|A proposed redevelopment project would replace buildings in the Southeast Quadrant with apartments and an office building.|
Mason District residents are encouraged to come to a community meeting Thursday evening to learn more about a land swap to facilitate the “Southeast Quadrant” redevelopment project in Bailey’s Crossroads.
The meeting, hosted by Mason Supervisor Penny Gross, is at the Mason Government Center, 7:30 p.m., Jan. 7. The Board of Supervisors has scheduled a public hearing on the Southeast Quadrant real estate exchange Jan. 12 at 3 p.m.
The Bailey’s Crossroads Community Shelter, at 3525 Moncure Ave., would be moved to a “temporary relocation for about a four to six year-period then transitioned to a permanent location,” Deputy County Executive Robert Stalzer told the Annandale Blog Jan. 4.
He declined to identify the temporary location until an agreement with the landowner is finalized but did say it will be along Leesburg Pike toward the Seven Corners area. Those negotiations should be completed within a month, said Tracy Strunk, deputy director of the Office of Community Revitalization.
“Relocation of the shelter has been in the capital improvement program for the past nine years,” Stalzer said. “There’s a recognition that the shelter needs to be improved and expanded.” The permanent location for the shelter is not expected to be in the East County Office Building.
Earlier discussions called for a new elementary school at the Southeast Quadrant and the East County Office Building at the Willston Center in Seven Corners. That is no longer under consideration, as a community school – co-located with community services – is planned for the Willston Center site as part of the revitalization plan for Seven Corners approved by the Board of Supervisors in July.
The BoS has endorsed an agreement signed by County Executive Ed Long and Fairfax County Schools Superintendent Karen Garza committing both parties to work together on a concept for an elementary school at Willston.
Having a school there is “very important,” Stalzer said. The same county team is working on both the Southeast Quadrant and Willston school. Once the Southeast Quadrant plan is farther along, in late spring 2016, they will begin a “more focused effort” on the school, he said. One major issue to be worked out is what will happen to the organizations currently based at the Willston Center.
The East County Office Building would be five to seven stories and about 200,000 square feet, Stalzer said. It would be used for neighborhood and community services and other county agencies currently housed in leased space at the Heritage Center on Little River Turnpike in Annandale – and possibly county offices in other locations, as well.
The county is currently spending $3.5 million a year on leased spaced for these functions, Stalzer said. “It makes sense to do this financially and from a user standpoint,” he said, noting that it’s easier for residents to get to one location, and it’s better “to have services delivered in a unified way.” Although Bailey’s Crossroads has an office vacancy rate of nearly 47 percent, “we did not find vacant buildings within a five-mile radius.”
The county might consider having community-serving retail uses in the ground floor of the county office building, but it’s way too early for those kinds of decisions. “We haven’t specifically talked about retail space in that building. We’re approaching the concept of the building with an open mind,” Stalzer said.
Strunk noted that the BoS hearing next week is just about the land transfer. There will be additional hearings later on land use and zoning issues.
According to Stalzer, “the land transaction is not contingent on building the East County Service Center.” AvalonBay is prepared to go ahead with the apartment building, but there has not been a final decision on a county office building.
If the land swap is approved, a rezoning application already filed by AvalonBay would be reactivated, Strunk said. She predicts public hearings on rezoning could take place this spring and summer, AvalonBay could complete the site plans and start construction in 2017, and the building could be available for occupancy in 2018.
Development of the county office building – assuming the county goes forward and the approval process goes smoothly – would probably be about nine to 15 months behind the apartment project, Stalzer said.
The road improvement piece of the project – to include a better connection between Columbia Pike and Seminary Road – is under study by the Fairfax County Transportation Department and would be considered during the rezoning process.
When a school was part of the project, it was considered for the county-owned land along Moncure. Now that the project calls for an office building instead of a school, it makes more sense to have that building next to Radley Acura and the apartments close to Moncure, Strunk said. So that’s why the land swap is needed.
The area has a lot of underutilized properties, Stalzer said, and “we are trying to facilitate positive development.” Having market-rate apartments at the southwestern end of the property should attract more of the types of businesses that residents want.