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 strip mall that was demolished to make way for the Harris Teeter project at 301 W. Broad.

But whether or not the building is saved, it seems likely that the City Council will be asked to approve another mixed-use building featuring a sizable number of apartments.

Insight says it has 1,000 apartments in development all around the Washington metropolitan area, including properties in Fairfax, Silver Spring, and the rapidly gentrifying H Street Northeast corridor in the District. They also completed a residential project in Arlington just outside of Rosslyn in 2013.

“Broad and Washington is a strategic main and main location at the City’s core,” said Insight President Michael Blum in a statement. “Falls Church is a place with beautiful established neighborhoods, Metro access, first-class schools, retail, and proximity to employment.”

The site is under-utilized at present, with the prime real estate containing a lot of surface parking and the one-story restaurant building right in its middle. There’s little doubt that the new owners would like to increase the density and add underground parking in order to maximize the cash flow on their investment.

City officials for years have wanted to add a public parking structure in that area, and it would seem that they could ask for some public spaces to be included in any new underground parking facility in exchange for a special exception to the zoning code that the developers will almost certainly be seeking. Whether the developers would agree to that is, of course, another question.

The site isn’t within easy walking distance of the East Falls Church Metro Station at about 1.1 miles, although many bus lines stop at Broad & Washington and go directly to the train.

By
January 31, 2015 

Comments

5 Responses to “Redevelopment and More Apartments Likely For Broad & Washington”

  1. raindrops on February 1st, 2015 12:20 pm

    I hope that the white building is razed and the entire parcel is redeveloped. The white building has always seemed to close to the road.

  2. TFC on February 1st, 2015 5:57 pm

    I recall there was a need to ameliorate the asbestos in the building. Does anyone know if this was done? It’s a long time ago but I *thought* Rick Robertson was going to sell that building but the asbestos removal was going to cost a bundle so the sale didn’t go through then.

  3. Brian Williams (Falls Church City / EDA Member) on February 1st, 2015 6:54 pm

    This is another reason for our community to discuss what kind of city we want to be.

    Many will read “more apartments” in the title and immediately be opposed. However, mixed-use projects like this could come with a series of new restaurants and retail, new office space, significant public parking, and millions of dollars to support things like schools and parks. Yes, population density would increase, however, the net financial impact (even including ongoing schools cost) could be millions of dollars net positive annually (i.e., it would reduce your tax bill from what it would otherwise be).

    We’d have to plan for it (in terms of schools and infrastructure). If we plan it right, I believe increased population density will make Falls Church City a more livable, enjoyable, affordable place to live and work. Certainly there will be loud opposition to any new project as there always is — appropriate in a small city where everyone’s voice is valuable. However, nothing will happen if the people who want this kind of new development don’t speak up (my sense is that many who would welcome new mixed-use projects don’t contact city council or others).

    I’m curious what the readers of FCT think.

  4. Brian Rye on February 2nd, 2015 1:15 pm

    If there’s adequate parking, this could be a really good thing for that prime location. Looking forward to learning more. It would also help if Arlington added a second entrance to the EFC Metro that’s closer to Washington St. (Lee Highway).

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