Annandale diners could soon see more outdoor seating at Izakaya Khan in Seoul Plaza (4231 Markham Street).
To make room for year-round outdoor dining at the Japanese restaurant, the center will lose off-street parking spaces, dropping its total from 210 to 200 spots. In addition to removing nine regular parking spaces, Seoul Plaza will also remove one accessible parking space to make possible a new trash dumpster layout.
The parking reduction was unanimously approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday (June 6).
The new outdoor seating area will be 494 square feet and seat up to 32 people, according to materials provided for the board meeting.
Under the Fairfax County Zoning Ordinance, the board has the authority to reduce required off-street parking by up to 20% “subject to conditions it deems appropriate” if the applicant demonstrates that the parking reduction contributes to the goals of a commercial revitalization district.
Seoul Plaza is in the Annandale Commercial Revitalization District. Technically, the zoning ordinance required Seoul Plaza to have 250 parking spots, taking into account its gross square footage and the types of tenants in the shopping center. The 20% reduction will bring the required number of spaces to 200.
“Outdoor dining allows the restaurant to better cater to their customers and makes them more (competitive) with other restaurants that have outdoor dining,” county staff said in the meeting materials. “This shopping center already has a number of vacant tenant spaces so the continued viability of its existing tenants is imperative to the shopping center‘s continued economic viability.”
Although the BOS unanimously approved the request, Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross said it will be necessary to follow up “to see if it’s working the way we want it to work.”
In addition to Izakaya Khan, Seoul Plaza features restaurants including Seoul Soondae Restaurant and Release the Craycken.
More broadly, the county is developing new, permanent policies for outdoor dining following pandemic provisions that made it easier for restaurants and other eligible establishments to offer seating outside.
Photo via Google Maps
A home decor store inspired by Parisian flea markets will say bonjour to the Chesterbrook Shopping Center in McLean this week.
Le Village Marché will open a new boutique at 6234 Old Dominion Drive on Friday (June 9), marking the company’s first expansion within Northern Virginia since it began operating in Shirlington in 2007.
Inspired by founder and owner Angela Phelps’ past travels to Paris, the business sells kitchen, garden and bath products, along with candles, jewelry and other accessories, and notebooks.
“Owning a French-inspired gift shop has been a dream of mine since my very first trip to Paris over 20 years ago,” Phelps said in a press release. “McLean is the perfect place to begin expanding the franchise and we are thrilled to be opening our doors to a community with so much warmth and charm. From French tea towels and glassware to beaded chandeliers, we truly have it all!”
The McLean store marks a new chapter for Le Village Marché, as Phelps seeks to expand the company through franchising. She previously had another location in northwest D.C., but it closed permanently in 2020 when its lease ended and the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, according to its website.
Le Village Marché arrives during a period of transition for Chesterbrook Shopping Center, which created intentional vacancies as it began a major renovation last fall.
Property owner Federal Realty has started to refill those empty spaces, welcoming the juice bar South Block, a mobile Call Your Mother deli and the clothing store J.McLaughlin this year.
Next year, the shopping center will add Small Door Veterinary, a primary and urgent care practice for pets, Federal Realty announced earlier this week. Emphasizing its use of modern technology, the clinic will provide services from wellness exams to surgeries through a membership system.
According to Federal Realty, the planned “state-of-the-art facility” in McLean will be the company’s ninth location overall and first in Virginia, though it has four existing and upcoming sites in D.C.
“After establishing successful practices in New York, Boston, and D.C., we are thrilled to introduce our modernized approach to veterinary care in Virginia and extend our services to a wider community of pet owners,” Small Door Veterinary co-founder and CEO Josh Guttman said. “Our forthcoming location in Chesterbrook will provide a nurturing environment staffed with highly skilled veterinarians who will be dedicated to ensuring only the best care for pets and their owners.”
Federal Realty bought Chesterbrook in 2021 after previously serving as property manager for the 90,000-square-foot shopping center for nearly two decades.
The renovation is focused on modernizing the center’s storefronts and façades, a process expected to finish this year. New outdoor amenity spaces are scheduled to be completed in 2024.
“It is exciting to see the transformation of Chesterbrook attracting premier local and national brands,” Deirdre Johnson, Federal Realty’s senior vice president of asset management, said. “The recent openings…[create] the distinguished neighborhood destination envisioned to best serve our community.”
Fairfax County’s vision for a redevelopment of the Pan Am Shopping Center in Merrifield will likely include an emphasis on pedestrian and bicycle connections.
At a virtual community meeting on May 22, the county’s Department of Planning and Development offered a preview of its proposed comprehensive plan amendment to allow multifamily housing at the 25-acre retail center (3089 Nutley Street SW).
Among the draft recommendations, which are being finalized for a staff report expected on June 7, is a provision that the new development blocks be designed to facilitate pedestrian and bicycle access and minimize conflicts between different modes of travel.
In addition to keeping an existing path to the Providence Hall Apartments to the south, county staff have suggested adding a “north-south pedestrian connection” between Route 29 and the three residential buildings proposed by Pan Am owner Federal Realty.
