Paving of 7-11 Parking Lot Raises Questions About Mason Row

By Stephen Siegel
The Falls Church Times
January 3, 2017

Sharp-eyed Times reader Mark Sparkman was the first to notice, or at least the first to go public: in a comment on the Falls Church Times, Mr. Sharpman noted that the parking lot at the 7-11 was being re-paved. This seemed odd, because the entire site appeared likely to be demolished and excavated as part of the mixed-use Mason Row project slated for that corner.

Other readers quickly chimed in, and some suggested this was an indication that the controversial project was dead, or at least on life support.

But opponents shouldn’t get too excited. Both the City and the developer have known all along that 7-11 has lease rights that the developer needs to address before 7-11 will move out. The paving of the parking lot seems wasteful to be sure, but it may simply be part of a pre-existing contract that calls for such work to be done at prescribed intervals.

One can’t be sure without seeing their contract, but a similar situation unfolded at the Burger King on Broad Street a few years ago, when landscaping and repaving of their much larger parking lot... [Read more...]


What’s Up With Mason Row?

By Stephen Siegel
The Falls Church Times

December 17, 2016

The Mason Row mixed-use project was initially proposed to City officials more than five years ago, and made public three years ago. After much controversy and some significant changes, the City Council approved it in January. But there’s still few signs that anything is happening at the northeast corner of Broad and West streets, prompting some residents to ask if it’s still going to be built.

The short answer is: probably. Builder Spectrum Development, after months of further delays, submitted a site plan for the project in September, which is a necessary step to gaining permits to put a shovel in the ground, and they are scheduled for a meeting with the Planning Commission this Monday, December 19.

Several businesses at the site have left for, or have announced, new locations, including Bikenetic, which moved to West Jefferson Street, and Mike’s Deli, which is relocating to the old Long John Silver’s spot at Broad and Shreve. Brits on Broad has closed.

The 7-11 remains open at that spot and is still looking for another location nearby. The Falls Church Times... [Read more...]


Referendum on Library Expansion Set for Tuesday

By Stephen Siegel
The Falls Church Times
November 7, 2016

After years of study and political wrangling, Falls Church City voters will be empowered on Tuesday to decide if they want to spend as much as $8.7 million to renovate and expand the Mary Styles Riley Library.

On the ballot is a simple question: do you agree to authorize the City to sell the requisite amount of bonds to finance that renovation, along with a 6,600 square foot expansion? But the path that led the City and its residents to this point was anything but simple.

Discussions about improvements to the library have been ongoing for many years, and they gathered steam in 2013, when the Library Board of Trustees requested $18 million and suggested the current building be demolished and a brand new library be built on the same site.

There was some pushback against the idea, both because of the price tag and because of the possibility that the City would be without a library while the new one was built. In the end, the City Council addressed the concerns about both by authorizing in July the referendum before voters now, which cut the cost of the library board’s... [Read more...]


Long-delayed Rare Bird Opens, Adds to City’s Growing Coffee Scene

By Stephen Siegel
The Falls Church Times

October 6, 2016

Rare Bird Coffee Roasters, a new specialty coffee house that roasts beans right at its store, quietly opened its doors Tuesday in a move that adds to Falls Church City’s growing premium coffee options.

The bar and roastery, located in the former Tutti Frutti space at 230 W. Broad Street, is the brainchild of Bryan Becker and Lara Berenji, who originally operated the shop in a location well off the beaten path in Northeast Washington. They had originally targeted a July opening, but finishing the space and getting the necessary permits took longer than they planned.

The Broad Street location is not a second one for the couple; they opted to close their Washington store and relocate to Falls Church. They appear to have a real passion for coffee, not only because they roast their own beans, but because they carefully measured and weighed the amount of ground coffee that went into a reporter’s cappuccino on Wednesday.

“We want to make really good coffee,” Mr. Becker said, “but we don’t want to be snobs about it. We want to be inclusive. We like what the coffee... [Read more...]

Around Town

SUNDAY, 4/19: Citizens for a Better City Annual Meeting

All are welcome to join Citizens for a Better City (CBC) on Sunday, April 19th for their Annual Meeting & Cocktail Reception at Falls Church’s Hilton Garden Inn, 706 West Broad Street.

 

Reception begins at 5:00 PM with drinks & light hors d’oeuvres followed by our meeting at 6:00 PM.

