Post #444: MAC-related public meetings this week

There are several public meetings this week with some relevance to MAC zoning.

Monday, 11/4/2019, at 8:00 PM in Town Hall, Town Council will hold a meeting that includes several MAC-related items. 
1)  They will hold a public hearing on extending the MAC moratorium through June 30 2020.  Citizens are invited to speak.  Three minute time limit.
2)  They will consider a resolution to request grant funding for a three-story parking garage/library to replace the current Patrick Henry library.
3)  They will examine (and likely approve) the modified rear facades of the Marco Polo/Vienna Market MAC project.

The relevant materials can be found here:
https://vienna-va.legistar.com/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=716363&GUID=DC46C9A8-009B-49C0-93BE-A2BB7BFFB61B&Options=info&Search=

Thursday, 11/7/2019, at 7:30 PM in Town Hall, Town Council will hold a work session to obtain their final briefing on the Kimley-Horn “Maple Avenue Corridor Multimodal Transportation and Land Use Study”.

The relevant materials can be found here:
https://vienna-va.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=4213345&GUID=7038D400-8A10-4B9D-AE3D-8F5E05930CAB&Options=&Search=

 

Friday, 11/8/2019 at 8:00 AM (AM), the Board of Architectural Review will hold a work session on the new building proposed for 380 Maple West, a Sunrise assisted living facility.

The relevant materials can be found here:
https://vienna-va.legistar.com/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=735324&GUID=CEE00DFC-1728-44FD-B567-C1B14E4BA0D5&Options=info&Search=

The Town reserves the right to change or cancel meetings on short notice, so check the Town’s general calendar before you go, at this URL:
https://www.viennava.gov/Calendar.aspx?NID=1&FID=220


Commentary:

On the Monday Town Council meeting, I would have expected the extension of the MAC moratorium to be cut-and-dried.  Would have, except that it was anything but that at the preceding Planning Commission meeting.  The actual discussion was in fact for more convoluted than I said in my brief writeup (Post #440), and included some legal arguments to block any consideration of an extension of the moratorium

Also, the Town Council is being asked to approve a grant request for funding the largest parking structure option that the Town’s consultant offered them.  I had not realized that the Town had made the affirmative decision to go with that option.  If that’s a done deal, I certainly wish they would reconsider (e.g., Post #367, Post #369, Post #371).

Separately, the Town is also going to ask for about $240K in grant funding for Capital Bikeshare bike racks.  I’ve already expressed the sentiment that this is almost sure a near-total waste of money, given the lack of use of these rental bikes in Tysons and other remote suburban near-Metro locations (Post #387).

On the Thursday Town Council work session, to me the big question is how they’ll deal with the estimated traffic impact of MAC development.  The rest of the items — the proposed projects for the Town to undertake — seemed fairly weak to me.  You can see can see my analysis in Post #358 and subsequent posts to Post #364.  It is worth bearing in mind that the traffic impact analysis does NOT use current traffic as baseline, which is why (e.g.) redevelopment of the currently empty BB&T site was estimated to reduce traffic on Maple in that study.

The Friday BAR session is a bit of a puzzler to me, as it is not clear to citizens that (e.g.) Sunrise has actually signed a contract with the current owner of 380 Maple West, and so on.  This is due, in part, I think, to the fact that this isn’t a MAC application.  Formally, it’s a request for changes to the existing, approved MAC building.  (I.e., new building, new owner, new purpose, new conditional use permit and so on, and yet all done within the context of the land already having been rezoned to MAC instead of standard commercial development.)

Post #426: Town Council meeting 10/21/2019

Marco Polo/Vienna Market townhouses

Front:

Back:


It was an odd night.  That’s the only way I can describe it.

The MAC issue in question was a petition, by a citizen, to have the Town Council overturn the Board of Architectural Review’s final approval of the Marco Polo/Vienna Market development.  The particular point was the plain-looking backs of the Townhouses, clad in siding instead of brick, as the townhouse fronts were.  This disparity between the ornate brick front and somewhat plain siding back was was arguably inconsistent with Town of Vienna code.  For Maple and MAC projects, the zoning code calls for all sides of the building that are visible to the public to be consistent in look and materials used.

