Local Commentary

Editorial: As F.C. Enters A New Decade

Coming into the new year, and the new decade, the City of Falls Church has some promising developments that could give it a leg up on now more-sorely-than-ever needed economic revitalization.

The first is the BJ’s Wholesale Warehouse, which is under construction on Wilson Blvd. and expected to be open for a brisk sales career this summer. Being the only BJ’s to serve this affluent region of Northern Virginia, it will be a magnet for shoppers travelling some considerable distances to spend lots of money.

The second is the much-anticipated Mad Fox Brew Pub that is moving into the next phase of its build-out of the location at 440 W. Broad Street. Washington, D.C.’s storied City Paper cited the decision to open at this location as among the five “most influential local happenings in the beer scene of 2009” for the entire D.C. Metropolitan area. We believe it will serve, like BJ’s, as a magnet to draw not only customers and their dollars from far and wide, but also additional retail businesses who will desire to be near it, all to the betterment of Falls Church’s fiscal bottom line.

The third is the new, made-over senior affordable-housing project, The Wilden, that will come before the City Council for a preliminary approval this Monday night. It is considerably more modest than its earlier incarnation, with half the units than in the original plan. But this is largely due to an indefinite stall of the $315 million City Center plan, due to the economic decline, that provided a generous proffer to help the project. In the current, moribund multiple-unit residential construction environment, this will project buck that trend, putting construction cranes and workers to the business of helping to fulfill some of the City’s commitment to affordable housing.

Other smaller, but popular, restaurant and service offerings are on the verge of moving into Falls Church, as well. More good news includes the promise of City Hall playing a role in promoting the annual Washington Area Music Awards ceremony at the State Theatre next month, and the fact that the City enters the new decade with a brand new logo and “brand,” a delightful if predictably controversial “The Little City” campaign.

It helps to recall what Falls Church looked like along its commercial corridors less than a decade ago. There was no Broadway, no Byron, no Spectrum, no Read Building, no Flower Building, and on S. Maple, no Pearson Square.

The Broadway, in September 2001 approved as the first of the bunch, was the decade-long abandoned AdCom building. The Byron was an under-performing Red Lobster. The Spectrum was a vacant lot. The Read Building was a car repair shop. The Flower Building was a couple of dilapidated houses. Pearson Square was a duck-pin bowling alley and little more.

Falls Church came a long way in the past decade, and is now well poised to be at the front end of the inevitable overall economic recovery, however slow that might be in coming.