For nearly 20 years, parcels along the southern frontage of Leesburg Pike in Culmore, between Charles Street and Washington Drive, have been the subject of discussion in the community about redevelopment possibilities. The block long area was replanned in 1994 for townhouse office uses, but the plan also called for dedication of significant land for future improvements to the vehicular crossing from Charles Street to Glen Forest Drive. That requirement stymied most inquiries about development, and the properties continued to decline, both in appearance and value; at least one parcel was the subject of a zoning violation for commercial vehicle parking.
Last year, Spectrum Development LLC came forward with a proposal to rezone several parcels for a small shopping center, including a drive-thru pharmacy. During community consideration of the proposal, there was both support and opposition expressed by residents, and the proposal continued to be changed and refined to meet neighbors’ concerns. County staff and the Mason District Land Use Committee recommended denial of the application, the Planning Commission recommended mitigations and additional proffers before recommending approval, and the Board of Supervisors held a lengthy public hearing on March 3. During the intervening weeks, Spectrum made additional changes to reflect their response to the concerns expressed at the hearing. However, those changes did not go far enough and, because I understand the community’s concerns, I asked the developer to go back to the drawing board and rework the design of the proposed shopping center. At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, I moved to defer the application indefinitely, which will allow the developer to work with county staff on the requirements for resubmission of an updated plan. The new plan probably will not be available for review until late spring or early summer.
As noted, this site needs redevelopment to abate its longtime blighted condition. While there were many good parts to the plan that was under consideration by the Board of Supervisors, the deferral will allow time for a thoughtful and balanced approach to the issues identified by my office, the community, and county staff. When the new proposal is available for review, I will host a community meeting to review it. No date has been set for that meeting.
Good news for fitness enthusiasts! The Providence RECenter, located in Mason District near Falls Church High School, announced a new Providence Power Hour program, beginning on Wednesday, April 1. This is not an April Fool’s joke! Many RECenter users have asked for later hours, and RECenter staff responded. During a two month pilot program, Providence will be open an extra hour, from 9 to 10 p.m., on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, for lap swimming and fitness center use. General admission rates apply; there is no additional fee for RECenter passholders. If your New Years’ resolution needs reinvigorating, the Power Hour might be just the ticket!
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.