Cabinet Factory Building Still Seeking a New Tenant

Falls Church Times Staff

January 24, 2011

Whenever a new business is slated to come to Falls Church City, a lively debate about the desirability of the business ensues. Likewise, an energetic debate about the best use for a vacant commercial building occurs with regularity.

For those so inclined, now is your time.

It’s been a year since the owners of the building that formerly housed Falls Church Cabinetry, at 1001 West Broad Street, have had a tenant. Frustrated by the situation, they are asking for input.

“What does the neighborhood want?” asked Kayvan Mehrbakhsh, a broker with Sperry Van Ness in Tyson’s Corner.

It’s not like the building hasn’t had suitors. Located at the busy and highly visible corner of Broad and West streets, there has been a steady stream of interest. But a variety of things have conspired to get in the way, leaving the building vacant since January 2010.

“I’ve had a lot of traffic on this building. A lot of people want it,” Mr. Mehrbakhsh said.

The parking situation — the building has space for only a handful of vehicles — has been the biggest issue. City officials also nixed a new construction bank because the bank wanted two entrances, which the city refused, Mr. Mehrbakhsh said.

Despite those issues, two companies are looking strongly at the site now: a children’s gym facility and an automotive parts and service retailer. The Falls Church Times agreed not to name the companies involved because leases have not been signed.

Upscale restaurants also have expressed interest, including a major steak and seafood chain and a popular Italian restaurant. But once again, the issue is parking, causing the the brokers to think about a valet service. “But a valet service to where?” Mr. Mehrbakhsh wondered.

The adjacent Rite Aid parking lot is a possibility, and a reporter wondered if the owners could strike a deal with the cash-strapped Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to use their parking garage at the West Falls Church station on Haycock, less than a mile away. The garage would seem to be largely empty at night when a restaurant would be busiest. Mr. Mehrbakhsh thought the idea was worth investigating.

The 11,000 square foot building was built in 1950 and has had many uses. Years ago it was a Buick dealership, and it was a carpet store before the cabinet factory opened in 2007. Caught in the housing market’s downturn, that business filed for bankruptcy and closed early last year.

The site also suffered when the Commonwealth of Virginia took some of its land by eminent domain to widen Broad Street, which also is Virginia Rte. 7. The current owners bought it in the 1980s, and are willing to sell, but are asking $2,900,000, a figure other industry veterans suggested is not realistic. The city has assessed the site at $1,319,800, down from over $1.6 million last year.

Mr. Mehrbakhsh said one option is to tear down part of the building’s rear to create more parking, but that would require the owners to comply with new zoning regulations from which they currently are exempt.

“The problem is, if we touch the building everything has to comply to the new code,” he said, citing setbacks as one issue that makes that option unappealing. The building’s 11,000 square feet could be forced down to just 3,000 square feet of usable space unless the City grants a waiver, he said, an assertion confirmed by another commercial broker not involved with the building or the same firm.

A furniture retailer also made an inquiry this week, and an ethnic grocery has kicked the tires. So there’s plenty of interest. But even if a lease is signed, the City may not approve the use, so Mr. Mehrbakhsh is seeking help from area residents and consumers.

“The owners are looking for ideas,” he said.

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By Stephen Siegel
January 24, 2011 


22 Responses to “Cabinet Factory Building Still Seeking a New Tenant”

  1. vlfrance, City of Falls Church on January 24th, 2011 6:46 am

    A furniture retailer would be ideal – plenty of space for a showroom and there doesn’t need to be a lot of parking – the overflow could possibly use the Rite Aid lot if a deal is struck.

    As far as a restaurant, parking is definitely an issue. And valet parking at West Falls Church is not practical – a valet cannot easily run to it as is custom; a car would need to be used.

    Great news to hear there is good interest!

  2. SB on January 24th, 2011 9:36 am

    Having a children’s gym in the neighborhood would be great!

  3. Terence Kuch, Falls Church on January 24th, 2011 9:43 am

    The children’s gym idea sounds good to me. There would have to be a pickup/dropoff area, but not a lot of parking. Auto service would be OK except we already have Smokey’s and Curry’s nearby and that’s enough. A good steak restaurant here would be wonderful, but the parking problem will be insurmountable unless Rite Aid would license the restaurant to use some of their parking. Wouldn’t it be great to have a Morton’s or a Ruth’s Chris of our own? The WFC Metro parking option seems impractical. Although — remember the overflow lot built to take Metro parking during construction of the WFC garage? I’ve never seen more than a handful of cars there; seems like some kind of licensing might not be very costly.

    (The writer’s opinions are his own and do not represent the views of the Gates at West Falls Unit Owners Association.)

  4. Robert Thomas, Falls Church on January 24th, 2011 10:17 am

    If the zoning code would allow shared parking with the Rite Aid, a restaurant would work well. The Rite Aid parking lot, especially the rear, is empty most of the time.

    The bigger problem is that this is another isolated property – Falls Church is full of tiny properties with owners who are only interested in a check a month from rent, not in improving their property, or selling their property for consolidation and larger redevelopment. Or in this case, have an overinflated view of the value of their property.

    This place isn’t Bedo’s sandwiched between two large buildings and no future, but it might as well be, stuck on a corner with no parking. Imagine if someone could get control of this property, the weirdly placed Rite Aid and the parking enforcement challenged West End center and redevelop all three. That would have the potential for something grand.

  5. Richard Donnely on January 24th, 2011 10:41 am

    Let us not forget that the reason the Rite Aid is “Weirdly placed” is because the owners of the cabinetry building refused to sell when asked, much like Bedo’s. Now they can’t do anything with the property. Tear it down and build something purpose built for the space, parking included.

