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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Apartment building planned for Columbia Pike in Bailey's Crossroads

5600 Columbia Pike

A large office building at the corner of Columbia Pike and Carlin Springs Road is going to be torn down and replaced with a six-story apartment building. The new building is expected to be completed in 2018.

The project, on the Fairfax County/Arlington border, will “create a sense of place” and serve as “a gateway to Bailey’s Crossroads,” said Scott Adams, a land use attorney with McGuireWoods. Adams gave a presentation on the building with Dick Knapp of Foulger-Pratt, the developer, at the Feb. 18 meeting of the Bailey’s Crossroads Revitalization Corporation.

Adams hopes to file a rezoning application with the Fairfax County Planning Commission next month and a proposed amendment to the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan by the end of the year. The building, at 5600 Columbia Pike, has been vacant since the Defense Intelligence Analysis Group vacated it as part of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process.  

Knapp said there’s no market for new offices in the area, so the property would be of more use if repurposed—and rezoned—for residential use. The project would be marketed to what he calls “young aspirants,” professionals age 24-39 moving to the D.C. area for jobs but not yet ready to buy a house. He also it would attract older people who want to move from single-family homes to a more walkable community.

The project would take advantage of the streetcar line planned for Columbia Pike, which has already led to lots of new multifamily development in Arlington, and would be a catalyst for future development farther south on the Pike.

The building would have 400 units: Thirty percent of them would have two bedrooms, 60 percent would have one bedroom, and 10 percent would be studio apartments. Knapp expects the rents would range from about $1,700 for a studio to $2,500 for a two-bedroom unit.

The studios would not fall under the proposed residential studio unit (RSU) zoning category proposed by Fairfax County as an affordable housing option, as they would be larger than the 500 square-foot minimum for RSUs and would have market-rate rents. About 6 percent of the units would be below-market-rate  “workforce housing” as defined in a Fairfax County ordinance.

To offset the additional expense of increased public school enrollment, Adams said the developer would contribute $10,000 per school-age child expected to live in the building as required by the county, although he predicted most tenants won’t have children. The number of  projected children would be based on a formula used by Fairfax County Public Schools. The building is located in the school attendance area for Glen Forest Elementary School, which is already way over capacity.

The existing above-ground, 400-space parking deck would be retained, and about 60 to 90 underground parking spaces would be added. Adams plans to ask the county to allow fewer than the required number of parking spaces.  He said that would work because the building is on a bus line with service to Metro and is within walking distance of stores. He also proposed a Zipcar facility on the site.

Planned amenities include a swimming pool, lounge, cyber café, fitness center, and theater. Foulger-Pratt plans to include streetscape improvements and a public plaza.


  1. Just wondering. The local school is already overcrowded... And in Annandale, the bowling alley is to be replaced by a high-rise apt. building. And yes the local schools are overcrowded. Wonder when the School Board will react. Their recent history suggests not until it's a crisis (see their track record on redistricting Annandale not once but twice in three years.)

  2. This new apartment building would be the perfect candidate for adding several efficiencies dedicated to the population that would qualify for RSUs, that is, 60% AMI and below. Instead of allowing developers to build an entire building (RSUs) dedicated to low income residents, all income levels should be allowed and encouraged through developer incentives to live together. Lower income levels should be included in the already created zoning ordinance, Affordable Workforce Housing ordinance. It has been proven over and over again that building a building for mostly low income people does not work and is a disaster – the projects. Fairfax county staff and the BoS should not approve a special use zoning ordinance amendment for RSUs. There are better ways to help lower income individuals than housing them all together.

    In addition, our schools must be better planned for. Allowing developers to give only $10,000 for an “expected school-age children” is ridiculous and who will make that determination. The formula the county uses is out of date and does not allow for real planning. Developers will not count or anticipate children not yet born. People will have children whether or not the County wants admit it. Our schools have not had real planning since at least 2006. We must insist that the Board of Supervisors and County Planners do smart planning instead of spot development!!

  3. Our schools are filled to the brim and our children have out grown their schools. Our children are currently in trailers and mega trailers. When are we going to fix our school issues first before allowing all the new infill and rezoning?

    Additionally, putting our kids in a converted office building with no ball fields, playgrounds and no gym for basketball is not a real solution.

    Our County is neglecting their citizens who pay taxes.

  4. This building was a hotel back in the 70s. Does anyone else remember that or have pictures?