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Movie Theater, 9,500 Sq. Ft. Restaurant Leases Signed for Founder’s Row Project

A Founder’s Row concept drawing from WDG. (Photo: WDG)

A special meeting of the Falls Church City Council and Planning Commission has been scheduled for this Monday night to review new formal submissions by Mill Creek Residential on its long-languished 4.3-acre Founder’s Row project at the northwest intersection of W. Broad and N. West Streets.

According to the new filings, Mill Creek has executed leases with a luxury dine-in movie theater operation and a trendy restaurant chain and is ready to move ahead with its plans by late summer. The special exceptions requested by the developer will be mulled at the joint meeting Monday.

The name of the movie theater will be publicly announced at the work session, it’s been reported. “The operator is a luxury dine-in movie theater concept playing first-run and independent films.They currently have more than 30 theaters in operation in locations throughout the country,” according to a City staff report. “Their concept includes a ground-level bar and restaurant that will activate Founder’s Row along Mason Avenue, along with eight screens (approximately 815 seats) on the upstairs level. Patrons can sit in luxury recliners to watch their films while also having the opportunity to order food and beverages directly to their seats. The Theater is particularly committed to community outreach, including hosting exclusive screenings for families with children who have special needs.”

Concerning the restaurant, in its letter to the City, Mill Creek announced it has executed a lease with a restaurant that will occupy approximately 9,500 square feet along Mason Avenue.

It states, “The restaurant is City Works Eatery and Pour House, which currently has nine locations throughout the country, not including their “sister” concept Old Town Pour House which has an additional four locations, including one in Gaithersburg, Maryland. City Works is an upscale restaurant and bar featuring modern American classics with brilliant twists, including 90 craft beers on draft.”

The theater and City Works leases total approximately 45,000 square feet, which amounts to nearly 50 percent of the total retail in the Founder’s Row project already under lease commitments (contingent on approvals).

In addition, Mill Creek announced that it and Spectrum Development have negotiated an agreement with the 7-Eleven tenant located on N. West Street that will allow them to vacate their space by Sept. 30.

On the timetable for proceeding with the overall project, the Mill Creek letter says: “We have worked with City Staff to respond to Site Plan comments; establish a schedule for the Special Exception Amendment; and put together a strategic plan for permitting the project. It is our hope that if all proceeds according to the milestones we have set, and that all approvals are received, that we could begin construction on this project in late August of 2018.”

Yet another component of the Founder’s Row application is a request by Mill Creek to switch out the earlier-discussed 127-room hotel in favor of a same-sized, six-story building with 72 apartments “that will be managed and operated to provide housing for active adults 55 years of age or older.” Each apartment, Mill Creek says, will be required to have at least one resident over age 55, and all other residents must be over age 18, as allowed by fair housing laws.

The age-restricted building will provide street-level retail space, it will be designed to Silver-level “green building” standards, and it will include four apartments designated “affordable dwelling units,” as required by the City.

With all these changes, Mill Creek says the Founder’s Row project will provide more than 97,000 square feet of commercial space. Thus, the net new revenue to the City that Founder’s Row would generate annually at full build-out and occupancy is projected to be at least $818,578 and possibly as much as $1,761,568, the equivalent of 2 to 4-plus cents on the current property tax rate.

Also on the agenda for Monday’s joint work session is another significant redevelopment application for a 70-unit condominium building, with ground floor commercial, at the corner of N. Lee St. and Park Ave. This proposal is at a much earlier stage of consideration than Founder’s Row.