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Redevelopment of the Eastgate Shopping Centre in Annandale is planned (via Fairfax County)

(Updated at 4:05 p.m.) Annandale’s Eastgate Shopping Centre, home to The Block food hall, is slated for a partial redevelopment.

Insight Property Group is seeking Fairfax County’s permission to transform a part of the existing center on John Marr Drive into a mixed-use apartment building with retail and amenities in an effort to “transition the site into a more vibrant, mixed-use, and community-centered asset,” according to the application.

To move forward with the proposal, the county would have to rezone the shopping center from commercial uses to a use that allows residential and mixed-use projects.

“This diversified and more balanced mix of uses will ensure the Eastgate Shopping Center continues to contribute positively to and be a resource for the community,” the application says.

The proposal could transform the largely automobile-centric form of the center, which was built in 1973 and is anchored by K Market International. Although the center has seen new tenants — like The Block — the applicant says significant retail challenges remain.

Insight wants to rezone roughly three acres on the northern portion of the property for the residential component of the site. The building would be six stories tall and include up to 280 residential units. A little over 11,200 square feet of ground-level retail uses are planned.

The developer says the team is excited to put forward a plan that will “serve as an impetus for additional revitalization in the core of Annandale,” according to the application.

“The proposed development has also been designed to facilitate future redevelopment of the remainder of the shopping center,” the application says. “A new street grid, pedestrian corridors, and urban park spaces are being located for potential expansion in the future and to ultimately serve as a central open space amenity with the future build out of the remainder of the Eastgate Shopping Center.”

The proposal is in the early phases of the county’s multi-step approval process. It has not yet been accepted for review.

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Combined Properties wants to redevelop the Rose Hill Shopping Center (courtesy Fairfax County)

A proposal to redevelop Rose Hill Plaza (6116 Rose Hill Drive) into a mixed-use project is starting to take more concrete shape.

The pitch by owner Combined Properties — submitted as part of the county’s ongoing Site-Specific Plan Amendment (SSPA) process — argues that the current shopping center reflects an “outdated, auto-oriented concept that contradicts Fairfax county’s goals and objectives.”

If the proposal is approved, the developer would time the overhaul with the end of several leases in 2027.

“If the Property is not accepted into this cycle’s SSPA process, the Property risks long-term vacancies until 2035 which is detrimental to the health of the Property and the neighborhood,” the application states.

Anchored by Safeway, the shopping center spans a little over 11 acres.

A six-story, mixed-use residential building with 56,000 square feet of retail and green space is planned. A freestanding ‘jewel box’ retail building will front most the property, bordering proposed green space along Rose Hill Drive.

In its application, Combined Properties says it has already “thoughtfully” scaled back the proposed development in response to community engagement this spring.

However, some neighboring groups are already opposing the proposal, forming a Rose Hill Coalition to advocate for an update of the shopping center rather than a full redevelopment and rezoning.

“We hope that Combined Properties sees this an opportunity to improve the shopping center,” Sharada Gilkey, founder of the coalition, said. “We would like to work with CP to support and improve the center to ensure the future success of its local businesses, small and large, and to better serve the local community.”

Concerns flagged by the coalition include the prospect of increased traffic in an already congested area, the incompatibility of the apartment complex with surrounding single-family homes, and the reduction in walkable retail and office space.

Combined Properties has no intention to sell the property after it is redeveloped.

“The Applicant is also committed to ensuring the surrounding residential community has continued access to quality public amenities, including the retention of a grocery store option to anchor the retail program,” the application states.

The proposal was formally accepted for review by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Dec. 6. Like the other applications submitted as part of the SSPA process, which allows land use changes to the comprehensive plan for individual sites, the county will evaluate it for further consideration.

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Tenants at Fallfax Center on Route 29 include El Tio Tex-Mex Grill (via Google Maps)

A major redevelopment has been suggested for Fallfax Center, a retail strip anchored by El Tio Tex-Mex Grill on the edge of Idylwood near Jefferson District Park.

