Once-new and booming parts of Fairfax like Seven Corners are showing their age. If we don’t encourage new investment in these older areas, companies, young people, and the middle class will go elsewhere. The county has worked with community members since 2012 on a plan for revitalizing Seven Corners that will create a great place where people will really want to be – instead of just going through. This plan could be a real win for Fairfax. But we also need to make sure we don’t displace current residents and preserve existing affordable housing. To truly be a win for Fairfax we need to strengthen the plan’s affordable housing components. Here are the 5 reasons why we think the plan could be such a win for Fairfax County:
- The proposed street network and solution for the Seven Corners interchange is excellent and will reduce traffic congestion.
- The Route 7 transitway, new transit center, three new protected bicycle corridors, and streets designed to be safer for people walking and biking will offer many new options for residents to get where they need to go.
- The plan includes new parks, public plazas, a new community center, playing field, and provisions for a new elementary school and expanded middle and high schools.
- The plan calls for 1-for-1 replacement of affordable housing where it exists today, 15% of new units in another area and 12% in the remaining areas.
- By creating new homes here in Fairfax instead of much further away from the region’s core, we will be doing our part to fight climate change locally with more sustainable housing and transportation patterns.
But to make this plan truly a win for Fairfax residents, there are 2 key items to strengthen:
- The plan should provide the affordable units for lower income levels than currently proposed, otherwise we run the risk of displacement of existing residents. It’s very important to make sure we’re not losing residents with incomes lower than 60 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI) who rely on the current supply of affordable garden apartments and other units in the area. See this recent letter by our partners at the Northern Virginia Affordable Housing Alliance for further explanation. The plan must be amended to set specific goals for providing more housing for those making 60% or less of AMI ($65,520 for a family of four) and should identify specific tools to do so including county funding, transfer of development rights, and tax increment financing.
- While redevelopment will improve stormwater control, the plan should require additional measures to reduce stormwater runoff and help achieve this by designing green, low-impact controls into streets and parks.
The reinvention of Tysons Corner may be the most significant suburban transformation and development project on the East Coast. The Coalition for Smarter Growth was among the first to call for a new plan for Tysons Corner, which resulted in the appointment of a county task force. We used our Blueprint for a Better Region presentation and invited national experts to make presentations to inspire the reinvention of the “Edge City.” In 2008, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors endorsed the task force’s plan for redevelopment of Tysons, with a primary focus on compact mixed-use development around the four new Metro stations, an interconnected grid of streets, bicycle and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure, transit circulators, and requirements for green-building, reduced stormwater runoff, and affordable and workforce housing. The approval of this plan was a watershed moment for smart growth in Fairfax. Today the county, CSG, developers, and our partners are focused on ensuring successful implementation of the plan.
Learn more about Tysons Corner redevelopment
Revitalizing & Redeveloping Aging Commercial Corridors
Fairfax County has made revitalization of its aging commercial corridors a top priority. Representing less than 10 percent of the county’s land, these places with their acres of parking lots and one story buildings offer the best opportunity to absorb growth and to create the vibrant, walkable and transit-oriented communities in demand by both young workers and downsizing empty nesters. In addition to Tysons and Merrifield/Dunn-Loring, Fairfax County has created plans for Springfield, Annandale, Baileys Crossroads, and McLean. They are currently studying Seven Corners and will soon embark on a transit study for the Route 1/Richmond Highway corridor. The Route 1/Richmond Highway area is a prime example of a Fairfax corridor that could benefit from smart growth revitalization. Presentations, coalition building, walking tours — we’ve done it all to inspire a new vision for Fairfax’s Richmond Highway corridor. On our walking tour through a Walmart parking lot to a damaged stream, we helped community members understand the win-win benefits of mixed-use redevelopment as a way to fund modern stormwater controls, restore streams, and create adjacent parks. Now, thanks to a new transit study secured by state legislators and supported by the Coalition for Smarter Growth, a new vision is possible. We’ve built a coalition of affordable housing, bicycle, pedestrian, conservation, and smart growth groups to ensure the study will link new transit with mixed-use development, inclusive housing, and safe places for walking and biking. While a couple of mixed-use projects have advanced, there is no unified vision for the corridor. The proposed transit study offers the opportunity to create a new vision and plan linking transit, land use, preservation of affordable housing, new street networks, pedestrian/bicycle facilities, and stormwater management. Imagine a new boulevard with bus rapid transit or a streetcar/light rail, bike lanes and safe sidewalks, new apartments and condos, new public plazas, expanded stream valley parks, and new restaurants and services.
To learn more
- Fairfax Office of Community Revitalization
- Embark Richmond Highway Affordable Housing- Recommendations from the Coalition for Smarter Growth
Stormwater Management & Restoration
Uncontrolled stormwater runoff from development leads to erosion around local streams, flooding, and greatly increased water pollution in our streams, rivers, and the Chesapeake Bay, threatening our homes, wildlife, and our region’s economy. Many older parts of Fairfax and other suburbs and cities were built without modern, low-impact stormwater management. Acres of parking lots shed high volumes of water during rainstorms, gouging out streams and sending sediment and pollutants downstream. However, redevelopment of aging commercial corridors offers the opportunity to install better stormwater management while also reducing sprawl and the pressure to convert forests into development.
Working in partnership with the Audubon Naturalist Society (ANS) and Fairfax County, the Coalition for Smarter Growth is showing how smart redevelopment can improve stormwater management. Highlights of this program include educational forums and walking tours in the Route 1 corridor, Tysons Corner, and Merrifield/Dunn Loring. TOP