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Council Chooses Developer for Old Town

City taps Trammell Crow Company, Walnut Street Development and J. Donegan Company to makeover two downtown, city-owned sites.

Taking a step further to make the dream for Old Town Fairfax become a reality, the Fairfax City Council decided Tuesday to choose the development team of Trammell Crow Company, Walnut Street Development and J. Donegan Company to create a retail, commerce and residential development on two city-owned parcels of land in Old Town Fairfax.

"I don't know how to put into words the momentous occasion this is," said Fairfax mayor Rob Lederer, before the council unanimously adopted the motion to enter into an agreement with the development team.

If the process goes smoothly, construction in downtown could begin as early as fall 2004.

While discussions to redevelop downtown waxed and waned over 25 years among the council and the downtown business community, the process started rolling again earlier this spring when the city asked for requests for qualifications (RFQs) to develop the North Street Parking Lot and the Logan-Sipan site, where the post office is currently located. A new post office facility is due to open in January 2004 on Page Avenue.

In July, the council picked nine finalists among the submissions before whittling it down to four.

The agreement passed by the council gives the city and the Trammell Crow development team 120 days to discuss in detail their development plans, looking at size and scale among other factors. Simultaneously, the team will start a site plan for the project.

They will also negotiate with Fairfax County to relocate the Fairfax City Regional Library from Chain Bridge Road to the North Street lot.

Although the final site plan may differ from their RFQ, the Trammell Crow team's plan called for 90,000 square feet of retail, 40,000 square feet of office space, and 60 condominiums, with buildings between 2.5 and 3.5 stories. The plan called for constructing condominiums in the library’s former space. The plan also includes an open-air plaza and fountain.

"It's my hope, as we move forward, that this project reflect the core of Fairfax," Lederer said.

Crediting former mayor John Mason, city staff and past councils, each council member spoke of the responsibility the city has of seeing the project through.

"Let me say, we aren't done yet. This is the first step," said council member Jeff Greenfield.

"It's been a very busy year for the three of us that are new," said council member Patrice Winter, referring to herself and council members Joan Cross and Gail Lyon. "I implore the patience of citizens as we live through this change ... I know the finished product will be stellar."