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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Property owners complain homeless shelter will be bad for business

A shopping center on Seminary has a dance studio, veterinarian, mattress store, carpet store, martial arts studio, restaurants, bakeries, and a church. 
Several business owners along Seminary Road and Center Lane in Bailey’s Crossroads are concerned that Fairfax County’s plans to move a homeless shelter to their area will lead to more crime, vagrants, and drug use and will scare away customers.

The county plans to relocate the Bailey’s Crossroads Community Shelter from its current location on Moncure Avenue to 5914 Seminary Road, on the site of the former Fairfax Animal Hospital.


At a meeting of the Mason District Land Use Committee (MDLUC) Nov. 21, Christopher King, the owner of the Checheho Ethiopian restaurant, said there already are a lot of transients hanging around the area, which is not well lighted at night. He urged the county to drop its policy that calls for shelters to require clients to stay outside during the day.

Adam Bizuwork, the owner the Eyo restaurant, which just opened in mid-November on Seminary Road, said he’s seen vagrants, drug users, needles, crack pipes, and mattresses on the site while his building was being renovated.

After Eyo opened, he said, vagrants harassed customers, asking them for money, and “one guy removed all his clothes inside the restaurant.”

Bizuwork worries that situation will get worse if a homeless shelter opens across the street.

Shahram Yavari, the co-owner of a shopping center on Seminary Road, said his stores have been broken into at least five times this year. There have also been shootings, drugs, and vandalism.

A developer didn’t want to redevelop on a site next to the homeless shelter, so “you’re dumping it on us,” Yavari told county officials at the MDLUC meeting.

Relocation of the shelter was part of the county’s plan for redeveloping the Southeast Quadrant of Bailey’s Crossroads at Columbia Pike and Moncure Avenue. Fairfax County had approved a land swap with AvalonBay, but the company decided not to go forward. County officials now hope to find another developer.

The MDLUC agreed to endorse an amendment to the Comprehensive Plan that would allow the shelter relocation project to go forward. Public hearings have been scheduled before the Fairfax County Planning Commission on Dec. 1 and the Board of Supervisors on Jan. 24. The Bailey’s Crossroads/Seven Corners Revitalization Corporation approved the project last week.

The amendment is needed because the 20,000-square foot site is zoned C-8, allowing a maximum intensity of .50 floor area ratio (FAR), while the proposed project calls for a zoning special exception to achieve a FAR of .70. That would permit a larger, three-story building than allowed under the current FAR limit.

County officials say the shelter needs to be replaced because it’s outdated – it was built in 1987 – and doesn’t meet current accessibility standards. The new shelter will have 15 supportive housing units for people transitioning out of homelessness, as well as 50 beds for the homeless. Funding to build a new shelter was included in the human services bond passed by voters Nov. 8.

19 comments:

  1. I’d feel a bit more sympathy if any of those property owners and tenants on Seminary cleaned up their dumpy-looking businesses. I go through that area every day. It is a certifiable dump fit for used tire businesses, sketchy restaurants, and homeless shelters. If the tenants and owners there made small improvements like picking up trash, improving landscaping, and other aesthetic improvements, things could look nicer, and I’d feel a bit of sympathy that they county is foisting a homeless shelter on their community.

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    1. I put it more on the property owners than the tenants but I agree with your point.

      I think if the county implemented all the security measures and other suggestion made for the now cancelled temporary shelter to ally all the concern mentioned at that time than things will be much better.

      I would also like to see the county, which neglects Baileys and 7-Corners, with a real dedicate effort, move on and help facilitate the redevelopment that has been proposed and planned for these areas for years now.

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    2. A dump propagates more dumps. The entire place has a third world dump mentality. If feels as if one is driving through Kabul Afghanistan.

      County needs to engage some proven and professional urban renewal that includes tax incentives for redevelopment instead of 1960 social services redevelopment which time after time has proven to be a failure. I cannot understand how Merrifield which was dump has so successfully been transformed. Is ti because we have the wrong supervisor, or is the County so inept it can't help the second in command revitalize her own district.

