- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The bulk of new affordable housing to be part of the massive Tysons Corner redevelopment plan is slated for households making six figures — or close to it — according to an analysis to be unveiled Wednesday.

The plan calls for developers to set aside 20 percent of new residences in the area for households that make between 50 percent and 120 percent of the area median income — $107,500 for a family of four, according to the 2011-12 figures from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The bulk of that 20 percent would be distributed to those making about $70,000 to $120,000 per year, per county guidelines.

For complying with the county’s affordable housing guidelines, developers can build 20 percent more units.

Fairfax County administers sales and rentals of the units and can give priority to people who live or work in Fairfax.

The county also has the right to buy up to one-third of the units within the first three months they are available. In the case of rental units, the county has the right to lease up to one-third of them.

The county determines the market rates for both selling and leasing the properties. Purchased units are price-controlled for 30 years after the initial sale, and rental units are rent-controlled for 50 years.

Supervisor Pat Herrity, Springfield Republican, said these kinds of terms are much too favorable for people pulling down $100,000 a year.

“I support the county subsidizing housing for the mentally and physically disabled and those truly in need, but the county should not be requiring subsidies for persons making up to $120,000 per year that have housing options in Fairfax County,” Mr. Herrity said.

Officials crafted the transformation of Tysons in hopes that the development, coupled with additional Metro stations, would help the county’s commuter-heavy economic engine blossom into a livable, walkable community.

“Particularly with workforce housing, there’s going to be a lot of jobs created in Tysons Corner,” said Supervisor John W. Foust, Dranesville Democrat. “And when people fill those jobs there [live] there, there will be much less of a demand on the transportation network.”

But despite the goal of incentivizing people to live near where they work, Mr. Herrity said more than 70 percent of the people slated to work in Tysons would not be living there. Furthermore, because few projects have been approved under the new comprehensive plan, Mr. Herrity advised caution, saying developers may be scared off.

“The future success of Tysons Corner is not guaranteed, and we need to be careful we do not price it out of existence,” Mr. Herrity said.

Affordable-housing developers in Tysons Corner are projected to pay the county $385 million by 2050, according to Mr. Herrity.

The plan for Tysons also recommends that new commercial and industrial developers contribute $3 per square foot to a trust fund dedicated to providing affordable-housing opportunities for area residents. That comes at an additional projected cost of more than $100 million.

Mr. Herrity said that rather than help subsidize housing for people making upward of $100,000 a year, he would like to see those funds help fill some of the $1.6 billion in estimated transportation needs for the area over that time period.

“Absent a good transportation network, developers may not be willing to take the risk of developing, and the future potential of Tysons may not be reached,” he said. “This is why … dollars must be used to fund transportation improvements, not [to] subsidize housing for those making $70,000 to $120,000 per year.”

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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