Patient First Facility Heading to Fairfax

Patient First Facility Heading to Fairfax

Will also provide inter-parcel access to shopping center.

Artist’s rendition of the Patient First medical center planned for the City of Fairfax.

Artist’s rendition of the Patient First medical center planned for the City of Fairfax.

Patient First is opening a walk-in medical facility in the City of Fairfax. It got the go-ahead last Tuesday, Nov. 18, from the Fairfax City Council, following a public hearing.

According to Paul Nabti, senior planner with the City, it’ll be 7,078 square feet and be no more than 29 feet high. It will be constructed at 10,100 Fairfax Blvd., at the site of the existing Sunoco gas station and former 7-Eleven (now vacant) on the corner of Fairfax Boulevard and Plantation Parkway.

But first, the applicant, the Rebkee Co., had to obtain from the City a special-use permit for a medical-care facility in the C-2 Retail Commercial District. Special-use permits are also needed to allow access for a commercial use within the Highway Corridor Overlay District onto a local street leading to a residential neighborhood.

Rebkee also requested a special-exception permit to have a smaller area in front and to disturb land in a Resource Protection Area. Details were presented during two City Council work sessions and, again, last week.

“[City] staff doesn’t see significant problems with it,” said Nabti. “And the applicant proffered to allow for an inter-parcel connection to the Boulevard Marketplace Shopping Center.”

PATIENT FIRST offers both primary care and urgent care. It currently has 55 medical centers in three states and all of them are successful. This one would have 12 examining rooms, offices, an X-ray room, plus laboratory and reception areas. It would be open 365 days a year, from 8 a.m.-10 p.m., and have 10-12 staff members there at all times, including a physician.

Access to the facility would be via one point each on Fairfax Boulevard and Plantation Parkway. The use is also expected to serve an average of 120 patients a day and generate much less traffic than the gas station – which planned to close up shop there, anyway.

“This is a perfect site for this use,” said attorney Sarah Hall, representing the applicant. “And it will be the first Patient First in the City of Fairfax. We’re improving this site tremendously by only having two entrances, instead of [the current] five, and doing the inter-parcel connection. The utilities will be underground and the amount of impervious area in the Resource Protection Area will decrease tremendously. Instead, it will be planted with trees and shrubbery.”

The building will go on a 1.2-acre site and, said Hall, “There’ll be about a fourth of the traffic that Sunoco had. And we’ll dedicate 9,400 square feet to the city at the rear of the building where the Snyder Trail will be. We’ll have extensive and attractive landscaping, and the building architecture has been redesigned. This will be a textbook example of a medical facility, and we met with 50-60 people from [nearby] Mosby Woods, a few weeks ago.”

Councilman Michael DeMarco asked what came out of that meeting with the residents, and Hall said the applicant was able to correct some misimpressions they had of Patient First and its plans there. “We can do X-rays and physician care,” said Hall. “We’re not just flu shots and a quick in-and-out.”

Various citizens spoke during the public hearing, including Woo Suh, who said he’d never use it. He said it should move to a vacant lot elsewhere and noted that “over 400 people on Facebook signed a petition against it.”

Alan Glenn was disappointed that the Sunoco’s leaving and said additional traffic would come from the Boulevard Marketplace cut-through. Yet Mosby Woods resident Robert Matthews said he saw no reason to deny the application.

Attorney Steve Fox, who represents the 7-Eleven owner, said his client has been looking for a viable use for it and was “happy to find an option for the entire site.” Since that store was vacant for two years, it had been looted and vandalized. So, said Fox, “Patient first will be good for the City and I ask that it be approved.”

Resident Allen Griffith agreed. “With two empty lots, my neighbors and I were concerned – and the empty 7-Eleven is an eyesore,” he told the Council. “If this were not to pass, there’d be another proposal that could be less desirable. I think doctors and nurses make good neighbors. They’re quiet, they’ve reduced the number of curb cuts and I think the cut-through will be mainly used by Mosby Woods residents. I encourage you to pass this.”

Besides all that, added Hall, “The removal of the Sunoco station will also result in removing its underground [gasoline] tanks, which will be an environmental plus.” Regarding the inter-parcel access, Nabti said it’s recommended by the City’s Comprehensive Plan to improve connectivity and access to businesses and reduce traffic on collector roads. And it’s a condition of the Boulevard Marketplace contract that it be added when that property is redeveloped.

LOCAL TRAFFIC will be improved, said Nabti, because “Leaving just the last curb cut open on Plantation Parkway will allow nine cars to be stacked there, instead of two, as currently.”

Councilman Jeff Greenfield then moved to approve the Patient First, with Councilman David Meyer seconding. Greenfield was pleased with the building’s new design and the applicant’s willingness to reduce its number of signs from four to three. “This will bring well-paying jobs to the City,” said Greenfield. “And it will provide an option for people not wanting to spend five or six hours in a hospital emergency room.”

Councilwoman Ellie Schmidt noted that the doctors and nurses will spend money in Fairfax businesses and restaurants. And Councilwoman Janice Miller said the plan also “provides pedestrian access to a mailbox and extensive landscaping.” And she was pleased that the building façade will be brick and concrete, instead of white stucco as initially proposed.

Councilwoman Nancy Loftus said Patient First adds a “valuable and appreciated business to the City.” And DeMarco, who lives in Mosby Woods, agreed. “By right, we could potentially have a 15,000-square-foot office building or a 12,000-square-foot retail business there,” he said. “[But] this will be a low-intensity use and a better use.”

He said the sidewalks will be widened to 5 feet and a modern, stormwater- runoff method will be added. “We all ran on a platform of economic growth, and Patient First has an excellent track record,” said DeMarco. “It’s never closed a site in its 33-year history. There’ll be 60 employees – about 33 or 34 full-time. It’s appropriate for the Boulevard and I believe it’ll be an asset to the City.” The Council members then voted unanimously to approve it.