Fairfax City Council says “yes” to new apartments at WillowWood Plaza

Fairfax City will soon build a seven-story residential and retail building next to WillowWood Plaza along Eaton Place after one almost unanimous vote approval from the city council earlier this week.

The new developmentcalled “N29 Apartments,” will replace a 328-space parking lot on 2.96 acres at 10306 Eaton Place, adjacent to a 1980s-era office complex.

First proposed in 2022, the project includes 260 homes — 16 of which will be affordable one- and two-bedroom apartments. It will also have 5,000 square meters of retail space and a 10-story parking garage.

The mixed-use development, which was approved by the City Planning Commission in April, marks the initial phase of a two-phase project by DC-based developer Capital City Real Estate.

Originally, the developer also proposed a four-story, 64-unit apartment building on another parking lot across from N29 Apartment. However, city staff required the capital to submit a separate application because the properties are not contiguous.

A representative from Capital City Real Estate told councilors on Tuesday (July 9) that they will return “soon” to discuss the second phase in more detail. Capital City has no plans to redevelop the parking lot north of the office complex, which is owned by a separate entity.

The project site is part of Northfax Small Area Planwhich was adopted by the City Council in June 2020 and “strongly” encourages mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly development “that allows multiple activities to take place,” city staff said in a report for the council.

N29 Apartments will provide up to 23,200 square feet of on-site recreational amenities such as a pool, fitness center, club lounge and courtyard for residents. The developer also plans to include nearly 19,000 square feet of tree-lined areas around the development, a multi-level stormwater improvement system and outdoor seating.

While most council members expressed their support for the development, council member Jeffrey Greenfield — the lone dissenting voice — expressed concern about the expected increase in traffic.

A traffic study on behalf of the developer estimates that the new building will generate an additional 119 trips during the morning peak and 142 trips during the afternoon peak.

“(Under) current conditions, at 2:00 to 3:00 in the afternoon, traffic is backed up three-quarters of the way down west Eaton,” Greenfield said. “…So, how do we add 260 cars to Eaton and not make it worse?”

However, Curt McCullough, a traffic engineer with the city’s Department of Public Works, said staff are designing further improvements at the intersection of Chain Bridge Road and Eaton Place. He noted that the improvements are expected to be completed before the first phase of the WillowWood development is built out, which will likely improve traffic conditions.

“We expect the traffic out there to be better with the new project,” McCullough said.

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