Another step along the ever-expanding path leading to the development of Kings Crossing was taken Monday night when JPI, the development company, unveiled their latest plot plan for members of the Spring Bank Community Association. It added two new parcels and changed the balance of some previously planned mixed uses.
Gregg Lamb, senior vice president, JPI of Vienna, undertook a one-hour slide presentation to explain changes that have been made to their original concept. He also revealed JPI now has a contract on the land occupied by a mobile home park abutting Shields Avenue as well the service station and MacDonalds that front on Richmond Highway.
"We're not here tonight to say we are done. This is a very fluid process and there will be further developments and refinements," Lamb told the more an 60 people assembled Groveton Baptist Church.
As for the mobile home park, Lamb said, "We have put a contract on the mobile home site. But there is a chance we will not be able to control that. However, you will see that tonight's plan shows that plot as well as the service station and MacDonald's properties as now part of the total development."
Lamb also clarified the standing of the properties fronting on Richmond Highway to the south of the Michaels/Chuck-E-Cheese primary site which now contains three eateries. He contended that each of these establishments has a long term lease which makes it difficult to buy them out.
BUT, AS ONE SBCA resident pointed out, "The Roy Rogers at the Federal Realty development in Hybla Valley was bought out and they had a 20-year lease." Lamb offered no rebuttal.
In commencing his presentation, Lamb reviewed the goals of the project since its outset as viewed by JPI, SBCA and Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation (SFDC). In referring to the joint meetings between JPI and a small task force of residents convening under the aegis of SFDC, Lamb said, "Our job as a task force and JPI was to take this land and develop it."
The land under discussion is the 11-plus acre plot that now holds Michaels Arts and Crafts and Chuck-E-Cheese. It is bounded by Route 1 and another plot, known as the Fairchild site, on the west and east and Shields Avenue and Fairvew Drive on the north and south. It also contains a County Resource Protection Area (RPA) immediately behind Michaels.
JPI's updated plans call for approximately 140,000 square feet of retail space, including 55,000 square feet of upscale grocery store development with internal parking. Lamb cited the example of a mixed use grocery/condominium project now being constructed on Duke Street in Alexandria.
"We would stack residential on top of the retail space at ground level. There would be approximately four stories over the retail space," he said.
ANOTHER CHANGE was the addition of green space along Richmond Highway. The plot of 80 feet by 200 feet could be utilized for such community activities as a farmers market, flea market or other purposes, according to Lamb.
Other changes from the design unveiled in September included:
* The addition of 10 acres overall
* Increasing retail space from 16,500 square feet to 140,000 square feet
* Increasing the number of apartments from 284 to 364 and condominiums from 300 to 316
* Increasing townhomes to 90
* Increasing retail pads from three to five
* The creation of a defined park area in the location of the RPA
"EVERYONE AGREES that the RPA should be a park. The difference is the type of park. Our plans meet the letter of the law but there are some refinements," said David Paul, local director of the Dallas, Texas-based Archon Corporation, owners of the Michael's property.
When it came to the discussion of how much office space was anticipated Lamb said, "Our studies show that first class office space in this area is not economically feasible. As you get farther away from Metro, office space drops in priority as a best use of space."
This was countered by SBCA member Martin Tillett. "Fairfax County has designated the Route 1 corridor as a revitalization district. We see office space as an essential part of this development to bring people to the area to use the retail facilities. If there are no people here during the day and at the lunch hour what's going to happen to those retail and commercial businesses?" Tillett said.
"We don't feel Fairfax County has done their part in getting offices into this area. We need to put more pressure on Fairfax County to get offices here," he said.
Becky Witsman, executive director, SFDC, said, "We do have two projects along the Route 1 corridor that are very successful office space projects. There are more significant projects along the Route 1 corridor than most people realize."
TURNING TO THE POSSIBLE acquisition of the mobile home site, Lamb said, "This site is now under intense study. This has added to the total cost of the overall project. But, the mobile home park is only under contract. We have not purchased it."
When asked how the residents of the mobile home park would be dealt with if and when JPI/Archon does purchase the site, Lamb said, "We think it is premature to talk about relocating those people at this point in time."
He said, "What the mobile home park does is enable us to spread out and develop more commercial space. The overall density of the total project is basically the same except that the residential has been reduced and the commercial space has been increased."
When asked about JPI's rumored offers to purchase homes on Fairview Drive, Lamb said, "We have contacted some home owners. But, there has been no agreement with any home owner. We do not view this as critical to the overall project."
He also said, "We are so focused on making this project work that we have not made any subsequent offers to buy any of those homes. The original discussions were some weeks ago and nothing has happened since then."
Following Lamb's presentation and questions from the audience, David Dale, president, SBCA, closed the meeting to all except members of the association and representatives of SFDC. "We want to discuss among ourselves what we have heard here tonight so we can come to the next small task force meeting with some ideas," Dale said.
That next task force meeting is scheduled for Jan. 27 at SFDC offices.
"There was a lot of discussion among the residents after the presentation but there were no conclusions. We hope to have more in-depth discussions at the upcoming task force meeting," Witsman said.
"The community had a number of questions about the new plot plan and JPI's proposals. But, there were no votes taken. If any consensus came out of the session it was that they want still more information," said Richard F. "Rick" Neel, chair, SFDC.