Newsletter
The affordable housing project planned for Dominion Square West in Tysons (via KGD Architecture/Fairfax County)

Dominion Square West in Tysons has been redesignated as a revitalization area to make way for an affordable housing project.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved the designation to help facilitate an application for Low Income Housing Tax Credits.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn noted that the term “revitalization area” isn’t related to the county’s economic revitalization efforts in areas like McLean and Lake Anne in Reston.

“This is a very specific term used in the state code, separate from what we’d say revitalization is in our Comprehensive Plan,” he said.

The nonprofit Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing has a contract with the county to buy the 2-acre site on Spring Hill Road in the Tysons West neighborhood. The land was purchased by the county using $10.97 million from the American Rescue Plan Act and another $10 million from a Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority reserve fund.

APAH must submit its application for the credit to Virginia Housing before its March 2022 deadline. The property’s new status as a revitalization area was deemed necessary to help meet the criteria for the application process.

According to county documents, the tax credit would be used as a source of funding by APAH to construct a nine-story, 175-unit multifamily building for the first phase of the Dominion Square West development planned near the Spring Hill Metro station.

The units would be affordable to county residents with incomes between 30 to 60% of the area medium income, which is $129,000 for a family of four, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. 60% of that would be $77,500 for a family of four.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay noted that this was the first-ever item taken up by the board to come with a formal equity impact statement explaining how the project will help address the county’s goal of creating an inclusive community.

“Staff will be strategically applying the equity impact statements on items coming to the board, non-land use items,” McKay said.

According to the statement, the first phase of Dominion Square West “will provide equitable access to reasonably priced housing” in the increasingly urban economic hub of Tysons.

Since 2010, over 44,000 new units have been approved for development in Tysons. As of August 2021, a total of 752 of the 4,081 residential units delivered serve low to moderate-income households though the county’s affordable and workforce dwelling unit programs.

The county hopes to increase the supply of affordable housing by adding at least 5,000 homes by 2034.

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A nonprofit wants to build affordable housing by the Spring Hill Metro station (via KGD Architecture/Fairfax County)

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors moved forward yesterday (Tuesday) with plans to use public funds to help build an affordable housing project near the Spring Hill Metro station in Tysons.

Part of the planned Dominion Square West development, the nine-story, 175-unit project comes from the nonprofit Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH).

Units will have one to three bedrooms and be reserved for those at or below 30%, 50% and 60% of the area median income. Those thresholds are currently $31,000, $51,600, and $61,920 for a two-person household for the D.C. area.

The project received the Fairfax County Planning Commission’s approval on Jan. 12.

With yesterday’s 9-0 vote, the Board of Supervisors agreed to buy two acres of land for the property with $10.97 million in American Rescue Plan Act money as well as $10 million from a Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority reserve fund.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn said the project will provide “much-needed housing.”

“The 175-unit Dominion Square West building will be a significant and positive step forward in providing affordable housing for working families close to Metrorail,” he said, adding that he looks forward to the “life-changing impact” it will have on residents.

Located at 1592 Spring Hill Road, the property is currently a parking lot owned by Capital Automotive Real Estate Services, a real estate investment trust acquired by Brookfield Property Partners in 2014.

Fairfax County will pass the money for the land to APAH, but it will retain public ownership of the ground, which will be leased to the nonprofit for 85 years.

Housing authority spokesman Ben Boxer said in an email yesterday that financial terms of the leasing arrangement are still under negotiation.

“Negotiations on the terms are anticipated to be completed in the next month,” Boxer wrote.

In addition to the ARPA and housing authority reserve funds, the county’s $43 million contribution to the project includes $13.3 million in local tax money from a Housing Blueprint Fund, according to Boxer.

The housing blueprint funds and developer contributions from the county’s Tysons Housing Trust Fund will help pay for a $22 million subordinate loan to APAH to support the project’s construction.

The trust fund was established in 2010 by the Tysons Comprehensive Plan, which recommends that developers give $3 per square foot of non-residential development to fund affordable and workforce housing in the area.

The Dominion Square West project is the first one to use that money.

