South Alexandria (South Alex), the 7.5 miles stretch of Richmond Highway that lies south of the Capital Beltway will become Fairfax County’s latest urbanized suburb — complementing Reston, Tysons, Merrifield and the upcoming Springfield Town Center. Importantly, we must recognize the hard work and vision of Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors and their planning staff for laying the foundation for this neighborhood renaissance with a new land use plan.

Four primary neighborhoods are planned: Penn/Daw, Beacon Heights, Hybla Valley and Woodlawn. While those are familiar neighborhoods today, with a lot of history and character, they will emerge as high-density, walkable centers that are home to 18,000 households, 23,000 jobs and 3.5M square feet of retail space.

At Fulton Research, we see three keys for the successful redevelopment of this corridor:

Planned as a multimodal corridor, the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system will serve as the critical link between neighborhoods to the Metrorail system. More importantly, the convenience of BRT service will make projects south of Penn/Daw more feasible.

We have strong demand for walkable, mixed-use communities in our current housing market conditions.  Adding HQ2 and its 25,000 new Amazon employees at National Landing will increase demand for commercial space and homes in the corridor and hasten the pace of development.

We expect the new supply of housing will improve the region’s housing market by increasing housing turnover. New walkable communities will draw empty nesters and retirees from the surrounding neighborhoods, freeing up those homes for new family buyers. Based on the American Community Survey, approximately 40% of nearby homeowners have lived there for 20 years or longer.

The Richmond Highway corridor enjoys the fundamentals for successful development: accessible location near jobs, family neighborhoods, and medical services; relative affordability when compared to closer-in communities; potential for home value appreciation for those taking the risk in an emerging corridor.