A mixed-use downtown development being constructed on the site of the former post office is a major part of the ongoing development in Fairfax. The project, called Old Town Village, will include more than 100,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and office space, and residential condominiums with a public plaza in the center of it all. The pedestrian-friendly village will be a stone’s throw from the new Fairfax City Regional Library, which is also currently under construction at the corner of North Street and Old Lee Highway. When the new library is complete, the current library on Route 123 will be torn down and developed into at least 80 upscale residential condominium units. Old Town Village will also include a 700-space public parking garage. The project is set for completion sometime in 2007 and according to city councilmembers, it won’t undermine the small town feel of the city.
Construction and Renovation
The new police station, behind the John C. Wood building, 3730 Old Lee Highway, is scheduled for completion in October 2006. The police will move into the building at the end of October, provided everything goes as planned. The City Hall Expansion is scheduled for completion in November, and around the same time some City Hall departments will temporarily move into the John C. Wood building while the old City Hall building is renovated. That process should take about five months, after which staff will move back into the old City Hall building, and the John C. Wood site will be demolished to make room for more visitor parking and landscaping at the new police station. The construction costs of these two projects is about $20 million.
Traffic passing through Fairfax remains a City Council concern. The possible construction of a recreational facility near Mosby Woods has some residents worried that the multi-field facility would create more traffic than the area can handle. Residents in the area have also expressed their concern for multi-use condominiums proposed near Mosby Woods, partly because of traffic issues, but mainly because they would like to see the land preserved as open space.
As part of the redevelopment of Old Town Fairfax, traffic will become two-way on Main and North streets in early August, with turn lanes onto Route 123, University Drive, East Street and Old Lee Highway. New sidewalks, crosswalks and curb ramps on Main and North streets, as well as the widening of North and East streets, were part of the construction projects set for completion in the fall. The street plans are available on the city’s Web site, at http://www.fairfaxva.gov
Parking in Old Town
Redevelopment and road construction in Old Town has shifted some of the parking options there, but parking availability remains ample throughout the downtown area. City Council purchased the Amoco lot, at 10367 Main St., at the July 11 meeting as a temporary parking solution in Old Town. Once the new parking garage is finished, council said they will likely sell the lot back to developers.
Half of the Webb parking lot, on the southwest corner of North Street and University Drive, will turn into a construction site in August. The other half will still remain a free parking lot, and parking will still be available in the lot behind Old Town Hall. The newly constructed right lane of North Street will now offer at least 20 on-street parking spaces during evening hours only. Daytime parking will still be available in the Sager Avenue lot at University Drive, the George Mason Square lot at Old Lee Highway and North Street and in the Bank of America lot at North and Main streets.
W.T. Woodson High School, Fairfax High School and Lanier Middle School are all undergoing extensive renovations, all of which have been in the planning stages for years. Crews broke ground at the schools this year for Woodson and Lanier, and last year at Fairfax High School.
Parking lots for both Fairfax High and Lanier Middle Schools are set for completion by the start of the 2006-07 school year. Fairfax High School crews have assured the asbestos removal, which began in June, is in accordance with state and federal regulations, and would not pose a threat to crews, students, faculty or the neighboring communities. The completion date for the school’s renovation project is set for the fall of 2007.
Woodson High School’s project bid came in $20 million over budget, so the contract will be re-bid in September. A groundbreaking ceremony was took place June, even though the actual construction will not begin until October. School Board members assure the 2009 completion date will not be affected, even though the project will begin at least three months later than scheduled.
Lanier Middle School’s construction began in March, with the construction of temporary exits, a temporary bus entrance and the start of the new addition, staircase, electric room and mechanical spaces. By the end of the calendar year, three new quads will be installed, renovations of the second story along Bevan Drive and the auditorium will begin, the new front parking lot and Kiss & Ride will be available and the temporary exits of science classrooms will be removed, all of which will complete phase one of the project.
The issue of open space has come up in recent months, alongside what some residents say is an overdevelopment phenomenon in the city. In the city's Land Use Plan, open space is divided into three categories. The first, recreation, includes lands used primarily for active recreation. The "preservation" category is reserved for lands that the city plans to keep in a natural state, to the best extent possible. The "conservation" category mainly includes lands used for visual buffering and passive recreation. Councilmembers are in the process of determining if an open space referendum should be included on the November ballot, in order to better serve the community and provide a clear and consistent position on open space land acquisitions. An ordinance in the form of a bond referendum or a resolution in the form of an advisory referendum should be adopted by council prior to their August recess.
MetroWest on The Way
In March 2006, the Board of Supervisors approved a plan which will put a mini urban area on about 56 acres just south of the Vienna-Fairfax-GMU Metro Station. The development, known as MetroWest, will include about 2,250 residences (townhouses and condo/apartments), 100,000 square feet of retail space, and 300,000 square feet of office space.
After years of discussion, and vehement opposition from a group of citizens, the board agreed to allow the developer Pulte to build in an area that had contained about 60 houses.
Citizens were opposed to the impact on traffic, schools and parks, all of which are crowded.
The developer agreed to a series of methods to try and mitigate the impact the development will have, including an aggressive plan to try and reduce residential traffic by 47 percent from what would be expected and office-related traffic by 25 percent.
After the March approval, Pulte must now go through an administrative process needed to secure the necessary permits for beginning construction.
This process will likely take about a year, with the first townhouses available in early 2008 . Once construction begins, Pulte expects to take 10 years or more to complete the whole development.
The Fairfax Boulevard Business Improvement District (BID) was established in the summer of 2005 to give the area, which is the city's economic engine, a collective voice. Since then, the BID has formed a board of directors, the Fairfax Boulevard Partnership, to ensure the commercial corridor will continue to be a viable business district. City businesses created the BID to also encourage revitalization and to give consumers and residents a better way to identify the business district. Several City Council members have said they will encourage more mixed-use development along the boulevard, to prevent high density condominiums from taking over and adding to the already congested road system. The Master Plan Committee, within the partnership, is currently working on a plan of guidelines for future developments along the corridor.