The county is also contemplating recommendations for a shared-use path on the east side of Nutley Street and new or upgraded bus shelters on Nutley and Route 29.
“One of the things that we are trying to do as part of this plan amendment…is to really create a sense of place at the Pan Am Shopping Center, so that you can have the type of environment where people are being encouraged to walk there and bike there, not just drive there,” county plan development chief Graham Owen said.
The shared-use path will likely be separate from the street, he added after a community member raised concerns about bicycle lanes taking away space from cars on Nutley.
The redevelopment’s potential impact on traffic has been at the forefront of many residents’ minds. An analysis by county transportation staff found that the proposed overhaul would generate 803 more vehicle trips per day than the existing shopping center.
That would be 4,271 fewer trips than what’s possible under the current comprehensive plan, but community members in the meeting lamented that Nutley already has congestion and accessibility issues.
“Coming on Nutley from the [I-66] bridge side, the county needs to improve that. With that new crossroads, it is dangerous,” resident Francis Forgione said. “There’s no lights, and cars don’t stop entering and exiting the freeway…The county needs to somehow make it safe so you can approach from all directions, not just one direction.” Read More
As roses, poppies and other May blooms flourish in Fairfax County, kids and adults can craft upcycled flowers at Mount Vernon Plaza in Hybla Valley next Saturday (May 20).
The Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation (SFDC) will facilitate the art project at a free event dubbed “Chalkful of Flowers.” It will run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the shopping center’s parklet at 7698 Richmond Highway, located behind Capital Chicken.
Also featuring collaborative chalk murals, “Chalkful of Flowers” will be the first official community event in the parklet, according to a press release. The 3,200-square-foot space opened in October after about five months of construction.
“With the arrival of warmer weather, we are thrilled to start activating the new parklet space as a way to bring the community together,” SFDC Executive Director Evan Kaufman said in the press release.
Attendees will learn how to make the upcycled flowers from local artists, and the crafts will come together to make a flower wall. Materials involved include tissue paper, dog bags and other recyclable items.
Artists on-hand to teach will include Anila Angjeli, CEO of Alexandria-based A-Line Architecture, and local art teacher Jennifer Droblyen. Other local artists mostly from around the Richmond Highway corridor were also invited to participate.
Federal Realty, the owner of Mount Vernon Plaza, partnered with SFDC to create the parklet, which features green space, porch swing benches, cafe seating, lighting, soma stones, landscaping and a trellis. SFDC is a nonprofit that supports economic development in the Richmond Highway corridor.
”When we were first conceptualizing the potential for a parklet space at Mount Vernon Plaza, we imagined events exactly like this one,” Deirdre Johnson, senior vice president at Federal Realty, said in the press release.
The event will feature live electric violin from D.C.-based violinist Charles “Bliss the Violinist” Tolbert. Those in attendance can also take in new murals that span the facades of multiple buildings in the shopping center. Restaurants in the shopping center will be open as usual, and prospective attendees can RSVP on Facebook.
The plan to redevelop Merrifield’s Pan Am Shopping Center has evolved since property owner Federal Realty submitted an initial proposal to Fairfax County last spring.
Perhaps the biggest change is the removal of up to 34 four-story townhomes previously shown on the southwest corner of the 25-acre strip mall at 3089 Nutley Street SW. The attached houses had accompanied three apartment buildings totaling 516 units.
After talking with county staff, Federal Realty agreed to eliminate the townhouses in favor of providing more park space, Director of Development Mark Hendrickson said at a community meeting on the project in the former Pet Valu store on Thursday (March 30).
In an illustrative plan presented at the meeting, the park space appeared as a green patch with trees and a path connecting the shopping center’s parking lot to the neighboring Providence Hall Apartments.
That corner will also be occupied by one of the three multifamily buildings, which will collectively have 585 units — all rental apartments.
“Townhomes are very land-consumptive,” county planner Aaron Klibaner said. “…It made more sense to do a smaller apartment building on that corner.”
Conversations between the county and Federal Realty have also reduced the residential buildings from seven to five stories, making them “more compatible” with Providence Hall, Klibaner said. They could still be up to 90 feet tall, but will “taper down” in height closer to the existing apartments.
The plan for rental units came as a surprise to Troy and Jackie Sponaugle, who have lived less than a mile away on Route 29 for almost 42 years. The couple said they had been told before that the units would be condominiums, though Hendrickson said condos were never considered for this project.
“Rental units are not as stable as owner units. We’re concerned that might impact the stability of the neighborhood,” Troy said.
Housing would support retail, developer says
The county’s Department of Planning and Development organized last week’s meeting to get feedback on whether its comprehensive plan should be amended to allow mixed-use development on the currently all-retail site.
Authorized by the Board of Supervisors in December 2021, the plan amendment study represents “the very, very beginning of the development process,” county staff stressed.
However, the question-and-answer portion of the meeting suggested some residents are already anxious about what the redevelopment could mean for Pan Am and the overall community. Read More
(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.
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.
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.
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
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.
(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.”