Board Delays Vote on Hotel Exception

Board Delays Vote on Hotel Exception

Completing the Springfield transportation hub experiment, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Monday opted to delay a vote on a special exception for two office buildings and one hotel on the pipe factory land south of Springfield Mall. This addition to the Springfield site would enable residents to live and work in the same area as well as utilize public transportation to combat the traffic.

At least that is the vision of Supervisor Dana Kauffman (D-Lee) who referred to it as "smart growth."

"It's classic smart growth mixed use development," he said.

The vote was delayed until the Oct. 28 Board of Supervisors meeting according to . There are some transportation issues connecting the site with the Metro station, mainly a land bridge that was used when the Metro station was constructed. Kauffman looked at the success of the hospitality industry in Springfield in the past and feels that adding two more hotels is a positive move.

"The hospitality industry has been very successful through the years," he said.

Approval of the special exception would pave the way for the construction of two office buildings and a full service hotel on the property just south of Springfield Crossing, an apartment complex on the opposite side of the Springfield-Franconia Parkway from Springfield Mall. Springfield Crossing and the surrounding land are owned by KSI, who was approached by Kauffman with the mixed use plan.

"It's something we've been encouraging," he said.

There are shuttles and informal paths to the adjacent Metro station from Springfield Crossing.

"This is the most beneficial part of that development, it's a continuation of the KSI property," said Jeff McKay, chief of staff at Supervisor Dana Kauffman's (D-Lee) office.

The first apartment complex in the area, Springfield Station is close to the Metro station too and is looked at as a success of Kauffman's commuting vision.

There are plans for another hotel closer to Loisdale Road in that same area, but both of these are still in early stages of site approval. One is slated for a full service hotel and one is a regular, overnight motel. No corporate chains have shown interest and the economy could be a factor.

"I can't predict what the economy's going to do," said McKay.

There are already six hotels in Springfield and a Marriott Extended Stay complex under construction at Commerce Street and Brandon Avenue. The existing hotels are members of the Springfield Chamber of Commerce, according to executive director Nancy-jo Manney. She looks at the need around Springfield for additional meeting space but also knows that the economy is a factor.

"All the hotels in downtown Springfield are members of the chamber. I believe we need the meeting room space in conjunction with the overnight space. We're putting the pieces into place," she said.

The Courtyard by Marriott opened in November 2001 on Commerce Street where the Blackies Steak House used to be. The timing with the terrorist strikes was a factor when they opened.

"We met our expectations but we had to work harder to get it," said general manager David Fehrmann. Their efforts included advertising and strong sales efforts.

"We made it happen but we had to work at it. It's a tough time for hotels right now," he said. He pointed to the downfall in the tourism business after the terrorist attacks.

Fehrmann heard about the plans for the full service hotel zoning but not the other one. Courtyard Marriott has two meeting rooms and two conference suites available.