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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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The changing nature of retail and shifting markets for housing could pave the way for a redevelopment of Rose Hill Plaza at the intersection of Franconia Road and Rose Hill Drive.

The D.C.-based real estate firm Combined Properties, Inc. is looking at transforming the 1960s-era shopping center with two five-story residential buildings that would have ground-floor retail and two parking garages, according to preliminary plans.

A grocery store or another retail space is planned on the opposite side of the property.

The model follows a recent trend of transforming static, one-level shopping centers into a mix of residential and retail uses.

Combined Properties spokesperson Jon Stollberg told FFXnow that the decision to explore redevelopment was prompted by the “changing nature of retail and high demand for a diversity of housing product.”

But the company will not be in a position to redevelop the shopping center until at least the summer of 2027 due to current retail leases that are in place.

Stollberg emphasized that no formal decision has been made.

“No determination on the economic feasibility or a decision to redevelop this property has been finalized as CPI is working to understand the desire and support of the Rose Hill community, Fairfax County and other stakeholders,” he said in a statement.

The company held the first of a series of community meetings on the issue on March 23. The Rose Hill Civic Association declined to comment on the proposal, which is in its early phases. The association noted that the board has not taken a formal stance yet.

The unit mix has not been finalized yet, but could range between 375 and 425 units, according to Andrew McIntyre, senior executive vice president of development.

Anchored by Safeway, the shopping center is currently home to McDonald’s, Walgreens, Dollar Tree and more than a dozen other businesses.

Healthy Vibes CBD has signed a lease at the center, occupying space previously home to SunTrust Bank — which is now known as Truist Bank after its merger with BB&T.

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The taqueria is expected to open in Lorton this spring (via Taco Rock/Facebook)

(Updated at 1:15 p.m. on 3/30/2022) Taco Rock is opening its fourth location in Northern Virginia this summer.

The taco spot, started by Chef Cordero, is expected to open at Liberty Market, a new mixed-use development in Lorton. Taco Rock will occupy roughly 2,770 square feet of space at the center, which is anchored by grocer Lidl.

The restaurant already has locations in Rosslyn and Alexandria, and it recently opened a Falls Church site at the renovated Birch & Broad shopping center.

Chris Saa, a senior associate with Divaris Real Estate, Inc., said that the business has experienced “wild success” at its other locations and is eyeing other spots in the region.

“The taqueria is looking to bring their unique gourmet taco offerings and exceptional margaritas throughout Northern Virginia,” Saa said in a statement.

There is no official word yet on an exact opening date, but the business is expected to open its doors this summer, according to its promotional materials.

The menu includes staples of traditional Mexican street food, including a churro ice cream sandwich, cocktails and tacos.

Liberty Market is located at the intersection of Silverbrook Road and White Spruce Way. It’s expected to wrap up construction by the end of the year.

Elm Street Development is in the process of transforming the former Lorton Prison land into a shopping center with roughly 50,000 square feet of retail and 35,000 square feet of office space. About 352 residential units are also planned surrounding the site.

Lidl is expected to open in the fall. Other tenants include a pediatric dentistry and Ledo Pizza. Space has been allocated for a brewery as well.

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The Giant in McLean’s Chain Bridge Shopping Center, which is being eyed for redevelopment (via Google Maps)

McLean’s busiest shopping center could get a whole new look if a redevelopment plan gets approved.

The owner of the Giant-anchored Chain Bridge Shopping Center submitted a site plan to Fairfax County in January that would overhaul the strip mall at 1446-1454 Chain Bridge Road by repositioning the buildings to back up along Beverly Road.

According to the plan, which remains under county review, McLean Properties intends to keep the site as a commercial, retail shopping center, but the redesign will scramble the current layout, pushing Giant to the back of the lot and moving the other stores from the east side to the west along Ingleside Avenue.

The proposed Giant building would be 77,430 square feet in size and close to 40 feet tall. The adjacent strip of retail stores are over 26 feet in height with a total gross floor area of 26,805 square feet.

The Chain Bridge Shopping Center site plan moves Giant closer to Beverly Road (via Fairfax County)

Reconfiguring the parking lot layout with the addition of more islands, the site plan provides 551 parking spaces, exceeding the 476 spaces required for the property. That includes 14 spots that meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.

The plan also includes a standalone, 14,491-square-foot, nearly 30-feet-tall pharmacy with a drive-thru and mezzanine at the corner of Chain Bridge and Ingleside. There is currently a CVS in the shopping center.

The drive-thru would accommodate six vehicles.

Chain Bridge Shopping Center redevelopment plan adds a standalone pharmacy with a drive-thru (via Fairfax County)

McLean Properties, which FFXnow was unable to reach for comment, previously filed a site plan with the county to redevelop the Chain Bridge Shopping Center last summer, but county records show that it was disapproved on Sept. 27.

That plan included even more parking, with 583 proposed spaces.

During a discussion of the rejected site plan on Nov. 30, members of the McLean Citizens Association’s planning and zoning committee debated the amount of parking that the property owner was seeking and whether a plaza or green space could be provided.

They said it was unclear whether existing tenants other than Giant and CVS would stay, including Greenberry’s Coffee, Capri Ristorante Italiano, and Pure Barre.

“They said they hope these tenants will find other space in McLean,” committee member Kent Holland said. “McLean Properties own a lot of other places in McLean, so they said they will be looking for places these current tenants could move.”

McLean Properties also owns the McLean Shopping Center on the other side of Chain Bridge Road and the Old Dominion Shopping Center, which is on the opposite side of Redmond Drive.

With Fairfax County’s revitalization plan for downtown McLean in place, development could become a more common sight in the approximately 230-acre area, which is now allowed to have up to 3,850 residential units and roughly 3.2 million square feet of non-residential uses.

The county is currently working to update its design guidelines for the Community Business Center, with a virtual community workshop scheduled for March 23.

Photo via Google Maps

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