Carr Homes development company recently contracted for the Park Avenue Apartments land — adjacent to its Fortnightly Square construction site — allowing expansion of the high density development as originally planned by the town almost eight years ago.
"We have a contract on the property — we don't own it yet, but we will after the rezoning," said Tara Craven, land acquisition manager for Carr Homes on Dec. 14. "We hope to submit a rezoning application within the next week or so and ask for a PD-MU zoning."
Craven explained the current Fortnightly Square site is zoned PD-MU, or Planned Development - Mixed Use.
To match the proposed expansion to the current construction, Craven said the land needs to be rezoned to allow for the high density development.
In addition to rezoning the land, Craven said residents of the Park Avenue Apartments will have to be relocated.
"We will submit a relocation plan and we plan to work with the town to relocate the residents," she said.
"The county's housing authority and community development will assist to find suitable housing," said Dana Heiberg, senior planner for the town, adding the town relocated residents a few years ago in a similar situation.
"We will seek to require the developer to reach out and work with the county in the matter of creating a specific effort because we know it's a big challenge to find affordable housing in this area," he said explaining residents should have a suitable amount of time to relocate. "This is not a situation where they'll be caught with a short fuse."
ALMOST EIGHT YEARS ago the town developed the concept of the Fortnightly Square neighborhood — a high density, high-end mixed development of townhouses and condominium units that would connect the Harbor House, and soon-to-be developed senior center, through the new Fortnightly Boulevard to the Fortnightly Library and core downtown area.
"The town got with the Fairfax County Housing Authority," said council member Dennis Husch explaining the county purchased the land and then waited for the town to develop a building plan.
From there, Husch said the county took the town's proposal to developers for bids and went with the best offer — which came from Carr Homes.
"Everything we wanted in a major project [was included]," he said about the process.
Originally Husch said the Fortnightly Square development was denied because Carr Homes had decreased the density of the plans — something the town was adamant about.
"We accomplished exactly what we wanted to accomplish," he said about the process of creating a plan and finding a builder to develop it. "We built a quality project exactly the way the community wanted it."
Because the original town plan included the land where the Park Avenue Apartments stand — adjacent to the current construction — Husch said when the land owner declined the town's offer to buy the land they had to adjust the plan accordingly.
Currently the construction of 82 all-brick townhouses, two condominium complexes and six buildings are nearing the end of construction.
But, Husch said with the recent news of the Park Avenue Apartments land under contract, construction is not over and Carr Homes will have to come before the Planning Commission and Town Council again to begin construction at that property.
"The [Park Avenue Apartments] will be torn down and redone and additional up-scale townhouses will be added," he said, adding he estimates the whole project could be complete by 2007. "There won't be much by way of government process because they have already come through."
Although a set number of homes has not been decided for the new land, Craven said the development will be a combination of townhouses and condominium units.
Heiberg, head of the comprehensive plan section for the town, said development of the Park Avenue land was originally incorporated in the comprehensive plan and the developer never ruled out the possibility of a land acquisition.
"The plan has been left open — they have the street that starts to proceed in that direction," he said of current construction. "They definitely anticipated [the expansion] could happen."
ELIZABETH BAKER, land use planner for Walsh, Calucci, Emrich, Lubeley & Terpak — Carr Homes' agent — said on Dec. 10 the group planed to submit a rezoning application the week of Dec. 13 and move forward with the process from there.
Heiberg said the next steps will be for the town to review the application and work with the developer and county to relocate Park Avenue Apartment residents.
From there they will continue with the normal application process of presenting the proposed rezoning and future development plans to the planning commission and town council for their approval.
But, he emphasized, initially the most important thing is to find homes for the displaced Park Avenue Apartment residents.
"We'll deal with the details as they come," he said. "There is quite a bit of time with the rezoning and site plan approvals alone, so that should allot time for relocation assistance."
The attorney for the Park Avenue Apartments representing the building owner could not be reached for comment by publication deadline.