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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Withdrawal of AvalonBay means Southeast Quadrant won't be developed

The Southeast Quadrant on Columbia Pike.
The withdrawal of AvalonBay from the land swap previously approved by the development company and the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors means the Southeast Quadrant of Bailey’s Crossroads will remain undeveloped for the foreseeable future.

“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.

44 comments:

  1. We don't need another road on the SEQ. We need fulfillment of the original 2007 Comp Plan for mixed-use commercial/residental that residents designed. There is no road in the 2007 plan. A road was inserted by Penny in 2009. This road is just way to pay off Penny's cronies.

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  2. Disappointing. But I'm more shocked by the "defeat crooked Hillary " ad on the annadale blog. THAT is shocking to read on the Annandale blog.

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    1. I didn't see it. Google Ad Sense ads rotate frequently. I have no control over those ads other than to say no to porno.

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    2. Comes across as if the blog is making a political statement.

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    3. That's definitely not the kind of statement I would make.

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    4. Daren, You are sure quick to make political statements on here - but no one else can? I see how it works.

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    5. Sites subscribe to Ad services for revenue, which I support.

      Unfortunately the site owner does not have much control on the ads.

      I have never received political ads, I assume it the difference in sites we visit or key words in GMAIL between us.

      I will say that political Ads are minor league compared to the Ads that have exploits and compromise your PC.

      Google and the other Ad agencies are working on this but it is not as simple as you may think.

      Do not take an ad service ad as an endorsement.

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    6. I think that dude is hallucinating.

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    7. Anonymous 9/23/2016 12:46
      If you are going to "call me out" be resonsible, show some courage, and identify yourself.

      In fact, if you'd like to engage in a discussion, you can call me on my mobile:
      703-462-4298

      In case you missed my point, there was an advertisement that was clearly a pro-Trump, anti-Hillary advertisement that I did not believe that Ellie had officially endorsed.

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  3. Supervisor Gross characteristically made a series of misjudgments to bring about this debacle, not the least of which was her failure to consider the interests of all, or even a majority, of the stakeholders involved in the Mason District. Her administration is one planned and executed in behind-the-scene closed sessions, followed by public sessions that are little more than theater and finger wagging at her opposition.
    The three hour "closed session" in Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting is typical of all the decision making bodies in Mason District. Three hours of secret discussions about the important issues in our County then a brief public statement loaded with misinformation followed up by innuendos and accusations directed at her opponents, constituents that is, who represent themselves and the interests of seniors and other neighborhoods when our Supervisor won't.
    She and her cronies will say this project failed due to NIMBYism when the truth is that this failure is the natural result of blatant corruption. As money rules throughout the land, so it rules here in Mason District.
    The damage control began with Penny explaining away the decision to drop this mess by blaming undescribed changed circumstances, and ‘those people'. Those people are us. Now, despite all the damage Penny has done to this district, she will blame those people for the 20 years of rapid and unrelenting decline and neglect that we have too patiently endured in this district.
    The whole South East Quadrant deal was not driven by the kind of well designed, responsible planning we need so badly here, it was driven by an urgent desire to sell off our district to special interests with deep pockets who don't live here and could care less about our community.
    Some say that if she is so bad why does she keep getting elected. She keeps getting elected because her penchant for corruption enables her to raise more money than anyone else and because she only needs to win the approval of 15% of the registered voters and because she has the well-deserved reputation of being a nasty and dishonest campaigner. She scares away good candidates and disgusts potential voters.
    So when her supporters say that it is her opposition that is responsible for the near complete lack of real revitalization here in Mason District, know that it is corruption, not opposition that kills revitalization in Penny’s domain. We are just trying to stop the fire sale of our community to those who don’t love us as we love our Mason District.
    She thanked the County Attorneys. Well, I better not get started on that band of 40 thieves. But ask yourself why the Board needs 40 county attorneys that serve only the Board, not the citizens (and they make things up and worse), when we the people have only 1/5 of the Commonwealth Attorneys we should have. Commonwealth Attorneys whose job it is to represent the interests of the citizens by ensuring due process, ensuring that the code and the laws of the County are enforced. The answer, pure gangsterism in our political, legal and land use systems.

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    1. The constant unproven allegations of "corruption" against Penny Gross by her critics is a sick charade.

      These critics do not bother to even offer a shred of evidence to support their scurrilous claims. For example, where is this big stash of cash Penny is holding as a result of all her behind-the-scenes dealings with contractors?

      Just as pathetic are the implicit claims that Penny is racist because she allegedly refuses to shop in the many Asian supermarkets in the general Mason District community.

