The City of Falls Church will hold a community meeting about the planned improvements along the S. Washington St. corridor on Monday, May 6, in the Art Room of the Community Center (223 Little Falls St.). The meeting will start with an open house at 6 p.m. and continue with presentations at 6:30 p.m.
Improvements include the new Intermodal Transit Plaza at the corner of Hillwood Ave. and S. Washington St. Based on feedback received at a community forum held in January 2013, an alternative concept plan has been developed for the plaza, as shown in the link below. Project design elements and the anticipated schedule will be discussed.
For more information or to RSVP, please contact Kirsten Munz at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-248-5331.
Related Link: Intermodal Transit Plaza Concept Plan: http://bit.ly/11xxWD8
The City of Falls Church Planning Commission will hold a Listening Session on Monday, December 3 at 8:00 pm to hear comments from property owners and interested persons concerning the development of substandard lots. Of particular concern has been the demolition of existing houses straddling two lots and the construction of two new houses on the two underlying substandard recorded lots. This practice has been the subject of extended community concern and debate, as well as several lawsuits, some of which went to the Virginia Supreme Court.
The purpose of the listening session is to provide a forum for affected residents, property owners and developers to express their views and concerns. The City Manager, with input from the City Attorney and the Planning Director, has developed options including a recommendation that the Zoning Ordinance be revised to phase out the current practice over time. Input from the listening session will be considered as amendments to the zoning ordinance are developed for first reading by the City Council.
The Listening Session will be held by the Planning Commission in the Council Chambers of City Hall, 300 Park Avenue, Falls Church. You may enter City Hall through the right-hand staircase at the front of City Hall.
Persons may provide comments three ways: 1) Sign up in advance to speak at the meeting for up to three minutes by sending an email request to email@example.com – these speakers will be at the top of the speakers’ roster; 2) sign up to speak at the meeting by completing a speaker slip at the door; or 3) for those unable to attend, email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
By FALLS CHURCH TIMES STAFF
February 7, 2012
Falls Church Planning Commission Vice Chairman John Lawrence jumped into the May 2012 race for City Council yesterday, filing papers at City Hall declaring his candidacy. Mr. Lawrence joins sitting Councilman Lawrence Webb as the only announced candidates to date.
Lawrence is a second-time candidate for Council, having finished only some 80 votes short of being elected in 2010. He is a 13-year resident of Falls Church City and has served on the Planning Commission since 2006, once as its chair and twice as vice chair. Lawrence has served on the Mary Riley Styles Public Library board for seven years. In 2008-2009, he served as vice chair of a School Board-appointed Day Care Task Force that examined the school day care program and made recommendations on how to maintain and improve it. Lawrence currently is part of the join City-Council-School Board-Planning Commission long range school facilities group (“LEAPFROG”), where he has pushed for the expansion at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School. Read more
By CITY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OFFICE
September 11, 2012
Shopping Center News:
Honey Baked Ham Store – (old Jerry’s Subs space at Broaddale). Honey Baked Ham is relocating to the City from Idylwood Plaza in Fairfax County. Owners hope to open on Friday, October 7.
Famous Dave’s - (in the old Pancake House space at Broaddale) opened officially on Aug. 29.
BB &T Bank (at Falls Plaza/former Chicken Out) – Revised site plan for demolition of the old Chicken Out and a new drive-thru bank in this location has been approved by the Planning Commission. Sewer capoff and demo permits have been issued, but it is uncertain as to when demolition and construction will commence.
101 E. Annandale Road Shopping Center – De/reconstruction of building is underway on same foundation.
Mixed Use Project News:
Spectrum residential condos – (444 W. Broad St.). As of August 24, 98 units settled, 15 are Pathway to Homeownership (rental) and 7 units have ratified contracts, leaving 68 units left to sell. The Spectrum will no longer be renting units or renewing leases. As leased units complete their lease term, those units are put on the market for sale.
Spectrum retail – Signed letter of intent for 1,500 square feet; expect a month or more before a possible lease might be signed.
Spectrum office condos – (431 Park Ave.) $265 per square foot to purchase plus tenant improvement allowance. The Spectrum is no longer offering an option to lease any of this office space.
Pearson Square Apts – (410 S. Maple Ave.) Now 94% occupied.
