Homeowners Voice Concerns About H-T Project

Falls Church Times Staff

December 1, 2012

Winter Hill homeowners were out in force last Thursday evening to hear a briefing on the proposed Harris-Teeter store and apartment complex at 301 W. Broad St.   Many in the standing-room-only crowd did not like what they heard.

The six story building, which would replace Anthony’s Restaurant and the old post office property, may provide a significant tax windfall for the city.  However, given the residents’ strong objections, the project clearly will face a struggle when it comes before the Planning Commission and City Council.

Ten Winter Hill townhouses are adjacent to the site and many others are in close proximity.  Owners of some of those homes and many other area residents objected to several features of the project’s design and how it will impact the neighborhood.

Many of their objections concerned the location of the access route for trucks and the loading docks for the grocery store and the apartments.  As designed, this alley will parallel the property line on the west side of the building.  Residents felt that it would be better to shift these features to the opposite side of the complex, where the noise and air pollution generated by vehicles would be away from their homes.

The residents noted that the building also would cast extensive shadows over their properties much of the day.   As proposed, the structure will be 83 feet high, which is 8 feet over the standard city limit.  This will require a special exception, which already has been filed.

Residents also were concerned that the combination of a supermarket and an apartment building would significantly increase traffic in the area and contribute to the neighborhood’s parking problem, long severe due to the lack of space in Winter Hill lots.  Attendees’ suggestions included a traffic signal at the intersection of Gundry Drive and Annandale Road and a special parking district with spaces reserved for area residents.

The city projects that the apartments will add only 34 additional pupils to its crowded schools, but some people were skeptical of this estimate.  Thirty percent of the apartments will be two bedroom units.  This is a much lower ratio than found in Pearson Square (401 S. Maple Ave.), which includes 133 two bedroom and 25 three bedroom apartments.

As now designed, the project’s ground level includes the 60,800 square feet Harris-Teeter store and an additional 3,110 of retail space.  Five upper floors will offer 294 multi-family rental apartments.  There will be 30 studio apartments, 176 one bedroom, and 88 two bedroom units.

The development also will include a three level underground parking  garage which will provide 586 spaces.  Parking on the first level  will be reserved for shoppers.  The residential parking ratio will be 1.33 spaces per unit.

Architect Doug Carter of Davis, Carter, Scott and Patrick Kearney of Rushmark Properties responded to the homeowners’ questions and concerns.  Carter, who was the architect of the Byron (513 W. Broad St.), welcomed the comments and stressed that the project process is in a very early stage.  Mayor Nader Baroukh, a Winter Hill resident, and Council member Johannah Barry attended the meeting but did not speak.

Information on the complex is available in five files at the city’s website.  Architectural elevations and conceptual floor and parking level plans are in Part 4.  Project specifications and a preliminary fiscal impact analysis are in Part 5.

This effort is the latest attempt to restart the City Center project, originally proposed in 2007 but set aside during the recession.  Attempts to approve a senior citizens apartment house at 350 S. Washington St. and an adjacent office and retail building failed in 2010.

In October 2012, the  City Council approved the sale of two city-owned lots in the 200 and 300 blocks of West Broad Street to a development company called Falls Church Development Partners, LLC, of which Rushmark is a member.   One lot, adjacent to the Burke and Herbert Bank, is technically owned by the City’s Economic Development Authority.  Together, the city is selling them for $4,322,000, a value arrived at in an appraisal done for the city earlier this year.

However, other issues must be resolved before the project can begin.  The developer won’t be able to close on the land until it applies for and receives a building permit.  The city also is including a performance requirement that would allow officials to buy the land back if the project is not started in 12 months or completed in 24 months of the sale.

Also, the city’s suit flied last year against City Center developer Atlantic Realty must be resolved.  Falls Church  sent a “notice of default” to Atlantic on March 2, 2011, arguing that the developer “failed to perform its obligations under the agreement” between the city and the developer.  Until the court declares that project null and void, the city cannot proceed in other directions with the land.

