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Building Plan Is OK'd

Fairfax Towne Center will get more condos, retail.

When more retail stores, plus condos, are added to the Fairfax Towne Center, this popular shopping center off West Ox Road in Fair Oaks will have a dramatic new look. A new, five-story building will arise on what's now a back parking lot between the movie theater and Baja Fresh.

The 203,800-square-foot structure will contain 184,000 square feet of residential use — 169 condos and eight affordable dwelling units (ADUs) — on four floors, over 19,800 square feet of ground-floor retail. A pool, gym, terraces, walkways, seating areas, underground parking and landscaping are also planned.

THE FAIRFAX County Board of Supervisors paved the way for these changes, May 1, when it approved the proposal by the developer, Lincoln Property Co. Previously, the county Planning Commission had given the project its own thumbs-up on March 16.

County staff favored the idea because it'll be less intense and will generate less traffic than the two, 11-story office buildings originally proposed for that site — and which could be built there by right. But earlier, residents of the Fairmont Condominiums, behind that parking lot, objected to the plan.

They decried the loss of parking spaces, since their own community has a serious shortage of spaces for its residents. And they asked the developer to earmark some spots especially for them.

They said traffic entering and exiting the shopping center via West Ox Road would worsen, as would traffic on Monument Court, which serves their homes. Ajay Batra, condo association president, said residents worried that shoppers would enter their private area on Monument Court to bypass the West Ox entrance en route to the shopping center's parking garage.

According to the county zoning ordinance, it's illegal to provide off-site parking for residential use in a commercial district. So Lincoln Property couldn't accommodate the residents' request for their own parking spaces.

HOWEVER, at the March 16 Planning Commission meeting, four new proffers were added to help mitigate some of the project's adverse impacts upon the Fairmont Condominium residents. Lincoln agreed to either do speed bumps on Monument Court or install an automatically generated gate that would be lowered to keep nonresidents out of Monument Court.

The developer must also establish a written plan explaining how it will control construction traffic, debris maintenance and dust and provide a copy to the construction liaison, the condo association president and McConnell's office.

Furthermore, Lincoln will erect a sign along Monument Court directing shoppers, as well as residents of the new building, toward the residential garage, the retail garage or the retail surface parking lot. It must also put up a sign near the eastern entrance of Monument Court, notifying the public that the Fairmont Condominiums are private property.

Lincoln has also agreed to build an 8-foot-wide trail along the northern portion of the site and paint a new crosswalk to connect with an existing crosswalk at Bed, Bath and Beyond. And it will contribute money for additional trails in the Springfield District. It will also erect a sign along the trail to be constructed in the western portion of the site, directing pedestrians to enter the shopping center to access trails along West Ox Road and Monument Drive.

In addition, Lincoln will contribute $127,500 to the county Board of Supervisors for use at schools serving the property. It will also contribute $530 per market-rate unit to the county Park Authority for improvements to Ox Hill Battlefield Park.