resident who also recognizes the unique needs of the area and has supported the programs that you mentioned.

    I greatly resent the condescending NIMBY and Know Nothing designations so freely assigned to those with differing opinions.

    A little civility can go a long way.

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    1. I am so glad the "Know Nothings" now think and proclaim knowing something about density.

      First let me explain the rudimentary basics of our supply and demand economy. If you are a socialist I suggest you move out of FFX, because it is more democratically bent with a republican twist. Supply and demand means if there is a demand, the supply will follow, not the other way around. Does that always happen efficiently; NO, but the free economy is still better than one that is mandated, go ask a Cuban.

      If greater density is allowed (and I ad the caveat “smartly” ) then developers can be incentivized through increased densities to provide either funding or add to the construction of infrastructure to alleviate issues like over utilizing services (transit, greenways, schools, retail etc).

      As I mentioned before Smart Growth is a dynamic process of integrated strategies, it is not linear. If you expect schools to be built first, forget it, you are barking up the wrong tree. Should we expect transit and pedestrian improvements to be projected in advance of development, YES. Traffic studies and transit options should always be assessed in parallel with the Comprehensive Plan and any new alterations to densities. But to demand that it be built first; well you would see allot of empty busses, trains and streetcars and then you all would be decrying the bridge to nowhere. Thus, the reason for the process to be understood and executed as dynamic process of synergetic inputs and outputs of data to support and/or warrant local and regional growth. To deny pockets of high density for the sake of density is ridiculous. Focused density can support broad regional improvements by creating a greater demand of services: commercial, retail, schools, govt serv, etc and at the same time bring in more revenue (taxes, expendable and discretionary cash for puchases and income to pay for those services). By modeling these inputs and outputs one can forecast a balance of supply and demand, and also forecast increased revenue streams and needs. That is why professional analysis is necessary to come to rational solutions. Not a bunch of whiners that just say “NO”. No to development, no to taxes, no to innovation, and by default YES to urban blight, more boarding houses and more white vans. You cannot have progress without some pain. No pain, no gain, and that is what you got! If this is what a developer is going to encounter every time development is proposed for Mason, the only development you are going to get are huts and people living and selling used underwear out of their white vans.

      Dialogue is good, discussion brings out ideas and sometimes the best solutions bubble up. But to constantly complain about Gross in the pockets of developers, not enough classrooms, too much traffic, not enough of this and that, well it is just one hell of a way to stay stuck. And stuck is where I see in Mason District. Can leadership be improved to help facilitate solutions-YES. However, the constituency needs to bring to the table reasonable and reality driven expectations with less emotional clamor to have a successful and fruitful outcome. To the credit of all, in my humble opinion, the new plan shows promise. The lower density buffering the single-family residential areas is a good transition. And if we ever come out of this with a developer interested in implementing this then I take my hats off to the public that have pushed and to Gross for engaging the process. This all takes a careful balance of compromise, TIMING, acceptance of current economics, social trends and realistic expectations.

      And BTW, I had volunteered to be on these committees and was not included by the selection committee probably because I know too much!

      Positive Zero – let’s go!

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    2. Gee, the way you were going in the first four paragraphs I never would have guessed that you liked the work of the SWG. Happily that was a surprise ending.

      The first four paragraphs seemed to assume that people want things built before they are needed. Where does this come from? The issue is that new schools are needed now and the planning doesn't include them. We need to fix our current transportation problems right now and the plan doesn't include viable solutions. And, it doesn't make any sense to pile on the density numbers without ideas as to how to plan for the inevitable. Sensible planning is needed. I am not sure what Smart Growth means anymore, because the planning seems so contrary to common sense.

      The 7 Corners plan is assuming that the residents want to be a mini-Manahattan. They don't. It is being forced upon us by our Supervisor, the Board of Supervisors and their developer friends. 6,000 residental units for 7 Corners and another 9,000 for Bailey's. Ugh. Anyone ask us if that's what we wanted? No. The plan was not a product of the either the 7 Corners or the Bailey's charrettes.It was a plan derived by a task force weighted with developers.

      I conclude that your understanding of density and the 7 Corners issues appears to be based on incorrect assumptions.

