The Mason Row Merry Go Round Continues

By Stephen Siegel
The Falls Church Times
December 26, 2017

It was nearly two years ago that the Falls Church City Council unanimously approved a special exception to the zoning code for Mason Row, the big mixed-use project proposed for the busy northeast corner of Broad and West streets.

The vote, after much controversy and opposition, came after the developer agreed to modestly reduce the height and density of the proposal. Yet the corner in question looks much like it has for some time.

The only changes since then that would suggest the project is going forward are the departures of several long-time businesses, including three to nearby locations. Longtime favorite Mike’s Deli is now open at Broad & Shreve; bike store Bikinetic is on West Jefferson, and Afghan restaurant Panjshir recently opened in the new Lily Building across from The Falls Church. A fourth business, Brits on Broad, has closed.

But other than that, there are no signs that Mason Row, which has been renamed Founder’s Row, is still going to be built. The 7-11 remains open, and it will need to be relocated before demolition or construction can begin… [Read more…]

Mason Student Arrested After Allegedly Threatening Violence Against School

December 8, 2017

A George Mason High School student was arrested Friday, just days after another student reported that the student arrested had threatened violence against Mason teachers and students.

The suspect is a male 17-year-old and City resident. He was arrested near his family’s home, City officials say.

The incident began Tuesday, when a student came forward and warned about the threat. School principal Matt Hills called police and the student’s parents, who were told that their son would not be allowed to return to school until the investigation was complete.

Police conducted surveillance of the suspect and determined they had sufficient evidence to arrest him, although it’s not clear whether they have additional information beyond the initial student report. However, police say they are confident that there is no conspiracy — meaning that no one else is involved with any violent plans.

“The investigation to this point has revealed that this was a plan solely conceived by the suspect and there are no other individuals… [Read more…]

City Council Incumbents Win And Are Joined By Newcomer Litkenhous

By Stephen Siegel
Falls Church Times Staff
November 7, 2017

The popular Marybeth Connelly remains popular. And so does the longest-serving City Councilor, Dave Snyder. The two candidates easily won re-election to the Falls Church City Council Tuesday, with Ms. Connelly easily receiving the highest number of votes with Mr. Snyder finishing a strong second.

It’s the second overall win in two tries for Ms. Connelly, who also received the largest share of the vote when she initially ran for the Council in 2013. She clearly is doing something right. Incumbent Dan Sze also won re-election, and newcomer Ross Litkenhous topped former city councilor Dan Maller and newcomer Spencer Parsons to claim the final spot.

Ms. Connelly gained 3,707 votes to Mr. Snyder’s 3,254, a huge margin of victory. But it also was an impressive result for Mr. Snyder, who continues to demonstrate that longevity doesn’t have to be a four-letter word in politics. Mr. Sze was third with 2,889 votes, while Mr. Litkenhous, who presented himself as a knowledgeable yet fresh face, earned 2,695. Messrs. Maller and Parsons were far behind with 1,796 and… [Read more…]

Anderson, Litton, and Russell Join Webb As Winners in World’s Tightest School Board Race

By Stephen Siegel
Falls Church Times Staff
November 7, 2017

There may be a continuing desire by voters for political newcomers nationwide, but school board member Lawrence Webb may have the secret elixir that other incumbent officeholders want.

Mr. Webb won re-election to the board and also garnered the highest number of votes Tuesday; he was the only board member whose term was up who sought re-election. Joining him on the board are newcomers Greg Anderson, Shannon Litton, and Shawna Russell. Political outsider Alison Kutchma fell just short for the second election cycle in a row, and Richard Crespin finished sixth.

The most notable feature of the race was how tightly bunched the candidates were. Unlike in previous years, when one candidate was the clear favorite, this race came down to the final precinct to be counted. In the end, Mr. Webb led with 2,714 votes. He was followed closely by Mr. Anderson (2,674), Ms. Litton (2,629), and Ms. Russell (2,614), which means that the top four candidates were all within 100 votes of each other.