      I am no Democratic, and not particularly a fan or supporter of Penny Gross. However, I will not stand silent while a good and loyal long-standing public official is publicly attack with baseless charges.

      As a long-time resident of Mason District, I have concluded the critics of Penny Gross are deeply schizophrenic.

      When any minor/major development appears to be moving ahead in Mason District, the cries by the critics of "two cents Gross" and "corruption" arises from the depths where their minds reside.

      Then, when the opposition succeeds in convincing the potential developer that they are not welcome in Mason District, and the developer logically decides to drop the development in favor of another jurisdiction more open to development; the permanent critics once again blame Penny Gross.

      The critics have no credibility.

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    2. well written!

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    3. The reason I voted for penny last election was because her opponents in the primary and general voiced, what was as far as I could tell, blanket opposition to reinvestment in the community via increased density.

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    4. Anon 7:32, other magisterial districts in Fairfax and NOVA are more "open to development" because they aren't trying to shuffle around homeless shelters and potential future government service buildings in convoluted land swaps.

      Work with the landowners to sell the entire SEQ, from the shelter on to Bailey's International Center, to a developer to make into a mixed use center. Heck, add a connector road to Seminary somewhere in there if that will help move people and traffic.

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    5. In answer to Anonymous 9/22/16, 7:32 AM re corruption, the contention that Penny is corrupt is no sick charade. In the last 17 years here in Mason District Penny has raised about a ¾ of a million dollars for her own campaigns from special interest groups, http://www.vpap.org/offices/fairfax-county-supervisor-mason/elections/?year_and_type=2015regular , the lion’s share of which was from developers and other land use professional, but many other special interest groups also felt it worth their while to pay cash homage to Penny. Penny’s challenger in the last election got almost none of that kind of sugar. Mollie’s total raised from all sources for 2015 was about $50,000 virtually all from small, private donations. In 2015 Penny received about $38,000 from the Real Estate/Construction sector alone, (http://www.vpap.org/candidates/22267/donors_sector_totals/?start_year=2015&end_year=2015 ). Penny receives a lot of money from land use interests and crafts deals that sell public property to these land use interests at deep discounts or buy private property at steep premiums as was proposed in the SEQ land swap. Taking money from special interests and treating them special in turn is the classic definition of corruption. A million dollars in ‘contributions’ in 17 years is a lot of money. And it doesn’t make a bit of difference if it is legal or not, it is still corruption in the ordinary sense, pure and simple. Furthermore, anyone who thinks the real money is visible just doesn’t know the possibilities in an international world full of LLCs

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    6. Apparently the "critics" have enough credibility to oppose relocating a homeless shelter near schools, women's shelters, and senior centers so that the county can give land to a developer who requested the homeless shelter be moved for development in the first place.

      Oh yes, Penny is far more credible than us small minded citizen "critics"

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    7. Jon, I hope you're actively advocating for campaign finance reform. Because I'm doubtful that the fundraising numbers you cite are much different in Mason District than anywhere else in NoVa. Otherwise, you're asking one particular politician to play by a set of rules that others aren't constrained by.

      And I say that as one who has a particular frustration about how elements of this plan were pursued, though I did and do support some better use of that land than what exists now.

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    8. Hey Jon:

      This idea that because Penny has won re-elections in off-year elections deligetimizes the wide mandates she constantly recieves from MD voters is utter hogwash.

      Your general election candidate could not even win her own neighborhood! What do you want to blame that on, huh? If Penny was so horrible and the sample size was so small, don't you think someone running against her could carry HER OWN NEIGHBORHOOD???

      No, Jon. Like all of the arguments against Penny, this one falls far short. Penny has and always will do what is in the best interest of MD. She has been a maverick woman elected official in Fairfax County, and I along with the wide majority of voting and non-voting residents give her thoughtful and decisive approach to governance my 100% stamp of approval.