Pearson Square retail– In a conversation with the owners of Pearson Square late in August, they mentioned they plan to build out the space between the new Edward Jones office and Creative Cauldron to try to attract a user for the space. They are also working with a prospective user for space located up from the Pearson Square leasing office.
The Byron – (513 W. Broad St.) Special exception amendment (SEA) application to grant additional leasing flexibility for professional office/office use in the vacant ground floor space was approved by City Council on July 25. The Byron owner has engaged a new leasing broker who has listed the space in Co-Star and has new leasing signs up in the windows. Broker reports increased interest in space in the building and is working closely with the City to find suitable tenants.
Flower Building – (800 West Broad St.) Sfizi Café (http://www.sfizi.com/) is open!
Broadway/retail space – (502 W. Broad St.) Wise, LLC purchased all of the retail space on Nov. 15, 2010 for $4,115,900. They currently operate pain clinics at Washington Hospital Center and in D.C., Leesburg, Woodbridge and Utica, N.Y. (www.killpain.com). They have confirmed that they plan to open a clinic in the old Hollywood Video space but are in no hurry to do so at this time.
Northgate – (472 N. Washington St.) Demolition began but was suspended. “Dig” for the underground parking garage is expected to begin soon. Off-site construction vehicle staging/parking plans are being finalized.
706 W. Broad/Hilton Garden Inn – SEA was approved. Variance for Board of Zoning Appeals scheduled for September 15 for additional building signs. A Planning Commission public hearing on site plan is expected in October but as yet unscheduled.
Real Estate and other News:
709 W. Broad/Old Stacy’s Coffee Parlor - New “Space Bar”, by owner of Galaxy Hut in Arlington, hopes to open in November/December. They have filed for their ABC license. They hope to offer live music (small groups) and will have a full kitchen that will be vegetarian friendly. Beer-focused venue also to serve wine; no hard liquor.
360 S. Washington Street – Purchase of the building is expected by mid-September. A purchase contract also is pending for 500 W. Annandale.
917 W. Broad/El Zunzal – Dominion Jewelers now owns this property/building and are awaiting approval of plans to demolish and rebuild a new two-story building. The site plan is pending. El Zunzal will cease operations once demolition plans are approved and demolition is scheduled. An Architectural Advisory Board hearing on September 7 went well. A Planning Commission hearing is set for September 19.
Old Syms site – (1000 E. Broad St.). 24-Hour Fitness had hoped to open by the end of 2011 but it will now likely be in early 2012. Financing for tenant improvements is taking longer than expected.
July 15, 2011
Yesterday, Mayor Nader Baroukh and other City officials participated in the groundbreaking of the Northgate. First proposed by Hekemian & Company over seven years ago, the project is located at former site of the Pearson Funeral Home at the corner of N. Washington and E. Jefferson St.
“After enduring – we all hope – the worst days of the recession, we can celebrate the start of construction and the transformation of this property, which is important to the City’s image and its economic health,” said the mayor.
The Northgate is intended to help enliven the North Washington area of Falls Church City. The project is a short walking distance from the East Falls Church Metro Station and regional access that will connect the City to Dulles Airport via the new Silver Line. As a transit-oriented development, the Northgate will produce 95 new apartments and 10 rental town homes. Seven of the units will be designated as affordable dwelling units.
The project also offers 15,000 square feet of office space and nearly 23,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space. “We all have a stake in seeing the Northgate become a hub of commercial activity with appeal to both the immediate neighborhood and customers from outside the City,” Mr. Baroukh said.
The mayor expressed his gratitude to the residents of the East Jefferson Street neighborhood and to all City residents who participated in the evolution of the project by providing input during each phase of its review and approval process. He also thanked Chris Bell of Hekemian and City staff under the direction of City Manager Wyatt Shields and the late Dan McKeever in guiding the Northgate from concept to reality.
City Council members Johannah Barry, Lawrence Webb, and Ira Kaylin, Economic Development Authority Chairman Dave Tarter, Planning Commission chair Melissa Teates, and many other officials also attended the groundbreaking ceremony.
The Northgate was approved by the Planning Commission and the City Council in 2007. Construction is scheduled to be completed in 2013.
The architecture of the Northgate will be unique in the City. The design, by MV+A Architects of Bethesda, will reflect materials and features common in buildings along Connecticut Avenue in NW Washington, DC.
