JPI Development Partners Inc. filed their request for a rezoning change on the Kings Crossing project May 23. In that application, they stated, "The applicant has worked with the community, the staff and the Mount Vernon and Lee District supervisors to include a significant retail component ...."
That was not the impression members of Spring Bank Community Association had at their meeting Monday night at Groveton Baptist Church. The entire meeting was devoted to fine-tuning a letter to be sent to JPI Senior Vice President Greg Lamb listing objections to the plan as submitted to Fairfax County. The county has only received the plan, not accepted it.
In the draft copy, David Dale, association president, stated, "I have not called for a vote on the plan yet ... however, as presented, it would not get community support." The primary concern is one that has plagued the proposed project since the outset — the ratio of retail/commercial to residential.
Both the association and Mount Vernon District Supervisor Gerald Hyland have pushed for at least 50 percent of the site to be devoted to retail/commercial development. Following the last meeting between the association and JPI, Hyland stated, "We have come down considerably from our original desires. But we are still looking for a minimum of 25 percent commercial/retail."
AFTER ANALYZING the application as submitted to the county, Dale presented figures to the association Monday night showing retail/commercial use at only 16.6 percent and residential at 83.4 percent. "We feel that at least 340,000 square feet of residential space should be converted to commercial, mostly as additional retail space," the draft copy stated.
"Evaluation by actual floor areas shows that there isn't enough retail to accommodate more than a handful of stores, and the configuration of that space is not suitable to larger stores. Much of the retail space is very shallow, only about 35 feet from front to rear," he wrote.
"We've tried to be very fair with these folks (JPI and Archon, owners of the property) all through this process. But, they haven't given anything back. They have consistently pushed it back to more residential use," said Jack Scott, an association member and professional architect.
"I feel very uncomfortable dealing with these folks. How do you negotiate with someone who is constantly trying to pull the wool over your eyes. I've never seen anything like this," Scott said.
"They shouldn't tell us the whole thing is their vision. This plan isn't even close to what we said we wanted over a year ago," said association member Martin Tillet.
That opinion was echoed by Jim Ernst. "They are not dealing with us in good faith. They never have been," he said.
SINCE THE PURCHASE of the original Richmond Highway 11-acre site containing Michaels and Chuck E. Cheese by Texas-based Archon, it has been the goal of the association, Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation and Hyland to have it developed as a retail/commercial gateway with no more than 50 percent residential use. JPI, the developers, and Archon have envisioned it as primarily residential with limited retail/commercial.
In his draft letter, Dale stated, "This (the application as submitted) does not have enough variety and quantity to be recognized as a retail destination; people won't think of Kings Crossing first when they head out for shopping, dining and errands."
The site planned for redevelopment has now grown to 33.25 acres. It consists of "all property that is available in this area for development" between "North Gateway and Penn Daw Community Business Center" on the east side of Richmond Highway, the application states.
Elements included in the 33.25 acres, approximately 1,448,216 square feet, are "an older neighborhood of single-family homes, a dated shopping center ... two restaurants and a fast food restaurant with drive-through ... a mobile home park ... the Fairchild property which consists of mostly Resource Protection Area ... and the Electric & Power Company property."
UNDER THE HEADING "The Proposed Development Plan," JPI states, "The applicant seeks to rezone the subject property ... to permit a mixed-use development that will include approximately 1,000 residential units ... approximately 200,565 square-feet of retail and/or hotel."
As for the residential units, it specifies, "77 single-family attached; 94 multi-family stacked; 492 four-story, multi-family with elevators and structured parking; and 337 high-rise multi-family." They are also proposing 41 affordable housing units.
"The proposal is for development consisting primarily of multiple-family residential development with a density of approximately 30 dwelling units per acre. The residential component of multiple-family dwellings comprises more than 50 percent of the total gross floor area in the development," the application states.
Dale's draft letter to Lamb stated, "The Spring Bank Community does not think that 135,565 square feet of retail, only 9.4 percent of the project, qualifies as "substantial retail" use. There is still way too much residential and not enough retail."
During the last meeting between the association and JPI/Archon, David Paul, Archon's local director, said, "If we have to go way up on commercial space that we believe is not the best use of the property then we are going to be
looking at what else could be done with this property."
As Dale concluded the session he stated, "This is still a work in progress." Members present voted to authorize sending the letter with modifications by the executive committee.