OUTSIDE THE BOX: Going Back To Rockville Town Center

OUTSIDE THE BOX: Going Back To Rockville Town Center

By Stephen Siegel
Falls Church Times Staff
August 18, 2014

The development team proposing the big mixed use project for Broad & West has been comparing the latest version of their plan to Bethesda Row and Rockville Town Center. And the latter project, which replaced a declining strip mall, has been winning lots of urban design awards. So, ignoring the admonition of the 1980s rock band R.E.M, who sang, “Don’t Go Back To Rockville,” I did just that in order to take a look.

It was my first trip to Rockville in probably 20 years. Of course, I wasn’t around these parts for 10 of those, but I never was a fan of the Montgomery County seat when I first saw it in the 1990s.

The community at that time seemed to embody many of the negative stereotypes of modern suburbia: a traffic choked main artery, Rockville Pike, even at noon on a weekday, and retail that looked like it had seen better days. It also had high density, with townhouses everywhere you looked.

But Rockville Town Center gives the area a whole different feel. It shares many of the attributes of these more urban designs that we’ve seen elsewhere and that have... [Read more...]


OUTSIDE THE BOX: Will be Posted Monday

For those wondering where Outside the Box is, the regular Sunday column will be posted Monday. Thank you for your interest.

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Vacancy Finally Ending at 1001 West Broad

By Stephen Siegel
Falls Church Times Staff
August 15, 2014

After four and one-half long years with an empty storefront, the former Falls Church Cabinetry site at the southwest corner of Broad and West streets will soon be open with a new business, the Falls Church Times has learned.

Interestingly, the new store will still be selling cabinets, which is a bit ironic after restaurants, auto services, banks, and a child’s play center, among others, expressed at least some interest in the site during the years since the cabinetry facility filed for bankruptcy and departed in early 2010.

Some of those interested businesses decided not to lease the space because of inadequate parking or because City officials declined to allow a bank a drive-thru facility, sources have said. The small parcel at the hard corner of the two busy arteries has only a few parking spaces; it lost some when Broad Street was expanded from two to four lanes many years ago.

The new store, which will be called House of Interiors, will be run by the building’s owners, Broad Street Realty Trust. The owners of the company also operate a store under the same... [Read more...]


City Council Votes Initial Approval of Broad & West Project

By Stephen Siegel
Falls Church Times Staff
August 11, 2014

The Falls Church City Council voted 7-0 Monday night to approve the controversial mixed-use project at the intersection of Broad and West Streets. But the vote doesn’t mean the project can get under way. And the Council made it clear, despite the unanimous vote, that it remains uncomfortable with the project in its current configuration.

The vote came in favor of approving what’s called a “first reading,” which allows the discussions, negotiations, and refinements of the project to continue, and also allows board and commissions, such as the Planning Commission, to consider the proposal and offer their opinion.

To begin construction, the developers of the project would need to gain an approval at a “second reading,” now scheduled for December. And the Council made it clear that approval then is no sure thing.

Prior to the vote, which came three hours into a marathon meeting, Councilor Nader Baroukh offered a motion intended to alert developer Spectrum Development that there are a number of things that need to be done and improved upon if it wants final approval... [Read more...]

Around Town









OUTSIDE THE BOX: Mixed Use Keeps Coming, and More is Likely on the Way

OUTSIDE THE BOX: Mixed Use Keeps Coming, and More is Likely on the Way

By Stephen Siegel
Falls Church Times Staff
August 10, 2014

The Falls Church City Council is scheduled to consider on Monday night an initial approval of the mixed-used project at Broad and West now dubbed Mason Row. That doesn’t mean it’s a done deal; an initial approval only allows others, such as the Planning Commission, to offer their opinions.

But combined with two giant holes in the ground on the 300 block of West Broad and the 500 block of South Maple as well as the recently completed Northgate on North Washington Street, it is fair to say we are up to our ears in such developments.

Whether that’s good or bad may depend on your perspective, but what’s not arguable is that we have a lot of mixed use coming, and a lot of interest from developers of such projects.

That said, before the ink even dries on the Council’s expected initial approval for Mason Row, consider that even more are likely coming down the pike.

Mason Row is the westernmost such project ever to reach the Council. All the others — the Spectrum, Broadway, Byron, Read, Northgate, and the aforementioned projects on Broad and Maple, are... [Read more...]


7 Screen Cinema Could Come to Broad & West

By Stephen Siegel
Falls Church Times Staff
August 4, 2014

As Spectrum Development’s proposal for Broad & West heads for an initial vote at the Falls Church City Council next week, the big project could be undergoing a massive change: the developers are talking with two theater companies in an effort to add a 7-screen restaurant cinema to the plan.

It would be the second major anchor for the project, in addition to the extended stay Home 2 hotel, and would increase the commercial space in the proposed complex from about 47,000 to 77,000 square feet, Spectrum Principal Peter Batten said Monday night at a meeting of the Council’s Economic Development Committee.

That would fit well with Spectrum’s idea of making the project a true retail destination, and also fit with City officials’ desire to add more retail, and more vibrant retail, to the project compared to what the developer initially proposed.

The theater plan isn’t yet signed and sealed. But it’s far enough long that Mr. Batten felt comfortable to mention it in public. He told the Times that the discussions are ongoing with two companies that he described... [Read more...]


Little City License Plates Available for Order

By FALLS CHURCH CITY OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS and FALLS CHURCH TIMES STAFF
August 4, 2014

Show your hometown pride! A new Virginia license plate design is available that features the “Little City” logo that’s been seen around town for the last several years.

The license plate is a great way to show civic pride for the City of Falls Church. The specialty plates cost an additional $10 annually. Residents who already have a personalized plate can retain the personalization on a new Little City plate. Residents who wish to customize the letters or numbers next to The Little City logo will be charged an additional $10.

However, City officials say the plate will only be made available for purchase by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles if 350 people order it. It’s not known how many have requested the design to date.

The design can be viewed, and the plate ordered, on the City’s web site at www.FallsChurchVA.gov/Plates.

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DEVELOPMENT NEWS: 5 New Restaurants, More Yoga Arriving in City

By Stephen Siegel
Falls Church Times Staff
August 3, 2014

Five new restaurants are on their way to Falls Church City, while two have left, according to the City’s Economic Development Office, which tracks business comings and goings.

Quiznos, formerly located in the West End Shopping Center, has vacated the space as the national chain struggles with financial problems. A jewelry store has signed a lease and for the storefront. And Pilin Thai, long a fixture on the 100 block of West Broad, has closed its doors as well.

But while the loss of those two may be a negative, a plethora of new restaurants is poised to more than make up for it for CIty diners hungry for more options.

Heading our way is another Louisiana-themed eatery called Hot n’ Juicy Crawfish, which is slated for the Pilin space, while a building around the corner, at Park Avenue and Maple, was purchased by the owners of Arlington’s Liberty Tavern; they plan a restaurant of unknown type for 205 Park.

A Middle Eastern restaurant, which had been rumored a year ago, is finally slated for the old donut/bagel store that vacated the storefront in the Falls... [Read more...]


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