Broad & West Developer Suggests City Move Library to Site

Broad & West Developer Suggests City Move Library to Site

By Stephen Siegel
Falls Church Times Staff
February 23, 2015

The mixed-use project proposed for the intersection of Broad & West streets has undergone many changes at the request of City officials, but a new change may be the biggest yet: owner Spectrum Development is suggesting including a new, 2-story Falls Church City library at the site.

The new library would be situated at the corner of Park Avenue and the new Mason Lane, a road which would run from West & Park south to Broad Street. It would be clearly visible from the Washington & Old Dominion Trail across West Street, and would have dedicated parking in a connected garage with apartments above it.

It would replace retail currently envisioned for that corner, and would add a third major non-residential component to the project, in addition to the Home 2 extended stay hotel and the underground movie theaters.

The idea of adding a new library at that location comes after months of discussions with City officials and just weeks after the board of the current Mary Riley Styles Library received the latest version of a consultant’s proposal to... [Read more...]

Broad & West Developer Submits New Proposal, Seeks Admissions Tax

By Stephen Siegel
Falls Church Times Staff
February 15, 2015

Revised plans for the project proposed for the northeast corner of Broad and West streets contain few surprises, but the big news is that to help make the financial numbers work, the developer is asking City officials to enact an admissions tax on tickets sold at the complex’s eight movie theaters.

The tax, if enacted, would be a real tax, levied by the City, but the revenue it raises would not wind up in City coffers. Instead, it would be conveyed to Spectrum Development, builder and owner of the proposed project, to help offset the high cost of the theater’s construction. The theaters would be underground and would feature food service at a patron’s seat.

It’s not clear why the tax, which would amount to a City subsidy to Spectrum, is needed, and Spectrum Principal Peter Batten did not return a telephone call seeking comment.

However, it’s likely that the amount of rent the national theater company that would operate the theaters is willing to pay for a lease at the site is not sufficient for Spectrum’s numbers to work,... [Read more...]

COMMUNITY COMMENT: You’re going to like the new West End Park

Steve Selby, Chair
Recreation & Parks Advisory Board
February 11, 2015

I enjoyed Mr. Siegel’s February 9 article on West End Park and appreciate the Times’ continued coverage of important local developments. As you point out, West End Park is undergoing a significant transformation.  The product of a decade of planning and community discussion, the new West End park will be a “signature” component of the City’s increasingly connected network of parks.  While not the largest of our parks, it might be the most visible.  With additional amenities and a new entrance on Broad Street, this transformed park will be attractive to residents and visitors alike.

The park combines many features important to our community.  The expansion will add arbor-like qualities with places for quiet reflection as well as additional walking trails.  Including skateboard features while ensuring other uses for that section of the park was the product of many robust discussions with the community.

Parks of course have value simply as places for recreation and quiet reflection. ... [Read more...]

City Hall Cleared of Suspicious Object That Forced Lockdown

February 9, 2015

City Hall has been cleared of a suspicious object.

The object, a package that turned out not to be dangerous, was spotted at about 4 pm Monday in the lobby and the building was placed on lockdown.

Classes at the adjacent Community Center were told to shelter in place out of an abundance of caution.

Falls Church City Police and the Arlington County Fire Marshal’s Bomb Squad responded to the scene. The device was determined to be consistent with a training aid used by explosive K9 teams.

The object was seized, and City Hall and the Community Center were swept out of an abundance of caution. No malicious intent is suspected.

The evening meetings scheduled for City Hall (City Council, Planning Commission, Operation EarthWatch) have been cancelled. The Community Center will reopen at 8:15 p.m., and Little Falls St. and Park Ave. are expected to open shortly after 7:10 pm.

Meetings will be rescheduled for later dates; the City will post the dates on the website.

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Around Town

West End Park Transformation Underway

By Stephen Siegel
Falls Church Times Staff
February 8, 2015

West End Park, a small playlot hidden behind the Washington & Old Dominion Trail’s Broad Street bridge, is getting a massive makeover.

The tiny park, located between Grove and Falls avenues, is accessible only from Falls and a former stretch of Railroad Avenue that runs parallel to, and below, the bridge.

But under a $555,000 contract approved last year, the park is going to be much bigger, more accessible, and also contain a skate park, among other new amenities.

The architect’s plans show the park being expanded to the existing property’s western border adjacent to the Sonic Soft Car Wash at 1050 W. Broad Street, where a new paved path will be constructed.

That path will lead northeast toward the skateboard amenities, and then split to go north to the park’s far end and south toward the existing facilities. The northbound path appears to be concrete, but the southbound path apparently will be crushed gravel.

Open play areas will be created north of the skate park, as will a landscaped circle. There appears to be no trail going out to Falls... [Read more...]

OUTSIDE THE BOX: The Changing Appearance of the Little City

OUTSIDE THE BOX: The Changing Appearance of the Little City

By Stephen Siegel
Falls Church Times Staff
February 4, 2015

There’s been much discussion of the changes in Falls Church City’s urban fabric over the last several years, as larger, mixed-use buildings have begun to dot the Broad and Washington Street landscape. And we may have talked the mixed-use building topic into the ground.

But there’s another change in the City’s appearance I’ve noticed, and it’s one I think is a good thing: I see a lot more people out enjoying our streets. And I believe that makes those streets feel more alive, active, and pleasant than they ever were before.

When I moved here in 2008, I rarely saw anyone out on foot in the West Street corridor. Now, I see tons of runners, and at random times of day. Sometimes, there are two unrelated people running, one after another. They are unrelated in the sense that they don’t know each other and just happen to be running the same route at the same time.

I’ve seen women pushing jogging strollers, and people running on Broad. Today at 5 pm, I saw a young woman in a fluorescent green shirt and shorts, enjoying a run past Mad Fox Brewing Company in... [Read more...]

OUTSIDE THE BOX: Will be Published Monday

Outside the Box, the Times’ regular Sunday column, will be published Monday. A riveting Super Bowl has left your faithful scribe spent.

Thank you for your interest.

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Redevelopment and More Apartments Likely For Broad & Washington

By Stephen Siegel
Falls Church Times Staff
January 31, 2015

The announcement this week that the Robertson family has sold their longtime holdings in downtown Falls Church City means that change, increased density, and additional commercial space are likely on their way to one of the City’s most prominent corners.

The Robertsons owned the white brick building at the northeast corner of Broad & Washington streets; the adjacent property currently housing an Applebee’s restaurant; and the structure to the east that contains a doctor’s office. They sold all three to to a development group consisting of Arlington-based Insight Property Group and Reston-based Kiddar Metz.

The reported price was $13.6 million for the 2.68 acre site, more than $1.4 million above its City-assessed value.

Neither Insight nor Kiddar have revealed what their plans are for the site, and one wonders if the white building at 100 N. Washington might be gutted and repurposed rather than torn down. It’s handsome and large at 45,000 square feet, making it much more salvageable than properties like those at Broad & West and the old Anthony’s... [Read more...]

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