The city center ready to take off

This Tuesday was not the first time that the innovative One City Center project was submitted for review by a body of the Church of the city of Falls, this time during the meeting of the Economic Development Authority.

But the dramatically refined and elegant plan that places more than 100,000 square feet of retail and 246 residential units in the same downtown block as Ireland’s popular Four Provinces restaurant has taken on major new prominence this time around, as it was featured at the same time working on the demolition and development of the massive Broad and Washington project across the street – with its promise of a Whole Foods mega-store – is about to kick off.

Admittedly, the One City Center effort will not begin immediately. Still awaiting final approval from city officials, but it’s been months now, and with Broad and Washington’s long-awaited effort about to be launched, the gaze on the center’s central intersection Historic Falls City Church is set to undergo a massive transformation that will provide a “true mixed-use community in the heart of downtown, complementing the Broad and Washington project that will establish an” urban mixed-use environment mixed within walking distance”, making the center of the city “a marquis sub-market of regional importance. ”

That was argued by Andrew Painter of the local Chamber of Commerce and official spokesperson for the Atlantic Realty effort to the EDA board on Tuesday.

As of this week, all tenants of the former Robertson building across the street, including the Compleat Strategist and Toy Nest stores, have been evacuated from that building, the final step before the Insight’s Broad and Washington project will launches its two-year construction phase.

The old doctor’s office building and Applebees are expected to be the first to be demolished between now and early March, followed by the large white Robertson building around the corner. The demolition will be accompanied by a plan to put a left turn for southbound traffic on N. Washington to access Italian restaurants Clare and Don’s Beach Shack and Thompson’s.

This amid news also presented Tuesday by City Manager Wyatt Shields that the city is continuing the process of closing a 99-year lease with partners at Falls Church Gateway on the west end of town, not so far away. for the dense 9.78 acre development on land prepared by the demolition of the former George Mason High School which is now razed and awaiting another two year major development process.

The inauguration of this project is now scheduled for May.

And, in another related development, the FC Council’s economic development committee (different from the EDA) heard a new report on the 4.3-acre Founder’s Row project last Thursday which, while news of four new restaurants broke last week (reported on the front page of the News-Press), now the project has a letter of intent for the much-hyped and anticipated movie theater complex that will settle there.

The name of the theater complex has not yet been revealed, but it will have eight screens and 750 seats.

This also comes ahead of Mill Creek finalizing its bid for a “Founder’s Row 2” project at the same West Broad and N. West Street intersection that will fill unused properties that once housed a pharmacy with oversized parking lot and the iconic store. carpet on that corner which finally has a “Property Sold” sign and the announcement of a liquidation sale which is now a real deal.

As Painter said quietly on Tuesday, the church in the town of Falls has now established a reputation, regionally, “as a good place to do business.” No kidding!

It has been a total of 15 years that Atlantic Realty has been working on the development of the city’s main downtown block which houses the so-called George Mason Square and the 4Ps restaurant of Ireland.

In a first go-around, Atlantic’s Adam Schulman worked tirelessly with the city to get approval for a massive development there that encompassed the Bowl America property and more that came to a screeching halt with the start of the Great Recession in 2007.

But this latest iteration, filled with a “woonerf” driveway in front of which retailers and a 25,000 square foot grocery store will be the centerpiece of a wide range of planned public uses, and the city’s first traffic circle that could form at the end of the block where S. Maple and Annandale Road meet, to give the area an amazing new look and feel.

With the State Theater right there and a developer-subsidized 5,000 square feet as the new home for the Creative Cauldron theater in the city, the blocks around the central intersection of Broad and Washington promise to turn into one of the first , walkable, mixed use destinations throughout the region.

It was announced Tuesday that Atlantic Realty will donate 30 free parking spaces to the City which will be accessible to the public 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. $per person, or $300,000 in total, until Schulman announced on Tuesday that they would come to town for free.

Some EDA board members are still lobbying Atlantic Realty to further dress up the facade of the former George Mason Square building that will remain at the heart of the One City Center plan, but it looks like the project is on track. .

Local promoter Bob Young, who was re-elected as EDA president this week, called it a “very exciting project” and got the okay from his board colleagues to draft a letter to the FC City Council expressing exactly this feeling in the name of his board.