Proposed Centers – Yorkshire

The Planning Department has proposed a Yorkshire “Center of Community,” in their draft Land Use Map to be considered on April 15.

Planning staff defined a Center of Community as “a mix of uses with low- to mid-rise offices (that serve a local market), neighborhood-serving retail, a range of housing types (including both high and lower-density), and institutional uses.”

That would cover a wide range of existing places that we could call “Centers of Community.”  Pick any shopping center with a grocery store, go out 1/4 mile in every direction, and you have a “center” that is nowhere close to a walkable, mixed use community.   Unless the term is defined more clearly, it’s hard to see why the Comp Plan should offer any incentives to create more of the same ol’ same ol’ development.

Especially at Yorkshire…

That location (from Manassas Drive north to Bull Run, extending west to Centreville Road and east to the creek) is close to Fairfax, so the real estate has high potential value for commuters driving north to I-66.   It’s reasonable to expect bus service along Route 28 to improve in the next 5-10 years.  Most existing Yorkshire houses are not McMansions, and no one would confuse the neighborhood with Braemar or Montclair, so redevelopment is a possibility.

Still, it’s hard to imagine how the many small, already-developed parcels in fragmented private ownership south of Rugby Road could be redeveloped to create a Center of Community.  Commercial strip within two blocks of Route 28 is ripe for redevelopment, but not the neighborhoods.

Is the Planning Department expecting some developer to entice existing property owners to sell, holding onto fragments of property until the developer has assembled a parcel over the next 20 years large enough to justify a major project?   I can imagine individual homeowners upgrading their houses, one by one, but the challenge of assembling enough property in Yorkshire to make a major development seems unrealistic.

So I assume the staff knows something about this area that I don’t know.  Maybe the staff knows of deep-pocketed developers thinking about revitalizing Yorkshire, tearing down the existing stores/houses and putting up low- to mid-rise offices?

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