Town Receives Plan For Parking, Retail Space
Multi-million dollar Church Street project would add mixed-use building, 50-foot municipal parking structure to corridor
The Vienna Town Council directed staff Monday night to review a private proposal for a three-story mixed use building and four-story parking structure on Church Street, the first pitch to come in under the town's newly-adopted public-private partnership guidelines.
The plan, submitted by Arrington Properties LLC, would put two buildings in the 23,848 square foot lot at 120 Church Street NW: A three-story mixed use building facing Church Street, with retail on the ground floor and residential units in the two floors above it, and a four-story municipal parking structure, which would double the parking between Mill and Lawyers Roads, according to plan documents.
The project would cost between $5.8 and $6.6 million, the plan said.
The private building, which would cost between $3 and $3.3 million, would be developed and funded by Arrington. Land for the parking structure would be sold to Vienna for $1 and construction would be financed by the town, perhaps through bonds, according to the proposal document given to town staff. Construction would likely cost between $2.8 and $3.3 million, it said.
It's the first time the council has put to use the public-private guidelines it adopted Feb. 27, which allows it either to solicit private organizations or individuals as partners in one of its building plans, or, accept new project plans for facilities and infrastructure developed by private sector entities.
The guidelines were made available to localities through the Public-Private Education Facilities and Infrastructure Act of 2002, developed from the thought that private involvement in building municipality infrastructure could speed up the completion of much-needed projects or make them more cost effective.
The project submitted by Arrington was unsolicited, Town Attorney Steve Briglia said Monday, though the Council has discussed the possibility of a parking garage in the Church Street area in the past.
The project is planned for 120 Church Street NW, described by Planning and Zoning Director Greg Hembree as a virtually "empty lot" across from Bazin's On Church. The land originally belonged to J.T. Arrington, a longtime resident who owned the property for more than half a century before his death in 1994. His sons gained ownership of the land at that time; they formed the company Arrington LLC in 2004, according to their plan documents.
Paul Layer, the architect for several of those projects and a member of the town's Board of Zoning Appeals involved in the Church Street Vision planning process, is also the designer of the proposed project.
Under the PPEA guidelines, the town must wait 45 days before taking action on the plan, a period designed to allow other companies to develop and submit proposals, Briglia said.
The council would not be bound to any of those alternatives, Briglia said, but the earliest it could move forward with the Arrington proposal is early May.
As it stands, the proposal would violate the town's code for height limitations for municipal parking structures: it reaches 50 feet, higher than the town's current 35-foot restriction in the C-1B commercial district, Hembree said.
The council approved a motion at its Monday meeting authorizing an April 16 public hearing on amending that part of the code to allow for 50-foot structures.
The change is part of a broader council discussion about redevelopment along the corridor, its current parking situation, "the necessity for relief" and how that would benefit the local businesses and residents. The council asked the Planning Commission to make a recommendation about altering the height limit in December.
On Monday, some council members took issue with the recommendation they received: to allow the height change but also amend the code so site plan modifications in the area must be approved by the planning commission before moving on to council.
Currently, the commission only makes recommendations to the council on those matters.
"There's not another instance in which the planning commission has the authority ... to approve or not a site plan [modification] and they are asking for joint approval authority," Councilwoman Edythe Kelleher said. "If they didn’t approve it we couldn’t approve it either," she said.
The council largely didn't agree with that part of the recommendation, but decided to seek input on it along with expanding the height restriction at the April 16 hearing.
For more on the plans, click the cover drawing PDF in the media player above.