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FairfaxAffordable-housing project near Tysons gets largely positive reviews

Affordable-housing project near Tysons gets largely positive reviews

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An up-to-460-unit residential project with 300 affordable dwellings near Tysons on Sept. 21 received the Fairfax County Planning Commission’s unanimous recommendation to the Board of Supervisors.

Somos at Tysons LLC is seeking a rezoning to build the project on 4 acres at 1750 Old Meadow Road, near the cloverleaf at Interstate 495 and Route 123.

The site, located between the approved Scotts Run South and Highland District developments, now has a vacant six-story office building and a detached three-story, above-grade parking garage.

The proposed 467,240-square-foot development would feature two eight-story (up to 100 feet tall) multi-family residential buildings. Building A would be built atop the existing parking garage, which would be reinforced. The developer would raze the existing office structure and construct Building B on that location.

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While separated at the ground level, the new buildings would be joined at the upper levels. The applicant is seeking a 28-percent parking reduction to provide 414 spaces, or 0.9 per dwelling unit.

The development’s residents would be able to walk to employers nearby, including Capital One, or get to them via the McLean Metrorail station a quarter-mile away. A new pedestrian bridge accessible from Old Meadow Road soon will allow them to walk to jobs on the other side of the Capital Beltway, said John McGranahan, the applicant’s attorney.

The project would have 1.21 acres of on-site urban-park spaces, including Meadow Gardens, which would be built alongside Old Meadow Road. That park would feature two rows of trees, a pollinator garden, multi-use sport court and outdoor cooking area.

The site also would have a pedestrian court, children’s play area, a private outdoor lounge and a 6-foot-wide recreational trail. The meandering pathway would have a decomposed-granite surface that’s bonded together to make it both handicapped-accessible and permeable, McGranahan said.

“It’s better on the land than asphalt,” he said.

The development also would have up to 10,000 square feet of non-residential space, which might be used for retail or community use, McGranahan said.

The subject property, along with the nearby Capital One and Scotts Run North developments, are required by existing proffers to provide a total of 224 affordable-housing units, as determined by the county’s new workforce-dwelling-unit policy, county staff said.

The project likely would be built under a “mixed-income option” that would transfer affordable units from the latter two developments to Somos at Tysons LLC, resulting in 300 affordable dwellings and 160 market-rate units – an increase of 33 percent over the required amount.

(Another market-rate option, which the applicant would use only if the deal fell apart, would build 46 affordable units and 414 market-rate ones at Somos at Tysons, but not transfer affordable dwellings from the other two developments.)

SCG Development Partners LLC would build the project. The company in August 2020 entered into a $20.7 million purchase-and-sale agreement with 1750 Old Meadow LLC for the site, which included $700,000 in settlement costs.

The Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority (FCRHA) will lend the builder $12.6 million to develop the project. FCRHA also will use $20.7 million – including $19 million from the American Rescue Plan Act and nearly $1.7 million from the Housing Blueprint – as an equity investment through ownership of the land.

SCG will assign the property’s title to FCRHA at closing and the agency then will lease the site back to the developer for 99 years. The leases will stipulate that all units remain affordable during that entire period.

Based in Tysons, SCG owns 62 properties in Fairfax County, ranging from new high-rises and rehabilitated existing apartments to adaptive reuse of historic buildings. SCG projects involving Fairfax County include The Residences at Government Center, which was a 270-unit development, and One University, which now is being built and will include 120 units each of senior and multi-family housing.

Maximum rents at Somos at Tysons would be affordable to households making 70 percent or less of area median income (AMI), but most units would cater to people making up to 60 percent of the AMI, McGranahan said.

Planning Commission member Phillip Niedzielski-Eichner (Providence District) said many parties have a stake in the application’s outcome.

Asked by Niedzielski-Eichner if Capital One would be getting off easily from its affordable-housing commitments, Granahan said the bank had yet to build any residential buildings on its Tysons-area headquarters campus and might not do so for years or ever.

Delivery of the project would “contribute very significantly” to meeting workforce needs in the Tysons urban center, Tom Fleetwood, director of the Fairfax County Department of Housing and Community Development.

Niedzielski-Eichner, who moved for the commission to recommend the application, said the proposal is complex, has many moving parts and is an “exemplar of the art of the possible.” The project responds to the need for affordable housing and is within close walking distance of mass transit, a grocery store, parks and other amenities, he said.

“By transferring affordable-unit obligations from three projects, substantially more affordable units would be built at a lower income tier than previously proffered and the affordable units would be delivered years sooner than would otherwise be expected by the full build-out of these developments,” Niedzielski-Eichner said.

County supervisors will review the matter at an Oct. 11 public hearing.

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