The site is the location of a presidential visit to Falls Church. Exactly one hundred years ago next week, President William Howard Taft spoke on the stairs of the former home of Dr. Tunis Quick to a gathering of about 300 Falls Church residents. The president was on his way to the site of the first battle of Bull Run to commemorate the 50th anniversary of that event.
His visit will be reflected in an historic marker on the site. There also will be a marker that explains the history of the site from its colonial origins through its most recent function as a long-standing Falls Church business location.
By GEORGE BROMLEY
Falls Church Times Staff
June 8, 2011
Developers of the proposed Hilton Garden Inn (706 W. Broad St.) presented a revised design to members of the City Council and the Planning Commission at Monday evening’s joint work session. The officials, who were not impressed with an earlier rendering on May 17, seemed more content with the latest design.
The elevation on W. Broad St. now features a flat rather than a triangular roof. A secondary entrance has been added on the parking deck. Signs now are smaller. Dumpsters will be situated in an enclosure at the edge of the parking garage along Oak St. However, the structure now is rated LEED Standard (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) instead of LEED Silver.
Council members looked forward to the promise of $540,000 in anticipated tax revenue and the 2,500 square feet of meeting space on the hotel’s second floor. Presently the City has no comparable conference center. The hotel’s space can be divided into up to three separate conference rooms.
Vice Mayor Snyder asked that the developers establish and maintain close contact with neighborhood representatives throughout the construction process. He also said he would like some continuing security presence at the hotel.
The project will be up for first reading at next Monday’s Council session. After the expected approval, the design will be referred to other boards and commissions for review. Various elevations of the new design for the hotel are available here.
Drive Through Zoning Change - The Council and the Commission also discussed an ordinance which would shift responsibility for the approval of special use permits for drive through facilities from the Board of Zoning Appeals to the Planning Commission. As this is a land use issue, rather than one of dimensions (such as setbacks), the Commission is seen as better suited to conduct the appropriate reviews. The BZA has advised it is willing to relinquish authority.
Solid Waste Fees - The Council alone then was briefed on the coming implementation of new solid waste charges. The cost of yard waste stickers for 30 gallon bags is scheduled to increase from $.50 to $1.00. There will be a $1.00 fee for each bag of excess refuse. Fees for special collection services also will rise.
City engineer Bill Hicks reported that most citizens who commented on the topic at the recent town hall meeting either were supportive or neutral. He said that a survey of 78 houses found that only 3% put out excess refuse.
Staffer Kathy Allan noted that a May 25 survey conducted on 11 streets found that 20% of the houses had put out yard waste bags. However, many of the bags contained either sticks which can be bundled and not subject to a fee, or grass clippings which the staff advocates leaving on lawns as natural organic fertilizer. She estimated that nearly 40% of what was put out could have avoided a fee.
Financial Policy - The Council briefly reviewed possible financial policy changes with CFO Richard La Condre. Topics for an upcoming review include the following:
1. Fund Balance
2. Capital Replacement – Infrastructure
3. Capital Replacement – Vehicles and Equipment
4. Capital Investment – Expansion
5. Revenue Stabilization
6. Revenue Policy Related to School Transfer
Mr. Snyder emphasized that he did not want policies in place that set expectations which could not be met and stressed the importance of the fund balance. “I want a fund balance that meets our standards and objectives and gives us a pulpit when we go for long-term financing that we are managing things in a constructive way” he said.
Mr. Kaylin concurred but added that Falls Church’s over-reliance on real estate taxes necessitated greater protection of the fund balance, a situation he did not see changing without economic development. “I don’t think we’re sufficiently diversified [financially] to handle the risks we face” he added.
The policy standards will be discussed by the Council/School Board liaison group tomorrow night and also referred to the Council’s Budget and Finance Committee. Mr. Shields said a status report on the policy revisions should be available by the first work session in August.
Child Development Center Task Force - Ms. Gardner urged that the task force be formed and set to work quickly, as the issue is supposed to be resolved by July 8. According to Mr. Shields the task force has a draft statement of work but formal membership has not been established. Ms. Gardner said she would be willing to serve as a member. The Council will discuss the task force further at next Monday’s session.
A video of the work session is available at the City website.
By GEORGE BROMLEY
Falls Church Times Staff
May 17, 2011
Planning commissioners and City Council members were not impressed with the latest design for the proposed Hilton Garden Inn (706 W. Broad St.), which was presented at last night’s joint work session.