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    3. To 5:08 PM:
      "if there is a demand, the supply will follow, not the other way around." If you want to talk Econ 101, demand is the lesser of desire and ability to pay. The increased density that comes to Mason District has the desire to live in our neighborhoods and send their kids to our schools but not the ability to pay. The people who are leaving are the ones with ability to pay and they are taking their pay with them. Is that the smart growth we hear about. Is that working for us? I don't think so. We are fair people. We are not being treated fairly. We are willing to share if they behave accordingly.

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  10. First and foremost, the Baileys/7 Corners area is unique. It is not an example of one plan fits all.

    There is a large population which is growing in place and requires special services. This will not change.

    The area has severe infrastructure problems which are currently unmet with no funded solutions offered in the proposed redevelopment. To make statements, such as suggesting that developers' contributions will address the necessary transportation improvements, is misleading and inaccurate..

    There is no Metro in the corridor, nor will there be.
    Shuttles to the East Falls Church station may be a band aid. The fact is that people prefer to drive to their destinations.

    There is no guarantee that milenialls and older couples
    will magnetically be drawn to the area and, through their spending, spur economic development. It is also naive to believe that thousands of new residents will have a minimal effect on our already struggling and overcrowded schools

    To date, over 700 "upscale" apartments have been approved for the Baileys area. The subsequent economic development is a proposed strip mall on Columbia Pike near Trader Joe's. The tenants will be a CVS with drive through and several 24 hour fast food restaurants.

    Is this the type of economic development that will result from thousands of additional apartment units being built?

    The return seems disappointing.

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    1. In short, if development comes and is planned with an upgrade to services, it will happen. It would steer the residential market in a different direction and the areas around it will change. Seven Corners needs to become a destination again, not a fly through.

      Look at the success at Mosaic and that does not have metro. I was there last night and the traffic into that place was unbelievable. It's given that place an economic shot in the arm. The restaurants were packed, people were energizing the outdoor public space, Target was bustling, it was truly an urban experience. We can have that in Mason too, if the Negative Zeros would stop being so bullheaded towards progress. That place was a dump before, the transition is inspiring.

      We need to bring Mason online to draw in that kind of spirit. There were young people everywhere spending money. They should be here in Mason too. Oh yea I forgot, they are too busy making many kids and overcrowding the schools. Come on people use some common sense. Let the free market work and if you want to solve the problems you complain about. The density increase will turn Mason into a thriving millennium mecca because they are becoming out priced in Arlington, DC, Falls Church City, Fairfax City.

      Build it and they will come and then we can hold a fire to the County to build the transportation it and we need.

      Positive Zero - let's go

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    2. Finally, there are some comments here that I can agree with. Mosaic is vibrant. All the same, the jury is out on whether or not the small tony shops in Mosaic will make it.
      Mosaic and the western developments in FFX are not completely comparable to our situation in Mason District.

      There were no residences in Merrifield, it was redeveloped commercial area. There has never been a 7 Corners style spoke wheel intersection in Merrifield or its requisite amount of traffic congestion.

      I think that Mosaic has 12% affordable dwelling units (ADU), which is the county standard. But, 7 Corners has been given 15% in the Task Force Plan. 7 Corners right now has 42% ADUs, which is why schools are packed and social services overwhelmed; we don’t have the tax base to pay for these people. You are correct that we need to address the influx of people creating this problem. Mason District has not applied code enforcement. FFX has not spread out distribution of ADUs and doesn’t seem to want to. Everywhere else has 12% but Mason gets 15%. Why are we so special?

      The Task Force’s answer is to increase density to 6000 units so as to get to 15% ADUs. I feel there is a better way to look at this. First, we take care of the housing needs for the current 698 ADUs already in 7 Corners. Then we build enough market rate condos to decrease the ADU percentage to 15%. This means increasing density by a couple of thousand residential units instead of 6000 without adding an additional 15% ADUs. Make the buildings mixed use to include retail and office and entertainment space and add the 20% landscaped/green area that the zoning code requires and we will have the type of dynamic community we see happening elsewhere. And, other districts in FFX must step up and increase their ADUs from 12% to 15% to help accommodate lower economic citizens. Mason District should not have to take on more than its fair share. And, there is absolutely no need to hyper increase our density to help lower economic groups. We can have a Shirlington-type community here. Shirlington is walkable, mixed use, theaters and restaurants and even a library. It was beautifully executed.