In the end, it looks like there was an agreement to add a small amount of brick to the otherwise-all-siding backs of the townhouses.  Basically, the pillars between the garage doors will be brick, and I guess there will be a line of brick over the garage doors.  But the issue will have to come back before the Town Council for final approval at the next meeting.

How they got to that decision, and two-and-a-half hours it took to get there, that was the odd part.

Continue reading Post #426: Town Council meeting 10/21/2019

Post #392: BAR final review of Marco Polo/Vienna Market

The first item on the 9/19/2019 Board of Architectural Review meeting was a look at the final plans for the Marco Polo/Vienna Market development.   You can see them at this location.  This is a quick summary from the Town’s recording, which you may find on the Town’s Legistar/Granicus calendar.

The BAR took about an hour and fifteen minutes to tweak details of the design.    At the end, with a few caveats, the plans were unanimously approved.  My reading of this is that the only major item yet to be resolved is the exact design of the mural on the front of the building.  Presumably, that will be up to the Vienna Public Art (or Arts) Commission.

These three drawings below show the Maple Avenue view of: What the BAR passed originally; what was then handed back to the BAR as having been passed by Town Council (Marco Pologate); and then the final approved plan.

Weirdly, you can see that a ghost of the original building lives on in the final drawing.  The right side of the building, receding into the distance, remains a view of the original building.  (Plausibly, the right side of the left portion of the building, receding into the distance, is also a remnant of the original drawing.)

Here’s a close-up of the building at the left, in the same sequence:  what the BAR passed originally, what was then handed back to the BAR as having been passed by Town Council (Marco Pologate), and then the final plan.

At any rate, barring any other surprises, the bottom picture is what you will see going up over the next year or so, at the site of the former Marco Polo.

If I had to offer an epitaph for this, it would be the following:

A)  Kudos to the BAR for fixing this as best they could.   Just getting rid of the bricked-in windows was worth their review time, in my opinion.

B)  Did the Town learn anything about the review process here?  And is there any plan, by the Town, to change anything about how they go about this? In short, are they going to learn from their mistakes?  Or are they just going to shrug this one off and keep on doing what they are doing?

I have already made the point that there needs to be more communication between these bodies (BAR, PC, and TC) during the review process.  In particular, I called for the chair of each body to pass along a short written summary of the proceedings, to avoid the sort of internal inconsistency that occurred with the Sunrise assisted living review (Post #301).

But in addition, I would say that this whole affair points out the need for some checks and balances within the Town of Vienna government.  At the minimum, somebody in the Town government, outside of the Department of Planning and Zoning, needs to compare the plans between meetings, to see that they do not change between the time one entity approves them, and the next entity gets to review them.  Otherwise, having demonstrated that staff are willing to change the plans quietly between approvals, there’s nothing to stop that from happening again.

 

 

Post #350: Board of Architectural Review meeting 8/15/2019

I did not attend last night’s meeting, but my wife did, and this is my synopsis of her report regarding the Marco Polo project.

The BAR passed the Marco Polo project, with a number of caveats that have to be revisited.  So this is more-or-less the end of Marco Polo Gate (Post #245). Kudos to the BAR for fixing, as best they could, the problem that Town staff stealthily handed them.

Continue reading Post #350: Board of Architectural Review meeting 8/15/2019

Post #344: MAC-related meetings this week

There is only one public meeting this week relevant to MAC zoning.

Thursday, 8/15/2019, at 8 PM, in Town Hall, the Board of Architectural Review will review plans for the Vienna Market/Marco Polo development.

This will be the last item on the agenda.  Plausibly, they may vote to approve the final plans.  The meeting materials are located here:
https://vienna-va.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=4083844&GUID=91C9A320-23F5-4C7D-8754-A6A563052311&Options=&Search=

The Town reserves the right to change or cancel meetings on short notice, so check the Town’s general calendar before you go, at this URL:
https://www.viennava.gov/Calendar.aspx?NID=1&FID=220

Post #334: 8/2/2019 meeting of the BAR re Marco Polo/Vienna Market

The Board of Architectural Review (BAR) met at 8 this morning (8/2/2019) to review the plans for the Marco Polo/Vienna Market development.  The materials for that meeting may be found at this location.  My recording of the session can be found at this Google Drive link (download 2019-08-02 ….).  There were large stretches of the meeting where the microphones were not used, so some portions may be too faint to hear.