“Dominion Square is the kind of community we need more of — one that is completely integrated into the community in terms of design, function, and opportunity,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said in a statement. “I strongly believe quality affordable housing must be available throughout Fairfax County and this action helps move us closer to that reality.”

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Morning Notes

I-66 Ramp Near Vienna to Close Tonight — The ramp from westbound I-66 to the Vienna/Fairfax-GMU Metro station will close for approximately three weeks start at 11 p.m. today (Friday). The closure is needed for utility work related to the I-66 Express Lanes expansion. Drivers will be detoured via Route 123 (Chain Bridge Road) South and I-66 East, with the Nutley Street exit as an alternative. [VDOT]

What Happened to Yesterday’s Snow — “After our forecast of a coating to two inches of snow in the region, most places saw no accumulation Thursday morning. Some spots didn’t even see a flake, only raindrops…The flawed predictions can be traced to computer model errors and the inability of human forecasters to adequately account for them.” [Capital Weather Gang]

ABC Stores Change Hours Due to Covid — The Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Authority will adjust operating hours at all of its stores to noon starting Monday (Jan. 24), citing reduced staffing capacity due to COVID-19 cases among workers. Closing hours remain the same, and curbside pickup and delivery services are still available. [WTOP]

McLean School Awards Student for Service — “The Potomac School has announced its first-ever Potomac School Award for Exemplary Service to recognize individuals who make a difference through service to others. The inaugural award went to Ericc Powell, a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity Metro Maryland.” [Patch]

County to Talk Affordable Housing — “Fairfax County and the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority, in partnership with the George Mason School of Business, is planning the third annual Fairfax County Housing Symposium for Thursday, March 17, 2022, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The theme of this year’s event is ‘Affordable Housing: A Foundation for Economic Recovery, Growth, and Opportunity.'” [Housing and Community Development]

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A nonprofit is looking to build affordable housing in Tysons by the Spring Hill Metro station (via KGD Architecture/Fairfax County)

The Fairfax County Planning Commission gave the go-ahead yesterday (Wednesday) to a 175-unit housing development in Tysons that will be restricted to lower-income residents.

The nonprofit Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) has proposed building a 175,000 square-foot residential complex with green space and a three-story, partially underground parking garage at 1592 Spring Hill Road.

“APAH is thrilled to bring to forward this innovative model of high-quality, scalable, urban, affordable housing within ¼ mile of metro, jobs, planned green space, amenities proving that affordable housing can be done in the highest areas of opportunity in the Region,” APAH President and CEO Carmen Romero said in an email.

With the rezoning approval, the affordable housing developer will apply for Low Income Housing Tax Credit funding. It declined to say how much it will seek and whether getting the credit is mandatory for the project, though the nonprofit says it’s confident it will advance. An application is due in March.

APAH will build 35 three-bedroom units, 105 two-bedroom units, and 35 one-bedroom units, all available to individuals and families who earn 30% to 60% of the area’s median income.

“This is a project that is the exact type of Metro-accessible, affordable housing that the county wants to attract, and it’s something that has been difficult to achieve,” attorney Scott Adams, representing the developer, said during the planning commission’s public hearing.

The building will have solar energy on its roof and ground-floor services for residents. It could feature up to 5,000 square feet of retail uses, though Adams suggested the current project might not include any retail business.

While the approved application shows a park at the property, APAH says it intends to build additional affordable housing with a retail element. Plans show a future building listed as C5.

The property is part of Dominion Square West, a plan to redevelop 7.6 acres of parking lots and car dealerships along Spring Hill Road with residential and office buildings.

At least one dealership, however, will remain for the foreseeable future after the land was sold in September to the owner of Ourisman Automotive, which currently occupies the parcel.

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The office building at 1750 Old Meadow Road in Tysons, which could be replaced by a mixed-use development (via Google Maps)

(Updated at 4:30 p.m.) A developer wants to bring hundreds of workforce housing units to Tysons East with a proposal that would replace an aging, vacant office building near the McLean Metro station with a residential complex.

Under the name Somos at Tysons LLC, SCG Development plans to build a mixed-use building at 1750 Old Meadow Road with 460 residential units and approximately 5,000 square feet of ground-level commercial space.