Property owner Schupp Companies has put forward a proposal to replace the existing shopping center with a residential and retail “donut” building.

Schupp is asking Fairfax County to amend its comprehensive plan to allow multifamily residential uses and increased density on the 4.6-acre property at 7630 Lee Highway, one of 75 sites submitted to the county for a potential amendment in October.

“Leveraging its proximity to the bus/transit lines and depth/size of the subject property, this proposal will replace aging structures with attractive new development, that includes robust green space and modern stormwater management controls,” the developer said in a summary of its nomination.

The proposed 385,000-square-foot building would have 380 residential units with about 6,000 square feet of first-floor retail in a 6-story section facing Route 29 (Lee Highway). A section to the rear would start at five stories and drop to four next to the Lee Landing townhouses to the north and west of the property.

Both sections would have internal courtyards, according to a concept plan included with the nomination. They would be connected by a five-story residential structure with an internal parking garage and community swimming pool.

Owner Schupp Companies is hoping to redevelop the Fallfax shopping center with a mixed-use residential building (via VIKA/Fairfax County)

The development would “activate” Route 29 with a large adjacent patio and landscaped open space, and a “natural” buffer would be provided to separate the site from the adjacent townhomes, according to a statement of justification from Mark Viani, a land use agent representing Schupp.

“Collectively, these areas and the open space along Lee Highway, will greatly reduce the impervious nature of the Property and the proposed development will also include modern stormwater management controls,” Viani wrote.

Purchased by Schupp in 1989, the Fallfax shopping center dates back to 1955, per county land records, has evidently not been significantly renovated since it was constructed. The owner says the one-story buildings “are no longer efficient” and becoming “difficult to maintain.”

Current tenants include Settle Down Easy Brewing, Victor’s Grill, a Pizza Hut and Huqqa Lounge. The brewery could remain with the redevelopment, according to Viani.

The site also has two industrial buildings — Happy Tails dog day care and a vacant building once occupied by the commercial printer HBP — that are “an occasional source of concern” due to their proximity to the neighboring townhouses, the nomination says.

“The Nominator’s proposal will address Fairfax County’s need for housing and diversify the type of housing in the area,” Viani wrote, noting that a bus stop in front of the property provides access to Merrifield and the Dunn Loring Metro station.

The Fallfax redevelopment is one of dozens of proposals jockeying for inclusion in the county’s site-specific plan amendment program, which considers land use changes to the comprehensive plan for individual properties.

The process was revised this summer to have a shorter timeline, new submission criteria, and more frequent nominations countywide over two-year periods, as opposed to the previous four-year cycle that alternated between the north and south sides of the county.

The Board of Supervisors is expected to determine which site nominations to accept for review at its next meeting on Dec. 6. If the Fallfax proposal advances, Viani wrote that Schupp intends to file a rezoning application for review.

Photo via Google Maps

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Healthy Vibez is opening in Rose Hill (staff photo by Matt Blitz)

A new CBD retail store is set to open in Alexandria’s Rose Hill Shopping Center this week.

Healthy Vibez CBD, a health and wellness store for CBD products, will hold its grand opening on Friday (Oct. 28). The store will sell CBD beauty products, crafted drinks, health bars, vapes, and more.

Chairman Riz Nasar tells FFXnow that the store will also serve as an education and resource center for CBD products. He says it’s for anyone who wants to try CBD and needs to know where to start.

“A lot of people think that it makes you high–it doesn’t. It actually does totally the opposite. It makes you even calmer, it makes you relaxed, it makes you sleep better, it helps with PTSD, it helps with anxiety,” Nasar explained.

He says he was in a car accident when he was a child and CBD was the only thing that helped him with lingering pain.

“It’s really helped, it really works–and we want to share our experience and my personal experience,” Nasar says.

Another reason he wants to educate people on CBD is because of the confusion he faced with landlords and other officials when trying to launch the business. He says some people were hesitant after confusing CBD with marijuana.

