Vienna Town Council rejects assisted living facility over parking concerns

Michael Dranove Tysons Update

On June 17th, the Vienna Town Council rejected a proposal from Sunrise Senior Living to construct a mixed-use retail and 108 bed assisted-living facility at 100 Maple Avenue.  Despite over a year of back and forth discussions, Sunrise was unable to convince the Council that the development would not overly strain the area’s limited parking resources.

The main question surrounding the proposal was whether or not the development’s planned 59 space parking garage, along with an additional 12 off-site parking spots for employees, would be sufficient for its needs.  With 71 spaces for a 108 person facility, Sunrise’s proposal included a per unit rate of .66 parking spaces.  Applicants pointed out that this ratio would be above some of Vienna’s neighbors, and would be well above the .41 ratio suggested by the industry standard for assisted living facilities created by the Institute of Transportation Engineers.

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However, applicants also acknowledged that this picture would change dramatically during peak times when, assuming that no employees carpooled, were sick, or took public transit, as few as 2 spots could have been available during weekday afternoon shift changes. 

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After viewing the statistics, a majority of Councilmembers remained opposed.  Echoing concerns raised by Councilmember Pasha Majdi, Councilmember Howard Springsteen remarked, “We just have insurmountable parking problems here.”  Also opposed were a number of local businesses, who submitted a protest petition to the Council on June 10th.

In response, with a no vote looking increasingly likely, representatives from Sunrise pleaded with the Council for approval saying, “We are doing everything that we can, we are open to solutions beyond those that we have come up with…we cannot figure out any kind of facts that would demonstrate that we don’t have adequate parking, and that we haven’t gone above and beyond to mitigate that impact.”

Prior to voting, Councilmember Majdi asked the proposal’s key backer, Councilmember Tara Bloch, if she would be interested in tabling the motion for approval until the parking situation could be reworked.  Bloch, whose June 17th meeting was her last, rejected Majdi’s request and pushed forward with a vote that ended 3-4, two votes short of the 5 votes it needed to pass.

After rejection, staff from Sunrise looked sufficiently chagrined. The proposal had received the blessing of the Town Planning Commission, and the McLean based company no doubt hoped June 17th would have paved the way for its 326th facility. As it stands, Sunrise will have to wait a full year before it can reapply.