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FairfaxBusinessFoust brings mostly upbeat report to 'State of McLean'

Foust brings mostly upbeat report to ‘State of McLean’

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The latest happenings around McLean are mostly positive, with a little trepidation thrown into the mix, Supervisor John Foust (D-Dranesville) told Greater McLean Chamber of Commerce members Feb. 24.

During his annual “State of McLean” speech, given “virtually” this year, Foust expounded on myriad topics, including tax relief for seniors age 65 and older and people with disabilities. County officials have expanded eligibility for such relief and will introduce a tax-deferral option next year, he said.

McLean Revitalization Progressing Slowly: The Board of Supervisors, over the objections of some residents, approved a comprehensive-plan amendment last June that will allow for higher-density development in some parts of downtown McLean. The plan incorporated suggestions by local residents, but no big transformation has begun yet, Foust said.

“In McLean, property owners have not shown a burning desire to tear down revenue-producing properties,” he said, citing a lack of incentives. “It’s a good plan. I hope some activity starts to occur. There has been some activity, but it’s been by-right.”

A Lidl grocery story has taken over the former Safeway location at 1330 Chain Bridge Road. The by-right project also will include spots for a pair of eateries, Matchbox and Big Buns Damn Good Burgers, Foust said.

In addition, the owner of McLean Shopping Center has submitted plans to raze existing buildings and construct a new Giant grocery store, CVS drugstore and 14 other retail spaces, Foust said.

“It’s certainly not the type of development we’re looking for to create a sense of place,” he said.

New Housing Coming to McLean: Two new residential projects are occurring in and near downtown McLean. Chain Bridge Estates, an age-restricted housing development with a clubhouse is being constructed just west of the McLean Community Business Center (CBC), Foust said.

“It’s a nice development and serves a purpose that I think is important,” he said.

Not far east of that location will be Chain Bridge Sunrise, a 140-bed assisted-living facility.

Dranesville District contains the eastern edge of Tysons and redevelopment efforts there remain strong, with 10 buildings now under construction, Foust said.

The county has made progress toward its goal of one residential unit in Tysons for every four jobs in that burgeoning urban center, Foust said.
Tysons had a 12-to-1 ratio of jobs to housing when supervisors approved a new comprehensive plan for the area in 2010 and the ratio now stands at 6-to-1, he said.

“The way to make Tysons work is to get more residential activity, more people living there,” Foust said, adding that new developments also were adding affordable housing there.

The supervisor also touted some recent additions to the eastern part of Tysons, including the Capital One Hall performance center and its 2.5-acre rooftop park, The Perch; Archer Hotel; half-mile-long Scotts Run Trail; and Fire Station 44, which was built with money proffered by developers.

“Infrastructure is keeping up with development,” he said.

Local Transportation Projects Proving a Mixed Bag: Foust highlighted several transportation initiatives that will affect local motorists for better and worse.

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation will conduct a $20 million project to reconfigure the Balls Hill Road/Old Dominion Drive intersection to replace the current long-X-shaped crossing – which requires motorists to sit through four maddening light cycles – with a pair of “modified-T” intersections.

County staff’s original plan would have denuded much of the surrounding area of trees, so supervisors had them redesign the project to reduce such impacts, Foust said. Construction will occur between spring 2023 and fall 2024 and will make the intersection “work dramatically better,” he said.

County staff also is studying ways of improving intersections on Dolley Madison Boulevard and will hold a public meeting soon to discuss those efforts, Foust said.

Foust expressed multiple worries about the Virginia Department of Transportation’s 495 NEXT project, which will extend high-occupancy-toll lanes on Interstate 495 closer to the American Legion Bridge. In order for those improvements to work, Maryland officials will have to extend such lanes on and past the bridge, he said.

“Maryland is not keeping up with us as far as the timing,” Foust said. “There’s no guarantee they’ll get their approvals.”

Compounding problems on the north end of the Beltway in McLean will be the National Park Service’s plan to upgrade 7 miles of the George Washington Memorial Parkway between I-495 and Spout Run in Arlington. Both of those major commuting routes would be under construction simultaneously, Foust said.

Park Projects Proceeding: The Fairfax County Park Authority’s revised Clemyjontri Park master plan provides an opportunity for the McLean Project for the Arts to build an arts facility at the park. The proposal, which Foust deemed “spectacular,” would further the area’s sense of community, but is not a done deal, he said.

Officials still must conduct a review to ensure the initiative complies with the county’s comprehensive plan and proponents would have to obtain a special exception from the county to build the arts center, Foust said.
“We’ll make sure whatever we do does not affect existing operations at Clemyjontri,” he said.

Park Authority officials also hope to revamp McLean Central Park, but must reaffirm community support for concepts outlined in a 2013 master plan, Foust said. The supervisor supported a proposed amphitheater at the site, but said local residents did not want the park’s tennis courts removed, and that a dog park at the site was unlikely.

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