Local Commentary

Editorial: Getting Rolling on New Revenue

We are heartened by the Falls Church City Council’s decision to bring the proposed Hilton Garden Inn project onto the agenda for its work session this past Monday night, indicating a desire to fast-track, as much as that’s possible to do in Falls Church, a realistic and virtually shovel-ready development that would bring a half million annually in revenues to the City.

We are heartened by the Falls Church City Council’s decision to bring the proposed Hilton Garden Inn project onto the agenda for its work session this past Monday night, indicating a desire to fast-track, as much as that’s possible to do in Falls Church, a realistic and virtually shovel-ready development that would bring a half million annually in revenues to the City.

The effort to push this project toward a construction start by the fall reflects the Council’s realization that, if they thought the just-completed budget cycle was tough, the next one will be considerably worse. Ongoing pressures to make up losses in pension and retirement funds, the residues of the great economic destabilization of the last three years, still have government at all levels reeling, and looking for ways to downsize and pass the buck to employees, taxpayers and more local jurisdictions.

The fact that the City of Falls Church, all 12,300 of its residents, has been named Number One in the entire U.S. for average household income does not mean that the City is immune. While more difficult choices will begin to be considered by early fall, the one actionable recourse City officials have at this point is to assist and help realize development ready to bring new revenues to town.
In addition to the Hilton Garden Inn project, there are the Akridge and Hekemian large scale projects on N. Washington St., each involving difficulties that the City could help alleviate with some added flexibility.

In addition to the favorable hearing the Council and the Planning Commission gave to the Hilton project Monday (although growling about the aesthetics of its proposed facade facing onto W. Broad), the Council did not flinch in the face of an appeal by owners of The Byron to expand the potential use of one of its ground floor commercial spaces in hopes of filling a vacancy that’s been there since the project was completed five years ago.

The ease with which that matter was handled by the Council this week is a signal of a new, sober assessment at City Hall of how vital it is to draw new business into town. This would not have happened in the same way even a year ago, we suspect, when there was a lot more stubborn insistence on the micromanagement of every square foot of commercial space in the City.

The ease exhibited in giving The Byron what it asked for this Monday must now be applied, in particular, to the Akridge project, which may be about to come to a crashing halt for the unreasonable demands by the City that it not begin its residential component until it also begins its commercial part, and that require the commercial part be broken into a series of untenable retail units on its N. Washington-fronting first floor.

Just look at the ground floor of Pearson Square on S. Maple to see how well that kind of demand pays off.

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