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Votes

Mixed-Use Project Planned for Fair Lakes

The Peterson Cos. is proposing to construct a 10-story, multi-family building, a six-story office building and a four-level parking garage in Fair Lakes.

"Fair Lakes was zoned in 1984 for some 7.2 million square feet of development," said Jeff Saxe of The Peterson Cos. "This represents the last 260,000 or 270,000 square feet of development there."

He shared details of the proposal, on Tuesday, April 5, with the Springfield District/Fairfax Center Land-Use Committee. His company is seeking Fairfax County's permission to change 150,000 square feet in Fair Lakes from planned office use to residential.

Saxe noted that this variety of uses is projected to generate about 2,000 vehicles a day. And, he said, that figure represents 37 percent less trips than if that spot were developed as all office uses, as is currently the plan.

The 10-story condominium building would be 150,000 square feet and contain 123 residential units with parking underground. It would be located between the Hyatt Fair Lakes and an existing, 10-story office building, and two-bedroom units are expected to cost $300,000 to $350,000.

"In 1982, when the Comprehensive Plan was adopted, they wanted a ratio of 2-1 residential to commercial," said Saxe. "It's now 46 percent residential and 52 percent nonresidential. We think that adding this residential building between the hotel and office building is in conformance with the Comprehensive Plan to have a mixture of uses."

THE NEW OFFICE building would be 113,000 square feet on a spot that's now surface parking. "The four-story parking deck would replace it and would also contain the parking for the new office building," said Saxe.

The new office building would be compatible architecturally with the existing office building. "All the buildings would be oriented in an urban configuration, close to each other and to the streets, to facilitate walking," said Saxe.

The developer also plans to create a plaza between the residential area and the existing office area via specialty paving and planting. Another plaza would go between the new and old office buildings and possibly accommodate outdoor dining.

As for transportation, Saxe said that, as part of The Peterson Cos.' nearby East Market project, the developer will be changing the single left-turn lane from the Fair Lakes Parkway onto northbound West Ox Road into two left-turn lanes. And the lane turning right onto West Ox southbound from the Fair Lakes Parkway will be lengthened. In addition, a stoplight will be installed between West Ox and Fair Lakes Circle.

The developer has proffered monetary contributions to the county, equal to half of 1 percent of the sales price of each home, for affordable dwelling units (ADUs). It will pay $780 per home toward public schools and $484 per home to be used in Popes Head Park. If warranted, the developer will also erect a traffic signal and a bus shelter at the Fair Lakes Circle entrance to the land bay.

"Fair Lakes is a 660-acre, mixed-use assemblage that's evolved very nicely, over time," said attorney Frank McDermott, representing Peterson. "It has a good balance of ratio between office, commercial and residential [uses]."

He said Fair Lakes already has a shuttle-bus system connecting all of it to the Vienna/Fairfax Metro Station and other areas. He also stressed that Fair Lakes has more than 2 million square feet of office uses and is adjacent to many more millions of square feet of offices.

Therefore, said McDermott, "This is a perfect location" [to add more residential]. Residents will be in walking distance of offices and retail, so there's tremendous connectivity."

LAND-USE committee member Steve Wallace was concerned that the new project might adversely affect traffic emanating from it onto the Fair Lakes Parkway. McDermott replied that, "Coming from Fair Lakes Circle onto the Fair Lakes Parkway, there's both a right turn and through traffic — and it's a lane-marking problem that we're trying to fix."

Concerned about all the weekend traffic already heading to the Fair Lakes Shopping Center, land-use Chairman Mark Cummings said, "Somehow, we need to fix Fair Lakes Parkway — especially as it hits West Ox." Saxe answered that the turn-lane changes will help.

Bill Mayland, representing county staff, said Peterson's proposal deletes a 60,000-square-foot office building and a bank proposed by the county for that spot and "we'd like to see [this office space] remain. In staff's opinion, this is a bad location for residential. We'd like to see it built elsewhere — for example, where the Comprehensive Plan recommends approval in the Fairfax Center area."

But McDermott said that proposed office building "has been sitting there unused for 10 years and, with another office building next door, it's obsolete. And we're coming in with a 113,000-square-foot office building."

Committee members Claudette Ward and Gail Brugger liked the new plan.

"This is perfectly appropriate. People could walk to offices and retail," said Ward.

Member Fred Bailey was concerned about the condo building being located between a tall office building and a hotel.

But McDermott said it would overlook the hotel's retail and meeting-room area.

"We love the idea of an urbane setting where people could walk next door to the hotel for brunch or for Starbucks [coffee] within the hotel," said Saxe.

The committee then approved the proposal, 6-1.