December 1, 2012 


44 Responses to “Homeowners Voice Concerns About H-T Project”

  1. fcc resident on December 2nd, 2012 9:25 am

    In my opinion, anything on a larger scale than 513 W. Broad will be a total and complete nightmare for shoppers, residents, and neighborhood.

  2. COL Mustard on December 2nd, 2012 3:01 pm

    I’d personally love to see viable alternatives to the Giant but I can only imagine what the noise and traffic issues would be like.

  3. Frus Trated on December 3rd, 2012 10:08 am

    Tax windfall?? Are these apartments or condos? Will real estate taxes be collected or, will these children ALSO go to schools at present city homeowners expense? Oakwood, a good number at Pearson Square, etc are rental units and pay no taxes toward school. Majority of Oakwood renters don’t even pay personal propery taxes or decal fees for their cars! How is that enforced? Seems many get tax breaks while our taxes continue to go up and services go down. And ALL those empty offices and stores from these “wonderful” city backed plans. Who really benefits from these sweetheart deals?

  4. rob on December 3rd, 2012 11:21 am

    The post office already has a loading dock back there. Unlike the PO loading dock, the HT loading dock appears to be indoors with overhead doors… seems that would muffle noise compared to today’s open-air solution. So, what’s the problem with what is proposed?

  5. Andy Rankin (Falls Church) on December 3rd, 2012 3:23 pm

    Frus, renters pay rent to landlords who pay property taxes, so it’s not really accurate to say that renters aren’t contributing any taxes towards schools.

    Mixed-use development on commercially zoned property is controversial. The “tax windfall” is referring to the increase in the net fiscal impact that the proposed development would have on the City as compared to the current use of the land. The current use generates a certain amount of tax revenue and costs the City some amount in services. The proposed use would greatly increase the tax revenue generated (massively increasing the property values and therefore the property tax revenue – as well as increased sales tax from the grocery store) – and it would also increase the costs to the City (mostly schooling the new kids but also other services like police, library use, community center, etc.).

    The fiscal model the City uses suggests that the net result of the new project would be very beneficial to the City’s bottom line. Some folks don’t believe the fiscal model, and others place a large, but hard-to-measure, cost on things like more people and traffic being around.

  6. FC Voter on December 3rd, 2012 3:24 pm

    By all means, lets keep the vacant post office and the sorry looking 1960s retail stip (no offense to Anthony’s, but their storefronts are stuck in time-and not a good time!). Broad Street is our commerical Main Street. If Nimby’s and the tax-school children conspriacy theorists are going to derail every decent propsoal that comes along, we might as well de-incorporate and just join Arlington or Fairfax. If we want an identity as a real place as opposed to just another part of the NOVA sprawl, we need real commercial activity that will actually attract people to “downtown”. A great supermarket and more people living downtown help to do that. When it comes time for the PC to vote, those of us who support quality economic development in the City need to make sure our voices are heard over the cacophony of the naysayers.

  7. Brian Rye on December 3rd, 2012 3:35 pm

    I apologize for beating a dead horse, but why does a new grocery store in a jurisdiction that boasts the highest per capita income of any county in the country “need” to have 294 apartments on top of it in order to attract any developers? Put another way, why is “mixed-use” preferable to “commercial use” in an area that already has Winter Hill and Pearson Square within easy walking distance?

  8. F Churcher on December 3rd, 2012 4:04 pm

    So you take an empty lot, a Post office sorting facility, and a restaurant whose time has gone long ago, all located in the heart of your city, and threaten to tear them down. In place of these eyesores is going to be a new, clean, tax-positive building and people flip out. I will never get you Falls Church. I love you, but I will never get you.

