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Vienna Planning Commissioners Add Parking, Retail Space to Sunrise Development Concerns

More concerns about the proposed Sunrise Senior Living Facility cropped up at the Town of Vienna’s Planning Commission meeting last night (April 24).

The Sunrise development and Vienna Town Council are already at odds over the project exceeding the town’s height requirements — a topic that also resurfaced during the public comment period last night.

“My real concern this is essentially a five-story building that is being sold as a four-story building,” Vienna resident Chuck Anderson said during public comment. “MAC was sold as a four-story and now we’re allowing five stories. I think there are a lot of people who are upset about this.”

While the public hearing focused on the development’s proposed reduction for its loading space width, fewer bike spaces, new fencing, extended awnings and desire to move the bus stop, concerns about parking and retail space dominated the discussion.

Planning Commissioner Sarah Couchman stressed an emphasis on maximizing opportunities for the assisted living facility’s ground floor retail space. Jerry Liang, senior vice president of development for Sunrise, said the current plans could support one larger tenant or two smaller ones.

“I think it would be great for Vienna to have another retail bay in that area,” Couchman said, questioning whether the lobby with the grand staircase could get reconfigured to add more retail space. “I don’t really see many people using the stairs given your population.”

Questions around parking erupted after Liang told the Planning Commission that the 83-unit facility proposed might have up to 35 employees during peak times on weekdays and would also want to offer valet parking on site for holidays and weekend events.

Some of the planning commissioners expressed skepticism that 60 parking spaces could fit the residents, visitors, retail customers and employees. Liang responded by saying that some of the employees will probably use public transit and carpools and that residents are expected to use about 33 spaces, with the retailers having 29 spots.

Planning Commissioner Mary McCullough said she is concerned about how the parking will affect the already-congested Church and Center streets.

“It’s a problem right now without your facility,” she said, questioning how the senior living facility could also valet park with only 60 parking spaces.

Chair Michael Gelb said he also shares McCullough’s concerns about the parking. “It’s a little bit of a hope and a prayer that this will work out,” he said.

The Planning Commission voted to keep the public hearing on the Sunrise proposal open and will return to the development on May 8.

Image via Town of Vienna

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