Commercial Real Estate

A new initiative to provide better proffer compliance tracking has launched in Fairfax County. The initiative requires applicants to submit a standalone proffer compliance matrix beginning at the first site plan submission.  That matrix is required to be updated as a development project moves through building plan review, occupancy, and bond release.  The overall goal of the new process is to create clarity for developers and Fairfax County regarding the status of a project’s proffer compliance.

The new proffer compliance requirements go into effect on June 27, 2017. If you have any questions about the new process contact Scott Adams at

Fairfax County Technical Bulletin

Fairfax County has jumped into the craft beverage game by creating new zoning rules that make it more attractive for craft beverage production establishments, including breweries, wineries, and distilleries, to operate in the county. The new zoning ordinance provisions were adopted by the Board of Supervisors on February 28 and are now in effect.  Under the new ordinance, smaller scale producers are expressly permitted in certain commercial zoning districts and most industrial and planned development zoning districts.  McGuireWoods is proud to have been the only firm that advocated during the public hearing process for additional flexibility in production limits and operations of these types of establishments. Those changes were incorporated into the final approved zoning ordinance amendment.

The maximum permitted annual production varies by zoning district, with a range of between 5,000-20,000 barrels of beer or 5,000-36,000 gallons of distilled spirits, wine, cider, or mead per year. While craft beverage production establishments are permitted by right in many districts, they may still require additional zoning actions in most cases. If a property has existing zoning approvals limiting potential uses, then an amendment to that approval will still be required before a craft beverage production establishment can be opened.

If you have questions regarding how the zoning ordinance impacts your property or if you are looking at potential brewery, distillery, or winery sites in Fairfax County, contact sadams@mcguirewoods for additional information.


The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors recently adopted a Policy Plan Amendment that will potentially open industrial planned areas County-wide by providing additional FAR for Data Center and Self-Storage uses.  This much needed amendment, which was adopted and developed largely in response to concerns raised by McGuireWoods for a key client, creates a new policy that allows the Board to increase the potential FAR to a 1.0 for these uses based largely on the lower-impact these uses generate in terms of traffic and County services.  The amendment requires a development site be located in an industrially planned and zoned district and meet certain criteria involving transportation, noise mitigation, building design, lot size or parcel consolidation, and site design in order to achieve the greater intensity. The text of the new amendment can be found here:


Please contact any member of the McGuireWoods team if you have questions about how this amendment may apply to a site.

To Fairfax County’s credit, they have collectively recognized the structural shifts that have and are occurring in the commercial office market.  In 2016, the County seated a diverse “Workgroup” to study the issue.  The Workgroup included elected officials (thanks to Supervisor Cook), senior County staff, and industry professionals, including  McGuireWoods.  On December 27th, the County published a forward looking report that identifies a number of innovative policy objectives that are aimed at adding flexibility and efficiency to approvals process so as to give otherwise challenged office and commercial properties new and additional options to be put to productive use in a way that benefits landowners and the County.  These options are potentially wide ranging and include residential and live/work options.  We expect ongoing evolution of these Policies in 2017.  If you would like to know more about this process, next steps and how it can creative opportunity for individual sites, please contact Gregory Riegle at


The Silverline corridor continues to evolve at a rapid pace. On December the 6th McGuireWoods, on behalf of Vornado/Charles E. Smith, secured approval of a comprehensive set of land use approvals that will remake the south side of the Wiehle/Reston East station from an un-amenitized suburban office park to a vibrant mixed use center offering more than 1.4M square feet of residential, office retail and hotel space. The project also features an extensive plazas and gathering spaces along with new bicycle and pedestrian amenities. The project was conceptualized and evolved in close coordination with Fairfax County and community stakeholders and serves the implement the recommendations of the Comprehensive Plan that were developed over an extensive five year exercise. The project is also noteworthy in its retention and enhancement of the existing office buildings, further showing that meaningful redevelopment can occur alongside functioning existing uses. For additional information please contact Gregory Riegle at






The Old Town North Small Area Plan Advisory Group will meet on Wednesday, December 14, 2016 and a community meeting will be held the following day December 15, 2016. Staff has begun releasing draft chapters of the revised small area plan to the Advisory Group. The City intends to send the new small area plan to Planning Commission and City Council for approval in March of 2017. Property owners in Old Town North should review these drafts chapters now to protect their interests. More information can be found here:

The North Potomac Yard Small Area Plan Advisory Group, established to allow for community engagement of proposed amendments to the 2010 North Potomac Yard Small Area Plan, will meet on January 31, 2017 to discuss transportation. The Advisory Group has been meeting since April 2016 to discuss topics such as land use, open space, housing, etc. in the context of proposed amendments to facilitate the redevelopment of the Hoyts theater site east of Potomac Avenue. Future Advisory Group meetings are scheduled to take place on February 13th and March 20th.  The Advisory Group will continue discussing the amendments until March of 2017 when a working draft of the small area plan amendments will be available. The amendments to the small area plan will be sent to Planning Commission and City Council for approval in May or June 2017. More information can be found here:

On June 21 the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved amendments to the Planned Residential Multi-Family (PRM) and Planned Development Commercial (PDC) zoning districts, along with changes to Community Revitalization District (CRD) and Community Business Center (CBC) requirements. The amendments will help implement existing Comprehensive Plan recommendations for increased FARs in limited locations and provide flexibility similar implementation of future Comprehensive Plan recommendations.  The approved amendment increases potential FARs in Transit Station Areas (TSAs) to 5.0 and permits up to a 4.0 FAR in CRDs and CBCs, with the exception of the McLean CBC.  The amendment also provides for additional uses in the PRM and PDC zoning districts and clarifies requirements for parking reductions.  Additionally, the amendment includes changes related to fast food restaurants in the PDC and PRM districts.

The zoning ordinance amendments are now in effect.

If you have any questions regarding the impact of the adopted ordinance amendments, do not hesitate to contact Scott Adams at


In 2010, Alexandria Renew Enterprises needed land for expansion of its state-of-the-art wastewater treatment facility. They already owned a vacant two acre parcel, but this land was cut off from the rest of the facility and was planned for residential use.  The only land meeting Alexandria Renew’s needs was a ten-acre former Go-Kart track already planned for high-density mixed use development.

After a long and difficult condemnation case, Alexandria Renew was forced to pay $36 million for the ten-acre tract of adjacent land. The price tag was so high because the parcel was already zoned for 512,000 SF of office and 170,000 SF of residential apartments, but Alexandria Renew needed the land for industrial-type use.  The solution: transfer of development rights.

Working with a team of McGuireWoods lawyers, the public authority known as Alexandria Renew crafted a complicated plan to sell the development rights for private development to JM Zell Partners and Alder Branch Realty. Key to the deal was an innovative site plan that concealed the wastewater treatment uses under a soccer field.  The soccer field merges with an elevated landscape extending onto the private land and covering several levels of above-ground parking.  Because Alexandria Renew is exempt from real estate taxes, the transfer puts the development rights back on the City tax rolls.

Alexandria Renew negotiated the sale of the development rights for 50% of the fair market value if the sale were to include the land along with the development rights. They also agreed to sell the surplus two-acre parcel that could not be used for wastewater treatment. When the final closing occurs in 2020, the public authority will have received up to $32 million from the private development.  In the meantime, the project continues to win national engineering and design awards and the public has begun to enjoy a new soccer field.

Fairfax County is about take a comprehensive look at planning and zoning recommendations for the Dulles Suburban Center.

For context, the Dulles Suburban Center extends north/south along the Route 28 corridor from the CIT to Westfields and west to the Loudoun County line.  The collective corridor contains a number of very strategic real estate opportunities.  The planning process will kick off on March 29th 2016.   Subsequent to that kick off meeting, there will be a “window” for owners and potential developers to submit “ideas” for more specific consideration.  This corridor has been heavily affected by structural shifts in the office and commercial real estate markets and this process is an critical  opportunity to add value to assets that may be under performing, or otherwise need repositioning.  Our land use team has extensive history and experience in this corridor going back to the formation of the Route 28 Task District.  If you would like to discuss opportunities in this corridor, or participate in this process, please contact me or any member of our land use team.



A review of the Comprehensive Plan language relative to the Dulles Suburban Center has been a part of the County’s Fairfax Forward Work Program since its inception, but County staff has been treading water on kicking off the public outreach and beginning work on revising language.  The latest information from County staff is that since the majority of the Dulles Suburban Center is in the Sully District, coordination with newly elected Supervisor Kathy Smith is necessary before a “kick-off” of public outreach/plan revisions can begin.  Funding and initiation of a comprehensive traffic study for the area is also a prerequisite to launching the review of any plan language revisions, but County staff believes they are close on that point.

It would be prudent to review any land development opportunities in the Dulles Suburban Center and submit suggested parcel-specific plan revisions or Center-Wide plan language revisions to staff NOW in order that they can be at the forefront when this study finally kicks off.  It is anticipated that staff will have an open suggestion period, similar to the process utilized for the Fairfax Center Area.  Some time with Kathy Smith’s ear on any prospective revisions or general comments about the Dulles Suburban Center area wouldn’t hurt either.  Below is the link to the area included in the Dulles Suburban Center.