      We can do it, too. But, it takes vision and leadership in Mason District that is sorely lacking right now.

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    3. Mosaic is much closer to Metro and has more convenient highway access than any development in Seven Corners ever will.

      I'm guessing you don't live in Seven Corners because on a weekend night, you will find Dogfish Alehouse, Red Robin, Public House No. 7, Bangkok Golden and Fortune restaurant all packed full of young people and families!

      What developer do you work for?

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    4. Stop! You are making sense!

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    5. Seven corners to metro is about 1.1 miles. Mosaic to Metro is 1 mile.

      The fact that the restaurants at Seven Corners are hopping are evidence alone that Seven Corners and the Mason District deserves a Mosaic-like development.

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    6. Great venues to frequent, very popular but those are scattered. Not concentrated and these do not co-exist to create an urban environment, just more suburban hot spots spindled amongst a dead zone. Wouldn't it be great if these were in one area, where there were other activities one could walk to: outdoor plaza, movies, shopping, coffee, ice scream, galleries etc. Wouldn't it be great if there was a trolley or street car line that ran up and down 50 connecting the west falls ch metro with Van Dorn, Ballston or Pentagon. Wouldn't it be great if 7 corners was a place people wanted to be! As for a major highway, 50 is a direct shot to the beltway from 7 corners.

      Mosaic has allot of residents and more are being added. It is quite the success story, too bad Mason is too busy fighting to cash in on success.

      All of the nay stayers are stuck in the 50's not thinking out of the box and considering the potentials except exasperated pro creation.

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    7. OK, I like a lot of what Mosaic has done and what it has. But let's not go overboard here. The part of Mosaic where the multiplex cinemas used to be is a train wreck. I like a lot of what it has to offer but it is too small and too congested. The streets are horrible to cars and do not seem special to pedestrians. If Seven Corners tries to do what Mosaic has done I hope it learns from Mosaic and makes itself both more car and more pedestrian friendly. Mosaic seems so cramped when I visit it and not near as desirable as I think it could be. It also looks to me as if the buildings will age poorly and the area will not look as nice in a few years. I would rather Seven Corners be more Reston Town Center than Mosaic Center.

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  11. I am tired of the Mosaic comparisons. It was built upon acres and acres of essentially empty land that did not abut any residences - we do not have that here. And I like Mosaic, but I would never live there. I do just fine visiting.

    Mason District does not have that type of plot just sitting around, ripe for development. We need to work with what we have, and it ain't what preluded Mosaic.

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    1. You are just plain tired, move to Florida!

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    2. Mason District has many plots that are Mosaic sized areas. If you want another comparison look at Shirlington.

      These developments work.

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    3. Where? Genuinely curious.

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    4. Merrifield before Mosaic. Do you remember it? It was a dump. It works.

      Shirlington 20 years ago was a 2 block strip of has-been shops. It is now a thriving cultural center with theatre, movies, great restaurants, very nice shops and HIGH DENSITY residential.

      H Street Corridor: it was not so nice 20 years ago. Now it is a very cool neighborhood.

      Reston Town Center: A perfect example of "build it and the will come". 25 years ago it was nothing.

      As to where there are plots available? There are no "blank canvases." Redevelopments usually are a combination of re-purposing old buildings - think H Street - or tearing down and starting new - think Mosaic.

      Our examples: Tear down the Sears complex and develop around it. Or start developing the empty lots - there are quite a few - at Bailey's.

      Just 20 years ago, the strip at Bailey's north of Leesburg Pike on the East was a JUNK YARD. Do any of you remember that? There is now a decent mixed us development, a KFC, and a Babies R Us.

      None of this development will happen over night. It takes many, many years. Mosaic started about ten years ago, for instance, and it is not yet finished.

      Shirlington started about 15-20 years ago and it now feels like a neighborhood.

      As someone earlier mentioned, development is fueled by demand. There is demand for places to live inside the beltway and Mason District has several potential development locations.

      Another potential site would be Landmark Plaza - where the Total Wine store is. I know for a fact that there was a beautiful masterplan drawn up for that site that was scuttled due to economic reasons. (I used to work for the firm that developed the plan.)

      Be patient friends: none of this will happen quickly.

