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F.C. Begins Process to Develop S. Washington Development Plan

washingtonA well-attended meeting this morning kicked off the process to define the second of a series of “small area plans” for the redevelopment of the City of Falls Church in its commercially-zoned corridors. After the adoption of a North Washington St. plan by the F.C. City Council earlier this month, the City’s Planning Director Jim Snyder (at podium in photo) kicked off the process of citizen input that will result in a second area plan, this one for S. Washington St. This morning’s meeting was held at the Columbia Baptist Church.

Following initial overview presentations by Snyder and Rick Goff of the City’s Economic Development Department, citizens joined by urban planning students from the Alexandria campus of Virginia Tech broke down into small groups to discuss the following aspects of a prospective plan: 1. land use, 2, height and density, 3. open space, 4. transportation, and 5. arts and culture.

The S. Washington Area is centered on Route 29 (S. Washington) below its intersection with Annandale Road to the city limits. Contiguous with Fairfax County, the plan, Snyder said, will be best developed in cooperation with Fairfax County, and to that end, Fairfax’s Providence District Supervisor Linda Smyth was present. Smyth’s presence was also seen as representative of the thawing of adversarial relations between the City and county on the matter of water services.

The S. Washington area covers 36 acres of commercially-zoned land that is now home to only 20 acres of buildings that yield $7.4 million annually in revenues to the City. However, as Goff explained, if the area was made more dense — for example, from its current 0.56 floor-to-area ratio (FAR) to a medium-density 2.5, revenues to the City could jump to $16.9 million annually, equal to 49 cents on the residential real estate tax rate.

“There is no lack of investor interest in this area,’ Goff told the audience. Some ideas floated by Snyder included a “Tinner Hill Festival Street” that would link the NAACP arch monument on S. Washington with the only significant new developments in the area, the Pearson Square and Tax Analyst buildings on S. Maple.

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