At least 300 of the residences would be made affordable to households that earn up to 60% of the area’s median income (AMI), according to a rezoning application submitted to Fairfax County on Oct. 1.

That commitment would easily exceed the workforce dwelling unit (WDU) requirements that the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors adopted for the Tysons Urban Center on Feb. 23, giving developers the option to provide 10% WDUs at 60% AMI or 13% WDUs with a greater mix of income levels.

According to a statement of justification written by John McGranahan Jr., a land-use attorney representing the developer, SCG’s proposal comes in part to satisfy proffer requirements that the property must meet due to its proximity to the nearby Capital One Center and Scotts Run developments.

“The vision of Tysons as an urban center where people live, work and play must include a diversity of housing opportunities at price points across the income spectrum,” McGranahan wrote. “This application will deliver a greater number of affordable units at the 60% of AMI level much sooner than would be achieved with existing proffers and Tysons Plan policies, all within a convenient 1/3 mile walk to the McLean Metro Station.”

The proposed 1750 Meadow Road development site is in Tysons East, near the McLean Metro station and Scott’s Run Park (via Fairfax County)

To make way for the new development, SCG says it will raze the seven-story office building that currently occupies 1750 Old Meadow Road, but an existing three-level parking garage behind the building will be left intact.

Constructed in 1985 and occupied for more than 36 years, the 142,000 square-foot office building was sold by owner Matan Companies in 2018. It’s in the former West*Gate office park, a portion of which is being transformed into the Highland District.

SCG’s plans call for a mixed-use building with a maximum height of eight floors or 85 feet and 440,605 square feet of gross floor area, which would increase to 470,453 square feet with the bonus density granted by the workforce housing commitment. Read More

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As one major Falls Church development takes a step toward completion, another is just getting started.

Developer Atlantic Realty Companies, which owns George Mason Square and nearby buildings, hopes to transform the area with a mixed-use complex dubbed One City Center, which will include 246 residential units, office space, retail, and a grocery store.

“This is an area that has long been planned to evolve into a downtown vibrant hub,” Andrew Painter, an attorney representing the developer, said at a Sept. 27 Falls Church City Council meeting.

As part of the project, the company plans to demolish and replace a rear two-story parking garage with a building that’s nine or 10 stories tall, add a park on a vacant corner lot at South Maple Avenue and West Annandale Road, and create a pedestrian-friendly street — a Dutch-inspired woonerf — with a 30-foot by 40-foot exterior screen.

“The Digital Screen may be used to display art, landscapes, movies and theatrical presentations for ‘screen on the green’ events, coverage of live City events and performances (e.g., Watch Night performances, Memorial Day parade, etc.), promotion of the project’s retailers and City services, and related programming,” a voluntary concessions document from June 23 says.

Other buildings to be demolished include the former BB&T Bank and a tailor business building, where a temporary parking lot would be created during construction.

Atlantic Realty unveiled an initial proposal for the project on Feb. 11 and submitted a second version on June 23. The company is working with Falls Church officials as it seeks to get approval from the city council, possibly on Feb. 28 next year.

An agreement calls for designating 6% of the units — up to 15 units — as affordable. Painter said the developer is working with the city to determine what that would entail.

As part of the application, the developer is seeking special exceptions, one of which includes increasing a building height from a maximum of 75 feet to up to 115 feet.

City Looks at Proposed Concessions

The City of Falls Church has been working with the developer on concessions to make the project become a reality.

Among numerous concessions, a proposed agreement calls for:

  • A one-time payment of $1.7 million to schools to offset capital costs, provided all 246 units are built
  • 30 public parking spaces
  • A 3,000 square-foot conference center (about two-thirds the size of a basketball court) that would be available to commercial tenants in the new development and George Mason Square, nonprofits, and the city for meetings

Painter said the conference space could be used by the city and nonprofits at no cost.

The developer and project leads showcased the potential of the site on a walking tour on Wednesday (Sept. 29), making the case that a new bus shelter, bikeshare, pedestrian crossings, and other upgrades would improve transportation.

