A 14-acre parking lot will soon become a center where people can live and shop. The Board of Supervisors on Monday, Dec. 4 approved a plan from Trammel Crow residential to redevelop the parking lot next to the Dunn Loring Metro Station.
"We are seeing Merrifield come into being," said Supervisor Linda Smyth (D-Providence).
The plan calls for building a 2,000-space parking garage next to the station, an increase of 645 spaces over the current lot.
Then along Prosperity Avenue and Gallows Road, a mixed use complex will rise. The plan is not yet finalized, said Mark Looney, attorney for the developer. It may include a series of mid-rise buildings with ground floor retail, or a portion of the site may be a high-rise. The result will be between 550 and 720 residential units, and up to 125,000 square feet of retail space.
The development will include a 500-square-foot satellite police office, which Looney said would likely be used by officers on bicycles.
Eight percent of the housing units will be allocated for affordable housing. Up to five percent could be included in the county's Affordable Dwelling Unit program, which would restrict the units to people who make 70 percent or less of the Area Median Income.
The rest of the units — up to the eight percent — will be reserved for people making up to 80 percent.
The proposal generally conforms with the vision for the property of the Merrifield task force, which developed its recommendations a few years ago.
The developers are promising that their project will generate half as many rush-hour car trips as would be expected of a development of its size. This is the largest trip reduction promised in Fairfax County to date, according to the Department of Planning and Zoning.
ACTIVISTS PRAISED Trammel Crow for their willingness to engage with the community.
There was some discussion about school money. Trammel Crow has pledged to pay the standard rate of $7,500 per projected student. They have also committed to pay more, if the county adjusts its formula for schools.
The plan calls for the money to go to "schools that any students generated by the residential buildings will attend."
The wording of the commitment had some residents concerned that the schools most impacted would not get the money.
They wanted specific schools — Stenwood Elementary, Kilmer Middle and Marshall High — to be named in the school commitment.
"We are the schools taking the brunt of the impact of this development," said Laurie Baker, president of Kilmer's PTA.
Board chair Gerry Connolly (D) said that would be too restrictive. While the commitment is developed by the Board of Supervisors, the money will be spent by the School Board.
Connolly said that although those three schools are the one set to feel the impact today, the School Board might adjust the boundaries. if that happened, the money would be obligated to those schools, while the students could go someplace else.
"We put in language that says it has to follow the kids," Connolly said.
Now the proposal will need to be reviewed by county engineers, a process that typically takes about a year. Looney said Trammel Crow hopes to begin construction in early 2008. Depending on which configuration is built, new residents could move in as early as the middle of 2009.