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    5. The Harris Teeter Shopping Center in Lincolnia is one place that comes to mind -- screaming for a makeover. A couple mid-rise apartment buildings atop ground level retail could be good.
      There is also an examination underway at Loehman's Plaza to allow residential mixed use.

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    6. No. Barcroft Plaza ALREADY has a variety of retail - grocery, a pet store, a couple of restaurants, a liquor store - we don't all want a Mosaic next to our houses. That plot is too small to plop an apartment building on, and the parking there is atrocious and limited as it is, and the intersection of Columbia Pike, Lincolnia Road, and Old Columbia Pike is dangerous for both drivers and pedestrians. Entering and exiting that shopping center can be downright dangerous. That whole intersection would have to be rejiggered,which I am all for, but don't think would happen. No thanks. Everyone wants to develop, but without any regard for tertiary effects of it.

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    7. Again, to develop Landmark Plaza, roadways and traffic patterns will have to be completely redone, which I am all for, but don't think will happen. There are too many road converging at one point. All they did at Mosaic was widen 29 and Gallows, and I suppose that was all they had to do.

      And not everyone wants to chase out long time retailers like Total Wine in favor of specialty olive oil stores. Everyone I know around here likes the Total Wine. The new wine store further down on 29 near the Mosaic Center is tiny, and has a poor selection. No thanks.

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    8. You must not be following the planning being done in Seven Corners -- especially at Sears. This is exactly what is going on. Existing retail and bad location (one of the worst intersections in NoVa) doesn't stop the ill conceived plans for Seven Corners.

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    9. I am following it, and it is painful to watch.

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    10. There is a concept for a by-pass around seven corners. There is no silver bullet to the traffic plan.

      Anything that is proposed to ease congestion at seven corners will be disruptive. Whether it is mass transit, bus lanes, wider lanes, or a by-pass, there will someone that is upset about the proposal.

      Think Route 66: Entire neighborhoods were taken by eminent domain. Even historic properties were not spared - they moved a Frank Lloyd Wright house to a new location.

      Change is coming: embrace it.

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    11. In fact, Google "Alexandria Small Area Plan Beauregard" and you will see that our neighbor to the east, the city of Alexandria has a masterplan that will completely change the look and feel of the neighborhoods surrounding Beauregard between the Total Wine and Seminary Road.

      This small area plan looks very much like the Bailey's Crossroads Masterplan as well as the County's vision for Seven Corners.

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    12. I like the Barcroft Plaza thought. That place is tired and underutilized.

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    13. I love the Barcroft Plaza and Loehman's Plaza idea for mixed-use residential/retail - bring it!

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  12. "Wouldn't it be great if there were a trolley running on Roiute 50"? Sure, if there were the money for it. We can't even get our pot holes filled.

    Anybody think that we can be a Mosaic with theaters, restaurants and a Nordstrom Rack considering the ratio of residential to retail in the proposed 7 Corners redevelopment.

    Not a chance which is what those nay sayers have been pointing out. You need more mixed use, not overwhelming residential density.

    Thinking outside the box is great if you have the tools and funding to implement it.

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  13. "Wouldn't it be great if there was a trolley or street car line that ran up and down 50 connecting the west falls ch metro with Van Dorn, Ballston or Pentagon."

    I hope Penny Gross makes that one of her top priorities this election year. Choo! Choo!

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  14. Please stop with the Shirlington comparison.

    The Village Center was already there, providing pedestrian access to existing attractions like the Carlyle Grand Cafe, the Signature theater, a movie complex and a large park ,all of which enhanced the success of the redevelopment effort..

    The Baileys/7 Corners corridor, with the exception of a few restaurants. has no such amenities,

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  15. From the sounds of all the nay sayers, you people must embrace keeping things the way they are and expediting Mason's eclipse into the slums. Gosh no wonder this place is dump, its filled with idiots.

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    1. Totally agree - people bitch and moan that Gross does nothing to help the district but when actual development ideas are put forth they are burned at the stake...thus, Mason District might forever be the same if the naysayers have their way! Looks like I will need to move - to Mosaic, Arlington, RTC or downtown!!!

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  16. And your creative ideas are..........

    Sometimes, facts can get in the way and name calling is all that's left.

    A sad commentary on intelligent conversation and honest disagreemnt..

