Editorial: Infectious Optimism Spreading in F.C.

November 21, 2013 9:50 AM0 comments

The changes we will see arising out of events in Falls Church this Fall — the first November election of the City Council and their swearing in due Dec. 7, and the referendum consummation of the sale of the City’s water system to Fairfax County — has created an unusual optimism in the City’s corridors of power.

Vice Mayor David Snyder has been the most vocal in touting this optimism, but others on the Council are following suit. No more doom and gloom about daunting challenges over the horizon, now everyone is sharing the sense that if the City plays its cards right, that unparalleled growth in both the commercial and residential sectors will result.

Of course, “playing its cards right” remains the challenge, but frankly doing that isn’t so hard. The City has made major strides in recent year mastering the skill of bringing a residential community along through a series of town-hall meetings and a posture of listening and encouraging a team approach to problem solving.

The particularly intriguing opportunity the City now faces is how to develop the 10 acres of land that will come into the City as part of the sale of the water system. It is right next to the West Fslls Church Metro station, there is no residential neighborhood pressing in on it. It is almost like the City has been offered an amazing, unfettered windfall.

In the mid-1990s, when the City was in the process of selling land in that area to the Northern Virginia Graduate Center for $1 a year, F.C City Manager David Lasso was quoted more than once saying that undeveloped land by the West Falls Church Metro station was “the most valuable real estate on the entire eastern seaboard.”

In those days, the land was owned by the Falls Church Schools, but Fairfax County maintained jurisdiction control, and Fairfax County wanted the new grad center as a feather in its cap at that site. So it was a very frustrating time for more progressive-minded people in Falls Church, who were helpless to see a big chunk that that valuable real estate go to non-income generating development

But all that is changed now. Let’s see how, in a new “can do” spirit of optimism, the City can figure out how to really cash in on that land this time.

In addition, the City has some robust and attractive mixed use development projects ready for groundbreaking with the Reserve at Tinner Hill and the Rushmark/Harris Teeter projects, both highly anticipated by almost everyone in town. In addition, The Hilton Garden Inn on W. Broad is sailing toward completion in the spring of 2014.

There is the massive project, including hotel, in the works for the intersection of N. West St. and W. Broad, and a much-needed senior assisted living project proposed for the current Burger King site on W. Broad. And there’s more. It make the City’s decisions about new capital improvement projects, including a new high school, seem affordable.

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