Broad & West Developer Seeks More Community Input

By Stephen Siegel
Falls Church Times Staff
August 31, 2014

Spectrum Development, the company that has proposed a makeover of the parcel at Broad & West streets, has met with neighbors many times and communicated with them by email as well. Now, they’re seeking more resident suggestions.

They’re open to receiving those suggestions via email or by telephone. But they also are inviting people to come to a town hall meeting at the Falls Church Community Center Thursday, Sept. 4 at 7:30 pm to voice their thoughts.

“We’re interested in inviting the community to talk more about Mason Row,” said Spectrum principal Peter Batten, referring to the new name they’ve give to their proposal for the prominent corner. “We’ll listen to community feedback.”

Mr. Batten said previous meetings with neighbors have improved their proposal, which now is modeled after some of the other mixed-use projects in the area, such as Bethesda Row and Rockville Town Center, albeit on a smaller scale.

While a cynic might say it’s simply good public relations to tell people their concerns are being heard, Mr. Batten said he truly... [Read more...]


Police Apprehend Suspect in Cherry Hill Child Assault

By FALLS CHURCH CITY OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS and FALLS CHURCH TIMES STAFF
August 31, 2014

Falls Church City Police on Saturday apprehended a suspect in connection with allegations that he assaulted a child at Cherry Hill Park on Friday.

The 14 year-old suspect is charged with two counts of abduction, one count of sexual assault, and one count of simple assault. He is being held in a juvenile detention facility.

Officers responded to Cherry Hill Park about 9:30 Friday night. The victim, an 8-year-old female, stated she was physically and sexually assaulted by the same 14-year old male on two occasions that evening.

The first incident was interrupted by an adult, and the suspect ran away. But he soon returned and assaulted the girl again. The victim called out and nearby adults approached the suspect. The suspect ran away again, but was pointed out to the responding officers, and then apprehended.

The incident occurred during a community event in the park. “This is an isolated event,” said Police Capt. Richard Campbell. “We thank the adults who acted on a situation that seemed suspicious.”

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OUTSIDE THE BOX: Investigating Bethesda Row

OUTSIDE THE BOX: Investigating Bethesda Row

By Stephen Siegel
Falls Church Times Staff
August 24, 2014

The developers who would like to build a mixed-use project at Broad & West streets have compared their ideas to designs like Rockville Town Center and Bethesda Row. Last week, I checked out Rockville, so this week, I decided I had to investigate Bethesda.

And I’m glad I did. The project has a number of interesting elements, and provides quite a contrast to Rockville, even though the two Montgomery County properties share some similar design elements.

Whereas Rockville is nice and pleasant, and creates a more welcoming public space than the typical suburban strip or shopping mall development, it still has a suburban feel to me, a bit like Fairfax Corner, which is across Interstate 66 from Fair Oaks Mall. It seems to be trying so hard to be urban that the sweat shows, and yet it still doesn’t feel truly urban.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing; it’s just an observation. But from where I sit, while Rockville seems like a fine blend of suburban and urban, it still somehow seems a bit artificial, as if it was plunked down on the site like a spaceship landing... [Read more...]


City Seeks to Beautify, Enhance Safety of, W&OD Trail

By Stephen Siegel
Falls Church Times Staff
August 24, 2014

Does the Washington & Old Dominion Trail cross multiple streets in Falls Church City? Or do those streets cross the trail?

The correct answer, of course, is yes to both questions. But City officials are looking at ways to make it feel as though it is primarily the streets that cross the trail and not the other way around.

It may seem like a distinction without a difference, but officials believe thinking about the trail-street intersections in that way can enhance the safety as well as the beauty of the narrow park through which the popular Trail runs.

How would they make it seem as though the streets, which were there first, are secondary to the Trail? By adding landscaping and traffic calming measures on Great Falls, West, Grove, Little Falls, Spring, and Oak streets in an attempt to make it clear that it is the roads that are invading the park space, rather than the trail interfering with the roads.

The idea is still in the concept stage. But drawings and explanations from those involved in the planning help illuminate their thinking.

One drawing... [Read more...]

Around Town









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...]


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