“Finally, I found a like-minded agent who said, let me let me work with you, and so he took our business plan, and he was able to get us this place in Rose Hill Shopping Center.”

Nasar added that the store works with a local lab “to ensure every single product is being manufactured under the watchful eyes of experienced scientists and chemists.”

He says the products are made in small batches to ensure quality and freshness.

For its grand opening, the store will ask visitors to cut a ribbon to enter the store. The store’s hours are Monday-Saturday 11 am-7 pm, and Sunday, 12-5 pm.

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(Updated at 11:45 a.m. on 10/14/2022) The Richmond Highway corridor’s first parklet and southern food restaurant Della J’s are both getting grand openings at Mount Vernon Plaza next week.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony is set for 11 a.m. on next Wednesday (Oct. 19) to unveil a new 3,200-square-foot parklet in the shopping center at 7694 Richmond Highway, adjacent to Moe’s Southwest Grill.

Mount Vernon Plaza is owned by Federal Realty, which also owns a number of other developments in Northern Virginia and across the country.

The new parklet is being touted as the first such amenity in the Richmond Highway corridor and will feature a trellis, porch swing benches, cafe seating, landscaping, and green space. Construction on the space began in May and finished about five months later.

The parklet was developed in partnership with the nonprofit Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation (SFDC), whose mission is to develop and support projects that help economic growth along Richmond Highway.

“We were excited to work with Federal Realty for the first parklet project on the Richmond Highway Corridor,” SFDC Executive Director Evan Kaufman said in the press release. “The team at Federal Realty immediately realized the value of this project, not only to their businesses at the Mount Vernon Plaza but to the general community in the area. We look forward to working with more visionary property owners to help develop parklets and community spaces up and down the Corridor.”

Kaufman told FFXnow that space like this is hard to find in the corridor and the addition of this parklet helps with the “liveability” of the community. There have already been talks of movie nights, public art, and other events in the space, he said.

“These types of projects…brings identity, character, and livability to the corridor that’s sometimes been lacking,” Kaufman explained.

The collaboration with Federal Realty could be a model for public-private partnerships at other developments along the corridor, he said. In fact, SFDC is already in talks with other Richmond Highway shopping centers about creating their own parklets.

Franconia District Supervisor Rodney Lusk, who is expected to be at the ribbon-cutting, also believes the parklet is a crucial amenity.

“The parklet will be a valuable amenity that will stimulate local growth, and attract visitors from across our region,” Lusk said in the press release. “Federal Realty’s investment is a clear commitment to making the Richmond Highway Area a destination defined by mixed-use and transit-oriented development.”

Della J’s is cooking again

Also officially opening its doors at Mount Vernon Plaza on Oct. 19 is Della J’s Delectables, the popular family-owned southern comfort food restaurant that started in Springfield before deciding to relocate to a larger space.

Now located right off Richmond Highway in a former Ruby Tuesday’s, the restaurant actually had its soft opening about a month ago, employees told FFXnow, but the full grand opening is next week.

Della J’s is owned by Alexandria natives Jerry and Lydia Young and serves up southern cuisine, like chicken biscuits, sweet potato pie, grits, fried fish, and barbeque meats. The new location is envisioned as a bit more “upscale,” with plans to eventually host live jazz music a couple of times a week.

Jerry Young grew up right behind what was then called T.C. Williams High School, and his dad was a member of the nearby historic Bethlehem Baptist Church in Gum Springs. Its current pastor, Reverend Dr. Darrell Keith White, is a regular at Della J’s.

Named after Jerry’s mom, the restaurant serves a number of the recipies that he helped her cook when he was a kid. Though she died at 68, cooking and booking remind Jerry of her.

“Cooking is a huge stress reliever for me,” he told FFXnow in June. “I have this ability to just open the cookbook up, look at a recipe, and pretty much nail it the first or second time.”

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The chain Desi Chowrastha, which has a location pictured here in Texas, will open in Herndon (via Google Maps)

A new fast-casual Indian restaurant is coming soon to the Town of Herndon.

