The Fairfax County planning staff and members of the county planning commission are supporting construction of 17- to 20-story multipurpose buildings and 10-story high-density residential buildings near the Huntington Metro station in southeast Fairfax.
Those are the maximum densities and heights possible under the county's plan for development on land surrounding the transit station. Those densities and heights would be contingent on developers meeting strong development conditions.
"We want the maximum development possible," according to Gary O. A. Molyneaux, project director for transit station-area site planning for Fairfax.
The Huntington station, south of Alexandria, is currently the end of Metrorail's Yellow Line. It is designed primarily to serve commuters and is surrounded by established residential neighborhoods that include detached homes, town houses, garden apartments and high-rise apartment buildings and condominiums.
The Huntington station plan sailed through the county's planning commission recently and is scheduled to be voted on by the county Board of Supervisors Monday.
The board also is scheduled to vote Monday on Greendale Development Co.'s $500 million Kingstowne project, planned as a new town on more than 1,100 acres west of the Huntington Metro station site. That plan calls for construction of more than 5,612 residential units. The combination of the proposed developments at the Metro station and Kingstowne will greatly influence the future of southeast Fairfax, officials predicted.
The plan for development at the Huntington station was developed by a citizens task force working with county planners and outside consultants.
The plan headed for a vote Monday calls for construction of 475,000 square feet of office space; 119,200 square feet of retail space, and 1,574 dwelling units. Some of those dwelling units are likely to be high-density apartments.
The plan also calls for construction of a 200-room hotel or an additional 250 dwelling units.
The majority of the proposed intense development would be built within a seven- to 10-minute walk of the Huntington station, Molyneaux said.
Fairfax planners are aiming for residential and commercial development that is "truly transit dependent," Molyneaux said.
The plan also would permit development on the land around the station at current so-called "by right" densities that existed prior to construction of the transit station and at a level somewhere between that minimum level and the maximum allowable.
Developers seeking to build at maximum heights and densities would be expected to make major road improvements. In addition, the plan calls for establishing a special fund to which developers would make cash contributions to make sure money were available in the future to make necessary road improvements. Fairfax County has a similar system for developers in the Fairfax Center area in the Route 50/I-66 corridor.
The Huntington plan stresses the need for development of "moderately priced housing that will serve the needs of the county's population."
Maximum density in residential buildings could only be achieved if at least 15 percent of the units were set aside for low- and moderate-income housing unless the board of supervisors approved an exception for a specific project.
The land with the strongest development potential is the 60-acre triangular-shaped site owned by Metrorail. The station itself is built on part of that site. The station faces North Kings Highway, which bisects the overall area studied for development.
The area studied is bounded on the north by Cameron Run, an area identified by Fairfax as an environmental quality corridor that needs to be preserved; on the west by the Telegraph Road corridor; on the south by the Furman Lane area, and on the east by Richmond Highway.
"We want to give the developer flexibility of design so he is able to come along with the best development plan possible. We want them to come in with the best possible proposals so we can work with them to make them even better," Molyneaux said. Conditions for achieving maximum densities and heights include adherence to urban design standards, provision of off-site road improvements, implementation of transportation systems management strategies, architectural compatibility with nearby areas and inclusion of energy conservation features.
The proposal also calls for specific land-use policies for nearby neighborhoods that do not fall within the 10-minute walking-distance limit. The plan encourages neighborhood conservation and revitalization of existing dwelling units, both detached single-family units, town houses and multifamily buildings, according to Molyneaux.
The planning commission also approved amendments to the county land-use plan that will be necessary to allow implementation of the proposed development plan for the Huntington station area. The board of supervisors also is set to act on those amendments next week.
The station plan also calls for specific transportation proposals.
Molyneaux said task force members tried to "prioritize" needed road improvements. He said number one on their list is improvements for the intersection of Telegraph Road, North Kings Highway and Huntington Avenue near the Capital Beltway. That project, considered to be extremely expensive because of the number of roads coming together there, is in the county's plan for road improvements but the project has not been funded.
The plan produced by the task force and consultants and approved by the planning commission said Metro stations in suburban locations "such as Huntington should generate mixed-use development with a predominance of residential use."
Construction of residential units adds to commuter trips on Metrorail and construction of commercial buildings and retail space encourages use of the rail system in off-peak non-rush hour periods, the plan said.
"New development in this area would enhance the character of the community, increase patronage for the existing local businesses and lead to reinvestment in the surrounding neighborhoods," the study predicted.