After many attempts over the years, new housing options are poised for a vacant property along Richmond Highway that was originally bought for affordable housing.
The Board of Supervisors approved zoning changes to the nearly 35-acre property at the corner of Dart Drive and Richmond Highway.
The board’s action on Tuesday allows for the construction of:
- 219 affordable and workforce apartments
- 60 affordable independent living units for seniors
- 175 market rate townhomes
- 12 acre public park
In total, 61 percent of the housing units will be affordable.
“After 35 years, this decision will allow the county and community an opportunity to showcase positive redevelopment and development along the Richmond Highway Corridor,” said Fairfax County Supervisor Dan Storck . “The redevelopment of North Hill will bring much needed affordable, work force, and market-rate housing to Richmond Highway and support the area’s overall revitalization effort.”
The units will be built on land currently owned by the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority; a developer will build the affordable multifamily units and a home builder will build the market rate townhouses. The authority bought the property in 1981 with a federal Community Development Block Grant. Although North Hill was always intended for affordable housing, the property remained empty for many years because previous proposals to redevelop the site were unsuccessful.
The zoning action was a critical step in ensuring the redevelopment project move forward. The developer team must now apply for Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, a federal tax incentive program designed to stimulate private investment in affordable housing. Our housing authority still must also finalize a comprehensive agreement with the developer, which it hopes to complete before the end of the year.
“Thanks to an innovative partnership, the North Hill project will be completed at little to no cost to Fairfax County taxpayers,” said Matthew Bell, Redevelopment and Housing Authority Commissioner for the Mount Vernon District. “It is a great example of what can be achieved when the community, private sector and government work together. We thank the Board of Supervisors, the Mount Vernon Council, housing advocates, parks and environmental advocates, and the community for its support in moving this vital project forward.”
North Hill’s affordable units will be spread across five four-story buildings that front Richmond Highway. One of these five buildings will be dedicated for the 60 units of independent senior living. The 175 market-rate townhouses will be built along Dart Drive.
One of the development’s focal points will be a public plaza at the corner of Richmond Highway and Dart Drive. It may include benches, plantings, lawn, fitness equipment and a ping pong table and chess tables.
This plaza also will be an important anchor for a possible bus rapid transit station stop.
Through a project called Embark Richmond Highway , we’re working to bring a bus rapid transit system to the Richmond Highway corridor, along with more sidewalks, trails and bike lanes. Early conceptual plans put one of the nine proposed stations near Richmond Highway and Dart Drive.
To support the bus rapid transit system, North Hill’s development plan calls for moving an existing bus stop that currently resides south of Dart Drive close to the future public plaza.
The developers also will build six-foot sidewalks along Richmond Highway, along with a 6.5-foot off-road bike lane. Sidewalks will also be added to the north side of Dart Drive.
As proposed, 12 acres are intended to be dedicated to the Fairfax County Park Authority for a new public park. Located north of the apartments and townhouses, it is envisioned as mainly a passive recreation space. It may offer amenities like a tot lot, a gazebo, and dog park. The park will be accessible from paths within North Hill and surrounding developments, as well as from an entrance on Richmond Highway.
North Hill is an example of how the county is implementing its strategic Economic Success Plan. Among its many strategies, this plan calls for growing and diversifying the county economy by:
- Maximizing the return on investment on county land through public-private partnerships.
- Creating livable, walkable communities with a mix of housing for all incomes and ages.
- Expanding transit service and improving the county’s multimodal transportation system.
The county selected the lead developer, CHPPENN I, LLC, through the Public-Private Education Facilities and Infrastructure Act, which includes a competitive bidding process. This team is a partnership between the Virginia based Community Housing Partners and Pennrose, a Philadelphia-based developer.