Summary of Current and Potential MAC Projects, Updated 10/26/2018

This page shows all the currently (10/15/2018) known Maple Avenue Commercial (MAC) zoning projects.  You can read the details on each project below.

Prior to MAC, new commercial buildings in Vienna:

  • could be no taller than 35 feet,
  • contained office/retail space,
  • were set back some distance from Maple, and
  • had traditional suburban parking lots.

The new Maple Avenue Commercial zoning calls for much larger “mixed-used” buildings, similar to those found in downtown Falls Church.  MAC buildings:

  • can be up to 62′ tall,
  • typically have three floors of housing (apartments, condos) over retail space,
  • will typically sit directly adjacent to Maple Avenue, and
  • typically have garage-style parking within/under the building.

As a result, MAC zoning will result in buildings that are much larger than those currently on Maple Avenue.  To get a feel for the size and scale of the new buildings, look at the illustrations further down the page and compare the buildings to the people or cars depicted.

This is a link to the Town of Vienna’s map of MAC-eligible property and an overview of MAC zoning.  If you go there, click “OK” to get rid of the splash screen covering the map.


Original 444 West Maple/Tequila Grande plans (.pdf)

Revised 444 West Maple/Tequila Grande plans.

Plans for this site are currently under review by Vienna Town Council.  This roughly 2.75 acre site at the corner of Maple and Nutley currently holds the Tequila Grande restaurant and the Wolf Trap motel.  The plan is to replace those buildings with one building, approximately 400′ long x 175′ wide x (up to) 61′ tall, holding 151 apartments plus 20,000 square feet of first-floor retail (e.g. restaurant) space.   Most of the parking will be underground or ground-level beneath the second floor of the building.

The picture below, clipped from the plans referenced above, shows the Maple Avenue side of the building.  To understand the scale of this, identify the people in the picture below.  E.g., the red blob, on the first floor, in the middle of the second window from the left, is a person, drawn to scale.

The engineers hired by the builder originally estimate that the traffic from this building (housing and retail) would have no material effect on Maple or Nutley, and that the “cut through” traffic on streets behind this will be well below the threshold at which the Town takes an interest.  Revised plans call for extending left turn lanes on Maple and Nutley in response to the additional traffic likely to be generated by this building.

The property currently has a tax valuation of about $6M, and my best estimate is that it will be worth about $75M if built.


380 Maple West plans (.pdf)

Plans for this site are currently under review by Vienna Town Council.   Currently a modest 35′ tall office building at the corner of Wade Hampton and Maple (directly across from the Amphora),  this is now slated to become 40 condos on three floors, above 7500 square feet of first-floor retail space plus parking.  The proposed building would be (at least) 54′ tall, and would more-or-less fill the existing 0.86-acre lot, except for a 20′ wide strip of green space at the back of the lot.

As with 444 Maple West/Tequila Grande, this building raises significant concerns about cut-through traffic in the surrounding neighborhood.  Individuals from this building who want to get to Metro or I-66 in the morning will either have to make a left turn across morning rush hour traffic on Maple, or cut through Glen Avenue to get to the light at Courthouse and Nutley.

 

 


Vienna Center/Sunrise Assisted Living (.pdf).

Plans for this site are currently under review by Vienna Town Council.  Sunrise Assisted Living has proposed an 80-bed 80-unit over-100-bed assisted living facility at Maple and Center, directly across from the Patrick Henry Library.   The site is roughly 0.7 acres.

Three floors of assisted living would sit over roughly 8500 square feet of retail space.   The architectural drawings show that the average height of the building along Maple (to the tops of the parapet walls) will be about 57 feet.  The “flat roof” appears to be 54 feet.  So this is as tall as the rest of the MAC buildings.

The final comment I have merely passing along a rumor.  Rumor has it that most long-time Falls Church residents are quite unhappy with the big mixed-used buildings that took over their central business district — except for the assisted living facility.  And that’s because the assisted living facility generates more-or-less no traffic.  So a second plus for this is that, unlike the other MAC projects, this may have relatively little traffic associated with it.

 

 

 


Mill Street garage (.pdf)

This project is not yet under review by Vienna Town Council, but the Town is literally investing in it, so approval seems likely.

While not a MAC project, the Town’s purchase of a floor on a planned garage on Mill Street more-or-less follows the pattern of MAC redevelopment.  This site is on Mill Street, near the intersection of Mill and Church.  The current one-story commercial building will be replaced with a four-floor building roughly 400′ wide x 125′ deep x 45′ tall.  As with most of the MAC buildings, the new structure will more-or-less fill the lot.  It will hold:  Basement parking, 1st floor retail and parking, 2nd floor public parking, 3rd and 4th floors public storage.

