Bailey’s Crossroads Preferred Land-Use Concept Aims to ‘Avoid Sprawl’

April 16, 2010 7:57 PM0 comments

USE1Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross said the objective is to “move up rather than out to avoid sprawl” in her opening remarks at last Thursday’s public meeting to discuss the progress of the preferred land-use concept to revitalize a portion of the Bailey’s Crossroads Community Business Center (CBC).

 

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ATTENDEES at last night’s meeting public meeting to discuss the progress of the preferred land-use concept to revitalize a portion of the Bailey’s Crossroads Community Business Center (CBC) browse visuals of the future plan. (Photo: News-Press)

 

Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross said the objective is to “move up rather than out to avoid sprawl” in her opening remarks at last Thursday’s public meeting to discuss the progress of the preferred land-use concept to revitalize a portion of the Bailey’s Crossroads Community Business Center (CBC).

Gross told the News-Press that the plan will take anywhere from 20 to 30 years to complete, in comments following the meeting. She reassured residents that “bulldozers are not around the corner ready to level the entire area.”

However, seven sidewalk projects included in the plan are expected to be completed within the next two to three years. They will run along Leesburg Pike from Seven Corners to the Alexandria city line, and are being funded by a voter-approved 2007 transportation bond referendum.

The long-term preferred concept promotes mixed-use development and takes advantage of a five-mile streetcar route to run from Bailey’s Crossroads to Pentagon City. The Falls Church Goodwin House auditorium was filled with more than 50 Fairfax County residents and representatives. However, attendees appeared limited to mostly Goodwin House residents and did not reflect the diversity of the population living in the affected area.

The CBC is centered at the interchange of Leesburg and Columbia Pikes, fanning out along these major arterial streets to include approximately 530 acres. The preferred concept for that land is based on public input on two previous conceptual options, incorporating desired elements from both. An 11-member Citizens’ Advisory Committee has been leading the efforts to solicit public feedback.

The on-going effort to revamp Bailey’s Crossroads builds on the December 2006 Urban Land Institute’s study, “Bailey’s Crossroads, Virginia: Strategies for Moving from Suburban to Urban.” Specifically, Gross said the revitalization strategy is being pushed to prepare for the 140,000 residents and 60,000 households expected in reside in Fairfax County by 2025. She said the objective is to “move up rather than out to avoid sprawl” in her opening remarks at last week’s open meeting.

Gross told the News-Press this week the current uses within Bailey’s Crossroads are segregated and not easily accessible. “This is illustrated by workers at Skyline driving to restaurants at Crossroads Place even though they are located right across the street.”

The proposed street network “highly emphasizes” crosswalks aimed to make the area safer for pedestrians. The entire new “urban-style downtown” would include ground-floor retail stores brought up to a tree-lined grid of streets, a new arts center, underground parking to replace oversized lots, and a greenway set to connect the north and south sides of Leesburg Pike.

However, the linear park wouldn’t be the only recreational addition. Pocket parks, promenades and even a full-size soccer field lining Seminary Road are included in the plans. County representatives assured that the field would have its own parking.

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MASON DISTRICT Supervisor Penny Gross answers questions from the audience at Goodwin House in Falls Church. (Photo: News-Press)

 

But not everyone was convinced the as-is preferred concept is the county’s best choice.

“It seems like [Bailey’s Crossroads] is going to be this lush, lavish area and then, the outside is just going to be as bland as it is now. It’s a beautiful plan that you did here, but I fear it’s going to be a case of the have and have-nots,” said a Falls Church woman during the public-input portion of last week’s meeting.

Gross assured that there’s “already a good deal of language” in the existing Comprehensive Plan and plans for integrating new language to ensure that the surrounding jurisdictions would eventually be complimentary to the CBC revitalization. The new Comprehensive Plan language will be presented to the Fairfax County Planning Commission in June, and Gross told the News-Press she anticipates the plan will be adopted by the county’s Board of Supervisors later this summer.

The land-use concept would also utilize a proposed five-mile streetcar route between the CBC and Pentagon City, otherwise known as the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Pike Transit Initiative. But concrete plans addressing where a CBC-based transit center between streetcars and buses would be built is still unknown.

According to WMATA, the transit is one element of a “decade-long effort by Arlington and Fairfax Counties to accommodate growing demand for transit service along this quickly redeveloping urban corridor.”

It was reported at last week’s Goodwin House presentation that transportation analysis projections show 10,000 more vehicles per day by 2030 on Leesburg Pike near South Jefferson Street. Gross said increased Pike Transit ridership should reduce dependency on automobiles for people who live and work in Baileys Crossroads.

Affordable and workforce housing requirements are urged to be continually reviewed as the plan moves forward. Multi-family apartment dwellings, some mixed in with office spaces, would be built on top of retail structures. Specifically, the plan calls for an increase in residential dwelling units from the 861 that exist today up to a proposed number of 4,187.

The tallest planned building is to be no more than nine stories. The current Skyline Towers apartments are estimated to be 26 stories. Leesburg Pike will be transformed “from the highway it is today to a walkable boulevard.” However, the numbers of lanes currently located on Leesburg Pike will not change.

The public can view full detailed report regarding the plan  online by visiting http://fcva.me/dyHj3W.

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