Massive ‘Mosaic’ Mixed-Use Center Ready to Open Doors in Merrifield

July 18, 2012 8:48 PM0 comments
Gallows at Rt. 29 Intersection Done By This Weekend

With long-awaited improvements to the intersection of Gallows Road and Lee Highway expected to be completed this weekend, merchants and restaurants in the massive “Mosaic” mixed use mini-city in the center of Merrifield will begin opening doors for business by Labor Day, and they’ll all be operational by the holidays.

mosaicfrontpage221VISUALS SHOWING the massive new Mosaic mixed-use development that will begin to open in August in the center of Merrifield were on display Tuesday at a joint luncheon of the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce and Merrifield Business Association. (Photo: News-Press)

Gallows at Rt. 29 Intersection Done By This Weekend

With long-awaited improvements to the intersection of Gallows Road and Lee Highway expected to be completed this weekend, merchants and restaurants in the massive “Mosaic” mixed use mini-city in the center of Merrifield will begin opening doors for business by Labor Day, and they’ll all be operational by the holidays.

Walked through the immensity of the near-completed first phase of the 31-acre, $587 million project at a Tuesday joint luncheon meeting, members of the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Merrifield Business Association were, in the words of Chamber Executive Director Sally Cole, “flabbergasted.”

If some longtime Falls Church Chamber members were a tad jealous, there was reason. A $317 million “City Center” project approved four years ago for downtown Falls Church fell victim to the Great Recession and is now moribund.

On the other hand, Mosaic is about to fire up a stunning array including an art film theater, high-end restaurants, clothing boutiques, a latest-product Hyatt extended stay luxury hotel, two major parking decks, a veritable “town center” ambiance, the first phase of a major residential component and, as everyone can already see from large fourth-story signage, a giant Target department store.

“We were stalled for three years,” Tom Kiler, vice president of the project developer Edens, told the rapped audience. “But the area kept showing positive signs. Sales numbers from surrounding businesses like a Home Depot and CVS kept rising. These signaled the potential of this project, and so we were able to move ahead.”

In a press statement, Edens spokesmen said, “Mosaic’s unique experience is created through hand-selected partnerships, intelligent urban design and a passion for creating authentic community engagement…a vibrant, sophisticated environment that connects families and friends together.”

The Angelika Film Center and Café, an eight-screen theater billed as a “boutique cinema,” will begin private showings as early as Sept. 7. By early October, the Target store will open its doors, and in the months leading up to the holidays, all of the restaurants, stores and markets that make up the first phase of the Mosaic project will make their debut, Kiler said.

At Sea Pearl Restaurant, those attending the luncheon were mere steps from a flurry of construction activity now taking place between Eskridge Road and Gallows Road in preparation for Mosaic, a project which promises enormous things for Merrifield redevelopment, including rising residential real estate values.

“Merrifield will be like a Clarendon or a Rosslyn,” Kiler said. “It should be a downtown area.”

Ed Hogg, president of the Greater Merrifield Business Association and longtime area businessman, told the News-Press the project will bring “positive growth” in both creating jobs and bringing businesses to the area.

“This project, as well as some auxiliary projects at the Metro centers, will be for my 28 years the biggest forward step to creating a more unified community along with the business growth that we’ve seen in other areas, such as Tysons Corner or Reston,” Hogg said.

It may seem similar in its plans to such area commercial powerhouses as Tysons Corner, with large “anchor” stores and a variety of dining, entertainment and retail options making them shopping destination, but Edens representatives stressed their conscious decision to prefer a boutique, artisan-like slant in attracting Mosaic proprietors – like a theater more likely to show film fest favorites than summer blockbusters, and bringing on smaller, classier local chains.

“We wanted retail operators who are great at what they do,” Kiler said.

Local, small food and restaurant chains with a sustainable focus like Sweetgreen, which serves up salad and yogurt, and MOM’s Organic Market have signed on, and among the restaurants, Black’s Bar and Kitchen promises to be the biggest oyster bar destination in Virginia. D.C.-area retailers like Dawn Price Baby and Lou Lou will sell their specialty wares.

These commercial offerings will make up three of Mosaic’s four districts: Fashion and Retail; Film and Dining; and Market. The fourth, Residential, includes luxury apartments that will begin leasing next summer and townhouses that range in price from $629,900 to more than $800,000 that are already being sold.

Storefronts will be centered around two parks, North Park and Merrifield Park, which will serve as one central space for gathering and will include an interactive water feature. According to Diderik Van Regemorter, general manager of development for Edens, the park space will allow for special events and gatherings.

In his presentation, Van Regemorter highlighted the social component of the shopping experience – of seeing faces and interacting with people, something that has become rarer in an increasingly electronic age. “Our goal and purpose is to create an environment that is not all about shopping,” Van Regemorter said.

The project’s Phase One component includes 350,000 square feet of retail, an eight-screen cinema, a 150-room hotel, 73,000 square feet of Class A office space, a one-acre park, and all the building are LEED certified. The overall project will include 500,000 of retail, 1,000 residential units, 4,000 parking spaces and two parks.

The project’s inception dates back to the 1990s when now-Congressman Gerry Connolly was on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and a Merrifield Area Task Force was created. It has been assisted by tax increment financing and other development tools provided by the County focused mainly on providing the extensive needed infrastructure improvements.

Edens develops, owns and operates 130 shopping centers in East Coast markets. In Mosaic, its development partners are Avalon Bay, EYA and Lodgeworks.

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