(Updated 10 a.m.) There’s no shortage of luxury housing coming into Tysons, but what about affordable housing?
According to Brian Worthy, a spokesman for Fairfax County, the limited number of affordable units in Tysons are near max occupancy. But with new mid- and high-rise developments required to devote a portion of the new units to affordable housing, Worthy said there are more units on the way:
As of May 15, 2019, there are approximately 536 rental Affordable and Workforce Dwelling Units (ADUs and WDUs) that have been constructed in Tysons. The average occupancy rate is 94 percent.
Currently, there are approximately 3,919 rental ADUs and WDUs that have been committed by developers through Board of Supervisors approved rezoning actions. We don’t currently track the total number of these units that have been proposed as part of unapproved developments in Tysons, but to date, the major, approved rezonings have all committed to provide affordable or workforce dwelling units.
Worthy noted that ADUs serve households with incomes of 50-70 percent of Area Median Income (AMI). Fairfax County documents show that range as $38,600-$54,050 for single-family households, increasing proportionally to the size of the household.
Tysons’ WDUs serve incomes ranging from 60-120 percent of AMI, reflecting the higher cost of living in Tysons as compared to the rest of Fairfax. The WDU program is designed to help working households find housing close to employment centers and transportation options.
Creating housing affordable to locals at all ranges of the income spectrum has been a countywide problem. According to the FY 2020 Fairfax County budget, a total of 3,016 affordable units — privately-owned homes that are not bound by rent restrictions — have been preserved in Fairfax County between 2004 and 2018, but the county fell 82 units short of its affordable housing goals for last year.
The county projects a growth of 62,184 households over the next 15 years, of which 18,622 are expected to earn 80 percent of AMI and below.
Chart via Fairfax County Government
The candidates running to become the next chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will debate each other on climate change, affordable housing, transportation and land use tonight (May 13).
Four Democrats and one Republican are vying for Sharon Bulova’s seat.
Republican Joe Galdo, a former Defense Department technology intelligence analyst who ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate, is the most recent addition. The Democratic candidates include Reston developer Timothy Chapman, Fairfax County School Board Member At-Large Ryan McElveen, Lee District Supervisor Jeffrey McKay and Georgetown Law Professor Alicia Edith Plerhoples.
Sharon Bulova announced her retirement decision back in December, adding to a growing list of supervisors who also decided not to seek re-election. In addition to the chairman, the seats for the Hunter Mill, Providence, Braddock and Lee districts are open to newcomers.
The Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions partnered with the Fairfax Healthy Communities Coalition for the debate ahead of the June 11 primaries. The upcoming election for the county’s Board of Supervisors will take place on Nov. 5.
The debate will be televised at 8 p.m. on Fairfax Public Access Channel 10’s Inside Scoop.
Photo via Facebook
The Fairfax County Planning Commission moved forward a plan for a new mixed-use residential and commercial development called Hanover Tysons in northern Tysons at its meeting last night (March 14).
The Hanover Company’s plan is to demolish the vacant seven-story office building that was built in 1983 and replace it with a new residential development.
The new residential building would be between five to seven stories with up to 420 dwelling units and include ground-level retail and nearby park space.
Located just west of Jones Branch Park at 1500 Westbranch Drive, Hanover Tysons is a little under one mile from the Tysons Corner Station.
The county’s Board of Supervisors is set to take up the proposal with a public hearing next Tuesday (March 19).
Photo via The Hanover Company
It’s not as high profile as Clemente Development Company’s The View development planned for the Spring Hill Metro area, but the nearby Evolution development could be exciting for affordable housing advocates.
According to the application overview, the building would include 1,400 multi-family units in a high-rise building. All of the housing in the building would be workforce dwelling units — defined by Fairfax County as housing affordable to people making from 70 to 100 percent of the area median income.
The contact phone number listed for the project is inactive, but the housing is likely part of a requirement from Fairfax County that residential developments set aside 14 percent of units in a residential development as affordable, or 16 percent if the units are being constructed off-site.
According to Fairfax County Public School documents, the new building could add as many as 157 students to Spring Hill Elementary School.
Details on the project are still scarce. The application was submitted in late 2017, but staff at Fairfax County Planning and Zoning say little progress has been made since then, as the developer remains mostly focused on The View.
Photo via Fairfax County Planning and Zoning
Tysons Seminary Gets Board’s OK — “Reformed Theological Seminary on Jan. 22 received a special exception from the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to operate a college out of an existing office building in Tysons. The three-story, approximately 32,400-square-foot edifice is located on 1.54 acres at 8227 Old Courthouse Road.” [InsideNova]
Applications Open for Rent Subsidies — “Low-income residents in Fairfax County, Va., have an opportunity to apply for a Housing Choice Voucher for the first time in more than a decade.” [Washington Post]
Praise for Local Student Newspaper — “The McLean High School newsmagazine – the Highlander – is quite good. So are some other student publications across the region, but the Highlander really stands out.” [Sun Gazette]
An outdated office building in northern Tysons could be replaced by a new mixed-use residential and commercial development called Hanover Tysons if its rezoning is approved early next year.
