Commission Recommends Approval of Dulles Parkway Center

Commission Recommends Approval of Dulles Parkway Center

Commissioners praised mixed-use application for innovative design, commercial element.

A third mixed-use development proposal along the Dulles Greenway took its next step toward approval Monday night. During its June 4 work session, the Planning Commission forwarded the Dulles Parkway Center II to the Board of Supervisors with a recommendation of approval.

"I think this is a good project, I really do," Commissioner John H. Elgin (Leesburg) said. "It is not an easy piece of property, and what they’ve done with it is pretty darn good."

MILLER AND SMITH has applied to rezone approximately 40.25 acres along the southwest side of the Dulles Greenway and north of Loudoun County Parkway from an office park and industrial park to a transit-related center, to develop a pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use community. Included in the development is up to 600,000 square feet of office and retail uses and up to 624 multi-family homes. The planned residential units would be up to five stories and some buildings developed with residential over commercial businesses.

"As the application stands right now, it is a good use," Colleen Gillis Snow, an attorney with Cooley Godward representing Miller and Smith, said. "It would not be high-rise towers."

THE PROPOSED development would join the Moorefield Station and Loudoun Station developments being constructed around a proposed Metrorail stop for Dulles rail. The anticipated rail stop caused staff to request a higher density for the application, up to 50 units per acre. Many commissioners, however, said they could not support such a dense development.

"I don’t believe rail is going to happen," Commissioner Suzanne Volpe (Sugarland Run) said. "I would rather see those buildings go up and those jobs there. It is better to get mortar on the ground and the buildings built and those people employed."

One building on the site is being left at the office park zoning and Miller and Smith said they already have a buyer for the building.

"The site plan is done for that building," William C. May, vice president of Miller and Smith, said. "We are good to go on the commercial. The residential would then follow."

In a development built around the promise of rail, the Dulles Parkway Center project will be phased to follow the available transportation. The first phase will be developed for car access, the second phase density would require bus transportation. The final phase would only come when there is rail available.

IN DEVELOPING a transit-related center, Miller and Smith will be required to come back before the Planning Commission to get approval of its final design and architecture. Commissioners were split on whether they would have the ability to make any significant changes to the design plan during the second evaluation.

"If we don’t tighten some things down now, what are we going to be able to work with next time?" Commissioner Nancy Doane (Catoctin) asked.

During the next phase, the commission will have to approve both the final proffer agreement and also a list of design guidelines.

"It’s an ‘and,’ not an ‘or,’" Vice Chairman Teresa White Whitmore (Potomac) said.

BEFORE GRANTING their recommendation, commissioners praised Miller and Smith representatives, both for their amicable work with members of the planning staff and the uniqueness of the application.

"I like the doing the two over two [buildings] in the curved section," Volpe said. "This is something different. It will give someone a different housing option, where young urban professionals or the young family with their first baby on the way are going to be able to buy something."

The Dulles Parkway Center will also be the first application in the area to break ground and begin construction, bringing the community’s commercial development before the residential component. Commissioners asked for an update on the design guidelines before the next phase comes before the commission for a recommendation.

"Your project is going to set the tone for that area," Commissioner Nancy Hsu (Blue Ridge) said.