The key points are that 1) there was no material change in how this building would look and function and 2) the BAR will almost certainly provide final approval for this.  The next meeting of the BAR is Thursday 8/15/2019. Continue reading Post #334: 8/2/2019 meeting of the BAR re Marco Polo/Vienna Market

Post #329: MAC-related meetings this week: Marco Polo/Vienna Market

There is only one public meeting this week relevant to MAC zoning.

Friday, 8/2/2019, at 8 AM (yes, AM) in Town Hall, the Board of Architectural Review will hold a work session to examine revised plans for the Vienna Market/Marco Polo development.

The meeting materials for this work session are located here:
https://vienna-va.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=4073485&GUID=4FEE28BF-51F1-4DED-9053-000950DF0218&Options=&Search=

For background, see Post #326.

Below is a time series of the Church Street side of the building, where I have crudely removed the background.  The top is the original concept plan as approved by the BAR.  The middle one is the “plain vanilla” generic-NoVA town houses for what I termed the “bait and switch” (Post #245).  The third is what was presented to the Bar on 6/14/2019 (Post #296).  The very last one is what will be presented to the BAR this Friday 8/2/2019.

At this level of detail, the only changes for this last set of drawings, for the Church Street view, are the following:

  1. The rusticated (roughened) brick portions (the lighter-colored brick) now go halfway up the first and third buildings.
  2. A horizontal decorative element ( ledge? molding?) was removed from the walls of the first and second buildings.

 

What you really can’t see well from any of the drawings is that alleyways lined with garage doors will be visible, from Church Street, between the 1st and 2nd buildings, and between the 3rd and 4th buildings.  I.e., beneath the bay windows that face each on the 1st and 2nd buildings, there are garage doors.  And the ground level is taken up with garage doors down the entire length of the building.  That’s a common enough thing in NoVA these days, but a novelty on Church or Maple in Vienna.  You may or may not see the other end of that alleyway, as you drive past on Maple, depending on the landscaping.

The only other change that was obvious to me, just glancing at the new plans, is that they darkened the color of the retail “podium” portion of the building.   Between the last set of plans that I have, and this most recent set, the very light-colored brick was replaced with darker brick.  (This reduced what I called in a prior post the “came out of a different set of Legos” effect that the light-colored podium had before.)  They also added ornaments to the windows.  This is the before-and-after, below:

 

Post #298: The 6/14/2019 BAR meeting

The Board of Architectural Review (BAR) had a work session this morning to discuss revised plans for the Marco Polo/Vienna Market site (44 luxury town houses plus retail at Maple and Pleasant).

You can find my audio recording and Excel index to the audio recording at this Google Drive directory.  Download the two files starting “2019-06-14 …” for the audio and the index.  The audio quality is poor, as most participants did not use their microphones and/or the sound system did not amplify their voices.

I’ll keep this short, because I learned just two things.

Continue reading Post #298: The 6/14/2019 BAR meeting

Post #296: Marco Polo/Vienna Market continues to evolve

This Friday, 6/14/2019, at 8 AM (yes, AM) in Town Hall, the Board of Architectural Review (BAR) will again examine revised plans for the Marco Polo/Vienna Market project.   It will be interesting to see how this evolves. I put in a series of drawings below to show how the Church Street view of the building has changed, ending with the drawings to be examined this Friday.

Looking forward, I think the more interesting question is how the BAR’s changes will be enforced.  For the time being, let’s assume the BAR and the builder can agree on a building.  After that, then who, exactly, is in charge of making sure the actual building matches that agreement?  As with the changes in the plans, does the Director of Planning and Zoning have the final say as to whether a building is substantially similar to what was originally agreed upon?

If so — if enforcement is in the hands of the individuals who played a key role in creating this mess — then these BAR meetings take on a tinge of theater of the absurd.  The BAR can demand any degree of architectural sophistication that it deems reasonable.  And then, when it comes time actually to build the building, that can all be erased by the Town bureaucracy.

So, it will be interesting to see what the BAR and the builder can agree to.  It will be more interesting still to see what actually gets built, and whether it bears anything more than a passing resemblance to any agreed-upon building.

Continue reading Post #296: Marco Polo/Vienna Market continues to evolve