A proposed Tysons development might be the right thing for a spot now occupied by low-rise commercial buildings, but the applicant should resubmit the proposal after making several improvements, McLean Citizens Association board members said July 1.
The applicant, jrs@tysons LLC, is applying to Fairfax County to rezone 1.1 acres at 8130 Watson St. to allow for development of a 26-story, up-to-270-foot-tall building with between 220 and 244 residential units. The building would have a base height of 225 feet, plus an extra 45 feet for providing 20 percent of the units as workforce housing, either on-site or elsewhere.
The structure would have 301,314 square feet of gross floor area, including 3,000 square feet of ground-floor retail, plus 3.5 levels of below-grade parking that could accommodate about 325 vehicles.
The MCA board faulted the applicant for not consolidating the site with adjacent properties to meet the county’s 10-acre minimum for such a development in Tysons. The developer had not provided sufficient justification for its request to have only two loading docks, half the required number, they said.
The MCA board also was unhappy about the developer’s request for an additional 30-foot-tall parapet to screen the building’s rooftop mechanical equipment from view. The county’s usual limit for such parapets is 3 feet.
“There can be flexibility, but there must be greater conformance” with county zoning rules, said Scott Spitzer, chairman of MCA’s Planning and Zoning Committee.
The applicant is free to redevelop the site under the pre-2010 Tysons comprehensive plan, which would allow floor-area ratio of 2.5, said MCA president Robert Jackson.
But board member Kent Holland said that section of central Tysons currently is a “dead zone” and an “eyesore.” The applicant, who for years might not be able to consolidate nearby parcels, has proposed to construct an attractive building, he said.
“I wouldn’t want to see somebody develop a building to the old standards anymore,” Holland said. “Why should one neighbor prevent Tysons from getting . . . a building that’s more in keeping with the current comprehensive plan?”
The board, on a 31-5 vote with three abstentions, approved a resolution calling for the developer to resubmit the application as part of a plan with other surrounding property owners to ensure more efficient land usage and the provision of adequate parks and open space.
MCA’s resolution also asks the developer to try to comply better with the county’s requirements for lot size, loading docks and parapet heights, and be more specific with the location of planned workforce-housing units, whether on the property or off-site.
Finally, the resolution asked the applicant to make school-proffer contributions of $12,262 per expected student when the site plan or first building permit is approved, rather than when the county issues the first residential-use permit. Doing so would be consistent with what developers of other projects in central Tysons have done and would help relieve school overcrowding, the resolution read.
The Fairfax County Planning Commission is slated to hold a public hearing on the application July 29.
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