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    3. "I cannot understand how Merrifield which was dump has so successfully been transformed. Is ti because we have the wrong supervisor, or is the County so inept it can't help the second in command revitalize her own district"
      DUH! Surely that was a rhetorical question, and I don't mean Shirley...

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    4. Merrifield had Metro station real close. Substantial public transit to the area with combination of route 7 transit, Columbia Pike transit to Bailey would help. That's another thing the counties are slow on. In the meantime, circulator bus from the falls Church and Pentagon Metro stops to Bailey and 7 corners.

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    5. Merrifield also had fewer property owners making it easier to consolidate land for redevelopment.

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    6. Ellie, I understand that but isn't it possible for the county to be persuasive and lean on the property owners to work towards the goal of combining the properties for development or even offer the property owner a fair price for their parcels, be sort of aggregator of various parcels and resell it to developers. No doubt the county would get a return on investment and/or earn much more tax revenue on that area in the future. This in turn, of course, helps fund many county services. I just don’t see enough will or urgency by the county to facilitate proper development in Bailey’s/ 7-corners. Plans for distant possible future but not enough action.

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  2. The present site is 2 blocks west of the proposed site. The people these owners are "afraid" of are already there. The objection is baseless and time wasting theatrics.

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    1. "...The objection is baseless and time wasting theatrics..."

      Yeah, I said the same thing about moving to other locations but man did people have a cow.

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  3. Deal with it. A lot of people who didn't want shelter next to them even temporarily in Landmark said it should be dumped at Bailey's next to you. Their hissy fit carried the decision.

    BTW, I'm sure a good bit of issues these business's are experiencing isn't related to just the homeless shelter but other miscreants.

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  4. For those saying this is a "dump". While I agree it doesn't strike me as the safest place due to the way the alleys are laid out and the lighting, I take my dog to Dog Paws and Cat Claws when I need to board her, which is located back in that shoping center. They are absolutely amazing, and are one of the few places that offer cage-free boarding. Incredibly friendly staff. Been using them since they were located off columbia pike in Arlington. http://www.dpncc.com

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    1. There are some good businesses there that I frequent as well, it is just that there is an undercurrent of third world there that makes me uneasy.

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    2. The undercurrent of third world makes you uneasy? You can't make this stuff up...

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    3. Jefferey, thanks for a positive, realistic perspective. Bailey's Crossroads isn't all bad!

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    4. I love Dog Paws and Twist Cafe and Jenin Pastries, and do not want them to be put out by this. I think that they are somewhat buffered from the proposed shelter sight by Crossroads Cycle, U-Haul,and the other auto-related businesses that are situated closer to Columbia Pike. I am not lumping in Dog Paws n Cat Claws with the auto-related businesses that mar the Seminary streetscape.

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  5. I feel sorry for the businesses on Seminary Road, they are really trying to make their little businesses work in the nice and new shopping center they created. This will not be not good for them. The shelter is open to all single homeless adults not just for Mason District homeless residents. Word spreads and they come. There should be a homeless shelter but it should have criteria to be there. There are no regulations in Fairfax County for homeless shelters, but it's funny how in other areas of the county, shelters seem to fit more into the community they are in.

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  6. I would think not all of the problems are due to the homeless or the element they attract. But based on the County's own Point of Contact studies, some of it can be tied to the homeless. This is exactly why placing the homeless shelter in the backyard of a senior residence was such a terruble idea. Unfortunately after seeing how the Bd. Of Supervisors and Planning Commossion operate, I can tell you they will do whatever they want regardless of whether it makes sense or is best for the community at large. (They will also completely ignore the Comprehensive Plan when it suits them). To wit, they were all set to put the homeless shelter in the seniors'backyard. The only reason it didn't happen is AvalonBay realized it wasn't worth the headache. Thank goodness businesses are run like businesses and not government bureaucracies.

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  7. "I cannot understand how Merrifield which was dump has so successfully been transformed."

    I am guessing proximity to Metro had something to do with that.

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    1. And because Mason does not have metro, it is destined to be a dump for eternity? Do I understand your excuse appropriately? So there is no one smarter in the County to figure this out, just like they didn't 40 years ago when they let the bigots decide that Mason Mattered SOOOOO Much that it did not need to be served by a mass transit system. Bunch of losers.

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