|The Plaza at Landmark on Little River Turnpike.|
Specifically, commissioners said the plan should have stronger language on affordable housing and questioned why the proposal on transportation won’t reduce traffic on Little River Turnpike.
The Planning Commission deferred a decision on the plan to July 10. The Board of Supervisors’ hearing is set for July 16.
Phase 3 covers land use and transportation network alternatives for the Community Business Center (CBC), which covers 169 acres centered around the Little River Turnpike/Beauregard Street intersection.
The plan was agreed to by Fairfax County Planning and Zoning staff and a task force made up of Lincolnia residents and commercial property owners. The task force held 18 meetings on Phase 3 over a two-year period.
In accordance with the county’s Comprehensive Plan, the CBC would be a mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly area. The densest development and tallest buildings would be in an “opportunity area” currently occupied by the Plaza at Landmark shopping center.
That area would be transformed into a town center with 1,470 dwelling units and 516,500 square feet of non-residential uses, including 373,100 square feet of ground-floor retail and 143,400 square feet of office uses. The plan proposes four acres of green space.
Currently, that area has 684,700 square feet of non-residential uses (586,300 square feet of retail and 98,400 square feet of office) and no residential units.
Mary Cortina, an at-large member of the Planning Commission, suggested more protections be included to retain affordable housing and raised concerns about redevelopment resulting in increased rents and tenants being displaced. Other commissioners agreed.
Clara Johnson of the Department of Planning Zoning said there is a statement in the plan calling for efforts to preserve affordable housing but acknowledged there are no tools identified to accomplish that.
While there currently is no housing in the opportunity area, there are three housing complexes in the transition area – Morningside, Arbors, and Crystal Woods – with affordable rents.
The transportation recommendations call for a traditional multimodal grid of streets within the opportunity area that would include on-street parking, pedestrian and bicycle facilities, and landscaping.
Leonard Wolfenstein of the Fairfax County Department of Transportation told the commissioners there would be a new north-south connection between N. Beauregard Street and Little River Turnpike as the site redevelops.
The Little River Turnpike/Beauregard intersection is among the worst in the county, and several members of the Planning Commission questioned why the proposed plan for the CBC wouldn’t make much of an improvement.
FCDOT assumes that in 20 years, Little River Turnpike will be widened to three lanes in each direction, Wolfenstein said. If land use stays the same within the CBC and there are changes outside the CBC, in 20 years, the delay at the intersection would be a little less, but there would be more of a delay at the Oasis Drive intersection.
The plan doesn’t improve traffic along Little River Turnpike, but doesn’t make it worse, Wolfenstein says. He referred to the plan as a “non-degradation of future problems.”
Three people spoke at the hearing in support of the Lincolnia Planning District Study: David Gill, an attorney representing the owner of the Plaza at Landmark, and task force members and Lincolnia residents Matt Lyttle and Debi Gerald.
Alan Ackerman, a member of the board of the Duke Street Station HOA and the only task force member who voted against the study, told the commissioners it will result in displacing lower-income renters and traffic, which is already “horrendous,” will get worse. He said the only reason for creating a CBC is to facilitate the redevelopment of Landmark Plaza.
“None of the other retail or commercial property owners participated or indicated any interest in this proposal,” he said, noting that the shopping centers on both side of Little River Turnpike are fully leased and are improving. The shopping center with the New Grand Mart even has a high-end restaurant, Chef Guo, with a 12-course prix fixe dinner for $278.
Gill told the commissioners the owner of Landmark Plaza supports the development of new affordable housing in the opportunity area. The current traffic issue is caused by people who are trying to get through the area, he said. Redevelopment will make it a destination in and of itself.