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Kings Crossing Inching Closer

New plans are seen as encouraging signs of both sides.

With the unveiling of the latest plans by JPI Development Company, Spring Bank Community Association members came several steps closer Monday night to realizing the Kings Crossing development they have been fighting nearly a year to achieve.

But, there is still farther to go before an agreement is reached between the community, JPI and Mount Vernon District Supervisor Gerald Hyland. "We are trying to build a consensus among the community," said Gregg Lamb, senior vice president, JPI of Vienna.

Both Lamb and David Paul, a local director of Archon, the Dallas, Texas-based company that owns the 11-acre site now occupied by Michaels and Chuck E Cheese on Route 1, assured the audience assembled at Groveton Baptist Church they had "worked very hard to satisfy the demands of the community and Supervisor Hyland."

ONE OF THOSE demands was the ratio of residential development to commercial development on the site. Hyland, the Spring Bank Community Association and the Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation want no less than 50 percent of the developed use be devoted to commercial/retail space.

As of Monday night, Lamb said, "We have incorporated approximately 220,000 square feet of retail/commercial development. This amounts to 15 percent to 16 percent of the total space. Hyland said he needs us to add more commercial space."

Hyland agreed that, "The sticking point is still the ratio of commercial to residential." He said, "We have come down considerably from our original desires. But, I told them [Lamb and Paul] we are still looking for a minimum of 25 percent commercial/retail."

That was conveyed to JPI and Archon during a meeting held the afternoon of May 4 in Hyland's office with David Dale, president, Spring Bank Community Association, and Lee District Supervisor Dana Kauffman, present. It was followed by a meeting that evening of the Kings Crossing Small Group task force in Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation's offices.

"I think we are coming closer to what the community wants but we still have a ways to go. They still want to do as much residential development as possible. We have cut our expectations in half. They need to come up to that," Hyland said.

However, during the association meeting, Paul warned, "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. We think this plan goes a long way to creating a true town center."

SOME HIGHLIGHTS of the latest design include:

* Two 14-story condominium towers that will have retail/commercial on the ground floor with 13 stories of residential above and underground parking, located near the front of the property. These were particularly important to the Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation to provide identifying "signature" structures. They also introduce concrete building material to the development that previously featured all wood construction.

* A 130-room, all suite, 65,000-square-foot hotel at the front of the property facing Route 1. It will also have retail on the first floor and a pool several levels up, according to Lamb. The retail space will account for an additional 35,000 square feet.

* A multi-level parking garage to serve the two high rise 340 unit apartment structures. Tenants will be able to park on the same level as their living unit, Lamb said.

* Along Route 1 frontage will be an additional "30,000 to 60,000 square feet of high end retail space." When asked why there was not more green space along Route 1, Lamb said, "Fairfax County planners do not want green space along Route 1."

* At the rear of the property, which abuts another potential development site known as the Fairchild Property, is a large open space area which contains a County Resource Protection Area. A large park is now planned as a passive recreation area for that parcel. It will be accessible from the Kings Crossing development as well as Spring Bank Community area, according to Lamb. Preservation of that open space has been a goal of the Spring Bank Community Association prior to presentation of the initial Kings Crossing development plans. Originally, those plans called for additional townhouses to be located on the site as a border to the open space area. That was characterized by association member Martin Tillett as a "deal breaker." They have been removed.

As for the original design of primarily townhouse type development over the majority of the site that remains unchanged. However, the acquisition of the mobile home community on Shields Avenue has changed the residential/commercial ration, according to Lamb.

"When you add the land from the mobile home park site to the equation we are actually hurting ourselves in the residential/commercial percentage. That is because it hurts the percentage of residential to commercial development," Lamb said.

"We are still working with the owner of the mobile home park. But, there is no signed contract," he said. Dale, suggested that the Spring Bank Community Association join the meeting of the mobile home residents' association next Monday night to address mutual concerns.

Lamb added, "When land from the mobile home site is added to the Kings Crossing site, it gave us more options and provides for better circulation throughout the entire project." The mobile home site is to the north of the Kings Crossing site.

One of the primary stumbling blocks in Archon's acquisition of the mobile home site is the sum to be paid to mobile home owners for relocation or acquisition. When asked about this, Paul said, "This would be premature since no firm deal has been made on the site at this time."

The site is owned by Robert Epps not by the individual mobile home owners. As acknowledged by Jerry Ireland, president, mobile home owners association, United Voice of Kings Crossing, during their initial meeting, "Epps is not required to compensate us at all."

That potential, and the amount agreed upon, rests with the new owner of the mobile home site. There are a number of variables to be considered depending on individual circumstances, according to Ireland.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Dale suggested Spring Bank Community Association representatives join the United Voice of Kings Crossing meeting next Monday night to discuss mutual concerns and review the latest JPI plan. Lamb concluded with the acknowledgment that JPI has not, as yet, submitted its overall design plan to the county planning staff.