The new development would be located just west of Jones Branch Park at 1500 Westbranch Drive.
Currently, the site is occupied by a seven-story office building that was built in 1983 and is currently vacant. Redevelopment of the parcel would also require rezoning, and is scheduled for a Planning Commission hearing in February 2019, with a Board of Supervisors hearing in March.
The new residential building would be between 5-7 stories with 350-400 dwelling units. Portions of the ground level along Jones Branch Drive would be designed to accommodate retail and service uses. In keeping with Fairfax County’s efforts to promote more affordable housing around Tysons, 20 percent of the residential units, or 66 of the potential 400 units, would be workforce housing.
“Approval and construction of the proposed Hanover Tysons development will continue the implementation of the Tysons vision by converting a suburban-style office building into a lively residential community and help address the current imbalance between those who work and live in Tysons,” wrote Elizabeth Baker, senior land use planner for the law group filing on behalf of developer Hanover Co., in the application. “Provision of on-site workforce housing will promote Tysons as a community for all.”
The development would also bring street improvements to Jones Branch Drive and Westbranch Drive, widening them to allow parallel parking spaces, bike lanes, and streetscape improvements.
In addition to streetscape improvements, the application also includes new public and private parks for recreational use. The public park would add 1.12 acres of gardens, trees, walking paths and outdoor seating. The private amenity space would include a new swimming pool.
As we reported last week, senior housing can be hard to come by in Tysons.
Where it is available, outside of public-private partnerships like the recently opened The Fallstead, most of that housing is expensive. But there are senior living options around Tysons and planned for the area, and a few of them are on the affordable side of the spectrum.
One of the largest projects on the horizon is The Mather, a senior living facility projected to open in 2022 at 7901 Westpark Drive in Tysons. The Mather is a proposed facility from Mather LifeWays, a Chicago-based organization. The Mather would feature large floor-plans with one and two bedroom options, with pricing starting at $650,000.
Priority reservations are currently being accepted for the facility, with early reservations allowing priority in selecting apartments and securing pre-construction prices at the cost of a refundable $1,000 deposit.
On the more affordable side, there are a few options in the Tysons area with options for lower-income residents.
- Chesterbrook Residences — A not-for-profit senior living facility founded by three local religious communities. Chesterbrook Residences offers housing based on a sliding income scale, and residents who can no longer cover the cost of their housing are eligible to receive support from the Chesterbrook Continuing Care Fund. Apartment types vary in size and include apartments adapted for residents with disabilities.
- The Fallstead — A senior living facility recently opened at Lewinsville Center. The facility was built as a partnership between Fairfax County, affordable housing developer Wesley Housing Development Corporation and Hamel Builders.
- Vinson Hall Retirement Community — A retirement community offering independent living, assisted living, long term care and memory care options. Vinson Hall is open to commissioned military officers of all branches of service or their immediate families, or federal employees with intelligence of national security related departments rated GS-14 or above. A non-profit organization supporting the facility offers financial support for residents.
There are also a variety of more conventional for-profit senior facilities. Most of the housing prices are not available online and dependent on the level of care required.
- Larmax Homes McLean — Assisted living homes in McLean with services benefitting residents with dementia, Parkinson’s, and other chronic ailments. Larmax operates three homes along Lewinsville Road in McLean.
- Sunrise of McLean — An international senior living operator based out of McLean. Sunrise of McLean offers assisted living, memory care, hospice, and short-term care options.
- Tysons Towers Apartments — A senior living facility with apartments. The facility is full but a waiting list is available online.
- Tysons Woods — Assisted living homes with private bedrooms with shared bathrooms and common areas. Tysons Woods includes medical care like on-call nurses, therapy, and care specializing in dementia.
- Vienna Manor Assisted Living — Three assisted living facilities throughout the Vienna area, these are facilities with private bedrooms and shared common areas.
Even The Fallstead’s biggest proponents admitted there were times it looked like the 82-unit affordable housing complex for seniors was never going to open.
But yesterday (Thursday), after over a decade of planning and struggling to find funding, The Fallstead at Lewinsville Center in McLean opened its doors at 1609 Great Falls Street to the public.
The Fallstead is an independent senior living community, with 72 one-bedroom and 10 two-bedroom rental units available to persons 62 years of age or older with a household income at or below 50 percent of area median income (AMI). Of those units, 10 percent are fully accessible for individuals with mobility impairments and two percent are accessible for individuals with vision and hearing impairments.