  6. Karen Hoofnagle Falls Church City on January 24th, 2011 1:12 pm

    “Imagine if someone could get control of this property, the weirdly placed Rite Aid and the parking enforcement challenged West End center and redevelop all three.”

    I can imagine it alright. I imagine a whole bunch of over-priced empty retail space no one will fill. Just like the horseshoe over by Panera and Mad Fox. Or maybe just like the empty spaces over by Pizzeria Orso. The independent half of all the businesses currently in West End would die.

    I know we need new tax revenues, but I’ll be excited about redeveloping an existing vibrant plaza like West End when we’ve managed to actually create some buzz in other spaces.

    As far as the use of the Cabinet Factory space, I can see a furniture store as-is, but anything else pretty much needs a tear down or a deal for parking with Rite Aid. I don’t love the idea of a furniture store, but a kids gym without more parking doesn’t sound workable.

  7. Louis Olom, Falls Church, VA. on January 24th, 2011 1:26 pm

    I agree with Mr. Terence Kuch, whom I don’t know. We have needed a top flight steak and chops restaurant for many years and the ones he mentions are great.

  8. Alison MIller, Falls Church on January 24th, 2011 3:33 pm

    I think it’s pretty clear that a deal with Rite Aid to use their parking lot is the way to go. I live a stone’s throw from there and the lot rarely has more than 10 cars in it. It’s badly needed parking in an area that has very little.

  9. Mark Gross on January 24th, 2011 3:39 pm

    Please. Not another auto parts and service retailer. We have many more than our share.

  10. Robert Thomas, Falls Church on January 24th, 2011 5:43 pm

    Karen – the difference between the empty retail and the West End center is the cost to rent. As long as the developers are asking $45/sq foot (Pearson and Spectrum) and enjoying the tax write off from their “loss” but the West End charges $23/sq ft, the run down shopping centers, worn out houses with palm readers and class D office buildings will reign.

  11. TFC on January 24th, 2011 5:45 pm

    I remember Mountain Jacks (where Applebees is now). We often ate there, cozy inside, nice steaks and prime rib, reasonable prices. Morton’s would be nice but I doubt I could ever afford to visit.

  12. Gordon Theisz, City of Falls Church on January 24th, 2011 11:22 pm

    Mountain Jacks was amazing. I’d take a steak place. Work out the parking issues and let’s eat!

  13. Brian Williams (City of Falls Church) on January 25th, 2011 2:33 am

    I can’t picture a high-end restaurant there, but if they could figure out the parking and do it right, I would bet that a kids gym would be extremely popular there, especially in the winter months. I don’t know if it’s a good profitable business, but I know I’d take my kids there often if it were reasonably priced.

  14. Dale Walton on January 25th, 2011 2:16 pm

    Just think about what works best for the neighbors close by. I live in the second block of South West Street – – just off West Broad. We don’t want anything with a high traffic or parking impact to supplement what we already have with Taco Bell
    – – keep that in mind folks, especially for those of you would not have to deal with this on a daily basis!

  15. Richard Donnely on January 25th, 2011 2:28 pm

    So we want a “vibrant” business that brings in revenue, contributes to the overall theme of FCC, and makes our city a “destination” place, but also doesn’t have alot of people or cars.

    Just leave it an empty eyesore.

  16. Robert Thomas, Falls Church on January 25th, 2011 2:34 pm

    Give us a break Dale. You chose to live on a major side road, off of a major state thoroughfare. That meets the defninition of having to deal with traffic. Please tell us how Taco Bell impacts your parking or traffic? Does the drive through back up to your house? Do Taco Bell customers park in front of your house? Anyone who lives within two blocks of a major commercial corridor is going to have it impact their lives – comes with the territory.

    This building needs a tenant, someone who will bring in tax revenue to the City. The City staff should make parking appropriate for the use. Tax revenue is good for everyone.

  17. Lou Mauro on January 25th, 2011 2:47 pm

    Your patients must love you, Gordon!

  18. Dale Walton on January 25th, 2011 5:27 pm

    You need to consider the opinions of the local residents…..don’t we do that with most everything that is developed? I am not saying that I am for or against any one development project or type of establishment. I trust the City will do its due diligence on this matter.

    Mr. Thomas – I don’t know who you are or who you represent, nor do I really care…but I am taken aback a bit by your tone. You comments seem to indicate that you really don’t care about what the local residents feel.

  19. Gordon Theisz, City of Falls Church on January 25th, 2011 11:49 pm

    Lou, life is all about choices and balance. You can’t eat a steak every night, but as an oncology professor told me, sometimes you have to treat yourself to one less day in a nursing home!

  20. Stephen Siegel on January 26th, 2011 9:14 am

    Mr. Walton and Mr. Thomas both raise fair points: There will always be some traffic issues on or near major arteries. But the people who live nearby deserve some consideration and there should be an effort made to try to minimize the issues.

    The Taco Bell does present some problems, as left-turning traffic entering the restaurant’s busy drive thru blocks traffic on West Street, which is a major thoroughfare, sometimes blocking it all the way up into Broad Street.

    It would have been better if the entry to Taco Bell was on Broad. But if it had to be on West, there should have been a left turn lane there.

  21. Dale Walton on January 26th, 2011 1:31 pm

    Stepping back for minute….the existing building may be close to the end of its useful like….not sure. It was Peacock Buick back in the 1950s and 1960s (I am dating myself). I know the cabinet company did some updating, but not to the basic structure. Not sure if they updated the plumbing or electrical systems. I don’t know how the building is laid out inside exactly, but it set up with a large construction or shop area in the rear which represents most of the structure.

    I am thinking that maybe the whole building needs to be torn down….and thus, starting from scratch with a discussion of appropriate uses for the property, a new structure, etc.

  22. John Doe Fairfax on February 15th, 2011 8:10 pm

    I feel this place needs another cabinet shop.

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