Read More

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Morning Notes

Cause of Death Confirmed in Bailey’s Crossroads Murder — “A 19-year-old man stabbed his father several times in the upper body and then burned his father’s body before burying him in the family’s backyard in the Bailey’s Crossroads area of Fairfax County, the county police department said Monday. Philip Nguyen was arrested and charged with second-degree murder last Wednesday in his father’s killing.” [Patch]

Area Residents Can Get Abortion Medication By Mail — Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, which serves the D.C. area, has been offering abortion medications by mail to patients in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia since Aug. 12. The new service was officially announced on Friday (Sept. 10) shortly after the Supreme Court allowed a prohibition on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy to take effect in Texas. [The Washington Post]

Deadline to Apply for Amazon REACH Funds Extended — The deadline to submit affordable housing proposals to Fairfax County for up to $5 million each in Amazon REACH funds has been pushed to 4 p.m. Friday (Sept. 17). The state has committed $15 million annually to support affordable housing in Northern Virginia as part of the deal that brought Amazon’s second headquarters to Arlington County. [Fairfax County Housing and Community Development]

Tysons Consultant Buys Maryland Cybersecurity Company — “Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. (NYSE: BAH) again tapped the mergers and acquisitions market, it announced Monday, purchasing cybersecurity company Tracepoint. Terms of the acquisition weren’t disclosed, but the move follows a strategic investment the McLean management and IT consulting firm made in the Fredericksburg company back in January.” [Washington Business Journal]

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A Fairfax County-owned property along Balls Hill Road slated for a traffic improvement project at the intersection with Old Dominion Drive (staff photo by David Taube)

Faced with challenges from providing affordable housing to mitigating flooding, Fairfax County has its hands full, but it’s currently armed with vacant property assessed at tens of millions of dollars.

Currently tax-exempt, the properties could be used for commercial development, environmental preservation, housing projects, recreation, or stormwater drainage, among other purposes.

“There is a critical shortage of affordable housing options in Fairfax County,” Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust said when asked about what the county should do with its vacant properties.

The total financial value of vacant, county-owned properties exceeds $50 million, as calculated based on a public records request and assessments in an online county database for over 100 parcels that could be used for commercial, residential, or other uses.

It wasn’t immediately clear if other restrictions, such as environmental issues, setbacks, and prior plans, limit the use of those properties.

The $50 million-plus figure includes at least $10 million in assessed property that was listed as vacant but nonbuildable, but it excludes properties in floodplains as well as parcels already in use, such as parking lots, parks, or school areas.

One of the largest vacant property acquisitions is across from the Fairfax County Government Center: a 2.6-acre property bordered by Legato Road and Post Forest Drive that cost around $50 million in 1994. It currently has an assessed value of around $11,450.

“One of the elements of the County’s Housing Strategic Plan is to utilize vacant parcels as well as to repurpose land, such as existing parking lots, to increase the supply of housing,” Foust noted by email.

Created in 2018, the Communitywide Housing Strategic Plan calls on Fairfax County to make vacant or underutilized, publicly owned land available for affordable and mixed-income housing “to expand housing options without direct public financial subsidy” through public-private partnerships.

Currently, the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority has three such properties that are slated to be developed through public-private partnerships:

The county’s more sizable vacant lots include five adjacent properties along South Van Dorn Street in Franconia that occupy around 3.7 acres located near Thomas A. Edison High School.

The county also has a 9.63-acre parcel near the Innovation Center Metro station that will eventually open in Herndon as part of the much-delayed Silver Line extension.

Foust says part of the property includes a community playing field, but its proximity to the Metro station could make it a candidate for future affordable housing.

“Placing affordable housing on the site could be a good use of the land,” he said. “If that came about, the playing field would need to be relocated.”

In McLean, the county has two properties in a residential neighborhood at 7135 and 7139 Old Dominion Drive that have been assessed at a combined $2.06 million. They are slated for a traffic improvement project at the intersection of Old Dominion and Balls Hill Road. The project is currently in the design phase.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said in a Washington Business Journal story about affordable housing that land is the county’s “single most useful tool.”