I find the financing of the Town’s investment to be questionable for many reasons, among which is that half the cost will be paid by a separate local government entity, under the assumption that this garage will reduce traffic congestion.   See my write up of that here.

As with the other projects, to get a sense of scale, note the people in the foreground of the picture.


Vienna Market/Marco Polo plans (.pdf)

Plans for this site have been approved by Vienna Town Council. This roughly 2 acre site spanning the block between Maple and Church at Pleasant Street, and currently holds the (former) Marco Polo restaurant and a few small commercial buildings.  The plan is to replace those with five large buildings, roughly 54′ tall, containing 44 luxury townhome condominiums, plus some first-floor retail space along Maple.

The picture below, clipped from the plans referenced above, shows (I think) the Pleasant Street side of the building.  To understand the scale of this, note the red SUV in the foreground.  All parking will be underground.


Chick-Fil-A and Flagship Car Wash plans (.pdf).

This site is currently under construction.  This 1.2 acre site just east of Maple and Nutley held the Flagship Car Wash (adjacent to McDonald’s).  The plan is to replace the small one-story building with a building that more-or-less fills the site, with the tallest tower being just over 62′ tall.  This will have a Chick-Fil-A restaurant on the first floor and the car wash on the second floor.  There is additional parking underground.  As with other MAC projects, this has a proposed outdoor seating area directly adjacent to Maple Avenue.

Edit 10/30/2018:  One oddity of this proposal is that, based on reporting given here, the town is requiring customers using the Chic-Fil-A drive-through to turn right and pass through the Maple/Nutley intersection.

The picture below, clipped from the plans referenced above, shows the Maple Avenue view.  To understand the scale of this, note the persons pictured in the foreground.  The tallest town is just over 62′.  Below that is a snapshot of the initial construction.

 

 


Other properties apparently in play.

While the sites above are matters of public record, everything else here is speculation. 

415 Maple West — BBT bank.  Kensington assisted living was canvassing houses north of Maple Avenue circa 8/15/2018 regarding a proposed assisted living facility where the BBT bank is now (415 Maple West). The BBT lot has long struck me as a likely victim under MAC zoning: almost an acre, relatively little business, and another BBT at the other end of town (440 Maple East). So it appears that this is now in process to become yet another large MAC building.

Giant Food Shopping Center.   This 10-acre site is the single largest property eligible for MAC zoning.  In May 2018, it was bought by a newly-formed Delaware company, GRI Maple Avenue LLC, for roughly twice the current tax valuation.  (This link should take you to the Fairfax County tax records for that sale.)

Although the Town downplays this, two factors strongly suggest that this site is now a target for redevelopment.

First, Fairfax County tax valuations for commercial property should be reasonably accurate, as they follow the same methods that would be used to value the property in the commercial real estate market.  In general, commercial property values are based on the rental income that they generate, and the type of property (e.g., residential, office, retail).  Fairfax County requires commercial property owners to report the gross revenue and costs from commercial property.  Fairfax estimates the value of the property from those reports and current “cap rates” showing how markets value different types of commercial property in Fairfax, on average.

The notion that Fairfax County had been undervaluing that site, for the last decade, by a factor of two, is just not plausible.  The jump in price probably occurred because the new owner plans to redevelop it into a much more valuable property under MAC.

Second, the name of the developer — GRI — is a fairly strong clue.  The “I” is almost certainly “Investors”.  Given what they bought, it’s a fair bet that the “G” is for Giant.  If this isn’t Giant Redevelopment Investors, or something close to that, I would be surprised.

Patrick Henry Library Parking Garage.   This is in the Town’s capital planning, so presumably they plan to put a big parking garage there.  I discuss this in a page on the Town’s capital budget.  The FY 2019 Town capital improvement plan omitted this item, so it is off the table for the time being.

I have heard from two sources that parking at Patrick Henry Library is completely inadequate when they hold events there.  And that parking is tight in the best of times.

Other vacant or soon-to-be-vacant commercial buildings.   I hope to add descriptions here in the near future.

For now, I will note the cluster of vacant buildings and MAC proposals clustered around the intersection of Nutley and Maple.  I think it’s accurate to say that more than half the land area is either a) already in some MAC proposal, b) under active discussion as a MAC development site, or c) vacant property.

It’s not clear whether these properties are vacant due to business conditions (at the peak of a boom?), or in anticipation of the profits to be made under MAC redevelopment.  In other words, these vacancies are not necessarily an indication that we need MAC zoning.  They could actually be a consequence of MAC zoning.