Fairfax County’s Richmond Highway area ripe for development during next decade
10-mile area could see hundreds of thousands of square feet of development
Between the development of Amazon.com Inc.’s $2.5 billion East Coast HQ2 headquarters in Arlington and Virginia Tech’s $1 billion Innovation Campus in Alexandria, Northern Virginia is ripe for commercial and residential development during the next decade.
According to a market assessment study presented to Fairfax County’s Economic Advisory Commission, the Richmond Highway corridor (a 10-mile stretch between the Capital Beltway and Fort Belvoir in Fairfax County) could see demand for up to 493,000 square feet of retail space and 380,000 square feet of office space by 2030. Currently, there are approximately 31,000 people employed in the Richmond Highway area and nearly 1 million square feet of office and industrial development.
“Richmond Highway is one of the oldest and most important business corridors in Fairfax County,” Victor Hoskins, president and CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, said in a statement. “This market assessment will help county officials, businesses, residents, stakeholders and partners along the corridor build on the important work already done by the county and understand what kind of redevelopment and revitalization opportunities will bring the most benefits for the community and value to the county.”
The study conducted by Washington, D.C.-based Partners in Economic Solutions (PES) shows the pipeline for retail, office, hotel and residential development, plans for land use and effects of the $1 billion Embark Richmond Highway initiative, which includes plans for transportation and development along 7.5 miles of the area.
Embark Richmond Highway GPS system courtesy Fairfax County.
According to the study, residential development will be impacted by the outcome of the construction of a bus rapid transit line, which would include nine stops at business centers in the corridor.
“With improved accessibility, the corridor should benefit from the influx of workers and residents anticipated to accompany the Amazon HQ2 facility in National Landing further north along Richmond Highway,” according to the report. Between 2020 and 2035, the report suggests there could be a 27.4% influx of households, jumping from 32,284 to 47,183 along the Richmond Highway corridor.
The study shows that there is no demonstrable need for a new hotel in the area during the next few years due to a drop in occupancy related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Though performing better than anticipated based on the economic climate, Richmond Highway hotels are still well below optimal occupancy and room rate levels,” according to the report. “Research indicates that the recovery from the pandemic may take more than four years for local hotels to return to pre-COVID-19 performance levels.”
The study also outlines plans for branding communities along the corridor, including North Gateway/ Huntington, Penn Daw, Beacon/Groveton, Hybla Valley/Gum Springs, South County Center and Woodlawn. It also addresses finding new use for public spaces, technical and financial assistance for Richmond Highway businesses and marketing targeted at real estate investors.
“It provides us a framework for understanding where the historic Richmond Highway is today and a possible path forward in the specific market areas of retail, hotel and office,” Fairfax County Supervisor Rodney L. Lusk said in a statement. “This study and its findings are the first step in plotting our course and I look forward to working with the community to develop an implementation plan.”