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Mixed-Use development Slated for Westfields

A multi-building, mixed-use project containing offices, hotels, retail and a restaurant in a pedestrian-friendly, "Shirlingtonesque" setting is planned for Westfields.

And representatives of the developer, BPG Properties of Reston, presented details Tuesday night to the West Fairfax County Citizens Association (WFCCA) Land-Use Committee.

THE PLAN involves nearly 100 acres in the northeast quadrant of Route 28 and Westfields Boulevard. The applicant is seeking the county's permission to rezone the property, explained attorney Mark Looney, "to allow us to come up with a different arrangement of the uses on it."

The now-vacant land is currently zoned I-3 industrial, he said, "which equates to about 2.2 million square feet of nonresidential uses that could be constructed on it today." And as is, BPG could proceed with a site plan without county approval, as long as it abides by the zoning-ordinance regulations for building placement, height and uses.

But, said Looney, that would mean that the buildings would be spread farther apart and wouldn't be within easy walking distance of each other. So the developer wants the land rezoned to Planned Development Commercial to free it from the original zoning under which Westfields was created and enable it to have taller buildings.

BPG already has site approval for the three office buildings closest to Sully Road, and the one in the middle is already under construction. Looney said restaurants or ground-floor retail can go there, and he expects the first office building to be occupied by the end of this year.

But the overall project could be configured better. "We want to concentrate these uses in a central location in a manner that's more pedestrian-friendly and walkable," said Looney.

Besides the three office buildings on the western side of the property, three more — two seven-story buildings and one nine-story building — are planned for the eastern edge. And the nine-floor office building would be above four levels of structured parking.

AND IN THE MIDDLE of the site would be two, two-story office and retail buildings leading to eight-story and four-story Westin hotels, one of which would be full-service. Uniting them would be an attractively landscaped pedestrian plaza and promenade with a freestanding restaurant at one end.

Looney said the retail businesses would serve both the local community and the building tenants, as well as the hotel guests. "The ground-floor retail area would have street parking, and the promenade would be very Shirlingtonesque," he said. "To the north, there'd be trails and benches and passive-recreation areas for the building tenants."

He said BPG would connect a trail coming through Flatlick Branch into the county's trail system and would dedicate the environmentally sensitive land of Flatlick Branch to the Park Authority to maintain. And noting that the project site is in a Water Supply Overlay District, Looney said BPG would slow the rate of water discharge off the property to what it is without this development.

Christian Chamber, BPG's vice president of development, said "green" or environmentally friendly roofs may be on the second and third office buildings.

Looney said BPG's also "working on some transportation-demand strategies to reduce the peak-hour traffic coming out of the development. Collectively, [the project] will be 1.42 million square feet — an 800,000-square-foot net reduction below what's currently permissible on this site today."

Therefore, said Looney, it would result in a 37-percent reduction in morning peak traffic and a 20-percent reduction in afternoon peak — plus an 8-10-percent average reduction in overall daily trips.

WFCCA's Ted Troscianecki was pleased that the site would be pedestrian-friendly, and WFCCA's Chris Terpak-Malm liked its orientation and the way things looked. "But I don't like a nine-story building in Westfields," she said. "It would be the tallest one there and, with the four levels of parking, it'll appear to be a 13-story building."

ARCHITECT MIKE HICKOK replied that "it's a tradeoff for us in either covering more land or building taller." Terpak-Malm also wondered whether the restaurant would get enough business on the weekends when the offices are closed, since it's set back on the site. And Looney said that "creating uses other than offices there, such as the hotels, will enable the retail and restaurant there to survive."

WFCCA's Scott Miller suggested a running trail circling the property, but Looney said BPG was only building part of a trail, and Hickok said pedestrian trails would crisscross the site. But Troscianecki there's no county money for the larger trail so it could be a long time in coming.

The proposal goes to the Planning Commission on March 29 and, said Chambers, "We'd like to be in construction with the hotels by the end of the year."