Vienna considers proposal for mixed-use development on Church Street

A site map for the proposed 141 Church Street redevelopment (via MGMA Design/Town of Vienna)

The developer that owns a cluster of retail and office properties on the corner of Church Street and Lawyers Road in Vienna wants to turn them into a single building with retail and apartments.

The Vienna Town Council heard a proposal from Bognet Construction and architectural firm MGMA during its conference session on Monday (June 14) that would redevelop 139-145 Church Street into a three-story mixed-use building with a basement.

Owned by Bognet Construction President and CEO Jim Bognet, the two parcels under consideration consist of 26,993 square feet, or 0.62 acres, of land, and each parcel is currently occupied by a two-story commercial building.

Under Bognet’s proposal, the existing buildings would be replaced by a 35-foot-tall building with 18 apartment units and six ground-floor commercial tenants.

The 39,969 gross square footage includes 9,448 square feet per residential floor, 9,378 square feet for ground-floor retail, an 804 square-foot rooftop area, and a 10,891 square-foot basement with retail, according to plans that the developer and architect presented to the town council.

Bognet says he purchased the properties approximately three years ago with the goal of studying the site for redevelopment.

“We’re looking at making it mixed-use, because it’s our understanding that there’s a demand in Vienna for different types of residential use,” Bognet told Tysons Reporter. “…We seem to have a large amount of single-family homes and townhouses coming to the market, but I felt there was a need for some apartment living, new apartments, so we’re going to try and fit that in with the Church Street Vision.”

The Church Street Vision is a zoning ordinance that the Vienna Town Council adopted in July 1999 to “enhance the appearance and economic vitality of businesses in the historic Church Street commercial corridor,” according to a town staff presentation.

The ordinance encourages property owners in the town’s C-1B Pedestrian Commercial Zone to mimic a late 19th-century, small-town architectural style in exchange for more square footage, parking requirement reductions, and a faster review process.

So far, Vienna has approved four projects under the Church Street Vision: 101 Church Street NW (home to Sushi Yoshi and Vienna Pet Spaw), 111-113 Church Street NW (Bazin’s and Blend 111), 114 Church Street NW (Red Galanga), and most recently in 2014, a building with ground-floor retail and second-floor apartments at 120 Church Street NW, whose tenants include Bard’s Alley and Rita’s.

Bognet says his team is currently working with the town to determine the appropriate amount of parking that should be provided by the new building and develop the design so that it fits the street’s overall aesthetic.

A conceptual design for a proposed mixed-use development at 141 Church Street (via MGMA Design/Town of Vienna)

The conceptual plan proposes a total of 72 parking spaces, with 38 spaces on ground level and 34 spaces above that. The garage would be located behind the building, backing up against a 15-foot alley owned by the town.

Bognet says that, while the lot will be occupied by a single building, it will be “broken up every 20 to 25 feet” to look like different buildings from the street.

According to the Sun Gazette, the Vienna Town Council seemed intrigued by the proposal but raised concerns about the presented design evoking the Mosaic District instead of Church Street and the potential for the project to exacerbate traffic backups at the Church/Lawyers intersection.

Bognet has not submitted a formal application for the redevelopment yet, but he says it should be sent to the town this year in the hopes of finishing the approval process and starting construction around this time next year.

Ideally, he would like the project to be completed by the summer of 2023.

“It’s probably a 12 to 15-month [construction process], so I’d say fall of 2023 probably is more realistic,” he said. “I’d like to get it done sooner than later, because I know a lot of tenants want to be in before the holidays, so it would be nice to finish by summer of ’23 so they can actually have their shops up and running before Christmas.”

The new development will likely host all new tenants, though Bognet says he is looking at relocating existing tenants on the site to other properties that he owns on Church Street.

The building at 139-141 Church Street appears to now be solely occupied by House of Vape after the arts and crafts store Star’s Beads moved to South Carolina. Current tenants at 145 Church Street include the offices of Christ Church Vienna, Glass House Real Estate, and the jewelry and consignment shop Just like New.

Bognet says he has already started the process of identifying possible new tenants for the redeveloped building.

“We’re already out looking and talking to people that might be interested, companies that are planning far enough, people that are planning a year, two years out,” he said.

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