Project For Dunn Loring Is Approved
Tuesday, December 5, 2006
A development of up to 720 apartments and stores on a 15-acre parking lot at the Dunn Loring-Merrifield Metro station won unanimous approval yesterday from the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.
The project at the busy Orange Line station would help reshape a business district with a prime location near Interstate 66, the Capital Beltway and two other highways. Merrifield is trying to turn around its image as a hodgepodge of storage companies, auto-body shops, dry cleaners and carwashes without a there there. Trammell Crow Residential pledged to contribute a sense of place as it joins a new Marriott Hotel, apartment tower and condominiums across from the railway station and the town center under construction nearby.
It's the county's second effort to bring dense, urban-style living to its five Metro stations. Earlier this year, the supervisors approved construction of a massive, mixed-use community of residents, shoppers and office workers at the Vienna Metro station after a lengthy debate over whether that project, called MetroWest, would bring too much development.
"This is the closest I've seen to motherhood and apple pie," Supervisor T. Dana Kauffman (D-Lee) said of the Dunn Loring project, comparing it to Arlington County's Rosslyn-Ballston corridor.
Office workers will walk across Gallows Road to new towers rising there. Residents will live in three towers, one as high as 13 stories and the others six stories, set around trees, trails and a landscaped plaza.
The Metro station parking lot, now with 1,320 spaces and a Kiss and Ride area, will become a six-story parking garage on the I-66 side, with 2,000 spaces and stores underneath. About 1,150 additional underground parking spaces will be built beneath the apartments, said Mark Looney, an attorney for the developer.
The stores will occupy 125,000 square feet, he said, and a covered walkway will lead from the drop-off area to the station entrance. Trammel Crow pledged to limit car trips by new residents by enticing train riders to live there.
Several residents and activists praised the project in general terms but criticized the county for not specifying which schools would receive Trammel Crow's contribution to cover the influx of schoolchildren. They said the money could end up not actually going to the schools most affected by the project.
Board Chairman Gerald E. Connolly (D) dismissed this concern, saying that the county decided not to identify schools simply in case district lines are redrawn. The county would make sure that the money would follow the children from the development, he said.
Eight percent of the apartments will be set aside as "workforce" housing for county employees and for low-income residents, Looney said. The number prompted criticism from Supervisor Catherine Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill), who said she wanted more affordable apartments.
Hudgins said the county should settle on a countywide requirement for affordable units in high-rise buildings, rather than accept a developer's offer for each project.
"We need to say it is our commitment," she said. "Until we are able to quantify [a minimum], we should not be too excited about the number we receive."