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New senior living developer needed for city’s West Falls project, delaying construction

A rendering of the West Falls development (via City of Falls Church)

The senior living component of Falls Church City’s mixed-use West Falls development has hit a snag, even as construction continues on other pieces of the future gateway to the city.

WF Developer, the development team led by Hoffman & Associates, informed city leaders in April that Trammel Crow had withdrawn from its contract to build the project’s 217-unit senior housing facility, according to a staff report.

Negotiations are underway with a new developer, but a 13-month extension is needed on the June 13 deadline to transfer the site’s ground lease, Hoffman Senior Vice President of Development Mary Beth Avedesian told the Falls Church City Council on June 12.

The council approved an extension that pushed the closing deadline back to July 15, 2024 and the deadline for substantial completion of construction from May 13, 2029 to July 15, 2031.

“Frankly, when you’re past 2025, it’s almost like fake dates,” Vice Mayor Letty Hardi said, expressing hope that the senior living building will be finished “well before” the new deadline. “…I would hate this to start running into the phase 2 commitments.”

In exchange for the extension, WF Developer agreed to several new commitments, according to Deputy City Manager Cindy Mester, including:

  • Cover up to $5,000 of the city’s legal fees
  • Install a temporary flashing pedestrian signal at Mustang Alley and Haycock Road three weeks before the new school year begins on Aug. 21
  • Identify the new preferred senior living developer to the council by Sept. 30
  • Begin construction on the senior living facility within 60 months of closing a deal, which would be July 15, 2029 at the latest
  • Add and maintain a “decorative treatment” on the blank, concrete wall of a parking garage on Haycock that’s currently under construction

The temporary pedestrian signal is expected to be replaced by a permanent one by the end of this calendar year, according to city staff.

Approved on Oct. 24, the site plan for the senior living facility envisioned a 15-story, 267,700-square-foot building with 140 independent living units, 55 assisted living units, 22 memory care studio units and 7,700 square feet of ground-floor retail uses.

The senior housing facility is D1 in the West Falls Phase 1 site plan (via City of Falls Church)

Located on the nearly 10-acre former George Mason High School site, the West Falls development will also deliver approximately 647 apartment and condominium units, a 146-room hotel, 326,100 square feet of office space, about 14,000 square feet of civic space, and 142,100 square feet of retail, including a potential 40,000-square-foot grocer that has yet to be identified.

The project broke ground in May 2022 and will transform the area around the West Falls Church Metro station in conjunction with a planned redevelopment of the station’s parking lot and an expansion of Virginia Tech’s neighboring Northern Virginia Center campus.

The first phase — which includes two parking garages, a medical office building by Trammel Crow, the hotel, a multifamily condo building, and an apartment building with the grocery store — is on track to be substantially complete in January 2025, according to Avedesian.

The first structure expected is a parking garage to serve the medical office building. Avedesian said the garage should be finished this summer.

“I think they’re expecting to be done towards the end of this year,” she said of the office building. “They’re negotiating directly with tenants, and I understand they have a deed on some very good tenants, medical tenants that will take a good portion of that building.”

The senior living facility was originally included in the first phase of the development but is now being considered “phase 1B,” Avedesian said. Phase 2 will bring additional retail and office space, as well as a second condo building.

City Manager Wyatt Shields said phase 2 could start in 2029, but Hoffman’s agreement with the city allows it to pay for up to three one-year extensions, meaning construction could begin as late as 2032.