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Monday, December 2, 2013

Construction of Rt. 50 mixed-use project could start in summer 2014

Construction on the mixed-use project in Seven Corners between Arlington Boulevard and South Street could start as soon as the third quarter of 2014, said Michael Skena, development associate at the JBG Cos.

The project will have up to 188 units. Two other major developments in the Falls Church area will bring about 670 more units to the area within the next couple of years. The Avalon Bay project on the site of the old Hillwood Square development will have about 384 apartments (reduced from an earlier proposal for 461), and the expansion of the Monticello apartments behind Loehmann’s Plaza will add about 100 new apartments.

The site planning process for the JBG development is under way now, involving sidewalks, electrical cables, fiber optics, and related systems. The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved the application to rezone the property from office tower to mixed-use last May.

The first floor of the new building will have nearly 15,000 square feet of retail space facing Route 50, Skena said. No tenants have signed on yet. JBG is seeking restaurants and service retail targeted to employees in the two office towers next door, as well as residents.

On the opposite side, facing South Street, there will be 14 townhouses embedded into the building. Those units would have a patio area in front. Residents would park in an underground garage.

There will be up to 174 apartments on the upper floors. JBG hasn’t finalized the mix, but Skena said about 65 percent of the units will have one bedroom or one bedroom plus a den. The rest will be two-bedroom or two-bedroom plus a den units. “This is all very conceptual at this point,” he said.

“We thought about efficiency units, and might include some,” Skena said. “But we don’t feel this is a heavy studio-unit market. If you can get a one-bedroom for the right price point, people would go for that.”

There are no plans to include “residential studio units” (RSUs) in the project. RSU is a new zoning designation proposed by Fairfax County for tiny efficiencies designed to meet the county’s needs for affordable housing.

“At this point, we’re not planning on building micro-units in Fairfax County,” Skena said. “We don’t think there’s a demand for it.”

The building will have 11 affordable units, however, he said, as required by the county. Those units would be reserved for households earning 70 percent of area median income of less. Another 11 units would meet the county’s criteria for workforce housing (up to 120 percent of AMI). Those 22 units might be smaller than the market-rate apartments.

The project would comply with the county’s requirement for parking, which calls for 1.6 spaces per apartment, 2.7 per townhouse, and 4.3 spaces for every 1,000 square feet of retail. There would be about 50 parking spaces in front of the retail establishments facing Route 50. The rest would be underground.

The proffer agreement with the county calls for JBG to provide a shuttle bus to the East Falls Church Metro station plus $200,000 for traffic and pedestrian improvements on South Street and  neighborhood roads and public park improvements in the community.


  1. good progress for sure. What Mason dist needs.

    I note though that 1.6 spaces per apt is absurdly high and is locking in suburban character, even as Seven corners transforms. This is why its urgent to speed the new plan for Seven Corners, and the transit study for Rte 7, so we can begin to build more appropriately for a new era.

    1. FYI - the JBG property/development is not in Mason District. It is part of Providence District.

  2. and how much is JBG giving toward the expansion of already overcrowded schools???

  3. I am excited to see some new development in Seven Corners but at the same time I am worried about the schools.

  4. Well at least a company of some notoriety is investing in this dump.

    1. You say that, but Loehmann’s Plaza had way more character in the boxy white than the hideous PoMo stucco which is taking over suburban storefronts in the manner of an architectural kudzu.

  5. " ...$200,000 for traffic and pedestrian improvements on South Street and neighborhood roads and public park improvements in the community." What about another $200,000 for improvements on Route 50? The traffic on Rt. 50 is horrific much less after they put in all these apartments. The county seems to ask nothing of developers.

    In addition, RSUs should be the same as the affordable housing units the developers have to include in a new development. In other words, developers should have to include RSUs for people under 60% AMI along with the other affordable units they have to include. This is the only way to do housing for the very low income families, not by building one building with only efficiencies for only lower income families. The county should change the zoning ordinances to do this not create a whole new zoning ordinance use.

  6. There is a limit to what can reasonably asked of developers. Why should new developments fund improvements that serve us all? As you point out rte 50 is already horrific - did the folks who moved in earlier and created that mess pay a proffer?

    The real answer to rte 50 is to put in dedicated transit lane, and a protected bike lane.

    1. A bike lane on 50, You are insane. It only has 2 lanes each way now.