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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Updated land use plan considered for Fairview Park

The entrance to the building at 2941 Fairview Park Drive.
The Fairfax County Planning Commission is expected to take up a nomination for a site-specific amendment to the county’s Comprehensive Plan to update land use guidelines for future development in Fairview Park.

The proposal calls for revitalizing a standalone office park in Merrifield by encouraging more mixed-use development. “Single-use office parks are no longer sustainable in today’s economy,” it states.

A hearing before the Planning Commission is scheduled for June 21.

The proposal affects six properties with a total of 86.5 acres along Fairview Park Drive on both sides of Arlington Boulevard.

When initially planned, zoned, and developed in the 1980s, “Fairview Park was a highly successful office park,” says the Statement of Justification, which was submitted to the Department of Planning and Zoning by Elizabeth Baker of the Walsh Colucci law firm.

“However, over time, standalone office parks have struggled to attract and retain tenants and remain relevant as new mixed-use developments can offer businesses and their employees a more vibrant and appealing work environment,” the statement reads.

In 2005, the office vacancy rate in Fairview Park was just 8 percent. By 2017, it climbed to 22 percent. That decline is attributable to the economic recession of 2008 along with competition from newer office buildings along the Metro Silver Line. Since 2015 five major companies have relocated or announced plans to relocate from the Merrifield area to the Silver Line.

The proposal calls for increased density and a new mix of uses: 40 to 50 percent office and hotel uses, 35 to 40 percent residential, and 5 percent retail and event space.

It suggests making the area a more welcoming community by adding an active recreation center on top of a new parking garage, a community plaza/event space, a community museum, or a community building with space for meetings and classes. Transportation improvements to make the area less auto-dependent would also be part of the plan.

According to the proposal, the nomination process “provides an opportunity to reinvigorate Fairview Park as an employment center, but more than that, it offers a new perspective on how an office park can evolve to become a well-rounded development that offers multiple benefits to the greater community.”

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