After Patch posted a short article on the multiple office buildings proposed for the Kingstowne area, the story received a lot of reader traffic and Kingstowne residents say are on the fence about the development and how these additions —among others — will affect traffic.
A reader named RJ commented: "Wait till the FBI goes in..." and BDogg said, "Office space additions, increased people at Belvoir, bid to get FBI in Springfield, renovated Springfield Mall.... Yet not much activity to insure the roads can handle all of this. (They currently cannot)"
Traffic and Transportation in Lee District
Multiple projects are taking place in the Kingstowne area — including work on Telegraph Road — that will hopefully ease some of the transportation issues. Supervisor Jeff McKay has made it known that he is an advocate for the Springfield area to be the FBI's new location. However, he said Springfield is already blossoming and doing well and isn't in dire need.
With office buildings going up and a bid for the new FBI headquarters, some residents may be concerned with how these developments will contribute to transportation and traffic issues they already deal with every day.
McKay said the county does conduct and evaluate how traffic and transportation will be affected in an area when proposing redevelopment. And congested roads are a daily struggle in all of the Northern Virginia region, and the issue doesn't go without some attention from local leaders.
In the past, Kingstowne residents objected to the proposal of widening Van Dorn Street from four to six lanes, McKay explained. The plan was changed to two lanes in each direction because residents "didn't want their community to become a highway."
Because of this and other issues contributing to transportation struggles, the traffic has increased because there's just not enough capacity. In addition, McKay said one of the county's mistakes is not having many job opportunities where Fairfax County residents live, which could possibly reduce transportation issues in Lee District.
"One of the big mistakes that Fairfax County has made for a long time is they have not built employment centers near where people live," McKay said. "And most of the traffic we have in my district today is from people who live here who work somewhere else and many of them work north of here in Arlington or Washington, D.C. or west of here in Reston and Tysons or Dulles and if we're going to start solving our transportation problem we've got to start providing job opportunities close to where people live."
Development and Revitalization
At the moment, Kingstowne has a lot of residential development with just a few local retail locations. With Wegmans going up at the corner of Telegraph Road and Beulah Street, more retail will be available in the area. McKay said Kingstowne specifically is "overwhelmingly residential" and he remembers the initial development plans for the area.
"People have short memories, because I was around when Kingstowne was first planned. It allowed for a substantial office component and it was a true mixed-use center. It had offices. It had retail. It had residential," he explained. "Most people who see Kingstowne today think it has a whole lot of residential, a sprinkling of retail that's always jam-packed with people and a couple of office buildings. So we're a long way from the mixed-use that was first envisioned."
With The Halle Companies proposing four office towers behind TJMaxx and Beulah Street II, LLC building more office space on Beulah Street, more business and retail are sure to come to Kingstowne. According to a reader who commented on a previous story, residents have "mixed feelings" about the office buildings currently in development.
McKay said they can't build enough offices in Kingstowne because there's not enough land area left to get back to the original mixed-use development plans.
He said if more offices were located in the area it would have been better for traffic due to the fact that a lot of people who live in Kingstowne now, would have had opportunities to work near their homes.
McKay explained that if Fairfax County is ever going to get out of the endless cycle with traffic and transportation issues, "it's not going to be to stop building. It's going to be to start building smarter."
And to do this, he said, you have to put employment centers near where people live and you provide high quality retail and restaurants in their communities so they don't have to drive downtown to take in a movie, shop or have a meal. He said he thinks the district is going a long way toward that with some of the office buildings planned in the Kingstowne and Springfield areas.
"If you think about Springfield and Kingstowne in general, there's no place in Fairfax County that has as much money invested in infrastructure as Springfield," he said.
With major projects and transportation options in the area including, the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project, metro, Springfield Towne Center and access to Fairfax County Parkway, McKay said Springfield is one of the better places in the county to affectuate density in a revitalization area, starting with bringing in the right type of development.