In addition, the complex also has amenities like a fitness center, a library, a community garden and more.
The Fallstead is a result of public-private partnerships between the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and Wesley Hamel Lewinsville LLC, itself a partnership between Wesley Housing Development Corporation and Hamel Builders.
“It was a dream, and at times a nightmare, but we’re here,” said Supervisor John Foust. “We’ve been looking forward to this for a long time. It’s been a very long journey.”
Foust said for years, the cost of redeveloping the parcel of land owned by Fairfax County into an affordable housing facility was not considered feasible. But Foust said that changed as the County looked into developing it as a public-private partnership.
“In McLean it can be a challenge for [older] citizens to find housing,” said Foust. “That need is only growing.”
At the grand opening, guests, neighbors, and new residents were led on a tour of the facility.
“It’s wonderful to have this finished,” said Jan Auerbach, a nearby resident. “These 82 units are terrific, and we need more, but I can’t complain.”
Auerbach and many other visitors said they were excited for the Lewisville Senior Center currently under construction behind The Fallstead. The Lewisville Senior Center is scheduled for completion in Spring 2019.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Mark Finks, a nearby resident. “There’s been years of talk, now it’s finally here. After all the noise and dirt, it’s great to come here and see it. It looks nice and there’s such a need for it in our community.”
Aurora Singletary is scheduled to move into the The Fallstead soon and said she was delighted to walk around and look at the facility.
“It feels really great to be here,” said Singletary. “My daughter drove by in February and saw the ad for senior housing… When I came in, I thought it was absolutely beautiful. I won’t even have to take the bus to work out, it will be right here near the courtyard.”
Singletary moved to the area recently from Portland. She said one of her favorite things about the facility — apparently in contrast to her previous housing arrangement in the Pacific Northwest — is the fact that it doesn’t reek of marijuana in every room.
Affordable housing in Tysons is different than the rest of Fairfax County.
Affordable housing across the rest of Fairfax County, and much of the region, is grouped into apartment complexes with units set aside to cater to those at the lowest income levels. But in Tysons, affordable housing is filling the new high-rises.
Abdi Hamud from Fairfax County’s Affordable and Workforce Dwelling Units Program met with the Tysons Regional Chamber of Commerce earlier today (Friday) to explain the state of affordable housing in Tysons.
Starting in 2010, the Board of Supervisors adopted a policy that would create workforce dwelling units (WDU) in the mid- and high-rise buildings except from other local affordable housing programs.
In total, there are nearly 500 total WDU in Tysons, according to Hamud.
On the rental side, the WDU program covers area median incomes (AMI) at a broader level than other affordable housing programs. The cost of living in Tysons often exceeds the AMI. While Fairfax’s primary affordable dwelling unit (ADU) program serves those at 50 or 70 percent of the AMI, in Tysons the WDU covers incomes from 60 percent through 120 percent.
At least 20 percent of the rental units inside the new mid and high-rise apartments in Tysons must be WDU, with specific percents broken up by income brackets.
- Two percent of all units must be accessible to those at 60 percent of AMI
- Three percent of all units must be accessible to those at 70 percent of AMI
- The remaining 15 percent of WDU units must be broken equally into 80 percent, 100 percent and 120 percent of AMI
A policy is also in place for WDU in units that are for sale, but Hamud said there haven’t been any yet and none are planned for the near future.
Hamud said one of the largest problems facing Fairfax is the demand for affordable housing far exceeding the supply. According to Hamud, other affordable housing waitlists in Fairfax and across the state are so full they are being closed. But in Tysons, with new projects constantly in development, Hamud said the waiting lists are substantially shorter and easier to access.
Even with this affordable housing program, Larry Rockwell from The Arc of Northern Virginia noted that “affordable housing” can still be too expensive for many living in the area.
The Arc helps support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, many of whom Rockwell said struggle to find affordable housing because the stigma of disabilities leaves higher paying work inaccessible to them. With the expenses many people with intellectual and developmental disabilities face, or for students getting started in the workforce with loan payments, even the affordable housing in Tysons can exceed the advised 30 percent of a salary that should go to housing.
Still, in a region with rents of $2,000 or $3,000 per month, Hamud said it’s important to have tools available to try and help the new workforce of Tysons find a place to live. The county is currently looking at what has been working with the WDU program and what hasn’t, he said.
Friday: Affordable Housing Discussion — “Join as we host Abdi Hamud from Fairfax County’s Affordable and Workforce Dwelling Units Program at this month’s meeting. Abdi will facilitate a roundtable discussion about affordable housing in Fairfax County and more specifically in Tysons.” [Tysons Chamber of Commerce]