A rendering shows residential and other buildings for the proposed Rivana project (Via Loudoun County EDA)

Developers may need to add more affordable houses to address Loudoun County’s concerns over a 103-acre mixed-use project by the future Innovation Center Metro station.

The developers of the Rivana at Innovation Station have tried to justify how they’re meeting affordability needs, but Loudoun County officials have raised issues over how the project’s concessions will play out if only 170 units of a project will be affordable. The development could have up to 2,719 units.

Envisioning a 9 million square-foot, “walkable urban center that is directly connected to the Innovation Center Metro station,” developers wanted to start construction in the first quarter of this year. They previously shared plans involving a performing arts venue and two public parks as part of the project that would drastically redefine the area.

Antonio Calabrese, a partner with the multinational law firm DLA Piper, has countered that the developers’ project would include 6.25% of Unmet Housing Needs Units, which the county defines as units serving households that are at or below the area media income.

In a Dec. 6 letter to the county’s Department of Planning and Zoning, Calabrese also stated the developers’ percentage of affordable units is consistent with multiple rezoning requests of projects near Metro stations.

But in early September, the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors adopted a strategic plan that calls for a 20% affordability goal.

“This Application does not adequately address affordability in the current proposal,” Brian Reagan, the county’s housing programs manager, said in an Oct. 12 memo about the project’s second submission.

Loudoun County’s chair, Phyllis Randall, told Reston Now that the developers’ 6.25% rate of affordability is too low but questioned whether 20% was attainable there, citing high property values along the Metro line.

She said the county’s affordability goal is a guideline that helps navigate discussions with developers, noting it’s a place where conversation begins but doesn’t end.

“We don’t want to see brakes on the project,” Randall said. “We’d like to see it come to fruition.”

She also noted that the county for the first time is setting aside half a penny of property taxes to add to its housing trust fund, which could generate nearly $6 million per year, part of the county’s efforts to address equity.

Other affordability concerns raised

The Rivana application, and a subsequent updated proffers list dated Dec. 6, also called for the affordable units as being reserved for those making at or below 40%, 60% or 80% of the area median income.

But Loudoun County’s housing program manager has questioned that approach, too, saying that the breakdown should mirror existing housing programs there, which involve households making at or below 30%, 50%, 70% and 100% of the area median income.

Calabrese, the attorney, stated that the developers couldn’t determine the likely breakdown of rental apartment buildings and residential condominium buildings at that time and restated the developers’ ratios.

“The Applicant’s proposed development involves a long-term, multi-phased project consisting of substantial office, hotel, residential, and commercial uses,” Calabrese also wrote.

Reagan has also questioned whether the project will even have residential units for sale, noting that the first phase of the project is devoted to rental units.

The developers’ lawyer countered that it will “depend on the rental market and the condominium market” at that future time.

According to the Loudoun County Economic Development Authority, Novais Partners is the master developer of the property, which involves a partnership between Origami Capital Partners, Timberline Real Estate Partners, Open Realty Advisors and Rebees. Novais is a codeveloper of Rivana with the Hanover Co.

The application’s developers are DWC Holdings and Origami RE Growth GP, both linked to Chicago-based investment firm Origami Capital Partners.

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A housing company is looking to transform wooded land near Route 28 in McNair with townhomes, part of a years-old vision to bring an elementary school and additional housing to the area.

Van Metre Homes at Sunrise Valley, tied to the Van Metre real estate companies, acquired the property in December 2020 for $26.1 million. The developer submitted an application in August to build 157 traditional townhomes and 36 stacked townhomes, Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust’s office confirmed.

The company declined to discuss the project.

The property runs along Frying Pan Road and Sunrise Valley Drive in McNair, near office parks and residential neighborhoods, including the Towns at Carters Grove development that’s currently under construction.

Van Metre will need site and building approvals for the project from the county, which said yesterday (Thursday) that it is still reviewing the application.

In 2019, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors rezoned the nearly 44-acre parcel from an industrial zone to a residential area with mixed-use commercial possibilities. The vote required the developer to dedicate 5.5 acres of land to a planned Silver Line elementary school.

Fairfax County Public Schools’ current proposed capital improvement program has planning and design work on the school slated to begin in fiscal year 2024, which runs from July 1, 2023 to June 30, 2024.

Pomeroy/Clark, a joint venture between Bethesda investment firm Clark Enterprises and Fairfax’s Pomeroy Development Company, submitted the original rezoning plan in 2016.

Plans showed a new road being extended under overhead transmission lines from Frying Pan Road to River Birch Road.

