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Thursday, November 9, 2017

Urban design guidelines in the works for Bailey's Crossroads and Seven Corners

The Fairfax County Office of Community Revitalization (OCR) is working on urban design guidelines for Bailey’s Crossroads and Seven Corners that will address such issues as landscaping, sidewalks, how buildings should be sited, how storefronts should look, and what amenities like benches and lighting should look like.

The draft, including illustrations of how various urban elements could create a sense of place, is expected to be published online by next week.

The guidelines complement and further refine the vision in the comprehensive plans that have been approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors for Bailey’s Crossroads and Seven Corners and would serve as a guide for developers, property owners, and planners.

The design guidelines will come into play when new redevelopment projects are planned, such as the Weissberg Corp.’s proposal for the Columbia Crossroads apartments on Columbia Pike at Moncure Avenue in Bailey’s Crossroads.

Mason Supervisor Penny Gross’s newsletter to residents, Mason Matters, says OCR “staff sought public comment about the desired character for the area and crafted recommendations to reflect community preferences” and that OCR will present the draft document at public meeting in November and December.

Several Bailey’s Crossroads residents, however, as well as the Mason District Council of Community Associations, say they hadn’t heard about the design guidelines until now and feel they should have been asked to comment earlier.

The public will have plenty of chances to comment, says JoAnne Fiebe, a program revitalization manager and urban design at OCR.

The first round of public input took place last year, before the guidelines were drafted, when OCR put out a survey “to gauge interest in the guidelines and look for ideas on the character for the area,” she says.

Public input was solicited through a survey publicized in the Department of Neighborhood and Community Development listserv, at farmers’ markets, and at several community meetings, including the Bailey’s Crossroads/Seven Corners Revitalization Corporation (BC7RC), Fiebe says. OCR received dozens of responses.

The next round of public input will give people a chance to suggest tweaks and edits on all aspects of the guidelines, Fiebe says. “It’s not like people missed an opportunity to comment.” The guidelines will likely be discussed at the Mason District Land Use Committee meeting in November and the BC7RC meeting in December.

The document creates a new design for the streetscape in Seven Corners and updates the design guidelines for Bailey’s Crossroads. It will address such issues as what types of trees should be planted and what kinds of materials should be used, says Fiebe. If there are park benches, for example, the document recommends they should be of a certain quality and be low maintenance and includes several illustrations of examples.

In setting a design character for Bailey’s Crossroads, a majority of the survey respondents favored a focus on the area’s international culture, which Fiebe describes as “a melding of public spaces from different places around the country and around the globe and bringing it to Bailey’s.”

“The effort is all about creating a certain feel for the area, building on ideas already there, and bringing more of a personality to the area,” she says.


  1. So what's up with route 7 Transit plan? Havn't heard anything about it in over a year. That will be the real game changer.

    1. “It’s not like people missed an opportunity to comment.”
      Uh, yeah it kinda is.

  2. The so-called Office of Community Revitalization (OCR) has been an albatross around Mason District’s neck for the last 20 years. Its purpose seems to be to suggest there is a County program to “revitalize” the district when in fact there is no such thing of any kind here. The OCR drastically inhibits revitalization by taking up space that could otherwise be occupied by a real Office of Community Revitalization. The OCR is represented in Annandale under the Annandale Central Business District Planning Committee. The ACBDPC’s mission is “to combat neighborhood and commercial deterioration and to enhance the quality of life in Central Annandale for residents and businessmen.” Does it seem to you like it has been successfully doing that the last 10 years?
    The average homeowner would assume that revitalize means revitalize as in fix up the commercial areas, make them nice, clean them up, make sure the codes are being enforced in a reasonable manner, and insure that the roads, sidewalks, bus shelters etc. were in good repair, not just every 20 years, but continually. Maybe even push back a little after the 5th cash-for-gold blighting machine, the 5th tractor trailer started taking permanent residence in our shoping centers and the 50th overflowing donation drop-off box bloomed in our once thriving business districts.
    That would go a long way toward filling our empty office space and not doing it is why we have a huge inventory of empty office space. Who wants to bring their families to a dump? Families want nice suburban neighborhoods and business districts and if that is what employees want that is where employers go so they can have those good employees. It is not all about class A buildings. One in Baileys Crossroads is in the process of emptying despite its close proximity to DC. The area has been blighted by a near totally dysfunctional Department of Code Compliance which the Annandale Central District Planning Committee describes in glowing terms.
    One can imagine an OCR that responded to complaints, enforced the codes, incentivized the business to keep their signs within prescribed limits, followed up on maintenance requests, worked with the District Supervisor to get rid of the donation boxes, tractor trailers, trash piles, decaying parking lots and store fronts, trimmed the vegetation and made sidewalks safe and attractive. One could imagine that being the work of the OCR but it is not.
    From the point of view of someone interested in good land use I conclude that a likely goal of the OCR is to block or misdirect efforts to do real revitalization while the lack of code compliance drives our neighborhoods and commercial areas into such a state of blight that a case can be made for totally destroying residential and commercial buildings and streets and sidewalks, trucking the wreckage out to a landfill, then rebuilding from the ground up to a great height with other materials trucked, shipped and flown in from all over the world with much externalized carbon release.
    Not a very green solution when one thinks of reuse as the best form of recycling, but this is what the OCR and its “partners” in development/banking are all about. No wonder they avoid input from the community while enthusiastically seeking to fulfil the wishes of outside interests. How can that be in a democracy? Consider this: the District Supervisor has taken in about a $1million in her 20+ years in office largely from the development sector. A county supervisor, 1$million! How much have you given her? That is why corruption is often considered a negative. It is anti-democracy. And it makes haters. Let’s not make more haters, please.

  3. LOL, they will ignore it just like they allowed Spectrum to do so. Why bother wasting time on these things when Penny Gross ignores them anyway

  4. Failure to notify the immediate neighborhoods and the District Council of the survey is a gross omission.

  5. The area will never be revitalized. County is not equipped to revitalize anything. All they can do is spend money and build social service centers. That's it, 1970 revitalization strategies that failed then and will fail now........sorry.

  6. Which Farmers Markets did they go to? We live practically on top of Seven Corners and always go to the Falls Church Farmers Market. We are never home on Thursday mornings to attend the one at Mason District Park.