|5600 Columbia Pike.|
Novus Residences, a subsidiary of Cafritz Interests, is proposing to convert the 10-story building to a mix of residential and office spaces where tenants could live, or work, or do both. The building would have 157 units, which could be residences or workspaces for technology startups, artists’ studios, offices for entrepreneurs, or similar uses.
“We’ve noticed significant changes in the way people are working and living, based on technology,” Novus Residences CEO Robert Seldin said at a presentation on the “e-Loft” proposal during the Mason District Land Use Committee meeting May 24.
This project, Seldin said, would “attract the creative class and entrepreneurs” and would “fill a significant unmet need.” Novus is developing a similar project in Alexandria.
The 166,000-square foot building at 5600 Columbia Pike already has 10-foot ceilings, large windows, and plenty of parking, which he said would fit in with the company’s e-Loft concept. Novus would provide high-tech conference spaces, a community kitchen, soundproof studios, multitasking zones, and landscaping with sculptural land forms to create privacy.
All units would be designed as lofts and would have kitchens and bathrooms. Tenants would decide whether they want to live or work there or do both. The units would have Italian kitchens, extra-large showers, built-in shelves, and filtered air and water systems. They would be big enough to accommodate a couple without children or a small business with up to 10 employees.
Seldin conceded “zoning is a big challenge.” Existing zoning codes don’t address this type of mixed-use project, but he said Novus has been working with the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning.
A previous plan for an apartment project on that site fell through last year. In 2014, the Foulger-Pratt company proposed tearing the building down and putting up a 433-unit apartment complex on the site. The Board of Supervisors approved a Comprehensive Plan amendment to facilitate that project in March 2015. Foulger-Pratt cancelled the project in July 2015 after it failed to reach an agreement to purchase the property from Government Properties Income Trust.