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Manassas City Hall

A rezoning to add more housing near downtown Manassas is moving forward.

At a meeting earlier this month, the city’s Planning Commission unanimously recommended the approval of a 233-unit proposed development near Osbourn High School and the Georgetown South neighborhood.

The plans have been scaled back slightly from when the project was first brought to city staff by Van Metre Homes, but the proposal that will go before City Council next month would bring 126 back-to-back townhomes, 97 single-family attached units and 10 single-family detached homes to the 17.5-acre property on the east side of Grant Avenue.

Next month, the council will hold a public hearing and ultimately vote on the rezoning, which would change the land from a single-family residential designation to the city’s designation for downtown mixed-use development. The property is bounded by Grant Avenue to its west and Sandalwood Drive to the south and is across from the city’s Public Safety Facility under construction.

Matt Arcieri, the city’s community development director, said the Planning Commission requested that Van Metre provide extensive notice of the project to the tenants in the 20 existing rental units that will be replaced by the development.

“There was concern for displacement of the existing residents,” Arcieri told InsideNoVa. “The displacement issue has become a big issue for the Planning Commission especially, but in general making sure that we’re providing as much notice to tenants as possible … to help them find new places.”

In its first iteration, Van Metre’s proposal included an apartment building that would have included affordable units, but members of the council’s Land Use Committee – including council members Mark Wolfe and Tom Osina – expressed concerns about the project’s scale.

The city is reviewing its zoning designations in an effort to improve opportunities for homeownership and increase the amount of affordable housing. One of the measures being explored would loosen restrictions to allow more units to be built at a greater density, whether affordable or market rate. The hope is that if the city can boost its housing supply to better match demand, rising prices will level off. The Grant Avenue project would also be a short walk from the Virginia Railway Express station, where city and regional officials want more housing to be built.

A traffic analysis this spring said that the project would not create a “significant burden” on area roads. The section of Grant Avenue from Wellington Road to Lee Avenue is being redesigned to one travel lane in each direction with turn lanes to make it more pedestrian-friendly and to enhance its appearance. The work will also add a planted median and additional trees along Grant, as well as a traffic circle at Bartow and Byrd streets.

Van Metre isn’t offering any proffers for city schools. The staff report says that the development projects to add 104 public school students. Van Metre is offering to donate 1.67 acres of the property next to Baldwin Park to the city as more parkland.

Jared Foretek covers the Manassas area and regional news across Northern Virginia. Reach him at jforetek@insidenova.com

Reporter

Jared Foretek covers Prince William County Public Schools, the city of Manassas and transportation news across Northern Virginia. Reach him at jforetek@insidenova.com

(1) comment

Allen Muchnick

Sadly, this proposed townhouse farm at a prime underdeveloped parcel, just south of downtown Manassas and the VRE station, is a lost opportunity to create a truly livable, transit-oriented, mixed-income neighborhood near the heart of Manassas.

Regrettably, the developer voluntarily scrapped the two best features of the original proposal--a mixed-income apartment building on Grant Avenue and a series of missing-middle multiplex buildings along Main Street--because of some off-the-comments made by a couple of City Council members at a Land Use Committee meeting, prior to any public hearings.

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