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Town Center Inching Closer to Reality?

Kings Crossing on Route 1 being eyed for development.

The creation of a Town Center at Kings Crossing on Route 1 has taken on new life with increased interest from potential developers.

That is the assessment of both Mount Vernon District supervisor Gerald W. Hyland (D) and the Southeast Fairfax Development Corp. (SEFDC). "Everything is now up for grabs as to what Kings Crossing will look like, since the VDOT [Virginia Department of Transportation] proposal is off the table," Hyland said.

At a recent meeting of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, Hyland noted, "For many years, SEFDC and the Department of Housing and Community Development have been working together to find a way to bring the Town Center vision to reality. Recently, serious interest has been shown to implement the vision in accordance with both the county's and the community's wishes."

Hyland further advised the Board, "During a recent meeting, it became apparent that action on an alternative intersection plan for the site is needed sooner, rather than later. Now that Kmart has rejected its lease rights on this property, we anticipate that a redevelopment of this 19-acre site will necessitate an alternative intersection design ... in order for quality redevelopment proposals to move forward."

THERE WAS A meeting in Hyland's office early in July that included a potential developer and SEFDC. At that time an offer was discussed "on two substantial pieces of the Kings Crossing site," according to Hyland. Since then, Becky Witzman, SEFDC director, verified that other potential developers have expressed interest. "However, we are a couple of weeks away from any actual contract," she said.

"We are now at a point to have a charette between all the interested parties including interested potential developers," Hyland suggested. "This is an opportunity to have two parcels developed."

After scrapping VDOT's separated-grade-crossing proposal at Kings Crossing, a more pedestrian/development-friendly design was suggested by SEFDC and the Mount Vernon Council of Citizens Association (MVCCA). According to Earl Flanagan, Mount Vernon Transportation Committee chairman, it is the one most likely to become reality, if and when a design concept is put forth.

That design creates a circle effect with Richmond Highway flowing beneath the circle, and the north and south branches of Kings Highway flowing above. "This is far more pedestrian-friendly," Flanagan said. It also is far more development-friendly, according to others.

HYLAND NOTED at the Board of Supervisors meeting, "Both Supervisor {Dana] Kauffman [Lee District] and I have been strong proponents of creating a Town Center ... at the location known as Kings Crossing. Accordingly, Supervisor Kauffman and I move that the Board authorize a portion of the remaining bond funds originally approved by Fairfax County citizens in the 1988 Referendum to employ a consultant."

According to the motion, the consultant would be charged with creating "a functional plan for intersection improvements that both considers revitalization initiatives for Kings Crossing as well as VDOT's objectives."

It also specified, "This plan should take into account three or four alternatives for trip generation resulting from a variety of land use mixes such as a 50/50 retail/residential mix, as well as other possible configurations."

Following that Board meeting and the adoption of the motion, Hyland emphasized, "Now the issue is for the owners to sell the property."