During 2006 in the City of Falls Church, an amazing thing happened. For want of a better phrase, we’ll call it “the first hint of critical mass.”
Right outside the windows of the wonderful new offices of the News-Press, we’ve watched for months as dynamite was detonated and big shovel trucks dug tediously through rock and soil to reach the right depths for underground parking and the foundations for the new eight-story Spectrum project. We watched the scores of “Builder Bob” types gradually prepare for the project to rise like a big Godzilla out of the ground. That’s what it’s like to see. It seemingly takes forever and then, almost overnight, the overhead cranes pull away, and the skeletal structure goes up revealing the full, amazing scale of what’s to come.
The skeletal outline of The Spectrum is now up. So is that of the four-story new Read Building, almost right next door. Those two new projects now showing off their true scale poised beside the now-completed Broadway and Byron buildings has suddenly given little old Falls Church a wholly different look.
A block that only a few years ago had nothing but a one-story Red Lobster swimming in a large parking lot and a former art supply store that sat vacated for almost a decade has been transformed into a strip of massive new development, bringing new retail, restaurant and housing opportunities to the City. Someone who might have nodded off on the balcony of a Lee Square apartment a half-dozen years ago and woke up this week would have experienced one heck of a shock.
This is only the beginning, but it is the beginning of, as we say above,
“a critical mass.” This is the first hint of the combined effect of such projects set side by side lining a major corridor. Impressive, indeed.
Now we know that more of the same is planned for the 600 and 700 blocks, and down in the 300 block, the Broad Street extension of Atlantic Realty’s new Phase I of the downtown redevelopment plan will put the tallest building yet in the City right next to the current post office. Behind that will be an equally-tall hotel along with new rental and condo units, a major supermarket and relocated new bowling alley site. Down the street, Atlantic’s Pearson Square project is also already out of the ground, rising up over S. Maple where it joins Lee Highway.
This is a new Falls Church, and all that’s been described so far is still only the very beginning. Everyone who’s had a hand in bringing us to this point should feel a great deal of satisfaction. This is what is going to pay for maintaining the Falls Church schools and give the City a character as a modern, urban center of vitality and culture second to none. Ultimately, it is not the marble and concrete that defines a City, but its people. This city started off on the right foot on that one, and it’s what will ensure that as she grows, she grows with grace, character and style. Add compassion, diversity and a healthy compliment of affordable housing and you’ll darn near spark a Renaissance.