F.C. Planning Commission Gives Final Site Plan Approval to Affordable Housing Project

In its final legislative hurdle, the Wilden Apartments, a new senior affordable housing project inspired, shepherded and funded through the Falls Church Housing Corporation and its allies, won approval for its site plan by a 6-1 vote of the Falls Church Planning Commission tonight, with only Planning Commission Chair John Lawrence voting against. The vote culminates an over decade-long process by the FCHC, commissioned by the City of F.C. to bring affordable housing to the community, to pass muster with the City’s political and policy-making bodies toward the achievement of its mission with the project.

The site plan approved tonight also encompassed the more-recently added McKeever Building, a project of Jefferson One and developer Bob Young, an all-office and retail building with sufficient parking to fulfill the parking requirements for the adjacent Wilden Apartments. The two buildings’ combined approval tonight confirmed a four-way agreement between the FCHC, Young, Tom Sawner, the prospective seller of his property to Young, and the City. The Wilden will be constructed at the current address of 350 S. Washington St., and The McKeever Building at 360 S. Washington St.

A still newer, added component to the plan was the decision by the F.C. City Council last week to locate a federally-funded “multi-modal transportation center” across the street, with the option that its parking component come in the form of an added deck onto the McKeever Building (a matter still to be determined through an upcoming competitive bid).

“I an very, very proud of what’s happened here, and I think the City will be, too,” said Planning Commissioner Lindy Hockenberry. Commissioners Russ Wodiska, Melissa Teates and Michael Kearney applauded the willingness of the developers to make modifications based on Planning Commission concerns, even as late as during the meeting tonight. Commissioners Rob Meeks and Ruth Rodgers expressed reservations but voted “Yes.” Chair Lawrence, the only “No” vote, said he felt the plan was contrary to the City’s Comprehensive Plan and by putting all the City’s affordable housing dollars into this “one basket,” it will deter the affordable housing needs of the City in the future.