Final pieces of Arrowbrook Centre advanced by planning commission

Aura is a residential building proposed on the final land bay in the Arrowbrook Centre development (via Fairfax County)

The final pieces of the massive Arrowbrook Centre development near Herndon’s Innovation Center Metro station got the Fairfax County Planning Commission’s unanimous support last week.

The commission recommended on May 24 that the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approve changes to the final, nearly 10-acre section of the mixed-use development, which is being built and managed by a Launders Charitable Trust.

Specifically, the proposal swaps a 435-unit residential building called Aura from the eastern corner of the property with an office building directly east to it. Aura will be constructed by Trinsic Residential Group.

The swap pushes a hotel planned at the site further east, leaving space for two office buildings at the corner of the site, according to Tabatha Cole of the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Development.

The proposal also removes a parking structure in the land bay.

“Arrowbrook is not seeking to increase any density or any of the uses that are approved,” said John McGranahan, a partner with Hunton Andrew Kurth LLP.

But it’ll be a few years before the office and residential units will go online. To maintain the terms of the charitable trust that govern the development, the developer plans interim uses.

Early talks are underway for a potential partnership with the Virginia Tech Foundation and Virginia Cooperative Extension, a venture that focus heavily on sustainable agriculture, culinary arts and urban farming programs.

“That will be the home run,” McGranahan said. “That is what we’re hoping for. That’s what we’re planning for.”

If that plan falls through, the developer plans to install a community garden in addition to other uses like a lighted trail and outdoor plaza.

Jeff Fairfield, the trust’s manager, said the lease could be ready by the first half of next year, with the community garden as a fallback.

“My preference would be community-wide, first come, first serve,” Fairfield said regarding how use of the garden would be determined.

Hunter Mill District Commissioner John Carter clarified that the setback of the building near the Dulles Toll Road will be 71 feet instead of 200 feet — the current requirement in the county’s zoning ordinance. An exemption was supported by county staff.

Several planning commissioners lauded the developer for the quality of services provided. Braddock District Commissioner Mary Cortina called Arrowbrook Park — a park created by the developer — “stunning.” The developer also built a nearly 1,550 linear feet trail from Centreville Road to the Metro station.

“It’s pretty striking to go to that colosseum of a field out there and to see the high quality that it is,” Cortina said, adding that “you can really see the work that was done on that park.”

But some residents said they were concerned about issues related to traffic from construction and unmet promises of a grocery store and other retail on the site.

So far, the development includes Ovation at Arrowbrook, a 274- unit development for lease for tenants earning between 30 to 60% of the area median income. It includes roughly 36,000 square feet of retail space, 75% of which is leased.

As previously reported, upcoming tenants at the development include South Asian grocery Hello2India, Ornery Beer Company Public House and Paris Baguette. Those tenants are “coming soon,” Fairfield said.

Chef Peter Chang has also leased 3,500 square feet at the development for a Mama Chang restaurant, according to The Burn.

Granahan noted that Pulte — which has built most of the housing on the site — plans to conduct a community meeting once control of the streets flips from the builder to the homeowners’ association.

“The challenge is we’re in that period of developing a master plan community where the control of the streets is with the builder, not necessarily with the homeowners’ association,” he said.

He also said residents should have been aware of the intensity of the proposed development, which has been on the books for years.

Fairfield said Pulte hopes to transition control to the homeowners sometime in June.

The Launders’ trust was created after the death of the last remaining member of the family, which ran a cattle-grazing operation.

With the planning commission’s vote, the application is now scheduled for a public hearing before the Board of Supervisors next Tuesday (June 6).

Read more on FFXnow…

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