Fairfax County Building Repositioning Workgroup

The 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 in order for them to remain competitive. This market response includes changes in use to both traditional uses such as residential, as well as to emerging trends such as makerspaces, which are community workshop facilities that integrate multiple uses at a single site (e.g., commercial, industrial and educational uses).

The Workgroup is sponsored by Chairman Sharon Bulova and Supervisor John Cook and includes a variety of non-profit stakeholders, regional industry leaders, and County staff.

Areas Explored

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
- Accomodate new market models and emerging industries. For example:
  • Co-working
  • Co-living
  • Makerspace
  • Incubators
  • Urban Farming

Recommendations

The Workgroup presented its recommendations to the Revitalization Committee in October of 2016. 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 entire 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 see the workgroup's report (December 2016).

Updates

Plan Amendment 2016-CW-4CP (Office Building Repurposing), a Countywide Policy Plan Amendment, has been posted to the Fairfax Forward website. A future staff report and information about the public hearing process may be found on that website.


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