Project near Dunn Loring Metro clears a procedural hurdle

Fairfax County Planning Commission members on Dec. 9, 2020, recommended that county supervisors approve a requested rezoning by Merrilee Ventures LC, which would replace an existing office building in Merrifield with a multi-family residential mixed-use building.

Fairfax County Planning Commission members on Dec. 9 unanimously supported plans by Merrilee Ventures LC to build a multi-family residential building near the Dunn Loring Metro Station.

The Board of Supervisors is slated to decide Jan. 26 whether to rezone the 2-acre site from medium-intensity industrial to the planned residential mixed-use to accommodate the proposal.

The property is located at 2722 Merrilee Drive and is within the Merrifield Suburban Center, Dunn Loring Transit Station Area and Merrifield Revitalization Area.

Merrilee Ventures LC would raze an existing three-story, 57,255-square-foot office building at the site and build a seven-story, 85-foot-tall building with a maximum of 235,000 square feet of gross floor area, said Planning commission member Phillip Niedzielski-Eichner (Providence District).

There would be five stories containing up to 239 multi-family residential units, which would be set atop two and a half stories of above-grade parking and arrayed around a central courtyard. Residents would have access to private indoor and outdoor amenity spaces, plus a dog park.

The development also would have a maximum of 3,875 square feet of retail space. The application’s floor-area ratio, which compares the amount of built square footage with that of the property, would be a relatively high 2.7.  This amount would include a 20-percent bonus for providing workforce housing, Niedzielski-Eichner said.

Publicly accessible parks and open spaces also would be available at the site and there would be expanded streetscaping along Merrilee Drive. The developer’s proposal still does not meet urban-park standards under  the Merrifield Comprehensive Plan, but the applicant has committed to making a good-faith effort to find off-site property that could fulfill that obligation, Niedzielski-Eichner said.

If the applicant cannot acquire and improve at least 0.45 acres of off-site, publicly accessible urban-park space, it will contribute $500,000 to the Fairfax County Park Authority for the future acquisition and development of park resources within the Merrifield Suburban Center, he said.

Planning Commission members also approved a follow-on motion from Niedzielski-Eichner that recommended the Board of Supervisors direct county staff to identify specific planning objectives and potential new mechanisms that could help implement the urban-park vision for Merrifield.

The developer on Dec. 9 responded to questions raised at an earlier Planning Commission public hearing about the site’s parking and stormwater drainage. The 2-acre site now basically is all paved and the new development would provide stormwater improvements, said Greg Riegle, an attorney for the applicant.

“We’re going to be effectively raising the bar by bringing the application and the property into conformance with current stormwater-management requirements,” he said.

Riegle said concerns about parking may have stemmed from an influx of cars at the site, resulting from overflow parking at the Metro station or merely people who did not wish to pay for the station’s parking.

The developer would provide adequate parking for the site’s retail uses and pursue fewer residential spaces, which is in keeping with established county policies near Metro stations, Riegle said.

The applicant also clearly will divide the property’s 264 residential parking spaces from the 30 allotted to retail parking. All parking would be accessible from a private street.

“We are consciously parking [the development] at code to make sure there is no overflow impact to the community,” Riegle said.

The application, if approved, would continue Merrifield’s evolution, Niedzielski-Eichner said.

“This project represents the next exciting revitalization opportunity in Merrifield and continues the important process of realizing the comprehensive plan’s vision for this area by closing the development gap between the Dunn Loring Transit Station Area and the Mosaic District,” he said.

[Sun Gazette Newspapers provides content to, but otherwise is unaffiliated with, InsideNoVa or Rappahannock Media LLC.]

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