Demolition to Begin Early March To Make Way for Harris Teeter

January 29, 2014 8:32 PM15 comments

It’s only one month away now, the day every structure will be demolished at the site of the upcoming “flagship” Harris Teeter grocery and 285 rental apartments on six levels above it. That means the old post office, that means the old Anthony’s Restaurant.

Rushmark Properties Developer Patrick Kearney told the monthly luncheon of the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce Tuesday that Monday, March 3 is the target date for the wrecking ball. Many Falls Church residents, recalling their many happy years of patronizing the old Anthony’s, will undoubtedly be present to pay respects, even as a new Anthony’s begins to rise a mile away at Rt. 50 at Annandale Road.

The demolition date is contingent on getting the building permits that have been filed for at City Hall, but according to Kearney, there’s no reason to think there will be any delays with them.

All the news was good coming from Kearney and his colleague Stefan Gassner, including the fact that VDOT OK’d their request for a left-turn option into the project for travelers going west on W. Broad St.

Happier than demolition day will be the groundbreaking ceremony tentatively set for the end of March. That’s when City Council members, Planning Commissioners and many other dignitaries will don the old hard hats and pick up a shovel to ceremonially toss a wad of dirt and some kind of a ribbon gets cut.

The information everyone wanted to know Tuesday centered on when they could first walk with a shopping cart into a completed Harris Teeter to shop. That date, said Kearney, will be the spring of 2016, or two years off.

As for the apartments above the store, renters will begin to move into them in the Fall of 2015, in a year and a half. There will be a mix of apartment types among the 285 total units. Eleven percent will be studio apartments (580 square feet on average), 56 percent will be one bedroom units (750 square feet) and 33 percent will be two bedroom units (1,170 square feet). The price range is estimated to be between $1,800 a month for a two-bedroom and $1,500 for a studio.

Kearney acknowledged that the appearance of one-room studio apartments is new for Falls Church, even as the Spectrum project being proposed for W. Broad at N. West will also have the studio apartment option. There will be 18 formally-designated “affordable dwelling units” (ADUs) that will be proportional in type to the project overall.

“Our units will attract people from all over Northern Virginia, and also from City residents looking to downsize as their children leave home,” Kearney said.

Kearney, himself, is very familiar with the area, having grown up in Arlington and going to church at Falls Church’s St. James Catholic Church. Rushmark’s offices are in the Fairview Park area of greater Falls Church.

Considering the residential unit mix to appeal to a younger demographic, he noted there will be bike parking and electric car plug-in stations on the site and, oh yes, a dog wash station, as well.

Dog wash station? Does that mean pets will be allowed in the units?

Yes, indeed, they’re encouraged, Kearney said, and the reason is that research shows people with pets are less likely to move, and more likely to make a long-term commitment to their dwellings. Pet lovers know how traumatic it is for pets when they have to move.

As a “flagship” store, the Harris Teeter is slated to be about 15 percent larger than the one currently on Harrison Street in Arlington. Owned by the parent company Kroger, one of the three largest grocery chains in the U.S., the Harris Teeter in Falls Church is slated at this point to be open “24/7.”

One surprise the developers want to unveil at the groundbreaking in late March will be the unveiling of a name for the project. Kearney said that, already, consultants have been retained to explore options.

At Tuesday’s lunch, he was advised to watch out for choosing the name of an historic figure from Falls Church to make sure that person wasn’t a slave holder.

  • FallsChurchCitizen

    So we can’t name this after George Washington or Thomas Jefferson, that’s for sure.

    “At Tuesday’s lunch, he was advised to watch out for choosing the name of an historic figure from Falls Church to make sure that person wasn’t a slave holder.”

    • David

      We should name it after some local liberal leader who supports awarding college admissions and jobs to people on the basis of their skin color.

  • FourQ

    They should name it “The Pocket Project” in acknowledgment that FC City’s “leadership” (har har, ho ho, hee hee) is in the pocket of developers such as Rushmark.

    • David

      Actually, it should be named “The Pocket Project” because it represents the Council redeveloping decrepit lots in an effort to broaden the commercial tax base and reduce homeowner taxes.

      • FourQ

        Turning Falls Church into a charmless landscape of concrete and chain retail in the process, thus lowering its appeal as a place to live, work and visit. Whee fun.

        • JFallsChurch

          what should of gone in the place of a vacant post office?

          • FourQ

            Why should family-owned small businesses like Anthony’s have to be displaced in favor af a national chain? For that matter, why should Lazy Sundae, Bikenetic, Sunoco, etc. Be tossed out on their ears in favor of a residential hotel? What makes you think local institutions such as Brown’s Hardware, the State Theater and Dogwood Tavern won’t be next?

          • JFallsChurch

            What should have been done in the case of Anthony’s and the vacant post office?

          • FourQ

            Any number of accomodations could have been made to allow Anthony’s to stay in business at that location while demolishing the post office for a smaller-scale project if it couldn’t be refurbished or they couldn’t find a new tenant.

            Similarly, why can’t the Amigos Market site be demolished and replaced with a smaller new building for offices or retail? Why does half the damn block have to go under in favor of some hulking Spectrum behemoth?

            It’s not like I’m against any development at all, but I would like to see Falls Church take other considerations into account besides just maximizing tax revenue when planning development, such as the character of downtown Falls Church, the contributions to our community life made by local family businesses such as Anthony’s, the aesthetic effect on our urban landscape of unfettered large-scale development, etc.

            Do you really want to live in a Falls Church that has nothing to offer but the exact same amenities that anyone can find at your local mall, all housed in the same generic brick and glass that seems to be popular at the moment in bland suburbs at the end of freeway exits all across the country? I sure don’t.

            I LIKE living in a town that has places like Anthony’s, like Brown’s, Like Bikenetic. If we push out those local entrepeneurs in the name of tax revenue, I might as well spend my money at Tyson’s Corner – it’ll be no different.

          • JFallsChurch

            I agree….don’t want a generic “downtown” area but something has to be done with the “downtown” area…Or do you think just leave as is?

          • David

            I tend to agree with you regarding the feel of downtown. But you’re citing places like Brown’s that are not at risk of being displaced, as far as I’m aware. It’s a red herring argument. Anthony’s was, in my opinion, a mediocre restaurant with hit-or-miss service. Anthony’s was on a crappy lot in an outdated building next to a Post Office that the USG decided to close. Anthony’s was no Brown’s.

          • FourQ

            My point is that the City of Falls Church has displayed a pattern of hostility towards local businesses and entrepeneurs in favor of well-heeled outside development interests who likely do not have the best interests of the community at heart. Regardless of how you feel about Anthony’s as a restaurant (I share those feelings, BTW), the fact that the city is so quick to pull the rug out from under a local institution should give you pause.

            While there are no announced plans to demolish the Brown’s site (or the State, or Dogwood, or…), there is absolutely no doubt they’d be out on their a–es the second the Spectrum/Rushmark crowd snapped their fingers.

          • David

            Because the market demands it. That’s really the simple answer. Anthony’s didn’t own the land it was on. It leased it. The lease expired and the the landowner decided to sell the land to a different developer.

            Anthony’s is moving a few miles away. Its other location in NoVa was unaffected. The world has not stopped turning.

          • FourQ

            Ah yes, the market. The all powerful, all holy market.

            ALL HAIL THE MARKET! OUR LORD, SAVIOR AND ULTIMATE MASTER!

          • David

            @FourQ – the “market” is driven by consumers. People like you and me. There are plenty of countries that don’t subscribe to the free market. You’re welcome to move to one of them if that’s your preference. I hear the quality of life is a bit different though.

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