A proposed express car wash at Fairfax Blvd and Lion Run in Fairfax City faces an uphill battle after council members expressed concerns about its potential traffic impact.
“I’m not sure that this is the right location for this kind of business — whether it’s yours or someone else’s — given that the location is the primary access and exit for the public school system and for people south of that area,” Fairfax City Councilmember Thomas Ross said during a work session last Tuesday, Jan. 9.
Under consideration is a special-use permit that would allow the national franchise, Tommy’s Express Car Wash, to redevelop 1.15 acres at 9917 Fairfax Blvd, which has been home to the Italian restaurant The Esposito’s Fairfax since 1982.
Maria Esposito, the owner of the restaurant, told FFXnow that the restaurant currently has no intention of closing.
“We have no information yet,” she said.
The lot also has a second retail building that was built in 1978 and is currently vacant.
The applicant, D.C.-based private equity firm Olympus Pines, initially submitted a pre-application for the project in November 2021, and the Board of Architectural Review conducted a work session last month.
Designed to process up to 200 vehicles per hour, the proposed 4,553-square-foot car wash anticipates serving a “peak volume” of 50-75 cars per hour with a maximum staff of four to five, according to the city council staff report.
The site currently has a one-way entrance and one-way exit along Fairfax Blvd. The applicant has also proposed incorporating three “stacking lanes to avoid backup.”
While several council members, including Mayor Catherine Read, agreed the site should be redeveloped, there was some debate about whether the volume of vehicles served might lead to traffic issues along the route.
“Fairfax Blvd is so heavy with traffic already…There may not be a queue to get the car washed, but there may be a queue getting out of there,” Councilmember So Lim said during the work session.
Councilmember Kate Doyle Feingold pointed to other examples of businesses along Fairfax Blvd, such as Chick-fil-A, which has stacking lanes to mitigate the queuing issue.
“So, if there was an analysis where people can say, ‘Oh, I see how this could function differently,’ that might help alleviate some of those concerns,” she said.
Olympus Pines co-founder Trevor Sperry emphasized that the car wash is engineered for quick service, with vehicles in and out within minutes. He noted that other locations have washed thousands of cars daily without causing traffic disruptions.
“If people are backing up on our site, people are going to stop coming,” Sperry said during the work session.
“So, I think the main concern is, will we cause a backup on Fairfax Blvd?” he continued. “We’ve never had that happen in all of our locations, and we will provide camera data in which we served 3000 vehicles in a day without backing up the road.”
The proposal remains under review. A public hearing, which will be held before any voting takes place, has not yet been scheduled.
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