|An illustration of the rooftop pools proposed for Spa Forest.|
Following a public hearing on a special permit for the project, the Fairfax County Planning Commission deferred a decision until June 21 so some details regarding the development conditions – primarily on hours of operation – could be refined but raised no major objections.
|This vacant office building will be repurposed as a spa and health club.|
Spa Forest would have shallow “bade pools” with water jets (for therapy and relaxing, not swimming), jacuzzis, saunas, a fitness club, a spray pool for children, sleeping/resting areas, a restaurant and bar, massage rooms, and salon services.
Planning Commission Chair Peter Murphy (Springfield) said, “If this is approved, it would be the most exciting thing to happen in Mason District since the Barnum and Bailey Circus.” That was in Bailey’s Crossroads well over 100 years ago.
Spa Forest would be located at the intersection of General Green Way and General Washington Drive on a 12-acre property in the Shell Oil Industrial Park. The property is bordered by warehouses, office buildings, Interstate 395, and railroad tracks.
The building, formerly used as a data center by the Securities and Exchange Commission, was purchased for $10 million by a company called Spa Castle, which has developed three other similar spas – in suburban Dallas and in Queens and Manhattan in New York City.
The company plans to spend another $10 million to redo the interior of the building and add a partial third floor, with outdoor pools and spas on the roof and bar service, Spa Castle’s attorney, David Gill of McGuire Woods, told the Planning Commission. The spa would take up about two-thirds of the building. The rest could be used for office space, storage. or future expansion.
The proposal calls for the outdoor rooftop pools to be open seven days a week until midnight with amplified music. That led to concerns among the planning commissioners about noise disturbing residents of the Bren Mar neighborhood.
According to Brent Krasner of the planning staff, the nearest homes are 450 feet away with woods in between. He suggested the development conditions be revised so the outdoor areas would close earlier on weeknights.
Gill described Spa Forest as an “all in one staycation idea,” where customers would pay a daily fee and spend the day there. There would be an additional costs for extras like massages and pedicures.