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Wednesday, October 5, 2022
FairfaxSupervisors buy in, literally and figuratively, to affordable-housing project

Supervisors buy in, literally and figuratively, to affordable-housing project

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Fairfax County’s run of affordable-housing projects continued Aug. 2 when the Board of Supervisors voted 9-1 to authorize $33.3 million to fund development of a 453-unit project in west McLean.

The Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority (FCRHA) will lend the builder, SCG Development Partners LLC, $12,606,290 from the county’s Housing Blueprint to support the project, known as Somos at McLean Metro.

The project will be located on 3.5 acres at 1750 Old Meadow Road near the Interstate 495/Route 123 cloverleaf and within walking distance of the McLean Metrorail station and several bus stops. The site also is within 3 miles of existing educational, medical, recreational and commercial amenities.

FCRHA also will use $20.7 million – including $19.03 million from the American Rescue Plan Act and $1.67 million from the Housing Blueprint – as an equity investment through fee-simple ownership of the land.

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SCG, a private real-estate-development firm based in Fairfax County, in August 2020 entered into a $20.7 million purchase-and-sale agreement with 1750 Old Meadow LLC for the site.

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.
The developer will raze an existing office building and construct two structures with affordable dwellings.

One five-story, 228-unit building in the rear of the site will be located over an existing parking structure. An eight-story, 225-unit structure will be constructed near the property’s front. In addition, the project will include about 5,000 square feet of space for community use.

According to the county’s stipulations, maximum rents at the housing development must be affordable to households making 70 percent or less of the area median income, as determined annually by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

SCG hopes to begin construction of the project’s rear building in December 2023 and its front building in February 2024. The dwellings will include studio and one-, two- and three-bedroom units.

SCG owns 62 properties in the county, ranging from newly constructed high-rises and rehabilitated existing apartments to adaptive reuse of historic buildings. Company 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.

The project will be a “major step forward for our affordable-housing goal,” said Supervisor Dalia Palchik (D-Providence).

“Thanks to the funding sources, we’ll be able to provide the units much more quickly and for a longer length of time than would normally have happened,” she said.

The housing will be connected with nearby trail systems and recreational amenities, including Scotts Run Stream Valley Park and the almost-completed pedestrian-and-bicycle bridge over Interstate 495, she said.

Queried by Supervisor Patrick Herrity (R-Springfield), Department of Housing and Community Development Director Tom Fleetwood said the units on average would cost about $450,000, including land acquisition.

“We could do a lot more with $33 million than 450 units,” Herrity said, noting that the development’s land costs were high because of close proximity to the McLean Metrorail station.

“There’s housing available across the county at half that price and certainly could be developed at much less than half that price,” said Herrity, who voted against the proposal. “We should be making our money go a lot further.”

Of the project’s cost, about $13 million is coming from local taxpayers, Fleetwood said.

The county badly needs affordable housing in its urban areas, said Supervisor Walter Alcorn (D-Hunter Mill).

Tysons is the county’s biggest business center and it is “impossible” for people working in retail and other low-paid jobs to live there, said Supervisor Rodney Lusk (D-Lee).

“We have an obligation to provide housing options, and this is a great location,” Lusk said.

“Our young workforce is finding it harder and harder to live here and to work here,” Palchik said.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay (D) called the project a “true investment in Fairfax County’s economic success.”

“As we talk to businesses, increasingly affordable housing is their No. 1 concern,” McKay said. “For too long, this county has decided there are only certain areas in this county where affordable housing can go. Those days are over here.”

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