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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Community meeting Jan. 7 on Bailey's Crossroads land swap



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 proposal calls for Fairfax County to hand over about 4.4 acres of land it owns along Moncure Road by Columbia Pike with AvalonBay Communities Inc., which plans to construct a five-story 375-unit apartment building on that site. In return, the company would hand over to the county a parcel of roughly the same size along Columbia Pike between that site and Radley Acura, which would be used for a future East County Office Building and road improvements. (It’s actually more more complicated, but that’s the gist of it.)

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.

7 comments:

  1. > Although Bailey’s Crossroads has an office vacancy rate of nearly 47 percent, “we did not find vacant buildings within a five-mile radius.”

    Wait, what?

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  2. New development would be great on this long time blighted site of abandoned building and a murder scene. I noticed a huge DMV sign painted on one of the older buildings. What a coincidence, why doesn't the DMV move to this site and spare Barcroft Plaza.

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  3. Ellie, why didn't you mention the Landmark Office Building which the county will be paying twice the amount it's worth? That's a major part of this land swap deal.

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  4. Who is going to pay for the temporary shelter to be retrofitted? If we are doing an even swap and now we have to pay millions to retrofit a building how is that in our (County Residents) interest? Let's help out a developer and in the meantime make the residents pay for them to make billions.

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  5. January 13, 2015 the Board of Supervisors approved 250 units for Avalon Bay. Why pray tell is the number now 375? Where is the control factor in development? 175 more units with requiste more cars and more children. Our aged infrastructure can't handle all this.

    Seems to me that the first step is to assess the infrastructure then determine how much more development is appropriate. Isn't there any common sense being applied to revitalization planning?

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  6. Y'all do come to the meeting tonight and see why Fairfax County is so flat broke that there is nothing left to tax, nothing left to cut but essential services, like schools, which are already cut to the bone. Come tonight and watch our Supervisor try to justify her fire-sale of County property to her developer friends. I made a funny. Fire sale to developers: two of her biggest campaign corruption "contributors": the fire fighters union($40,000+ they got a raise this year) and of course the very grateful developers. Get it? I know Penny gets it. There I go again. It is not easy making jokes about in-your-face political corruption your own home town when it destroys public schools to the extent it has here in Mason District. But I try.

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  7. As a democrat in Mason District, I am embarrassed that my fellow Dems re-elected Ms. Gross given her complete disregard for her constituents. This is just another example of her reckless behavior at work.

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