Office Building Repurposing
December 5, 2017
Countywide Policy Plan Amendment
On October 18, 2016, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors (Board) authorized Plan Amendment (PA) 2016-CW-4CP to facilitate the repurposing of vacant and/or underutilized office buildings for alternative uses such as residential or institutional uses. As of mid-2016, the inventory of vacant office space exceeded 19 million square feet, the largest number in county history. The repurposing of existing buildings is frequently more sustainable than the demolition and replacement of structures and can shorten the time of the building to market. Repurposing vacant structures to accommodate new uses supports Goals 2.8 and 3.1 of county’s Economic Success Plan.
The adopted amendment added new guidance to the Land Use section of the Policy Plan as a new appendix entitled, “Guidelines for Building Repurposing.” The new appendix provided guidance for considering uses other than those envisioned by the current Comprehensive Plan for vacant office buildings in certain mixed-use centers such as Tysons Urban Center and the Merrifield Suburban Area, as well as industrial areas. By adding this policy, repurposing proposals that meet the guidelines set forth in the new appendix will be considered without the need to amend the Comprehensive Plan on a site-by-site basis. The amendment will not preclude the Board’s ability to authorize a concurrent plan amendment and rezoning review process, as per county policy.
On December 5, 2017, the Board of Supervisors adopted PA 2016-CW-4CP. The Board also directed staff as a follow-on motion to prepare an amendment that would expand the guidance to office buildings that are located outside of activity centers and to evaluate the expansion of the amendment to other vacant buildings in addition to offices.