July 12, 2023
Fairfax County Planning Commission
12000 Government Center Parkway
Fairfax, VA 22035
RE: CSG Comments in Support of Converge West Falls Plan Amendment (PA-2023-II-MI) and Rezoning (RZ-2022-DR-00018)
Chairman Niedzielski-Eichner and Commissioners:
Please accept these comments on behalf of the Coalition for Smarter Growth (CSG), the leading organization in the DC region advocating for walkable, bikeable, inclusive, and transit-oriented communities as the most sustainable and equitable way for the Washington, DC region to grow and provide opportunities for all. CSG writes to convey our support for the concurrent plan amendment (PA 2023-II-MI) and rezoning (RZ-2022-DR-00018) application for Converge West Falls.
The Converge West Falls redevelopment is the final and critical piece to the emerging West Falls Church transit-oriented community and will knit together the City of Falls Church’s new mixed-use development already underway and redevelopment of the Metro Station. Together these projects will transform acres of parking lots into an inclusive, vibrant, and livable neighborhood with great access to transit.
Providing more homes and jobs in walkable communities at major transit stations like West Falls Church is how we can accommodate future growth, served by more sustainable transportation options, and help reduce vehicle miles traveled and slash our greenhouse gas emissions.
It is worth noting that HITT, a major construction firm, is choosing to locate its headquarters in a transit-oriented location. Like Amazon in National Landing, Volkswagen in Reston and many others, businesses are prioritizing transit-oriented locations with good placemaking and amenities.
Additionally, the partnership between HITT Construction and Virginia Tech is exciting and will create an innovative and vibrant addition to West Falls Church with its new National Center for Smart Construction researching sustainable construction methods and the solar panel canopy powering the building with clean energy.
Overall, the applicant is proposing a good mix-of-uses including office, academic, and ground floor retail that will complement the surrounding community. It will create approximately 440 new homes, including affordable and workforce housing.
Building heights and massing step down towards Haycock Road and Falls Church Drive to address concerns of existing neighboring communities.
This redevelopment will provide an enhanced grid of streets, wider walkways, shared use paths, and on road bike facilities within the development. It includes a critical piece of the West Falls Station Boulevard that will be a Main Street and linear park through the heart of the new community connecting Route 7 to the Metro redevelopment.
There are good environmental benefits and recreational opportunities included in this application. In addition to the solar canopy, the buildings will be LEED certified. A significant number of trees will be planted to meet the 10 year canopy requirement, and the applicant has agreed to native plantings and natural maintenance techniques. Redevelopment will provide significant upgrades to stormwater management, including a bioretention pond that has been thoughtfully planned as a sustainability pocket park providing recreation and educational opportunities for visitors. Plans also include the Innovation Civic Plaza, a pollinator garden, and a pocket play park.
Converge West Falls is a well-designed mixed use development proposal that is an integral part of the vibrant, transit-oriented neighborhood being created in West Falls Church. I ask that you vote in favor of the application.
Northern Virginia Advocacy Manager