NoVa Real Estate Development
McGuireWoods’ Real Estate and Land Use Group
Loudoun, Uncategorized

Loudoun County Sidesteps New Proffer Restrictions

Loudoun County has approved actions to avoid the new proffer restrictions that become effective on July 1, 2016.  On June 23, the Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution to create three new “small area comprehensive plans” comprising what is now the Suburban Policy Area, where most rezonings are expected.  Each small area plan will encompass one of the planned Metrorail stations in the County.  Under the new proffer bill, the restrictions that prohibit many of the proffers Loudoun has requested in the past do not apply to rezonings subject to such small area plans.

The Board has set a schedule for adoption of the new small area plans in October.  This schedule doesn’t allow for much community engagement, so the contents of the plan are likely to look very much like the existing Revised General Plan.  Don’t expect much activity on rezonings filed after July 1 until these new Small Area Plans are adopted.  The Board resolution prohibits county officials from discussing proffers related to new applications until the small area plans are done.

Proposed New Small Area Plans

Item 04 Resolution to Administer New Proffer Legislation


Fairfax County Approves Amendments to PRM, PDC, CRD, and CBC Districts

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


Transfer of Development Rights Saves $Millions for Public Authority


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.

Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William

New Virginia Statute Means Developers Should File Rezoning Applications Before July 01, 2016.

A new Virginia State statute governing what proffers local governments may and may not require of residential developers is set to become effective July 01, 2016. The bill injects a significant amount of legal uncertainty into the proffer process and is highly likely to make the proffer negotiation process even more difficult to navigate as parties attempt to discern the legal significance of the new statute. Fortunately, the statute includes a grandfather clause, meaning it will not apply to any rezoning applications filed prior to July 01, 2016. McGuireWoods has confirmed with Fairfax County staff that they will not be applying the statute’s rules to such applications. For this reason, we strongly recommend property owners considering redevelopment in the medium to near term call us immediately to avoid the ramifications of this new statute.


Updated – Dulles Suburban Center Study Nomination Period Opens

On March 29th, Fairfax County held a kick off meeting to start the Dulles Suburban Center Planning Study.  Members of the McGuireWoods team were present. 

 The Dulles Suburban Center extends generally south from the Dulles Toll Road through the entirely of the Route 28 corridor to Westfields and points south.  The study area includes thousands of acres of very strategic real estate.  This planning study represents an important opportunity to add value to land that has generally not been evaluated in planning and zoning processes for decades. Much of this real estate has historically been planned and zoned exclusively for office uses.  The study is a timely and overdue opportunity to reevaluate planning and zoning recommendations based on the well documented shift in the demands for office and the concurrent recognition of the benefits of a broader mix of uses.  

 Procedurally, the County has established a May 31st deadline to submit nominations for land use changes within the study area.  Such nominations can be made by owners and potential developers and contract purchasers.  There is no fee to make such a nomination.  We encourage owners and developers to  take a careful and strategic look at potential opportunities in this important corridor.




Loudoun Silver Line CPAM Starts Down the Tracks

SliverLineCPAM_Page_5The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors initiated the plan amendment process for properties around the two Loudoun Metro stations on March 17.  The board’s motion included plan boundaries, shown above, and a detailed schedule leading to adoption of a plan amendment in November 2016.  The eight phase process will allow landowners to present ideas for future development.

The county planning staff is recommending adoption of a form-based code to regulate development within the small area plan, along with urban design guidelines and recommendations for changes to the Countywide Transportation Plan.  Staff noted it intends to have Shellhorn Road and adjacent roads reflect the alignments previously endorsed by the Board.

Stakeholder meetings will begin in April and interested property owners need to engage early.



Proffer Related Legislation Becomes Law

Last week Governor McAuliffe signed into law a bill adopted by the Virginia General Assembly that will impact the permitted substance of proffered conditions throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia – particularly as related to projects with a residential component.  The new law has the potential to significantly affect the legal positions of landowners and developers and creates new rules for all pending and contemplated proffered land use projects.  In our judgment the new law creates risks, offers some opportunities and raises important procedural considerations for proffered rezonings.  There are also nuanced exceptions to the law that may be applicable in urban or transit oriented areas of many NOVA localities.  In the coming weeks, we expect the localities to issue initial statements and positions concerning their view of the nature and extent of such exceptions.

We and our affiliated McGuireWoods Consulting legislative team have carefully followed the development of this law through the entire legislative process.  Based on our extensive experience with legislation of this type and our well-developed relationships with regulators and decision makers in all of the northern Virginia counties, cities and towns, we have a number of strategic recommendations for clients that have pending or contemplated land use applications.   Please feel free to contact any member of our land use team for further information




Loudoun County Board Initiates New Comprehensive Plan

Loudoun Comp Plan


The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors initiated the process for a New Comprehensive Plan on March 1 and directed staff to present a Plan Charter to the Transportation and Land Use Committee for its consideration and recommendation for endorsement by the full Board of Supervisors.  This will be the first major re-write in 16 years.

The focus of the new Comp Plan will be on eastern Loudoun.  During discussion most of the Supervisors stated their intention to leave the Rural Policy Area and most of the Transition Policy Area (TPA) alone.  Supervisor Buffington (Blue Ridge) stated that he is only willing to discuss changes to the TPA to reflect what has already happened on the ground and not to increase development.  Changes were discussed to revitalize Sterling and parts of Leesburg, grow the Tech Corridor and review outdated Keynote Employment areas.

The planning process is projected to take 18 – 24 months and will include a stakeholder group.  Other details will be included in the Charter document that will be presented by staff to the Board Transportation and Land Use Committee on March 11.


Fairfax County to Launch Comprehensive Study of Dulles Suburban Center

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.




Fairfax County Proposes Amendments to Tysons Comprehensive Plan

Fairfax County Proposes Amendments to Tysons Comprehensive Plan


The Board of Supervisors has recently authorized an amendment to the Tysons Plan.  The County staff has prepared draft text and the so called “Tysons Committee” of the Planning Commission is reconvening to review the same.  The provisions are intended to, among other things, reconcile certain text and maps with the studies and planning activities that have been completed since 2010.  While many of the changes are editorial in nature and reflect a logical evolution of the Tysons Plan, this proposed Plan amendment does include a critical discussion relative to the continued role of the Initial Development Level (“IDL”) that was included in the 2010 as a means to address the perceived need to phase development to needed transportation improvements.  Since 2010 numerous studies have been completed and policies adopted to fund the necessary transportation improvements and the IDL is arguably no longer applicable and now may be the operative time to remove the IDL from the Comprehensive Plan or at least eliminate the perception of a “Cap” on new development.  Similarly, the proposed Plan text also includes refined guidance on the triggers for certain transportation improvements and the funding for the same.  These revisions have relevance to all current and prospective land owners and developers in Tysons.  For further information please contact Gregory A. Riegle by email at