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Sunday, September 9, 2018

Office building conversion proposed for Lincolnia

One of the building in the Halifax Office Park.
Two potential housing projects in the works for Mason District were presented to the Lincolnia Planning District Study Task Force Sept. 6.

One proposal calls for the increasingly obsolete Halifax Office Park on Cherokee Avenue to be transformed into a high-end multifamily housing complex with on-site amenities.

The owners, Nazir Bhagat and Rory Schick want to add three stories to each of the two buildings to create a total of up to 130 units.

The aging buildings are deteriorating and have high vacancy rates that are increasing, Bhagat said at the task force meeting. Their value has dropped to $4 million from $6 million two years ago, and the county tax assessments have been dropping significantly. If nothing is done, they could end up being empty eyesores that attract crime.

The proposal calls for both buildings to be entirely gutted and modernized. The new facades would have more glass and balconies. The footprint would not be expanded. Whether the units are apartments or condos would depend on what makes the most sense economically, when the project is further along.

The additional height won’t have much of an impact on nearby neighborhoods, because the buildings are surrounded by parkland and trees, have large setbacks, and are at a significantly lower elevation than the adjacent townhouse community.

The new units would serve a niche market, Bhagat said. He expects the residents would be professional individuals or couples who do much of their work at home for clients throughout the metro area and need easy access to the Beltway and Interstate 395.

Bhagat and Schick’s plans include upgrading the Indian Run resource protection area on the grounds and other environmental enhancements. The development could include a media and game room, a meeting room with an eat-in kitchen, and co-working area, depending on what the target residents want.

They could also add amenities such car sharing, a walking trail, tot lot, and dog park that could be made available to the neighbors. Moreover, the owners have pledged the Lincolnia Park Civic Association that the new residents will be subsidized to join and strengthen their association and recreation club.

In response to a question from a task force member about the impact on traffic, Bhagat said a residential building actually generates fewer trips than an office building. There is plenty of parking on the property, so overflow parking wouldn’t be a problem either.

The other proposal, known as Plaza 500, calls for a mixed-used development on a 34.4-acre property currently occupied by Smoot Lumber at 6295 Edsall Road.

The owner, Matan Cos., is considering building 2.8 or 2.9 million square feet of residential and 74,000 square feet of retail, said Brian Morris, development coordinator.

The project could include a mix of townhouses and four or five-story apartments with neighborhood-serving retail on the ground floor, but details haven’t been worked out. “The design is wide open,” Morris said.

The property can be accessed from Edsall Road and S. Pickett Street. It is bordered by the City of Alexandria, Backlick Run, and a railroad line. There are townhouse and other development projects under construction or planned on industrial sites all around that area.

The Fairfax County Planning and Zoning division will conduct analyses of the impact of both projects on transportation, the environment, public facilities, and other issues.


  1. The movement towards reusing many of these building is a great idea rather then letting them being abandoned. Hopefully they will have better luck than 5600 Columbia Pike though.

    1. Looks like a perfect canidate for Penny's Social Services Building. Its very institutional looking. Why doesnt the County use this building to put the homeless shelter in, along with the Pennys SS builidng and a faux 7 eleven at the first floor. This way Baileys may have a chance at becoming a place for all of us to enjoy instead of all the down and outs spoiling it for the entire district.

  2. It would be interesting to learn which statistics Mr. Bhagat used to justify his comment that " a residential building generates fewer trips than an office building". Unlike residential buildings, office buildings are not generally used during the week-end or holidays Also, depending on the size of the residential units, there is the possibility that more than one person per unit will have an automobile making multiple trips per day.

    The other point to note when converting to residential use is the impact on the existing infrastructure such as roads, water, sewer, electric as well as the increased need for County services such as public safety, social services and also the impact on local schools.