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McLean Citizens Assn. backs commercial-to-residential effort in Tysons

But organization warns of implications if trend continues to gather steam

The McLean Citizens Association (MCA) board of directors passed a resolution July 5 supporting a proposed office-to-residential conversion in Tysons, but reiterated its concern that such projects adversely could impact school enrollment and demand for public services.

The applicant, GCC 28 Owner LLC, is asking Fairfax County officials to allow construction of a multi-family residential building in place of an approved office tower at the corner of Spring Hill Road and Leesburg Pike near the Spring Hill Metro Station in Tysons.

The site involved is a 2.67-acre portion of Part E in the 31.62-acre Spring Hill Station Demonstration Project, which county supervisors approved in February 2013. Buildings E1 and E2 of Part E, along with associated parking, have been built.

The applicant’s request applies to unbuilt Building E3, which had been approved for a 22-story, 290-foot-tall (including 30-foot penthouse) structure with up to 420,000 square feet of office space and 7,000 square feet of retail/service space.

Instead, the developer would like to build City House, a 270-foot-tall residential building with up to 410 multi-family dwelling units. Because the building’s footprint would be slightly larger than the approved office building’s, the applicant is seeking a minor footprint revision for Building E5, which had been approved for either 16,000 square feet of retail/service space or 10 to 12 residential dwellings occupying 25,000 square feet of space.

The applicant’s transportation-demand-management study, which last was updated in 2012, found that switching Building E3 from office and retail to residential would result in fewer daily vehicle trips and fewer trips during the peak morning and evening hours. That study does not reflect post-pandemic alterations to commuting patterns, MCA’s resolution read.

The resolution expressed support for the application, but again cited concerns expressed in a June 7 letter to Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay (D) regarding the ongoing trend of office-to-residential conversions occurring in the county.

The MCA board’s letter asked Fairfax County officials to study impacts of such conversions on tax revenue, population density and the provision of public services such as schools, public safety, transportation, parking, parks and recreational facilities, and affordable housing.

More residential units in Tysons may result in more children arriving earlier than anticipated and force the acceleration of planned school construction in the urban center, said MCA board member Ron Bleeker, the primary person who drafted the letter.

“Right now, the first elementary school being considered in Tysons would not even go into construction until the end of this decade,” Bleeker told the MCA board at its June 7 meeting.

Because of plumbing requirements and other challenges, not every office building may be converted for residential use, he added.