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PNC Tweaks Bank Proposal

In March, representatives of PNC Bank presented details of what they envisioned their proposed, new branch in Centreville would look like.

Since then, various county groups have weighed in with their suggestions, and the bank has adjusted its plans accordingly. Tuesday night, attorney Jason Heinberg explained the changes to the West Fairfax County Citizens Association (WFCCA) Land-Use Committee.

THE NEW PNC would be built at the corner of Route 29 and Braddock Road realigned, and its location, alone, caused the bank to change its usual design for the building. "This site is being considered for inclusion in Centreville's Historic District," said Heinberg. "So the company is proposing to break away from its traditional design to make it more consistent with the Historic District."

Currently there is a business that tints car windows so, he said, "This should be a great improvement. We met with the ARB [Architectural Review Board] last week, and they thought our building's functionality and the design of the site was very much improved."

Initially, PNC planned a two-story bank of 5,378 square feet. But it's now been reduced in size to 4,300 square feet, consistent with the county's Comprehensive Plan for this area. And that's important, because the bank needs Fairfax County's approval of a special-exception permit for its two, drive-through lanes.

A brick exterior was also proposed originally, but that's been changed to stone and Hardee plank siding to make it more compatible with the homes in the Historic District.

In addition, said Heinberg, "We eliminated the cupola on the building and extended the roof line all the way down the building to make it more of a 'shed' roof and more visually appealing. There's more even spacing of the windows, and we broke up the gabled roof."

THE SOUTHEAST CORNER of the site would feature a historical marker, but signage on the bank was removed from the northwest side so it wouldn't be seen from the Historic District. Entrances will be off both Route 29 and Braddock. And at county staff's request, there'll be an interparcel access to the historic Royal Oaks property just north of the bank.

The drive-throughs will be oriented to the rear of the building, said Heinberg, "to de-emphasize the auto-use nature of it — especially since it's the gateway to the Historic District." WFCCA Chairman Jim Katcham asked if there'd be a walk-up ATM and was told it'll be inside the bank's vestibule.

Since PNC has a deep sense of responsibility to the environment, it plans a building that'll use recyclable materials in its construction and make the best use of natural light. Said Heinberg: "We'll make it more environmentally friendly and reduce energy consumption by 40 percent."

Outside, PNC initially proposed a 4 1/2 to 5-foot, stone retaining wall on Route 29 to wrap around the site. Its height has now been reduced by a foot, and the wall will not be on the Braddock or Old Braddock sides of the building.

"And we've added a 5-foot-wide sidewalk between the drive-through lanes and the other side of Braddock Road at the entrance to the Historic District," said Heinberg. "We've also added crosswalks and an attractive array of landscaping around the periphery of the site. It's a big improvement over what's there now, and over our original proposal."

WFCCA's Carol Hawn agreed. "I like this," she said. "I commend the applicant. This looks really good; it'll conserve energy, but it'll fit in. We don't want the glass and steel, and I really appreciate PNC going above and beyond what they had to do. This is something I can drive by and be proud that the applicant worked with the community to come up with something nice."