  9. Winter Hill young professional on December 3rd, 2012 5:14 pm

    If we want to create a thriving downtown neighborhood, with restaurants and shops, we need some foot traffic and that comes with a more densely populated mixed-use downtown. We’re talking about building something where there is currently nothing. This will create a more thriving City, real estate values will increase, more people will eat, shop, and work in the City and tax revenues will increase, providing more funding for expanding the schools. No one is saying sacrifice the schools, which are still the primary reason people are attracted to the City. Our city is stuck in the 1970s, with residents overly concerned about parking, when every other development project in other cities and towns are creating more WALKABLE neighborhoods. The Harris Teeter project is just one step. Once this is built, other stores and restaurants will open, and positive growth may finally occur in our precious little downtown. I hope we can grow in a smart, sustainable way without sacrificing character, and while a Harris Teeter with apartments is not a necessity for the City, it will certainly be a net positive. By the way, I am a Winter Hill resident, and obviously, 100% for this project.

  10. Dale Walton on December 3rd, 2012 5:17 pm

    I can only chuckle. I have lived here a long time and fully expected this sort of dialogue which no doubt will continue. 5 years from now we will likely all still be enjoying the present landscape. For you Falls Church City novices, get used to this sort of discussion which isn’t all bad – – there needs to be due diligence – – but the City tends to overdo it, so look forward to the talk dragging on for months/years to come.

  11. Andy Rankin (Falls Church) on December 3rd, 2012 8:26 pm

    Brian, I’m not sure I understand your use of the word “need” – but I think you’re asking why should the City allow a developer to include residential units with the grocery store. The answer is that right now the only developers willing to build something on that site are ones that would like to also build residential units. Why? Because they can make more money doing that. I know some people think that’s bad, but I don’t see why someone making money is bad.

    I do see why some people think the increased population and traffic might be bad – so we can talk about that. The choice in front of us is between keeping what’s there and building a mixed-use project. We don’t have the choice of just building a grocery store.

  12. Brian Rye, Falls Church on December 3rd, 2012 8:56 pm

    Thanks, Andy, I’m all for the new grocery store redevelopment. But as I look around the region, I don’t see apartment buildings on nearby Giant or Safeway stores. (And 294 units seems like a lot, doesn’t it?) My point is that I have a hard time believing that not a single developer is willing to build a Harris Teeter, sans apartments, on the busiest street in the wealthiest “county” in the country, and I suspect the true “net” benefit to City residents is higher without the residential component. I’d much rather see the city fix the parking issues in that area to attract the thousands of motorists that pass through every day instead of forcing unnecessary population growth.

    The issue with the schools isn’t simply accepting more students. Several of the schools, like Mt. Daniel, are physically constrained in terms of growth. I know the school board has discussed long-overdue plans for a new high school, but I’ve yet to see anything implemented, so something has to give.

  13. Andy Rankin (Falls Church) on December 4th, 2012 8:05 am

    Brian, the City’s fiscal model suggests that in fact the net benefit of the project with the apartments is higher than without the apartments. That’s because the apartments make the property worth a lot more than just a grocery store – which leads to a lot more property tax revenue.

    It may be hard for you to believe, but I’m not familiar with any developers ever interested in building just a grocery store on that site.

    Improving the parking situation is definitely a good idea – and something we should be working to figure out. Unfortunately, options like building a parking garage will be expensive – and I think the only way to justify it would be to have more commercial development in the area for people to need more parking for.

    As for the schools, I absolutely agree with you about Mount Daniel – we need a plan (ASAP) for handling more students there (or at another location). The problem with that is that any plan will be expensive to implement – and we’ll need to implement it whether or not we add residential units to the City because the student population growth just from single family homes is significant.

    For me, all of these things are connected. We need to greatly increase the revenue generated by our commercial areas in order to pay for the increased school costs that are unavoidable. The fundamentals of this project seem solid so hopefully we can work through the details efficiently.

  14. Brian Rye on December 4th, 2012 9:28 am

    Thanks again, Andy. To be clear, based on the two available choices, I favor proceeding with the new development. My issue is to wonder why this is our choice and why so many apartment units are needed.

    Setting aside the question of why we’re the only location around here that apparently can’t put up a grocery store without a whopping 294 apartments on top of it (you’re right, it is hard for me to believe as I look around), my final question, in response to your last paragraph, is simply where does it end? These things aren’t only connected, they perpetuate a never-ending cycle. As you say, we “need to increase the revenue generated by our commercial areas in order to pay for the increased school costs.” But these projects serve to increase the school costs further, necessitating more revenue generation, which increases the school costs again, necessitating more revenue generation and so on.