Desi Chowrastha Indian Eatery — a fast-casual Indian chain that has two locations in Texas, New Hampshire, and Ohio — plans to open in the third quarter of this year at 905 Herndon Parkway.

Items on the menu include biryani, curries, dosas, Irani chai, chicken, and roti. The business did not immediately return a request for comment.

Herndon’s Board of Architectural Review will hold a public hearing tonight (Wednesday) on a signage application for the business.

The Herndon Parkway Crossing Plaza, where the restaurant will be located, has tenants like PM Pediatrics, Potbelly and Capital One. One 1,200-square-foot space is available. Desi Chowrastha’s suite was formerly occupied by Great Clips.

Photo via Google Maps

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Construction has begun on a renovation of Chesterbrook Shopping Center in McLean (courtesy Federal Realty)

(Updated at 2:45 p.m.) Construction has begun on a substantial renovation of Chesterbrook Shopping Center in McLean.

Barricades, signage and other equipment started emerging at the Safeway-anchored retail strip in mid-August, reader Mike Whatley told FFXnow.

An overhaul of Chesterbrook has been anticipated since longtime property manager Federal Realty Investment Trust took ownership of the 90,000-square-foot property at 6214 and 6246 Old Dominion Drive in May 2021, calling the site “well-positioned for future growth.”

Federal Realty confirmed to the Washington Business Journal last week that construction is underway on a $8.5 million “facelift” for the shopping center, which was originally built in 1967, according to Fairfax County property records.

According to the WBJ report, Federal Realty has no plans to turn Chesterbrook into a dense, mixed-use neighborhood. Instead, the focus is on modernizing the building facades and introducing new outdoor amenities akin to its recent renovations of Birch & Broad in Falls Church and Old Keene Mill Shopping Center in Springfield.

Here’s more from the WBJ:

“Today, customers are more likely to spend time with friends and family closer to home,” a trend Federal hopes to tap into by creating a “destination” within the community, Deirdre Johnson, the company’s senior vice president of asset management, said in an email.

Federal, which managed the property for 19 years before buying a majority stake in 2021, envisions a comprehensive modernization of the façade, storefronts, landscape, lighting and outdoor gathering spaces, as well as the addition of new restaurants and retail. Construction has already begun and will be completed in phases over the next two years.

The renovation has already shaken up the tenant mix at the shopping center.

The growing number of vacancies at Chesterbrook, including a 9,764-square-foot space that has been empty since Rite Aid shuttered, is part of an intentional “remerchandising” plan, per the WBJ.

In addition to the smoothie chain South Block, newcomers to the mall will include Kosmo Nail Bar and the clothing store J. McLaughlin.

Kosmo announced in May that it would be expanding to Chesterbrook, adding a second McLean location to its existing site at 1365 Beverly Road. The nail salon is expected to open this fall, according to Federal Realty’s website for the shopping center.

After previously telling FFXnow that it hopes to open next summer, South Block is now projecting a spring 2023 opening. J. McLaughlin didn’t return a request for comment.

Johnson told the WBJ that Federal Realty “is working on ‘several’ letters of intent with additional new prospective tenants.”

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South Block is bringing its juice and smoothies to McLean.

The Arlington-based business will open a store in the Chesterbrook Shopping Center, aiming for a tentative opening in summer 2023, a spokesperson confirmed to FFXnow.

“It’s true…South Block will be opening in Chesterbrook!” Vice President of Marketing Lindsey Parry Carzo said in an email that included the hashtag #Kaleyeah. “We are thrilled to be going into a new community.”

Parry Carzo added that McLean “holds an extra special place in our hearts,” since South Block founder and CEO Amir Mostafavi grew up in the area and attended McLean High School.

Mostafavi’s parents owned Box Office Video, a now-defunct local chain that had video rental stores around McLean and Falls Church, including in the Langley Shopping Center.

According to the company’s website, Mostafavi made his entry into the juicery business by starting a juice bar at George Washington University. He launched the first South Block in Clarendon in 2011, deriving the name from the store’s location on the neighborhood’s south side.