 

Cocktails including 2015 dues $30 per person

 

You may pay at the door or in advance. Make your check out to Citizens for a Better City and mail to CBC, PO BOX 6080, Falls Church, VA 22042

 

Parking... [Read more...]

April 9, 2015 | Leave a Comment









Unlike Fresh Market, Harris Teeter is Poised to Deliver

By Stephen Siegel
Falls Church Times Staff
July 26, 2016

The Fresh Market may have declined to follow through on its letter of intent to locate in the new Reserve at Tinner Hill project on South Washington Street, but another upscale grocery just a few blocks away is expected to open its doors Wednesday.

That upscale grocery is the Harris Teeter, which has leased most of the ground floor at developer Rushmark’s new West Broad building, located at 301 W. Broad Street, on the site of the old post office and Anthony’s Italian restaurant.

The new supermarket will bring yet another grocer to the Falls Church City market, which currently boasts just Giant Foods inside the City limits, but Safeway, Whole Foods, Trader Joes, and Shoppers Food Warehouse just beyond.

It also will create a new amenity for the residents of the West Broad building, who have been moving in floor by floor since the winter. There is underground parking in the building for the store’s customers.

The complex is the first new mixed-use project completed since Northgate on North Washington Street, and also is one of the biggest. Reaching close to... [Read more...]


Fresh Market Leaves, and Leaves City and Developer in the Lurch

By Stephen Siegel
Falls Church Times Staff
July 23, 2016

The Fresh Market, an upscale natural food grocer similar to Whole Foods, has changed its mind and will not open in the new Reserve at Tinner Hill project nearing completion on the old International Motors site on South Washington Street, the Falls Church Times has confirmed.

Rumors about the departure have been circulating for several weeks, but nothing official was released from City Hall, apparently because officials were hoping the chain would change its mind again and come back. But that does not appear to be in the cards.

A City official told the Times Friday that developer Lincoln Property Company is “actively marketing the space” which suggests they believe they no longer have a tenant for the largest space in their new building, a 20,000 square foot ground floor that already has been built out to Fresh Market’s wishes.

That’s a big blow to the developer, who stood to gain substantial cash from a lease with the store. It also hurts their efforts to attract other retailers to the complex; stores like to be near supermarkets because of the traffic they draw.... [Read more...]


Two Armed Robberies On West Broad

By FALLS CHURCH CITY OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS and FALLS CHURCH TIMES STAFF
May 11, 2016

Falls Church City Police are looking for a suspect who robbed the Wells Fargo Bank at 1000 West Broad Street at about 3:50 p.m. Wednesday. The robber implied he had a weapon, but no injuries were reported from any employees or customers. The suspect is described as a middle eastern male with a beard, eyeglasses, red baseball hat, and brown trench coat, about 5′ 10″ tall, and approximately 25-30 years of age.

More information will be released as it becomes available.

There also was an armed robbery a few blocks away May 6. In that incident, a man staying at the Stratford Motor Lodge, 300 W. Broad St., was robbed of his wallet outside the motel by three masked men with handguns. They fled on foot, and the victim was not harmed.

All three suspects wore blue bandanas covering their faces, black t-shirts and jeans. One is described as a white or Hispanic male in his 20s, about 5’6” with dark hair; the second is described as a black male in his 20s, about 5’10”; the third is described as a black male in his 20s, about 5’11”.

Anyone... [Read more...]


ANALYSIS: Council Poised to Push Back on Schools’ Budget Request

By Stephen Siegel
Falls Church Times Staff
April 25, 2016

For many years, the song remained the same: Residents concerned about Falls Church City’s property tax rate complained that the City Council wasn’t pushing back enough against school funding requests, and instead gave school officials whatever they wanted.

But that appears poised to change tonight, when the Council is expected to approve a budget that gives the schools $912,000 less than they have asked for.

They aren’t doing that for fun, of course; they are doing it because a majority of the Council has decided they want to keep the property tax rate flat with last year and not raise it by any amount, not even the 2.5 cents proposed in City Manager Wyatt Shields’ initial budget proposal, which is required by law to include the schools’ request without any reductions.

The Council’s stiffer spine seems to have caught school officials by surprise. They are lamenting the impact they say it will have on the schools, and school advocates, including City Councilor Marybeth Connelly and School Board Chair Justin Castillo, have been making calls, sending out emails,... [Read more...]


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