Lincoln Property Co., one of the nation's leading residential and commercial developers, has reached an agreement in principle to buy the entire Fairlee residential neighborhood near the future Vienna Metrorail station.
The project will be the Dallas-based development company's first venture into Fairfax County.
Homeowners in the neighborhood of single-family detached houses struck the deal after hearing presentations from several developers, who then made sealed bids for the 69 half-acre parcels involved.
Exact sales prices were not disclosed. But other offers came close to $550,000 per acre, according to sources. The community is just south of the Metro station.
"We will now move to negotiate individual contracts with landowners and get in on the planning process for future land use" at the Vienna Metrorail station, said Martin Walsh, attorney for Lincoln Property.
William S. Janes, Lincoln Property's operating partner in Washington, said the project will be a mixed-use development, but that details are not ready. "We have not finalized our strategies," Janes said.
Janes said his company is the largest builder of residential units in the country, "mostly garden apartments and town houses."
Lincoln Property developments criss-cross the nation, with projects in Seattle, San Diego, Denver, Dallas, Atlanta, Boston, New York and other cities.
Recently, the Arlington County Board approved construction of a 515,000-square-foot building for the development firm near Pentagon City. Janes said Lincoln Property is looking at sites in the Maryland suburbs.
He said he is looking forward to working with Fairlee residents. "We want to bring a high-quality development to Fairfax" on the Fairlee land, Janes said.
Today, Fairlee is a community with rural characteristics in an area planned for high-density development. Fairlee abuts what will be the southern parking lots of the Vienna Metrorail station. The station will be the end of the Orange Line when it opens in mid-1986.
East of the Fairlee site is a tract owned by Evans Co. that is zoned for more than 1.2 million square feet of commercial space. To the west is a town-house project. North of Fairlee, the Metro station and I-66 will be major mixed-use projects proposed by developer Reed Wills and the Hazel-Peterson Cos.
Fairfax planners are scheduled to meet Aug. 6 with Fairlee residents and James Scott, the Fairfax County supervisor within whose district the station lies.
Gary Molyneaux, director of Metro project planning for Fairfax, said the decision by Fairlee residents to band together and seek out a developer was warranted.
"In this case, it is an appropriate" decision, Molyneaux said. "They sit right at the foot of the station" and near land already zoned for commercial uses, he said.
Molyneaux said the Fairlee area is "within five to seven minutes' " walking distance of the Metrorail station. That means the land is part of an area already targeted for study by a citizens task force working with Fairfax officials and a team of consultants.
Molyneaux cautioned that other neighborhoods near the Vienna station that are "looking to sell out" should not interpret what residents of Fairlee have done as a signal to do the same. Neighborhoods outside the study area don't meet the same criteria as the Fairlee community, county officials said.
He said consultants, the task force and the county will "be coming in soon with a recommended option" for development. He emphasized it would only be an "option." That option would be used as the basis for citizen input. "Later comes the final development plan," Molyneaux said.
Suzanne Paciulli, the Mount Vernon Realty Co. commercial broker who put the Fairlee deal together, said she is delighted "we have agreed in principle" with Lincoln Property.
"They come with such a terrific background. These people build . . . the Dallas and San Francisco look, really quality buildings," she said.
"This is extremely good for the citizens of Fairlee . We are pleased to get a developer of that quality," Paciulli said. With Lincoln Property Co. in the picture, the "county can look at what the developer has built" and know what kind of development it can expect, she explained.
According to Lincoln Property, the company has developed more than 40 million square feet of commercial space in the past 15 years. Current aggregate development costs exceed $6 billion in commercial and residential development, according to company literature.
Today the company focuses on what it calls "urban mixed-use development," including specialty stores, restaurants and luxury hotels. One of Lincoln Property's best-known projects is the Lincoln Center multi-use project facing the LBJ Freeway in Dallas. The company includes a unit that develops and operates hotels.