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    1. I have not heard one creative idea from the nay sayers other than NO. It's not even a disagreement, it's don't do this, and don't do that, and we can't be like that, and its not a good comparison and its all Penny Gross's fault. For goodness sakes how else can one define this community other than idiotic. Not one iota of an idea, just say NO to anything that reeks of progress. Someone was kind to say that this place was stuck in the 50's, I think its stuck in the pre-civil war period.

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    2. Anon: 4:42
      Read again some of these posts. There are a lot of thoughtful comments and creative suggestions.

      It appears as though you are so caught up in your desire to slam your neighbors that you won't consider their suggestions as viable options for healthy redevelopment. It appears that you want a mini-Manahattan lifestyle for 7 Corners. Most of us don't. We want responsible revitalization to provide a livable community. We want economic consideration given to have quality schools and social services.

      Why spew so much disdain and venom at your neighbors?

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    3. The frustration is the apparent inability for manny of the bloggers to understand the economics. Without sufficient densities, the incentive for developers to invest in new or re-development will vanish. Two reasons:
      1. We need density to provide incentives for developers to take on the economic investment and risks in developing in Mason.
      2. We need focused higher density to create critical mass to sufficiently support retail, restaurants, entertainment, public space, roadway improvements, infrastructure upgrades, and transit initiatives to improve conditions in Mason.

      The scare that I hear is that density is not good because it will over tax the schools and the roads. It's a catch 22, we will never get the transit improvements, school upgrades and diverse retail without that critical mass. The concern I have is that the economics wont work to inspire developers to create a new Seven Corners with the amenities that Mason expect, and I don't think folks in Mason get that point.

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    4. Thank you for stating your concern succinctly. Please read the below slowly and thoughtfully. It is an alternative approach.

      I refer you to the work of The Urban Institute. In the aftermath of Katrina they sought to eliminate pockets of poverty in New Orleans. They found that no community can support the schools and necessary social services if there were more than 25% affordable dwelling units (ADU). Plus, The Urban Institute advocates wide spread distribution of ADUs throughout an area. 7 Corners has 42% ADU, hence our economic problems with schools and social services. The 7 Corners and Bailey’s area is the poverty pocket of Virginia (not just Fairfax County); the highest density of poverty in the state. We have the bulk concentration of ADUs in Fairfax County. Some areas of Fairfax County have no ADUs whatsoever. Hmmm. Wonder why?

      Arlington adopted a “no net loss” philosophy in some of their redeveloped neighborhoods. In other words, Arlington County maintained the number of ADUs, but did not increase that number. I hold that we can do this in 7 Corners. Renovate the 698 ADUs we have now and take care of those residents. Only build enough market value homes to bring the 42% ADU down to 25%. That would be adding 1137 market value homes. The total with ADUs would be 1835 residences. I would think there would be a developer interested in building those homes.

      The County’s policy for new development includes building 12% ADUs with every project. However, the County designated 15% additional ADUs for 7 Corners. Why? Why not expect the same throughout the County and why not spread lower income housing throughout the county (at 15%) where there is transportation? It would give the lower income people the opportunity to use their money for housing and food instead of buying old cars and clogging the streets to get to work.

      So, another figure, still viable for developers is to reduce the existing 42% to 15%, again without adding any ADUs (no net loss). That would require building 3955 market rate units or with ADUS, 4653 residences. Again, this is a very attractive prospect for a developer. Neither of these scenarios requires the 6000 units that the Task Force loaded into 7 Corners.

      At the same time the other districts in Fairfax County must step up to the plate and take on their share of ADUs (at 15% like us). It seems a reasonable request. Put the workers closer to areas where they work. It is an economic gain for everyone, countywide.

      Now, the tax base discussion. Rental properties do not provide the tax base needed to pay for all the social services and schools. 7 Corners is predominantly rental properties. We must increase the individual homeownership, be it condos or townhouses. 7 Corners needs a stronger tax base to generate the money to take care of its people. Naturally there will be rentals, too, but we need a higher percentage of individual owners. (BTW, individual owners can rent their properties, and this help the tax based we need.)

      Mixed use development with retail, restaurants, offices and entertainment and the lower density described above coupled with green and open space…seems like a potential urban Nirvana. Transportation will always be an issue for 7 Corners because the distance to the metro is too great and the quagmire of crisscrossed streets is a nightmare. Still, we do not need to build more than necessary to attract developers and return our neighborhood to economic prosperity. Less can be more. By subscribing to The Urban Institute philosophy I think we can get closer to what most people long for in 7 Corners.

