From 2015 to 2016, a Fairfax County Building Repositioning Workgroup (the Workgroup) was formed to evaluate the impacts of the changing office market on existing office space; how the use of buildings changes over time; and, what potential process and policy changes the County should consider to address the challenges and opportunities raised.
Changes in the commercial real estate market and high office vacancy rates have created market opportunities for commercial buildings to be repositioned or repurposed for them to remain competitive. The Workgroup produced a report and series of strategies to address these challenges, resulting in policy, process, and regulatory recommendations for the County (see Recommendations section below to learn more).
The Workgroup was sponsored by Chairman Sharon Bulova and Supervisor John Cook and included a variety of non-profit stakeholders, regional industry leaders, and County staff.
Please read the sections below to learn more about the initiative and examples of building repurposing projects in Fairfax County.
Repositioning - Improve viability through major enhancements to building, while retaining existing uses. For example:
- Facade updates
- Amenity improvements
- Systems upgrades
Repurposing - Improve viability through change in building use. For example:
- Office to residential
- Office to institutional (e.g., school or church)
Emerging Trends - Accommodate new market models and emerging industries. For example:
- Urban Farming
Many of the recommendations supported by the Workgroup were adapted from successful policy and regulatory efforts utilized by other jurisdictions, from staff research, and from experiences of the Workgroup members themselves. Specifically, approaches endorsed by the Workgroup focused on:
- providing outreach and education on the opportunities available
- removing policy, process and regulatory obstacles to repositioning and repurposing
- creating advantages in certain designated areas to foster repurposing
- documenting decisions and creating a solutions database related to repositioning and repurposing
- encouraging consideration of repurposing existing buildings to accommodate public facilities
- monitoring and accommodating emerging trends
Click here to see the October 2016 Revitalization Committee presentation.
Click here to see the Board of Supervisors' discussion on the workgroup recommendations (starting at 2:52:30).
Click here to see the board summary (item 29).
Click here to read the Office Building Repositioning & Repurposing report (Published December 2016).
Click here to review Plan Amendment 2016-CW-4CP (Office Building Repurposing), a Policy Plan Amendment to allow office building repurposing for alternative uses in certain mixed-use centers (adopted December 2016).
Click here to review Plan Amendment 2017-CW-5CP (Office Building Repurposing Phase II), a Policy Plan Amendment to allow the repurposing of vacant, partially vacant, or underutilized office buildings for alternative uses in Suburban Neighborhood Areas and Low Density Residential Areas (adopted May 2017).
Two major office conversion projects have come forth in the Baileys Crossroads CRD since the adoption of Countywide policy guidance for repurposing vacant or underutilized office buildings.
Mission Lofts at 5600 Columbia Pike - Bailey's Crossroads CRD
Mission Lofts, located at 5600 Columbia Pike on the eastern edge of Baileys Crossroads, opened in the spring of 2020. This flexible live/work building is the first of its kind in Fairfax County. Previously a vacant office building, it was extensively renovated and converted into 157 live/work units and features community amenities such as a co-working space, a gym, and music practice rooms. It also provides a new green space that includes architectural landscaping and serves as a dramatic gateway into the Baileys Crossroads community. The new green space replaced a surface parking lot at the intersection of Columbia Pike and Carlin Springs Road, and is divided into private space for tenants and a publicly accessible ecological walk directly adjacent to the public sidewalk. During the entitlement process, CRS worked very closely with the applicant and County staff to develop a quality proposal and facilitate this first-of-its-kind project. Learn more about this innovative live/work building.
Skyline - Bailey's Crossroads CRD
In September 2020, the Board of Supervisors approved an application to amend the proffers and final development plan to allow three office buildings within the iconic Skyline complex in Baileys Crossroads to be repurposed into flexible “live/work” units. Up to 720 live/work units will be created; one entire building has the option to be set aside as age-restricted live/work units. There also will be a complete reimagining of the buildings’ ground floors and the site’s grounds. Ground floor uses may include restaurants and retail, tenant amenities, and small-scale manufacturing uses. The plan calls for a new park space and reinvigorated streetscape that will contribute to the activation of the Skyline complex for the enjoyment of residents and the greater community. Learn more about this innovative project.
If you have questions about building repurposing in the County's Commercial Revitalization Districts, please reach out to the Community Revitalization Section of the Department of Planning and Development at (703) 324-9300 or Email.