Redevelopment of Rose Hill Shopping Center Meets Opposition

Redevelopment of Rose Hill Shopping Center Meets Opposition

There is even a coalition against it.

Rose Hill Shopping Center has been meeting the community's needs since the 1960s.

Rose Hill Shopping Center has been meeting the community's needs since the 1960s. Photo by Mike Salmon.

The Fairfax County plan for the current shopping center at Rose Hill follows an age- old plan: out with the old, in with the new, and many residents of Rose Hill are opposed to it.

This winter, Combined Properties, the property owners, proposed a plan for the Rose Hill Shopping Center that entails residential over retail, four to six story buildings, a parking garage, a separate grocery store and up to 400 condominiums.

“The plan that was presented is out of character for our area,” said Liz Townsend, who lives within walking distance to the shopping center. She took part in the virtual presentation on Channel 16 that Supervisor Rodney Lusk (D-Franconia) had earlier this month, and noted that the Rose Hill portion of the presentation ended up very late in the call, after 10 p.m. Was that on purpose?, she questioned.

Townsend’s children attend Rose Hill Elementary School and Mark Twain Intermediate, and additional students would be too much, she said. “Twain is bursting at the seams,” she said. The only people on the call that were for the project did not live in the immediate area, she said, and noted the multi-cultural environment is already present in Rose Hill.

Tom and Gloria O'Neill live about 100 yards from the shopping center and feel the size and proposed four stories of condominiums will be too much. "Those in the planned four-to-six story buildings will have a bird’s eye view into our single story windows and yards," Tom said.

The Rose Hill Civic Association conducted a survey and in total, the survey results showed that a majority of the members oppose the proposal. Most liked the convenience of the current shopping center and disliked the outdated appearance. For the proposed development, a large percentage liked "nothing," about it and disliked the traffic it could attract and the increased density.

Jerry Collegeman worked at the barber shop in 1965 and walks to the shopping center on a regular basis and likes the closeness of it. “It’s real convenient for everybody around here,” he said.

Glenn Chappell saw the plans on his computer. “We use this pharmacy,” he said.

The coalition took a stance: "The Rose Hill VA Coalition was formed in response to the October 2022 application to change the zoning for the Rose Hill Shopping Center in Alexandria, VA, from strictly commercial to mixed-use residential," it stated on the website. The goals of the Coalition are to:

* Stop the approval of Combined Properties SSPA application.

* Support the 50+ businesses in Rose Hill Plaza that serve the community.

* Ensure the success of Rose Hill Plaza as a commercial center for community-oriented retail.

* Work with Combined Properties to make Rose Hill Plaza an asset (not a blight) for all stakeholders.

Combined Properties Own It

While the shopping center is part of the community and used by just about everybody in Rose Hill, Virginia Hills and Franconia, it is owned by Combined Properties, a private property owner, and they have followed the procedure the county has in place to seek approval for development like this proposal, the Site-Specific Plan Amendment (SSPA) Process

“The nominator is the property owner, Combined Properties. The proposal was submitted through the SSPA process and it is being reviewed for whether or not it should be included on the Comprehensive Plan amendment work program. The Planning Commission is scheduled to make a final recommendation on the Work Program on March 29, and the Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote on the work program on April 11,” said Leanna Hush O’Donnell, Director, Planning Division, Fairfax County Department of Planning and Development.

Supervisor Rodney Lusk (D-Franconia) recently had a meeting with homeowners to discuss it. A similar situation arose last year when the owners of another piece of land wanted to redevelop that as well, and many people spoke up and in the end, the original proposal was changed. “In acknowledgement of the number of concerns that my office received from the community, I felt it was necessary for Combined Properties to go back and continue discussions with residents in the communities surrounding the Rose Hill Shopping Center in order to better understand their concerns and make adjustments to the nomination based on that feedback,” Lusk said in a statement.

“We look forward to working with the surrounding communities to reach a similar outcome for the Rose Hill Shopping Center,” Lusk added.

After the Board of Supervisors vote on April 11, there will be a number of public information meetings and a public hearing before the project proposal can move forward.

The Rose Hill Civic Association survey said:

* 59% shop there on a weekly basis

* The grocery store is the most visited

* They disliked the store selection and rundown/outdated appearance

* A majority did not like anything about the proposed development

* Traffic/congestion/parking was the number one reason to dislike the proposal