It isn’t just a new paint job. The boarded-up former Sunoco gas station on Richmond Highway in the North Gateway area — which got a fresh coat this past weekend — has a new owner.
Sirhandi Investments Group, LLC purchased the property from Sunoco LLC in January for $1.9 million, according to Fairfax County tax records. Sirhandi Investments Group LLC is registered to Fazal Sirhandi, who is president and CEO of Sirhandi Enterprises, Incorporated. According to its website, Sirhandi Enterprises is “the owner and operator of premier service stations and casual dining facilities located in the Mid-Atlantic region.”
Sirhandi could not be reached for comment. However a lawyer for Walsh, Colucci, Lubeley & Walsh said the firm, which specializes in land use issues, is representing the new owner but can’t discuss future plans for the site just yet.
The Sunoco station is one of the first buildings people see when entering the Richmond Highway corridor and has long been considered an eyesore by residents. It has not been an operational gas station since 2003, when it was sold to the state to be used as a staging ground for the Woodrow Wilson Bridge project.
After completion of the bridge project, the property was purchased by Sunoco for $1 million. However a plan to reopen the station never moved forward. According to the Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation (SFDC), Sunoco ran into issues with the special exception process. The land is currently zoned C-8 by the county, which allows for commercial uses but requires a special exception to be used as a service station.
The county’s long-term vision for the old Sunoco property and the rest of the North Gateway area does not appear to include service stations with mini marts. Last year the Board of Supervisors authorized the department of planning and zoning (DPZ) to begin working on a comprehensive plan amendment that would reconfigure and rezone a section of the North Gateway area, which is one of the Community Business Centers (CBCs) at the heart of the Embark Richmond Highway plan.
The North Gateway amendment would allow for the consolidation of land parcels, re-align some of the roads — including possibly vacating Old Richmond Highway — and increase density for mixed-use development. In May the DPZ gave a presentation at an SFDC board meeting on the comprehensive plan study, and included images showing possible building massing for the two sections of land that would be affected by the comprehensive plan amendment.
Both pieces of land — one occupied by the Ourisman car dealership, the office building at 5908 Richmond Highway, and the Great American Steak and Buffet, and the other occupied by the Sunoco property, a bank and the Travelers Motel — would be redeveloped.
Another major project in the North Gateway area — a massive addition and overhaul of the Riverside Apartments complex — has already received the green light from the Board of Supervisors. That project includes plans for five new apartment towers to be built on the Riverside property, which currently has three 15-story buildings, as well as a public park featuring a boat launch.
The North Gateway amendment would allow for more 15-story buildings to be built approximately where the Ourisman property stands today.
A staff report on the North Gateway comprehensive plan amendment is expected to be released in August, with a Fairfax County Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors meetings to follow in September and October, respectively.