    Why not pursue revenue-generating projects that don’t increase school costs or strain their physical capacities? The total tax revenue may be less, but the reduction in an associated burden on schools and other City services could very well make their all-encompassing net benefit more attractive in the eyes of many citizens. The Read Building seems like an ideal mixed-use solution; a project like this one that has 88 multi-bedroom units seems closer to being like Pearson Square.

  15. Winter Hill young professional on December 4th, 2012 10:32 am

    This is a valuable piece of land for mixed-use to create a more urban, walkable, dense downtown. The old 1970s model of single-strip malls is long gone. And any new stores like that are not found in dense urban or suburban areas. The goal is not to Broad Street look like Seven Corners.

    There are tons of examples of new apartments/condos above grocery stores that have gone up in our region over the years. Just off the top of my head:

    http://www.liveparkcrest.com/mclean/the-lofts-at-park-crest/ (Tysons Corner, Harris Teeter)

    http://www.delanceyapts.com/ (Shirlington, Harris Teeter)

    http://www.edens.com/centers/DC/Washington/CityVista (DC, Safeway)

    Additionally, I believe there are apartments above the Harris Teeter at Pentagon Row.

    If I am a prospective store owner who wants to open something on Broad Street and fill in the rest of the drab and emptiness, having an additional customer source of 290 units is much more attractive.

  16. Andy Rankin (Falls Church) on December 4th, 2012 11:38 am

    I started writing a long response but I’m guessing people are sick of hearing me ramble on about this stuff.

    Ultimately, I think we need some mixed-use projects in order to generate more net revenue (that means it’s taking into account the new students they will bring). The school population is increasing even without them – so we need the revenue. Hopefully we will eventually improve the performance of our commercial areas enough to reach a balance between costs and revenue without having an excessive tax rate. What other options are there?

  17. Brian Rye on December 4th, 2012 12:37 pm

    Thanks, Andy. Thank you for the informed dialogue. I guess my frustration is best summed up by noting that we’re left with your closing statement in support of this new project: “What other options are there”? It’s a shame that there aren’t any.

    WHYP, thank you for providing examples. I would suggest that striving to protect smaller school and class sizes, due to both preference and a lack of space to expand, matters more in Falls Church than it does in Arlington and Fairfax County, but to each his own. The Lofts looks like a great model: we need 294 units, but this place in Tysons Corner went up with only 131.
    No one wants this area of Broad Street to look like Seven Corners, and no one is suggesting anything like that. I guess if I wanted to live in a place like Shirlington or Clarendon, though, I would have moved to Shirlington or Clarendon.

  18. Winter Hill young professional on December 4th, 2012 12:54 pm

    No matter what, FCC will have to contend with an increasing population since the DC metro area is booming and compared to many other places inside and just outside the beltway, FCC is one of the most desirable places to live. I have not seen FCC’s population (and student population) projections for the next decade and after, but with all these highly educated residents and involved parents, I would imagine there’s got to be solutions to increase capacity in the schools without sacrificing quality. Additional City revenue will provide the needed flexibility to help fund a positive, sustainable expansion.

  19. Brian Rye on December 4th, 2012 1:20 pm

    Good points, WHYP. I suppose the irony is that Falls Church, which you accurately describe as being one of the most desirable places to live in the DC area, is looking to grow by copying projects from locales that aren’t as desirable as our City.

  20. Bob Burnett on December 4th, 2012 2:58 pm

    Thank you Winter Hill Young Professional for laying out the issues in a clear and rational manner.

    I suggest people interested in this thread of discussion may wish to google Kaid Benfield’s recent post “The Ten Steps of Walkability” that adds time-tested context to some of the Falls Church conjecture I see here about parking, cars, density, economic development, schools, etc.

    Also–I have to call Brian on the “copying projects from locales that aren’t as desirable as our City”. Shirlington? Clarendon? Pentagon Row? Not as desirable as FCC? Really? Please clarify and define “desirable” for me.

