Merrifield Redevelopment Deferred

Merrifield Redevelopment Deferred

Old apartment building would be razed for a new one.

A plan to redevelop an apartment on Gallows Road near the Dunn Loring Metrostation was deferred by the Fairfax County Planning Commission during its July 15 meeting.

The site, just under an acre, is located at 2729 Gallows Road, about 1,000 feet from the Dunn Loring Metrostation. It is currently developed with a 16-unit apartment building built in 1965.

The property owner, Ying-Chung Chiang, wants to build a new building on the site. The new apartment building would be 50 feet tall and would have 30 apartments, two of which would be affordable housing units.

Technically, the building would not need to include affordable housing units. “It’s the right thing to do,” said Keith Martin, attorney for the owner.

The presence of affordable housing on the site does allow the building owner to include less open space in the project, however. The zone typically requires that 40 percent of the land be left as open space, but the affordable units reduce that requirement to 26 percent. The owner is providing 30 percent open space.

MANY OF the other properties in the vicinity of the station are undergoing a redevelopment in conjunction with the plan to revitalize the Merrifield area. Abutting properties are already under construction with new buildings.

“We’re sort of the out-of-character neighbor on the block,” said Martin. “This is much in conforming with the revitalization.”

“The proposed building would be in character,” said Rebecca Cate, chair of the Providence District Council.

Commissioner Ken Lawrence (Providence) noted some objections to the plan. The lot does not meet the minimum size required for the requested zone, Lawrence said. As a result, he said, the owner is not able to provide usable open space, recreation facilities or stormwater management. “The underlying problem is there’s not enough land,” he said.

The developer is therefore put in a difficult position. The only way that he could redevelop to the density he wants would be to consolidate his land with a neighboring property.

Most of his neighbors, however, are in a different subsection according to the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan, which makes consolidation difficult. Those properties that are in the same subsection are already being redeveloped, making the opportunity for consolidation unlikely.

Commission members seemed generally positive about the plan, noting that there are not many other opportunities for him to redevelop the building.

Commissioners also supported putting more residents within easy walking distance of Metro, especially since two of the units will be affordable. “That’s where we want the higher density, isn’t it?” said Commissioner Laurie Frost Wilson (At-large).

Lawrence hinted that he had planned to recommend denying the application for redevelopment, but he changed his mind during the public hearing.

“Enough questions have arisen tonight,” he said.

The commission voted unanimously to defer their decision to Sept. 22.