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    5. 7 Corners 73/11/15, 9:58 AM

      Anonymous3/10/15, 11:17 PM while I also have some concerns I do not think density is necessarily the problem in the Seven Corners area. Mosaic had much less density before they started. Now they may have too much.

      If Seven Corners redevelopment works it will drive the surrounding area to develop. The shopping center at Rt 50 and Patrick Henry Dr could be redeveloped and possibly be mixed use. There is that lot next to it with the school(?) and soccer field that could be developed if Fairfax County government does not use it as I have seen mentioned. If this succeeds then we could see a domino effect in the surrounding apartment buildings similar to what was done at 395 and Glebe in Arlington. Then on Rt. 7 going west we have the animal hospital and possibly the dealership that could be upgraded.

      I am not saying it would work but there seems to be plenty of space in that area that could use redevelopment.

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    6. Oh, is that how it works? I don't think that's how it works. Things are built, and nothing else changes. Not roads, not schools, not transit options.

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    7. to 7 Corners 73/11/15, 9:58 AM
      "I do not think density is necessarily the problem in the Seven Corners area."
      Huh? Have you driven on Route 7 between Bailey's and Seven Corners? Now, try to imagine 6,000 additional apartments and at least 15,000 more people in cars. Better?

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    8. 7 Corners 73/12/15, 7:08 AM

      TO: Anonymous3/11/15, 5:17 PM

      I drive it and it is very bad at times. It is mostly at Culmore.

      But is that due to over crowding or poor traffic management? The number of cars do not seem overly large. Similar to Columbia Pike. To me the hold ups seem to be traffic lights, people pulling into and out of the gas stations right there and drivers who do not know what they are doing.

      I think a few upgrades and simple changes in the traffic patterns could go a long way.

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  17. Critical mass is mentioned,( i.e up to 6,000 additional rental units at 7 Corners and 9,000 at Baileys),whose tenants do not pay real estate taxes, yet do have cars and use all the County services), as being crucial to solving all our problems..The thousands of people who currently live in the existing apartments in the Baileys/7 Corners/Skyline corridor evidently don't count.

    We are told that only with a proposed change in density, resulting in the the arrival of thousands of additional residents, will redevelopment be profitable for the developers. And without them....Arrmagedon. They are our only salvation because the County and current property owners have done nothing for years to improve the area and have no plans to do so.

    The question is WHY hasn't the County done anything and WHY do we now have to unquestionably accept their idea of what's good for us with minimal community input, regardless of all conversation to the contrary.

    In the proposed plan for 7 Corners, 6 to 10 ten story apartment buildings are projected, including on the 7 Corners Shopping Center property, thereby, further reducing space for the accessible amenities that supposedly will follow. No chance of a Shirlington Village Center there..

    Many of those familiar with this proposal, who are not anti-development, have made 2 points: A-.a number of current issues (traffic, schools and aging infrastructure) must be addressed now before the situation is beyond repair and B-.the ratio of residential to retail/commercial must allow for true mixed used development and address the very real concerns of and vision of the area suggested by the community in their charrettes..

    Those people questioning the plan are not nay sayers, idiots or NIMBY'S. They are familiar with the process, profit margins and economic reality. They also live in the neighborhoods which will be most impacted by the proposed development.

    I wouldn't dismiss their legitimate concerns so lightly.

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    1. These apartment rental companies pay property taxes (at least I hope they do!!)and then pass those on to their tenants.

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    2. One should look at this as an opportunity to leverage the County to provide transit ways to the Metro stations. Such as dedicated bus circulator on dedicated lanes. This does empower us, we should use it to our advantage.

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    3. Those residents pay sales tax and will need commercial services such as restaurants, shops, etc. If Seven Corners became a destination as a Reston Town Center or a Mosaic it would add to the County's tax revenues via business taxes, sales tax and the real estate the landlords pay.

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    4. Seven Corners Center is fully leased, profitable and paying taxes. There are nine restaurants at Seven Corners Center and they serve the community well and the community supports them. It will be a shame to lose them in favor of a preponderance of apartments.

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