The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Monday approved a request by Beazer Homes Corp. to build 259 residential units on Nutley Street near the Vienna/Fairfax Metro station. The 10-acre site had originally been intended for 305,500 square feet of office space, but the sluggish commercial real estate market made it difficult to generate interest among developers despite the area's proximity to the Metro station.
The project would be part of the Hunters Branch development and would place a five-story building with a swimming pool and clubhouse on the site. The project would also feature an underground, two-story parking garage holding 415 spaces. About seven of the 10 acres would remain as open space.
"It's been many years coming, but I think we're going to finish off Hunters Branch," said Supervisor Linda Smyth (D-Providence) before the Board's vote.
THIS APPLICATION is not the first to convert planned office space into residential developments near the Vienna/Fairfax Metro station. Smyth said that county plans originally called for about 1.2 million square feet of office space on the south side of the station but that only between 400,000 and 450,000 square feet of office ended up being built.
"The rest was converted," said Smyth.
She also said she had received a letter from residents of the neighboring community in support of the project.
"We believe that this is going to be a great use to complete Hunters Branch and add more ridership to the nearby Vienna Metro station," said Elizabeth Baker, a planner for Walsh Colucci, who is representing the developer.
County staff had originally opposed the project, saying the building was too large and was situated too close to the neighboring community, but it endorsed the project after the developer agreed to revise the application.
THE HUNTERS BRANCH project is close to the site of the proposed Fairlee/MetroWest development, which has stirred controversy among nearby residents. That proposal would place 2,350 residences as well as offices and retail immediately south of the Metro station. Some in the neighborhood have said that adding new housing units would worsen the area's traffic problem, despite the proximity of the Metro station.
Another development application would place over 1,300 homes in the Poplar Terrace area.
"I think it's really important to just keep in mind that a lot of commercial could have been built and is not going to be built, particularly as we look at other developments in the area," said Board chairman Gerry Connolly (D).
With all the development projects, "we get real close to about 4,000 units," said Will Elliott, a neighborhood activist, who is a member of a group called “FairGrowth.” "And if in each of those units you have an average of, let's say, 2.75 inhabitants, which I think is the going rate, you get close to 10,000 people, or two-thirds of the entire town if Vienna."