    By the way, Arlington has also seen huge increases in student population and been able to renovate or are in the process of renovating all High Schools to the tune of $100 million per school. They made positive changes decades ago in their thinking about development, cars, public transportation, affordable housing, the relationship of commercial-residential, etc. and didn’t cover their ears shouting “NYA! NYA! NYA!” until they heard what they wanted to hear about student population and use-based development issues.

  21. Brian Rye on December 4th, 2012 3:52 pm

    Hi Bob:
    My comment was in response to WHYP’s accurate comment that Falls Church is one of the most desirable places to live in the DC area for a variety of reasons–small size, smaller schools/class sizes, etc. Putting 294 apartments on top of a new grocery store is symptomatic of a strategy that reduces some of those qualities that make us unique within the DC region.

  22. Bob Burnett on December 4th, 2012 4:59 pm

    Thanks for the clarification, Brian. We’ll have to agree to disagree.

    I don’t see us as unique. I see us as uniquely out of touch in this region if we continue equating desirability with having a veritable moat around the city that touts an economic development strategy of keeping people out.

  23. Andy Rankin (Falls Church) on December 4th, 2012 5:27 pm

    I do see Falls Church as unique – and it is because of the size of the school system. That’s why I live here and have my business here. It is also why we’re facing this challenge. The school population is increasing rapidly, even without adding new apartments, and unlike our much larger neighbors we don’t have a lot of commercial tax revenue to cover the increasing costs. The schools are going to get bigger no matter what we do.

    It seems like there are only three ways to deal with the situation:

    1. Increase the tax rate to pay for the increased school costs. At some point, taxes will be significant enough to limit demand for the schools.

    2. Increase the tax revenue generated by our commercial areas.

    3. Let the schools deteriorate to the point where they are no longer desirable and demand decreases.

    Personally, I don’t think it’s a shame that there aren’t other options. I think it’s just the way the world works. Density is increasing all around Falls Church and it is inevitable that it will increase here too. That may cause some people to move to another, less dense, place – but for those of us who intend to stay here I hope we can shape the growth in a positive way.

  24. Winter Hill resident on December 4th, 2012 7:04 pm

    Thanks to the FCT for covering this topic. I live in Winter Hill and, while I share some reservations about the setback area and location of the loading dock, I don’t understand those who have such knee-jerk opposition to this project.

    First of all, any informed buyer who purchased their home near this lot should’ve done their due diligence. It’s zoned for mixed use, which includes tall buildings (I believe this one seeks an “exception” for being 8 ft. taller than that which it’s zoned for).

    Second, let’s be honest about the current property. It’s not a quiet rolling field. It’s a Post Office loading dock which, up until recently, had quite a bit of truck traffic.

    This area is an eyesore. Some residents want to wait a few years until another opportunity comes along…maybe. Who’s to say that opportunity–if it comes–will be any better? And what’s the opportunity cost associated with the City owning this vacant piece of land, filled with trash and unkempt trees and concrete?

    I encourage Winter Hill residents–and all FC taxpayers–to voice legitimate concerns about this project. But please don’t just oppose development for the sake of opposing it. The economy of the DC metro area has changed, and mixed use development is critical to ensure a sufficient tax base to support schools and public services.

  25. Tom B on December 4th, 2012 8:04 pm

    I find the comparisons to Arlington in this discussion to be interesting, and I think its worth pointing out that the property tax rate in Arlington is $0.97 per $100 compared to Falls Church City’s rate of $1.27 per $100. That is a 31% difference! While Arlington and Falls Church are very different in many respects, and I wouldn’t want to see FC necessarily carbon copy their blueprint, I do think that at least part of the reason why Arlington has a lower tax rate AND been able to invest in its school system is precisely because they have embraced development.

