New Mixed Use Building Appears Likely to Rise at Broad and West

Falls Church Times Staff

February 16, 2013

A developer is poised to formally announce plans to build a new, mixed-use four-to-six story building at the northeast corner of Broad and West streets, the Falls Church Times has learned.

The corner, which now houses a Sunoco gas station, 7-11 convenience store, and the popular Mike’s Deli at Lazy Sundae, among other businesses, had been slated a few years ago to become the new home for a Capital One bank branch. But that was nixed by City officials, who refused to allow an exception to permit a drive-through that the bank demanded.

The drive-through wasn’t the City’s real objection, though; what they really objected to was that an enormous commercial parcel in a prominent location at a major intersection was going to get only a small, single-story structure, instead of a larger building that would bring in more tax revenue, sources have said.

Now, City officials seem likely to get their wish, but it’s not clear just how quickly this project will move forward. City officials aren’t talking, and multiple people in a position to know declined to comment until the unnamed and unknown developer formally submits a proposal to City planners.

One commercial real estate agent, asked what she knew about the proposal, said, “I don’t know anything. I can’t talk about it.” Asked which it was, she responded, “Both!”

Another agent with multiple commercial listings in the city, when asked what he knew, said: “Why would you think I would know anything about it?”

John Shreve, who owns the land where the project would be built, also didn’t respond to a request for comment.

But other sources confirmed the basic outlines of the proposal. It would be a similar building to many others either under construction or proposed and working their way toward City approvals.

Examples of such buildings include Northgate, at 472 N. Washington Street, which is well under way, and a proposal known as The Reserve at Tinner Hill, which would rise where Saab dealer International Motors now stands on South Washington. Another example is the proposed Harris Teeter project, at 301 West Broad.

Like those examples, the new building would have a first floor earmarked for retail stores, and apartments or condos on several floors above.

It would seem to be an attractive location for retailers and residents alike. Retailers would be situated at a very visible corner near one of the busiest intersections in town. Broad Street, of course, is heavy all day long, and West Street sees steady traffic, especially at rush hour.

Meanwhile, residents considering living there might appreciate the walkability of the location — less than a mile to the West Falls Church Metro Station and immediate access to the Washington & Old Dominion Trail, which runs mere feet from the proposed project’s rear.

A new mixed-use building is in the works for the Broad and West intersection.

Despite those advantages, the project also would add density and traffic to the already-congested intersection, and potentially put more pressure on the already-burgeoning City schools, depending on the size and quantity of the residential units.

Smaller units are not as attractive to families with children, and that’s what many developers, who see demand for small, more affordable units, have been proposing. For example, 70 percent of the units at the Tinner Hill project are slated to be just one bedroom, which would draw almost no new students. It’s unclear how many units are being proposed in this case, or what their size would be, so it’s difficult to evaluate the impact on the schools at this point.

It’s also a bit early to assume any retail stores are already in the fold for this project, but one source told the Times that Bank of America already has expressed interest in the space. The huge bank’s only other City location is 1.5 miles away on North Washington, across from Northgate. However, the source who confirmed for the Times the basic outlines of the proposal said he hadn’t heard anything about the bank’s interest.

Multiple sources also said they understood that improvements to the congested Broad-West intersection would be part of the proposal and that some preliminary ideas already have been bounced around between the developer and City planners. However, it could not be learned what those proposals are.

The busy intersection is especially heavy in part because it’s what traffic engineers refer to as an “offset” intersection, in which northbound West Street is located further southeast than southbound West Street, which would create a potentially dangerous situation if both sides were allowed to proceed at the same time.

As a result, northbound traffic currently has a green light and a left arrow first, followed by the southbound traffic. That creates a longer light cycle for the intersection, backing up traffic more than it otherwise might. A possible change, therefore, would be a realignment of West Street to eliminate the offset.

Like the Harris Teeter proposal down the street, this project also would mean the loss of a local favorite. At the Harris Teeter, it is Anthony’s Italian Restaurant. As of Friday, 873 people had signed an online petition urging the city to help save Anthony’s. Ultimately, the decision is out of the city’s hands, although officials certainly could encourage the developer to find a way to incorporate Anthony’s into the new project.

In the case of the Broad and West project, it would be Mike’s Deli at Lazy Sundae, a popular spot, especially on hot summer evenings when people line up for the store’s ice cream.

Worrying about that loss may be getting ahead of ourselves, however, as this proposal has a long way to go before it ever becomes a reality.

February 16, 2013 


5 Responses to “New Mixed Use Building Appears Likely to Rise at Broad and West”

  1. Dave Hagigh (Falls Church) on February 18th, 2013 8:41 pm

    Don’t forget about the City Sunoco at that location. They’ve been providing great service for a long time. And do we really need another bank (or coffee shop or pizza place)? Rational land use has to include services that people use every day. And good car repair should be at the top of the list.

  2. FC Voter on February 19th, 2013 12:53 pm

    We all need car repair, just not at a marquee intersection along our main street. I don’t think FC has any shortage of car repair/detailing/ washing/sales/etc. on Broad Street between West Street and Haycock.

    This corner currently looks like a dump with a shoddy looking gas station, vacant kitchen place, vacant retail strip, taco bell, plus the dilapadated 7-11 and Mikes deli (sorry Mike, but the store is a total dive, and not in a cool hipster way).

    Redevelopment here would be welcomed, especially if it fixed the intrersection. It’s one of the worst looking corners along all of Broad Street-bring on the new development.

  3. Victoria Kwasiborski (22046 & Vienna, Austria) on February 22nd, 2013 1:25 am

    Good grief, we don’t need another bank in the city. I would welcome reconfiguring the space to include the gas station (assuming it’s economically viable), the 7-Eleven, and a bicycle repair/maintenance shop. Encourage the organic market by Economy Party to move across the street for the suburban hipsters living above in the residential units; the market could also have outside tables for the hungry cyclists, too.

  4. dale walton on February 23rd, 2013 5:03 pm

    Hi, I don’t live far from this intersection. Let me get this straight. And I realize this project needs to be thought through very closely. But the article implies that we might let Mike’s Deli or a 7/11 nix a potential project. Don’t get me wrong, I go to Mike’s Deli sometimes land like it. But folks, come on – – we are going to let Mike’s Deli spoil what could be a decent project. Also, look at the corner on the opposite side – – where the cabinet maker building has been vacant for probably 2 years now.

    Anyway on the subject City finances, I was running some numbers on my own tax situation. I live in an average home. There is talk of a potential 10 cent increase to the current $1.27 per hundred tax rate. Per my calculation, if true this would mean close to another $1,000 tax increase for me on top of similar increases in recent years.

    Folks – – is this just going to continue and if so how long? Do you find yourselves better off and can we not find some better “balance” and relief?

    I have to admit I don’t follow other jurisdictions such as Arlington, Fairfax County, Fairfax City closely….so before I take issue with our City too much are they in this same tax and spend dilemma.

  5. Dudley McDonald Mechanicsville, VA on February 27th, 2013 7:44 am

    As some of the lyrics of my alma mater read/sing, “…time and change will surely show…” is exactly what the City of Falls Church is witnessing. Who really believes that change is not inevitable. For 35+ years I, like many, witnessed it — some good, some bad and some ugly.

    If the city wants to remain ‘viable’ – economically and politically – it must embrace the changes.

    This intersection is just one of several that need upgrading. Why not have at its focus an electic care recharging station. That should satisfy the majority of the city’s current residents. Think about how ‘convenient, clean and quiet’ it would be.

    Best of success moving “Forward” Little City. In your hearts, you know its right!
    (sort of covers four decades of political trends that embraced the city).

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