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Homes, Retail Proposed for Metro Parking Lot

Developer would build commuter parking garage with 500 extra spaces at Dunn Loring station.

Dunn Loring and Merrifield residents got their first look last month at a proposal to build residential and commercial buildings on the Dunn Loring Metro station parking lot. The plan, put forward by Maryland developer Trammel Crow, would also include a new parking structure to replace the existing park-and-ride lot, which would boost the total number of spaces from 1,355 to 1,855.

Some residents, however, said that the additional 500 Metro parking spaces were not enough. They also took Metro to task for not publicizing other development plans for the site.

"The bottom line is that in my opinion I think the 500 [spaces] is probably not enough," said Ken Quincy, president of the Dunn Loring Woods Civic Association.

ALREADY, SOME drivers who can't find a spot at the Dunn Loring parking lot are leasing spaces from new surrounding office buildings across the street from the Metro. When those office buildings fill up with tenants, commuters will have to find a new place to park, meaning that the additional 500 spaces Trammel Crow plans on building won't be available for long.

"We already have parking by Metro riders in our neighborhoods," Quincy said.

With several new developments completed in Dunn Loring and several more on the way, Quincy said he was worried about traffic gridlock.

"How much more can Gallows Road handle going to and from Tysons?" he asked. "That question is always raised, especially where there's additional development proposed."

Supervisor Linda Smyth (D-Providence), who represents the area on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, said Trammel Crow's proposal "looked like it had possibilities."

"At this point they would have to go through the whole rezoning process," she said. "They're going to work it over and work out all the details. Sometimes things can change dramatically through the rezoning process."

Ashvani Chuchra, a Trammel Crow executive, also said that the plan was in its infancy.

"We were just seeing what the citizens had to say," he said. "We were just getting their feedback."

Chuchra declined to give details on the proposal.

But at last month's presentation, Chuchra and other Trammel Crow executives unveiled drawings showing a mixed-use development with about 720 residential units and 80,000 square feet of retail, including a grocery store, something residents say is needed.

THE DEVELOPMENT is being proposed through a Metro program that lets private builders lease or buy Metro-owned property adjacent to stations.

Part of the rules for the program, which has been used to develop several stations including Courthouse and Gallery Place, require that any developer interested in building on Metro property get input from the surrounding community before approaching Metro officials, said Rosalyn Doggett, Metro's senior development specialist. In this case, however, several developers have come to the transit agency with proposals, while only one, Trammel Crow, has briefed neighbors.

Doggett would not say how many proposals for the Dunn Loring site have been received, but Smyth estimated that the agency had seen four proposals.

"To the best of my knowledge there have not been presentations by the other proposers," said Doggett. "They certainly were given an opportunity for involvement in the case of this one proposal."

That has some in the surrounding neighborhoods upset.

"[Metro officials] were reluctant to talk about the other proposals," said Denise Rodgers, board member of the Dunn Loring Village Homeowners Association. "It does not seem that anyone is interested in what the neighborhood wants."

"If there's going to be development there, we'd like it to be the best we can get, and there's no way to evaluate that," she added.

DISCUSSIONS ABOUT the future of the Dunn Loring Metro parking lot have struck a nerve among some in the area. In 2000, a proposal to build a minor league baseball stadium on the site was abandoned after strong community opposition.

Supervisor Dana Kauffman (D-Lee), who represents Fairfax County on the Metro board, said he expected the Metro board to vote on the proposal at its April 15 meeting.

He said he had not seen other development proposals for the site and that Metro staff had recommended adoption of the Trammel Crow plan.

"The principal thing that was mentioned to us is that what the community really wanted is a grocery store, and this would allow that to take place," said Kauffman.

He added that the Metro board takes the community's response into account when deciding what to develop near Metro stations. At the same time, he said, "one thing we're looking at is a dollar return for a very limited resource, and the second thing that's being looked at is does it enhance Metro ridership?"