|The Southeast Quadrant on Columbia Pike.|
“The land swap was negated when AvalonBay withdrew,” says Mason Supervisor Penny Gross. “It’s a disappointment. A lot of work went into this.”
AvalonBay declined to comment on why it decided not to go forward with the project, said Richard Wolff, a senior advisor with Kreab, a company handling media communications for AvalonBay.
The BoS had approved a land transaction in February calling for the county to trade a parcel it owns along Moncure Avenue with AvalonBay, which had intended to purchase an adjacent parcel owned by the Weissberg Corp. and transfer it to the county.
AvalonBay had planned to build a 375-unit apartment building on the parcel it would have acquired, which is currently occupied by the Bailey’s Community Shelter.
To make that deal work, the county was going to temporarily relocate the shelter to a field behind the Lincolnia Senior Center, a plan that was strongly opposed by nearby residents. The shelter would have been housed in a modular facility for five years or so until the county was able to find a suitable property for a permanent homeless shelter.
In July, the county said it had found a permanent site, a property at 5914 Seminary Road occupied by vacant building that used to house the Fairfax Animal Hospital.
Following the withdrawal of the land swap, announced Sept. 19, the BoS said it dropped plans for relocating the Bailey’s shelter to Lincolnia and will instead move it directly to the Seminary Road location. That announcement was met with cheers from the Lincolnia residents who were concerned that a homeless shelter in their neighborhood would attract more crime.
The next step will be an amendment the county’s Comprehensive Plan and rezoning the Seminary Road property to accommodate the transitional housing that will be a part of the new homeless shelter, Gross said. A Comprehensive Plan amendment should be considered by the Planning Commission later this year. Construction of the new shelter is expected to start in 2018.
According to Gross, the Weissberg Corp. is seeking new partners to pursue another redevelopment project at the Southeast Quadrant. “It’s too soon to know if another developer is interested,” she said.
The BoS had already approved the county’s acquisition of the office building at 5827 Columbia Pike, known as Bailey’s International Center, so the county’s plan to build a new road on that property connecting Seminary Road to Columbia Pike can still go forward.