After Deferral and Pushback, Planning Commission to Take On Campus Commons Proposal Again

by Fatimah Waseem October 2, 2019 at 2:30 pm 1,199 0

The Fairfax County Planning Commission will take on Campus Commons, a proposal to redevelop property near the Wiehe-Reston East Metro Station, later this month after nearly 50 residents voiced concerns about the controversial project at a meeting last month.

TF Cornerstone plans to bring 630 residential units spread across a mid-rise and high-rise building, an office building, and urban parks to the southeastern corner of Wiehle Avenue and the Dulles Toll Road. 

The project is the last major mixed-use development in the pipeline immediately around he Wiehe-Reston East Metro Station.

In a Sept. 25 proposal for amendments, TFC Cornerstones reduced the height of a 14-story office building to 12 stories and the height of a 29-story residential tower to 25 stories. The developer also added an amphitheater to the development and added language to explore the possibility of a grade-separated pedestrian bridge.

But concerns about the project remain. The project heads to the commission for a vote on Oct. 10.

At a commission meeting in late September, planning commissioners stressed the need for the developer to ensure the project provided strong pedestrian and bicyclist connections to allow people to get to the Metro Station.

Others were unconvinced the project — and prior approvals — have done a good job maintaining synergy with other adjacent projects.

Planning Commissioner Mary Cortina said she was surprised the county’s overall process did not have a strong vision to get people to the station.

An on-grade crosswalk proposed at the intersection of Wiehle Avenue and the Dulles Toll Road has piqued major concerns in the community.

Cortina said she was unconvinced the proposed sidewalk was designed in a safe manner.

“This transition is not at a point where anyone will feel safe going across that many lanes of traffic with all the moving cars coming off [the] ramp,” Cortina said. “They’re going to take the shortest route.”

Residents say the proposed crosswalk, which takes pedestrians to a concrete island in the middle of the toll road’s western exit ramp, poses a major safety risk in an already busy intersection with frequent back-ups.

The project has prompted residents to launch a community grassroots campaign called “Rescue Sunrise Valley.”

Residents also raised concerns about a 25-story office tower on the corner of the site, among other issues. The building would be located immediately next to residential neighborhoods with single-family homes and low-rise townhouses — a mix of uses that residents say is incompatible with the area.

Planning commissioners also urged TF Cornerstones to preserve trees and ensure its renderings — which include significant tree canopy and greenery — will reflect reality. Hunter Mill District Planning Commissioner John Carter noted that greenery and trees depicted in renderings of recently approved projects disappeared when the projects were built. Instead of trees, developers left utility polls and a row of mud.

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