Specializing in smoothie bowls and cold-pressed juice, South Block has expanded to 11 locations, most of them in Arlington and D.C. The business will open its first Maryland store on Tuesday (June 21), Parry Carzo says.

The McLean South Block will be the second in Fairfax County, joining a Vienna juice bar that has proven popular despite opening during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

South Block has leased a 1,450-square-foot suite next to Chesterbrook Barber in the northwestern corner of the shopping center, according to property owner and manager Federal Realty’s site plan.

Federal Realty acquired the 89,625 square-foot shopping center at 6244 Old Dominion Drive in May 2021, stating that it intends to build on the previous owner’s work to “grow Chesterbrook into a destination center for the community.”

The center is anchored by a Safeway grocery store but has a few vacancies, including a 9,764-square-foot space that vacated by Walgreens in February.

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Morning Notes

Tulips across from Vienna Presbyterian Church (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

It’s Earth Day — The Fairfax County Park Authority launched a new Earth Day website this week to provide information on upcoming events, volunteer opportunities, and ways to promote environmental stewardship. The annual occasion started in 1970 “to generate awareness and support for environmental protection.” [FCPA]

Community Raises $20K for Young Reston Soccer Player — “Aaron, a player in the Great Falls-Reston Soccer Club, recently told his coach that he couldn’t come to practice because he didn’t have any cleats. The elite soccer player explained that he was one of the 15 people who’d been displaced by a fire at the Stonegate Village Apartment complex in Reston on April 10.” [Patch]

No Development Planned for Seven Corners Shopping Center — “The Seven Corners Shopping Center is not going to be replaced with a mixed-use development, confirms Janet McCarthy, vice president of leasing at Saul Centers Inc., at least for the foreseeable future…Saul Centers expects to announce a new tenant for the Dogfish Head Alehouse spot by June 1.” [Annandale Today]

Firefighters Reunite with Rescued Vienna Resident — “Engine 402, Vienna, and Engine 430, Merrifield, A-Shift teamed up to assist an occupant out of a house fire last week. Engine 402 was thrilled to meet occupant recently, along w/Vienna Mayor Colbert, and saw he was well. #FCFRD is happy he is doing well after horrific event.” [FCFRD/Twitter]

Kingstowne Shopping Centers Change Hands — Federal Realty will acquire Kingstowne Towne Center and Kingstowne Shopping Center for roughly $200 million, the company announced yesterday (Thursday). The real estate firm says it will “amenitize” the towne center but has no immediate plans for redevelopment. The purchase doesn’t include the Regal cinema. [Washington Business Journal]

Herndon Satellite Company Prepares for Launch — “The long-delayed first launch of a Rocket Lab Electron rocket from Virginia is now scheduled for late this year, carrying satellites for HawkEye 360. Rocket Lab announced April 19 it signed a contract with HawkEye 360 to deliver 15 satellites over three launches.” [Space News]

Spring Fest Returns to Mosaic District — Caboose Commons is bringing back its celebratory spring festival tomorrow (Saturday), promising food, live music, and games as well as beer, wine, and cocktail tastings. The festivities begin at noon and continue until 7 p.m. [Caboose Brewing Company]

Reston’s Water Mine Hiring Tomorrow — “Looking for a fun summer job? This Saturday (4/23/22) the Water Mine in Reston is hosting an open hire. Stop by anytime between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. to apply, interview, and if offered a position, complete hire paperwork on-the-spot.” [FCPA/Twitter]

Marshall HS to Open Musical Next Week — “After a successful fall play, the Statesmen Theatre Department at Marshall High School is preparing to perform its spring musical on two upcoming weekends. The spring musical at Marshall High School will be the Tony Award-nominated ‘A Year with Frog and Toad.’ Performances are scheduled for April 28 and 29 and May 6 and 7.” [Patch]

It’s Friday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 72 and low of 51. Sunrise at 6:23 am and sunset at 7:54 pm. [Weather.gov]

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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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