Officials felt more brickwork was needed and that the overall design inappropriate for a city as old as Falls Church. ”I don’t think you could have built this down in Fredericksburg,” said a disappointed Lindy Hockenberry.
Commission chair Melissa Teates called the facade ”unacceptable, especially on Broad Street.” ”I’m not happy with the [building's] sides but can live with it; the front has to look different,” she said. “I don’t think it meets our design guidelines.” Mayor Nader Baroukh concurred, stating that he thought the design needed a significant amount of work.
As now proposed, the hotel will offer 110 rooms and 121 parking spaces. It is expected to generate $540,000 in tax revenue. A two story office building on Park Avenue, which was not part of the original 2008 proposal, has been dropped.
City Manager Wyatt Shields said he hoped the project will be submitted for first reading on June 13. If a special exception amendment and rezoning are approved by the Council, the project would be referred to boards and commissions for review and returned for second reading on July 25.
The Council and the Planning Commission also reviewed a request by owners of first floor space at The Byron (513 W. Broad St.) to allow professional and office use for space designated for retail. The area involved is on the far right side of the structure and has never been occupied since the building opened in 2006.
Retailers have considered the space unattractive because it is far removed from the building’s non-resident parking spaces and has a narrow front. The parking problem cannot be corrected as residents have assigned spaces, while the commercial and retail spaces are shared.
The mayor asked the applicant’s attorney to furnish information on the efforts to market the space and whether the owner would consider joining it with the adjacent space, previously occupied by Verizon. Mr. Shields said that the matter may be ready for Council action next Monday, assuming a prompt response to the mayor’s request.
The joint work session concluded with a discussion of a homeowner’s request that the City vacate 1,638 square feet of unimproved space at the end of Park Place near the State Theater. Mr. Shields recommended the Council approve the vacation, however Mr. Baroukh expressed some reservations, given that the City might build a parking facility near the location. Planning Director Jim Snyder said that his staff would review the matter.
CDC Future - The Council then was briefed on the status of the Child Development Center (201 S. Cherry St.). The building, which was built by private funds, has been leased to Easter Seals for nearly 50 years. The current 25 year, dollar-a-year lease is expiring in November, but the leasee would prefer an extension until at least the summer of 2013 so it could secure another facility. Easter Seals would be willing to pay $50,000 annually for the space.
City Schools have asked to assume control of the property in July 2012 in order to house the preschool education programs currently located at Mt. Daniel. This option also would free space to permit the relocation of the Falls Church Community Center preschool program. Other options include leasing the facility to another day care provider or another commercial user, selling the property for residentinal use, or converting the space to City government offices.
School Superintendent Lois Berlin told the Council that waiting an additional year to acquire the property would result in “underserving” of students. Pre schoolers now are receiving three hours of classes instead of the more desirable five. She said that two trailers at Mt. Daniel are used for half day pre school, but that an additional class was needed due to the increase in special needs students.
Vice Mayor Dave Snyder called for more analysis of the options, including possibly combining government and school use. “A dollar a year is history” he said, stressing the need to obtain the maximum value of the property for taxpayers.
Mayor Baroukh asked Mr. Shields for an updated staff report on the issue, ideally by next Monday. School Board member Kieran Sharpe advised that the Board also would discuss the question at Tuesday’s meeting and submit input.
TJ Renovation Status - Mr. Sharpe and Dr. Berlin advised the Council that there will be a public forum on the renovation at the school on May 26 at 7:00 pm. Ceremonial groundbreaking will be held on June 13 at 9:30 am. The School’s Architecture Selection Advisory Committee will begin to review the RFP and design.
3rd Quarter Financial Report - CFO Richard La Condre reported that the City revenues were at or higher than budgeted and that expenditures are running at or close to budget. He advised that the projected fund balance would be $4.9 million at the end of the fiscal year, an increase of a little over $900,000.
Economic Development Incentive Policies - A draft resolution has been prepared for referral to City boards and commissions for comments. Final Council action will occur in June.
Closed Session - The work session concluded shortly before 10:00 pm. The members then withdrew for another conference on the water refunds case.
Video of the public meeting is available at the City website.
By GINGER PINHOLSTER
Falls Church Times Staff
May 5, 2011
The Falls Church Tree Commission expressed concern April 27 about a developer’s plan to add an office building and modify a parking garage attached to the previously approved Hilton Garden Inn project.