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    9. To Anonymous 9/24/16, 10:11 AM: Did you get the part about corruption? Penny spent $300,000, Mollie raised and spent $50,000. To paraphrase, it’s the money, and perhaps some other stuff.
      Mollie was not running for President of the Parklawn CA. She already won that and is still highly respected there except by a few of Penny's hyperactive minions in the building trades who worked against her and against her neighborhood. And you don't need to shout Sparky. Molly clearly bested the 20 year incumbent in the more engaged, and politically astute neighborhoods.
      It doesn’t surprise me that she didn’t win in Parklawn. I have noticed a very disturbing phenomenon in Mason District in the last 10 years: Penny supporters engaging in activities which seem designed to shut down neighborhood associations and the flow of information and engagement that goes with them.
      In my own neighborhood, the association president did not hold a single meeting for three years, the subsequent President, despite running on the promise to hold elections quarterly did not hold a single meeting for a year. Sensing a trend here, as VP I booked a venue and held a meeting where upon the leadership insisted on squandering association resources on a campaign to change the Bylaws, claiming that they were discriminatory and non-inclusive. When asked repeatedly to point to the offending language, leadership refused to do so because there was no such language.
      Another Penny supporter sued the association’s leadership into inactivity under threat of large monetary damages. That neighborhood not has not effective representation. I understand that the Columbia Pines President hasn’t held a meeting in about 8 years. Maybe Fran can shed some light on that. Does anyone know who is the association President over there?
      It seems there is strong evidence of a concerted effort to take control of or shut down neighborhood associations, or both, here in the Mason District. But of course, there are always plausible explanations for possible and even very likely malfeasance. My point is that there may be quite a number of reasons why Penny has held office since 1995 despite her hideous record in Mason District. I worry about political corruption. Do you?

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    10. Andrew9/23/16, 12:19 PM
      Andrew, I do aggressively support campaign finance reform and I concur with all of your reply. I urge all to visit represent.us. I can't verify the sincerity of its leadership but it appears to be at least a good place to start for those who hope one day to restore distributive representation and justice in America.

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    11. Here's a surprise - NOT!
      Fran Tunic, Gross's secretary, was the last president of Columbia Pines Civic Association (COPICA) and steered it directly into dissolution...

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  4. What a joke the mason district is.

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  5. This is bad news not only for the Bailey's area, but for adjacent parts of Alexandria and Arlington. I don't know if it is entirely a result of market conditions (but I know of no evidence of softening in the rental market in this area) or if it was impacted by Mason District NIMBYISM. Fortunately Alexandria, Arlington, and City of Falls Church continue to advance an urbanist agenda, the Rte 7 BRT is moving ahead, and it appears the Seven Corners transformation will happen despite opposition. Perhaps the Baileys transformation will only be delayed.

    ACyclistInThePortCity

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    1. I hope your right.

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  6. I am an appreciative reader of Annandale Blog, and will surely continue to be so, but I object to the title of this article. The withdrawal of AvalonBay is, at worst, a TEMPORARY setback to the development of the SEQ. It is not permanent, as the title would seem to despairingly suggest.

    The Bailey's Crossroads Community Shelter is probably an impediment to development in its immediate area. It likely attracts vagrants to the location, and when people see them, they conclude that the area is undesirable. Fair or not, it does not matter. When it comes to real estate investment, or choice of where to live, perception carries the day. The perception of blight drives away affluent people and their money. Having observed this process over the past six months, my guess is that Ms. Gross knows that very well, and was looking for a convenient excuse to move the shelter to a better location.

    The County appears to be moving ahead with the relocation of the shelter to the new location along Seminary Road. From what I can tell, it will be an excellent location for a homeless shelter. It will be largely out of sight, it will not abut a residential area, and it will be close to public transit and an abundance of potential employers. Once the shelter is removed from its current site, I am sure that potential developers will be much more interested in making investments along that stretch of Columbia Pike. Of course, the sooner the County moves along with this project, the better.

    Thanks, Annandale Blog, for covering this story! You guys do a great job of covering local news and I don't want to leave readers of this comment doubting your integrity! Please keep up the great work!

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    1. Ellie doesn't editorialize all the time, but I (think) it is clear, after years of frequenting the blog, that she favors timely development in Mason District.

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  7. Man, Bailey's is destined to be dump and all the BS opposition doesn't help.

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  8. The permanent location is in fact about one quarter mile from residential blocks, both SFHs and townhomes. Not that I see why that is a problem.

    The temporary location was also served by transit.

    Both locations have a mix of retail employment nearby.

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    1. But the Bailey's location is not ~3 blocks away from a discount Alcohol Seller or ~6 blocks from an ABC store, like the Lincolnia site is.

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    2. I find Trade Joe's quite competitive with Total Wine in terms of price, though obviously not in terms of selection. Can't speak to the ABC store issue, as I am personally more of wine and craft beer person than a spirits person.

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    3. The Lincolnia site is mere FEET from TWO townhouse communities AND a senior assisted living facility. The two sites are not comparable.

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  9. The whole time Avalon was saying move the homeless shelter or this development wont happen. That is why Penny desperately wanted to move homeless shelter to anywhere else, but Bailey's. Use the homeless to hammer the opposition and scratch the developers back. We know where her loyalty lies as suspected all along. Very disappointed in our leadership and this process.

