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Votes

Caution in Route 1 Plan

Panel urges leaders to look at development in stages.

Those who have envisioned the Route 1 corridor as a booming office/retail complex need to look again.

According to findings by the technical assistance panel of the Washington, D.C.-based Urban Land Institute (ULI), the corridor has limited potential for mixed use.

The 11-member panel conducted a study on development for Route 1 at the Fairfax County Department of Housing and Community Development's request.

They released their findings during a meeting at the South County Government Center on Dec. 12.

ULI Panel chair Judith Meany, of Waterford-based Lozier Partners, cautioned against being overly optimistic on plans for the corridor.

"Route 1 is an area that has been neglected for years and has now started to be recognized by the market. Everything has to translate into real world marketability," Meany said.

Meghan M. Welsch, director of Community Outreach for ULI and project director for the study said there is a need for 20 percent more office space. The area might also be able to support more upscale retail.

"As an example, at Kings Crossing if more than that were built now it would probably sit vacant," Welsch said.

The panel reported that office development along the corridor should occur incrementally to include professional office development geared to smaller occupants such as doctors' and dentists' offices or small firms.

Other options to consider were high rise office complexes and personnel moving to the area due to the U.S. Department of Defense Base Realignment and Closure proceedings.

Instead of looking at the Route 1 corridor as a whole, the panel suggested developing it by locations, first considering the north end from the Beltway to Hybla Valley. Development could then go from the center area from Hybla Valley to the South County Government Center and later move on to the southern end from the South County Government Center to Fort Belvoir.

The panel reviewed briefing materials, toured the highway, and met with area stakeholders to make their determinations.

The report also suggested that Fairfax County work closely with the Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation, making the revitalization project a priority.