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Planning Commission advances MetroWest development plans with new conditions

Developer Pulte Homes’ five planned buildings for MetroWest (courtesy Pulte Homes)

Mixed-use development in the MetroWest community near the Vienna Metro station is a step closer to becoming a reality.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission voted unanimously on Wednesday (Dec. 8) to recommend approval of developer Pulte Homes’ applications to construct five residential buildings with 480 units and 35,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space.

The plans also include at least 35% open space, a childcare center, a residents-only pool and pool house, a 1,150 square-foot community center with WiFi and meeting space on the ground floor of building 16, and a community park that will be open to the public.

Set for a Fairfax County Board of Supervisors public hearing on Jan. 25, the proposal is expected to revive efforts to bring retail and other amenities to MetroWest more than a decade after the development was originally approved.

“This application is a welcome catalyst for action and will help us realize the [Fairfax County] Comprehensive Plan’s vision for mixed-use, transit-oriented development at the Vienna Metro station,” Providence District Commissioner Phil Niedzielski-Eichner said.

Submitted to the county last December, Pulte’s proposed changes to its development plans and proffers primarily concern the planned daycare center, which was relocated and will now have an enrollment cap of 150 children, up from 100.

The developer also sought to remove a restriction that limited it to a certain number of residences until buildings with non-residential uses are also put in place.

Since the original MetroWest plans were approved in 2006, the 56-acre site has gained 860 dwelling units in the form of townhouses, senior housing in The Atrium, and The Providence, an assisted living facility that opened in March.

However, the plan’s non-residential elements stalled amid a changing real estate market and disputes between Pulte and fellow developer CRC Companies, which is responsible for building a town center on the north side of the development.

County staff said at a public hearing on Nov. 3 that the limit on residential construction was put in place after previous promises of mixed-use development around the Vienna Metro station failed to materialize.

Niedzielski-Eichner said on Wednesday that Pulte has now committed to constructing at least one building with non-residential uses before starting the second of two remaining fully residential structures.

“We’re holding the 4th building to accommodate what we thought was a reasonable request from the Planning Staff,” DLA Piper land-use lawyer Antonio Calabrese, who is representing Pulte, told Tysons Reporter by email. “The County wants to be certain that we have completed the attractive MetroWest swimming pool, children’s play area and large courtyard prior to final occupancy of our 4-building land bay.”

Pulte continued revising its proffer conditions up to the day of the planning commission vote to address lingering concerns about the retail, pedestrian accessibility, the daycare center, and electric vehicle infrastructure.

According to a 16-page memo from Pulte and markups of the proffer agreement that Fairfax County’s planning department shared with Tysons Reporter, the additional commitments include:

  • At least 5,000 square feet of non-residential space on the ground floors of buildings 16, 17, and 18 must be “Type 1” uses, including retail sales, food, financial, and personal service establishments
  • Parallel parking spaces and tree wells designed with accessibility in mind
  • A 9,500 square-foot cap on the daycare center
  • Priority access to the daycare for MetroWest residents with an exclusive grand opening, additional marketing, and a waitlist of interested, qualified families
  • An increase in parking outfitted for electric vehicle charging from 2% to 4%

The proffers will all be part of the formal proffer agreement presented to the Board of Supervisors in January, the county planning department says.

Niedzielski-Eichner also reported that negotiations to resolve ongoing conflicts between Pulte and CRC “appear on track to finding solutions that will facilitate the full restart of MetroWest development.”

CRC filed site plans for two of its five planned buildings on Aug. 31 that are under review by county staff. The developer has said it anticipates breaking ground in mid-2022.

“We’ve held very fruitful discussions with CRC and look forward to continuing our productive collaboration,” Calabrese said. “Both entities have a vested interest in completing their high-quality plans within MetroWest.”

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