The push to redevelop McLean’s 230-acre downtown area is getting into the nitty-gritty details, giving residents another chance to provide input.
Fairfax County is developing design guidelines that will shape the look of sidewalks, tree plantings, lights, buildings, and more in the McLean Community Business Center, an area centered around the intersection of Chain Bridge Road and Old Dominion Drive.
“The guidelines will focus on the design of streetscape areas (space between the curb and the building), how buildings front the street, trees and landscaping, parking design, and the features desired in future parks and plazas,” JoAnne Fiebe, senior revitalization program manager for the county’s Department of Planning and Development, said in an email.
The process will begin with an advisory group comprised of directors from the McLean Planning Committee. A virtual community-wide kick-off workshop is tentatively slated for March 23.
After convening for the first time from 7:30 to 9 p.m. tomorrow (Wednesday), the advisory group will meet on the fourth Wednesday of each month. All meetings will be held virtually and be open to the public.
The project will result in McLean-specific rules, building off of a first volume of urban design guidelines that the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved in 2018 for all of the county’s core commercial centers.
Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust says the countywide document has broad recommendations and best practices for creating streets, enhancing walkability, and promoting a sense of place.
“The McLean District Design Guidelines…include recommendations specific to McLean regarding open space features, building frontage, parking design, trees and landscaping, lighting, street furnishings, and other streetscape details,” he said in an email.
Developers will be encouraged to abide by the guidelines to help implement the community vision for McLean. Fiebe says the county hopes the second volume of design guidelines will:
- Ensure that future development and streetscape improvements meet community expectations regarding design, community character and bicycle/pedestrian accessibility
- Help create a unified appearance for the area
- Offer more environmentally sustainable approaches to redevelopment
The design guidelines project comes after the Board of Supervisors approved a plan to revitalize the McLean CBC in June.
Concluding a multi-year process, the Comprehensive Plan amendment increased the number of potential residential units in the downtown area from 2,175 to 3,850, among other changes. It was the first update to the McLean CBC plan in 20 years.
The comprehensive plan is a “big picture vision” to guide county officials’ decision-making when voting on projects proposed by developers, while the design guidelines will establish the details of that vision and strategies for implementing it, Fiebe explains.
“It is critical to get the details right in order to achieve high-quality walkable places,” Fiebe wrote. “This includes everything from the right paving materials for sidewalks, the right trees, good lighting, etc…And all of this needs to be discussed with the community to ensure that it meets their vision and expectations.”
The Board of Supervisors could sign off on the visual specifications in December.
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