Developer Plans

700, 800 Blocks Won’t Require Official F.C. OK

More construction cranes will be rising above the construction-frenzied West Broad Street in the City of Falls Church. The bulk of the on-street commercially zoned land on the north side of the 700 and 800 blocks will be under construction by next April, with aggressive time tables for the completion of two office buildings and a name-brand hotel.

Developer Bob Young of the Young Group, which owns and renovated the Panera Bread building and is well into the construction of the Read Building, also in the 400 block of W. Broad, detailed his new plans in an interview with the News-Press this week.

Young said he’s confident of the rapid timetable for his new plans because none of it requires the kind of arduous, pain-staking negotiations and political wrangling that earlier projects, either approved or rejected by the City, have involved. That’s because this time, none of his plans include requests for “special exceptions” to allow for mixed use or height waivers.

These will all be done “by right” under current zoning laws as all-commercial projects. Therefore, the City Council will have no role in the process and the developer will be responsible for no proffers to win Council approval.

Only site plans approval from the Planning Commission are required, and approval is subject to strict legal guidelines, minimizing the role of politics or personal whims by commissioners to block or delay the effort.

The first building will in the 800 block. It will be four stories high, at 55 feet, with ground floor retail to include a restaurant and possibly a relocation of the retail portion of the U.S. Post Office, which will be moved from its 300 W. Broad location to accommodate imminent plans for redevelopment in that block by Atlantic Realty.

One floor of the building has already been committed for occupancy by an architectural firm and negotiations are well underway with other entities representing the arts and education for the other floors. The project will include a one-level parking deck for use by the building tenants and retail customers, only.

Young said he expects the building to have an art nouveau look and office units of 1,000 to 10,000 square feet will be sold as commercial condos. Construction could be completed by the end of 2007.

Following swiftly on this will be the development of Young’s properties in the 700 block that will include a hotel with an office structure on the Park Avenue side behind.

Negotiations are well underway with two major hotel chains for occupancy of that site, Young said. The hotel will also be under 55 feet in height and, like the 800 W. Broad location, will not require any special exceptions from the City or offerings of proffers to the City from the developer.

 “The City’s Economic Development Authority determined that a hotel brings the highest yield per acre of any form of development,” Young noted. That structure would include provision for a major, 5,000-square-foot restaurant.

The developer said that construction of that site should begin by next summer, with completion slated for the first half of 2008.

Meanwhile, the News-Press has learned that a major announcement of plans by Atlantic Realty to redevelop the 100 to 300 blocks along the south side of W. Broad Street is imminent.

Even with the Broadway completed and the Byron nearing completion, this will mean that new commercial or mixed-use construction will be underway at in six of the first seven blocks of West Broad next year. The one other block is where the new Broadway and Byron now are.