Van Metre already owns the Woodland Park apartment complex that takes up nearly 27 acres a few miles up the road.

Photo via Google Maps

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The Flats at Woodland Park Station development is underway (Staff photo by David Taube)

Luxury two-bedroom condominiums starting in the low $400,000s are going up adjacent to an upscale apartment complex, The Ian, near the yet-to-open Herndon Metrorail Station.

The first of four buildings being constructed by NVR, the parent company of NVHomes and Ryan Homes, is slated to open up for sales at the end of this year with anticipated move-ins as early as April, the company tells Reston Now.

The development, dubbed The Flats at Woodland Park Station, includes two bedroom and two-bedroom-den condos, each with two bathrooms per unit. It’s located by a roundabout along Woodland Grove Place.

“Our two-bedroom and two-bedroom-den condos are arriving this Winter, with pricing from the mid $400s to the mid $500s – and these residences include more fine features than you ever imagined possible, plus the convenience of a building elevator serving all levels,” the company says on a promotional page for the development.

To build the four residential buildings with 96 units, the company got the county’s OK in 2019 to amend an approved plan from 2017, which would have involved creating a nearly 211,000-square-foot multi-family building for 148 units. The county’s Planning Commission’s Hunter Mill District representative, John Carter, noted at the time that the change allowed for more open space.

An NVHomes representative said the company expects all four buildings in The Flats at Woodland Park Station to be completed by the end of 2023.

Meanwhile, a 2017 county-approved development plan presented by NVR and New York City-headquartered real estate firm Tishman Speyer called for creating high rises for offices near those residential buildings.

The companies identified a parcel called Block E, abutting the Dulles Toll Road and Monroe Street, for two office buildings with the option for ground-floor retail.

Noting the proximity to the Herndon Metrorail Station, county staff noted a development plan called for office buildings to be 16-stories and 14-stories tall, each with five levels of above-ground parking.

Crews leveled the previously forested area to make way for the developments, and the vacant parcel could be developed with high rises, even as the pandemic has led many companies to rethink the need for the commercial office space that they used to require.

Townhome prices along the Silver Line extension saw prices increase this year, though the real estate industry has noticed pullbacks from a buyer frenzy.

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A Stanley Martin Homes property could be developed after McNair Farms Road is extended westward. (Via Fairfax County)

The first step of a development vision, sidetracked for years by legal action from a neighboring business group, is moving forward.

The extension of McNair Farms Road is being built near Arrowbrook Park. It’s what developers have sought to accomplish as early as 2017 to help connect a nearby wooded property originally eyed for apartments.

“Stanley Martin Homes is developing a residential neighborhood on Dulles Technology Drive and has contracted with William A. Hazel Inc. to construct the extension of McNair Farms Drive,” the county said in an online post on Oct. 20 after people asked about the park’s pond and trail being closed off.

Stanley Martin Homes got approval in 2018 to build 172 units in stacked townhomes that could be four stories tall. It also received the county’s OK to alternatively pursue a previously approved 2017 plan that would involve building two six-story buildings for 460 units.

But a neighboring business group sued in 2018, saying its property value diminished by $3.3 million, a court document said. The business group — an office condominium association consisting of Spectrum Innovative Properties, McWhorter and Mulpuri Properties — claimed a four-lane extension of McNair Farms Drive would take approximately 12% of its property.

The lawsuit and appeals involved Fairfax County Board of Supervisors as the primary defendant, and the case eventually went to the Virginia Supreme Court, which issued an order May 20, 2021, that found the business group had no additional injuries from the 2018 approval and had no standing for the case.

The Virginia Supreme Court’s order follows Stanley Martin Homes’ purchase of the property for nearly $20.4 million in December 2020 from JLB Dulles Tech LLC — an entity linked to Dallas-based multifamily developer JLB Partners — that had the previous approval in 2017.

The road extension has temporarily closed Arrowbrook Park, where heavy equipment gained access to the site along a pond. The county and Stanley Martin Homes suggested the park work could be completed this summer or be at the point where at least trail access would be restored.

Part of the Stanley Martin Homes property hugs another access point: Dulles Technology Drive, where construction crews are also accessing the site to build the McNair Farms Drive extension.

The Stanley Martin Homes executive said the company plans to submit an application to the Virginia Department of Transportation to connect a traffic light at Centreville Road with the soon-to-be-built McNair Farms Drive extension, which requires building a bridge.

The executive with Stanley Martin Homes, a subsidiary of the Japan-based Daiwa House Group, said the company will build stacked townhomes there.

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