  26. TFC on December 5th, 2012 6:15 am

    @Tom. I am not saying our tax rate is low but it is hard to compare rates with our neighbors. Arlington, as well as others, add other fees to the bill that are not included in their ” tax rate”. Trash pick up, leaves things like that are extra fees. FC bundles those so the tax rate includes those kinds of services. The “effective” tax rate is a better figure for comparison. Every year, at budget time, a table is created showing the effective rates in the region. The City web site probably has a PP slide from last year showing the figures.
    The City is considering an enterprise fund for storm water management. This could end up being an extra item on our tax bill but that is in the future.

  27. @TFC on December 5th, 2012 2:25 pm

    In fairness, FC has a lot of “extra” fees too. Trash (over a certain amount), car decals, etc. are all extras. I’d be interested in seeing the comparison with Arlington that you mention.

    But the real issue is this: FC taxes are high — too high. I say that because there is so much unexplored opportunity within the commercial tax base. Even if FC taxes were a fraction of Arlington taxes, we can get them lower by expanding the commercial tax base.

  28. Brian Williams (Falls Church City) on December 6th, 2012 12:01 am

    I live a couple blocks from this location, and I fully support this project for all the reasons the supporters here noted. I believe this will be hugely beneficial to our city overall.

    Since it’s been suggested we bring up legit concerns … I do hope that someone more knowledgable than me looks closely at the potential traffic impact on Rt. 7 during rush hour. At a glance, it seems like there could be congestion going in and out of the garage since there are no traffic lights at those entrances. Positioning a single garage entrance in the center of the property, where there already is a light, could address this — though I expect there are lots of good reasons (grade, etc.) not to do this. Can someone comment on this issue?

  29. TFC on December 6th, 2012 6:48 am

    @Tom, I watched the tape of the work session Monday evening. I heard a reference to a current graph of the tax rate comparisons in the local region. Cindy or Susan should be able to provide it to you.

  30. Victoria Kwasiborski (22046 & Vienna, Austria) on December 6th, 2012 9:01 am

    Many valid points about the need for positive growth have been made here (WHYP, WHR, Mr. Rankin and Burnett). It is not density that is the enemy; we are our own worst enemy. For 16 years we lived in FCC and watched change progress at a glacial pace. The “City Center” concept was a topic when our neighbor moved in in 1954; he never saw it come to fruition in his lifetime, and we will likely not, either. We can not “property tax” our way to prosperity.

    There will always be commuters who use Broad Street as a cut-through. This is a reality. If those commuters now stop and pick up a few comestibles at Harris Teeter on their way home, so much the better for our revenue coffer.

    Many of these same concerns about increased residential units equalling increased student population are always dragged out as the standard for not doing anything. Are there definitive reports on the relationship between development and student population in our zip code? With regular frequency there seems to be reports on the advantages/disadvantages of small classroom size, too. I think FCC is unique because of the quality of the school system more so than the size. Our city generally attracts a demographic that values education; to paraphrase WHYP’s comment earlier, there’s a good amount of brain trust in our zip code to maintain the caliber of community that we have, in the face of development. Those who can not lead, or follow, please stop protesting and get out of the way.

  31. Dave Hagigh on December 6th, 2012 9:24 am

    All, great thread going here. A few comments….Tom B., you’re right that Arlington has a much lower tax rate and still can spend a TON (schools, soccer fields, etc.). But they embraced commercial development many years ago, in large part due to their proximity to D.C. They spend so much because of all that commercial space in Pentagon City, Rosslyn, Ballston, etc. Yes F.C. needs more commercial development but in no way can we copy (in size at least) what Arlington has done. As for the proposed apartments above the proposed Harris Teeter, they may very well raise needed revenue but will that be a net gain (or at least a wash) for the City? Even if yes, there’s no question it will make the City more crowded. Years ago those who said Pearson Sq. would not bring in students were only fooling themselves. Take a look at the bus stop in front of the bldg. on any school day. It proves that the famous movie line of “Build It & They Will Come” absolutely applies here. So even if it’s a gain in tax revenue, is it enough to cover growing the size of the schools? TJ has is being expanded today but not Mt. Daniel or Mason. At what point do you say enough? I believe that not doing the housing part would still justify building the Harris Teeter. There are lots of neighborhoods in the immediate area (City & Fairfax Co.) that could easily support the store. Note that the Harris Teeter at the corner of Lee Highway & Harrison St. is a very busy store. And folks that don’t live near us but drive past (via Routes 50 & 29) on their way home will stop to shop there given the great name that store has. So I’m not sold on the need for the apartments on top. Hopefully it’s not a “take it or leave it” proposition the City has to accept.

