Another OK for Ridgewood

Another OK for Ridgewood

Mixed-Use development needs county's approval.

Shops, restaurants, homes, offices — and completion of a critical section of road — could all become reality here in the not-too-distant future. All that's needed now is Fairfax County's approval of the rezoning needed for the Ridgewood mixed-use project.

IT ALREADY made progress toward that end last Tuesday, March 7, when the Springfield District/Fairfax Center Land-Use Committee gave it a thumbs up. It had earlier recommended reducing the project's density and the developer complied.

Vienna-based KSI Services Inc. is developing Ridgewood and envisions an active, mixed-use community balanced with retail and office uses, plus landscaped open space for community use. It would be built at the northwest intersection of Waples Mill Road and Lee Highway, near Ridge Top Road in Fairfax.

Proposed on an 18-acre site are 152,400 square feet of offices — with an option to add 50,000 square feet more, 32,100 square feet of retail and 491 residential units. The homes will be high-quality condominiums for sale, rather than rent, and will be about 1,300 square feet each.

One residential building will be seven or eight stories high, and another will feature some 20,000 square feet of the retail uses, with condos on the second floor. There'll also be ADUs (affordable dwelling units) for "workforce housing" — people with incomes just slightly higher than what's required to qualify for an ADU.

Parking for the offices will be in a parking garage, and residential parking will be under a central plaza so none of the vehicles will be visible from the outside. The developer will also build a crucial portion of Government Center Parkway between Monument Drive and Waples Mill Road.

First, though the project needs both a rezoning and an amendment to the county's Comprehensive Plan. So far, it's received one and is on its way to the other.

Since this area was originally designated for office and industrial use, it required an out-of-turn plan amendment to delete the industrial component and add an option for residential and retail use. On Feb. 22, the county Planning Commission approved this plan amendment, and the Board of Supervisors did likewise on Feb. 27.

Planning Commission Chairman Pete Murphy added some language to the amendment so KSI would "address the traffic generation from that site with Traffic Demand Management (TDM) techniques." He said TDMs contain guidance on how to discourage single-occupancy vehicles and encourage van- and carpools.

MURPHY ALSO added language to expand the project's pedestrian-friendly nature by adding things such as bus shelters. He said he and Supervisor Elaine McConnell (R-Springfield) hope to get more Connector buses in the Fairfax Center area. Said Murphy: "As we become more urbanized, we need more bus service."

And because the road improvement is so important to this area, the Planning Commissioners put in language ensuring that the extension of Government Center Parkway from Monument Drive to Waples Mill would be done during the first phase of development.

As for the rezoning, the property is currently zoned I-5 (industrial), but it needs to be rezoned to a "P" (planned) district. The Planning Commission public hearing on the rezoning is set for May 3.

Murphy, who also represents the Springfield District in which this development would be built, is pleased about what Ridgewood could mean to this area. He called the road extension a "tremendous public benefit" and a "big plus for the community and the county."

And since the site has historic significance as a former German prisoner-of-war camp, the developer will erect a commemorative marker, as well.