FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. — A proposed Fairfax County amendment aims to lessen the parking requirements for large retail centers, allowing unused parking lots to be repurposed.
It's an issue the county has been talking about for the past year and a county report said there’s been a decline in shopping malls since the 1990’s.
"Changes to the parking requirements for large regional shopping centers could potentially impact all four of the county's regional malls — Fair Oaks, Springfield Town Center, Tysons Corner Center, and Tysons Galleria," the county's report said.
The report said repurposing unused parking lots would reduce environmental impacts and better utilize the property.
“An oversupply of parking is an inefficient use of land resources and creates environmental, design, and aesthetic issues,” the report said.
In an analysis paid for by the county, it found less than 65 percent of available parking spaces on the mall site were used during peak shopping hours.
One Fair Oaks Mall shopper said he wasn’t surprised.
“It’s kinda like this, empty most time,” Cody Bolden said of finding a parking space. “Haven’t had any problems.”
Another shopper said she has different experiences.
“It gets very busy here, that’s why we come very early,” Kim said. “To get in and get out with what we need.”
The county’s report said this isn’t something new, malls across the country are also re-purposing its unused parking areas for redevelopment activities.
“Conventional malls composed of multiple large-format anchor stores, a food court, and in-line shops surrounded by surface parking have responded to changing retail trends by trying to reinvent themselves to remain competitive,” the report said. “Malls around the United States are re-purposing underused surface parking areas for redevelopment activities including the addition of new residential and commercial development, urban plans, and enhanced design for pedestrian activities.”
The report lists examples such as pop-up uses, community colleges, and expanded outdoor activities.
Bolden said he would be happy if something like that set up shop in the Fair Oaks lot.
“That’d be pretty cool. I think one taking up the space, what’re you going to do with an empty parking lot other than not use it,” Bolden said. “That’d be awesome, that’d be cool.”
Locally, Tysons Corner Mall and Springfield Town Center have approved plans for redevelopment that utilize surface parking.
A public hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, November 13 to talk about the parking rate and how many spots would be required for the space.