  32. Andy Rankin (Falls Church) on December 6th, 2012 2:54 pm

    Dave, the City does have an approach to measuring the economic impact of developments – proposed and after the fact. I haven’t seen the numbers run on the current proposal but I assume that the inclusion of the residential units is a net positive impact.

    I don’t think the current developer would be interested in doing the project if it was just a Harris Teeter and I haven’t heard of any other developers approaching the City with that kind of a proposal. So, while it might seem like a stand alone Harris Teeter in that location would be an attractive investment to developers – it hasn’t resulted in any proposals along those lines.

    As for Pearson Square, the planning for that was done before my time. I do know that the initial fiscal projections ended up being wrong. I think one reason is that the project was approved as condos instead of apartments. The other reason seems to be that the fiscal model initially didn’t take into account the size/type of residential units – which resulted in an underestimate of the number of students generated by the project. However, the other mixed use projects build around that time (Read, Byron, Broadway, etc.) did perform up to expectations. It’s also my understanding that the fiscal model has been updated to take into account the types of units included in proposed developments.

    Again, I think our schools are going to be dealing with more students even if we don’t build the HT with apartments. It’s going to be harder and harder to cover the increasing costs of those students without getting some development going in our commercial areas.

  33. @Brian Williams on December 6th, 2012 3:24 pm

    A copy of the traffic consultants’ report is available online here (best bet is to copy this URL directly into your browser, as the hyperlink sometimes doesn’t work):


    This was provided by the developer to the City. The Planning Commission will independently evaluate the traffic system with its own traffic consultant, as I understand it.

  34. Brian Rye on December 6th, 2012 4:45 pm

    Andy, the Broadway and the Read Buildings you mentioned are wonderful examples of an appropriate mixed-use development for our City. The Broadway has 80 condos and the Read Building has 26 apartments (22 of which are one-bedroom units). I would fully support another such development on top of the grocery store, but doesn’t the idea of building 294 apartments (88 of which are multi-bedroom) seem like a bit much in light of the Pearson Square experience…especially given that Pearson Square itself will provide a decent amount of foot traffic to the H-T anyway?


  35. FC Voter on December 7th, 2012 9:11 am

    Great civil discourse on this topic. Nice to see reasoned, rational, comments from all sides with no vitriol. We need more of this.

  36. Andy Rankin (Falls Church) on December 7th, 2012 10:50 am

    Brian Rye, I haven’t dug in to the details yet – but no, 294 apartments (vs. 80 or 26) doesn’t inherently seem like a bit much to me. As I get more information about the project I may feel differently.

  37. WStarling on December 8th, 2012 8:50 am

    Anthony’s has my favorite pizza. Love it. My wife and I get it at least once every two weeks. The people are so friendly. But we want to see a vibrant, healthy downtown in Falls Church and the NIMBY folks have got to let up. We welcome the plans for Harris Teeter AND the residential on top.

  38. @WStarling on December 8th, 2012 4:31 pm

    Couldn’t agree with you more. I live within a few steps of this proposed development, and I’m all for it (although I do share some of the concerns that have been raised, re setbacks, traffic impact, etc.).

    Regarding Anthony’s: First, if you like their pizza, I hope you’ll give Flippin’ Pizza a try. As a New York native, I can say that it’s far more authentic than Anthony’s. Second, as you probably know, Anthony’s lease was expiring anyway. Whether this development is approved or not, the City was likely to let the lease expire in an effort to attract something more lucrative to the City on that lot and the adjoining ones. Finally, today was the second time I’ve been at Anthony’s in which the food has arrived and I then have to wait 5 minutes for utensils. Also, the waitress brought the wrong dish. Yes, it’s an “institution” and yes, it’s a convenient cheap eat. But the service–and the facilities–are nothing to write home about. It’s time for something better on that lot, that can bring in some real income to City coffers.

