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Votes

Fannon Property To Become Townhouse Condos

First 2006 Planning Commission meeting stirs no controversy

One of the last remaining quasi-industrial sites in the Old and Historic District of Old Town is about to transition to 58 townhouse-style condominiums.

The new condos will include one level of underground parking and various open space configurations.

Bounded by South Payne, South West and Duke streets, the 68,000 square foot site presently contains four buildings, the most notable housing Fannon Petroleum, giving it its name as "The Fannon Property." The other structures contain a vehicle repair and storage facility and a Thrifty Car Rental office.

At their first meeting of 2006 on Tuesday night, Alexandria Planning Commission gave their unanimous approval to the development site plan request by Van Metre Residential Investments, to bring the plot in line with the goals of the Master Plan. However, the Fannon Petroleum office building, located on the east portion of the site will remain.

Commissioner H. Stewart Dunn Jr. asked where the Fannon trucks would be housed.

Fannon will relocate its petroleum distribution to Gainesville and "the trucks will operate from there," said attorney Catherine M. Puskar, representing the applicant. Only administrative functions will remain in Alexandria.

WHEN THE PROJECT was originally proposed there was concern that the townhouse-style condominium design would bring about more density as opposed to individual townhouses or single family dwellings. However, Jeffrey Farner, division chief, Planning and Zoning Department, assured the Commission this was not the case.

"We did a very detailed analysis with the developer. They are not gaining additional density. The real benefit of the townhouse style condos is to get a lot more open space on the site," he said.

In addition to "complementing the surrounding residential uses" in the area, staff cited pedestrian improvements, redevelopment of an industrial site, environmental remediation and creation of ground level open space as advantages of the development.

Puskar noted that the developer met with the Old Town Civic Association, Southwest Quadrant Association and the Old Town Village Owners Association to explain their plans and gain their support. The only concerns raised were by the residents of Old Town Village, which abuts the site immediately to the south, pertaining to ingress and egress to their residences.

"During construction parking must be eliminated on South West Street or we will not be able to get into our homes," said Robert Hardiman, president of the Old Town Village Owners Association.

In a letter to the Commission dated Sept. 29, 2005, Hardiman wrote that Van Metre met their concerns by proposing to add a third lane to South West Street.

"The third lane would allow four-to-five cars to be in a left turn lane from South West Street into the development while concurrently allowing four to five cars to go straight ahead or make a left turn onto Duke Street." It would also provide a left turn lane onto Duke Street.

Emily Baker, city engineer with the Transportation and Environmental Services Administration, told the commission, that parking would be eliminated prior to construction.

Planning Commission Chairman Eric Wagner said, the commission would make a strong recommendation to planning and zoning staff that this happens.

Puskar also announced that her client had agreed to make a $170,500 contribution to the Affordable Housing Fund based on the net square feet of the project. Prior to the vote, Dunn said the project was good and "what we want to see in the city."

THE 58 UNITS will be contained within four multi-family buildings. Units will consist of two and three bedrooms, ranging in size from 1,200 to 1,900 square feet. All buildings are oriented to face the adjoining streets and are interspersed with open space in the form of external yards, internal courtyards and public open spaces.

A 50-foot building will contain 40 condominium units comprised of 28 two-bedroom and 12 three-bedroom units. Three "townhouse-style" buildings will be divided into six three-bedroom units each. These will wrap the northern portion of the site along Duke, West and Payne streets.

Parking for the entire project will be located in a one level underground garage. There will be 134 on-site spaces, including two spaces for each unit. Additionally, 18 visitor-parking spaces will be provided at both grade and below grade. This meets the 15 percent requirement for visitor spaces.

All parking will be eliminated on West Street along the project to accommodate the additional third traffic lane. Lost spaces on West Street will be recouped by the elimination of four curb cuts on Payne Street, thereby adding spaces in that location.

IN OTHER ACTION, the commission:

* Approved a Special Use Permit proposal by Ace Temporaries, Inc. for the operation of a day labor agency at 444 Swann Ave., Unit D, a one story industrial building fronting on Jefferson Davis Highway. Ace Temporaries has operated a day labor facility in the City for the past 11 years. It is presently located at 717 Pendleton St. The Del Ray Citizens Association has approved the proposal based on the applicant meeting all conditions. The commission imposed a six- and 12-month review condition on approving the Special Use Permit.

* Approved a Special Use Permit request by La Tasca, Inc., to locate a full restaurant and bar with live entertainment in the present site of Founders Restaurant and Brewing Company at 605-607 King St. La Tasca plans to renovate the existing restaurant to offer "Spanish cuisine and tapas." In addition there will be "Spanish music and Flamenco dancing exhibitions, occurring on select nights of the week," according to the staff report. Staff also noted, "Noise levels will comply with code requirements." The applicant has also submitted an application to the Board of Architectural Review since the property is within the Old and Historic District and they have applied for new signage. The number of seats will be reduced from the present restaurant use. The hours of operation will remain the same and are "consistent with other King Street restaurants," according to staff.