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  10. FAILED LEADERSHIP

    At one time I thought Penny Gross was a great advocate for our community. However, as these 20 years have passed I have come to be concerned that her only advocation may be for her position on the BoS and second in command to Bulova.

    This debacle clearly spells out nothing short of Gross incompetence and my disgust with how Mason is governed. So now we have no new development, a continuation of a blighted area that may be around for years, and the possibility of more social services developed by tax payers and non generating revenue for local businesses, services for residents or progressive community mixed used development. I am happy that the homeless shelter will have a new home not next door to a senior center, but distressed that Avalon Bay, a respected community developer has bailed because of failed leadership in Mason District.

    If Penny Gross had any respect for her constituency and respect for her position she would resign.

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    1. Penny Gross received 58% of the vote and isn't going anywhere. For what it's worth, her support grew stronger the farther voters resided from the Seven Corners - Bailey's corridor. Moreover, many voters were voting strictly according to party label. Most of the ones I spoke with clearly don't read this blog or any other source that would inform them of what's going on in Fairfax. So, like it or not, Mason is subject to the whims of those activists who have the initiative to organize groups that will promote their peculiar agendas. That apparently includes the meals tax zanies who seemingly have the time and personal wealth to promote yet another tax increase. I wish I had a solution for you, but I suspect that it will take a major disaster before Mason voters change their voting habits.

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    2. Contrary to your belief - there are many of Penny's constituents who supported this proposal and were excited about the prospect of the new redevelopment in Baileys Crossroads. This was a complicated and difficult redevelopment plan made more difficult due to the anti-Penny NIMBY hacks who tried to sink it at every turn.

      You can't be shrill and oppose every development proposal that comes along and then point the finger at Penny when it doesn't go through due to a small segment of NIMBY's like yourself. Want to see failed leadership? Go look in the mirror.

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    3. Get real! It was a single apartment building with no community amenities that was being planned. A county services office building would have been added to that area later.

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    4. Yes, it was NIMBY! Not in my low-income senior citizens assisted living backyard. Not in the only greenspace reasonably accessible by foot to senior residents and neighborhood children. Not in a place that in the most recent Comprehensive Plan is repeatedly referred to as a recreational space that should be preserved. Not on a site currently with zero crime should you bring a shelter that has crime 4x more than all of the other County shelters combined.

      The very fact that this asinine plan to relocate a single adult homeless shelter mere yards from a senior center/residence was proposed much less came so close to a reality is appalling. This was a stupid plan to begin with and did not improve with time. I don't care why AvBay pulled out but thank goodness they did.

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    5. The pulled out because the land swap Penny cooked up was too damn convoluted.

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  11. I would love to see a true Town Center at Bailey's, similar to Reston.

    This area has enough space and is located well. I think it could be better than Shirlington.

    I like that people invested in Mosaic but I do not like the outcome.

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    1. What you are craving in a Town Center is what the 2007 SEQ Comp Plan designed!

      Penny refuses to listen to her constituencey. Without community input she modified the 2007 plan in 2009 to include a road to pay off her big donor (that special gift passed the BOS last week).

      She tried for an elementary school, new road and her palatial government building in the SEQ. Thank goodness that fell through. Then she planned for an apartment building, palatial government office, and road. She had to move the homeless shelter to do it. She refused to consider other reasonable alternatives and fixated on a church property (thankfully that fell through) and then the Lincolnia Senior (residential) property.

      Penny managed to buy her cronies property for a road that if implemented, would plow through the Seminary Road light industrial complex (with services we need).

      It is past time for the county to vacate the SEQ and sell its land to a developer who will implement the 2007 Comp Plan the community desires; amixed-use residential/commercial development. Something we can all embrace and be proud of.

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    2. Penny Gross has failed this community, PERIOD.

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  12. For those Penny supporters who wanted redevelopment in Baileys and are "disappointed" that another apartment building wasn't built on the SEQ which is within one mile of thousands of current apartment units.

    You must be ecstatic with the Spectrum project,i.e. another strip mall with a drive in CVS and a second mattress store across the street from an existing one

    How great is that!

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    1. I am fearful that Supervisor Gross will find a way to shoehorn in an elementary school and a palatial government service building on this property now that Avalon Bay has backed out. A monolithic apartment building was not an ideal development for this plot in the slightest, but I think it would have been better for the county coffers and for Bailey's SEQ than what Supervisor Gross desires.

      The spectrum development is a complete disappointment all around.

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