  39. D. Wayne Jones on December 8th, 2012 6:03 pm

    @WStarling and all others:

    The city does not hold the lease for Anthony’s or the former Post Office building. It is privately held and I am sure they are not getting the return on their investment that they could. The City owns the parking lot next to the building where the US mailboxes are, and the Economic Development Authority owns the vacant lot next to that.

    Once again, the City has no control over Anthony’s lease. Even if there was no development possibility, I suspect the owner would raise Anthony’s rent beyond what they can comfortable pay and Anthony’s would have to find a new location anyway.

  40. Make your voices heard on December 11th, 2012 10:20 am

    It seems like there is a lot of support for the Harris Teeter development, based on the comments. Whether you fully support the plan or support it with some reservations, please make your voices heard.

    There is a group of homeowners, mostly in Winter Hill, who are meeting regularly with the developer and City council members to oppose the plan, or to oppose parts of it. While they have valid concerns, it’s important that our elected officials not lose sight of the “silent majority’s” support for economic development in the City.

    Be vocal!

  41. Andy Rankin (Falls Church) on December 11th, 2012 11:30 am

    I walked around the site this past Saturday with some residents of Winter Hill. I wouldn’t characterize their stance as being opposed to the project. They had several ideas and requests for how to change and, in their opinion, improve the project.

    But yes, I encourage anyone with interest in the project to weigh in. Come to one of the public meetings about the project, email the City Council, stop by a Planning Commission or EDA meeting, post comments on the blogs – whatever works for you.

  42. Cathy on December 11th, 2012 8:01 pm

    I’m all for the Harris Teeter. I would love a full scale grocery store in walking/biking distance (while I love the Local Market, they can’t carry everything). I have the same concern about the schools, but hope the right planning is being done. And most of us do everything possible to not drive on Broad Street during rush hour anyway (but hey, how much more traffic will Park Ave get?).

    My only longstanding request is that a decent (not boutique-y expensive but not TJ-Max or Ross either) clothing store move into a retail spot in the downtown district! I hate having to drive to Seven Corners or Tysons just to get something basic clothing-wise. I’d rather spend my money in the city. And I’d rather walk or bike there.

  43. Michael Baker - Falls Chruch on December 12th, 2012 12:57 pm

    Harris-Teeter wants to put one their largest stores (larger than Giant) in the area on one of their smallest “footprints.” The building, as proposed, will loom 85ft. over the townhouses and be only 25ft. away from the houses. Of course all of the undesirable parts – driveway for 18 wheelers, loading docks, 3 high capacity electrical transformers, have been sited right next to the townhouses – the archetect says there is now way to put them on the side where there are no homes.

    Harris-Teeter doesn’t want to do a 2 story store, it might impact sales by 5%. And the implication is that they don’t want the tenants of the development to have to deal with the incovinience of trucks, loading docks, transformers so they’ll inconvinience the townhouse residents. The development has too few parking spaces for the tenants, and the store might charge for parking – driving customers to park in the neighborhoods. The Plan calls for dumping truck, shopping, & resident traffic onto W. Annandale across from Big Chimneys park – a small 2 lane road now. There is a reason trucks are banned fromthat stretch of W. Annandale.

    They haven’t even mentioned what having a truck entrance and a store parking entrance will do to traffic on Broad St. And this doesn’t even begin to cover the chaos during construction of waiting dump trucks and contractor vehicles.

    The delivery lane will put 18 wheeler trucks driving right behind residences, with the loading dock less than 50 ft. from their back doors.

    The developer wants so many variences, and appears so unwilling to discuss quality of life issues (the visual footprint, shadowing, traffic, noise, safety, etc.), that all of the residents of Falls Church should take a long hard look at the immense scale of this project before they sign off on it.

  44. Frus Trated on December 18th, 2012 11:49 pm

    Let’s hope the rocket scientists who had anything to do with the parking lot at the Flower Building (Post Office) have NOTHING to do with parking in any new development.

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