Firm Proposes Mixed-Use Structure for Falls Church

This rendering of a $280 million city center project, to include a hotel, offices, retail space and residences, was submitted by Atlantic Realty Cos.
This rendering of a $280 million city center project, to include a hotel, offices, retail space and residences, was submitted by Atlantic Realty Cos. (By Atlantic Realty Cos.)
Thursday, December 21, 2006

The first move toward developing a city center project to transform downtown Falls Church came last week from Atlantic Realty Cos. in its application for a mixed-use development.

The submission, which will face a series of review and approval steps that a city spokeswoman said would offer opportunities for input from city residents, would focus on about five acres on the south side of West Broad Street (Route 7), east of the post office, and in the 200 block of South Maple Avenue

The proposal would bring retail stores, residences, office space and a hotel to the city.

Mayor Robin S. Gardner said in a statement that the city wanted to work with the company to "develop a project that will bring energy to our downtown and added benefits to our citizens, while continuing the sense of community in Falls Church."

The company estimates that the development will cost as much as $280 million, which could bring the city annual real estate tax revenue of about $2.8 million. That does not include sales, hotel, business and other taxes.

The proposal includes a Harris Teeter grocery store, more than 100,000 square feet of office space on Broad Street, a 180-room hotel, about 500 apartments, including affordable housing units and 67 age-restricted condos, a bowling alley and about 1,500 mostly underground parking spaces.

"This proposal has the kind of uses that we have sought . . . for many years, . . . and we are looking forward to a review and approval process that involves the entire community," said Wyatt Shields, the acting city manager.

That will begin only after the city's Planning Division reviews the proposal and sends it to a joint work session of the City Council and the Planning Commission. The session will be open to the public, and later public hearings will be planned, said city spokeswoman Nicole Gobbo. The proposal will be available online at a later date, she said.

City economic development director Richard Goff said: "This project has many elements that will energize and create momentum for ongoing investment in the city's core commercial area. . . . This will be a boon for the local office market, putting . . . space where business tenants can support restaurants, retailers, entertainment venues, and find housing options for their employees."

A broader vision for city rejuvenation includes about 22 acres enclosed by Little Falls Street to the west, North Washington Street to the east, Park Avenue to the north and Gibson Street to the south.

Atlantic Realty owns George Mason Square, the city's largest complex of leased office space, and through a partnership with Carr Enterprises Ltd. it is completing Pearson Square on South Maple Avenue. The Pearson complex currently is the largest mixed-use development project in Falls Church.

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-- Bob Samsot

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