Ms. Kutchma, who stood out as the only candidate to oppose the bond referendum for a new… [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

Bond for New High School Construction Passes Easily

By Stephen Siegel
Falls Church Times Staff
November 7, 2017

It is not an exaggeration to say that the future of Falls Church City was decided by voters today. That future now appears to include a brand new George Mason High School after voters handily approved a bond referendum authorizing city officials to borrow and spend up to $120 million for the school’s construction.

This does not mean one has to agree with the majority’s decision. But it would be difficult to argue that there has been a more significant day in the City’s history. By voting yes, the 63 percent of residents who voted said they want — and are willing to pay for — a new high school, even though many risks and uncertainties about the project abound.

Without question, it’s a big number, especially for a city the size of Falls Church. Officials are aware of this, but pointed out that by approving the project, it would allow for the demolition of the existing school, which in turn would allow for large scale development at the busy northeast corner of Broad Street and Haycock Road. A sale or lease of the City-owned land at that corner… [Read more…]

Target Bringing Its Urban Store Concept to South Washington Street

By Stephen Siegel
Falls Church Times Staff
June 28, 2017

Ever since Fresh Market pulled out of Lincoln Property Company’s new development on South Washington Street, the question was what would replace it. Few retailers want or can afford more than 20,000 square feet of space, which left Lincoln, one retail analyst said, “between a rock and a hard place.”

Despite that predicament, Lincoln appears to have escaped with the help of Target. The Minneapolis-based chain, best known for its huge suburban department stores, announced Wednesday that it will open one of its new, smaller style stores in the ground floor of Lincoln’s building, which is tucked in between South Maple and South Washington and across from Pearson Square.

It’s a bit of a coup for the City, which gets one of the first of these smaller Target stores and the tax revenue that will come with it. There’s only one other in northern Virginia now, in Rosslyn, and not many more than 30 nationwide. The stores were called Target Express when the company launched the concept in 2014, but it recently dropped that name and now just calls them “Target,” despite the… [Read more…]

German Supermarket Aldi Bringing City Shoppers Another Option

By Stephen Siegel
Falls Church Times Staff
June 28, 2017

City shoppers may have missed out when Fresh Market decided against opening a new store on South Washington Street, but now a new grocer is poised to provide another option nearby.

Aldi, a big German company, is preparing to open a 20,000 square foot store in the Tower Square Shopping Center on Hillwood Avenue, replacing the long-standing ethnic market Halalco, a source familiar with the company’s plans said last week.

The grocer will also occupy several adjacent storefronts. One of those adjacent storefronts, Russian market Troika, will move to the other end of the plaza and occupy the long-vacant space formerly occupied by barbecue restaurant Red Hot and Blue, as well as the storefront to that space’s west, the source told the Times.

The impact of Aldi on the mid-century style strip mall could be significant. Combined with the redevelopment of the long-vacant strip mall across from The Falls Church, which sits directly behind the Aldi location, that part of the City will gain a new vibrancy.

And while Aldi is not an exact substitute for Fresh Market, City… [Read more…]

Middle School Teacher Pleads Guilty to Assaulting Students

By Stephen Siegel
Falls Church Times Staff
May 25, 2017

Update: This story now includes a response from the Falls Church City Schools and the Manassas Park Police.

Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School math teacher Jose Estrada has pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated sexual battery involving two female students.

The 36-year-old Clifton resident pleaded guilty Wednesday and is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 4. A teacher at MEH since 2015, he was removed from the classroom in January, following accusations of inappropriate conduct by two sixth grade girls.

Those accusations led to an investigation by the Falls Church City Police, who subsequently arrested Mr. Estrada in February.

It’s not clear exactly when the offenses occurred, but court documents say the date or dates were sometime between Nov. 1, 2016, and Jan. 17, 2017. It was on the latter date that the first girl came forward, which then led to the investigation.

Mr. Estrada, who taught sixth-grade math, was placed on paid leave after the girls came forward. The decision to offer paid leave rather than to fire him was because he is… [Read more…]

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