“Reallocation of Board-owned property can occur in a number of ways,” McKay said in a statement. “However it is often at the request of a County agency and is followed by an extensive review of the property. Within the last year, the Board was proud to authorize the transfer of two properties to the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority for the potential creation of affordable housing.”

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A nonprofit is looking to build affordable housing in Tysons by the Spring Hill Metro station (via KGD Architecture/Fairfax County)

The nonprofit Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing is looking to develop a two-acre parking lot into the first entirely affordable housing project in Tysons.

The project would construct a six to nine-story building with 125-175 units on the north side of Spring Hill Road, according to a July 2 letter for a rezoning application that is currently under review by Fairfax County planners.

“APAH is excited for the unique opportunity of providing a fully affordable building within the heart of Tysons,” Scott Adams, a McGuireWoods land-use attorney representing APAH, wrote in the letter. “This important project…will serve as a benchmark for the crucial goal of providing new affordable housing options close to employment and transit.”

The proposed residential building would have 34 three-bedroom units, 109 two-bedroom units, and 32 one-bedroom units available to individuals and families with up to 30% to 60% of the area median income level.

The chosen parcel is adjacent to a joint Land Rover/Jaguar auto dealership and about a six-minute walk from the Spring Hill Metro station.

The site of Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing’s proposed project at 1592 Spring Hill Road in Tysons (via Fairfax County)

According to the Washington Business Journal, which first reported the story, Fairfax County could play a crucial role in the deal by buying the property — likely through its redevelopment and housing authority — and leasing it to APAH.

The property belongs to Tysons-based Capital Automotive Real Estate Services (known as CARS), which is owned by the real estate firm Brookfield Property Partners. Fairfax County has assessed the parcel at $8.5 million each year since 2015.

The application materials submitted to the county include an affidavit signed by CARS, signaling that it is permitting APAH to proceed with its project.

CARS previously obtained zoning waivers and modifications from the Fairfax County Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors in 2017 for mixed-use development of the site. APAH is seeking to use those approvals with its application and not require additional zoning waivers.

However, the application calls for reducing the minimum parking requirement of 175 spaces to 105 spaces. That’s because the project, which would include a parking garage, is within a quarter-mile of the Metro station, and the lower number would support the expected parking needs based on the nonprofit’s experience with similar projects, Adams wrote.

The development would be part of the Planned Tysons Corner Urban District that the Board of Supervisors established in 2010 to transform the area from a suburban office park and activity center to a mixed-use neighborhood geared toward pedestrians, bicycles, and transit.

The application says the project fits with a requirement there that a development contributes to urban parks, reduces vehicle trips involving a sole driver, and addresses other urban revitalization factors.

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Morning Notes

I-66 West Lane Closures Start Tonight — I-66 West in the Vienna area will be reduced to a single travel lane around 10 p.m. today (Friday) and tomorrow with one lane remaining closed during the day on Saturday. The closures are needed to shift the westbound travel lanes between Gallows Road and Nutley Street to new pavement as part of the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project. [VDOT]

Two Injured in McLean House Fire During Storm — Two people went to the hospital for non-life-threatening injuries after a house in the 6600 block of Osborn Street caught fire around 9:10 p.m. on Tuesday (Aug. 10). The fire, which displaced five occupants and resulted in approximately $25,000 in damages, was caused by an unattended candle placed too close to curtains during a thunderstorm-induced power outage. [FCFRD]

Craft Beer Restaurant Planned for Tysons Galleria — “Yard House, the casual, craft beer-focused restaurant with a growing Greater Washington presence, will open a new location inside the redeveloped former Macy’s store at the Tysons Galleria. Building permits filed this week with Fairfax County describe the project as eventually spanning 14,236 square feet and entailing an outdoor patio at the redone Galleria space.” [Washington Business Journal]

Falls Church Adds Affordable Housing — Falls Church City bought properties at 310 and 312 Shirley Street for $925,000 each on Wednesday (Aug. 11). The 2,560 square-foot buildings consist of four one-bedroom apartments that will be preserved as market-rate affordable units, joining the 16 such units that the City already owns at 208 Gibson Street and 302 Shirley Street. [City of Falls Church]

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