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Overhaul could add housing, relocate Michaels at Merrifield strip mall

The proposed Pan Am Shopping Center redevelopment would replace the Michaels and Micro Center building with housing (via Google Maps)

Safeway isn’t going anywhere, but change is coming for the rest of Merrifield’s Pan Am Shopping Center.

Citing a need to adapt to evolving retail trends, property owner Federal Realty Investment Trust wants to turn the strip mall at the corner of Route 29 and Nutley Street into a mixed-use development with three residential buildings, townhouses, and a public plaza.

Submitted to Fairfax County on Thursday (March 31), the proposed development plan eliminates almost 30,000 square feet of retail space from the shopping center by demolishing multiple buildings, including the one that currently houses Micro Center and Michaels, to make way for the new housing.

Don’t bid farewell to those businesses just yet, though. Federal Realty intends to retain some long-standing tenants, including the Safeway grocery store anchor.

“Federal Realty Investment Trust has taken the first steps toward seeking approval for a mix of uses at Pan Am,” Senior Vice President of Asset Management Deirdre Johnson said. “…Our relationships with our merchants are extremely important to us, including Michael’s and Micro Center, and we plan to incorporate them into the property for many years to come.”

In a statement of justification, McGuireWoods managing partner Greg Riegle says Federal Realty hopes to turn the Pan Am Shopping Center “into a more vibrant mixed-use space that will prevent further decline and ensure the Center can remain a source of convenient retail for the community, and also serve as a place for gathering and general community identity.”

The application calls for 686,074 square feet of residential construction, mostly on the south side of the shopping center, adjacent to the existing Providence Hall Apartments.

The proposed redevelopment plan for the Pan Am Shopping Center (via Fairfax County)

The proposed housing consists of up to 34 single-family, four-story townhomes and three multifamily buildings with up to 516 units:

  • A four-story, 12-unit structure with 3,500 square feet of ground-floor retail
  • A 90-foot-tall, seven-story building with up to 203 units, an internal courtyard area, and a parking garage with an uncovered deck
  • A 90-foot-tall, seven-story building with up to 301 units, a private courtyard, and a parking garage

In addition to the Micro Center and Michaels block, structures slated for demolition include the now-vacant, standalone McDonald’s building and the Wells Fargo bank in the center’s northwest corner, which will be replaced by a 5,000-square-foot retail building.

The plan also features a 15,000-square-foot, publicly accessible plaza between the townhouses and the 203-unit multifamily building.

“New and reconfigured retail spaces will be provided and designed to attract new service and amenity oriented retail that will diversify the experience and contribute to the Center’s long term viability,” Riegle wrote.

Noting that the shopping center hasn’t substantially changed since it was built in 1979, Federal Realty says the car-focused layout, limited availability of pedestrian links and public gathering spaces, and retail configuration “is not aligned with current market expectations,” leading to increased vacancies.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors initiated a review in December to determine whether to amend the county comprehensive plan’s guidance for the area.

The property owner says the proposed redevelopment will improve pedestrian and bicycle access to the center by introducing on-road bicycle lanes on Nutley Street.

Johnson noted in a statement to FFXnow that the project “could take several years to bring to fruition.”

“The rezoning is an opportunity to work constructively with County regulators, decision-makers and community stakeholders to advance a series of shared and aligned goals and objectives centered around creating something that is successful, vibrant and something that can positively define the community,” Johnson said.

Photo via Google Maps

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